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The New Space exploration finds sodium content throughout the moon surface

  • Published
    10th Oct, 2022

Recently, the Scientists from Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) have mapped out the global distribution of sodium on the Moon’s surface.


About the Exploration

  • The research has been done using CLASS instrument carried by the second Indian Moon mission, Chandrayaan-2.
  • It uses a large area soft X-ray spectrometer.
  • This is the first effort to provide a global-scale measurement of sodium on the lunar surface using X-ray fluorescent

Characteristics of Sodium

  • Sodium is a soft metal that tarnishes within seconds of being exposed to the air.
  • It also reacts vigorously with water.
  • Sodium is used as a heat exchanger in some nuclear reactors, and as a reagent in the chemicals industry.
  • It has a low melting point, with a relative density of 0.97 at 20ºC (68ºF).
  • From the commercial point of view, sodium is the most important of all the alkaline metals.

New Findings:

  • The study found a thin veneer of sodium atoms that are weakly bound to the lunar surface apart from the minor quantities found in lunar rocks.
  • These sodium atoms on the surface are liberated when enough energy is given to them by solar ultraviolet radiation and solar wind ions. 
  • Sodium is the only element apart from potassium that can be observed through telescopes in the lunar atmosphere (its exosphere).
  • This new map of sodium would enable understanding of the surface-exosphere

Do you know?

  • When compared to Earth, the moon is significantly depleted of volatile elements such as sodium.
  • The amount of volatiles on the moon today can be used to test formation scenarios of the Earth-Moon system.
  • Sodium can be used as a tracer of the volatile history of the moon.

X-ray fluorescent spectra:

  • X-ray fluorescence is commonly used to study the composition of materials in a non-destructive manner.
  • When the sun gives out solar flares, a large amount of X-ray radiation falls on the moon, triggering X-ray fluorescence.
  • The CLASS measures the energy of the X-ray photons coming from the moon and counts the total number.
  • The energy of the photons indicates the atom (for instance, sodium atoms emit X-ray photons of 1.04 keV) and the intensity is a measure of how many atoms are present.
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