Bengaluru, Sep. 11:
Scientists of the Indian Space Research Organisation have been trying to change the position of Vikram lander’s antennae. On Friday, September 6, the Vikram lander was scheduled to touch down in the south polar region of the Moon, the closest-ever landing to the Moon’s south pole.
It had been carried there by the Chandrayaan-2 orbiter, launched in July this year. The two vehicles separated in lunar orbit on Monday, September 2. However, while the descent to the Moon went as planned, communication with the lander was lost about two kilometers above the lunar surface.
Doppler data appeared to suggest that the lander had free fallen to the surface under the Moon’s gravity, one-sixth that of Earth, making any hope at recovery unlikely. But over the weekend sources from the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) suggested in a variety of interviews that the lander had been found “intact” on the lunar surface, and they were trying to make contact.
And earlier today, the ISRO released an official statement confirming the lander had been found. “Vikram lander has been located by the orbiter of Chandrayaan-2, but no communication with it yet,” they said. “All possible efforts are being made to establish communication with lander.”
Time is also of the essence because lunar night was scheduled to fall at Vikram’s landing site 14 Earth days after the landing. It would be another 14 days for sunlight to return, a period that Vikram and its onboard Pragyan rover had not been expected to survive. The challenge before the ISRO scientists is that they have to revive contact with the lander and its rover within 14 days of their life time.
The glitch would have when the lander was trying to regulate its speed while descending on the moon surface due to the malfunctioning of a software or the sensor according to scientists. Chandrayan 2’s orbiter will continue mapping the Moon and looking for water-ice beneath the surface, among other goals.