Vikram goes silent
ISRO has lost contact with Chandrayaan 2’s lander Vikram and rover Pragyan on 7 September 2019. Earlier in the day, ground stations lost contact with the lander during its powered descent to the lunar surface minutes before the planned touch-down. “Vikram lander descent was as planned and normal performance was observed up to an altitude of 2.1 km. Subsequently, the communications from the lander to ground stations was lost, ISRO chief K. Sivan said.
- The 1,471-kg lander of Chandrayaan 2 — the 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.
- The lander was designed to execute a soft-landing and to function for one lunar day, which is equivalent to about 14 earth days.
- The 27-kg Pragyan (which translates to ‘wisdom’ in Sanskrit) is a six-wheeled robotic vehicle. It is designed to travel up to 500 metres from the landing spot and leverage solar energy for its functioning.
- 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.
- The mission life of the orbiter will be one year while that of the rover was to be one lunar day which is equal to 14 earth days.
- The Vikram Lander, carrying the Pragyaan Rover, had separated from the orbiter on September 3. The orbiter was functioning normally.
- The orbiter, which weighs nearly 2,379 kg, is expected to go around the moon for one year. Its payloads will conduct remote-sensing observations from a 100 km orbit.
- The Orbiter is tasked with taking pictures of the moon and relaying them back to ISRO to help scan and map the lunar surface for further experiments.
- The Vikram Lander lost contact 13 minutes after its descent. It failed to bring down its speed from around 6,048 km per hour to about 7 km per hour.
- July 15 - Just under an hour before liftoff, the Chandrayaan-2 mission was aborted at 02.51 hours after a technical snag was detected in the GSLV-MkIII rocket. The countdown to the launch was stopped at 56 minutes ahead of the scheduled time after scientists detected a problem in the rocket.
- July 22 - This time the Chandrayaan-2 launch went off without any hitch, a week after it was aborted 56 minutes before liftoff due to a technical snag. The textbook launch became successful as the spacecraft crossed Earth’s escape velocity in 16 minutes 23 seconds. It had been deposited in an earth orbit by the 640-tonne GSLV Mk-III which, after burning its successive stages, separated itself completely from the spacecraft.
- July 24 - Chandrayaan-2 performed its first earth-bound orbit manoeuvre at 14.52 hours.
- July 26 - Chandrayaan-2 performed its second earth-bound manoeuvre.
- July 29 - Chandrayaan-2 performed its third earth-bound manoeuvre.
- August 2 - Chandrayaan-2 performed its fourth earth-bound manoeuvre.
- August 6 - Chandrayaan-2 performed its fifth earth-bound manoeuvre.
- August 20 - Chandrayaan-2 successfully completed the Lunar Orbit Insertion (LOI) manoeuvre. The orbit achieved was 114 km x 18072 km. The spacecraft has been injected into an elliptical orbit that is 114 km away from the moon’s surface at its nearest point and 18,072 km at its farthest.
- August 21 - Chandrayaan-2 successfully completed the second Lunar Orbit Maneuver. Chandrayaan-2 moved into an elliptical orbit that, at its nearest point from the Moon, was 118 km from the lunar surface, and 4,412 km at its farthest.
- August 28 - Chandrayaan-2 successfully completed the third Lunar Orbit Maneuver.
- August 30 - Chandrayaan-2 successfully completed the fourth Lunar Orbit Maneuver. The spacecraft has reached into an orbit that is 124 km from the lunar surface at its nearest point, and 164 km at the farthest.
- September 1 - Chandrayaan-2 successfully completed fifth and final Lunar Orbit Maneuver. The spacecraft reached into an orbit 119 km from the lunar surface at its nearest point, and 127 km at the farthest.
- September 2 - Vikram, the lander module of Chandrayaan-2, detached itself from the main spacecraft and started orbiting the moon independently, preparing itself for the descent to the lunar surface.
- September 3 - The Vikram lander of the Chandrayaan-2 mission moved away from the main spacecraft and closer to the Moon, lowering itself into an orbit that was 104 km from the lunar surface at the nearest point and 128 km at the furthest.
- September 4 - The Vikram Lander of the Chandrayaan-2 mission successfully carried out the second de-orbiting manoeuvre. With this manoeuvre, the required orbit for the Vikram Lander to commence its descent towards the surface of the Moon is achieved.
What was Chandrayaan-1?
- Launched 11 years ago on October 22, 2008, Chandrayaan-1 was India’s first Lunar mission that took off from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre SHAR, Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh.
- It made more than 3,400 orbits around the moon and was operational for at least 312 days until August 29, 2009. As per ISRO, the Chandrayaan-1 lift-off mass was around 1,380 kg.
- The Chandrayaan-1 gave a major fillip to the Indian space program as it was the country’s indigenously developed technology to explore the Moon.
- It was launched aboard PSLV-C11 launch vehicle that successfully placed the spacecraft inside the lunar orbit on November 8, 2008.
- A huge victory was achieved on November 14, 2008, when the MIP (Moon Impact Probe) was separated and it struck the lunar South Pole in a controlled manner. And with that, India became the fourth country in the world to hoist its national flag on lunar surface.
What happened to Chandrayaan-1?
- After almost a year of struggling with technical issues and an eventual contact failure on August 29, 2009, the Indian Space Research Organisation officially declared the Chandrayaan-1 mission over.
- The spacecraft operated for less than two years: 312 days as opposed to two years. However, the Chandrayaan-1 was successful in achieving at least 95 per cent of its objectives.
- One of its biggest discovery was to find traces of water on the Moon, which was in itself a path-breaking achievement in international space science.
- This discovery gave the ISRO renewed interest in pursuing the Chandrayaan-2 for the mission to Moon. Besides this, the spacecraft also found water ice in the North polar region of the Moon as well as detected Magnesium, Aluminium and Silicon on its surface.