Bangalore: The Indian Space Research Organisation, or Isro, has delayed until January, the switching on of two instruments on board its unmanned lunar spacecraft ‘Chandrayaan-1’ due to the onset of summer on the moon when temperature on its sunlit side rises to as high as 100 degrees Celsius.
The instruments—a high energy X-ray spectrometer, used for locating minerals such as uranium and thorium, and a sub-kev atom reflecting analyser, used for capturing low energy neutral atoms reflected from the lunar surface—draw high power and generate more heat on the spacecraft.
Protective measures: A file photo of Chandrayaan-1 taking off at the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota. AP
Isro, however, said other instruments on ‘Chandrayaan-1’ will continue to work.
“Our thermal systems control the (internal) temperature to less than 50 degrees (Celcius),” said M. Annadurai, project director of the mission at Isro. “It is safer to switch it (the two instruments) on after summer.”
The moon has its summer between November and January, a period when temperature rises to 100 degrees Celsius on the sunlit side of the earth’s satellite, while temperature drops to minus 100 degrees Celsius on the darker side of the moon.
Space scientists are getting data and images from the seven instruments on the probe since it reached its orbit of 100km above the moon’s surface on 12 November. The mission was launched on 22 October.
“We knew about the high temperature variations on the moon. It is not a surprise,” said Annadurai.