Scientists monitor, as Vikram Lander begins its descent on the south pole of the moon, at Isro office in Bengaluru (File photo: ANI)
Scientists monitor, as Vikram Lander begins its descent on the south pole of the moon, at Isro office in Bengaluru (File photo: ANI)

No contact with Lander Vikram, Orbiter begins experiments on moon : Isro

  • National-level committee consisting of academicians and ISRO experts are analysing the cause of communication loss with lander, says Isro
  • Lander Vikram, with rover Pragyan housed inside it, lost communication with ground station on 7 Sept during its final descent

New Delhi: The Indian Space Research Organization (Isro) has yet not been able to establish any contact with Lander Vikram, even as time is running out before complete darkness descends on the landing site, near the South Pole of the moon.

The premier space agency has been making consistent efforts to re-connect with the Lander ever since the communication was snapped at around 1:50 am on September 7, when it was attempting a soft landing on the moon.

While it was able to locate the Lander on the basis of some thermal images from the lunar surface, any attempt to establish contact has not yielded any results. The initial information obtained, indicated that the Lander is possibly lying inverted on the surface and is not ‘damaged’

Hopes pinned on NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LAO), which was also expected to pass over the landing site on 17 September, also bore no fruitful results. According to scientists, the region of the moon is undergoing a transition from a two-week long day to an equally long night which is posing greater challenge in imaging the landing site, as shadows cover large parts of the surface.

Unlike earth, the day-time on the moon lasts for 14 earth days, after which the night begins. This is the reason, ISRO had decided to schedule the powered descent on 7 September, when the day begins on the moon. The sunlight during the day would have powered the Lander to function.

On Thursday, the space agency said its national-level committee consisting of academicians and ISRO experts are still trying to analyze the cause of communication loss with the Lander just two minutes before its scheduled touchdown on the moon. It also thanked people for standing by it, following the unsuccessful moon landing on September 7.

However, it highlighted that all the payloads of the orbiter which is revolving around the moon in a polar orbit at an altitude of 100 kms above the surface are powered and conducting the science experiments as planned. "The initial trials of the orbiter payloads have been completed successfully and performance of all the payloads is satisfactory," it stated.

Though the orbiter is also revolving around moon, but its orbital plane is shifting continuously, so it may not cross over the landing site over the next few days, so chances of connecting with the Lander are slim.

Any contact, howsoever, would also not help in activating any of the payloads on the Lander and Rover Pragyan which also remains inside the Lander. There are as many as five payloads in the Lander and Rover which have now been rendered non-functional.

The information, would however, help scientists to understand and model what could have gone wrong with Lander in the final two minutes of the touchdown.

India’s second mission to the moon, Chandrayaan-2 was launched on 22 July from Satish Dhawan Space Centre at Sriharikota and attempted a soft landing on the moon on 7 September. However, within 13 minutes of the powered descent, the ground station lost contact with Lander, which is believed to have made a hard-landing on the moon. The mission consisted of an orbiter, Lander Vikram and Rover Pragyan.

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