ISRO chairman S Somnath on Thursday said Chandrayaan-3’s rover Pragyan has fallen asleep on the lunar surface, but chances of it waking up from its slumber cannot be ruled out.
He said the space agency is well aware of the risk involved if the rover and the lander Vikram fell asleep on the moon’s surface.
The objective of Chandrayaan-3 mission was soft landing, and the subsequent experiments for the next 14 days and all the required data have been collected, he noted.
S Somnath was speaking at the Manorama News Conclave 2023 here organised by the Malayala Manorama group.
“Now it is sleeping peacefully there…Let it sleep well..Let us not disturb it…When it wants to get up on its own, it will…that’s what I want to say about it right now,” he said.
Asked whether ISRO still hopes that the rover would come back to life, the Chairman replied, “there is reason to be hopeful.” Citing reasons for his “hope”, S Somnath said a lander and a rover were involved in the mission. As the lander was a huge structure, it could not be tested completely.
But when the rover was tested at minus 200 degrees celsius, it was found to be working at that lower temperature, he said.
But, after the 42-day-long mission, the radiation it was exposed to and the shakes it might have suffered during the landing may cause the Pragyan to have some difficulty recovering. “So, it is tough to predict,” S Somnath added.
However, the ISRO chief made it clear that the objective of the Chandrayaan-3 mission was accomplished.
The ISRO is trying to explore the scientific data collected through the mission, he said, adding that the massive data was stored in the space agency’s scientific data centre.
With the Chandrayaan-3 mission, India scripted history on August 23 becoming the first country to touch down near the lunar south pole; and the fourth in the world to achieve soft-landing on the lunar surface after the US, the former Soviet Union and China.
The national space agency headquartered here had put the lander and rover into sleep mode, on September 4 and 2, respectively, before the sun set on the moon, hoping for their awakening at the next sunrise around September 22.
The lander and the rover are designed to operate for one lunar daylight period (about 14 earth days).
The ISRO said on September 22 — after a new lunar day began — efforts have been made to establish communication with solar-powered Vikram lander and Pragyan rover to ascertain their wake-up condition. As of now, no signals have been received from them. Efforts to establish contact will continue, it had said then.
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