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The Chandrayan-3 station has sent the first measurements of the lunar temperature, and they are very unusual
The Chandrayan-3 station has sent the first measurements of the lunar temperature, and they are very unusual




30 August 2023

The Indian mission published not a bright photo and not a 3D panorama, just a graph. But this is the most viewed picture in the world on Monday morning. The probe landed at the South Pole of the Moon, measured the temperature both at depth and above the surface. And there's anomaly on anomaly. I don't even know what is more strange: why is the "air" over the moon so hot (wait, is it there?), or why are the bowels so cold. But in order.


It is now a lunar day where the Chandrayan-3 station operates. In any reference book you will read that during the day the temperature of the Moon is plus 127 degrees. There is no atmosphere, the rays of the Sun are not weakened, it's frying so hot.


But it's in the center of the lunar disk. And the station sat at the pole. As on Earth, the Sun barely strikes the horizon. And there the calculations gave 20-30 degrees at most. One of the reasons why they want to build the first inhabited station there, 20-30 degrees is comfortable!


But only calculations would be fine. Observations, after all, also gave exactly these 20-30 degrees. You will be surprised, but astronomers have learned to measure heat and cold remotely since the end of the XIX century.


What does it look like? A sensor is placed in the focus of the telescope, which catches the flow of energy. In the simplest case, it is an alloy of two metals that generate current when heated. The temperature is quickly understood by the flow of energy. That's how the temperature of the Moon, Mars, anything else was measured "under the tsar" (yes, and at our Pulkovo Observatory too) – and everything was confirmed.


With the advent of the space age, sensors, more complex, were transferred to apparatuses, and such apparatuses revolved around the Moon, everything was measured, so there was no need to wait for sensations. So when I told you what devices I took with me the Indian probe, I mentioned the "thermometer" in passing, they say, the thing is auxiliary. How wrong I was! Yes, everyone made a mistake: the Indians did not expect such results either.



On the surface, instead of 20 degrees – as much as 50-60, and at a height of 2 centimeters – and all 70. But how is this possible? A vacuum doesn't conduct heat, how so? In theory, even at a height of 2 centimeters, cosmic cold should reign. And it's even hotter there.


There are anomalies in the depths. The drill that the station is equipped with is weak. It sinks only 10 centimeters, but it really deepened only 8 cm. And it's already cold there. Minus 10. This is less than a shovel bayonet.


Actually, they knew the temperature under the surface of the moon. How? With the help of radio waves. Like any heated body, the Moon emits radio waves (you also emit radio waves, this is normal). The subtlety is that radio waves of different lengths come to us from different depths. The longer the wave, the more depth it came from. And the nature of the wave will definitely show the temperature.


Thus, already in the 1950s, people knew that under the Moon, for a meter or two, stable "weather". There is neither day nor night. The lunar soil is incredibly deeply pitted, porous, and this is the perfect blanket. Therefore, they wanted to build inhabited stations on the ground (sublunar). Let it fry during the day and freeze at night, we don't care.


But the Chandrayan-3 data is unexpected here too. Not meters, but centimeters: even a thin layer of lunar dust is an insurmountable barrier to heat. And – at a negligible depth, it turned out to be colder than thought. It's like someone is breathing cold from below.



Chandrayan-3 has clearly hit some kind of anomaly. That's why the surface is so hot. Why hasn't this anomaly been seen before? Firstly, the poles are generally poorly visible, they seem to be on the side and in a strong projection. Secondly, the anomaly may be very small, and the probe was just lucky. Thirdly, it may be temporary. Remote temperature measurements do not go in 24-by-7 mode. Right now something is happening there, and just the probe has arrived. Luck again.


The source of this anomaly cannot be, for example, a sublunar volcano. After all, it's cold from below. Most likely, Earthlings are faced with complex electrical processes. The moon's daytime surface sparkles with thousands of volts. Electricity is generated by the sun's rays when they hit the surface of the moon. These volts are the main threat to future astronauts. But it is not yet clear how electricity turns into heat.


The strangest thing is the heat OVER the moon. So Chandrayan-3 discovered the lunar atmosphere? Something should transfer heat to a height of at least 2 centimeters? It turns out so. Or the atmosphere, or a layer of dust that levitates over the lunar soil. Levitating all because of the same electricity. Volts charge it, it comes off and floats in a vacuum. It is this dust that is heated to 70 degrees. Not an empty space, but her.


The thermal insulation properties of the soil also turned out to be strange. This anomaly, I think, is characteristic of the South Pole. Which is poorly visible in the radio beams, in the projection, which is why they did not know. So, if there is water ice there, it has definitely been preserved in such a "cellar".


Well, the South Pole has confirmed its reputation as a center of anomalies. Dust storms have been suspected before: sometimes southern (lower) the horn of the moon is clouded, and it can be seen even through binoculars. Chandrayan-3 actually saw such a "dust storm" for the first time. Whether to build a habitable station there, in my opinion, is a big question. Water that makes everyone dance is good, but when millions of volts are hitting your shoes, it's bad. We are waiting for new data.


Source: Komsomolskaya Pravda