Chandrayaan 2 is not just looking for water on the moon

Chandrayaan 2 is not just looking for water on the moon
First picture of the Moon sent back by India's Moon mission, Chandrayaan 2ISRO


  • A new study indicates that there might be precious metals under the lunar surface where there is excess sulphur on the surface.
  • In order to confirm their findings, the lead author believes "the South Pole seem like a good choice for sampling."
  • Chandrayaan 2 won't be bringing any samples back to Earth but determining possible regions where sulphur can be found could hold clues for when India does send humans to the Moon.
Chandrayaan 2 is inching close to the Moon's South Pole, and India hopes to be the first country to land on its cratered surface.

India's Moon mission will scan the lunar surface for clues about its composition. And, that unlock what's inside — like precious metals, according to a new study published in Nature GeoScience.

Geologists believe that since there are similarities between the Earth and the Moon, the composition of mineral deposits found on the planet could be parallel to what might be found on the natural satellite.

"Examination of mineral deposits on Earth suggests that iron sulfide is a great place to store precious metals, like platinum and palladium," stated James Brenan, the lead author of the paper.

And, in order to confirm his findings, "the South pole seems like a good choice for sampling".

How will Chandrayaan 2 help?

The primary objective of the mission is to build on Chandrayaan 1's discovery of water on the Moon.

The high tech instruments aboard the lander, Vikram, and the rover, Pragyan, will analyse the elemental composition of the Moon. Scientists are hoping that the information will help them find out more about other elements as well — like where there may find more Sulphur.

"We have been able to link the Sulfur content of lunar volcanic rocks to the presence of iron sulfide deep inside the moon," said Brenan.

"Our results show that sulfur in lunar volcanic rocks is a fingerprint for the presence of iron sulfide in the rocky interior of the moon, which is where we think the precious metals were left behind when the lavas were created," he added.

Looking for sulphur

Scientists have been able to scour the Earth for years but only have 400 kilograms of lunar samples that have been brought back from Apollo and other lunar missions.

"So, in order to find anything about the interior of the Moon, we have to kind of reverse engineer the composition of the lavas that come onto the surface," said Brenan.

Brenan thinks that the next step for their study is to get samples from the deep, rocky part of the moon where the lunar lavas originated to in order to confirm their theory.

That's exactly where Chandrayaan 2 is heading. It won't be bringing any samples back even though "the South Pole seems like a good choice for sampling," but its findings could hold clues for where to hunt when humans finally do return to the Moon.

China's lunar rover, Yutu 2 — nicknamed the Jade Rabbit — is already on its way to finding new materials on the Moon. It's the first mission to explore the far side of the Moon and reportedly spotted a ‘gel-like' substance in one of the Moon's craters, according to the China National Space Administration.

Vikram has already detached from the orbiter and is on its way to the Moon. It will attempt to soft land near the Moon's South Pole on 7 September 2019. This will be the "15 most terrifying minutes" for the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) according its Chairman, K Sivan.

See also:
India's second moon mission Chandrayaan 2 that will cost ₹10 billion will break new records

China's lunar rover does what India's Chandrayaan 2 is hoping to do on the Moon's South Pole

Here's why it's going to take 7 weeks for Chandrayaan 2 to reach the Moon