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Vikram lander located, but no communication with it yet: ISRO

India's first moon lander Vikram (Photo: IANS)
India's first moon lander Vikram (Photo: IANS)
The Indian Space Research Organisation today said the Vikram lander of Chandrayaan-2, India's ambitious lunar mission, had been located on the moon's surface but there had been no communication with it yet.
 
"Vikram lander has been located by the orbiter of Chandrayaan-2, but no communication with it yet," an update posted on ISRO's website said.
 
"All possible efforts are being made to establish communication with lander," it added.
 
The update came three days after the lander stopped communicating with the orbiter and the ground station when it was seconds away from touchdown in the south polar region of the moon in the early hours of September 7.
 
ISRO Chairman K Sivan had said later that the descent of Vikram had been proceeding as planned till an altitude of 2.1 km.
 
"Subsequently, commuunication from the lander to ground station was lost. The data is being analysed," he said amid a sea of grim faces and total silence at the mission control centre -- a sharp contrast to the celebratory mood that had prevailed till a few minutes earlier.
 
Prime Minister Narendra Modi was amongst the dignitaries present at the mission control centre to witness what was billed as a historic event.
 
Sivan briefed Modi about the situation before making the announcement about the break in communication from the lander.
 
Later, Modi met the scientists and congratulated them for what they had already achieved and assured them of his full support.
 
Vikram, named after India's space pioneer Vikram Sarabhai, had separated from the Chandrayaan-2 orbiter on September 2 after which ISRO had performed two de-orbital operations on September 3 and 4, taking it closer to its tryst with the moon.
 
With those manoeuvres, the lander was placed in the required orbit to prepare for its landing in the south polar region of the moon, with touchdown scheduled between 0130 and 0230 hours on September 7.
 
VIkram had begun its powered descent around 1.40 am that day, during which it performed a series of complex manoeuvres comprising rough braking and fine braking. Imaging of the landing site region prior to landing was done for finding safe and hazard-free zones. Vikram was due to attempt a soft landing in a high plain between two craters — Manzinus C and Simpelius N — at a latitude of about 70° South.
 
Subsequently, the rover (Pragyan) was to roll out of the lander and carry out experiments on the lunar surface for a period of 1 lunar day which is equal to 14 Earth days. The mission life of Vikram was also 1 lunar day. The Orbiter will continue its mission for a duration of one year.
 
Vikram has the capability to communicate with IDSN at Byalalu near Bangalore, as well as with the Orbiter and Rover.
 
Chandrayaan 2's Rover is a 6-wheeled robotic vehicle named Pragyan, which translates to 'wisdom' in Sanskrit. It can travel up to 500 m and will leverage solar energy for its functioning. It can only communicate with the Lander.
 
Chandrayaan-2, which was launched by the GSLV MkIII-M1 vehicle on July 22 from the spaceport at Sriharikota on India's east coast, had entered the Lunar Transfer Trajectory on August 14.
 
"Chandrayaan-2 mission was a highly complex mission, which represented a significant technological leap compared to the previous missions of ISRO, which brought together an Orbiter, Lander and Rover to explore the unexplored south pole of the Moon," another ISRO statement on September 7 said.
 
"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. This was a unique mission which aimed at studying not just one area of the Moon but all the areas combining  the exosphere, the surface as well as the sub-surface of the moon in a single mission. 
 
"The Orbiter has already been placed in its intended orbit around the Moon and shall enrich our understanding of the moon’s evolution and mapping of the minerals and water molecules in the Polar Regions, using its eight state-of-the-art scientific instruments. The Orbiter camera is the highest resolution camera (0.3m) in any lunar mission so far and shall provide high-resolution images which will be immensely useful to the global scientific community. The precise launch and mission management has ensured a long life of almost 7 years instead of the planned one year. 
 
"The Vikram Lander followed the planned descent trajectory from its orbit of 35 km to just below 2 km above the surface. All the systems and sensors of the Lander functioned excellently until this point and proved many new technologies such as variable thrust propulsion technology used in the Lander. The success criteria was defined for each and every phase of the mission and till date 90 to 95% of the mission objectives have been accomplished and will continue to contribute to Lunar science , notwithstanding the loss of communication with the Lander," it had added.
 
NNN
 

(Our News Desk can be contacted at desk@netindian.in)

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