India’s Moon rover goes into sleep mode after long first lunar day of research

India’s Moon rover has been switched off after it completed its first two weeks of assignments, with mystery over when it will wake up again.

The Indian space agency Isro said on Saturday that the rover was “set into sleep mode”, but with batteries charged and the receiver on so it can “hopefully” awaken for its next phase of work.

“Hoping for a successful awakening for another set of assignments!” Isro wrote in a post on X, formerly Twitter, late on Saturday.

“Else, it will forever stay there as India‘s lunar ambassador.”

The rover was put in hibernation mode as daylight time on the Moon was coming to an end.

The day Chandrayaan-3 landed on the Moon on 23 August was when it received the first of 14 Earth days of sunlight. The night will fall over the Moon on 6 September when the batteries of the lander and rover will not be charged for 14 Earth days.

This move was part of the attempt by Isro to extend the life of the Chandrayaan-3 lander and rover, which were earlier only expected to operate for one Lunar day, or nearly 14 days on Earth.

The electronics of the spacecraft are not designed to withstand very low temperatures during the nighttime on the Moon when it can be as low as -120 degrees Celsius.

However, Isro believes there is a possibility that the electronics may be able to survive the low temperatures and power themselves on again once the sunshine is available.

The Pragyan rover travelled over 100 m (330 feet), confirming the presence of sulphur, iron, oxygen and other elements on the moon, Isro said.

The rugged southern part of the moon where the Chandrayaan-3 made its successful landing was unknown to anyone so far.

Isro’s successful landing not just made history - Russia’s Luna-25 crashed on a similar attempt - but also made India join the elite club of countries that have landed on moon, including the United States, China and the former Soviet Union.

Chandrayaan-3’s landing led to widespread celebrations in the South Asian country with India now opening up its space industry to private players. Isro followed its feat by one more successful launch on Saturday, sending the Aditya-L1 spacecraft to study the Sun, observing solar winds that can cause disturbance on Earth commonly seen as auroras.

The spacecraft is so far remaining “healthy”, Isro updated on Sunday as it prepares for its 1.5 million-km (930,000-mile) journey.