ISRO loses communications with lander, rover
Vikram Lander and rover Pragyan of Chandrayaan 2, the Indian’s second lunar mission, lost communication with ISRO headquarters in Bengaluru after coming close to making a successful landing on Moon’s surface on early hours of Saturday.
The signal from Lander Vikram was lost during the fine breaking phase of its descent when it was only a few kilometres away from the lunar surface, media reports said here today quoting Indian Space Research Orgnisation (ISRO) officials.
“Vikram lander descent was as planned and normal performance was observed up to an altitude of 2.1 km, they said. Subsequently, the communications from the lander to ground stations was lost…the data is being analyzed,” news agency PTI quoted the ISRO chairman K Sivan as saying.
India had hoped to create history by becoming the first nation to reach closest to the lunar South Pole but as the landing time of 1:55 am came and went, there were no signs that the mission had succeeded.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who was watching the landing from the mission control room, was briefed by ISRO scientists.
“There are ups and downs in life. This is not a small achievement. The nation is proud of you. You all have done a big service to nation, science and mankind. I am with you all the way, move forward bravely,” he said.
Earlier, the Moon Lander Vikram separated from its orbiting mothership and performed a series of manoeuvres to lower its altitude for a perfect touchdown between 1:30 am and 2:30 am. It used rocket thrusters to slow itself down to attempt the extremely tricky. A successful landing would have made India the fourth country after the US, Russia and China to accomplish a soft landing on the Moon. The Chandrayaan 2’s orbiter remains in operation and will continue to study the Moon from afar for about a year.
The spacecraft lifted off from its launch pad at Andhra Pradesh’s Sriharikota on July 23 on board the giant heavy-lift rocket GSLV Mark 3. India’s space scientists pulled off the launch in a narrow one-minute window in their second attempt, a week after the mission was aborted 56 minutes before lift-off.
The mission stood out because of its low cost of about $140 million. The United States spent the equivalent of more than $100 billion on its Apollo missions, the NDTV report said.
The 1,471-kg lander of Chandrayaan-2 — first Indian mission to explore the lunar terrain with home-grown technology — is named Vikram after Dr Vikram A Sarabhai, the father of the Indian space programme.
The lander was designed to execute a soft landing on the lunar surface, and to function for one lunar day, which is equivalent to about 14 earth days.
Chandrayaan-2’s 27-kg rover is a six-wheeled robotic vehicle named Pragyan, which translates to ‘wisdom’ in Sanskrit, according to PTI reports.
It’s designed to travel up to 500 metres from the landing spot on the Moon and leverage solar energy for its functioning.
The lander carried three scientific payloads to conduct surface and subsurface science experiments, while the rover carried two payloads to enhance our understanding of the lunar surface, according to ISRO.
The mission life of the orbiter will be one year while that of the rover was to be one lunar day which is equal to 14 earth days.
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