India’s lunar robot Rover has gone walkies on the lunar surface and now been put to sleep less than two weeks after its successful and historic landing at the lunar south pole, India’s space mission said. However it seems that Rover didn’t find any water.
The lunar day, which last 14 Earth days has come to an end, and now comes a long, dark, cold lunar night that lasts another 14 earth days before lunar sunrise brings back some warmth. Whether Rover will wake up after his hibernation remains to be seen.
According to the Indian Express newspaper, the electronics on board the Indian moon mission weren’t designed to withstand very low temperatures, less than -120 C (-184 F) during the nighttime on the moon. The lunar night also extends for as long as 14 days on Earth.
“The rover completes its assignments. It is now safely parked and set into sleep mode,” with daylight on that part of the moon coming to an end, the Indian Space Research Organization said in a statement published on X, formerly known as Twitter, on Saturday.
The Rover completed its assignments.
It is now safely parked and set into Sleep mode.
APXS and LIBS payloads are turned off.
Data from these payloads is transmitted to the Earth via the Lander.
Currently, the battery is fully charged.
The solar panel is…
— ISRO (@isro) September 2, 2023
The rover’s payloads are turned off and the data it collected has been transmitted to the Earth via the lander, the statement said.
The Chandrayaan-3 lander and rover were expected to operate only for one lunar day, which is equal to 14 days on Earth.
“Currently, the battery is fully charged. The solar panel is oriented to receive the light at the next sunrise expected on September 22, 2023. The receiver is kept on. Hoping for a successful awakening for another set of assignments!” the statement said.
Nothing was said about the efforts to find ice or water on the moon’s surface that could help future astronaut missions, perhaps as drinking water or as a resource to make rocket fuel.
In this case it seems reasonable to assume that no news is bad news as far as water is concerned, though it may be good news for earthbound manufacturers of bottled water.
Last week, the space agency said the moon rover confirmed the presence of sulfur and detected several other elements. The rover’s laser-induced spectroscope instrument also detected aluminum, iron, calcium, chromium, titanium, manganese, oxygen and silicon on the surface.
“Hoping for a successful awakening for another set of assignments!” says the space agency. “Else, it will forever stay there as India’s lunar ambassador.”