Indian lunar rover “fell asleep” and may never wake up

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(ORDO NEWS) — As the lunar day approaches, India‘s Chandrayaan-3 mission is at a critical juncture. The Pragyan rover, which successfully landed on the lunar surface on August 23, went into sleep mode due to the onset of lunar night.

Unlike NASA‘s Mars rovers, which are powered by MMRTGs, Pragyan relies on solar energy, making it vulnerable to extremely low temperatures of -120C (-184F) during the lunar night. However, there is hope that the rover will be able to be activated after nightfall on September 22.

The Chandrayaan-3 mission had two main goals: engineering and science. In engineering terms, the mission’s goal was to land safely on the Moon and demonstrate the rover’s ability to move on its surface. These goals were successfully achieved. From a scientific point of view, the goal of the mission was to detect water ice and analyze the composition of lunar regolith.

To achieve this, the rover carries a spectrometer and a spectroscope that will contribute to our understanding of lunar impacts and the evolution of the lunar atmosphere.

Data released by the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) has already provided valuable insights. Temperature measurements taken by the apparatus showed a significant difference in temperature on the surface and below it.

If the temperature on the surface was 50C, then a few millimeters below it the temperature dropped to -10C. This confirms data previously obtained during other flights that the upper layer of regolith acts as an insulator with poor thermal conductivity.

Another important discovery made by the mission is the discovery of sulfur at the South Pole of the Moon. Although sulfur has been found elsewhere on the Moon, it is the first time sulfur has been detected at the South Pole, and by in-situ measurements.

The full scope of the mission’s scientific results will be determined from the remaining data, which will first be analyzed by Indian scientists and then shared with the international scientific community.

A successful mission is a source of special pride for India and its space agency ISRO. After a failed attempt in 2019, the successful landing and operation of the Pragyan rover cemented India’s position as the fourth country to succeed on the Moon, after the US, the Soviet Union and China.

This achievement not only enhances India’s national pride, but also demonstrates its technological superiority on a global scale.

In a recent tweet, ISRO posted a video captured by the Lander camera on Vikram, which shows the Pragyan rover doing a 360-degree turn and pushing the lunar regolith with its wheels. These images provide insight into the rover’s mobility and its ability to navigate complex lunar terrain.

The Chandrayaan-3 mission is another milestone in India’s journey to space exploration. Through its low-cost approach and impressive achievements, India continues to make significant contributions to the exploration of the Moon and beyond.


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