ChaSTE Payload Aboard Vikram Lander Provides First Insight into Lunar Surface Temperatures
27 August, 2023 | Anupam Shrivastava
The findings from ChaSTE onboard Vikram are being analysed by ISRO Scientists for temperature data collected during the controlled penetration of the lunar surface.
In a significant development for lunar exploration, the Chandra’s Surface Thermophysical Experiment (ChaSTE) payload aboard the Vikram Lander has begun to unravel the mysteries of the moon’s thermal behavior. The initial observations, reported by the Space Physics Laboratory (SPL) in collaboration with the Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC) and the Physical Research Laboratory (PRL) in Ahmedabad, mark a crucial step towards understanding the temperature profile of the lunar topsoil.
The ChaSTE payload, a cutting-edge scientific instrument, has been specifically designed and attached to Vikram for measuring and analyzing the temperature variations of the lunar surface and its near-subsurface layers. As part of its mission, ChaSTE aims to provide crucial insights into the thermal dynamics of the moon’s surface, particularly around its polar regions.
At the heart of the ChaSTE payload is a sophisticated temperature probe equipped with a controlled penetration mechanism. This innovative mechanism is capable of reaching a depth of up to 10 centimetres beneath the moon’s surface. The probe is outfitted with an array of 10 individual temperature sensors, each strategically positioned to capture precise data points as the probe penetrates the lunar soil.
The first batch of observations from the ChaSTE payload showcases temperature variations at various depths within the lunar surface. The data, which has been visualized in a graph, provides a comprehensive overview of the temperature profile during the probe’s controlled penetration. This pioneering profile is a groundbreaking achievement, representing the first time such detailed thermal data has been collected from the lunar south pole.
“This is a significant leap in our understanding of the moon’s thermal behavior,” said Dr. Aparna Menon, lead researcher at the Space Physics Laboratory. “The ChaSTE payload has exceeded our expectations in terms of data quality and depth of penetration. These initial observations open up a realm of possibilities for unraveling the complex interplay between the moon’s surface and its thermal environment.”
The data collected by Lander Module Vikram and Rover Pragyan so far is already hinting at intriguing trends in the temperature distribution of the lunar topsoil. Scientists are particularly interested in the potential variations between daytime and nighttime temperatures, as well as the influence of different lunar terrain types on the thermal behavior of the surface.
Detailed analyses of the collected data are currently underway, with scientists meticulously examining the temperature trends, correlations, and potential anomalies that could shed light on fundamental aspects of lunar geophysics.
“The ChaSTE mission represents the collective efforts of our scientific community to expand our understanding of the moon’s characteristics,” stated Dr. Rajesh Patel of the Physical Research Laboratory. “The collaboration between SPL, VSSC, and PRL has been instrumental in bringing this project to fruition. As we delve deeper into the data, we anticipate even more groundbreaking revelations about the moon’s thermal dynamics.”
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