After successfully soft-landing on the moon 11 days ago, Pragyan Rover, part of the Chandrayaan 3 mission, has fulfilled all its assigned tasks and is now in sleep mode, according to the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). Having covered over 100 meters on the lunar surface, Pragyan is now resting as it transmits data from its payloads back to Earth through the Vikram lander.
Chandrayaan 3’s battery is fully charged, and it is expected to receive sunlight again during the next lunar sunrise on September 22. While both Vikram and Pragyan were designed for a single lunar day’s lifetime, there is hope that they may awaken with the next sunrise. However, as ISRO stated, if they do not reactivate, they will remain as India’s lunar ambassadors on the moon.
During its mission, Pragyan rover made a significant discovery by confirming the presence of sulfur in the lunar soil. It ventured out from the lander shortly after landing and became the first rover to explore the moon’s south pole. On its journey, it encountered a 4-meter diameter crater and had to adjust its path accordingly.
As ISRO launched its Sun Mission, the space agency’s chief, S Somnath, mentioned that preparations to put both Vikram and Pragyan into sleep mode were underway. This step is crucial as the extreme cold of lunar nights, which can drop to as low as minus 200 degrees Celsius, poses a significant challenge to the rover and lander’s survival if they remain active.
The fate of Pragyan and Vikram now rests on the possibility of their solar-powered revival with the next lunar sunrise. Otherwise, they will remain as permanent fixtures on the lunar surface, serving as a testament to India’s space exploration endeavors.