August 30, 2023
What are lunar soil and rocks made of in the south polar region where
Chandrayaan-3 landed? How's it different from other highland regions?
These are the questions that the Chandrayaan-3 rover is trying to find answers
with its scientific instruments.
Alpha Particle X-ray Spectrometer (APXS) onboard rover deploys down to
observe the lunar sample as seen in the video, which is captured by the
APXS instrument is best suited for in-situ analysis of the elemental composition of soil and rocks on the surface of planetary bodies having little atmosphere, such as the Moon. It carries radioactive sources that emit alpha particles and X-rays onto the surface sample. The atoms present in the sample in turn emit characteristic X-ray lines corresponding to the elements present. By measuring the energies and intensities of these characteristic X-rays, researchers can find the elements present and their abundances.
APXS observations have discovered the presence of interesting minor
elements, including Sulfur, apart from the major expected elements such as
Aluminum, Silicon, Calcium, Iron. It may be recalled that LIBS instrument onboard the Rover also confirmed the presence of Sulfur. Detailed scientific analysis of these
observations are in progress.
APXS is developed by the Physical Research Laboratory (PRL), Ahmedabad
with support from the Space Application Centre (SAC) Ahmedabad, whereas UR
Rao Satellite Centre (URSC), Bengaluru has built the deployment mechanism.