India’s Chandrayaan-3 lunar rover and lander have been exploring the lunar surface since their first touchdown on August 23. Having completed their primary mission goals, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) decided to put the rover and lander in sleep mode in preparation for the upcoming two-week lunar night.
The Indian Space Agency hopes that the two powerful lunar vehicles might wake up after the lunar night when the sun finally rises again over the lunar south pole.
Why ISRO Put Its Chandrayaan-3 Rover and Lander In a Sleep Mode
On Sunday, September 2, ISRO officially announced that the Chandrayaan-3’s Pragyan rover had successfully accomplished its primary mission objective on the moon. The agency also revealed that it has “set the rover into sleep mode” and turned off its scientific instruments to prepare for the upcoming lunar night.
If these lunar vehicles continue operation on the lunar surface, the cold lunar night will drain out their solar battery power. Since there will be an absence of sunlight on the moon during the lunar night, the vehicles will lose all of their energies after the lunar night. Hence, the ensure that the $75 Million moon vehicles are not lost to cold lunar nights, ISRO decided to put them in sleep mode.
“Currently, the battery is fully charged,” ISRO announced in a post on X, previously known as Twitter. “The solar panel is oriented to receive the light at the next sunrise expected on September 22, 2023. The receiver is kept on.”
After switching off the Rover, ISRO also turned off the Vikram Lander on Monday, September 4. Keep in mind that the Pragyan Rover arrived on the lunar surface aboard the Vikram lander. However, the lander has its own scientific instruments to conduct numerous studies on the moon.
“Vikram will fall asleep next to Pragyan once the solar power is depleted and the battery is drained. Hoping for their awakening, around September 22, 2023,” ISRO said in a post on X on Monday, September 4.
The lander executed a brief “hop,” which was performed shortly firing up its thrusters to travel up to 16 inches (40 centimeters) and move closer to the already sleeping rover. ISRO revealed that this brief hop served as an experiment for the future return of sample missions that will lift off from the moon.
How far the lander and rover have performed on the moon
Chandrayaan-3 mission successfully touched down on the lunar surface on Wednesday, August 23. Upon landing, the Pragyan rover left the Vikram lander a day later to commence its exploration on the moon. The rover traversed over 330 feet (100 meters) on the moon’s surface before entering sleep mode.
The lunar exploration of the Pragyan rover and Vikram lander have returned enriched scientific data including chemical analysis of the lunar surface, measurements of the tenuous plasma over the lunar surface, and a temperature profile of the top 4 inches (10 cm) of the moon’s soil.
While the Chandrayaan-3 mission has placed India on the list of nations to land on the moon, it was the first attempt made by the space agency. India made a previous attempt to land on the moon in 2019 with its Chandrayaan-2 mission. However, the mission crashed into the moon because of a software glitch.
Landing a robotic spacecraft on the lunar surface is quite challenging. In fact, since we commenced with the moon’s exploration, only four nations have successfully reached the moon and they include the U.S., USSR, China, and India. Russia is another nation that attempted to attain such a milestone in recent times.
However, Russia’s Luna-25 mission crashed into the moon due to a botched orbital maneuver, just three days before Chandrayaan-3’s soft landing. iSpace, a Japan-based company also attempted to land its Hakuto-R spacecraft earlier this year. However, that mission ended in a disaster as the lander crashed into a crater rim while descending to the moon.
ISRO put its Chandrayaan-3 lunar lander and rover to sleep after accomplishing the primary goal of the mission in preparation for the upcoming lunar night. However, the agency will attempt to wake up the lunar vehicles once the lunar night is over. India is hoping that its rover and lander will discover hydrogen, which is an essential element for water. Check out these fascinating best space gifts.