Chandrayaan 3, for the first time ever in the history of world space science, profiled the soil of the south pole of the moon, its temperature variation up till 10cm beneath the surface. Four days after the successful soft-landing of Isro’s Chandrayaan on August 23, Isro on Sunday shared the first observations that Chandrayaan 3 shared. This is the first time that a temperature profiling of lunar soil around the south pole is being done as this is the first time any country has soft landed on the south pole of the moon.
Isro shared a graph on the variation of the moon’s soil temperature at various depths. “ChaSTE (Chandra’s Surface Thermophysical Experiment) measures the temperature profile of the lunar topsoil around the pole, to understand the thermal behaviour of the moon’s surface. 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 said.
“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,” Isro tweeted.
In the graph, the temperatures range from -10 degree Celsius to 60 degree celsius.
Chandrayaan 3 has seven payloads, four on the Vikram lander, two on the Pragyan rover and one propulsion module payload. These payloads are designed to carry out different scientific experiments. Apart from ChaSTE which is studying lunar soil, Vikram has RAMBHA (to study ions and electrons), ILSA (to study the seismicity) and LRA (to understand the dynamics of moon’s system)
After the failure of Chandrayaan 2 in 2019, India made history with its successful soft-landing on the south pole of the moon on August 23. Chandrayaan 3 has 14 days of time on the moon to complete its assignments and 14 days on the earth is equivalent to one lunar day. Rover Pragyan rolled out of Vikram lander and walked around the site where it landed, now known as Shiv Shakti Point. Now the payloads are all doing their work.
First temperature profile of Moon’s south pole: What does it mean
Isro chief S Somnath earlier explained that they chose the south pole of the moon as their experiment site as the lesser-known south pole may have the potential that can host humans in future. The south pole of the moon is less illuminated by the sun. Now that Chandrayaan 3 gives a clear picture of the soil temperature, its variation, scientists will now decipher what potential moon’s south pole soil actually holds.