India lost contact with the Vikram lander on Saturday, moments before it was due to land on the moon. It’s now been spotted by the orbiter and India’s space agency is trying to make contact with it.
The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) launched Chandrayaan-2 on July 22. The lander, called Vikram, began its descent on September 1 but moments before it was due to touch down on Saturday, communications were lost––a sign that the lander had very likely crashed. Still, its fate remains unclear.
The lander was attempting to descend to a point on the surface 375 miles (603 km) from the moon’s south pole. Scientists think the area is home to a huge cache of ice, which could one day be mined and harvested to support habitats for lunar colonists or converted into rocket fuel.
Raghavan reminds us that the mission comprised of an Orbiter, Lander and Rover. While ISRO may have lost communication with the Lander, the latter followed the planned descent trajectory. Its orbit is 35 km to just below 2 km above the surface.
“Orbiter has already been placed in its intended orbit around the Moon and shall enrich our understanding of the moon’s evolution, map minerals, water molecules in the polar regions, using its eight state-of-the-art scientific instruments,” he said. The launch and mission management has also ensured a long life. They estimated almost 7 years for the orbiter instead of the planned one year, he added.
Chandrayaan-2 launch was earlier scheduled for 15 July.
He also said that the success criteria were defined for each and every phase of the mission. So far 90 to 95 percent of the mission objectives have been accomplished and will continue to contribute to Lunar science.
ISRO is continuing to analyze the data and confirm the lander’s fate, but the news is quite discouraging so far. The Chandrayaan-2 orbiter will continue to carry out an array of studies. It is at an altitude of about 62 miles above the lunar surface for at least a year.
We would be happy to see your prayers in the comment section regarding Vikram lander to be reconnected…
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