Chandrayaan 2: Vikram lander loses communication with earth, ISRO analysing data

It is as yet unclear whether the landing was successful.
Chandrayaan 2: Vikram lander loses communication with earth, ISRO analysing data
Chandrayaan 2: Vikram lander loses communication with earth, ISRO analysing data

As the country watched with bated breath, ISRO's control room in Bengaluru was filled with tense moments as the Vikram lander lost communication with the Earth during the last moments of its landing on the moon. It is as yet unclear whether the landing has been successful or unsuccessful. ISRO is analysing the data in order to get a clearer picture. The descent was as planned until 2.1 km above the surface of the moon, until the communication with the lander was lost.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi was present at ISRO’s centre in Bengaluru’s Peenya. Speaking to ISRO scientists after around 2.22 am, he consoled them and said that India is proud of them. "Let's hope for the best. In my eyes, you have done great service to the nation. I am fully with you," PM Modi said. 

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. In the last few moments before the landing, there were tense moments as the lander lost communication with Earth. 

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. 

Meanwhile, the Chandrayaan-2 orbiter continues to go around the Moon in an orbit of 96 km x 125 km and will continue to carry out experiments for one year. 

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.

Chandrayaan-2 has several science payloads to expand the lunar scientific knowledge through a detailed study of topography, seismography, mineral identification and distribution, surface chemical composition, thermo-physical characteristics of topsoil and composition of the tenuous lunar atmosphere, leading to a new understanding of the origin and evolution of the moon. The Vikram Lander carries three scientific payloads to conduct surface and subsurface science experiments. The rover carries two payloads to enhance the understanding of the lunar surface. A passive experiment from NASA is also onboard Chandrayaan-2.

The mission

Leveraging nearly a decade of scientific research and engineering development, the mission is aimed at helping in better understanding of the origin and evolution of the moon by conducting detailed topographical studies, comprehensive mineralogical analyses, and a host of other experiments on the lunar surface.

The lunar South Pole is especially interesting because of the lunar surface area here, that remains in shadow, is much larger than that at the North Pole. There is a possibility of the presence of water in permanently shadowed areas around it. In addition, the South Pole region has craters that are cold traps and contain a fossil record of the early Solar System.

“Through this mission, we aim to expand India's footprint in space, surpass international aspirations and inspire a future generation of scientists, engineers and explorers," ISRO had stated.

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