BENGALURU: On Tuesday, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) announced a significant achievement – the first-ever “in-situ” measurements conducted in the lunar polar region. The Laser-Induced Breakdown Spectroscope (LIBS) instrument, which is part of the Chandrayaan-3 rover Pragyan, has unequivocally identified the presence of Sulphur (S) on the lunar surface near the southern pole.
In technical terms, LIBS employs a scientific methodology that involves analyzing materials through exposure to intense laser pulses. These pulses are precisely focused onto the surface of materials like rocks or soil, generating localized and highly heated plasma.
The emitted plasma light is then divided into its distinct spectral components and captured by devices like charge-coupled devices. ISRO further explains that since each element emits a unique range of light wavelengths while in a plasma state, this enables the identification of the material’s elemental composition.
Initial analyses, presented visually, have disclosed the existence of Aluminum (Al), Sulphur (S), Calcium (Ca), Iron (Fe), Chromium (Cr), and Titanium (Ti) on the lunar surface.
Continuing investigations have additionally detected the presence of manganese (Mn), silicon (Si), and oxygen (O). A comprehensive inquiry to confirm the presence of Hydrogen is currently underway, as per ISRO.
The development of the LIBS instrument took place at the Laboratory for Electro-Optics Systems (LEOS) situated in Bengaluru. LEOS, an integral part of ISRO, is responsible for designing, developing, and manufacturing attitude sensors for missions spanning different orbits, including Low Earth Orbit (LEO), Geostationary Orbit (GEO), and interplanetary missions. Moreover, LEOS is involved in creating and supplying optical systems for various applications like remote sensing and meteorological payloads.
ISRO also highlighted that the laboratory is equipped with advanced fabrication, testing, and coating facilities. In addition, it is actively engaged in exploring cutting-edge technologies such as 3-axis fiber optics gyro, optical communication, Micro-Electro-Mechanical Systems (MEMS), nanotechnology, detectors, and the creation of scientific payloads for upcoming space missions.