Chandrayaan-3 measures temperature at the lunar South Pole

Indian probe Chandrayaan-3, landed at the lunar South Pole, is conducting its first planned experiments with the rover Pragyan
First image of the lunar lander Vikram from the Chandrayaan 3 mission on the lunar surface, captured by the mission’s rover Pragyan at the South Pole of the Moon. Credit: ISRO

Thanks to the success of Chandrayaan-3, India has left an indelible mark on space history. Suddenly, it became the first nation to land a spacecraft near the South Pole of the Moon. It’s also the fourth nation to leave footprints on its surface. Since reaching the lunar South Pole, Chandrayaan-3 has been using a rover named Pragyan to explore the surrounding surface. The rover has utilized integrated cameras to send environmental videos and has begun to fulfill planned research objectives.

First Experiments

On Saturday, August 26, scientists from the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) presented a video of Pragyan roaming around the landing site, named Shiv Shakti Point. In the video, the golden rover can be seen moving away from the lander, called Vikram.

Shortly after releasing this update, ISRO also published a checklist. ISRO stated that after landing and deploying Pragyan, Chandrayaan-3 began conducting on-site scientific experiments. “All payloads are functioning normally” they reported on X.

On Sunday, August 27, ISRO posted another update on X regarding an experiment called ChaSTE (Chandra’s Surface Thermophysical Experiment).

The purpose, essentially, is to use a temperature probe and 10 individual sensors to measure temperature profiles. The goal, explained ISRO, is to help scientists understand the thermal behavior of the lunar surface.

Exploring the Lunar South Pole

Apparently, ChaSTE has already discovered some things. The graph shows various surface temperatures probed at different depths. “What was detected in the Chandrayaan-3 mission is the very first profile of its kind for the lunar South Pole” the agency declared.

Further observations are still underway as the Pragyan rover encountered a hazardous crater. Due to the nature of the lunar South Pole, dangers like this are quite common.

Indeed, this is one of the main reasons why the landing of Chandrayaan-3 was a significant occasion. Everyone wants to reach the lunar South Pole because it holds large amounts of ice. However, landing in those locations is challenging because the region is covered in craters.

On Sunday, August 27, about 3 meters from its position, the rover spotted a crater that appeared to be about 4 meters wide. “The rover has been instructed to backtrack its path” ISRO announced. “It is now safely heading on a new route”.

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