Contact has been lost with India’s new Vikram lunar lander and Pragyan lunar rover after they suffered a very cold two-week-long lunar night. Hopes of waking up the Vikram lander and Pragyan rover from their sleep mode are fading fast as attempts have, as yet, only yielded radio silence from the pair.
After Chandrayaan-3’s historic landing near the south pole of the Moon on 23 August – making it only the fourth nation to have successfully landed a spacecraft on the Moon – the Pragyan rover and Vikram lander were used to explore the lunar surface. They performed a number of scientific experiments until they were put into ‘hibernation’ on 2 September and 4 September respectively. They were put to sleep having completed their tasks in preparation for a nippy (to say the least) lunar night when temperatures reach as low as minus 230 degrees Celsius.
ISRO planned to wake them up on 22 September but in a post on X (formerly Twitter) the space agency admitted: “As of now, no signals have been received from them.” Although ISRO will undoubtedly have hoped to revive Pragyan and Vikram, the struggle to regain contact with the pair will not have come as a total surprise. The Pragyan rover was designed to work for just 14 Earth days (which is equivalent to one day on the Moon) to take advantage of the sunlight hours, with the knowledge that temperatures on the Moon plummet dramatically at night. Still, the space agency is not giving up just yet. It said: “Efforts to establish contact will continue.”
Update on 28 September 2023: Seradata has decided to register both Vikram and Pragyan as retired due to failure on its launch and spacecraft database with the retirement date of 22 September.