Chandrayaan-3: Hopes of re-awakening of Moon Lander dim, India awaits signal

  • By Geeta Pandey
  • BBC News, Delhi

image Caption,

A photo of Vikram Lander taken by Pragyan Rover

The chances of India’s moon lander waking up after a freezing cold lunar night are “diminishing with every passing hour”, the country’s space scientists have told the BBC.

But they said they would keep trying until the end of the lunar day.

A day and night on the Moon last slightly longer than Earth’s 14 days.

On Friday, space agency ISRO said it was trying to contact the lander and rover after the new lunar day began, but had received no signal.

The lander named Vikram, carrying the Pragyan rover in its belly, landed near the moon’s little-explored south pole in August. They spent two weeks collecting data and images, after which they were put into ‘sleep mode’ during lunar night.

The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) had said it expected the batteries to be recharged and the modules reactivated when the moon rises around September 22.

On Friday, ISRO posted on X (formerly Twitter) that ‘efforts to establish communication with Vikram lander and Pragyan rover will continue.’ There has been no official update since then.

On Monday morning, former ISRO chief AS Kiran Kumar told the BBC that “the chances of reawakening are diminishing with each passing hour”.

“There are so many components in the lander and rover that they cannot survive the cold temperatures on the Moon,” he said, noting temperatures near the Moon’s south pole can drop to -200C to -250C (-328F to -418F). Is known. At night.

“Until the transmitter comes on the lander, we have no connectivity. It has to tell us it’s alive. Even if all the other subsystems work, we have no way of knowing,” he said.

ISRO spokesperson said that efforts are on to contact the lander and rover.

India created history with its Chandrayaan-3 mission when it became the first country to successfully land a spacecraft near the south pole of the Moon.

It also joins an exclusive club of countries to achieve soft landing on the Moon after the US, former Soviet Union and China.

image Caption,

ISRO releases a graphic of the path taken by the lunar rover

The landing was carefully planned with the beginning of the lunar day so that Vikram and Pragyan would have two weeks of sunlight to operate.

While putting them to sleep, ISRO said that both of them had completed all their work, but expressed hope that they would wake up again at the beginning of the next lunar day.

Experts cited the example of China’s Chang’e 4 lander and Yutu 2 rover, which woke up several times with sunrise.

But ISRO had tried to dampen hopes by saying that “if Vikram and Pragyan do not wake up, they will remain on the Moon as India’s lunar ambassadors”.

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