India’s Chandrayaan-3 mission may have just recorded the first seismic data on the Moon since the 1970s.
If confirmed to be natural seismic data, it could finally help scientists understand how the Moon’s insides are arranged.
The rumblings were recorded by the Vikram lander’s onboard Instrument for Lunar Seismic Activity (ILSA).
It’s the first Micro Electro Mechanical Systems (MEMS) technology-based instrument on the Moon and it was was able to record the seismic rumbles of the mission’s Pragyan rover moving around on the surface.
But it also picked up what could be a natural event, such as a quake or an impact.
In-situ Scientific Experiments
Instrument for the Lunar Seismic Activity (ILSA) payload on Chandrayaan 3 Lander
— the first Micro Electro Mechanical Systems (MEMS) technology-based instrument on the moon —
has recorded the movements of Rover and other… pic.twitter.com/Sjd5K14hPl
— ISRO (@isro) August 31, 2023
“ILSA’s primary objective is to measure ground vibrations generated by natural quakes, impacts, and artificial events. The vibrations recorded during the rover’s navigation on August 25, 2023, are depicted in the figure,” the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) wrote in a statement.
“Additionally, an event, seemingly natural, recorded on August 26, 2023, is also shown. The source of this event is currently under investigation.”
This is tremendously exciting; to date, the best seismic data we have for the Moon was that collected by the Apollo program in the late 1960s and 1970s.
Even though it’s only been a few weeks since ISRO landed on the Moon, it’s already conducted a bunch of scientific observations and detected the first elements at the south pole.
Now both lander and rover are currently in sleep mode. That’s because it’s now night where they are on the Moon, which lasts 14 days or so.
Vikram and Pragyan, like other lunar missions before them, are solar powered, which means they “sleep” at night, when their batteries can’t recharge.
Vikram and Pragyan will emerge from slumber on 22 September, when they will recommence their explorations of the mysterious south pole of the Moon.