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Saturday 25 January 2020

Chandrayaan-2: A PM’s morale booster, a CM’s grudge, a journalist’s howl & ISRO’s resolve

We came very close, but we need to cover more ground... Learnings from today will make us stronger and better: Prime Minister Modi on India's Mission Moon

Bengaluru: While Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday asked ISRO scientists not to get disheartened by the hurdles in the moon mission Chandrayaan-2 and asserted that there will be a “new dawn”, scientists at ISRO were far from losing heart. The agency announced that vital information from the orbiter would be collected and also the reason for the communication snap during the descent of Lander Vikram would be determined in the next 14 days.

ISRO’s plan to soft-land Chandrayaan-2’s Vikram module on the lunar surface did not go as per script in the early hours of Saturday, with the lander losing communication with ground stations during its final descent.

The ISRO said till date 90 to 95% of the Chandrayaan-2 mission objectives had been accomplished. India’s space agency said it would continue contributing to lunar science despite the loss of communication with the lander, Vikram.

The space agency said the precise launch and mission management had ensured a long life of almost seven years instead of the planned one year for the orbiter, which would give India and the world critical information about the moon.

India’s bold mission to soft-land on moon suffered a setback after 1:50 AM of 7 September when Chandrayaan-2’s Vikram module lost communication with the ground stations, just 2.1 km above the surface of the moon during its final descent.

“The Vikram Lander followed the planned descent trajectory from its orbit of 35 km to just below 2 km above the surface. All the systems and sensors of the Lander functioned excellently until this point and proved many new technologies such as variable thrust propulsion technology used in the Lander,” ISRO said in an update.

Addressing the scientists hours after ISRO announced that it had lost communication with the lander, the prime minister had said that the country’s determination to land on the moon had become even stronger. “We came very close, but we need to cover more ground… Learnings from today will make us stronger and better,” he told the scientists, adding, “The best is yet to come in our space programme. India is with you.”

Modi had earlier watched the proceedings as the lander began its descent towards the moon surface at an ISRO centre here.

In the meantime, West Bengal Chief Minister, of all opposition leaders, got irritated by the coverage of the event and the nationwide excitement over it. She faced a barrage of criticism for her comment made inside the Bengal Assembly during a discussion on a resolution against the NRC.

Banerjee had said, “As if the Chandrayaan-2 launch is the first in the country. As if before they came to power, no such missions were launched!”

BJP’s Bengal unit head Dilip Ghosh reacted to the chief minister’s remark by saying it appeared that Banerjee was “fond of finding fault” with everything the country was proud of: the scrapping of Article 370, the Balakot airstrike or Chandrayaan-2. “Chandrayaan-2 made filled every patriotic Indian with pride. But the only exception seems to be people like Mamata Banerjee,” he said.

Elsewhere in the ISRO control room where journalists and school children were allowed, NDTV’s science correspondent Pallava Bagla created a ruckus by demanding of scientist DP Karnik why he and not the agency chief K Sivan was briefing the media about the whereabouts of Vikram and Pragyan (the Chandrayaan-2 rover). Bagla was trolled the whole day thereafter for misbehaving with a scientist, notwithstanding his apology on Twitter.

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