BENGALULU, India (ISRO PR) — Growing collision threats of space objects including orbital debris with the operational space assets have become a perennial problem for the safe and sustainable use of outer space. These threats restrict the unhindered access to space and prompt all space actors to take appropriate measures to mitigate them.
Hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, India’s growing space program managed only two domestic launches last year as it was forced to delay the Gaganyaan human spaceflight program and several other high profile projects.
However, India was able to move forward last year on a sweeping commercialization of its state-controlled space industry designed to make the country internationally competitive.
The News Minutereports the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) plans to keep the failure report for its Vikram lunar lander under wraps.
According to the TOI report, the [Right to Information (RTI)] query was filed by Sathish GN, a resident of Bengaluru. Sathish had sought the details of the FAC report on the hard landing of Vikram lander. However, the RTI response states that this information cannot be divulged under Section 8(1) of the RTI Act. This section lists exemption of disclosure of information that would “prejudicially affect the sovereignty and integrity of India, the security, strategic, scientific or economic interests of the State, relation with foreign State or lead to incitement of an offence.”
A veteran scientist and former ISRO Chief said that ISRO’s decision may not be the best. “I don’t think the decision taken by ISRO is correct. ISRO has been doing a transparent job and has been a transparent organisation. Just by showing where and how it landed will not affect national security. They have given a lame excuse, that is all,” Dr G Madhavan Nair said.
The Vikram lander crashed into the lunar surface on Sept. 7, 2019, putting an end to India’s much hyped first attempt to land on the moon. Vikram was part of the Chandrayaan-2 mission, whose orbiter continues to return results to this day.
The News Minute said ISRO’s Failure Analysis Committee (FAC) traditionally issues reports on the space agency’s failed missions.
The news website said the only public explanation of the failure came in a written reply by the Prime Minister’s Office to a question from Parliament.
During the second phase of descent, Vikram applied excessive braking force and veered off its planned landing trajectory, the response said.
“Due to this deviation, the initial conditions at the start of the fine braking phase were beyond the designed parameters. As a result, Vikram hard-landed within 500 metres of the designated landing site,” the government said.
Chennai-based engineer Shanmuga Subramanian discovered remains of Vikram about 750 meters from the planned landing area after scouring images returned by NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter. The discovery was later confirmed by the U.S. space agency.
ISRO Chairman K. Sivan confirmed the Indian space agency will launch a new lunar lander and rover to replace the ones that crashed as part of the Chandrayaan-2 mission last year. The BBCreports:
He said the country was aiming to launch the mission in 2020 but that it “may spill over” to 2021….
Mr Sivan said the new mission would land in the same area, and would “have a lander, rover and propulsion module like its predecessor”. The new equipment is set to cost some $35m (£26m), while the full cost of the mission is set to be significantly more.
Jitendra Singh, junior minister for the department of space, has said the new mission will be “quite economical”.
“The orbiter is already there. So we are going to be cutting cost,” he told the Times of India.
ISRO Chairman K Sivan is disputing that idea that NASA was the first to positively identified the wreckage of India’s Vikram lunar lander after its location was discovered by Indian amateur astronomer Shanmuga Subramanium.
GREENBELT, Md. (NASA PR) — The Chandrayaan 2 Vikram lander was targeted for a highland smooth plain about 600 kilometers from the south pole; unfortunately the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) lost contact with their lander shortly before the scheduled touchdown (Sept. 7 in India, Sept. 6 in the United States). Despite the loss, getting that close to the surface was an amazing achievement.
The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera team released the first mosaic (acquired Sept. 17) of the site on Sept. 26 and many people have downloaded the mosaic to search for signs of Vikram. Shanmuga Subramanian contacted the LRO project with a positive identification of debris. After receiving this tip, the LROC team confirmed the identification by comparing before and after images.
When the images for the first mosaic were acquired the impact point was poorly illuminated and thus not easily identifiable. Two subsequent image sequences were acquired on Oct. 14 and 15, and Nov. 11.
