India: As Lunar night falls, hope of contacting Chandrayaan-2’s Vikram lander fades

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF INDIA’S HINDUSTAN TIMES)

 

As Lunar night falls, hope of contacting Chandrayaan-2’s Vikram lander fades, say experts

Vikram is not designed to withstand temperatures of -180 degrees C and the electronics onboard will become unviable after the lunar night, equivalent to fourteen days on Earth. It will also run out of charge if the solar panels were not deployed after the ‘hard-landing’.

INDIA Updated: Sep 21, 2019 06:12 IST

Anonna Dutt
Anonna Dutt
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Live telecast of soft landing of Vikram module of Chandrayaan 2 on lunar surface in Bengaluru.
Live telecast of soft landing of Vikram module of Chandrayaan 2 on lunar surface in Bengaluru.(PTI)

The beginning of lunar night between Friday and Saturday at the landing site of Vikram lander marked the end of Indian Space Research Organization’s (Isro’s) hope of re-establishing communication with it.

Vikram is not designed to withstand temperatures of -180 degrees C and the electronics on-board will become unviable after the lunar night, equivalent to fourteen days on Earth. It will also run out of charge if the solar panels were not deployed after the ‘hard-landing’.

The temperature is about 130 degrees C during the day.

Isro scientists have been trying to communicate with the lander since September 7, when the last phase of the 15-minute powered descent did not go as planned. Scientists lost communication with the lander when it was just 2.1 km above the lunar surface.

“We can now say that there is no hope of Isro communicating with the lander, the mission life of the lander-rover is over. The mission was designed to conduct experiments during the lunar day and does not have the kind of shielding that can keep the electronics warm and functioning,” said Nirupam Roy, assistant professor of Physics at the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bangalore.

“And, it was unnecessary too. The fourteen days were sufficient for the lander-rover to conduct all the experiments and send back the data. The shielding would have just added weight and cost to the mission,” he added.

For the Vikram lander to be able to communicate, it should have enough power and the antenna should be properly oriented. There are two ways that the Vikram could communicate either with the Orbiter going around the moon or directly with the Earth.

“The Vikram lander communicates in two frequencies – the X band that is high bandwidth (better quality) but very focused, which could be picked by the orbiter when it is over the landing site. The other S-band, which has lower bandwidth, but is omni-directional can be used to communicate with the Earth, but even the antenna should be facing the Earth without anything in between. However, with the lunar night setting in, there is no possibility of communicating with the lander, even if it had survived the landing,” said Jatan Mehta, former science officer of TeamIndus, a Bangalore-based private company that aims to send a lander-rover to the moon.

First Published: Sep 20, 2019 23:50 IST

India Just Found Its Lost Vikram Lander on the Moon

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF SPACE.COM)

 

India Just Found Its Lost Vikram Lander on the Moon, Still No Signal

The Indian Space Research Organisation's Chandrayaan-2 moon orbiter is shown studying the lunar surface from above in this still image from a video animation.

The Indian Space Research Organisation’s Chandrayaan-2 moon orbiter is shown studying the lunar surface from above in this still image from a video animation.
(Image: © India Space Research Organisation)

India’s Chandrayaan-2 orbiter circling the moon has spotted the country’s lost Vikram lander on the lunar surface, but there is still no signal from the lander, according to Indian media reports.

K Sivan, chief of the Indian Space Research Organisation, said today (Sept. 8) that the Vikram lander was located by Chandrayaan-2 and efforts to restore contact the probe will continue for at least 14 days, according to a Times of India report.

“We have found the location of Lander Vikram on [the] lunar surface and Orbiter has clicked a thermal image of Lander,” Sivan told the ANI news service in an interview, adding that attempts to communicate with the lander are ongoing.

Video: The Moment India Lost Contact with the Vikram Moon Lander
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India’s Chandrayaan-2 Mission to the Moon in Photos

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Communications Lost With India’s Lunar Lander During Descent
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The Vikram lander went silent Friday (Sept. 6) while attempting a first-ever landing near the moon’s south pole. ISRO lost contact with Vikram when the lander was just 1.2 miles (2 kilometers) above the lunar surface, raising fears that it may have crashed on the moon. The Vikram lander is India’s first moon lander, and is carrying the country’s first lunar rover, called Pragyan.

