Will they or will they not wake up is the question that is uppermost on every space enthusiast’s mind as the world awaits tensely for the Vikram lander and the Pragyan rover to take breath again when the first rays of the sun strikes the moon surface after 14 earth days.
In a few hours, we will know whether the latest immigrants to the moon will come alive again or have lost their lives to the lunar cold.
Chances that the two machines will buzz again and the rover will crawl for one more time around the eerie desolation of the lunar south pole are slim. The extreme cold of the night, which could go well below minus 220 degrees C, will have frozen the electronic components dead. But there is an outside chance—a hope against hope—that things might be otherwise.
If the lander, which is standing at Shiva Shakhti point on its legs, and the tiny rover that can slither around on its six wheels, do come alive, it will be a tremendous positive for India and the Indian space agency, ISRO, because the instruments will then be available for another 14 days of experiments, generating data that will be of immense value to science.
As businessline pointed out in an earlier report, it is not as though ISRO could not have provided life-protecting warmth to the lander and rover, but adding features would have complicated the mission, whose primary objective was to demonstrate a soft landing on the moon.
Spacecraft can be protected against the extreme cold of space in many ways—for example, by radioisotope thermoelectric generators (RTG) in which radio-active decay of Plutonium-238 is accompanied by release of heat.