Indian lunar orbiter hit by heat rise


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

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

Mylswamy Annadurai, the lunar mission’s project director, told CNN that the temperature aboard Chandrayaan-1 had risen to 49 degrees Celsius (120 degrees Fahrenheit).

The increase occurred as the craft, the moon – which it orbits – and the sun lined up, a phenomenon that Annadurai said was not unexpected and would likely continue until the end of December.

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

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

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

The two-year mission is to create 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 try to identify the chemical composition of certain moon rocks, the group said.

Earlier this month, the Moon Impact Probe detached from Chandrayaan-1 and made a successful crash landing on the lunar surface.

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


It sent data to Chandrayaan-1 before impact, but was not supposed to be retrieved afterwards.

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

Everything about India • Nasa

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