Moon Current Affairs - 2020

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Chandrayaan 2: Argon 40 found in Lunar Exosphere

The Chandrayaan 2 detected Argon 40 in the lunar Exosphere. Argon 40 is one of the isotopes of Argon, a noble gas. The ISRO has given the detailed process by which Argon 40 reaches the Lunar exosphere

Argon is an important constituent of lunar exosphere. It originates from the radioactive disintegration of Potassium-40 beneath the moon’s surface. The gas is released during moon quakes.

Highlights

The CHACE-2 (Chandra’s Atomspheric Composition Explorer 2) payload in the Chandrayaan 2 orbiter is a neutral mass spectrometer. It detects constituents in the lunar neutral exosphere. IT now detected Argon 40 from an altitude of 100 km capturing day-night variations. The gas in the Lunar exosphere condenses during lunar night. The gas is being released after lunar dawn.

Potassium 40

Potassium is a radioactive isotope of Potassium. It has a long shelf life of 1.25×10years. It is a rare example of an isotope that undergoes beta decay. Potassium-40 is important for potassium-argon dating.

When a mineral that contains Potassium 40 decays it creates fresh Argon-40 that remains locked up in the mineral. As the rate at which the conversion occurs is known, it helps to determine the time since the mineral was formed based on the K40 and Ar40 atoms.

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20 new moons of Saturn discovered

On 8th October 2019, 20 new moons of Saturn were discovered. With this Saturn has a total of 82 moons today. It is the highest of any planet in solar system. Till date Jupiter had the highest number of moons. It has 79 moons.

The moons of Saturn discovered are relatively smaller moons. The discovery was made at the Subaru telescope set up atop Hawaii’s Mauna Kea volcano.

Of 82 moons, 17 of them orbit in opposite direction. These moons take more than three years to complete their orbit. The moons were discovered by a team of astronomers led by Sheppard.

The newly discovered moons belong to Norse group. The Saturn’s Norse group of moons are retrograde irregular satellites. There are unique and different from other moons of the solar system. Their inclinations are between 136 degrees and 175 degrees. These moons are clusters formed from different parent body that Saturn captured. This might have happened during the early days of Solar System according to the astronomers who discovered the moons. The other moons belong to Gallic group. They are prograde moons that take less than 2 years to complete their orbit. Also they orbit in the same direction as that of Saturn.

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