ISRO plans Chandrayaan 3 even as 1 shows the Moon is rusting
India’s ambitious Moon mission Chandrayaan was supposed to go into grid phase this year. But due to the pandemic the launch has been postponed to the first half of 2021. The Indian Scientific and Research Organisation (ISRO) revealed that the mission to the Moon will not include an orbiter like the Chandrayaan-2. But, it will include a rover and a lander.
Chandrayaan-2’s Vikram Lander had crashed last year and its debris was found later on by NASA. Following the unsuccessful landing on Moon’s south pole, the ISRO had said that it has plans to launch another mission to the Moon in 2020.
But all was not lost!
The pandemic may have slowed down the launch process but the research work has not halted. The training processes and other procedures for India’s first-ever Human Space mission Gaganyaan continues despite the situation created by the pandemic. And the organisation believes that it will be able to meet the 2022 deadline for the launch.
And the Moon is rusting!
Images captured by ISRO’s Chandrayaan-1 suggest the moon is rusting along the poles. In the study, it is mentioned that the moon is turning slightly red, which indicates that there is a formation of a reddish-black mineral form of iron named hematite on its surface, especially at the poles.
The formation of rust can be attributed to the presence of two key elements — water and oxygen when in contact with iron. Scientists propose that fast-moving dust particles might initiate the release of surface borne water molecules, thus allowing water to mix with iron.
It is believed that though the Moon lacks atmosphere to support the formation of oxygen, it hosts traces of oxygen that travels from Earth to reach the lunar environment.
Chandrayaan-1 was launched in 2008.
The images have also puzzled NASA scientists. “While our Moon is airless, research indicates the presence of hematite, a form of rust that normally requires oxygen and water. That has scientists puzzled,” NASA blog post read.
Mars has long been known for its rust. Iron on its surface, combined with water and oxygen from the ancient past, gives the Red Planet its hue. But scientists were recently surprised to find evidence that our airless Moon has rust on it as well.