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Vehicle of Wisdom: Pragyan rover in Chandrayaan-3’s Vikram lander is an engineering marvel

India’s lunar rover, named ‘Pragyan,’ which means wisdom in Sanskrit, is all set to go on an exciting journey to explore the Moon with Chandrayaan-3, provided that the lander module Vikram lands correctly this time.

As Pragyan gets ready for its mission, it has a two-fold goal: not just to gather data and samples but also to add to our understanding of the Moon by unraveling the hidden mysteries beneath its surface.

Pragyan’s mission is complex and bold, much like an adventurous expedition. If it succeeds, it will join the ranks of a few exceptional lunar rovers that have dared to uncover the secrets of the Moon.

The Pragyan rover
During Chandrayaan-2 in 2019, the Vikram lander, unfortunately, crash-landed on the Moon, preventing Pragyan from exploring the lunar surface. But if Vikram manages a successful landing on August 23, it will be the first time we witness Pragyan, the rover made in India, rolling across the Moon’s terrains.

Inside the lander module, this 26 kg rover with six wheels awaits its big moment to shine on the intriguing lunar landscape.

Pragyan will spring to life when the Vikram lander softly lands on the Moon. It will become the chief communicator, sending its findings back to Earth via the lander. It’s designed with a rectangular chassis mounted on a six-wheel rocker-bogie drive assembly.

Loads of equipment and payload
Pragyan is no ordinary rover. It’s armed with scientific tools that promise to reshape our knowledge of the lunar surface. Equipped with the Alpha Particle X-ray Spectrometer (APXS) and the Laser-Induced Breakdown Spectroscope (LIBS), Pragyan is built to conduct thorough chemical analyses.

Its mission is to closely examine magnesium, aluminum, silicon, potassium, calcium, titanium, and iron on the Moon, enhancing our understanding of its composition.

Contrary to common belief, the Moon does have a fragile atmosphere. Pragyan aims to understand this delicate balance through the Moon’s day-night cycle, observing how atoms interact and studying charged particles near the surface. It’s on a mission to decode the ever-changing nature of this ethereal atmosphere.

How Pragyan will study the lunar surface
Pragyan will boldly delve into the electrical and thermal properties of the lunar surface, peering up to 10 cm beneath it. Using an innovative approach involving electrical current and conductivity measurements, it will unveil the geological secrets hidden within the Moon.

Pragyan’s mission closely follows the lunar day, which spans about 14 Earth days. However, the Sun dictates its rhythm. Pragyan will brave the cold and darkness without power when the lunar night arrives. But as the Sun will rise arrives, so will the rover and get ready to continue its tasks.

While intricate and bold, Pragyan’s mission reflects the true spirit of exploration. If victorious, it will stand among the few lunar rovers who have dared to uncover the Moon’s concealed treasures. As ISRO prepares for Pragyan to start its mission, its purpose goes beyond collecting data. It’s also about adding to the collective knowledge about our lunar companion, unveiling the mysteries beneath the lunar surface.

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