Moon Mineralogy Mapper

Moon Mineralogy Mapper
Moon Mineralogy Mapper
Moon Mineralogy Mapper left.jpg
Left side of the Moon Mineralogy Mapper
Operator NASA
Major contractors JPL
Mission type Orbiter (Chandrayaan-1)
Satellite of Moon
Orbital insertion date 2008-11-12 11:21:00 UTC
Launch date 2008-10-22 00:52:00 UTC
(3 years and 4 days ago)
Launch vehicle Chandrayaan-1, PSLV-C11
Launch site SDSC
Mission duration November 12, 2008 -
September 20, 2009
(lost communication)

712 days (planned)
312 days (actual)
COSPAR ID 2008-052A-04
Homepage M3 Home
Mass 8.2 kg (18 lb)
Orbital elements
Semimajor axis 100 km
Eccentricity ~ circular
Inclination Polar

The Moon Mineralogy Mapper (M3) is one of two instruments that NASA contributed to India's first mission to the Moon, Chandrayaan-1, launched October 22, 2008. The instrument is led by principal investigator Carle Pieters of Brown University, and managed by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory.



M3 is an imaging spectrometer that has provided the first high-resolution spatial and spectral map of the entire lunar surface, revealing the minerals of which it is made. This information will both provide clues to the early development of the solar system and guide future astronauts to stores of precious resources.

This instrument is a Discovery Program "Mission of Opportunity" (a NASA-designed instrument on board another space agency's spacecraft).

After suffering from several technical issues including failure of the star sensors and poor thermal shielding, Chandrayaan-1 stopped sending radio signals at 1:30 AM IST on 29 August 2009 shortly after which, the ISRO officially declared the mission over. Chandrayaan-1 operated for 312 days as opposed to the intended two years but the mission achieved 95 percent of its planned objectives, including mapping over 95% of the lunar surface with the M3 instrument.[1]

Science Team

Image of the moon taken by the Moon Mineralogy Mapper. Blue shows the signature of water, green shows the brightness of the surface as measured by reflected infra-red radiation from the sun and red shows an iron-bearing mineral called pyroxene.

Water discovered on moon

These images show water in a very young lunar crater on the side of the moon that faces away from Earth.

On September 24, 2009, the Science Magazine reported that NASA's Moon Mineralogy Mapper (M3) on Chandrayaan-1 had detected water on the moon.[2] M3 detected absorption features near 2.8-3.0 µm on the surface of the Moon. For silicate bodies, such features are typically attributed to OH- and/or H2O-bearing materials. On the Moon, the feature is seen as a widely distributed absorption that appears strongest at cooler high latitudes and at several fresh feldspathic craters. The general lack of correlation of this feature in sunlit M3 data with neutron spectrometer H abundance data suggests that the formation and retention of OH and H2O is an ongoing surficial process. OH/H2O production processes may feed polar cold traps and make the lunar regolith a candidate source of volatiles for human exploration.

The Moon Mineralogy Mapper (M3), an imaging spectrometer, was one of the 11 instruments on board Chandrayaan-I that came to a premature end on August 29. M3 was aimed at providing the first mineral map of the entire lunar surface.

Lunar scientists have for decades contended with the possibility of water repositories. They are now increasingly “confident that the decades-long debate is over,” a report says. “The moon, in fact, has water in all sorts of places; not just locked up in minerals, but scattered throughout the broken-up surface, and, potentially, in blocks or sheets of ice at depth.” The results from the NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter are also “offering a wide array of watery signals.” [3][4]

Mg-spinel-rich rock discovered

A rock dominated by Mg-spinel with no detectable pyroxene or olivine present (<5%) was found to occur along the western inner ring of Moscoviense Basin as one of several discrete areas. The occurance of this spinel does not easily fit with current lunar crustal evolution models.[5]

External links


  1. ^ Boardman, Joe. "A New Lunar Globe as Seen by the Moon Mineralogy Mapper: Image Coverage, Spectral Dimensionality and Statistical Anomalies.". LPI. Retrieved 12 April 2011. 
  2. ^ ";1178658v1"
  3. ^ The Washington Post. [dead link]
  4. ^ "Water discovered on moon?: “A lot of it actually”". The Hindu (Chennai, India). 23 September 2009. 
  5. ^ Pieters, Carle. "Identification of a new spinel-rich lunar rock type by the Moon Mineralogy Mapper (M3)". LPI. Retrieved 12 April 2011. 

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