Bengaluru: Isro is continuing its efforts to restore the link with Chandrayaan-2’s lander Vikram, but experts say time is running out and the possibility of re-establishing communication looks “less and less probable.”
Chairman of Indian Space Research Organisation K Sivan said on Saturday that the space agency will try to establish a link with the lander for 14 days.
After lander Vikram was located on the lunar surface by Chandrayaan-2’s on-board cameras on Sunday, he reiterated that those efforts would continue. A senior official associated with the mission said: “Progressively, as time goes by, it’s difficult [to establish a link].”
However, with the “right orientation” it can still generate power and recharge batteries with solar panels, he added. “But it looks less and less probable, progressively,” the official said on condition of anonymity.
Another top Isro official said the “hard landing” of Vikram on the lunar surface has made the task of linking again with it that much more difficult as it may not have the “right orientation” and may not have landed on its four legs.
“Impact shock may have caused damage to the lander,” he said.
The lander was designed to execute a soft landing on the lunar surface, and to function for one lunar day, which is equivalent to about 14 earth days.
Contact from the lander to the ground stations was lost during its powered descent to the lunar surface minutes before the planned touchdown in the early hours of Saturday.
Nasa praises efforts
Nasa has lauded Chandrayaan-2, saying India’s moon mission has “inspired” the US space agency, a day after the lunar expedition suffered a snag while attempting a historic landing on the uncharted south pole of the moon.
The Indian Space Research Organisation’s plan to soft-land the Chandrayaan-2’s Vikram module on the lunar surface did not go as planned in the early hours of Saturday, with the lander losing communication with ground stations during its final 2.1km descent.
“Space is hard. We commend ISRO’s attempt to land their Chandrayaan2 mission on the Moon’s South Pole,” the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (Nasa) tweeted.
“You have inspired us with your journey and look forward to future opportunities to explore our solar system together,” it said.
A senior Trump administration official also praised India’s Chandrayaan-2.
“We congratulate ISRO on their incredible efforts on Chandrayaan2. The mission is a huge step forward for India and will continue to produce valuable data to fuel scientific advancements. We have no doubt that India will achieve its space aspirations,” Acting Assistant Secretary for South and Central Asia Alice G Wells tweeted.
The 1,471kg lander of Chandrayaan-2 — first Indian mission to explore the lunar terrain with home-grown technology — is named Vikram after Dr Vikram A Sarabhai, the father of the Indian space programme. Chandrayaan-2’s 27kg rover is a six-wheeled robotic vehicle named Pragyan, which translates to ‘wisdom’ in Sanskrit, and is housed inside the lander.
The lander carried three scientific payloads to conduct surface and subsurface science experiments, while the rover carried two payloads to enhance our understanding of the lunar surface, according to Isro.