Tuesday, Dec 06, 2022

Explained: Chandrayaan-2, in perspective

Vikram’s failure to land may have caused disappointment, but much of the Chandrayaan-2 mission remains on track. A reminder of the tasks of the orbiter, which remains functional, and some ideas on what might have happened to the lander.

chandrayaan 2, chandrayaan 2 landing, chandrayaan 2 location now, chandrayaan 2 location, isro chandrayaan 2 landing, isro chandrayaan 2 moon landing, chandrayaan 2 live news, indian express chandrayaan 2 Prime Minister Narendra Modi interacts with scientists at ISRO on Saturday, The Vikram lander was scheduled for touchdown in the early hours that day. (ANI)

India’s first attempt to land a spacecraft on the Moon has not been successful. The lander of Chandrayaan-2, called Vikram, did not slow down at the expected rate towards the latter part of its descent, and most likely hit the lunar surface at a speed greater than required for safe landing. The ground control station had lost contact with the lander when it was about 2.1 km above the Moon.

On Sunday, Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) chairman K Sivan was quoted as saying that the lander had been located on the Moon, and a thermal image of it had been taken by instruments on board the Chandrayaan-2 orbiter that is going around the Moon in a near-circular orbit of 100 km. He said efforts to re-establish contact with the lander had not yet been successful.

Read | Vikram traced, trying to establish contact; must have been a hard landing, says ISRO chief

So, has Chandrayaan-2 failed?

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The mission has not failed, although the attempt to land a spacecraft on the Moon certainly has. The mission comprised an orbiter, a lander and rover. The orbiter part is functioning normally. Most of the scientific investigations of the mission are supposed to be carried by instruments onboard the orbiter, including studies to find more evidence of water on the Moon. The lander and rover had a mission life of only 14 days while the orbiter will function for at least one year. Scientists insist that 80-90 per cent of the science output of the mission have to come from the orbiter, and that has not been affected at all.

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