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.
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