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.

| Updated on: Sep 13 2023, 18:37 IST
Chandrayaan-3 Moon mission: 5 facts to know
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1/7 The Chandrayaan-3 mission was launched on July 14 from Sri Harikota, India's main spaceport in  Andhra Pradesh. From the day of its launch, Chandrayaan-3  has looped through progressively wider-ranging orbits of Earth. It then transferred to a lunar orbit and emerged as a focus of national pride. Our Moon mission become a global interest after Russia's Moon mission Luna-25  failed to land on the moon. (PTI)
 ISRO's Chandrayaan-3 mission
2/7 The landing of  Chandrayaan-3 is aimed at the lunar south pole. Lunar south pole is a region that may have water ice or frozen water. It can be an abundant source of oxygen, fuel, and water that can be extremely important for future moon missions. (AFP)
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3/7 Chandrayaan-3 will be functional for two weeks if it lands successfully on the lunar surface. It will run various experiments which will include a spectrometer analysis of the mineral composition of the surface of the moon. (via REUTERS)
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4/7 The lander of the Chandrayaan-3 mission is about 2m tall. Its mass is said to be about  1,700 kg (3,747.86 lb) which can deploy a small 26 Kg lunar rover. (HT_PRINT)
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5/7 For the smooth landing of the  Chandrayaan-3 on the south pole of the Moon, rough terrain can be a great hurdle. However, adjustments have been made by ISRO scientists that will help Chandrayaan-3 to stick its landing. (ISRO)
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6/7 The adjustments include a system to broaden the potential landing zone and the lander has been equipped with more fuel and sturdier legs to be more effective. (REUTERS)
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7/7 If this mission becomes successful, it would make India the fourth country to successfully land on the moon, after the former USSR, the United States, and China, and India will be able to mark its emergence as a strong space power. ISRO will telecast the planned Chandrayaan-3  landing starting from 1720 IST (1150 GMT) on August 23, 2023. (ISRO twitter)
 ISRO's Chandrayaan-3 mission
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ISRO's Chandrayaan-3 mission is not programmed to bring Vikram lander and Pragyan rover back to Earth. They will remain on the Moon forever as the ambassadors of India. (ISRO)

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.

ISRO's Perspective

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.

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First Published Date: 13 Sep, 12:56 IST