India’s Moon Rover Concludes Historic Journey, Awaits Lunar Sunrise

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Following its historic touch down near the lunar south pole, India’s moon rover has concluded its journey over the moon’s surface. Less than two weeks post-landing, the vehicle was guided into safe parking and set into a state of sleep mode. The move came as daylight ceased on the concerned section of the moon, a development shared by the Indian Space Research Organization in a late Saturday declaration.

As ventures on the lunar surface concluded, the rover was debilitated, with all onboard instruments turned off. Its consolidation of significant data was successfully relayed back to Earth through the lander.

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The Chandrayaan-3 lander and rover had been designed to operate for a lunar day equivalent to 14 earth days. Regardless, the organization remains hopeful. “The battery remains fully charged and the solar panel is positioned to harness the next expected sunrise in September 2023. The receiver remains active in anticipation of a successful awakening for additional assignments,” the statement revealed.

No information was divulged regarding the rover’s search for indications of frozen water in the lunar landscape. The detection of such could significantly benefit future astronaut missions, providing potential drinking water or the means to create rocket fuel.

Just last week, India’s space agency announced that the moon rover had confirmed the presence of sulfur. It also detected an array of other elements including aluminum, iron, calcium, chromium, titanium, manganese, oxygen, and silicon. Laser-induced spectroscopic instruments had yielded these substantial findings.

According to The Indian Express newspaper, the electronics onboard the Indian moon mission were not built to sustain the extremely frigid temperatures, descending below -120 C (-184 F) during the lunar night, a phase that extends for 14 earth days.

Science writer Pallava Bagla has indicated that the rover’s battery life is limited. The data obtained from the mission is currently being scrutinized by Indian scientists before being shared with the global community. Bagla noted that, due to these severe temperatures, the rover’s wakeup is not assured at lunar sunrise, as the extreme cold may have an irreversible effect on the onboard electronics.

Following an unsuccessful attempt in 2019, India’s triumphant lunar landing last week marked a significant achievement, positioning it as the fourth country to attain this feat along with the United States, the Soviet Union, and China.

This accomplishment not only elevates India’s status as a leading technological and space exploration entity but also aligns with Prime Minister, Narendra Modi’s aspiration of asserting India’s ascent amongst the globally recognized elite.

The grand mission, which began over a month ago, came at a considerable estimated cost of US$75 million. Interestingly, the success of the Indian moon rover came just shortly after Russia’s Luna-25, targeting the same lunar region, spun into an uncontrolled orbit and crashed after almost half a century.

India’s space journey, beginning in the 1960s, includes launching satellites for itself and other nations, putting one in orbit around Mars in 2014, and planning its first venture to the International Space Station next year in collaboration with the United States.