he Chandrayaan-2 orbiter was able to detect a series of solar flares over a 24-hour period beginning September 30 midnight, the Indian Space Research Organisation said in its latest update on India’s second Moon mission. The solar flares (a sudden explosion of energy near the Sun’s surface) were detected with the help of the Chandrayaan-2 orbiter’s Solar X-ray Monitor (XSM), demonstrating the craft’s ability to ultimately test for the presence of minerals on the Moon.
Isro said it won’t be able to do much with the current set of readings because of unfavourable angles at which the orbtier, the Moon and the Sun are currently placed. However, the new finding is still significant as it tests an important piece of equipment onboard the Chandrayaan-2 orbiter.
Let us explain.
Solar flares, which take place over short periods, emit a large amount of radiation. The amount of radiation depends on the intensity of the solar flares taking place near the Sun’s surface. Now, part of the radiation released during these solar flares includes X-rays.
The Chandrayaan-2 orbiter Solar X-ray Monitor (XSM) looks for these very X-Rays.
Well, one of the missions that Chandrayaan-2 will perform will be to test for the presence of elements on the Moon’s surface. Chandrayaan-2 plans to do this in a 「clever way」.
The orbiter will wait for the radiation released by the Sun to strike the lunar surface
This radiation, once it hits the Moon, would excite the atoms of any elements present on the surface (an atom gets excited when its electrons are filled with extra energy)
Now, while returning to their 『ground』 or non-excited state the atoms release energy and X-rays. The fun part here is that atoms of every element have its own characteristic X-ray emissions
Now, another instrument onboard the Chandrayaan-2 orbiter — the Chandrayaan 2 Large Area Soft X-ray Spectrometer (CLASS) — has the ability to read these X-ray emissions and thus identify elements present on the Moon’s surface.