ISRO officials have not yet released the Chandrayaan-2 image of Vikram on the lunar surface or described the potential condition of the lander. But they have said that despite the lander’s presumed failed moon landing, the craft has already demonstrated key technologies for future missions.

The Vikram Lander followed the planned descent trajectory from its orbit of 35 km (22 miles) to just below 2 km above the surface,” ISRO officials wrote in an update Saturday (Sept. 7). “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.”

Related: We Came Very Close:’ Indian PM Modi Lauds Chandrayaan-2 Team

As ISRO tries to regain contact with the Vikram moon lander, the Chandrayaan-2 spacecraft is doing well in lunar orbit, the space agency said. In fact, the orbiter could last well beyond its planned one-year mission.

“The Orbiter camera is the highest resolution camera (0.3m) in any lunar mission so far and shall provide high resolution images which will be immensely useful to the global scientific community,” ISRO officials said in the Sept. 7 statement. “The precise launch and mission management has ensured a long life of almost 7 years instead of the planned one year.”

The Indian Space Research Organisation’s Chandrayaan-2 moon orbiter is shown studying the lunar surface from above in this still image from a video animation.

(Image credit: India Space Research Organisation)

The Chandrayaan-2 orbiter is equipped with eight different science instruments to study the moon from above. Those instruments include: a high resolution camera, a lunar terrain mapping camera; a solar X-ray monitor; an imaging infrared spectrometer; a dual frequency synthetic aperture radar for studying moon water ice and lunar mapping; a sensor to study the moon’s thin exosphere; and a dual frequency radio science experiment to study the moon’s ionosphere.

Chandrayaan-2 is India’s second mission to the moon after the Chandrayaan-1 mission of 2008 and 2009. An instrument on that first mission discovered the spectral signature for water across wide swaths of the moon, with big concentrations at the lunar poles, where permanently shadowed craters allow water ice to stay frozen.

Watch India’s Chandrayaan-2 Launch and Land on Moon in New Animation
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The Chandrayaan-2 Orbiter aims to pick up where its predecessor left off.

“This was a unique mission which aimed at studying not just one area of the Moon but all the areas combining the exosphere, the surface as well as the sub-surface of the moon in a single mission,” ISRO officials said in the update. “The Orbiter has already been placed in its intended orbit around the Moon and shall enrich our understanding of the moon’s evolution and mapping of the minerals and water molecules in the Polar Regions, using its eight state-of-the-art scientific instruments.”

Email Tariq Malik at [email protected] or follow him @tariqjmalik. Follow us @Spacedotcom and on Facebook. Original article on Space.com.

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India’s Attempt To Land Rover At Moon’s South Pole Fails

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF NPR)

 

India’s Attempt To Land Rover At Moon’s South Pole Fails

Indian Space Research Organization employees react as they learn that mission control lost communication with its unmanned landing module moments before it touched down on the moon’s south pole Saturday (local time.)

Aijaz Rahi/AP

India’s attempt to become the first country to land a robotic mission at the Moon’s south pole has failed, after engineers lost contact with the Vikram lander — part of the Chandrayaan-2 probe.

Scientists at the Indian Space Research Organisation lost signal from the lander as it hovered over the surface, moments away from what would have been a successful soft-landing.

In a statement ISRO’s Mission Control Center provided a brief explanation of what went wrong, saying the unmanned landing module’s “descent was as planned and normal performance was observed up to an altitude of 2.1 km. Subsequently, communication from Lander to the ground stations was lost.”

“Data is being analyzed,” ISRO added.

India’s prime minister, Narendra Modi — who watched the final moments of the attempt — offered words of encouragement to the Chandrayaan team, which has been working on the $150 million project.

“India is proud of our scientists!” wrote Modi on Twitter. “They’ve given their best and have always made India proud. These are moments to be courageous, and courageous we will be!”

