India’s shares its first discovery from Chandrayaan 2’s ‘flash photography’

Representative image of the Chandrayaan 2 orbiterISRO
  • The Indian Space Research Organisation’s (ISRO) Chandrayaan 2 moon mission just shared its first set of findings.
  • The orbiter sent back data on how particles change in intensity within the Earth’s geotail.
  • The Moon travels through the planet’s geotail for six days every 29 days, which means so does the orbiter.
India’s Chandrayaan 2 moon mission finally sent back its first set of findings from the mission after a month of the orbiter circling the Moon.

One of its payloads, the Chandrayaan 2 Large Area Soft X-ray Spectrometer ( CLASS), used ‘flash photography’ to detect changes in particles as it passed through the Earth’s geotail.


What’s a geotail?

In order to protect itself from solar winds, the Earth has a magnetic field around it.

The magnetosphere is like a magnetic envelope around the planet. It stretches to over 22,000 kilometers above the surface on the side that faces the Sun.

The same magnetic envelope stretches outward, beyond the orbit of the moon, on the opposite side to form a geotail.

Dance of the electrons

Every 29 days, the Moon travels through the geotail for around six days.

So, as Chandrayaan 2’s orbiter circles the Moon, it also passes through the geotail giving it the chance to study its properties.

CLASS’s first passage through the geotail was in September when it was able to detect charged particles and the variations in their intensities.

According to the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), the change in the intensity of particles within the geotail is 10 times more volatile than outside the geotail. The agency believes this indicates a complex interplay between the particles and the magnetic field.

Data sent back by the Chandrayaan 2 orbiter's CLASS payloadISRO

ISRO also states that further analysis and more data will help it unravel the “dance of electrons to the music of magnetic fields”. Thankfully, the orbiter has enough fuel to scan the surface of the Moon for another seven and a half years.

See also:
Everything you need to know about Vikram, Chandrayaan 2's lander, as it lands on the Moon

Chandrayaan 2 will give India bragging rights even if it doesn’t find water

India’s second mission to the moon will use these 14 high-tech instruments to look for water
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