Chandrayaan 2: Difficult to establish link with lander, says ISRO official

The Vikram lander may not have the "right orientation" due to hard landing

16-The-moon Eye on the prize: The moon as seen from the International Space Station, 423km above the Atlantic | Courtesy NASA

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 would try to establish a link with the lander for 14 days—the lifespan of its mission.

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 link]".

However, with "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 with it again 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 touch-down in the early hours of Satuday.

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. Chandrayaan-2's 27-kg 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. 


Later in the day, ISRO Chairman K. Sivan confirmed to PTI that the lander had hit the moon. "Yes, we have located the lander on the lunar surface. It must have been a hard-landing", Sivan said. Asked if the lander was damaged during the hard landing, Sivan said, "That we do not know".