Chang’e-4 probe to measure lunar temperatures during freezing night: CAST

Source:Xinhua Published: 2019/1/13 23:01:37

The night on the moon is dark and cold, yet Chinese scientists don't know exactly how cold it can be. The Chang'e-4 probe, which made the first-ever soft-landing on the far side of the moon, will help them measure the moon's temperatures.

A lunar day equals 14 days on Earth, and a lunar night is the same length. Temperatures vary enormously between day and night on the moon. Scientists estimate that the highest temperature during the day might reach 127 degrees Celsius, while the lowest at night could fall to minus 183 degrees Celsius.

In 2013, China launched Chang'e-3, the country's first spacecraft to soft-land on the moon. The scientific instruments on its lander are still operating after more than 60 lunar nights in the past five years.

"It was a success, but Chang'e-3 was designed according to foreign temperature data," said Zhang He, executive director of the Chang'e-4 probe project, from the China Academy of Space Technology (CAST).

Tan Mei, a consultant for the probe from CAST, said Chang'e-4 will switch to a "sleep mode" during the lunar night due to the lack of solar power, and rely on the radioisotope heat source, a collaboration between Chinese and Russian scientists, to keep warm.

"We need to transform heat into power to run the thermometry to measure the temperatures of the lunar surface at night," Tan said.



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