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ISRO: Chandrayaan-2 Orbiter Detects Argon-40 on Lunar Exosphere

Planetary scientists prefer to call the thin gaseous envelope around the Moon as the 'Lunar exosphere' since it is so tenuous

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ISRO, Chandrayaan 2, Argon 40
Argon-40 (40Ar), which is one of the isotopes of the noble gas Argon, is an important constituent of the lunar exosphere, ISRO said on Thursday. Pixabay

The Chandra’s Atmospheric Composition Explorer-2 (CHACE-2) payload aboard the Chandrayaan-2 Orbiter has detected Argon-40, said Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO).

According to ISRO, the Orbiter that is orbiting the moon has detected Argon-40 from an altitude of about 100 km.

Argon-40 (40Ar), which is one of the isotopes of the noble gas Argon, is an important constituent of the lunar exosphere, ISRO said on Thursday.

Planetary scientists prefer to call the thin gaseous envelope around the Moon as the ‘Lunar exosphere’ since it is so tenuous that the gas atoms very rarely collide with each other, ISRO said.

ISRO, Chandrayaan 2, Argon 40
According to ISRO, the Orbiter that is orbiting the moon has detected Argon-40 from an altitude of about 100 km. Pixabay

According to ISRO, Argon-40 or 40Ar originates from the radioactive disintegration of Potassium-40 (40K).

The radioactive 40K nuclide, which is present deep below the lunar surface, disintegrates to 40Ar, which, in turn, diffuses through the intergranular space and makes way up to the lunar exosphere through seepages and faults.

The Indian space agency said CHACE-2 payload, is a neutral mass spectrometer-based payload which can detect constituents in the lunar neutral exosphere in the range of 1-300 amu (atomic mass unit).

As part of its early operation, it has detected 40Ar in the lunar exosphere from an altitude of about100 km, capturing the day-night variations of concentration.

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The 40Ar being a condensable gas at the temperatures and pressures that prevail on the lunar surface, condenses during lunar night. After lunar dawn, the 40Ar starts getting released to the lunar exosphere, ISRO said. (IANS)

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ISRO Sets up Regional Academic Centre for Space in Karnataka

Both the academic and research institutions will also collaborate in setting up optical telescope facilities under the Netra project for space object tracking, studying space weather, asteroids and near earth objects

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The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) set up a regional academic centre for space at the National Institute of Technology (NITK) at Surathkal in Karnataka’s southwest Dakshina Kannada district, an official said on Saturday.

“The centre at NIT-K will conduct joint research and development in space technology applications to meet the needs of our space programmes,” space agency’s director for capacity building P.V. Venkitakrishnan said in a statement here.

The state-run ISRO will provide Rs 2 crore grant annually to NIT for the R&D projects and promotional activities through the year.

The space agency and the engineering institute signed an agreement on the industry-academic collaboration on Friday at Surathkal, about 380km from Bengaluru.

“The centre, fourth in the country, will also facilitate promoting space technology in the southern states, including Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Puducherry, Tamil Nadu and Telangana and be an ambassador for capacity-building, awareness and research and development (R&D), said Venkitakrishnan on the occasion.

A joint policy and management committee will guide the centre in optimal utilisation of the research potential, infrastructure, expertise and experience of the space agency and the autonomous institute.

“The committee will plan activities like research programmes of common interest and reviewing their projects periodically,” said the director.

ISRO’s visiting scientists and experts in space technology and NIT faculty members and researchers will direct the centre’s activities, including projects.

ISRO
Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) Chairman K. Sivan, left, and Junior Indian Minister for Department of Atomic Energy and Space Jitendra Singh address a news conference in New Delhi. VOA

“Students of under-graduation (B.Tech) and post-graduation (M.Tech) will be involved in one-year short-term research projects and 2-4 year long-term projects in advance space programmes,” said NIT K. Umamashewara Rao.

The intellectual property rights (patent) generated in the projects will be jointly owned by ISRO and NITK.

The other three such centres are Malaviya National Institute of Technology at Jaipur in Rajasthan, Gauhati University in Assam’s state capital and Kurukshetra University at Thanesar in Haryana.

In a related development, the city-based space agency also tied up with the state-run Indian Institute of Astrophysics (IIA) for cooperating to develop space situational awareness.

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“The agreement envisages utilisation of IIA’s expertise in astrophysics and astronomy for developing advanced technologies for inter-planetary space explorations,” said the space agency’s scientific secretary R. Umamaheswaran.

Both the academic and research institutions will also collaborate in setting up optical telescope facilities under the Netra project for space object tracking, studying space weather, asteroids and near earth objects.

“Collaboration will help us progress in various fields of astrophysics and astronomy,” said IIA Director Annapurni Subramaniam on the occasion. (IANS)