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Save Private Pragyan – INAF MEDIA

Save Private Pragyan – INAF MEDIA

The Vikram lander as seen from the Pragyan rover’s navigation camera on the lunar surface. Credit: ISRO

More than two weeks after India’s Chandrayaan-3 mission touched down at the lunar south pole, the Vikram lander and the Pragyan rover have entered sleep mode. On the occasion of the next lunar dawn, scheduled for September 22, we hope they will wake up.

The Indian Space Agency says that for now, the mission has been completed with great success Isro. As planned, in fact, both the lander and rover – powered solely by solar panels and batteries – were only operational during the diurnal portion of a lunar day, the equivalent of just over fourteen Earth days. Thanks to the energy provided by sunlight, in recent days the vehicle has made the planned walk on the surface of the Moon and has completed all its tasks correctly, sending to Earth via the lander the data collected using the laser spectrometer to which it belongs. Gifted. Data that allowed ISRO to confirm the presence of sulfur and several other elements on the surface, including aluminium, iron, calcium, chromium, titanium, manganese, oxygen and silicon. However, the results of the results related to the search for traces of frozen water have not yet been announced, which is extremely valuable information for future human space missions.

For now, the rover’s solar panel is oriented correctly to be able to recharge the batteries by the next light of dawn, but waking up will only be possible if the electronics on board aren’t damaged in the meantime after the moon’s frigid temperatures. At night, it drops even at -120 degrees Celsius.

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Whatever happened, India’s Chandrayaan-3 mission was a complete success anyway. It is actually the first vehicle to land near the Moon’s south pole, an area potentially rich in water ice. Exploring this region of the moon’s surface could pave the way for India Space mining – or the possibility of extracting mineral resources from celestial bodies – giving it a new strategic position in the international geopolitical framework.

For now, two towers are standing safely near the lander, with all instruments turned off except for the receiver. We are waiting for the wake-up call.