After a lot of efforts, ISRO officials were finally able to locate the position of the Vikram Lander on the moon’s Lunar Surface. It was discovered with the help of Chandrayaan-2 Orbiter through a thermal image captured.
On the early night of Saturday 7th, September 2019 at around 1.50 am, ISRO lost contact with Chandrayaan-2 missions, Vikram Lander, just when it was about 2.1 km above the ground. The whole nation was watching the live streaming of the probable soft landing. However, scientist’s faces turned pale when they lost communication with the lander. They made several attempts but could not reach the lander.
However, in the afternoon of 8th September, the Chandrayaan-2 orbiter discovered the Vikram Lander on the moon’s surface. The orbiter which accompanied the lander till 2nd September before its (Vikram Lander’s) departure to make a soft landing on the lunar surface, was orbiting the moon. As described by the ISRO officials, the orbiter takes 3 days to come to the same position. Hence, they had to wait for it to come back to the projected landing site of the lander.
The orbiter was taking thermal images of the lunar surface, just when the scientist’s eye caught on to the position of Vikram Lander on the lunar surface. The pictures were taken using the on-board camera of Chandrayaan-2 orbiter, which is functioning normally, healthy, safely. The orbiter has been equipped with the highest resolution camera ever installed on any lunar mission (0.3m). This camera will be providing ultra-high-resolution images to the scientists which will help them to understand the lunar surface better and useful for the global scientific community.
As further, told by ISRO chairman K Sivan, they are still trying to re-establish contact with the lander. Also, on being asked about whether the Lander was damaged during the landing, Sivan replied that they are currently not aware of the same and are trying to figure it out. Further, they are analyzing the data collected from the Lander before it lost connection to analyse what would have been the pattern of the landing.
As further told by another ISRO official involved in the mission, “Progressively, as time goes by, it becomes difficult to re-establish connection with the lander. However, with the right orientation, it can still generate power and recharge batteries with solar panels.”
Another official added “hard-landing of Vikram lander has made the task of reviving links more difficult as it may not have the right orientation, and there is a good chance that it may not have landed on its four legs.
Although several experts believe that it would have made a hard landing, which would have damaged its technical functioning and as a result, it lost contact to the ground station. Although there is only a pinch of hope left to re-establish contact, ISRO officials have not yet lost hope on the same. They still have around 12 days left before the lander completely goes out of function.
It is because the Lander will not be able to survive the harsh temperature changes on the lunar surface for more than 1 lunar day (14 earth days). The temperature on the lunar surface can reach a low of minus 180 degree Celsius.
Making a soft landing on the moon was the toughest job that ISRO had undertaken and that too it was their first attempt and only 2nd lunar mission after the success of Chandrayaan-1. Scientists and experts from all over the world including the biggest space organisation NASA is also praising the efforts of ISRO for achieving a success rate of 95% in their first attempt.
One more good news comes from another conversation with an ISRO official who tells that the Orbiter can work 7 times better than its expectation. They tell that the orbiter has been developed and constructed by scientists with so precision and expertise that it can work up to 7 years. However, it’s planned work-life is 1 year only. The orbiter’s payload will conduct remote sensing observations of the lunar surface by orbiting the moon from around 100 km above its surface. It carries a total of 8 payloads which will work for developing a moon of the moon and carry out the analysis of exosphere (moon’s outer atmosphere).
Apart from this, India’s Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle, GSLV MkIII-M1 “Bahubali” was yet another success in itself as it launched a total payload of 3,840-kg of Chnadrayaan-2 mission into space on 22nd July. It is the biggest payload ever launched by India into space.
Chandrayaan-2 mission’s total cost was Rs. 978 crore of which around Rs. 603 crores were invested in the development of the satellite system which included the Orbiter, the Lander and the Rover. The rest Rs. 375 crore was invested in the making of “GSLV MK-III-M1”.
We still hope that the scientist can re-establish the connection and able to yield some output out of the lander’s location on the moon.