Chandrayaan-3, India Mission to Moon, Sleeps Forever: Here’s What Next for Pragyan Rover, Vikram Lander

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India’s Chandrayaan-3, the mission to moon’s south pole, a first of its kind, did not wake up again. Chandryaan-3’s Vikram lander and Pragyan rover did not wake up during the lunar day, which equals 14 Earth days. 

What happened to Chandrayaan-3 on the Moon? 

The Sunlight began receding from the lunar surface on 30 September . The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) scientists had hoped they would be able to revive Chandrayaan-3‘s lander and rover when there was a new dawn. 

The Pragyan rover had been put to sleep on 2 September, and the lander on 4 September. ISRO had said, “The rover completed its assignments. It is now safely parked and set into sleep mode. APXS and LIBS payloads are turned off… Currently, the battery is fully charged. The solar panel is oriented to receive the light at the next sunrise expected on September 22, 2023. The receiver is kept on…”

According to reports, Pragyan’s batteries were fully charged and the receiver kept on. The solar panels were oriented so that they would receive sunlight when dawn broke on the moon.

However, despite several tries, the rover and the lander did not wake up. There was no signal from Chandrayaan-3. The sun rose again on the moon on 20 September. The first three days – until 22 September – would have been the best window for the Vikram lander and Pragyan rover to revive.

ISRO chairman S Somnath had told The Times of India that the space agency would wait until the last Earth day for the lander and the rover to wake up. It would be an opportunity to repeat some experiments on the lunar surface. But Vikram and Pragyan failed to respond.

The rover was put into sleep mode on 2 September and the lander on 4 September. Pragyan’s batteries were fully charged and the receiver kept on. The solar panels were oriented so that they would receive sunlight when dawn broke on the moon.

It is being understood that the batteries of Pragyan Rover were affected by Moon’s extreme temperatures. According to previously data, the moon’s poles drop to anywhere between minus 180 degrees Celsius to minus 253 degrees Celsius.

Further, there was absolute darkness on the moon, owing to which the solar panels of Chandrayaan-3 were also rendered useless. The rover and lander are not equipped with heaters which are commonly used for moon missions, according to a report in Space.com.

Can the lander and rover be revived?

While ISRO has not given up all hope, statistical data shows chances of revival of Chandrayaan-3 are bleak. 

Will Chandrayaan-3 forever stay on the Moon?

ISRO had said earlier that if the Pragyan, Vikram duo of Chandrayaan-3  does not wake up, “it will forever stay there as India’s lunar ambassador.” Vikram and Pragyan are not designed to return to Earth.

Source: Live Mint