Science & Technology

India’s Moon mission bids goodnight, faces uncertain dawn

New Delhi, Sep 4 (EFE).- India’s lunar probe Chandrayaan-3 was set to conclude its mission on Monday against the impending sunset on the Moon’s south pole, amid uncertainty about whether it will be operational again after the next sunrise.

“Vikram Lander is set into sleep mode around 08:00 Hrs. IST today. Prior to that, in-situ experiments (…) are performed at the new location. The data collected is received at the Earth. Payloads are now switched off. Lander receivers are kept ON,” the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) posted on social media platform X, formerly Twitter.

“Vikram will fall asleep next to Pragyan (rover) once the solar power is depleted and the battery is drained. Hoping for their awakening, around September 22, 2023,” ISRO added.

Indian scientists had planned the mission to last 14 Earth days, equivalent to half a lunar day, given the need for sunlight for both devices to function.

However, it remains to be seen if Vikram and Pragyan will be able to awaken to a new dawn on the lunar south pole, as it faces extreme temperatures of up to -200 degrees, while the batteries also need to retain enough charge to kickstart operations once sunlight returns.

The lander concluded 13 days of activity on the Moon, where it analyzed seismic activity and studied heat flux and plasma density near the surface, in addition to helping measure the distance between the Earth and its satellite more accurately.

Earlier during the day, ISRO reported that the mission exceeded its objectives with a successful hop experiment, a take off and touchdown maneuver on the lunar surface, which could be a key step for Indian probes to return to Earth from the Moon in the future.

“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,” ISRO posted on X.

In turn, the rover traversed an area of around a hundred meters on the lunar surface during the ten days that it remained active, during which it took images and performed different experiments that resulted in the detection of sulfur as well as other elements on the Moon.

As of now, both the lander and the rover are scheduled to wake up on Sep. 22, coinciding with the next sunrise at that part of the Moon.

On Aug. 23, India achieved a significant milestone by becoming the first nation to land a craft near the uncharted lunar south pole through its Chandrayaan-3 mission.

It also became the fourth country to land on the lunar surface after the United States, Russia and China.

On Saturday, India launched a probe to study the Sun, which is expected to take about four months to reach its destination, a gravitational stable point between the two celestial bodies about 1.5 million kilometers from our planet. EFE


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