The lander of Chandrayaan 2—Vikram—has been located on the surface of the moon, Indian Space Research Organization (Isro) chief K Sivan said on Sunday.
“The orbiter has clicked a thermal image of lander. But there is no communication yet. We are trying to establish contact,” Sivan told news agency ANI. He insisted that it would be premature to say anything concrete right now. “It will be communicated soon.”
Scientists lost contact with the Vikram lander at 1.53am in the early hours of Saturday, less than two minutes before it was supposed to make a soft landing on the lunar surface. Isro chief Sivan had earlier hinted that the soft landing is usually a tense affair. He had said that the last 15 minutes of the mission where the lander tries to guide itself with the help of its own propulsion system were “15 minutes of terror”.
Vikram lander was trying to make history by making India the first country to “soft land” on the South Pole of the moon. Scientists believe there could be water ice on the moon’s South Pole.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi hugged and consoled ISRO Chief K Sivan after he broke down. PM Modi, who was in Bengaluru, addressed the nation from ISRO control centre. Chandrayaan 2's Vikram lander lost contact in the final minutes.
The Isro chief had said on Saturday that all hope was not lost and scientists are making all attempts to establish contact with the lander of Chandrayaan 2. The Vikram lander has a life span of one lunar day or 14 earth days.
In a statement, Isro had said 90 to 95% of the objectives of the Chandrayaan 2 mission have been achieved. “…will continue to contribute to Lunar science, notwithstanding the loss of communication with the Lander,” the statement added.
Chandrayaan 2 is an indigenously designed spacecraft. It comprised an orbiter, a lander and a rover. The rover, known as Pragyan, which translates to wisdom in Sanskrit, was expected to examine the surface of the moon.
The rover was meant to search for water in the lunar surface, and look into craters that could untangle key questions about the history of the solar system.
A successful landing would have meant India would have become the fourth country after the US, the USSR and China to land on the moon.