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Isro’s Chandrayaan 2 orbiter discovers water molecules on Moon’s surface

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In a path-breaking discovery, ISRO’s Chandrayaan-2 orbiter has detected water molecules on the water surface.

According to the researchers, who analysed the data obtained by the orbiter’s imaging infrared spectrometre (IIRS), said: “There was widespread lunar hydration and unambiguous detection of OH and H2O signatures on the moon between 29 degrees north and 62 degrees north latitude”.

The findings were published in Current Science Journal. It is authored by former Isro chairman AS Kiran Kunar from the Indian Institute of Remote Sensing (IIRS) Dehradun, SAC in Ahmedabad, UR Rao Satellite Centre and ISRO headquarters in Bengaluru.

According to the researchers, the formation of hydroxyl or water molecules occurs due to a process called space weathering, which is when the solar winds blow over the lunar surface.

It was also observed from the data that the brighter sunlit highland regions at higher latitudes of the Moon were found to have higher hydroxyl or possibly water molecules.

Besides, the study is crucial for future planetary exploration for resource utilisation as several international missions are lined up to the moon for the next few years.

Isro Chandrayaan-2 mission, launched in 2019, suffered a tragic crash in which the lander got damaged but its orbited has helped in new discoveries.

Chandrayaan-2’s mission aims at studying not just one area of the Moon but all the areas combining the exosphere, the surface as well as the sub-surface of the moon in a single mission.

The Chandrayaan-1 mission had already confirmed the presence of water on moon surface but due to limited spectral coverage, the exact nature of hydration could not be ascertained. However, the IIRS on-board Chandrayaan-2 moon mission has been able to completely characterise lunar hydratioon attributed to the presence of OH and H2O.

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