Bengaluru: ISRO’s ambitious ‘Chandrayaan-2’ mission had suffered a setback because the communication was lost with the Vikram lander in the last stage of the mission. However, the lunar orbiter has sent photographs of the Vikram Lander to the control centre. The development has offered a glimmer of hope and the efforts to re-establish contact between the orbiter, the earth station and the Vikram lander are underway. ISRO Chief K. Sivan has informed that the data that has been received is currently being analysed.
The Indian mission ‘Chandrayaan-2’ which envisaged landing the robotic lander and rover, on the Moon’s surface to study the South Pole of the Moon’s surface, suffered a significant jolt. The Vikram lander strayed away when it was at a distance of merely 2.1 kilometres from the Moon’s surface and lost contact. The orbiter sent in the mission, however, is performing well and is stable in the lunar orbit. Therefore, the mission is 95% successful. Attempts to connect with the Vikram lander would be made for the next 14 days. Scientists had anticipated the possibility of getting more information on the Vikram lander with the help of the high-tech cameras fitted on the orbiter.
The Vikram lander has been located because of the thermal images sent by the lunar orbiter. The photographs show that the Vikram lander is nearly 500 metres away from the predefined location on the Moon’s surface. The pictures were taken from the Optical High-Resolution Camera (OHRC) installed on the orbiter.
The ISRO Chief, K. Sivan had announced that the Vikram lander was located, but clarified that no contact was established with the lander as yet. Sivan added that the data received is being analysed and ISRO’s attempts to establish contact with the lander would continue for the next 12 days.
Many questions remain unanswered regarding the Vikram lander. It is still not clear whether the landing of the Vikram lander was hard or soft. One of the four engines is speculated to have likely stopped functioning, causing the lander to stray. The scientists have said that if the lander has appropriately landed on the Moon’s surface, chances of re-establishing contact are good.
Meanwhile, ISRO’s mission is being lauded from around the world. While praising the ISRO mission, US space agency NASA said that it was impressed with the performance of ISRO. The NASA scientists have also expressed the wish to work with the ISRO scientists on the Solar mission.