Chandrayaan-2: What Went Wrong In The Final Moments

Communication was lost with the Vikram Lander when it was just about 2.1 Km from the surface of the Moon.

Tech News
2 min read

Video Editor: Varun Sharma
Cameraperson: Sumit Badola

After a successful journey of 48 days from Sriharikota in India to the Moon, the last few minutes proved to be disappointing to ISRO and India for the Chandrayaan-2 mission. ISRO lost communications with the Vikram lander when it was about 2.1 kilometres from the surface of the Moon.

The lander was scheduled to touchdown at 1:53 am on 7 September near the south polar region of the Moon. Everything was progressing as planned, with the lander separating successfully from the orbitor on 2 September.

Now, performing a soft landing on the Moon is a very difficult task. Out of 38 attempts that have been made in the last few years, only 50 percent have succeeded.

The last 15 minutes of the Vikram lander were critical. It had to go through a rough braking phase and a fine braking phase to slow it down enough to land on the surface of the Moon. The rough braking phase was successfully completed and it had slowed significantly, as shown from the data on ISRO screens.

However, when it was about 2.1 kilometres from the surface, communication was lost with the lander. Tense moments at ISRO followed, before ISRO chairman K Sivan came out and gave a statement saying communication was lost.

While there’s no signal from the lander yet, the lunar orbitor continues to circle the moon at a distance of about 100 km from the surface. It will continue to do so for about a year and should be able to send back some data.

This is the second time that India is sending a mission to the Moon. The first Chandrayaan-1 mission in 2008, orbited the Moon and sent an impact probe to the surface to analyse its composition. That's when India announced that there was indeed presence of water on the Moon.

With the Chandrayaan-2 mission, the Vikram Lander and Pragyan Rover aboard it were supposed to further the experiments on the Moon's surface for 14 Earth days or one lunar day.

However, after losing communication with the lander, it is still unclear as to what happened to it.

ISRO is still analysing the data and will come back with more information as to what possibly went wrong with the Chandrayaan-2 mission. Till then, everything else is speculation at best.

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