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Post by Chicago Astronomer Joe on Jun 9, 2005 22:44:58 GMT -6
SMART-1 detects calcium on the Moon
Thanks to measurements by the D-CIXS X-ray spectrometer, ESA's SMART-1 spacecraft has made the first ever unambiguous remote-sensing detection of calcium on the Moon.
SMART-1 is currently performing the verification and calibration of its instruments, while it runs along its science orbit, reaching 450 kilometres from the Moon at its closest distance. During this calibration phase, which precedes the actual science observations phase, the SMART-1 scientists are getting acquainted with the delicate operations and the performance of their instruments in the warm environment of the lunar orbit.
Although it is still preparing for full lunar operations, D-CIXS has started already sending back high-quality data. D-CIXS is designed to measure the global composition of the Moon by observing how it glows in X-rays when the Sun shines on it. In fact, different chemical elements provide their "fingerprinting", each glowing in a unique way.
It kinda makes sense that they would find calcium. They also found aluminium, silicon, and iron. All four of these elements are found in basalt, the most common rock on Earth and the rock that forms the lunar crust. On Earth these elements weather out of the rock, but on the Moon there isn't anywhere for it to go, so if it was there 4,500 million years ago, it's gonna be there today.
If the universe is a ball the size of America, then the solar system is almost as large as the smallest cell in the human body.