ISRO scientists are surprised by temperatures measured on Moon's surface. Here's why

Sushim Mukul
Sushim MukulAug 28, 2023 | 11:57

ISRO scientists are surprised by temperatures measured on Moon's surface. Here's why

The Space Physics Laboratory (SPL) spearheaded the development of the ChaSTE payload. Photo: ISRO/DailyO

The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), released insights into the temperature variations on the Moon's surface discovered by Chandra's Surface Thermophysical Experiment (ChaSTE) payload onboard Chandrayaan-3's Vikram lander on Sunday (August 27).

The X post said, "This is the first such profile for the lunar south pole."


This ChaSTE payload stationed near the lunar south pole with its penetration mechanism aims to uncover the Moon's thermal behaviour by measuring the temperature profile of the lunar topsoil at various depths.

Unexpected heat

  • Scientists at ISRO were taken aback by the temperature data ChaSTE delivered. Initial expectations placed the lunar surface temperature in the range of 20 to 30 degrees Celsius.
  • However, the recorded temperature surpassed the forecasts, registering 70 degrees Celsius.
  • "This is surprisingly higher than what we had expected,” ISRO scientist B H M Darukesha told PTI.
  • When drilling a few centimetres below the Earth's surface, temperature variations were found low, typically around two to three degrees Celsius.
  • In contrast, the lunar surface exhibited a remarkable 50-degree Celsius fluctuation, with temperatures ranging from a scorching 70 degrees Celsius to a chilling -10 degrees Celsius below the surface.
  • This sub-surface temperature's drastic dipping points towards the lunar soil being a bad conductor of heat.

Probing the depths

  • The ChaSTE payload has a temperature probe equipped with a controlled penetration mechanism, capable of reaching depths of up to 10 centimetres beneath the lunar surface.
  • This technology ensures precise data collection and analysis with ten individual temperature sensors on board, providing a comprehensive understanding of temperature variations within the lunar surface and near-surface layers.

Chandrayaan-3 made history on August 23 when its lander module successfully touched down on the lunar surface. This marked a milestone for ISRO, making India the fourth country to achieve this feat and the first to reach the south pole of Earth's only natural satellite.

Honouring the achievements

  • In recognition of this accomplishment, Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, declared that the location where Chandrayaan-3's Vikram lander touched down would be named 'Shiv Shakti Point.'
  • Additionally, the site where the Chandrayaan-2 lander had crash-landed in 2019 will be known as 'Tiranga Point.'
  • Furthermore, August 23 will be celebrated as 'National Space Day' to commemorate the day when Chandrayaan-3's lander module made its historic landing.
Last updated: August 28, 2023 | 11:57
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