The Siddampoondi village in Tamil Nadu’s Namakkal district has been making significant contributions to India’s lunar exploration efforts. Since 2012, this village has been sending soil samples to ISRO, the Indian Space Research Organisation, to aid in research related to lunar missions. The soil samples, which share similarities with lunar soil found particularly at the South Pole, have proven invaluable for tests related to Chandrayaan rovers’ soft landing capability.
This topic of “Anorthosite” is important from the perspective of the UPSC IAS Examination, which falls under General Studies Portion.
Understanding the Composition
Anorthosite is an intrusive igneous rock composed primarily of plagioclase feldspar. Its unique mineral composition lends it distinct characteristics and economic significance.
Economic and Scientific Value
Apart from its scientific significance in lunar exploration, anorthosite contains economically important elements such as titanium and aluminum, along with potential gemstones. This combination of attributes makes anorthosite a sought-after subject of study.
Unearthing Lunar Connections
Lunar Landscape Resemblance
The soil samples from Siddampoondi village bear an uncanny resemblance to lunar soil, particularly the type found in the regions around the South Pole of the Moon. This parallel has facilitated ISRO’s research and experimentation related to lunar missions.
Aiding Lunar Mission Tests
The pulverized and sorted anorthosite rocks from the village have played a pivotal role in tests related to Chandrayaan rovers’ soft landing capabilities. These tests are crucial for ensuring the success of lunar exploration missions.
Indigenous Lunar Soil Simulant
The use of indigenous lunar soil simulants has significantly reduced costs for ISRO. The lunar soil simulant derived from Siddampoondi village’s anorthosite rocks cost approximately 13 lakh INR, a stark contrast to the 30 crore INR required for the equivalent material imported from the United States.
Geographical and Temporal Context
Anorthosite’s Earthly Presence
Anorthosite can be found in several regions across India, including Andhra Pradesh, Odisha, and Tamil Nadu. On the Moon, anorthosite forms the basis of the light-colored areas.
Anorthosite rocks were formed during the Precambrian era, offering insights into Earth’s geological history.