- The lunar orbiter has located lander Vikram on moon's surface, said ISRO
- ISRO chief had said Vikram had made a "hard landing"
- ISRO lost contact with the lander moments before it was to land on moon
Chandrayaan 2 lander Vikram has been located on the moon's surface by the lunar orbiter, ISRO confirmed this morning in a message posted on its official Twitter account, adding that "all possible efforts were being made to re-establish contact". The confirmation comes after ISRO chief K Sivan was quoted by news agency ANI on Monday as admitting that Vikram had made a "hard landing" and saying that the orbiter had managed to take thermal images of the lander.
"#VikramLander has been located by the orbiter of #Chandrayaan2, but no communication with it yet. All possible efforts are being made to establish communication with lander," ISRO's post read.
On Monday Dr Sivan, while announcing that Vikram had been located, said "it must have been a hard landing". ISRO officials said images sent by the lunar orbiter showed that while the lander appeared to be undamaged, it was in "a tilted position".
"The lander is there as a single piece, not broken into pieces. It's in a tilted position," another ISRO official said, while another cautioned that the chances of re-establishing contact were "very difficult".
"Unless and until everything is intact (lander), it's very difficult (to re-establish contact). Chances are less. Only if it had soft-landing, and if all systems functioned, then only communication can be restored. Things are bleak as of now," one official was quoted as saying.
Lunar lander Vikram, one of three components of the Chandrayaan 2 spacecraft, had been scheduled to soft land on the moon at 1.55 am on Saturday but stopped transmitting 2.1 km from the surface.
India had expected to make space history with the Rs. 1,000-crore Chandrayaan 2 mission.
A successful soft landing on the moon's surface would have made the country only the fourth - after the United States, Russia and China - to achieve the feat. It would also have made India the first country to complete a soft landing near the South Pole on its first attempt.
In a statement to national broadcaster Doordarshan on Saturday, Dr Sivan had blamed faulty execution of the last stage of the operation for the loss of communication.
The ISRO chief had earlier said the final minutes of the soft landing were the trickiest, calling them "15 minutes of terror".
"This is a very complex process and it is new for us. It is a complex process even for those who have already done it. We are doing this for the first time, so it will be fifteen minutes of terror for us," he said.
Vikram and lunar rover Pragyan, which is housed inside the lander, were scheduled to operate for one lunar day (equal to 14 Earth days) and carry out a series of surface and sub-surface experiments.
The lunar orbiter, which is in orbit around the moon, is now expected to be operational for seven years and help in the understanding of the moon's evolution, mapping of its minerals and water molecules in polar regions.
Chandrayaan 2 was launched on July 22 from Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh, on the back of a GSLV Mark III rocket - ISRO's largest and most powerful. The mission was originally scheduled to launch on July 15 but that was aborted, with less than an hour remaining, after a technical glitch was discovered.
With input from ANI