Chandrayaan-2 Fate Unknown after ISRO Loses Contact with Lander Vikram at 2.1 km from Moons Surface

Chandrayaan-2 Fate Unknown after ISRO Loses Contact with Lander Vikram at 2.1 km from Moons Surface

According to a timeline released earlier by ISRO, Chandrayaan 2’s Vikram lander would touch down on moon at 1:53 am and the rover Pragyan was scheduled to roll down a ramp at 5:19 am on 7th September. In an extraordinary moment, the rover would click a photograph of the lander at 5:45 am

However, ISRO’s Chandrayaan-2 mission had suffered a setback; when Vikram the Lander lost all communication with ground stations while attempting to do a soft-landing on an unexplored lunar South Pole on the Moon’s surface at an altitude of 2.1 km early on Saturday morning.

In the course of the last stage of the crucial Chandrayaan-2 mission, a snag took place, where the communication link between the moon lander (Vikram) as well as the orbiter snapped leading near some tense moments and throwing suspense over the fate of the mission.

The power descent was certainly one of the most difficult exercises that ISRO had ever undertaken, which involved reducing the velocity of the Lander from 1.6 km/second to zero in a controlled manner. The agency has used a new technology-- the five thrusters which will be fired in stages to bring down its velocity.

All simulations, testing as well as verification has been carried out several times on earth. But there were doubts involved in executing it on the moon. The moon has no atmosphere and the gravity is one-sixth of that of earth, and movements have to be executed accordingly. There has been no muscle memory of landing on the moon.

A similar attempt was made by Israel in April who could not achieve success. But, ISRO has learned from that and decided to strengthen the sensor characterization of Lander so it doesn’t get impacted due to any human error. It likewise accounted for any communication delay, as the Lander was designed to be autonomous and take decisions on its own.

However, it could not control the velocity during the last 2 minutes and cannot achieve a soft landing on the moon. The orbiter, though, shall continue to revolve around the moon at an altitude of 100 km above the surface and shall continue the Chandrayaan-2’s exploration.

With this setback, the Orbiter is functioning well, moving around the Moon and likely to be in orbit for over a year. Although efforts are been made as to how to regain or revive Vikram the Lander and Pragyan the Rover.

The Chairman of ISRO K Sivan had stated that the Vikram Lander descended as planned up to an altitude of 2.1 km as well as normal performance has been observed during Chandrayan-2. Then the communication from the lander to the ground station was a lot. The data shall be now analyzed.

Chandrayaan 2 was lifted off from India’s spaceport at Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh on 22nd July. The spacecraft which has been used in the mission contains an orbiter, a lander called Vikram and a rover called Pragyan almost entirely designed as well as made in India.

The orbiter has a mission life of a year and would take images of the lunar surface. The Orbiter could also take pictures of the lander to know its status.

The Chandrayaan-2 spacecraft comprised 3 segments - the Orbiter (weighing 2,379 kg, eight payloads), ‘Vikram’ (1,471 kg, four payloads) and ‘Pragyan’ (27 kg, two payloads).
On 22nd July, the Rs 978 crore Chandrayaan-2 has been launched into space by India’s heavy-lift rocket Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle-Mark III (GSLV Mk III).

After five earth-bound orbit raising actions, Chandrayaan-2 has been inserted into lunar orbit. On 2nd September, Vikram separated from the orbiter.

Chandrayaan 1 orbited the moon in the year 2008 and helped to confirm the presence of water. 

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, had flown down to Bengaluru to witness the Lander’s descent on the Moon and sat in the visitors’ gallery at ISRO’s Telemetry Tracking and Command Network (ISTRAC) Centre.


eStartIndia Team

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