India's Pragyan rover has sent back to Earth the first scientific data that will change our understanding of the lunar south pole in many ways, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) announced on the X—formerly Twitter.
"ChaSTE (Chandra's Surface Thermophysical Experiment) measures the temperature profile of the lunar topsoil around the pole, to understand the thermal behaviour of the moon's surface," ISRO said in a statement. The device is equipped with a temperature sensor, the mechanism of which can measure the temperature of the lunar soil at a depth of up to 10 cm.
The aforesaid social media post features a temperature graph as well. "The presented graph illustrates the temperature variations of the lunar surface/near-surface at various depths, as recorded during the probe's penetration. This is the first such profile for the lunar south pole,” ISRO noted.
ISRO's Bi Darukesha told the Press Trust of India that the aforesaid data were surprise to experts. “We all thought that the surface temperature could be 20 to 30 degrees Celsius, but it is 70 degrees Celsius. This is surprisingly higher than we expected," the ISRO employee said.
The Chandrayaan-3 lunar mission, which carried the Pragyan rover to the Moon, was launched on July 14 from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre. In early August, the Indian space agency announced that it had launched the rover into lunar orbit. On August 23, Chandrayaan-3 made a soft landing in the little-explored lunar south pole region, where scientists believe there are reserves of water ice. The Russian Luna-25 module had previously planned to land on the Moon in the same place, but it failed.
The lunar rover of the Chandrayan-3 mission will spend about one lunar day—about 14 Earth days—at the lunar south pole. The device studies the soil and topography of the Moon and looks for signs of tectonic activity. So far, only the USA, the ex-USSR, and China have managed to make a soft landing on the Moon. Thus, India has become the fourth country the device created by which was able to make a soft landing on the Moon.
On August 24, this Indian lunar rover sent the first photograph of the Moon's surface to Earth, and later India demonstrated how Pragyan had landed on the Moon's surface.