The Chandrayaan-2 Orbiter might be orbiting the Moon currently but it is also keeping a watch at other key celestial bodies of our solar system. The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) in an update has revealed that the Chandrayaan-2 orbiter has observed solar flares with the help of the Solar X-ray Monitor which is fitted onboard.
The Indian space agency said that the Orbiter is carrying two instruments – Chandrayaan 2 Large Area Soft X-ray Spectrometer (or CLASS) and Solar X-ray Monitor (or XSM), for measuring the lunar elemental composition using this technique.
The CLASS payload detects the characteristic lines from the surface of the Moon while the XSM payload simultaneously measures the spectrum of the solar X-ray, ISRO said in its latest update.
Solar flare measured by XSM instrument of #Chandrayaan2 and GOES-15 of US during 30th September to 1st October 2019.
Clearly XSM provides very detailed information which will help in understanding various processes on the Sun.
Details at https://t.co/OccLzYCfZp pic.twitter.com/SBb9ZztZlv
— ISRO (@isro) October 10, 2019
The space agency has also shared a graph that measures a series of small solar flares measured by XSM from September 30 at 00:00 UTC(5:30 IST) up to October 1 at 23:59 UTC(5:29 IST on October 2). The data which has been measured by the XSM is compared to the solar flux measured by the X-ray sensor on the Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite (GOES-15).
The result showed that XSM is able to detect the intensity variations of the Sun much beyond the sensitivity limit of GOES, ISRO said. “The gaps seen in GOES light curve around 09:00 UTC are due to instrumental artifacts,” the space agency explained in its statement.
The data from GOES was obtained from the National Center for Environmental Information of National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, USA.
Apart from having a better sensitivity, the XSM can also measure the spectrum of the solar X-ray in the energy range of 1-15 keV with the highest energy resolution so far for any broadband solar X-ray spectrometer over intervals as short as 1 second, ISRO said in its statement.
Though the orbiter has sent back the data of the solar flare, ISRO said that it may not be enough to study the composition of the Moon’s surface because of the large angle between Sun, lunar surface and Chandrayaan-2. The angle is close to 90-degrees in this case against a desirable low value, close to zero.
However, the Indian agency said that these XSM observations provide very useful data to understand various processes on the Sun.