NASA spacecraft spots Chandrayaan-3 lander on lunar surface
As the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) shared a 3D image of the Chandrayaan-3 mission’s Vikram lander taken by the Pragyaan rover, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) shared an image of the lander from a “bird’s eye view,” if there were any birds on the Moon.
NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) took an image of the Chandrayaan-3 landing site on the Moon’s surface. LRO is a robotic NASA spacecraft that is currently orbiting the Moon in an eccentric polar orbit. Data from the spacecraft plays an important role in helping the American space agency plan human and robotic missions to the Moon, including missions of the Artemis program which will return mankind to the Moon.
The LRO Camera took a 42-degree slew angle “oblique view” of the lander four days after it touched down on August 23. The landing site is about 600 kilometres from the lunar south pole. In the NASA image, a bright halo can be seen. This was caused by the rocket plume interacting with the fine-grained regolith. (lunar soil)
ISRO said on September 3 that it put the Vikram lander and the Pragyan rover in hibernation mode since daylight time was ending on the Moon. The Chandrayaan-3 mission was only designed to operate on the lunar surface for about one lunar day or roughly 14 days on Earth.
“We are going to start the process of making them (lander and the rover) sleep in the next couple of days so that they can withstand the night. Currently, the battery (on the rover) 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,” said ISRO chairman S Somnath while announcing that the rover and lander were being placed in hibernation mode.
While the mission may only have been designed for one lunar day’s worth of functioning, the Indian space agency is holding out hope that it will survive for longer. In order to do that, the instruments of the rover and the lander will have to survive the cold lunar day, which will bring about temperatures as low as minus 120 degrees Celsius.
If the instruments do survive the extreme temperatures and radiation on the Moon through the lunar night, which also lasts about 14 days, there is a good chance that they could spring back to life as the Sun rises on the Moon.