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Chandrayaan-1 Payload Feature #2: Sub KeV Atom Reflecting Analyser (SARA) November 13, 2008

Posted by Nick Azer in Chandrayaan-1, Chandrayaan-1 Payload Features, Helium-3, Indian Space Research Organization, solar wind, Sweden.
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Today is the second in a series of features on each of India‘s recently-launched Chandrayaan-1‘s scientific payloads.

The Chandrayaan-1 lunar orbiter has 11 scientific instruments onboard to complete an array of measurements: five Indian instruments, and six from other nations and organizations (including the ESA and NASA). Today is the first look at one of the foriegn payloads: the Swedish Sub KeV Atom Reflecting Analyser (SARA).

Sub KeV Atom Reflecting Analyser (SARA)

SARA is a device mainly to study the magnetosphere (or in the case of the Moon, the lack thereof) and solar wind interactions with the lunar surface.

Developed through the ESA in collaboration with the Swedish Institute of Space Physics and the Indian ISRO’s Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre, the payload itself is of Swedish development while the data processing unit is Indian.

Solar wind experiments were peformed on the lunar surface during many of the Apollo missions (11, 12, 14, 15, and 16); they analyzed the chemical components of lunar surface in relation to the solar wind, and found that the lunar surface had been enriched with atomic nuclei, including helium-3, a major motivator behind this current base race.

While details on the SARA’s mission are vague, the impression that I get is that the SARA’s additional solar wind analysis, going by the above connection between solar wind and the all-important helium-3, could yield interesting information regarding the chemical composition of the moon, possibly for mining purposes (helium and otherwise). So, perhaps, the result of this seemingly unassuming device could end up being commercially significant.

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Check back within the next couple of days for the next feature, on another of the Indian payloads, as well as for any other updates on the moon mission’s progress that may come along :). You can find the first payload feature (and all the features as they’ll be posted) here.

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