As per the mission’s instructions, the hope is to optimally recharge the solar panels of the lander and rover as soon as they experience morning light on the southern pole of the Moon.
ISRO’s latest lunar mission, Chandrayaan 3, is facing another challenge as it continues its efforts to re-establish communication with the Vikram lander and Pragyan rover. Placed in ‘sleep mode’ for their safety on the harsh lunar night where temperatures plummet to -200 degrees Celsius on the Moon’s south pole, both have spent the past two weeks gathering invaluable data and images. Now, as the Moon’s morning approaches, ISRO is closely monitoring its efforts to wake them from their lunar slumber, with the hope that they will come back to life and continue their mission.
However, ISRO stated in its latest update, “No signal has been received from them. Attempts to establish contact will continue.”
Efforts have been made to establish communication with the Vikram lander and Pragyan rover to ascertain their wake-up condition.
As of now, no signals have been received from them.
Efforts to establish contact will continue.
— ISRO (@isro) September 22, 2023
ISRO’s Space Applications Centre Director Neilesh Desai had previously explained to PTI, “We have put the lander and rover in sleep mode as the temperature will dip to minus 120-200 degrees Celsius. The sunrise on the Moon is expected on September 20, and by September 22, we hope the solar panels and other things will be fully charged, so we will attempt to revive both the lander and rover.”
If the revival is successful, both the lander and rover can gather more observations together. Former ISRO chief Madhavan Nair said, “Once the operation comes in, it is very likely that we may have a few days to a few weeks of operations to collect enough data, particularly on the lunar surface near the South Pole, which will be valuable.”
Former ISRO scientist Tapan Misra told ANI, “If it comes back alive for a night, it can potentially operate for many more lunar nights, from six months to a year, and that would be very good.”
How Will Pragyan and Vikram Wake Up?
Following the mission’s instructions, as soon as they experience morning light on the lunar south pole, the lander and rover hope to optimally recharge their solar panels. ISRO will then attempt to revive both and assess their operational health.
Before entering sleep mode, the Vikram lander executed a notable manoeuvre, reactivating its engines, making a leap of nearly 40 centimeters, and then performing a controlled touchdown at a distance of 30-40 centimeters above the lunar surface. This maneuver successfully exceeded the goals of the Chandrayaan-3 mission, showcasing ISRO’s capabilities. The responsibility for this task was entrusted to Vikram with its successful completion.
What Have Vikram and Pragyan Achieved So Far?
After the historic landing, both the Vikram lander and Pragyan rover conducted various tasks on the lunar surface, including locating the presence of sulfur and recording comparative temperature data. Additionally, the Pragyan rover embarked on a journey of more than 100 meters, confirming the presence of sulfur, iron, oxygen, and other elements on the Moon.