India’s Chandrayaan-3 mission has achieved a major milestone by successfully delivering the Vikram lander and Pragyan rover to the lunar surface on August 23rd. However, the rover’s mission may be in jeopardy as it enters sleep mode during the lunar night due to the lack of solar power.
Pragyan has already transmitted all of its data and is currently hibernating, as its electronics were not designed to withstand the extremely low temperatures on the lunar surface. There is hope that the rover can be reawakened when the Sun returns on September 22nd, allowing it to resume its mission.
The engineering objectives of the mission, including safely landing on the Moon and demonstrating the rover’s ability to drive, have already been accomplished. Now, the focus is on the mission’s science objectives. These include detecting water ice, studying the composition of the lunar regolith, and contributing to our understanding of lunar impacts and the evolution of the lunar atmosphere.
Some data from the mission has already been released. Temperature measurements confirm the presence of an insulating top layer of regolith, and for the first time, sulphur has been detected at the South Pole. The remaining data will determine the overall success of the mission’s scientific goals. Initially, Indian scientists will have access to the data before it is made available to international researchers.
This achievement is particularly significant for India, as they had previously faced a setback with a failed lunar landing attempt in 2019. With this success, India becomes the fourth nation, after the USA, the Soviet Union, and China, to achieve lunar success.
India’s space program has been gaining recognition for its skill and expertise. They have launched multiple satellites and their Mars Orbiter mission lasted an impressive 7.5 years. Additionally, they are preparing for their first mission to the International Space Station in collaboration with NASA.
Looking ahead, ISRO is planning a joint mission with Japan called the Lunar Polar Exploration Mission (LUPEX) to the Moon’s South Pole. This mission will also involve the European Space Agency, which will contribute its instrument.
Overall, there is still hope that Pragyan can be reactivated when the Sun returns on September 22nd, further enhancing the success of the Chandrayaan-3 mission. India’s achievements in space missions continue to grow, establishing their reputation as a notable player in the world of space exploration.