Scientists were hoping to land the robotic spacecraft between two craters about 375 miles from the moon’s unexplored south pole.

The lander was supposed to release a small solar-powered rover equipped with instruments to collect and analyze the moon’s 4-billion-year-old soil.

A successful touchdown would have vaulted India into an exclusive club of countries that have successfully completed a soft landing on the lunar surface. So far, only the former Soviet Union, the United States and China have accomplished it.

Several of the early U.S. and Soviet attempts at a soft, robotic, landing on the moon in the 1960s were unsuccessful.

Part of the Chandrayaan-2 mission, an orbiter, remains in operation.

Saturday’s disappointing lunar mission comes a little more than a decade after India launched the Chandrayaan-1, a satellite that fired a projectile into the moon’s South Pole in search of water.

India to Attempt Moon Landing at the Lunar South Pole Today

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF SPACE.COM)

 

India to Attempt Moon Landing at the Lunar South Pole Today. How to Watch Live

India is about to land where no one has before on the moon, and you can watch it all online.

The Chandrayaan-2 lunar lander Vikram, built by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), is scheduled to land amid the craters of the moon’s south pole today (Sept. 6). Touchdown is scheduled for sometime between 4 p.m. and 5 p.m. EDT (2000-2100 GMT, 1:30 a.m. to 2:30 a.m. Sept. 7 IST). ISRO will live stream the landing in a webcast beginning at 3:40 p.m. EDT (1940 GMT, 1:10 a.m. IST).

You can watch the Indian moon landing webcast here and on Space.com’s homepage, as well as directly from the ISRO webcast here.

Video: India’s Vikram Moon Lander Explained
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India’s Chandrayaan-2 Mission to the Moon in Photos

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Chandrayaan-2 is the second to the moon by India, following on the heels of the Chandrayaan-1 mission, but this latest project is tackling lunar exploration in more extensive fashion.Whereas Chandrayaan-1, which explored the moon from 2008 to 2009, was just an orbiter, Chandrayaan-2 has an orbiter, lander and the small rover Pragyan.

The purpose of Chandrayaan-2 is to study the mysterious moon from top to bottom, including its topography, mineralogy, exosphere, elemental abundance and even possible seismic activity. With seven instruments aboard the orbiter, three aboard the lander and a further two attached to the rover, there will be no stone left unturned.

The target landing site for India’s Chandrayaan-2 mission to explore the lunar south pole.

(Image credit: Indian Space Research Organisation)

India launched the Chandrayaan-2 mission on July 22 atop a Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle Mark III rocket from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota. The mission entered orbit just under a month later, with the Chandrayaan-2 orbiter placed into orbit 62 miles (100 kilometers) above the lunar surface.

Once settled, the orbiter’s cameras, spectrometers and radars will get to work in finding the elusive lunar water ice and hydroxyl (molecules containing the oxygen and hydrogen bond) signatures. The Vikram lander, which also contains the Pragyan rover, disengaged from the orbiter on Monday (Sept. 2) to prepare for today’s landing.

US, Russian and Potential Indian Moon Landing Sites Pinpointed in New Animation
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The Vikram lander has a unique science payload. It contains a thermo-physical experiment to measure the surface’s thermal properties, an instrument designed to study the surface’s ionosphere and atmosphere, and lastly a seismic activity instrument, which will allow scientists to delve deeper into the moon than any other instrument before. About four hours after Vikram’s (hopefully) successful landing, the Pragyan rover will be deployed from the lander, releasing the mini-tank of scientific adventure onto the lunar surface.

Watch India’s Chandrayaan-2 Launch and Land on Moon in New Animation
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India’s Vikram lander and Pragyan rover are designed to last one lunar day (14 Earth days), though Chandrayaan-2 is expected to spend a full year studying the moon from above. The Chandrayaan-2 mission has a full cost of about 10 billion rupees (about $145 million),  ISRO officials have said.’

Visit Space.com today for complete coverage of India’s Chandrayaan-2 Vikram landing on the moon.

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