BENGALURU: The Chandra’s Atmospheric Composition Explorer-2 (CHACE-2) payload aboard the Chandrayaan-2 orbiter recently detected Argon-40, announced the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). However, scientists believe there is nothing earth-shattering about the finding as the isotope of Argon (40AR) is also found on earth and around the moon.
Debunking the claim that ISRO scientists were particularly looking for Argon-40, a former ISRO scientist told TNIE that CHASE-2 has a certain range and the Argon isotope just happened to fall within that range. Besides, Argon is radioactive and can be easily detected,” the scientist said. He added that finding Tritium and Raygon, on the other hand, would have been a breakthrough as it helps understand the formation process of the moon better and reveals its similarities to the earth’s formation.
CHACE-2 has been orbiting the moon at an altitude of 100km and is a Quadrupole Mass Spectrometer (QMA) with an ability to scan the lunar neutral exosphere in the mass range of 1 to 300 amu. The payload is meant to carry out an in-situ study of the composition and distribution of the lunar neutral exosphere and its variability.
The payload observed that 40Ar - being a condensable gas - condenses during lunar night at the temperatures and pressures that prevail on the lunar surface. During the lunar day, the 40Ar starts getting released to the lunar exosphere.