Vikram in one piece, slightly tilted, says ISRO

Vikram in one piece, slightly tilted, says ISRO

S Murari

India’s moon lander Vikram, located on Sunday by the Indian Space Research Organisation on the moon’s surface, is “in one piece, slightly tilted”.

The space agency came out with this statement on Monday to end speculation that Vikram may have taken a knock while landing hard on the moon’s surface in the early hours of Saturday last.

The ISRO which based its information on thermal images sent by onboard monitor, said communication was yet to be restored with Vikram which went out of control during powered vertical descent on the moon just when it was just 2.1 km above the lunar surface.

It had a hard-landing very close to the planned (touch-down) site as per the images sent by the on-board camera of the orbiter. The lander is there as a single piece, not broken into pieces. It's in a tilted position," an ISRO official associated with the mission said on Monday.

Another ISRO official said chances of reactivating Vikram are limited. He said:"There are limitations. We have experience of recovering spacecraft (which had lost contact) in geostationary orbit. But here (in the case of Vikram), that kind of operational flexibility is not there. Already it's lying on the surface of the Moon, and we cannot reorient it".
He said antennas on board the lander would have to be pointed at the ground station or the orbiter. Such an operation is extremely difficult. "At the same time, chances are good and we will have to keep our fingers crossed," the official said.
He said power is not an issue as Vikram has solar panels around it and also internal batteries which have not been used much so far. Vikram has an earth life of one day on the moon which is equal to 14 days on earth.

Before that, ISRO has to re-establish contact with Vikram. Reports say that ISRO may exchange notes with Spacell of Israel Beresheet lander also lost touch with ground station minutes before landing on the moon. It veered off course because its star-tracking sensors were blinded by sun's glare. Another reason was that the engine instead of slowing down the lander, speeded it up, leading to the crash landing.

A scientist in ISRO has been quoted as saying:' We do not know what we are going to find.out. But there is a possibility that something common has occurred in both ( Chandrayaan2 and Beresheet) landing operations going awry".