Chandrayaan-3’s Pragyan Rover Achieves Mission Goals Despite Lunar Slumber: ISRO Chief
The Indian Space Research Organisation’s (ISRO) Pragyan rover, part of the Chandrayaan-3 mission, has fulfilled its mission objectives even if it does not awaken from its dormant state on the moon, according to ISRO Chief S Somanath. The lunar explorer has been in sleep mode as a protective measure against the moon’s extremely cold conditions, which can drop to nearly 200 degrees Celsius below zero. Despite the freezing conditions, there remains a chance that the rover may become operational again unless the electronics have suffered irreparable damage.
ISRO’s Confidence in the Rover’s Achievements
Somanath has expressed confidence in the rover’s accomplishments, stating that it has already accomplished what it was intended to do. The Pragyan rover and the Vikram lander, both part of the Chandrayaan-3 mission, entered sleep mode earlier this month in preparation for the lunar night, a period that can last for about 14 Earth days. The ISRO has been attempting to establish contact with the rover and lander since the start of the lunar day, but no signals have been received yet.
Despite the lack of communication, the ISRO Chief has assured that the potential failure of the rover to wake up will not pose a problem. He emphasized that the rover has fulfilled its mission objectives, so it is fine even if it does not awaken. Upon landing on the moon on August 23, both the lander and rover, along with their payloads, conducted experiments within the 14-day lunar day to complete their tasks before the onset of the moon’s pitch darkness and extreme cold.
Chandrayaan-3 Mission and Future ISRO Endeavors
The Chandrayaan-3 mission blasted into space on July 14 and entered lunar orbit on August 5. The lander of the mission, Vikram, was designed to make a soft landing on the moon’s surface even if all sensors and two of its engines failed. The entire design of Vikram has been made in a way that ensures it can handle failures, according to Somanath. Despite potential sensor failures, Vikram was designed to make a landing as long as the propulsion system functioned correctly.
Aside from Chandrayaan-3, ISRO is gearing up for more space missions in the near future. This includes the scheduled launch of the X-ray Polarimeter Satellite (XPoSat) in November or December, and INSAT 3DS, a climate satellite to be launched in December.
Unprecedented Success Despite Challenges
The Chandrayaan-3 mission marked a significant achievement for India as it became the first nation to land a spacecraft on the unexplored South Pole of the moon. The landing came after a failed attempt by Russia’s Luna 25 mission to perform a similar feat. The successful landing sparked widespread celebration and was hailed as India’s biggest scientific achievement.
Despite the challenges experienced on the moon’s surface, especially with lunar dust and extreme temperatures, Somanath seems hopeful and positive. ISRO is prepared for these challenges as it continues to explore the moon and unlock its mysteries. As Somanath aptly put it, the thrill of exploration lies in confronting the unknown.
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