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ISRO Chandrayaan- 2: What happened, next what and everything you should know

ISRO Chandrayaan- 2:  The communication between Vikram Lander and the ground station was lost at the time when Vikram lander was just 2.1 km above Moon's surface.

Sep 7, 2019 13:15 IST
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Image: ISRO

ISRO Chandrayaan- 2: The lander Vikram of ISRO Chandrayaan-2 lost communication with the ground staff few minutes before its scheduled landing on the moon. ISRO experienced this setback early this morning soon after Vikram successfully started its final descent. PM Narendra Modi visited ISRO headquarters and encouraged the scientists for their best efforts and hard work.

While addressing ISRO scientists and the nation, he said, “The learnings from today will make us stronger and better; there will be a new dawn. The best is yet to come in our space programme; India is with you. Countless people have got access to a better life due to the hard work of our space scientists. Our determination to touch moon has become even stronger, we came closer but we need to cover more ground."

What happened in the last minute?

Chandrayaan-2 successfully entered the Moon's orbit on August 20 and it was expected to touchdown the surface of the moon early on September 7. The entire journey of Chandrayaan-2 took 48 days. Entire ISRO staff and nation was glued to the screens to know each and every detail of Chandrayaan-2.

The ISRO centre burst into applause when lander Vikram successfully started its final descent about 1.50 am. Prime Minister Narendra Modi was also there to watch the action from behind a glass screen.

But, suddenly, a silence prevailed. Scientists were looking anxious, soon after PM Modi left the ISRO centre, K Sivan announced that lander Vikram has lost communication. Data would be analyzed.

What was Chandrayaan-2 mission all about?

Chandrayaan-2 was an ISRO mission comprising an orbiter and a soft lander Vikram and a rover Pragyan. According to the ISRO, the primary objective of Chandrayaan-2 was to demonstrate the ability to soft-land on the lunar surface and operate a robotic rover on the surface. Other scientific objectives of the Chandrayaan-2 mission were - studies of mineralogy, lunar topography, the lunar exosphere, elemental abundance, and signatures of hydroxyl and water ice.

How it was significant for India?

It was an opportunity for India to become the fourth country in the world to make a soft landing on the moon. It would have been a huge technological achievement for ISRO and India that could pave the way for future Indian space missions.

Another significance of Chandrayaan-2 is that it was for the first time in India’s space mission history when two women scientists led the expedition. Scientists Muthaya Vanitha, the project director, and Ritu Karidhal, the mission director were the brains behind the Chandrayaan-2 mission.

Why to explore Lunar South Pole?

The lunar South Pole always remains in the dark and it is quite interesting for scientific discoveries. Scientists believe that the shadow part of the Moon may be larger than its North Pole. According to the scientific discoveries, the possibility of the presence of water was also very high at the South Pole. Chandrayaan-2 was expected to attempt a soft landing in a high plain between two craters, Manzinus C and Simpelius N, at a latitude of about 70° south.

Mission Cost

India’s Chandrayaan-2 mission was the cheapest lunar mission ever. The cost of the project was about Rs. 978 crores including the cost of orbiter, lander, rover, navigation and ground support network. Geo-stationary Satellite Launch Vehicle's (GSLV) cost was around 375 crores. India’s Moon mission was a completely indigenous project.

Segments of Chandryaan-2 Mission

Orbiter: It was the main segment of the lunar mission that was supposed to play a role of mediator between Indian Deep Space Network (IDSN) at Byalalu as well as the Vikram Lander. However, Orbiter will remain in the orbit of the moon for one year to send pictures and other information to the ISRO. It has been placed 100X100 km lunar polar orbit for this lunar mission.

Lander- Vikram: Chandrayaan-2’s landing device on the moon was named after Dr. Vikram A Sarabhai, the father of the Indian Space Programme. It was supposed to land on the surface of the moon on September 7 but failed. It was designed to work for one lunar day which is equivalent to 14 earth days.

Rover – Pragyan: A solar-powered AI-based 6-wheeled robotic vehicle named Pragyan was built to explore the surface of the moon. Pragyan was designed to travel up to 500m for its scientific discoveries.

Next What?

As per the announcement of ISRO Chairman K Sivan, scientists will analyze the data sent by Chandrayaan-2. Once this data was explained only then the next plan will be made. However, ISRO was planning to launch Gaganyaan mission soon after the accomplishment of Chandrayaan-2. Ganganyaan mission aims to bring three Indians to space.

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