The Chandrayaan-2 was lunched with intention to explore the untamed South Pole and to expand the lunar scientific knowledge through detailed study of topography, seismography, mineral identification and distribution, surface chemical composition, thermo-physical characteristics of top soil and composition of the tenuous lunar atmosphere, leading to a new understanding of the origin and evolution of the Moon. However, on September 02, 2019 Vikram Lander was separated from the Orbiter in preparation for landing but unfortunately at the altitude of 2.1 km communication was lost from lander to the ground stations, according to the information posted on the ISRO website.

The orbiter however, continues to dispatch information, thus still managing to help with new findings, this led to the renewed conformation about the presence of water molecules and hydroxyl on the surface of the moon.  

The data compiled from the Chandrayaan-2 orbiter's imaging infrared spectrometer (IIRS), the device that is responsible for gathering information based on the Moon's electromagnetic spectrum, to evaluate the mineral composition of Earth’s natural satellite. Researchers analyzed the data from three strips on the Chandrayaan-2 IIRS sensor for hydration, which led to "unambiguous detection of OH (hydroxyl) and H2O (water) signatures."

The research findings, published in the journal Current Science, state that hydration absorption was observed at all latitudes and surface types in varying degrees. "The initial data analysis from IIRS clearly demonstrates the presence of widespread lunar hydration and unambiguous detection of OH and H2O signatures on the Moon between 29 degrees north and 62 degrees north latitude," researchers said.

The analyzed data inferred the possibility of higher hydroxyl or water molecules around the brighter sunlit highland regions at higher latitudes of the Moon. Experts at the Indian Institute of Remote Sensing (IIRS) in Dehradun suggested that the formation of hydroxyl and water on the Moon is a result of space weathering, a process of reaction of solar winds with the lunar surface. This combined with impact events (large impact craters on the Moon that formed in the last billion years excavate large rocks and boulders that heat up during the lunar day and slowly cool during the long lunar night-according to the article published in the Astronomy Now magazine: 11 August 2021) lead to chemical changes that further triggered the formation of reactive hydroxyl molecules.

"The proper interpretation of hydration feature through spectral analysis is significant as it provides important inputs regarding the geology and geophysics of the mantle in terms of their mineralogy, chemical composition, rheology and solar wind interaction," the researchers said in their paper.

Stability involving these hydration feature would be dependent on how they interact with one another, with the exterior and their environment at a specific temperature range and thus, delivering crucial clues about their origin and evolution.

The paper further notes on new possible horizons-"significant for future planetary exploration for resource utilization", something that would peak interest for countries rushing to the Moon with plans to build lunar bases. Several countries including India are edging to return to the Moon with new probes and tools to harness rare-Earth minerals that are likely present on the natural satellite.

ISRO is planning on launching Chandrayaan-3, a successor to the second mission perhaps in the coming year.

Kudos for the team associated with the new findings, although ISRO previously was associated with the discovery water on the moon with Chandrayaan-1. A team of scientists from IIRS Dehradun that included Prakash Chauhan, Mamta Chauhan, Prabhakar Verma and Supriya Sharma, along with Satadru Bhattacharya, Aditya Kumar Dagar, Amitabh, Abhishek N. Patil, Ajay Kumar Parashar, Ankush Kumar, Nilesh Desai from Space Applications Centre and Ritu Karidhal from URRSC Bengaluru and AS Kiran Kumar from ISRO.