Chandrayaan 3 Lunar Night Approaches ‘Shiv Shakti’ Point: What’s Next?
To prepare for the lunar night, ISRO has put Pragyan in sleep mode, which means that it will stop moving and communicating with Vikram and Earth. Pragyan will only wake up when the sun rises again on the moon. Vikram, on the other hand, will remain awake throughout the lunar night, but will reduce its power consumption and activities to a minimum. Vikram will continue to communicate with Earth via the Chandrayaan-2 orbiter, which is still orbiting the moon.
During the lunar day, Vikram and Pragyan have performed several scientific experiments and observations on the moon. Vikram has measured the temperature of the lunar soil at different depths using an instrument called Chandra’s Surface Thermophysical Experiment (ChaSTE). This is the first time such an experiment has been done on the moon. Pragyan has analysed the chemical composition of the lunar rocks and soil using two instruments: Alpha Particle X-Ray Spectrometer (APXS) and Laser Induced Breakdown Spectroscope (LIBS). Pragyan has also taken several images of the lunar terrain using its cameras.
Chandrayaan 3, India’s third lunar exploration mission, is nearing the end of its first lunar day on the moon’s surface. The mission’s lander Vikram and rover Pragyan have been operating near the south pole of the moon, at a site named Shiv Shakti Point, since August 23, 2023. The site was named by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who visited the ISRO headquarters in Bengaluru on August 26, 2023
The lunar day lasts for about 14 Earth days, and is followed by a lunar night of equal duration. During the lunar night, the temperature drops drastically, reaching as low as -173 degrees Celsius. This poses a challenge for the survival of the lander and rover, which rely on solar power to function.
One of the most remarkable achievements of Chandrayaan 3 was that Pragyan performed a ‘hop’ on the moon, which means that it lifted itself off the ground and moved to a different location. This was done to avoid a large crater that was blocking its path. The hop was planned just 48 hours before it was executed, and it was a risky maneuver that required precise coordination between Vikram and Pragyan. The hop was successful and Pragyan landed safely on a flat surface. This was the first time that a rover has performed a hop on the moon.
Chandrayaan 3 has made history by becoming the first mission to land near the moon’s south pole, which is a region of scientific interest and potential resources. The mission has also demonstrated India’s technological capabilities and scientific aspirations in space exploration. Chandrayaan 3 has received praise and congratulations from various countries and organizations around the world, including NASA, ESA, JAXA, Roscosmos, China National Space Administration (CNSA), and United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA)