Chandrayaan-3 and the 9 unsolved mysteries of the Moon

Produced by: Pranav Dixit
Designed by: Mohsin Shaikh

Chandrayaan-3 is the latest endeavour in India's lunar exploration efforts under the prestigious Chandrayaan programme. Anticipated to reach the moon by August 23, 2023, this mission marks the country's third significant leap towards unravelling the moon's mysteries. Here are some more intriguing ones


One of the most enduring mysteries is the moon's origin. Was it formed from a cosmic collision between Earth and a Mars-sized body, as the Giant Impact Hypothesis suggests? Or does it have a more complex birth story involving capture by Earth's gravitational pull? Unravelling the moon's origins could provide crucial insights into the early solar system's dynamics

The Moon's Origin Story

In the past decade, scientists have made surprising discoveries indicating the presence of water on the moon. But how did it get there? Is it primarily locked within permanently shadowed craters at the poles, as some data suggest? Understanding the distribution and origin of lunar water could revolutionise future space exploration by providing a potential resource for sustained lunar missions

Lunar Water Reservoirs

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Despite the moon's seemingly tranquil appearance, its shape is far from perfect. The presence of an unexpected lunar bulge—an uneven distribution of mass—has puzzled researchers. Is this bulge a result of the moon's internal structure, or is it influenced by Earth's gravitational forces? Solving this mystery could help us gain insights into the moon's geological evolution

The Lunar "Bulge"

Throughout history, observers have reported observing strange lights and transient events on the moon's surface. These Transient Lunar Phenomena (TLP) have eluded a definitive explanation. Are they due to outgassing of volatile compounds, meteoroid impacts, or something entirely different? Continued observations and advanced lunar missions might finally shed light on these fleeting mysteries

Transient Lunar Phenomena

Credit: NASA

Unlike Earth, the moon lacks a global magnetic field. However, localised magnetic anomalies have been detected on its surface. What could have caused these magnetic pockets? Did the moon once have a stronger magnetic field, or are these anomalies remnants of a bygone era? Deciphering the origins of these magnetic signatures could provide insights into the moon's past and its interaction with space weather

Magnetic Anomalies

Credit: NASA

Moonquakes, seismic activities on the moon's surface, have puzzled scientists since they were first detected by Apollo missions. What drives these moonquakes, and are they caused by the moon's gradual cooling and contraction? Furthermore, the existence of fault scarps—cliff-like features on the lunar surface—raises questions about the moon's tectonic history and its ongoing geological processes

Moonquakes and
Tectonic Activity

Credit: Kopernik Observatory/NASA/Colorado School of Mines/MIT/JPL/Goddard Space Flight Center

The moon's maria, large expanses of dark, basaltic plains, are remnants of ancient volcanic activity. However, the exact mechanisms and timing of these eruptions remain enigmatic. How did these lava flows occur, and what role did the moon's internal heat play? Studying lunar volcanism could provide valuable information about the moon's thermal history and its connection to similar processes on Earth

Lunar Volcanism and Basaltic Plains

Credit: NASA

The moon's surface is peppered with countless impact craters, which provide valuable information about the history of collisions in our solar system. However, the apparent lack of small craters, known as the "lunar cratering problem," has raised questions about the accuracy of our understanding of the moon's age and the rate of impact events. Solving this mystery could refine our estimates of the moon's geological timeline and shed light on the evolution of its surface over time

Ageing Impact Craters

The moon's regolith, a layer of fragmented rock and dust covering its surface, has posed challenges for lunar exploration. The fine, abrasive nature of lunar dust has caused concerns for equipment and human missions. But how does this dust behave, and what mechanisms contribute to its unique properties? Studying lunar dust could offer insights not only into lunar geology but also into potential solutions for managing dust-related issues during future lunar missions

Lunar Dust and Regolith

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