Chemical analysis of the soil, which was performed by the Indian Chandrayaan-3 spacecraft after landing, showed a significantly higher sulfur content in the rocks than in similar rocks studied earlier. This gives additional meaning to the study of the poles of our moon.
Chandrayaan-3 made a chemical analysis of rocks
On August 23, 2023, India’s Chandrayaan-3 spacecraft landed 600 km from the South Pole of the Moon. The Pragyan rover moved from it to the surface of our moon, which had two spectrometers on board: an alpha particle X-ray spectrometer and a laser-induced breakdown spectrometer. They were designed to obtain information about the chemical composition of the soil.
In two weeks, this information arrived on Earth and became available to scientists from different countries. It is still inaccurate, because these data need to be calibrated, but they have already shown something interesting. As expected, lunar rocks contain a lot of iron, titanium, aluminum and calcium.
But what turned out to be a surprise for the researchers was a fairly large amount of sulfur. This element usually comes to the surface together with magma. It has already been found on the Moon, but not in such large quantities.
Sulfur on the Moon
Volcanic rocks of the Moon are divided into two types: dark volcanic rock and the brighter highland rock. The difference between them is noticeable from the Earth, although we are not usually talking about any liquid water on our moon. The latter is pure magma that once poured onto the surface of the moon and froze.
Therefore, the sulfur content in dark lunar rocks is much higher than in light ones, although the latter also have it. The soil that Pragyan investigated belongs exactly to these. However, as evidenced by uncalibrated rover data, there is much more sulfur in it than in “highland” rocks and possibly more than in “marine”.
Scientists name two possibilities as the reason for this phenomenon. The first is that the extremely rarefied and unstable atmosphere of our moon contains a certain number of sulfur molecules. And when night falls at the poles and the temperature drops below -71 °C, it falls out there like frost.
The second possibility is that the excess sulfur could have been formed as a result of ancient volcanic eruptions or the impacts of meteorites rich in it. Whatever it was, the presence of this substance in large quantities can act as an additional incentive for the construction of a base there. After all, it can be used for the production of solar panels and batteries.
According to phys.org
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