Technology · June 19, 2022

Indian lunar orbiter hit by heat surge

NEW DELHI, India (CNN) – Scientists have shut down several onboard instruments to halt rising temperatures on India’s first unmanned lunar spacecraft.

The spacecraft carrying India’s first lunar probe, Chandrayaan-1, lifts off from Sriharikota.

Mylswamy Annadurai, the project manager for the lunar mission, told CNN that temperatures aboard Chandrayaan-1 had risen to 49 degrees Celsius (120 degrees Fahrenheit).

The surge came as the ship, the moon – which it orbits – and the sun lined up, a phenomenon that Annadurai said was not unexpected and would likely continue into late December.

“We turned off the systems (onboard) that don’t need to be on,” Annadurai said, ruling out the possibility of damage, adding that the temperature has now dropped to 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit).

The heat aboard Chandrayaan-1 shouldn’t exceed 50 degrees Celsius (122 degrees Fahrenheit), Annadurai said – but insisted the orbiter was rated for up to 60 degrees Celsius (140 degrees Fahrenheit).

The Chandrayaan-1 – Chandrayaan means “moon ship” in Sanskrit – was successfully launched on October 22 from southern India. Video Watch the launch of India’s first lunar mission »

Its two-year mission is to capture high-resolution, three-dimensional images of the lunar surface, particularly the permanently shadowed polar regions. It will also look for evidence of water or ice and attempt to identify the chemical makeup of specific lunar rocks, the group said.

Earlier this month, the Moon Impact Probe detached from Chandrayaan-1 and successfully landed on the lunar surface.

Officials say the TV-sized probe, adorned with a painting of the Indian flag, hit the lunar surface at a speed of 5,760 kilometers per hour (3,579 mph).

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It transmitted data to Chandrayaan-1 prior to impact, but was not scheduled to be retrieved afterward.

Chandrayaan-1 carries payloads from the United States, European Union and Bulgaria. India plans to share the mission’s data with other programs, including NASA.

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