The LROC team scoured the surrounding area in these new mosaics and found the impact site (70.8810°S, 22.7840°E, 834 m elevation) and associated debris field. The November mosaic had the best pixel scale (0.7 meter) and lighting conditions (72° incidence angle).
The debris first located by Shanmuga is about 750 meters northwest of the main crash site and was a single bright pixel identification in that first mosaic (1.3 meter pixels, 84° incidence angle). The November mosaic shows best the impact crater, ray and extensive debris field. The three largest pieces of debris are each about 2×2 pixels and cast a one pixel shadow.
VIENNA, Austria, November 19, 2019 (MVA PR) — The Moon Village Association (MVA) announces the winners of the Moon Village Principles – Mission Prize 2019.
In December 2018, the Moon Village Association (MVA) had published a new concept named the “Moon Village Principles”. The Moon Village Principles represent a clear statement of the MV Association’s vision of how missions and other activities focused on the Moon, might most effectively contribute to realization of the Moon Village concept. This includes key areas such as acquiring knowledge of the Moon, establishing standards, proving important technologies, engaging the public and others.
The Indian government has provided an explanation of why the Chandrayaan-2’s Vikram lander crashed into the lunar surface on Sept. 2. The Times of India reports:
In a written reply to a question in the Lok Sabha, Jitendra Singh, the minister of state in the Prime Minister’s Office, who looks after the department of space, said the first phase of descent was performed normally from an altitude of 30 kms to 7.4 kms above the moon’s surface and velocity was reduced from 1,683 metres per second to 146 metres per second.
“During the second phase of descent, the reduction in velocity was more than the designed value. Due to this deviation, the initial conditions at the start of the fine braking phase were beyond the designed parameters. As a result, Vikram hard-landed within 500 meters of the designated landing site,” he said.
Singh reported, however, most components of technology demonstration, including the launch, orbital critical maneuvers, lander separation, de-boost and rough braking were successfully accomplished.
Vikram was India’s first attempt to land on the moon. The vehicle carried a small surface rover named Pragyan that would have been deployed on the surface.
The lander and the rover each carried three instruments that were designed to operate for the two-week lunar day.
ISRO has not made the results of its investigation into the landing failure public. The Chandrayaan-2 orbiter continues to return data.
ISRO has said it plans to send another lander to the surface. The vehicle could be launched by the end of 2020.
BENGALURU, India (ISRO PR) — Imaging Infrared Spectrometer (IIRS) on-board Chandrayaan-2 is designed to measure the reflected sunlight and emitted part of Moon light from the lunar surface in narrow and contiguous spectral channels (bands) ranging from ~800 – 5000 nanometer (0.8-5.0 micrometer (µm)). It uses a grating to split and disperse the reflected sunlight (and emitted component) into different spectral bands.
The major objective of IIRS is to understand the origin and evolution of the Moon in a geologic context by mapping the lunar surface mineral and volatile composition using signatures in the reflected solar spectrum.
The first illuminated image of the lunar surface was acquired by IIRS. The image covers part of the lunar farside in the northern hemisphere. Few prominent craters are seen in the image (Sommerfield, Stebbins and Kirkwood).
Preliminary analysis suggests that IIRS could successfully measure the variations in the reflected solar radiation that bounces off the lunar surface from different kinds of surface types, namely, crater central peaks (e.g., Stebbins), crater floors (e.g., Stebbins and Sommerfield), very fresh reworked ejecta associated with small craterlets within the crater floor of a large crater (e.g., Sommerfield) and also the sun-illuminated inner rims of craters (e.g., Kirkwood).
The variations in the spectral radiance are primarily due to the mineralogical/compositional variations that exist in the lunar surface and also due to the effect of space weathering. More detailed analysis that follows, is expected to yield important results on the heterogeneity of lunar surface composition.
