Chandrayaan-3’s Pragyan rover, on August 23, touched down on the lunar surface, making India the sole nation to achieve a soft landing on the South Pole of the Moon.
Following the significant breakthrough, the Indian space agency is extracting valuable insights from this region. Recently, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) shared a graph on X — previously known as Twitter.
The graph illustrates the temperature changes on the lunar surface as the depth increases. Accompanying the image, ISRO detailed the initial observations gained from the ChaSTE payload located on the Vikram Lander.
ISRO’s Post On X:
Alongside the graph, ISRO explained, “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.”
They further elaborated that the graph depicts the temperature fluctuations on the lunar surface and nearby regions at different depths, recorded while the probe penetrated. This is the first-ever profile of its kind for the lunar south pole. Detailed observations are currently in progress.
Here are the first observations from the ChaSTE payload onboard Vikram Lander.
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… pic.twitter.com/VZ1cjWHTnd
— ISRO (@isro) August 27, 2023
What experts say:
Commenting on the graphic representation, ISRO scientist BHM Darukesha told news agency PTI, “We all believed that the temperature could be somewhere around 20 degrees centigrade to 30 degrees centigrade on the surface but it is 70 degrees centigrade. This is surprisingly higher than what we had expected.”
Going into the details, Mr Darukesha explained the interesting temperature findings. He talked about how on Earth, if we dig just a little bit below the surface – around two to three centimetres – the temperature changes only a tiny bit, maybe by two to three degrees Celsius. But on the Moon, things are very different. When you dig to the same depth, there’s a huge difference in temperature, about 50 degrees Celsius, he said.
From the international perspective, India is viewed as a space giant nation due to its tremendous progress in recent times, Prof Santabrata Das, Department of Physics, IIT Guwahati, told IANS. “Indeed, India is an emerging space power as ISRO successfully marks its footprints globally because of its capability in achieving goals in a cost-effective and time-efficient manner,” Mr Das added.
Space research in India has evolved — from being primarily focussed on the needs or development of the country to “more serious”, Amit Kumar, a faculty at the Department of Aerospace Engineering, IIT Madras, said. The country is “working at par with whatever is happening around the world,” he added, referring to missions by space agencies of China, the US and others. “We also see these kinds of activities happening in India,” added Kumar.
“Chandrayaan-3 is an excellent technical demonstration where we have achieved what a very limited number of countries around the world have been able to achieve,” astrophysicist Prof. Varun Bhalerao at IIT Bombay, told IANS.
And this makes it extremely clear that we are among the top who actually are able to take up very ambitious, very difficult missions in space, he added. “And we are also able to do it for a low cost. And that is always going to be an important factor as more and more private enterprises from around the world enter into the space industry,” he said.