The Chandrayaan-3 mission, part of ISRO’s lunar exploration program, is taking steps to reestablish communication with its Vikram Lander and Pragyan rover, after the lander successfully soft-landed on the Moon’s southern pole on August 23.
With the advent of morning on the Moon, ISRO is now attempting to re-establish communication with its solar-powered lander Vikram and rover Pragyan as part of the Chandrayaan-3 mission. This is to potentially revive them so that scientific experiments can continue.
Both the lander and the rover were put into sleep mode on September 4 and 2, respectively, earlier this month before the lunar night began. Therefore, if ISRO can successfully revive them as the Sun rises on the Moon once again, the data they might gather through experiments conducted by the Chandrayaan-3 payload could be considered a “bonus.”
In the lunar south polar region where the lander and rover are located, with the return of sunlight and the anticipation of their solar panels charging soon, ISRO is now prepared to reestablish contact with them, assess their health, and attempt to resume operations, including potentially reviving them.
“We have put the Vikram lander into sleep mode today, around 08:00 Indian Standard Time… the payload is now off. The lander receiver is active. We hope that around September 22, 2023, which is the next expected lunar sunrise, we will get sunlight to the solar panels and other things, so we will attempt to revive both the lander and the rover,” said Neelam Desai, the director of ISRO’s Space Applications Centre, in a PTI report.
“If our luck favors, then we have the refurbishment of both the lander and the rover and we will get some more experimental data which will be useful for us to carry forward the Chandrayaan-3 payload,” he added. “We are eagerly waiting for the activities from September 22,” he said.
Following their descent to the Moon’s surface on August 23, the lander and rover, weighing a total of 1,752 kilograms, were designed to operate for about one lunar day, roughly equivalent to 14 Earth days, before lunar nightfall and extreme cold set in.
Given that all systems retain their vitality as long as the Sun is shining, as ISRO Chairman S. Somanath had previously stated, “When the Sun sets, everything will be in deep darkness, temperatures will drop to zero to minus 180 degrees Celsius. So, the system will not survive, and if it survives again, we should be happy that it has come back to life once again and we will be able to work on the system again,” he said, “We hope it will happen.”
ISRO indicated that if the payload is successfully reactivated, it will employ the same experiments it conducted on the lunar surface after the landing.