ISRO’s Chandrayaan-2 finds Argon-40 in Moon’s exosphere

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New Delhi | Published: November 1, 2019 5:54:11 PM

CHACE-2, a neutral mass spectrometer based payload can detect lunar exosphere constituents in range of 1-300 atomic mass unit(amu). It has detected 40Ar as part of its earlier mission from the lunar exosphere from a 100km altitude.

Chandrayaan-2 , Moon, lunar exosphere, Argon 40, ISRO , orbiter, Synthetic Aperture Radar, impact cratersCHACE-2 has detected 40Ar as part of its earlier mission from the lunar exosphere from a 100km altitude.

Chandrayaan-2 Orbiter has detected Argon-40 from lunar exosphere through CHACE-2 (Chandrayaan Atmospheric Composition Explorer) payload aboard the spacecraft. ISRO said on Thursday that it detected Argon 40 from an approximate altitude of 100 km. ‘Lunar exosphere’ is the term used to describe a thin gas envelope around the Moon. This is so because gases there are so tenacious that gas atoms collide rarely with each other. A schematic drawing of Argon 40’s formation was also released by ISRO.

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Importance of Argon-40

Argon-40 counts itself among the isotopes of Argon, a noble gas. Originating from radioactive disintegration of Potassium-40 having a half-life of ~1.2 X 109. 40K nuclide which is radioactive present below the surface of the moon disintegrates to 40Ar. Thus, 40Ar diffuses through intergranular space and makes its way up to the exosphere through faults and seepages.

CHACE-2: Neutral Mass Spectrometer

CHACE-2, a neutral mass spectrometer based payload can detect lunar exosphere constituents in range of 1-300 atomic mass unit(amu). It has detected 40Ar as part of its earlier mission from the lunar exosphere from a 100km altitude. Being a condensable gas 40Ar condenses during the lunar night.40Ar starts releasing in the exosphere after lunar dawn.

Impact Craters

ISRO released pictures of impact craters on October 22. These were discovered on the south polar region of the moon and clicked by Chandrayaan 2’s orbiter. They show Synthetic Aperture Radar’s observations on the moon’s surface. The lunar surface owing to bombardment of celestial bodies have a lot of impact craters. They are studied via a powerful remote sensing instrument to gain more knowledge about the Moon’s surface.

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