PEQUÍN, January 14 (Xinhua) – The night on the Moon is dark and cold, but Chinese scientists still do not know exactly how cold it really is. The Chang & # 39; and 4 probe, which at the beginning of the month made the first allunage of history on the hidden side of our natural satellite, will help them determine precisely the temperatures that reign there.
A lunar day is equivalent to 14 of the Earth, and the nights have the same duration. Temperatures vary dramatically between day and night. According to scientific calculations, the highest temperature during the day can reach 127 degrees Celsius, while at night the minimum can reach 183 degrees Celsius.
In 2013, China launched the Chang & # 39; i-3 probe, the nation's first spacecraft to be placed on the lunar surface. After more than 60 lunar nights that have passed over the last five years, the scientific instruments of the device continue to function normally.
"It was a success, but Chang & # 39; i-3 was designed based on temperature data provided by the foreigner," says Zhang He, executive director of the Chang & # 39; i-4 probe project , and who is part of the China Space Technology Academy (CAT).
"Without our own information on lunar temperatures, we still do not know how cold it can really be a lunar night," he adds, and complements: "Chang & # 39; i-4 will measure the temperature differences between day and day night, to help scientists calculate the properties of the lunar soil. "
Tan Mei, a CAT consultant for the project, says that Chang & # 39; i-4 will move to "rest mode" during the lunar night due to the absence of solar power, and meanwhile It will maintain a safe temperature based on a radioisotope heat source, a collaboration between Chinese and Russian scientists.
"We need to transform heat into energy to operate the thermometer and thus measure the temperatures of the night," explains Tan.
The descent vehicle is equipped with dozens of temperature data collectors, and the information they gather during the night will be transmitted after the "wake up" probe arrives on the lunar day, says Li Fei, a member of the CAT and from the team of vehicle designers.
Sun Zezhou, chief designer of Chang & # 39; i-4, and also a member of the CAT, says that the probe will obtain first hand data on the night of the Moon, directly measuring the soil temperatures, its surface area and your indoor equipment.
Chang & # 39; i-4's isotope thermal power generation technology is being used for the first time in a Chinese ship, and is a prototype for future explorations of deep space, Sun adds.
The Curiosity explorer of NASA also has this technology, which allows it to not depend on sunlight, a factor that hinders the operations of its predecessors, Opportunity and Spirit, complements.
"It is a technology that we have to master if we want to reach the polar regions of the Moon or the deep space beyond Jupiter, where solar energy can not be used as the main source of power," he warns Sun.