A day after communication was lost with Vikram Lander, ISRO chief K Sivan told the media that the Chandrayaan-2 orbiter has located the exact location of the lander on the lunar surface. Early on Saturday, minutes before the scheduled soft-landing of Vikram on the surface of the moon, the lander lost communication with the ground station after it had reached an altitude of 2.1 km from the lunar surface. Chandrayaan-2’s orbiter, which continues to circle the moon, has found the location of the lander, ISRO chief said on Sunday.
“We have found the location of Vikram Lander on the lunar surface and the orbiter has clicked a thermal image of the lander. But there is no communication yet. We are trying to have contact. It will be communicated soon,” Dr K Sivan told news agency ANI on Sunday.
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. The descent went as planned until 2.1 km above the surface of the moon, which is when communication with the lander was lost. 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.
However, ISRO stated that the Chandrayaan-2 mission had accomplished 90-95% of its mission objectives even though contact with the lander was not established yet. The space agency said the precise launch and mission management has ensured a long life of almost seven years for the Chandrayaan-2 Orbiter instead of the planned one year.
ISRO said Chandrayaan-2 mission was a highly complex mission, which represented a significant technological leap compared to its previous missions.
The Chandrayaan-2 mission brought together an Orbiter, Lander and Rover to explore the unexplored south pole of the Moon. Since the launch of Chandrayaan-2 on July 22, 2019, not only India but the whole world watched its progress from one phase to the next with great expectations and excitement.
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.