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Wednesday 22 January 2020

Chandrayaan-2: Hope of extracting info from Vikram dims

The orbiter of Chandrayaan-2 has detected Vikram, tilted to a side on the moon due to a hard landing, but it may not be facing the right direction

Bengaluru: The ISRO control room had lost its communication link with Lander Vikram during Chandrayaan-2 just before the planned soft landing on the moon. After almost a week since then, the hope of re-establishing contact with Vikram is gradually diminishing. The ISRO is engaged in a last-ditch attempt to contact Vikram on the lunar surface.

If the lander had succeeded in making a soft landing, the rover would have come out from it and carried out certain experiments on the lunar surface. The lander was designed for a soft landing on the lunar surface. The lifespan of the rover Pragyan enclosed within it is equal to a lunar day, that is 14 days of earth, as explained earlier. Almost a week has passed since the 7 September incident. Now the ISRO has another week left to retrieve data from it.

ISRO said that it would keep trying to contact the lander for 14 days. Despite all the efforts of the scientists of the space agency, communication with Vikram has not been established yet.

However, Chandrayaan-2’s orbiter detected the lander, tilted to a side on the moon surface — after a somersault — due to a hard landing, and sent its thermal image. India’s space scientists are constantly trying to get in touch with the lander, but with every passing day, the probability is lessening. A team in ISRO’s Telemetry, Tracking and Command Network located here is trying to reconnect with the lander.

An ISRO official said, “You can imagine that, with each passing hour, the work is getting more difficult. The energy available in the battery will be running out and there will be nothing left to gain and operate its energy.”

The scientist said, “With every passing minute, the situation is only getting more complicated. The possibility of contact with Vikram is becoming less likely.” Asked if there was a little chance of contact being established, the official said it was quite distant.

The official said that in the event of Vikram facing the right direction, it can still generate energy due to solar panels and can charge its batteries again, the chances of which are gradually diminishing.

Another top ISRO official said that Vikram’s hard landing on the lunar surface made it difficult to reconnect to it because it might not be in the direction that it could receive signals from the earth. He also feared damage to the lander due to the shock of hard-landing on the lunar surface.

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