India made history last month when it became just the fourth nation to successfully land softly on the moon.
Subsequently, the nation’s Vikram lander shown its prowess by releasing a rover and even using its engines to elevate itself to a height of 15 inches above the earth before gently touching down once more.
A few days later, the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) crew put Vikram and the Pragyaan rover it was traveling with into sleep mode so they could wait until September 22 for the next lunar dawn.
Days later, the couple still hasn’t “re-awaken” from their extended nighttime snooze. According to The Guardian, ISRO scientists haven’t been able to get in touch with the duo, thus “hopes are dimming” that Vikram and Pragyaan will ever wake up.
This is a regrettable development that emphasizes the harsh lunar surface conditions, especially during the extended period when the Sun’s warming rays are absent.
However, scientists have not yet made a firm diagnosis.
The ISRO stated, “We will keep trying to get in touch with the Pragyaan rover and the Vikram lander.”
The team reports that mission control will attempt to get back in touch until September 30 at dusk.
“We have no connectivity unless the transmitter on the lander comes on,” ISRO chairman AS Kiran Kumar told the BBC on Monday. “It needs to communicate its life to us. We are unable to determine if any additional subsystems are operating or not.”
While it could be challenging to survive the extreme cold, lunar rovers have been known to survive a hard night in the past. For example, China’s Chang’e-4 and Yutu-2 rovers have a history of successfully emerging from sleep on several occasions.
Even so, India may consider its Chandrayaan-3 mission a ground-breaking success, with the lander acting “as India’s lunar ambassador” on the Moon, according to the ISRO. That is, even if Vikram never wakes up again.