Daily Archives: December 14th, 2009

Did India Discover Lunar Life?

The discovery by NASA of water at the Lunar South via the LCROSS Mission was a pleasant surprise by the agency and the scientific community in general and has recently prompted serious discussions of further lunar exploration in the future, because water can be used for various things by a human base there like drinking, bathing, fuel production and for regolith cement for housing.

One has never considered that these rare pools of water could contain organic materials, i.e., life.

But Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) scientists have analyzed 2008 information from their now dead Chandrayaan-1 lunar probe and discovered organic compounds on the moon’s surface:

Scientists at the Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro) are on the brink of a path-breaking discovery. They may have found signs of life in some form or the other on the Moon.

They believe so because scientific instruments on India’s first unmanned lunar mission, Chandrayaan-1, picked up signatures of organic matter on parts of the Moon’s surface, Surendra Pal, associate director, Isro Satellite Centre (Isac), said at the international radar symposium here on Friday.

Organic matter consists of organic compounds, which consists of carbon — the building block of life.

It indicates the formation of life or decay of a once-living matter.

Pal said the signatures were relayed back to the Bylalu deep space network station near Bangalore by the mass spectrometer on board the Indian payload, the moon impact probe (MIP), on November 14, 2008.

The relay of data happened moments before it crashed near the Moon’s south pole. The MIP was the first experiment of the Chandrayaan-1 mission, which was launched on October 22, 2008.

Pal, however, did not elaborate, but concluded saying “the findings are being analysed and scrutinised for validation by Isro scientists and peer reviewers”.

“It is too early to say anything,” said the director of Isro’s space physics laboratory R Sridharan, who is heading the team of MIP data analysis and study. He, however, did not deny the finding.

DNA later inquired with other senior Chandrayaan-1 mission scientists, who not only confirmed the finding, but gave further details.

“Certain atomic numbers were observed that indicated the presence of carbon components. This indicates the possibility of the presence of organic matter (on the Moon),” a senior scientist told DNA.

Interestingly, similar observations were made by the US’s first manned Moon landing mission, the Apollo-11, in July 1969, which brought lunar soil samples back to Earth. But due to a lack of sophisticated equipment then, the scientists could not confirm the finding.

However, traces of amino acids, which are basic to life, were found in the soil retrieved by the Apollo-11 astronauts.

The Chandrayaan-1 scientists, at present, are analysing the source of origin of the Moon’s organic matter. “It could be comets or meteorites which have deposited the matter on the Moon’s surface; or the instrument that landed on the Moon could have left traces,” a senior space scientist said.

“But the presence of large sheets of ice in the polar regions of the Moon, and the discovery of water molecules there, lend credence to the possibility of organic matter there,” he said.

This is an important discovery and only deepens the mysteries surrounding the Moon.

It has been said that it would be easier exploring Mars, since it acts like it supposed to (like a planet).

The Moon however, doesn’t act like a Moon should.

It acts like a huge spaceship.

Well, that’s a theory to some.

And finding possible life on a supposedly ‘airless’ surface is one in a long line of anomalous characteristics about our nearest celestial neighbor.

Indian scientists detect signs of life on Moon

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