According to India’s space agency, their moon rover has confirmed the presence of sulfur and several other elements near the lunar south pole. This rover is looking for signs of frozen water nearly a week after its historic moon landing.
India’s Chandrayaan-3 Vikram lander became the first to ever touch down at the lunar south pole and the probe has wasted very little time scientifically exploring an environment that no mission from any country has ever visited.
One instrument aboard the Chandrayaan-3 mission’s moon rover Pragyan has found surprising traces of sulfur within the lunar south pole
Called Laser-Induced Breakdown Spectroscopy (LIBS) and created by the Laboratory for Electro-Optics Systems in Bangalore, that instrument probes the lunar surface by quite literally obliterating it. To observe a substance, LIBS fires laser pulses at a sample, which then vaporizes the substance into a brief plasma. The instrument picks up the light emitted from that plasma and analyzes the wavelengths to discern what elements lie within.
Laser-Induced Breakdown Spectroscope (LIBS) instrument onboard the Rover unambiguously confirms the presence of Sulphur (S) in the lunar surface near the south pole, through first-ever in-situ measurements. Al, Ca, Fe, Cr, Ti, Mn, Si, and O are also detected, as expected. Search for Hydrogen (H) is underway. LIBS instrument is developed at the Laboratory for Electro-Optics Systems (LEOS)/ISRO, Bengaluru.
While China, Russia, and the US have all landed on the Moon, previous attempts by Russia and India to reach the south pole had been unsuccessful.
The south pole is thought to be the most water-rich area of the Moon, and the Chandrayaan-3 rover, known as Pragyan, will spend the next two weeks using its laser to hunt for signs of frozen water – as well as studying the atmosphere and figuring out the composition of the south pole.
Frozen water could be incredibly valuable if found on the lunar surface, seeing as it could one day be used to produce breathable oxygen for future lunar bases, and could also provide ingredients for rocket fuel that could help send missions to Mars.
The name Pragyan is derived from the Hindu word pragya, meaning the highest and purest form of wisdom, intelligence, and understanding.