The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has located lander Vikram on the Moon more than 24 hours after losing contact,offering major relief to the space agency.
Isro now faces its biggest challenge of establishing communication with the lander,which scientists say appears unlikely as the spacecraft has apparently made a hard landing on the Moon.
We have found the location of the Vikram lander on the lunar surface and the orbiter has clicked a thermal image of the lander,” Isro chairman K.Sivan told media persons. He,however,added that scientists are still trying to make contact with the lander.It (information of any contact with the lander) will be communicated soon,”he said.
A thermal image is made by using radiation from the infrared region of the spectrum, which means that the orbiter has not seen the lander or detected any communication link, but captured the radiations being emitted from it.
Despite not knowing more details of Chandrayaan 2’s moon lander Vikram, the mission is far from being tagged a failure. Chandrayaan 2’s orbiter continues to circle the moon and will study it for a period of one year, which is its mission life.
Only 5 per cent of the mission Vikram,the lander and Pragyan, the rover has been lost.The remaining 95 per cent that is the Chandrayaan-2 orbiter is orbiting the moon successfully, an ISRO official told reporters.
The orbiter will take pictures of the moon and probably even of the lander and transmit it to ISRO,which can be analysed by the scientists.However, the rover inside the moon lander, Pragyan,has a life span of only 14 days.
Despite the setback, the Indian space agency had yesterday stated that 90 to 95 per cent of the mission objectives have been accomplished.The ISRO added that the orbiter will continue contributing to Lunar science, notwithstanding the loss of communication with the Lander.
The Orbiter has already been placed in its intended orbit around the Moon and shall enrich our understanding of the moon’s evolution and mapping of the minerals and water molecules in the Polar Regions, using its eight state-of-the-art scientific instruments. The Orbiter camera is the highest resolution camera (0.3m) in any lunar mission so far and shall provide high-resolution images which will be immensely useful to the global scientific community, a statement issued by the ISRO read.
A day after communication was lost with Vikram Lander,ISRO chief K Sivan told the media that the Chandrayaan-2 orbiter has located the exact location of the lander on the lunar surface. Early on Saturday, minutes before the scheduled soft-landing of Vikram on the surface of the moon, the lander lost communication with the ground station after it had reached an altitude of 2.1 km from the lunar surface.Chandrayaan-2’s orbiter, which continues to circle the moon, has found the location of the lander, ISRO chief said on Sunday. We have found the location of Vikram Lander on the lunar surface and the orbiter has clicked a thermal image of the lander. But there is no communication yet. We are trying to have contact. It will be communicated soon he added.
The Vikram Lander began its descent at 1.37 am on Saturday and was supposed to touch down on the moon’s surface in a high plain between two craters, Manzinus C and Simpelius N,at a latitude of about 70° south. The descent went as planned until 2.1 km above the surface of the moon, which is when communication with the lander was lost. ISRO chairman K Sivan officially announced at 2.20 am that the lander had lost communication with the orbiter, and that ISRO was analysing the data.
However,ISRO stated that the Chandrayaan-2 mission had accomplished 90-95% of its mission objectives even though contact with the lander was not established yet.The space agency said the precise launch and mission management has ensured a long life of almost seven years for the Chandrayaan-2 Orbiter instead of the planned one year.
ISRO said Chandrayaan-2 mission was a highly complex mission,which represented a significant technological leap compared to its previous missions.
Vikram Lander begins its descent in 20 minutes,Powered descent rough braking of Vikram Lander begins,Rough braking of Vikram Lander ends and fine braking phase starts.
And then suddenly,the announcements from the control room of Indian Space Research Organisation’s (ISRO) ISTRAC centre in Bengaluru stopped. So did the applause that came after every step of the lander’s descent on the south pole of the moon.A screen at the centre showed the green path of the Chandrayaan-2’s lander suddenly turning into a red line,indicating the lander slightly deviated from its original path.The expressions on the faces of the scientists in the control room started changing, from hope and excitement to worry.A scientist put his head in his palms. The cameras then panned to ISRO chairman K Sivan,who looked anxious.A while later, the ISRO chief gave an update,Vikram Lander has lost communication with the ground station.
The man who had held his composure in the midst of the most tense moments at ISRO,as the data was being analysed, broke down while seeing Prime Minister Narendra Modi off after the latter’s press conference early on Saturday.I could understand the mental state all of you were in,Prime Minister Narendra Modi told the anxious ISRO staff associated with the mission.I could see the sadness on your faces.The whole country is with you.You haven’t slept for many nights.There was a sadness on the faces of everyone when we lost contact with Chandrayaan-2.For the last few hours, the entire nation was awake. We were awake in solidarity with our scientists who had embarked on one of the most ambitious missions of our space programme.We came very close, but we will need to cover more ground in the times to come.Every Indian is filled with a spirit of pride as well as confidence. We are proud of our space programme and our scientists.Their hard work and determination have ensured a better life not only for our citizens but also for other nations,The lander was scheduled to make a soft landing on the south pole of the moon between 1.30 am and 2.30 am on September 7.It was at an altitude of 2.1 km over the moon’s south pole, where it was due to land, when communication was lost.While thanking ISRO, the Prime Minister said India was certain that there would be many more opportunities to be proud of the country and rejoice.We are full of confidence that when it comes to our space programme, the best is yet to come.There are new frontiers to discover and new places to go.We will rise to the occasion and scale newer heights of success.To our scientists,I want to say, India is with you.You are exceptional professionals who have made an incredible contribution to the national progress. You have given your best, always, and will give us several more opportunities to smile,Modi said.True to your nature, you ventured into a place where no one had ever gone before. You came as close as you could; stay steady and look ahead.Sisters and brothers of India, resilience and tenacity are central to India’s ethos. In our glorious history of thousands of years, we have faced moments that may have slowed us but they have never crushed our spirit. We have bounced back again and gone on to do spectacular things.Modi said that while the final result was important,the effort was worth it and so was the journey.Our team worked hard, travelled far and those teachings will always remain with us.We will look back at this journey with effort and great satisfaction.The learnings from today will make us stronger and better. There will be a new dawn and brighter tomorrow very soon,He also pointed out that the Chandrayaan-2 orbiter continued to do its job perfectly, orbiting the moon. He added that ISRO will continue to be a major leader in space exploration he added.Before his departure,Modi also hugged an emotional ISRO Chairman K Sivan,who broke down, and consoled him.The mission will succeed.The PM consoled him.
Messages are pouring in from citizens across the country,Dr Sivan, project director M Vanitha, mission director Ritu Karidhal, and the entire team of Chandrayaan-2 scientists and ISRO staff, India is very, very proud of you he added.
Announcing the snapping of the communication link,K Sivan said that the performance of the lander was as per the plan until it was 2.1 km from the moon’s surface. The communication link got snapped after that, he added.
On the screen, it was seen that Vikram slightly deviated from its planned path and then the communication link got snapped. ISRO officials said that the data is being analysed.
The Chandrayaan-2 mission brought together an Orbiter, Lander and Rover to explore the unexplored south pole of the Moon. Since the launch of Chandrayaan-2 on July 22, 2019, not only India but the whole world watched its progress from one phase to the next with great expectations and excitement.
The launch of Chandrayaan-2 was carried out successfully on July 22 by the GSLV Mk-III from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota and had entered the Lunar Transfer Trajectory on August 14. On August 20, Chandrayaan-2 entered the lunar orbit and on September 2, the Vikram Lander separated from the orbiter to make its way for the soft landing.