On Thursday, the Indian Space Research Organisation said that Chandrayaan 2’s Orbiter payload CLASS, in its first few days of observation, detected charged particles and their intensity variations on the lunar soil.
ISRO said in a tweet, “CLASS, Chandrayaan2’s Orbiter payload, in its first few days of observation, could detect charged particles and its intensity variations during its first passage through the geotail during Sept.”
The CLASS instrument on Chandrayaan-2 is designed to detect direct signatures of elements present in the lunar soil, the ISRO said in a statement. The space agency said that “This is best observed when a solar flare on the Sun provides a rich source of x-rays to illuminate the lunar surface; secondary x-ray emission resulting from this can be detected by CLASS to directly detect the presence of key elements.”
“While this kind of ‘flash photography’ requires one to wait for the time Sun to be active, CLASS in its first few days of observation could detect charged particles and its intensity variations during its first passage through the geotail during September,” it added.
The space agency said, “The Sun emits a continuous outflowing stream of electrons and protons into the solar system, called the solar wind. The solar wind plasma which has charged particles embedded in the extended magnetic field of the Sun moves at speeds of a few hundred km per second.”
It interacts with solar system bodies including Earth and its moon. As the Earth has a global magnetic field, it obstructs the solar wind plasma and this interaction results in the formation of a magnetic envelope around Earth called the magnetosphere. The Earth’s magnetosphere is compressed into a region approximately three to four times the Earth’s radius.