Chandrayaan-2: Hope floats as orbiter spots Vikram | What we know so far

In its journey to find out what went wrong with the Vikram lander at an altitude of 2.1 kms from the lunar surface, ISRO has been able to find the location of the Vikram lander. This they accomplished with the help of the Orbiter that used one of its payload to click a thermal image of the lander on the surface of the Moon.

In an exclusive interview to India Today TV, Isro chief K Sivan said that the agency has managed to locate the lander using the orbiter and has attained a thermal image of it.

K Sivan said on Sunday, “We have found the location of the Vikram lander on the lunar surface and the 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.”

Sivan said the lander may have hardlanded on the Moon.

The image of the lander rover ‘Pragyan’ housed inside it was captured by on-board camera of Chandrayaan 2 Orbiter, which is healthy, safe and functioning normally in the intended orbit around the Moon.

The Orbiter camera is the highest resolution camera (0.3m) in any lunar mission so far and shall provide high resolution images which will be immensely useful to the global scientific community, the Bengaluru-headquartered space agency had said earlier.

Since the time ISRO lost connection with the lander, they are on a 14-day mission to re-establish contact.

Sources tell India Today TV that scientists will try their best to establish contact with the Vikram lander for the next 14 days. To achieve this, the Orbiter will play an important role.

As of Sunday, scientists are analysing and collating data to understand what happened to the lander and the thermal image captured by the Orbiter will come in handy for their investigation. Principal scientific advisor Dr Vijay Raghavan said, “Science gives life meaning. It reveals the past of our species, and allows us to shoot for the moon. That feeling of adventure, of the unknown, of setbacks, of moving forward: that’s science. The goal of a moonshot is to inspire. So I count Chandrayaan 2 as a 100% success.”

India’s bold mission to soft-land on the moon suffered a setback with the ‘Vikram’ module losing communication with ground stations, just 2.1 km from the lunar surface during its final descent in the early hours of Saturday.

Considered as the most complex stage of the country’s second expedition to the Moon, the lander was on a powered decent for a soft landing when it lost contact.

What experts say

But some space experts said Vikram suffering damage in the hard-landing cannot be ruled out. It may not have landed at a desired level of velocity. It may not have landed on its four legs. Impact shock may have caused damage to the lander, according to a space official.

“When the system does not work well, it (the lander) will go and hit the Moon. There is no ambiguity in that,” another veteran space expert said.

“Unless all the things are compensated… compensating gravity, it (the lander) will not come down smoothly and touch the surface. That’s the critical part of the whole maneuver,” he said.

A senior ISRO official said time was running out and possibility of re-establishing communication looks less and less probable.

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