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India’s lunar orbiter hit by heat

NEW DELHI, India (CNN) — Scientists have turned off several onboard instruments to halt rising temperatures inside India’s first unmanned lunar spacecraft.

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

Mylswamy Annadurai, the lunar mission’s project manager, told CNN that temperatures aboard Chandrayaan-1 reached 49 degrees Celsius (120 degrees Fahrenheit).

The surge occurred when the craft, the moon – on which it orbits – and the sun aligned, a phenomenon that Annadurai said was not unexpected and would likely last until late December.

“We have turned off the (onboard) systems that don’t need to be turned on,” Annadurai said, ruling out 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 “moon craft” in Sanskrit – was successfully launched from southern India on October 22. India’s lunar orbiter hit by heat 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, 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 lunar impact probe detached from Chandrayaan-1 and successfully crashed into the moon’s surface.

Officials say the TV-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).

India’s lunar orbiter hit by heat

It transmitted data to Chandrayaan-1 before impact but was not intended for recovery after that.

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

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