On August 23, 2023, the Indian lunar probe Chandrayaan-3 landed successfully on the moon. Less than a week after landing, the probe is now providing a first thermal profile of the surface around the south pole of the moon.
Graphic shows temperature differences
The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) has now published a graphic on the temperature differences under the surface of the moon via the micro-blogging service X (formerly Twitter). “ChaSTE (Chandra’s Surface Thermophysical Experiment) measures the temperature profile of the lunar soil around the pole to understand the thermal behavior of the lunar surface,” it says in the message.
“It has a temperature probe equipped with a controlled penetration mechanism that can reach a depth of 10 cm below the surface. The probe is equipped with 10 individual temperature sensors.” The ISRO graph shows that the temperatures measured on the lunar surface reach up to 70 degrees Celsius.
“We all thought the temperature on the surface could be somewhere between 20 and 30 degrees Celsius, but it’s 70 degrees Celsius. This is surprisingly higher than what we expected,” explains ISRO scientist BHM Darukesha. Below the surface, the temperature drops to as low as -10 degrees Celsius.
A lack of atmosphere creates adverse conditions
The strongly fluctuating temperatures on the moon are due to the fact that the natural earth satellite does not have an atmosphere. Its surface is exposed to the sun’s rays without any protection. Temperatures on the moon range from a hot 120 to a chilly -250 degrees Celsius.
ISRO investigates lunar soil and water ice
The Indian lunar mission Chandrayaan-3 is researching the previously largely unknown south pole of the moon. This area of the moon is very shady, making it an ideal reservoir for frozen water. India will continue to study the water ice and soil at the South Pole over the coming days and weeks. ISRO is trying to find out whether water, fuel and oxygen can be obtained from it for future manned missions.