ISRO chief says lander has been located, efforts on to communicate with the device.
BENGALURU: The Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro) has located the Chandrayaan-2’s Vikram lander on the lunar surface that it had lost contact during its descent on the moon’s south pole, chairman K Sivan confirmed on Sunday. Cameras on board the orbiter have taken images of the lander on the moon’s surface. Isro is still unable to communicate with the lander that had a hard landing after a free fall from a height of 2.1 km.
“It was a hard landing. We are still attempting recovery,” he said. “There are images that we have received. We are still finding the cause”.
The orbiter, whose life has been extended to seven years from its intended lifespan of one year, was orbiting over the lander taking images during its descent. It has made subsequent visits over the location to take high-resolution images, said an Isro scientist, who did not want to be named.
The communication equipment in the Vikram lander is likely to have been damaged when it tumbled during its “hard landing”, the scientist said.
Sivan has tasked senior space scientist and former chairman of earth commission P S Goel to head the failure analysis committee that would look into the reasons why the powered descent of the lander failed. He would not comment on the cause immediately.
Sivan said that 95% of the mission objectives of Chandrayaan-2 have been achieved and the orbiter, which has eight of the 14 instruments of the mission, is still actively orbiting around the moon.
The orbiter has a higher resolution camera that has the capability of generating images as small as 0.3 meters. It also has a terrain mapping camera (TMC-2) that would help in preparing a detailed 3D map of the lunar surface.
The orbiter has capabilities to throw more insights of the moon, which will be useful for future missions to the earth’s satellite both by India and foreign space agencies, Sivan said.
Vikram was powered with eight attitude control thrusters and five liquid-fuelled main engines for the descent and landing. There could have increased power from either the control thruster or engines that could have led to the lander losing control, said a scientist. The moon’s surface is filled with craters and lunar dust, which would have also made landing difficult.
Vikram had four payloads, including a last-minute instrument that was provided by the US space agency National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) to measure the accurate distance from the earth to the moon.
“Space is hard. We commend Isro’s attempt to land their Chandrayaan-2 mission on the Moon’s South Pole,” Nasa tweeted late Saturday. “You have inspired us with your journey and look forward to future opportunities to explore our solar system together.”
NASA was depending on the Chandrayaan-2 mission to find a suitable place to land its astronauts with its Artemis mission in 2023.
Chandrayaan-2 was a follow-up mission of Chandrayaan-1 that discovered the presence of water on the moon. It was also the first operational flight of geosynchronous satellite launch vehicle Mk3, the country’s most powerful rocket that has been completely designed group up by Isro scientists.
Courtesy: Economic Times