‘Chandrayaan-3 great achievement, it can search for water to build a human colony on the moon’


New Delhi: The success of Chandrayaan-3 has broadened the chest of every Indian. Sonia Tiku-Shantz, who teaches Geophysics at Stanford University, has termed it as a major achievement. He discussed this mission of India in a special conversation with our colleague ‘Times of India’. According to him, the Chandrayaan-3 mission can search for water to build a human colony on the moon. This is a huge aspect of this mission.

Can you share your thoughts on India’s Chandrayaan-3 mission?

Chandrayaan-3 is a great achievement for the country and all Indians around the world. It is very difficult to land a spacecraft on the surface of another planet. Only last week, Russia’s Luna 25 had crashed. The engineering involved in launching from Earth, reaching the Moon and landing safely is extremely complex. The success of Chandrayaan-3 is a testimony to the prowess of the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO). India has now established itself as the world leader in space exploration.

Your field is related to Paleomagnetism, what is it?

It is the study of magnetic fields on planets over time. I research rock samples from planetary bodies, including the Moon, to understand the history of those regions. The ability to generate such a field suggests that some fundamental process has occurred within a planet. For example, the creation of a fluid metallic core which is then cooled with time. The fluid motion of conductive metal in a planet’s core creates a magnetic field. These regions may play a role in determining a planet’s long-term habitability. Their absence could accelerate the loss of atmosphere or water to space. We believe that Mars was a world with warm climates. But, the loss of its global magnetic field has now made it a barren desert.

What are your conclusions about the Moon’s magnetic field?

Based on spacecraft magnetometer measurements since the Apollo era, we know that the Moon does not currently generate a magnetic field. However, some magnetoresistance is preserved in the lunar surface, indicating that the Moon may have had an earlier magnetic era. I have done research on the rocks brought back from the Apollo missions. We have seen magnetism in rocks of different ages. studied how strong the intensity of the original magnetic field was. We found that the Moon had a magnetic field early in its history, about 4.25 to 3.5 billion years ago. Its intensity might have been as intense as it is on earth today.

Some of the new rocks are magnetised. not others. It is not clear whether this field was operating continuously or was operating intermittently. We have some evidence that a weak zone may have formed as early as 1.5 billion years ago. That’s a very long time for a small body like the Moon to generate such a field. It must have cooled faster than Earth. In such a situation, there are many secrets around the magnetic record of the Moon.

Can you discuss your research on why the far side of the Moon looks so different from what we can see?

Researchers at Brown University, led by my colleague Alex Evans, explored why the near and far side of the Moon look so different. The Moon is tidally bound to the Earth. It keeps on rotating. That’s why we can see only the nearby part of it. Dark lava flows on its surface. These make ‘Man on the Moon’. The distal part of these is relatively absent. However, the deep lava flow on the near side is almost on the opposite side of the Moon from the largest impact crater called the South Pole Aitken Basin. We hypothesized that the formation of that basin might have had a significant impact on the evolution of the Moon’s interior. From this we see asymmetry. The effects of this area can cause radioactive element-rich material to be concentrated nearby. This could lead to more melting and volcanic activity that could lead to eruptions of lava flows on the surface.

Now what are you hoping to learn from the Chandrayaan-3 data?

Chandrayaan-3 is indeed an unprecedented achievement. Never before has success been achieved in landing on the south pole of the Moon. Spectroscopy and other evidence indicate the presence of water in high concentration near the South Pole. It will be very interesting if the Pragyan rover can identify and record the mineral chemistry of this region. Water could potentially supply fuel for rockets, oxygen for astronauts or drinking water. The foundation of this space exploration is to see the possibility of establishing a colony for humans on the moon. This requires a reliable water source. Now it is very important to study it for Chandrayaan-3.

What does sustainable development of space mean?

It is a multidimensional issue. One aspect is to explore space without harming the Earth. There is some concern about the environmental impact of rockets. The other discussion is about the accumulation of space junk. While there is a discussion about how to create an independent permanent colony on another planetary body like the Moon. This involves getting most of the resources from the earth rather than from it. This is a very exciting and complex issue. The commercialization of space flight and the eagerness of many countries for space exploration will now increase rapidly.

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