Chandrayaan 2's orbiter payload 'CLASS' detects charged particles and its intensity on Moon

Madhuri Adnal

Bengaluru, Oct 04: While the efforts to contact Vikram Lander, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) on Thursday, said that the Chandrayaan 2's Orbiter payload named CLASS (Chandrayaan-2 Large Area Soft X-ray Spectrometer) has detected charged particles and its intensity variations during its first few days observing the lunar surface.

Taking to Twitter, ISRO wrote,"CLASS, #Chandrayaan2's Orbiter payload, in its first few days of observation, could detect charged particles and its intensity variations during its first passage through the geotail during Sept."

Currently, ISRO is analysing the reason behind communication loss with Vikram Lander. In a press release titled "Studying Earth's extended magnetosphere (geotail) plasma around Moon", ISRO explained what is magnetosphere and how it works.

About CLASS (Chandrayaan-2 Large Area Soft X-ray Spectrometer):

CLASS is provided by ISAC (ISRO Satellite Center), Bengaluru. The objective of CLASS is to map the abundance of the major rock such as Magnesium, Aluminium, Silicon, Calcium, Titanium, Iron, and Sodium. The XRF technique will detect these elements by measuring the characteristic X-rays they emit when excited by the Sun's rays.

"The CLASS instrument on Chandrayaan-2 is designed to detect direct signatures of elements present in the lunar soil. This is best observed when a solar flare on the Sun provides a rich source of x-rays to illuminate the lunar surface; secondary x-ray emission resulting from this can be detected by CLASS to directly detect the presence of key elements like Na, Ca, Al, Si, Ti and Fe," mentioned ISRO about instrument CLASS.

The CLASS instrument on Chandrayaan-2 is designed to detect direct signatures of elements present in the lunar soil.

What is magnetosphere?

ISRO explains magnetosphere as 'Our Sun emits a continuous outflowing stream of electrons and protons into the solar system, called the solar wind. The solar wind plasma which has charged particles embedded in the extended magnetic field of the Sun, moves at speeds of a few hundred km per second. It interacts with solar system bodies including Earth and its moon. Since the Earth has a global magnetic field, it obstructs the solar wind plasma and this interaction results in the formation of a magnetic envelope around Earth, called the magnetosphere.

The Earth's magnetosphere is compressed into a region approximately three to four times the Earth radius (~22000 km above the surface) on the side facing the Sun, but is stretched into a long tail (geotail) on the opposite side that goes beyond the orbit of Moon.

The 'flash photography' done by CLASS instrument requires the Sun to be active at the time of clicking. 'CLASS in its first few days of observation, could detect charged particles and its intensity variations during its first passage through the geotail during September.

What is Chandrayaan 2?

Chandrayaan-2's rocket lifted off at the scheduled time of 2:43 PM on July 22. The average distance between the Earth and the Moon is 3, 84, 000 km. Vikram lander was scheduled to land on the Moon on the 48th day of the mission on September 7. But unfortunately, on September 7, Vikram Lander which had separated from Chandrayaan 2's orbiter on September 2, while descending onto the lunar surface lost contact with ISRO Mission Control Centre.

Chandrayaan 2's lunar orbiter is currently revolving around the moon taking high-resolution pictures.

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