The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) reported on Friday that there have been no signals received from the Vikram lander and Pragyan rover of the Chandrayaan-3 mission. ISRO is actively engaged in ongoing efforts to establish communication and assess the condition of the lander and rover.
An official from ISRO mentioned earlier that ground stations would attempt to revive the lander and rover, along with their on-board instruments, following the dawn on the Moon, making use of the optimum sunshine available. Despite these efforts, the chances of a successful revival are minimal, and even if they do awaken, there’s a possibility they may not regain full functionality.
Efforts have been made to establish communication with the Vikram lander and Pragyan rover to ascertain their wake-up condition.
As of now, no signals have been received from them.
Efforts to establish contact will continue.
— ISRO (@isro) September 22, 2023
All components of the mission rely on solar power and were originally designed to function for just one lunar day, equivalent to about 14 days on Earth. This duration has already passed, and the mission’s electronics were not constructed to endure the extreme nighttime conditions prevalent on the Moon. The temperature plunges significantly, dropping below minus 200 degrees Celsius near the lunar south pole, the location of the lander and rover.
While certain spacecraft are designed to endure the lunar night, such as Russia’s Luna-25, which crash-landed on the Moon, the Vikram Lander and Pragyan Rover lack such capabilities. For instance, the Russian Luna-25 mission utilized a plutonium radioisotope device, acting like a nuclear battery, to generate heat and maintain instruments at an operable temperature. Unfortunately, the Vikram Lander and Pragyan Rover were not equipped with such provisions.
However, following the completion of its primary scientific objectives, Chandrayaan-3, ISRO took the opportunity to extend the lander and rover’s lifespan. In a strategic move, all instrument operations were suspended shortly before lunar sunset, shifting them into sleep mode. This approach was adopted with the hope that if the batteries were fully charged, they could potentially maintain the instruments at an adequate temperature to survive the night.