People at ISRO have been trying to re-establish connection with the Vikram Lander since the communication link was lost. Amongst the various discussions going around, one of the ISRO officials who was Director of India’s first mission to the moon “Chandrayaan-1” have given a probable reason because of which the connection could not be re-established with the Lander.
On Saturday early night, Vikram Lander was supposed to make a soft landing on the south pole of the lunar surface at around 1.53 am. However, the ground station lost the contact with the Lander just when the Lander was 2.01 km above the ground. Since then, the ground staff has been making efforts to try and re-connect with Lander.
On Sunday afternoon, the Orbiter was able to locate the lander on the moon’s surface with the help of its high-resolution camera. It was discovered when the orbiter passed over the spot while taking thermal images of the surface.
After the lander lost contact with the ground station of ISRO, there were theories that the lander would have crashed and destroyed. However, soon it was discovered that the lander was in connection with the orbiter and hence there was a chance that it was still operational. But the link could not be established even after several efforts.
Amongst the various theories coming on this topic, Mylswamy Annadurai, the director of Chandrayaan-1, India’s first mission to the moon has also shared his theory. According to him, the probable landing site of the lander is not appropriate enough for it to make a soft-landing. Which is one of the reasons that there is a high probability that the lander would have made a hard landing? Further, the obstacles in the place would have been stopping the lander from getting communication link requests from the ground station.
In a conversation with news agency ANI, Annadurai said “We have located the Lander, we now have to establish contact. The place, where the Lander alighted is expected to be not conducive enough for it to soft-land. There may be some obstacles, which could have been stopping us from establishing the connection.”
Annadurai has been serving the Indian Space Research Organisation for 36 years. Currently, he is working as a Vice President of Tamil Nadu State Council for Science and Technology (TNSCST). Before this, he has served as Director of ISAC (ISRO Satellite Centre). He is famously known for his contribution to ISRO’s two major space missions ‘Chandrayaan-1’ (India’s first mission to Moon)and ‘Mangalyaan’(India’s first mission to Mars). Apart from this, he has also been listed amongst 100 Global thinkers of 2014 and topped the ‘Innovators list’.
The Lander was discovered by the orbiter which is equipped with a high-resolution camera (0.3m). It is one best camera ever installed on a mission, hence, the images being taken by the same are the clearest images ever taken of moon’s surface. It discovered the Lander which also houses the ‘Pragyaan Rover’ with the help of thermal image technology. The Orbiter is hovering at an altitude of around 100 km from the lunar surface and is planned to orbit the moon for 1 year. However, as per an ISRO official, the build-up of the Orbiter is made with such precision which can enable it to function appropriately for 7 years.
With the Orbiter functioning properly, India is still in a winning situation with its moon project as it accounts for 95% of the project while the Lander and the Rover account for 5% project only.
As further described by Annadurai, officials at ISRO are trying to establish a one-way communication to the lander to guide it to function appropriately. Although the communication has to be a two-way communication for the effective exchange of data from the Lander and the rover. Still, the scientists believe that if the two machines are still intact, then at-least through one-way communication they can somehow be directed to send data collected by them to the ground station.
Annadurai stated “There is always a two-way communication between the Orbiter and Lander, but we can attempt to communicate through one way,” while describing the situation.
ISRO has a total of 14 days (1 lunar day) to establish a connection with the Lander. Because it is developed to function for that long only. The moon’s harsh temperature which can reach as low as minus 180 degree Celsius can let the Lander and the Rover survive for 14 earth days only, of which 2 days are already gone.
If the connection gets re-established then the there can be a great chunk of data collected. The payloads of the Vikram Lander and the Pragyaan Rover encompassed in the Lander were designed to study moon’s soil which would benefit ISRO and the world’s space scientist community in understanding the Lunar Surface better while developing a great base for the further space exploration.
Chandrayaan-2 is the cheapest space project for Rs. 978 crore. Of this, Rs. 603 crore was invested in the development of the Orbiter, Lander and Rover.