GREENBELT, Md. (NASA PR) — The Chandrayaan-2 lander, Vikram, attempted a landing Sept. 7 (Sept. 6 in the United States), on a small patch of lunar highland smooth plains between Simpelius N and Manzinus C craters. Vikram had a hard landing and the precise location of the spacecraft in the lunar highlands has yet to be determined.
The lander, Vikram, was scheduled to touch down on Sept. 6 at 4:24 pm Eastern Daylight Time. This event was India’s first attempt at a soft landing on the Moon. The site was located about 600 kilometers (370 miles) from the south pole in a relatively ancient terrain (70.8°S latitude, 23.5°E longitude). In order to visualize the site, take a quick fly-around.
The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) passed over the landing site on Sept. 17 and acquired a set of high resolution images of the area; so far the LROC team has not been able to locate or image the lander. It was dusk when the landing area was imaged and thus large shadows covered much of the terrain; it is possible that the Vikram lander is hiding in a shadow.
The lighting will be favorable when LRO passes over the site in October and once again attempts to locate and image the lander.
Well, it’s not the famous winter of Game of Thrones, but the 14-day lunar night has arrived where India’s Vikram lander and Pragyan rover made what IRSO officials have called a “hard landing” two weeks ago with no communication between them and ground controllers.
Since neither vehicle was designed to survive the frigid temperatures of the lunar night, the Indian space agency has called it a day in a rather bare bones announcement.
ISRO’s Chandrayaan-2’s orbiter has spotted the Vikram lander in the surface of the moon, but it’s not looking very good.
“Yes, we have located the lander on the lunar surface. It must have been a hard landing,” Sivan told PTI….
Asked if the lander was “damaged” during the “hard landing”, Sivan said: “That we do not know.”
Sivan had said on Saturday that the space agency would try to establish link with the lander for 14 days and reiterated on Sunday after it was located on the lunar surface by Chandrayaan-2’s on-board cameras that those efforts would continue.
Fourteen days is the length of a lunar day. The lander and the Pragyan rover it carried are not designed to survive the frigid cold of the lunar night.
The Vikram lander stopped communicating with ground controllers as it descended toward a landing near the moon’s south pole. ISRO said the loss of communications occurred less than 2 km (1.25 miles) above the surface.
Chandrayaan-2 is India’s second mission to the moon and first attempt to land a payload on the surface.
ISRO has provided an update on its failed attempt to place Chandrayaan-2’s Vikram lander and Pragyan rover on the moon:
“The Vikram Lander followed the planned descent trajectory from its orbit of 35 km to just below 2 km [1.25 miles] above the surface. All the systems and sensors of the Lander functioned excellently until this point and proved many new technologies such as variable thrust propulsion technology used in the Lander.
The success criteria was defined for each and every phase of the mission and till date 90 to 95% of the mission objectives have been accomplished and will continue contribute to Lunar science , notwithstanding the loss of communication with the Lander.
ISRO stressed that the Chandrayaan-2 Orbiter continues to circle the moon and is expected to return a wealth of scientific data:
India’s first attempt to place a lander and a rover on the surface of the moon might have failed on Friday.
ISRO officials say that descent operations of Chandrayaan-2’s Vikram lander were normal until it reached 2.1 km above the landing spot near the south pole before all telemetry ceased. ISRO said it is evaluating the data.
It is not clear whether the lander crashed along with its Pragyar rover or if there was a communications glitch. The Chandrayaan-2 orbiter is functioning normally, ISRO said.
The first de-orbiting maneuver for Chandrayaan-2 spacecraft was performed successfully today (September 03, 2019) beginning at 0850 hrs IST as planned, using the onboard propulsion system. The duration of the maneuver was 4 seconds.
The orbit of Vikram Lander is 104 km x 128 km.
Chandrayaan-2 Orbiter continues to orbit the Moon in the existing orbit
and both the Orbiter and Lander are healthy.
The next de-orbiting maneuver is scheduled on September 04, 2019 between 0330 – 0430 hrs IST.