The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) is racing against time as its attempts to establish contact with lander Vikram which lost contact with the ground station on September 7 while attempting to soft land on the lunar surface. The premier space agency has to establish contact with the Lander before September 21 because after that the Moon region will enter into a lunar night, making it impossible for the lander to get any sunlight to generate power for its working.
"Progressively, you can imagine that it becomes that much more difficult, with each passing hour, the available power on the battery gets drained out, and there won't be anything left for it to power and operate", an ISRO official was recently quoted as saying by news agency PTI.
Vikram lander, with rover Pragyan housed inside it, had lost communication with ground station on September 7 during its final descent, just 2.1 kilometre above the lunar surface.
Since then, a team at ISRO Telemetry, Tracking and Command Network in Bengaluru has been desperately trying to restore the link with the lander, which has a mission life of one Lunar day, which is equivalent to 14 earth days.
A national-level committee comprising academics and ISRO experts are analysing the cause of communication loss with Chandrayaan 2 lander, the ISRO said on Thursday.
While ISRO was able to locate the Lander on the basis of some thermal images from the lunar surface, attempts to establish contact with it has been unsuccessful. "The lander is there as a single piece, not broken into pieces. It's in a tilted position," an ISRO official had said recently.
On Thursday, NASA confirmed that its Moon orbiter captured images of the lunar region where lander Vikram made an unsuccessful attempt to soft-land. The images were captured by NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) spacecraft during its flyby on September 17, the US space agency said.
The lander Vikram and rover Pragyan are supposed to be functional only for 14 days from the day of their touchdown.
At the start of the mission, ISRO said the mission life of the lander and the rover will be one lunar day which is equal to 14 Earth days, whereas that of the orbiter will be one Earth year.
The nights on the Moon can be very cold, especially in the south polar region where Vikram is lying. Temperatures could drop to as low as minus 200 degrees Celsius during the lunar night.
The orbiter has continued to perform scheduled science experiments to "complete satisfaction" and performance of all its payloads were "satisfactory", the space agency said. Till date 90 to 95 per cent of the Chandrayaan-2 mission objectives have been accomplished and it will continue contributing to Lunar science, not withstanding the loss of communication with the Lander, ISRO had said on September 7.
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.
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