Indian lunar orbiter hit by heat rise

NEW DELHI, India (CNN) – Scientists have turned off some of the instruments on board to prevent temperatures from rising inside India’s first unmanned lunar spacecraft.

For India, the $80 million mission puts it deep in Asia's fast-growing space race.

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

Mylswamy Annadurai, project director of the mission to the moon, told CNN that the temperature on board Chandrayaan-1 had risen to 49 degrees Celsius (120 degrees Fahrenheit).

The increase occurs as the ship, the moon – which it orbits – and the sun line up, a phenomenon that Annadurai says is not unexpected and will likely last until the end of December.

“We’ve turned off systems (on board) that aren’t needed to be turned on,” Annadurai said, ruling out the possibility of damage and adding that temperatures have now dropped to 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit).

Annadurai said the heat on board Chandrayaan-1 should not exceed 50 degrees Celsius (122 degrees Fahrenheit) – but stressed that the orbiter is designed to withstand temperatures up to 60 degrees Celsius (140 degrees Fahrenheit).

Chandrayaan-1 – Chandrayaan means “moon ship” in Sanskrit – was successfully launched from southern India on October 22. Video Watch India’s First Moon Mission Launch Ceremony »

Its two-year mission was to take high-resolution, three-dimensional images of the lunar surface, especially the permanently obscured polar regions. The team said they will also look for evidence of water or ice and try to determine the chemical composition of some lunar rocks.

Earlier this month, the Lunar Impact Probe separated from Chandrayaan-1 and successfully landed on the lunar surface.

Officials say the TV-sized probe, emblazoned with a painting of the Indian flag, plunged to the lunar surface at 5,760 km/h (3,579 mph).


It transmitted data to Chandrayaan-1 before the collision but was not intended to be retrieved afterwards.

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

All about India • NASA Indian lunar orbiter hit by heat rise

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