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Hopes fading on re-establishing link with lander Vikram: ISRO scientists

Chandrayaan-2's 27-kg rover is a six-wheeled robotic vehicle named Pragyan, which translates to 'wisdom' in Sanskrit, and is housed inside the lander

GSLV-MkIII-M1 rocket carrying Chandrayaan-2 lifts off from Satish Dhawan Space Centre, at Sriharikota in Nellore district of Andhra Pradesh | Photo: ISRO
GSLV-MkIII-M1 rocket carrying Chandrayaan-2 lifts off from Satish Dhawan Space Centre, at Sriharikota in Nellore district of Andhra Pradesh | Photo: ISRO

ISRO is continuing its efforts to restore link with Chandrayaan-2's lander 'Vikram', but experts say time is running out and possibility of re-establishing communication looks "less and less probable." Chairman of Indian Space Research Organisation K Sivan said on Saturday that the space agency will try to establish link with the lander for 14 days.

After lander Vikram was located on the lunar surface by Chandrayaan-2's on-board cameras on Sunday, he reiterated that those efforts would continue.

A senior official associated with the mission said, "Progressively... as time goes by... it's difficult(to establish link)." However, with "right orientation" it can still generate power and recharge batteries with solar panels, he added.

"But it looks less and less probable, progressively," the official said on condition of anonymity.

Another top ISRO official said "hard-landing" of Vikram on the Lunar surface has made the task of linking again with it that much difficult as it may not have the "right orientation," and may not have landed on its four legs.

"Impact shock may have caused damage to the lander," he said.

The lander was designed to execute a soft landing on the lunar surface, and to function for one lunarday, which is equivalent to about14earthdays.

Contact from the lander to the ground stations was lost during its powered descent to the Lunar surface minutes before the planned touch-down in the early hours of Satuday.

The 1,471-kg lander of Chandrayaan-2 -- first Indian mission to explore the lunar terrain with home-grown technology -- is namedVikramafter DrVikramA Sarabhai, the father of the Indian space programme.

Chandrayaan-2's 27-kg rover is a six-wheeled robotic vehicle named Pragyan, which translates to 'wisdom' in Sanskrit, and is housed inside the lander.

The lander carried three scientific payloads to conduct surface and subsurface science experiments, while the rover carried two payloads to enhance our understanding of the lunar surface, according to ISRO.

Vikram module has been located on the Lunar surface and it must have been a hard-landing, ISRO chairman K Sivan said on Sunday, in an admission that the planned soft-landing wasnt successful.

"Yes, we have located the lander on the Lunar surface. It must have been a hard-landing," Sivan told PTI.

He said the lander rover Pragyan is housed inside it was located by on-board cameras of the Chandrayaan-2 orbiter. Asked if the lander was damaged during the hard-landing, he said: That we do not know.

Sivan said efforts to establish contact with the lander were continuing. India's mission to soft-land on moon suffered a setback during the wee hours on Saturday, with 'Vikram' module losing communication with ground stations, just 2.1 km from the lunar surface during its final descent.

Considered as the most complex" stageof the country's second expedition to the moon, the Lander was on a powered decent for a soft-landing when it lost the communication. "Vikram Lander descent was as planned and normal performance was observed up to an altitude of 2.1 km.

Subsequently, communication from the lander to ground stations was lost," Sivan had said.

"The data is being analysed", he had added at the Mission Operations Complex at ISRO Telemetry, Tracking and Command Network (ISTRAC) here.

The successful landing would have made India the fourth country after erstwhile USSR, the US and China to achieve a soft-landing on the moon, also the first to launch amission to the unexplored south pole of the Moon.

The Chandrayaan-2 orbiter is healthy and safe in the Lunar orbit, an ISRO official said after the lander lost contact with ground stations minutes before the touchdown on Moon's surface.