A British scientist who helped design a camera on board India’s Chandrayaan-1 says he hopes images from it will help answer two tantalising questions about the Moon.
â€œWhere did the Moon come from? And could it ever sustain human life?â€ Maneul Grande of Aberystwyth Universtiy told the Times newspaper.
â€œAfter the Apollo landings, people thought they knew a fair bit about the Moon - they’d seen people walking around up there,â€ said Grande, who helped to design the European Space Agency’s camera that will take X-ray images of the Moon’s surface.
â€œBut 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.â€
Unlike US Apollo expeditions that have explored the same area - on the near side and on its equator - to make it easier to return to Earth, the Grande camera will take images of the entire Moon, the Times said.
It will analyse its glow to detect the presence of six key elements - iron, titanium, calcium, magnesium, silicon and aluminium.
The paper said Grande hopes that the results will help explain 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.
â€œThe findings might soon help to support human life on the Moon - for example, at a manned base that Nasa is planning to build,â€ the Times reported.
Grande said he expected â€œmore and more manned bases on the Moon in the next 20-30 yearsâ€.