ISRO Chief: We Found Vikram Rover First, Not NASA

This image shows the Vikram Lander impact point and associated debris field. Green dots indicate spacecraft debris (confirmed or likely). Blue dots locate disturbed soil, likely where small bits of the spacecraft churned up the regolith. “S” indicates debris identified by Shanmuga Subramanian. This portion of the Narrow Angle Camera mosaic was made from images M1328074531L/R and M1328081572L/R acquired Nov. 11. (Credits: NASA/Goddard/Arizona State University)

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.

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Vikram Lander Wreckage Found on Lunar Surface

This image shows the Vikram Lander impact point and associated debris field. Green dots indicate spacecraft debris (confirmed or likely). Blue dots locate disturbed soil, likely where small bits of the spacecraft churned up the regolith. “S” indicates debris identified by Shanmuga Subramanian. This portion of the Narrow Angle Camera mosaic was made from images M1328074531L/R and M1328081572L/R acquired Nov. 11. (Credits: NASA/Goddard/Arizona State University)

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.

This before and after image ratio highlights changes to the surface; the impact point is near center of the image and stands out due the dark rays and bright outer halo. Note the dark streak and debris about 100 meters to the SSE of the impact point. Diagonal straight lines are uncorrected background artifacts. (Credits: NASA/Goddard/Arizona State University)

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).

Before and after images show the Vikram impact point. Changes to the surface are subtle and are more easily seen in the ratio image presented above. (Credits: NASA/Goddard/Arizona State University)

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.

Indian Government Explains Chandrayaan-2’s Failed Lunar Landing

Chandrayaan2 Vikram lander (Credit: ISRO)

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.

Chandrayaan-2 rover (Credit: ISRO)

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.

LRO Fails to See Vikram on Lunar Surface Obscured by Shadows

The area where India’s Vikram spacecraft had a hard landing was captured by the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera (LROC) Quickmap during a fly-around of the targeted landing site. The image width is about 150 kilometers across the center. (Credits: NASA/Goddard/Arizona State University)

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.

A view looking down on the Vikram landing site (image acquired before the landing attempt), image width 87 kilometers (54 miles) .(Credits: NASA/Goddard/Arizona State University)

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.

A wide view of a series of Lunar Reconnaisance Orbiter Camera’s narrow angle camera images collected on Sept. 17 showing the area of the targeted Vikram landing site. The pixel scale is 28314 pixels by 1041 lines. The resolution is 34 meters per pixel. The full resolution mosaic can be found at: http://lroc.sese.asu.edu/posts/1128. Note this mosaic is quite large (28314 pixels by 57851 lines) with approximately 900 million illuminated pixels (1.25 meter pixels, 1000 meter grid, polar stereographic projection). (Credits: NASA/Goddard/Arizona State University)

The lighting will be favorable when LRO passes over the site in October and once again attempts to locate and image the lander.

It’s Dead, Jim! ISRO Gives Up on Lunar Lander, Rover

Chandrayaan2 Vikram lander (Credit: ISRO)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

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.

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India’s Vikram Suffered “Hard Landing” on Moon

Chandrayaan2 Vikram lander (Credit: ISRO)

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.

India’s Vikram Lander Crashed into the Moon

Chandrayaan2 Vikram lander (Credit: ISRO)

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:

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India’s Moon Landing Possibly Failed

Chandrayaan2 Vikram lander (Credit: ISRO)

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.

Vikram Lander Makes First Deorbit Burn

Chandrayaan2 Vikram lander (Credit: ISRO)

ISRO MISSION UPDATE

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.

Schedule for Vikram Lander’s Arrival on the Moon

Chandrayaan2 Vikram lander (Credit: ISRO)

ISRO Mission Update & Lander Information

The soft landing of Chandrayaan-2 Vikram lander on lunar surface is scheduled between 1:30 am to 2:30 am on Saturday, September 07, 2019 [2000-2100 UTC/4-5 pm EDT Friday]

This will be followed by the Rover roll out between 5:30 am to 6:30 am [0000-0100 UTC Saturday/8-9 pm EDT Friday].

A Press Meet with Chairman, ISRO is also being planned between 8:00 am to 9:00 am [0230-0330 UTC Saturday/10:30-11:30 pm EDT Friday].

Information about the lander and its rover follows.

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Chandrayaan-2’s Vikram Lander Separates from Orbiter

ISRO Mission Update

Chandrayaan2 Vikram lander (Credit: ISRO)

The Vikram Lander successfully separated from Chandrayaan-2 Orbiter at 1315 Hrs IST today (September 02, 2019). The Vikram Lander is currently located in an orbit of 119 km x 127 km. The Chandrayaan-2 Orbiter continues to orbit the Moon in its existing orbit.

The health of the Orbiter and Lander is being monitored from the Mission Operations Complex (MOX) at ISRO Telemetry, Tracking and Command Network (ISTRAC) in Bengaluru with support from Indian Deep Space Network (IDSN) antennas at Bylalu, near Bengaluru. All the systems of Chandrayaan-2 Orbiter and Lander are healthy.

The next maneuver is scheduled tomorrow (September 03, 2019) between 0845-0945 hrs IST