Indian lunar orbit has been hit by rising heat

NEW DELHI, India (CNN) — Scientists have turned off several onboard instruments to stop the temperature rise inside India’s first unmanned lunar spacecraft.

The spacecraft carrying India’s first lunar probe, Chandrayaan-1, takes 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 occurred as the craft, the orbiting moon and the sun aligned, a phenomenon Annadurai said was not unexpected and would likely last until the end of December.

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

The heat aboard Chandrayaan-1 should not exceed 50 degrees Celsius (122 degrees Fahrenheit), Annadurai said, but insisted that the orbiter is designed to withstand up to 60 degrees Celsius (140 degrees Fahrenheit).

Chandrayaan-1, Chandrayaan meaning “lunar craft” in Sanskrit, was successfully launched from South India on October 22. video Watch the launch of India’s first lunar mission »

Its two-year mission is to take high-resolution three-dimensional images of the moon’s surface, especially the permanently shadowed polar regions. It will also look for evidence of water or ice and try to identify the chemical composition of certain lunar rocks, the group said.

Earlier this month, the lunar impact probe detached from Chandrayaan-1 and successfully crashed on the lunar surface.

Officials say the television-sized probe, which is adorned with a painting of the Indian flag, hit the moon’s surface at a speed of 5,760 kilometers per hour (3,579 mph).

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It transmitted data to Chandrayaan-1 before impact, but was not intended to retrieve it afterwards.

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

All about India • NASA

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