Chandrayaan-3: Pragyan, Vikram Lander To Be Reactivated By ISRO On Sep 23
The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has announced that it will attempt to reactivate the Pragyan rover and the Vikram lander of the Chandrayaan-3 mission on September 23, 2023. The two spacecraft have been in hibernation mode since September 2 and 4 respectively, due to the onset of lunar night at their landing site near the south pole of the Moon.
Chandrayaan-3 is the third mission in the Chandrayaan programme, a series of lunar-exploration missions developed by ISRO. Launched on July 14, 2023, the mission consists of a lunar lander named Vikram and a lunar rover named Pragyan, similar to those launched aboard Chandrayaan-2 in 2019. Chandrayaan-3 was launched from Satish Dhawan Space Centre on a Launch Vehicle Mark-3 (LVM3) launch vehicle.
The Vikram lander and Pragyan rover were designed to operate for one lunar day (about 14 Earth days), during which they would conduct various experiments and observations. The lander carries four scientific payloads: Radio Anatomy of Moon Bound Hypersensitive ionosphere and Atmosphere (RAMBHA), Chandra’s Surface Thermo physical Experiment (ChaSTE), Instrument for Lunar Seismic Activity (ILSA), and Laser Retroreflector Array (LRA). The rover carries two scientific payloads: Alpha Particle X-Ray Spectrometer (APXS) and Laser Induced Breakdown Spectroscope (LIBS).
The lander and rover have successfully completed their primary objectives and transmitted valuable data to ISRO. On September 3, the lander performed a hop manoeuvre and repositioned itself 30–40 cm (12–16 in) from its landing site. However, as the lunar night approached, the solar power available to the spacecraft decreased, forcing them to enter a low-power mode. The lander and rover are expected to resume their activities at local sunrise on September 22.
ISRO has stated that it will attempt to reactivate the Pragyan rover and the Vikram lander on September 23, using commands from the Indian Deep Space Network (IDSN) at Byalalu near Bangalore. The Chandrayaan-2 orbiter, which is still operational in lunar orbit, will also provide a contingency link between ISRO and the lander-rover pair. ISRO hopes that the spacecraft have survived the harsh conditions of the lunar night, which can reach temperatures as low as -173°C (-279°F).
If successful, ISRO will extend the mission duration of Chandrayaan-3 and continue to explore the lunar south pole region with the Pragyan rover and Vikram lander. The mission will also pave the way for future lunar missions by ISRO, such as LUPEX (Lunar Polar Exploration Mission), which is planned for launch in 2024 in collaboration with Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA). Chandrayaan-3 is a testament to India’s achievements in space science and technology, and its contribution to humanity’s quest for understanding the Moon.