Published: Fri, September 20, 2019
Sci-tech | By Patricia Wade

Chandrayaan-2: Countdown begins... last hope for ISRO

Chandrayaan-2: Countdown begins... last hope for ISRO

The proposed mission life of the lander was only 14 days, or one lunar day, after which its solar-powered batteries would drain out. "The fund Isro receives from the government is 1/10th of what space agencies in the US, Europe and China get from their governments". The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO)*, which is operated by USA's NASA flew over the lander's site on the Moon and attempted to capture photographs of it on September 17. "We are still trying to establish contact with the lander and have got help from space agencies like Nasa". Noah Petro, LRO's project scientist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center said, as per the report, that the orbiter would fly over the Vikram landing site on September 17.

Chandrayaan 2 Vikram Lander: What Next?

In a statement issued after the loss of Vikram on September 7 while landing on the moon, ISRO said a national committee of academicians and ISRO experts are analysing the cause of communication loss with Vikram.

The onboard systems of Vikram and its three payloads, besides the two payloads on board Pragyan, were not created to withstand temperatures as low as -150 to -200 degrees celsius, which lunar nights present. Later this afternoon, the south pole of the moon will sink completely into darkness.

According to ISRO, during its final descent on the moon at 2.1 kms above the lunar surface, Vikram Lander lost its communication with ISRO ground station. If the scientists of ISRO could not succeed in this, then they may never be contacted.

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The Orbiter had to observe the position from a distance of 100 meter from the surface of the moon while the Lander and the Rover had to land on the moon, scrape the soil there and burn it to collect information about the chemical elements present on it. The LRO has captured pictures of Vikram to understand what went wrong.

The Rs 978 crore Chandrayaan-2 was launched on 22 July and successfully completed a course of the 45-day journey before the expected landing of its lander Vikram on the lunar surface.

The health of the spacecraft is being continuously monitored from the Mission Operations Complex at ISRO Telemetry, Tracking and Command Network in Bengaluru with support from Indian Deep Space Network antennas at Bylalu, near Bengaluru, the space agency has said.

So far, out of the 38 attempts of "soft landing" on the lunar surface, only 20 have been successful. In its last communication to the press, ISRO has said that all payloads of the orbiter are powered and initial trials have been completed successfully.

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