India’s Moon lander hibernates during lunar night

India’s lunar lander and rover have entered a sleep mode as the Sun sets on the Moon, according to the country’s space research agency Isro. The lander and rover have been put to sleep as their solar power is depleted and their batteries are drained. Isro hopes that they will awaken around 22 September when the next lunar day begins. The lander and rover require sunlight to charge their batteries and perform their functions. The Vikram lander, carrying the Pragyaan rover, successfully landed on the Moon’s south pole on 23 August, making India the fourth country to achieve a soft landing on the Moon. Isro has been providing regular updates on their movements and findings, and in its latest update, it announced a successful hop experiment where the spacecraft rose by about 40cm before landing again. Isro believes that the lander and rover may come back to life when the next lunar day starts, as has been observed with China’s Chang’e4 lander and Yutu2 rover. However, the success of the awakening is not guaranteed due to the extreme temperatures on the Moon, which can reach as low as -250C. Isro has prepared the lander and rover for the night by fully charging their batteries, powering off their scientific instruments, and placing them in a safe sleep mode. While there is hope for another set of assignments, Isro has also acknowledged the possibility that the lander and rover may never wake up, remaining as India’s lunar ambassadors indefinitely.