In a recent update from the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), it has been announced that the Pragyan Rover and the Vikram Lander have successfully completed their tasks and are now in a safe mode of rest as they prepare for the lunar night. ISRO stated, “The rover completes its assignments. It is now safely parked and set into sleep mode.”
This part of the mission was always planned, as Pragyan’s scientific mission was designed for one lunar daytime, equivalent to approximately 14 Earth days. On the Moon, a day lasts about 29.5 Earth days, comprising just over 14 days of continuous sunlight followed by just over 14 days of darkness. During the lunar night, temperatures plummet to a bone-chilling -130°C (-208°F), which could potentially harm the rover’s instruments. In many lunar missions, power is utilized to keep the equipment warm enough to survive. However, with no sunlight to recharge the batteries, there is a risk of running out of power.
ISRO has taken proactive measures to give Pragyan a fighting chance during the lunar night. The team fully charged the rover’s batteries and oriented its solar panel to receive the first rays of sunlight, expected on September 22, 2023. To conserve power, the rover’s two experiments have been switched off, and all collected data has been successfully transmitted back to Earth. Every precaution has been taken to ensure that Pragyan doesn’t enter an eternal slumber.
The Rover completed its assignments.
It is now safely parked and set into Sleep mode.
APXS and LIBS payloads are turned off.
Data from these payloads is transmitted to the Earth via the Lander.
Currently, the battery is fully charged.
The solar panel is…
— ISRO (@isro) September 2, 2023
“Hoping for a successful awakening for another set of assignments! Else, it will forever stay there as India’s lunar ambassador,” ISRO conveyed on X (formerly Twitter) over the weekend. The space agency also confirmed that the Vikram lander has been set to enter sleep mode. But before that, Vikram performed a notable maneuver, executing a bunny hop by flying up by 40 centimeters (15.8 inches) and then landing safely about 40 centimeters away. Instruments were safely stowed and later redeployed. Data was collected at the new location and transmitted back to Earth. ISRO clarified in a tweet, “Vikram Lander is set into sleep mode around 08:00 Hrs. IST today. Prior to that, in-situ experiments by ChaSTE, RAMBHA-LP, and ILSA payloads are performed at the new location. The data collected is received at Earth.”
🇮🇳Vikram soft-landed on 🌖, again!
Vikram Lander exceeded its mission objectives. It successfully underwent a hop experiment.
On command, it fired the engines, elevated itself by about 40 cm as expected and landed safely at a distance of 30 – 40 cm away.… pic.twitter.com/T63t3MVUvI
— ISRO (@isro) September 4, 2023
The spacecraft’s payloads are now turned off, but the lander’s receivers remain active. Vikram will enter sleep mode once its solar power is depleted, and its battery is drained, with hopes of reawakening around September 22, 2023.
India’s maiden soft-landing on the Moon has been a remarkable achievement. They became the first to safely reach the region around the Moon’s South Pole, a location of great interest to space agencies worldwide. With any luck, both the lander and rover will awaken and continue on an extended mission, potentially uncovering more scientific discoveries in the lunar environment.