“Lander Vikram In Single Piece, lays tilted on Moon’s surface

ISRO Chairman K Sivan had said on Saturday that the space agency would try to restore link with the lander for 14 days.

On September 7, the Chandrayaan 2 mission experienced a setback after its Vikram lander failed to complete its autonomous descent over the lunar surface. Instead, remote observations suggest a thruster anomaly caused the lander to tumble out of its designated path and fall a short distance away. Scientists at the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) are still trying to ascertain if they can salvage the lander, and the rover housed inside it.

Chandrayaan-2’s lander Vikram has been found on the Moon’s surface and efforts are being made to re-establish communication with the module. Although the lander is intact, it is currently in a tilted position, ISRO officials stated on Monday.

“It had a hard-landing very close to the planned (touch-down) site as per the images sent by the on-board camera of the orbiter. The lander is there as a single piece, not broken into pieces. It’s in a tilted position,” an ISRO official associated with Chandrayaan 2 claimed on Monday.

“We are making all-out efforts to see whether communication can be re-established with the lander,” the official said.

Chandrayaan 2 comprises an orbiter, lander (Vikram) and rover (Pragyan). The mission life of the lander and rover is one Lunar day, which is equal to 14 earth days.

“Unless and until everything is intact (lander), it’s very difficult (to re-establish contact). Chances are less. Only if it had soft-landed, and if all systems are functional, then only communication can be restored. Things are bleak as of now,” one ISRO official told PTI.

The official said the lander generating power is not an issue, as it has “solar panels all around it” and it also has “internal batteries” which “are not used much.” Vikram carried three payloads Radio Anatomy of Moon Bound Hypersensitive Ionosphere and Atmosphere (RAMBHA),Chandra’s Surface Thermo-physical Experiment (ChaSTE) and Instrument for Lunar Seismic Activity (ILSA).

In this midst of this hubbub, K. Sivan, the chairman of ISRO, as well as others proclaimed that despite Vikram’s failure, Chandrayaan 2 had completed “90-95%” of its stated objectives. Considering its authoritative provenance, multiple individuals online and off have shared this figure as proof of ISRO’s accomplishments.

“We have experience of recovering spacecraft (which had lost contact) in geostationary orbit. But here (in the case of Vikram), that kind of operational flexibility is not there. Already it’s lying on the surface of the Moon, and we cannot reorient it. Vital thing is antennas will have to pointed towards the ground station or the orbiter. Such operation in extremely difficult. At the same time, chances are good and we will have to keep our fingers crossed,” the official said.

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