The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) continues its determined efforts to reestablish contact with the Vikram lander and Pragyaan rover of the Chandrayaan-3 mission. Despite uncertainties, ISRO scientists are committed to their attempts until the next lunar sunset on October 6, 2023. ISRO Chairman S Somanath has acknowledged the uncertainty surrounding the timing of the lander and rover's reawakening. It could occur soon or closer to the lunar day's end. Nonetheless, ISRO remains committed to the endeavor, hoping for a successful revival, which would be a significant achievement.
The lander and rover have faced harsh lunar conditions, including extreme cold and complete darkness during the lunar night, lasting 14 Earth days. These conditions are particularly challenging for the batteries that store power for the devices.However, there is optimism among scientists that as the lunar day progresses and surface temperatures rise, the likelihood of revival also increases. While the rover has been thoroughly tested to withstand low temperatures, the lander, Vikram, has not undergone such testing.
ISRO initiated the revival attempts when the Sun's elevation was deemed sufficient to recharge the instruments, which had been put into sleep mode in preparation for the lunar night. Before entering sleep mode, the batteries were fully charged, and the solar panels were positioned to receive sunlight as soon as the Sun rose. The receiver remained active, allowing for a potential revival if the instruments can endure the frigid lunar temperatures.
In the best-case scenario, once the commands are transmitted to revive the lander and rover, the rover will resume its movement across the lunar surface, and the lander's onboard equipment will recommence data collection. This extended mission phase would provide an opportunity for additional experiments and sample collection.
ISRO's Telemetry, Tracking, and Command Network (ISTRAC) has been diligently sending commands to reactivate the instruments. If the lander and rover respond positively to the recharging, Chandrayaan-3 will embark on an extended mission, offering valuable scientific insights and data collection opportunities.