Indian landing module detects 'movement' on the Moon: what it was and why it matters

Dmytro IvancheskulLife
The Vikram lander likely recorded seismic activity on the moon. Source: Andrew McCarthy/ISRO/collage OBOZREVATEL

India's Chandrayaan-3 mission, which just landed on the Moon on August 23, may have succeeded in recording seismic data on Earth's satellite for the first time since the 1970s. The information, if confirmed, could help Earth scientists unravel the mystery of how the Moon's interior is organized.

This is stated in a statement by the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO). The lunar murmur was recorded by the on-board Instrument for Measurement of Seismic Activity (ILSA) installed on the Vikram lander.

ILSA is the first instrument on the Moon to use microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) technology. Such technology allows it to record seismic tremors resulting from the Pragyan rover's movement on the satellite's surface, but also natural events such as a moonquake or a collision with some space rock.

"ILSA's primary mission is to measure ground vibrations caused by natural lunar shaking, impacts and man-made events," ISRO said in a statement.

The natural event recorded by the instrument, scientists noted, occurred on August 26, 2023.

"The source of this event is under investigation," ISRO explained.

If the assumption turns out to be correct, it means a definite breakthrough in the study of the Moon for Earth scientists, because the last seismic data from the satellite were obtained during the Apollo program in the late 1960s and 1970s.

This would help in understanding how the Moon works, as we are still only guessing about it. Seismic data could greatly help with this question.

In two weeks, the Chandrayaan-3 mission satellite has already made a number of scientific observations and detected the first elements at the south pole.

In the near future, however, do not expect new discoveries from the mission, because on the Moon began night, which will last 14 days. In this regard, the lander and the lunar rover are now in hibernation mode.

"Vikram" and "Pragyan", like previous lunar missions, are solar-powered, so this means the vehicles "sleep" at night when the batteries cannot be recharged.

Both vehicles are expected to emerge from sleep on Sept. 22 and resume their exploration of the moon's mysterious south pole.

Before going to sleep, the descent module not only completed the main science program, but also made a vertical jump to a height of 40 centimeters. This was required to experimentally test the possibility of re-landing.

Since arriving on the Moon, the rover managed to travel a hundred meters and study the composition of the regolith. The descent module also had time to measure the density of the near-lunar plasma and estimate the temperature of the regolith.

Earlier OBOZREVATEL told about the fact that the rover "Pragyan" found sulfur on the surface of the Moon.

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