Chandrayaan-3: What will happen to ISRO's Vikram Lander, Pragyan Rover after Lunar night is over?
The lander and rover, Vikram and Pragyan, are equipped with cutting-edge scientific instruments, but are now in sleep mode on the Moon.
India's Chandrayaan-3 mission has been making headlines since the Vikram Lander, successfully touched down on the moon's surface on August 23, 2023. Accompanied by the Pragyan rover, the mission has been tirelessly exploring the enigmatic lunar south pole region, revealing new insights about Earth's celestial neighbor. However, as the mission reaches its critical juncture, the question arises: What will happen to Pragyan Rover and Vikram after their initial 14 active days on the moon's surface? Both Vikram Lander and Pragyan Rover have been put in sleep mode by ISRO.
A Challenging Lunar Night
The lander and rover, Vikram and Pragyan, are equipped with cutting-edge scientific instruments designed to operate on the Lunar Surface. They have beamed valuable data back to Earth via the Indian Space Research Organisation's (ISRO) Deep Space Antenna Networks. However, a significant challenge looms ahead for the Chandrayaan-3 mission.
Following their initial 14-day phase, the moon enters a 14-day lunar night. During this lunar night, both Vikram and Pragyan have been put to sleep due to their reliance on solar power. The harsh lunar nighttime conditions, with temperatures plummeting to a bone-chilling -208°F (-133°C), pose a significant hurdle to the effective functioning of these lunar explorers and their scientific instruments.
The Hope for Reawakening
ISRO has not programmed Chandrayaan-3's lander and rover for a return to Earth. Instead, they will remain on the moon's surface forever and keep India's. The agency intends to keep gathering data through them as long as they remain functional. However, the challenges of surviving the lunar night are daunting, and the prospects of reawakening Vikram and Pragyan after this harsh period are considered a long shot.
The Week report quoted the ISRO as saying that the lander and rover will go into hibernation and that its scientists will make an attempt to restart them after 14 days of nighttime. The report further added that if they are successfully awakened, it would be a "miracle".
Even if Vikram and Pragyan do not awaken from their lunar slumber, they will not be classified as space junk or debris, unlike objects in Earth's orbit. These lunar artifacts will remain on the moon's surface, representing India's pioneering achievements in lunar exploration. They will be India's permanent ambassadors on the Moon.
Chandrayaan-3 represents India's bold foray into lunar exploration. As Pragyan and Vikram face the challenges of lunar nights, the world watches in anticipation, hoping for a miraculous reawakening. Regardless of the outcome, these lunar explorers will forever remain a testament to India's remarkable achievements in space exploration and its quest to unravel the mysteries of the moon.