Chandrayaan-3 delivers debut scientific insights from moon’s South Pole, says ‘temperature variation could be…’

In a significant achievement for India’s space agency, it has collected groundbreaking scientific data from the previously uncharted South Polar region of the Moon.

The Vikram lander’s thermal probe has successfully documented temperature fluctuations across the lunar surface, spanning its top layer, immediate vicinity, and deeper layers. The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) explained that the ChaSTE (Chandra’s Surface Thermophysical Experiment) initiative aims to unravel the thermal dynamics of the Moon’s surface by assessing temperature profiles of the lunar topsoil near the pole.

“It has a temperature probe equipped with a controlled penetration mechanism capable of reaching a depth of 10 cm beneath the surface. The probe is fitted with 10 individual temperature sensors,” it added.

Also Read: In a first, Chandraayan-3 sends temperature profile of Moon’s surface at various depths of South Pole

Due to the absence of an atmosphere, the lunar surface experiences extreme temperature fluctuations. The ISRO depicted these variations through a graphical representation.

“The presented graph illustrates the temperature variations of the lunar surface/near-surface at various depths, as recorded during the probe’s penetration. This is the first such profile for the lunar south pole. Detailed observations are underway,” said ISRO.


According to ISRO scientist BHM Darukesha, the recorded temperature was unexpectedly higher than initially anticipated. “We believed the temperature could be somewhere around 20-30 degrees centigrade on the surface but it is 70 degrees,” he told PTI, referring to the graph.

Minister of Science Jitendra Singh stated that the Chandrayaan-3 mission is anticipated to provide data regarding the Moon’s atmosphere, soil composition, and minerals. This information could potentially constitute a groundbreaking contribution to the global scientific community, possibly being the first of its kind.

Also Read: How NASA’s Deep Space Network (DSN) helped ISRO in communicating with Chandrayaan-3

“The low density and high thermal insulation of the regolith (Moon’s layer of rocks) enhances its potential as a basic building block for future habitats while the assessment of the wide range of temperature variations are crucial for survivability,” the minister added.

ChaSTE, a crucial device integrated into the Vikram Lander, is outfitted with 10 precision thermal sensors. These sensors are designed to penetrate the lunar topsoil and analyze fluctuations in temperature. This marks the inaugural endeavour aimed at examining the thermophysical characteristics of the uppermost 10 cm layer of the lunar surface.

The surface of the Moon experiences significant temperature fluctuations throughout its day and night cycle. Minimum temperatures plummet to less than 100 degrees Celsius during lunar nights, while maximum temperatures surge beyond 100 degrees Celsius around noontime.

Also Read: Chandrayaan-3 moon landing Highlights: Rover, lander very healthy, giving ‘beautiful’ data, says ISRO chief

The lunar topsoil, spanning approximately 5-20 meters in depth, is characterized as porous. This composition is anticipated to serve as an effective insulator. Combined with the absence of an atmosphere, this insulation is predicted to result in substantial temperature variations between the uppermost layer and the interior of the regolith.

On August 23, the Vikram lander successfully landed, establishing India as the sole nation to achieve a lunar landing in the South Polar region. This site of touchdown was subsequently designated as Shiv Shakti Point.

Chandrayaan-3 has fulfilled two out of its three primary objectives: executing a gentle landing and enabling the rover to move across the lunar surface. The third objective, which entails conducting scientific experiments directly on-site, is currently in progress, as announced by ISRO on Saturday.

The Chandrayaan-3 mission has been budgeted at around 600 crore. In a parallel development, the Pragyan rover disembarked from the belly of the Chandrayaan-3 Vikram lander and successfully traversed the lunar terrain. The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) unveiled a video on Thursday, depicting the rover’s emergence from the lander using a ramp.

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Updated: 28 Aug 2023, 08:10 AM IST

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