India’s Chandrayaan-3 mission lander and rover in 'sleep mode' for lunar night

Space agency hopes the mission will wake up in the next sunrise on September 22

Powered by automated translation

India’s Chandrayaan-3 Moon lander has been placed in sleep mode to help it survive the freezing temperatures of lunar night.

The Vikram module was set to idle mode on Monday, while the Pragyan rover powered down at the weekend.

On August 23, India become the first country to land a craft in the southern polar region of the Moon and the fourth to soft-land on the lunar surface.

“Vikram will fall asleep next to Pragyan once the solar power is depleted and the battery is drained,” the Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro) posted on X, formerly Twitter, on Monday.

“Hoping for their awakening, around September 22, 2023.”

The rover’s battery is fully charged, and engineers hope that it will also awaken during the next sunrise on September 22.

Lunar days and nights last up to 14 days, with temperatures during the night plunging to -183°C.

The extreme temperature can freeze the instruments on the rover and landing module.

Since landing on the Moon, the mission has been sending back data about the surface, including the discovery of sulphur traces.

Scientists believe sulphur comes from volcanic activity and deposits could reveal much about the Moon’s composition and its geological history.

Vikram performed a hop on Monday, when it used its engines to move a short distance.

“Vikram lander exceeded its mission objectives. It successfully undertook a hop experiment,” said Isro.

“On command, it fired the engines, elevated itself by about 40 centimetres as expected and landed safely at a distance of 30 to 40cm away.”

Isro said the 'kick-start' shows the lander is fit for tasks such as sample returns.

“All systems performed nominally and are healthy,” the agency said.

Apart from its Moon ambitions, India is wants to study the Sun as close-up as possible.

It launched its Aditya-L1 probe last week to assess how the star affects space weather.

Scientists believe it is important to study the Sun because its behaviour influences the Earth, other planets and space itself.

Mars, for example, is believed to have been a habitable planet a long time ago, but its atmosphere was destroyed by solar winds, causing it to become hostile to life.

The Aditya-L1 mission is expected to help unlock secrets of solar activities, including helping scientists understand coronal heating better.

This is when the Sun's upper atmosphere, or corona, stays heated at millions of degrees, which is 200 to 500 times higher than the layer beneath it.

Updated: September 05, 2023, 10:02 AM