Chandrayaan-2 Orbiter’s X-ray spectrometer ‘CLASS’ has mapped an abundance of sodium on the moon for the first time, as per the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). As Chandrayaan-1’s X-ray Fluorescence Spectrometer (C1XS) detected sodium from its characteristic line in X-rays, this opened up the possibility of mapping the amount of sodium on the Moon.
How Chandrayaan-2 mapped abundance of sodium?
- The abundance of sodium was mapped in a recent work published in ‘The Astrophysical Journal Letters’ for the first time using CLASS (Chandrayaan-2 Large Area Soft X-ray Spectrometer), the national space agency. Built at the U R Rao Satellite Centre of ISRO in Bengaluru, CLASS provides clean signatures of the sodium line thanks to its high sensitivity and performance,”.
- A part of the signal could be arising from a thin veneer of sodium atoms weakly bound to the lunar grains, the study finds. These sodium atoms can be nudged out of the surface by solar wind or ultraviolet radiation more easily than if they were part of the lunar minerals. Also shown is a diurnal variation of the surface sodium that would explain the continuous supply of atoms to the exosphere, sustaining it.
- An interesting aspect that widens the interest in this alkali element is its presence in the wispy atmosphere of the moon, a region so thin that the atoms there rarely meet. This region, termed an ‘exosphere’, begins at the surface of the moon and extends several thousand kilometres merging into the interplanetary space.
- The new findings from Chandrayaan-2, provide an avenue to study surface-exosphere interaction on the moon, which would aid development of similar models for mercury and other airless bodies in our solar system and beyond.
Important Takeaways for All Competitive Exams:
- ISRO Chairman: S. Somanath;
- ISRO’s foundation Date: 15th August, 1969;
- ISRO’s Founder: Dr. Vikram Sarabhai.