X-ray camera aboard Chandrayaan-1 to probe the moon

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London, Oct 16 : The Chandrayaan-1 spacecraft, which is India's first mission to the moon, will carry a sophisticated X-ray camera on board, when it is launched into space on October 22nd.

Chandrayaan-1 is the first lunar mission from the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). It is designed to orbit the Moon and carries radar and particle detectors as well as instruments that will make observations in the visible, near infrared and X-ray part of the electromagnetic spectrum.

Scientists and engineers from the UK's Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) have designed the X-ray camera.

This is the first time the UK and India have collaborated in space science, and the UK partners will be following the progress of the launch in the early hours of Wednesday (22nd Oct) with an event at the STFC Rutherford Appleton Laboratory (RAL).

The camera, named C1XS, is an X-Ray Spectrometer that will measure X-rays to map the surface composition of the Moon which will help scientists to understand its origin and evolution, as well as quantifying the mineral resources that exist there.

According to Chris Howe, C1XS Chief Engineer, from STFC Space Science and Technology Department, "After all our hard work, we're all eager to see C1XS safely on its way so that it can get to work uncovering more of the Moon's secrets."

C1XS was developed in conjunction with the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO).

It employs new technology to make a compact, lightweight, sensitive instrument that can measure the abundances of chemical elements in the lunar surface, by detecting the X-rays they absorb and re-emit.

The spectrometer builds on a successful technology demonstration called D-CIXS, which was launched aboard the European Space Agency's (ESA) Smart-1 mission to the Moon.

C1XS will work by looking at X-rays from the Sun which have been absorbed by atoms in the lunar soil, then re-emitted in such a way as to reveal the chemistry of the surface.

The spectrometer is sensitive to magnesium, aluminium and silicon X-rays. When the solar X-ray illumination is bright, for example during a solar flare, it may also be able to make measurements of other elements such as iron, titanium and calcium.

To make accurate measurements of the surface elements it is essential to measure the X-rays being produced by the Sun.

C1XS has an additional detector system to measure these X-rays called the X-ray Solar Monitor (XSM) which is provided by the University of Helsinki Observatory, Finland.


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