ISRO Loses Contact With Vikram Lander: 5 Things You Need To Know About Chandrayaan 2

Chandrayaan 2 looked to make history if it successfully landed on the moon on September 7 - it would have made India the first country to reach the moon's southern polar region.

Chandrayaan 2 vehicle taking off
Credits: ISRO

The Indian Space Research Organisation lost contact with The Chandrayaan 2 space mission's 'Vikram' lander which attempted a soft-landing on the moon early morning on September 7. If successful, India would have carried out the fourth successful soft-landing on the moon by any country.

Contact was lost with ISRO when the lander was 2 kilometers from the lunar surface.

Despite the setback. ISRO received praise for their work from across the country,

The affair was a big event, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi attending the event with more than 70 school children. The event was held at the ISRO, Benagaluru.

The mission began with its launch on July 22.

BOOM tells you all you need to know about the mission.

What is the aim of the mission?

Chandrayaan 2 is a lunar mission that aims to explore the south polar mission of the moon. This feat is significant, since no country has gone to this region of the moon before.

It is a mission that spanned 48 days till landing. The earth bound spanned the first 23 days. The next 7 days (until the 30th day) saw it go into a lunar bound phase. The lunar bound phase lasted until the 45th day. Landing sequences are expected to end on September 7, the 48th day.

The trajectory of the mission can been seen below.

Credits: ISRO

The missions: Fast fact

  • Chandrayaan 2 will be launched with ISRO's most powerful launcher yet
  • The components of the mission includes a wholly indigenous developed rover and software developed within the country
  • The mission is estimated to have cost ₹948 crores, out of which ₹608 crores were spent for the orbiter, lander, rover navigation and support and the remaining ₹375 crore for the launch vehicle.

In US dollar terms, the mission is estimated to cost $124 million, which is less than half the budget of the film 'Avengers: Endgame' at $356 million.

The three main components of the mission that will be launched are:

  1. The Orbiter: It will be capable of communicating with India Deep Space Network (IDSN), near Bangalore. The orbiter will have the ability to be in a 100 x 100 kilometer lunar orbit for one year
  2. The 'Vikram' Lander: It has been named after Dr. Vikram Sarabhai, father of India's space program. It is designed to function for one lunar day - or 14 earth day and to make the soft landing on moon. Vikram can communicate with the orbiter and the IDSN.
  3. The Pragyan Rover: Named after 'pragyan' or 'wisdom' in Sanskrit, this rover can leverage solar energy to travel half a kilometer at a speed of 1 centimeter per second. It can communicate with the lander.

An example of a few things the payload of the orbiter, lander and rover will do

Payloads in the orbiter will:

  • Conduct topographical mapping of the moon
  • Derive the elemental composure of the moon
  • Work towards confirming the presence of water on the moon

Payloads in the lander will:

  • Categorize seismic activity around the landing area
  • Examine the moon's thermal conductivity and temperature

Payloads in the rover will:

  • Determine the elemental composition near the landing site
  • Scout elements in the vicinity of the landing site.

How is it different from Chandrayaan 1?

Chandrayaan 1 was a spacecraft that made around 3,400 orbits around the moon, spanning 312 days until April 2009. Its watershed moment was when it discovered traces of water on the moon, and water ice in the north polar region of the moon. It also discovered traces of aluminum, magnesium and silicon on the lunar surface.

Chandrayaan 2 attempts to widen the scope of Chandrayaan 1 by launching a rover to the south polar region of the moon. Moreover, the lift-off mass of the launch vehicle is heavier than that of Chandrayaan 1 - 1380 kilos versus 3850 kilos.

What have been some other soft landing attempts by other countries?

ISRO states that a total of 38 soft landing attempts have been made, with a success rate of 52%. In the last year alone, China and Israel have launched their own space missions.

NASA data shows that while Israel's Baresheet mission unsuccessfully attempted to land the first mission by a private company in April 2019, China's Chang'e 4 and Yutu 2 successfully pulled off the first far side landing in July 2018.

Since 2010, the United States has launched 4 moon missions, China has launched 6 and Israel and India have launched 1 mission each.

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