London, Oct 23 : Scientists are hoping that India's Chandrayaan-1 lunar mission will help solve the riddle of whether the Moon is an alien body that collided with the Earth, or is part of the Earth that was broken off after a collision with another body.
According to a report in The Times, a camera on board Chandrayaan-1, which will take X-ray images of the Moon's surface, may provide the answer to this riddle.
Manuel Grande, a British lunar scientist from Aberystwyth University, has helped to design the European Space Agency's instrument.
"After the Apollo landings, people thought they knew a fair bit about the Moon - they'd seen people walking around up there," Grande told The Times.
"But the more they looked at the results in detail, people realised the things we don't understand - like where it came from, or the possible existence of water," he added.
The United States Apollo missions landed on the Moon six times between 1969 and 1972, but always explored the same area - on the near side and on its equator - to ease the return to Earth.
Professor Grande's machine will take images of the entire Moon, analysing its glow to detect the presence of six key elements - iron, titanium, calcium, magnesium, silicon and aluminium.
He hopes that the results will help to solve the riddle of whether the Moon is an alien body that collided with the Earth, or is part of the Earth that was broken off after a collision with another body.
The findings might soon help to support human life on the Moon - for example, at a manned base that NASA is planning to build.
"I don't expect there to be an independent republic of the Moon in my lifetime," he said. "But, I do think there may be more and more manned bases on the Moon in the next 20-30 years," he added.