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Chandrayaan-3 Rover Updates – Finds Sulfur and Other Elements

India’s Chandrayaan-3 mission has made a surprising discovery: traces of sulfur in the lunar south pole’s soil. This is the first time that sulfur has been found in this region of the moon, and it could have implications for our understanding of the moon’s formation and evolution.

What is LIBS?

The sulfur was found by the Laser-Induced Breakdown Spectroscopy (LIBS) instrument aboard the Chandrayaan-3 mission’s moon rover Pragyan. LIBS works by firing a laser at a sample of material and then analyzing the light that is emitted. This allows the instrument to identify the elements that are present in the sample.

The Laser-Induced Breakdown Spectroscopy (LIBS) instrument, created by the Laboratory for Electro-Optics Systems in Bangalore, probes the lunar surface by vaporizing a small sample with a laser pulse. The instrument then analyzes the light emitted from the plasma to identify the elements present in the sample.

The Findings

When LIBS turned its laser onto the lunar south pole’s soil, it found the expected elements, such as aluminum, calcium, chromium, iron, manganese, oxygen, titanium, and silicon. However, it also found a surprising amount of sulfur. This is the first time that sulfur has been detected in this region of the moon.

Orbiting probes have previously flown over the lunar south pole, but they were not able to detect sulfur. This is because LIBS is the only instrument that can vaporize a small sample of material and then analyze the light emitted from the plasma.

ISRO’s first set of data showed a sharp temperature difference between the lunar surface and just below it. The graph showed that the surface temperature was over 50 degrees Celsius, but it dropped to nearly -10 degrees Celsius just a few millimeters below. This suggests that the topsoil of the moon does not conduct heat well, and it insulates the sub-surface from the heat of the sun.

The reason for this is that the lunar regolith, or topsoil, is made up of small, loose particles. These particles are not tightly packed together, so they do not transfer heat very efficiently. The sub-surface, on the other hand, is made up of larger, more tightly packed particles, which are better at conducting heat.

A Boon for Future Missions

The discovery of sulfur in the lunar south pole’s soil is significant because it could help us to better understand the moon’s formation and evolution. Sulfur is an important element in many minerals, and its presence in the lunar soil suggests that the moon may have been more volcanically active in the past than previously thought.

The discovery of sulfur also raises the possibility that there may be other volatile elements present in the lunar south pole’s soil. These elements, such as water and carbon dioxide, could be important for future human exploration of the moon.

Chandrayaan-3 is paving the way for future missions to the lunar south pole. This region of the moon is attractive for human settlement because it is thought to contain water ice, which could be used for drinking, creating rocket propellant, and other purposes.The Chandrayaan-3 mission is a major step forward in the exploration of the moon. It is laying the groundwork for future missions that will help us to better understand and utilize this important celestial body.

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