Indian scientists face an uncertain future for the re-awakening of India’s moon lander following its entry into shutdown mode to endure the harsh lunar night conditions, as communication attempts with the spacecraft prove fruitless.
India’s Chandrayaan-3 mission achieved a historic south pole lunar landing in August, after a 40-day interstellar voyage. For over a week, the rover diligently collected valuable data from the lunar surface.
On September 2, the Vikram lander and Pragyan rover entered “sleep mode” to safeguard their electrical components during the lunar night’s brutal two-week duration, which exposes the moon to temperatures plummeting to -250 degrees Celsius.
While scientists at the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) initially expressed confidence in the spacecraft’s resilience, anticipating a reawakening around September 22 when sunlight would recharge its solar panels, they have since struggled to regain contact with the robots. “Hopes are dimming,” ISRO reported. There is approximately a 50% chance of the devices enduring the extreme cold.
ISRO pledged to persist in communication attempts with the Vikram lander and Pragyaan rover until September 30, coinciding with the next lunar sunset, yet no official updates have been released.
Before initiating sleep mode, ISRO underlined the significant success of the Chandrayaan-3 mission, noting its accomplishment of primary objectives. “If Vikram and Pragyaan do not wake up, they will remain India’s lunar ambassadors,” they stated.
Chandrayaan-3 solidified India’s status as the first nation to reach the lunar south pole and the fourth to successfully land on the moon. The mission garnered immense national pride and was watched by millions, with Prime Minister Modi hailing it as “a victory cry of a new India.”
During its week-long lunar exploration, the Pragyaan rover advanced 100 meters, relaying images and data back to Earth. It confirmed the presence of elements such as sulfur, iron, oxygen, and others on the moon, unlocking lunar secrets in the pursuit of scientific knowledge.