Scientists develop comprehensive 3D thermophysical model for the Moon

This model will help understanding the local thermal environment of any location on the Moon which is an essential aspect for future human exploration and lunar habitat, claims ISRO

March 01, 2023 09:10 pm | Updated March 02, 2023 04:42 pm IST - Bengaluru

Scientists from the Physical Research Laboratory, a unit of the Department of Space, have built a comprehensive three-dimensional thermophysical model for the Moon to derive its surface and sub-surface temperatures.

According to the Indian Space Reserach Organisation (ISRO), this model will help understanding the local thermal environment of any location on the Moon which is an essential aspect for future human exploration and lunar habitat.

Renewed interest

“Importantly, this work gains significance in view of the recent renewed interest in lunar exploration and planned attempts to send humans back to the Moon,” ISRO said.

A unique feature of this model is its ability to account for lateral heat transport in three dimensions by utilising the actual topography of any location on the Moon to compute its realistic surface and subsurface temperatures at any scale (from few cms to several kms.)

ISRO said that such a model is a novel one. “Such a model is not available till date. The model considers all plausible conditions and parameters to derive the temperatures and thermophysical parameters of the lunar surface and subsurface to represent the most realistic scenario,” ISRO said.

The model results compare well with laboratory experiments and are validated using Apollo in-situ measurements. The capability of the model is demonstrated by deriving the thermophysical behaviour of a small area of NASA’s Apollo 17 landing site at both regional and local scales.

Several applications

ISRO added that this work has several applications both for lunar science and exploration aspects. To list a few, it can be used to constrain the nature of the outermost porous/dust layer.

ISRO also said that in combination with laboratory measurements, the model will help to interpret data returned from future in-situ experiments, such as the Chandra’s Surface Thermo physical Experiment (ChaSTE) experiment on Chandrayaan-3 Lander. The objective of the ChaSTE is to carry out the measurements of thermal properties of the lunar surface near the polar region.

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