Scientists analyzing remote sensing data from India’s Moon mission ‘Chandrayaan-1’ have found that Earth’s high-energy electrons are probably creating water on the Moon.
A team led by researchers at the University of Hawaii in the US has found that these electrons in Earth’s plasma envelope are also interfering with weathering processes on the moon’s surface, including the breakdown or disintegration of rocks and minerals.
Research published in the journal ‘Nature Astronomy’ has found that electrons could possibly help in the formation of water on the Moon.
The researchers said knowing the concentration of water on the Moon is important for understanding its formation and evolution. Besides, it is also important in providing water resources for human exploration in future.
Chandrayaan-1 played an important role in the discovery of water particles on the Moon. This mission, launched in the year 2008, was India’s first Moon mission.
Shuai Li, assistant researcher at the UH Manoa School of Ocean, said the moon provides a natural laboratory to study the formation processes of surface water.
Li said that when the moon is outside the magnetotail, there is pressure from the solar wind on the moon’s surface. Inside the magnetotail, there are almost no solar wind protons and almost no water formation was expected. The magnetotail is a region that almost completely protects the Moon from the solar wind, but not from sunlight photons.
Shuai Li and co-authors analyzed remote sensing data gathered by the Moon Mineralogy Mapper device, an imaging spectrometer on India’s Chandrayaan 1 mission between 2008 and 2009.
“To my surprise, remote sensing observations showed that water formation in Earth’s magnetotail is almost identical to when the Moon was outside Earth’s magnetotail,” Lee said.
ISRO launched ‘Chandrayaan 1’ in October 2008, and operated till August 2009. The mission consisted of an orbiter and an impactor.