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Monday, December 09, 2019

Chandrayaan 2: Vikram traced, trying to establish contact; must have been a hard landing, says ISRO chief

Chandrayaan 2: "Yes, we have located the lander on the Lunar surface. It must have been a hard-landing," ISRO Chief K Sivan told PTI.

By: Tech Desk | New Delhi | Updated: September 9, 2019 1:03:32 am
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A day after Chandrayaan-2’s Vikram module went silent, ISRO chief K Sivan on Sunday said the space agency has located the lander on the lunar surface and is trying to establish contact.

“Yes, we have located the lander on the Lunar surface. It must have been a hard-landing,” Sivan told PTI.

Asked if the lander was ‘damaged’ during the ‘hard-landing,’ he said, “That we do not know.” He added that efforts are underway to establish contact with the lander.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi said an “ISRO spirit” has gripped the country, which has been united by the moon mission Chandrayaan-2, and the nation now looks beyond success and failure.

He was addressing the BJP’s ‘Vijay Sankalp’ rally here, kicking off the party’s campaign for the assembly elections in Haryana, scheduled in October.

Chandrayaan 2: An expert explains: 10, 9, 8… in the end, it was the 7 terrifying minutes

“On the night of September 7, 100 seconds after 1.50 am an incident awakened and united the entire country. Like (there is) a sportsman spirit, an ISRO spirit is running in the country. Countrymen are not ready to accept negativity,” Modi said.

In an interview to Doordarshan, Sivan had said attempts to re-establish contact with the lost lander would continue for the next two weeks.

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At the time contact was lost on Saturday morning, Vikram was just about 2 km above the moon’s surface. It was travelling at a speed of about 60 metres/sec, and dropping vertically at about 48 metres/sec. It was clear that if the velocity was not reduced immediately, the lander would meet the Moon’s surface at great speed within a few seconds.

READ | Vikram lander’s failure raises questions on manned mission

But contact with the lander had been lost, and scientists had no way to ascertain whether Vikram had decelerated as it had been programmed to. Nor could they intervene from the ground station to control the speed, if the lander was not being able to do so on its own.

“Vikram lander descent was as planned and normal performance was observed up to an altitude of 2.1 km. Subsequently, the communications from the lander to the ground station was lost. The data is being analysed,” Sivan had announced in a choked voice.

However, the main spacecraft, or the Orbiter, will continue to go around the moon for at least a year. Its eight onboard instruments will collect different kinds of data from a distance of 100 km.

Also read | Chandrayaan-2: The men and women behind India’s Mission Moon

Chandrayaan-2, a follow-on mission, involved meticulous planning with hundreds of top scientists working on it. Approved in 2008, it is a Rs 978-crore initiative and a successor to Chandrayaan-1 mission. It comprises of an orbiter, lander and rover. The orbiter carries eight scientific payloads for mapping the lunar surface and study the exosphere (outer atmosphere) of the moon.

ISRO’s efforts to perform a soft landing on the lunar surface drew praise from across the world including from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).

Stating that “space is hard”, NASA said that it looks forward to future opportunities to explore the solar system with ISRO. “We commend ISRO’s attempt to land their Chandrayaan-2 mission on the Moon’s South Pole. You have inspired us with your journey and look forward to future opportunities to explore our solar system together,” NASA tweeted.

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