The ground control at the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) lost communication with the Vikram lander, which was carrying Pragyan rover that would have given insights about how our solar system was formed. At that time the lander was just 2.1km above the lunar surface. While it wasn’t clear what happened at that time, the Indian space agency has now come up with an explanation that answers most of the questions.
There are three major developments. First, Chandrayaan 2 has located the Vikram lander on the lunar surface and its onboard cameras sent back some images on Sunday. Second, the Vikram lander suffered a hard landing, and third, ISRO is trying to re-establish communication with the lander. The experts , however, are of the view that ‘as the time goes by’, the possibility of re-establishing communication looks ‘less and less probable.’
ISRO Chairman K Sivan said that the space agency will keep on trying to establish a link with the lander for 14 days. With ‘right orientation’ it can recharge batteries with the onboard solar panels and make the machines work, he added. Here, the ‘right orientation’ means that the lander has landed on its four legs. A hard landing, or crash landing, may have caused the lander to topple and the impact shock may have damaged the lander.
Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) Chief, K Sivan to ANI:We've found the location of #VikramLander on lunar surface&orbiter has clicked a thermal image of Lander. But there is no communication yet. We are trying to have contact. It will be communicated soon. #Chandrayaan2 pic.twitter.com/1MbIL0VQCo— ANI (@ANI) September 8, 2019
For those who don’t know, the landers are generally designed to execute crash landing. Vikram, however, was designed for a soft landing on the lunar surface. In this scenario, the lander’s speed during its descent is controlled by thrusters which push the lander upwards and decreases the speed of the vessel. Had the landing was successful, India would become the fourth country (after the US, China and Russia) in the world to do so.
Vikram was supposed to land at a site which is 71 degrees south of Moon's equator and 32.8 degrees east. The spot is located between Manzinus C and Simpelius N craters on the South Pole. These craters have been untouched by sunlight for billions of years, which means that these craters are cold and expected to contain fossils of the early Solar System. ISRO believes that the Lunar South Pole holds nearly 100 million tons of water and other minerals.