Chandrayaan 2 definitely reached the Moon but might have 'hard' news in store

Representative image of Chandrayaan 2's lander, Vikram, making contact with the lunar surfaceISRO

  • Chandrayaan 2's lander, Vikram, has been spotted on the Moon using a thermal camera abroad the orbiter.
  • The lander is still silent.
  • "It must have been a hard landing," said ISRO Chairman K Sivan.
All isn't lost for the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). The lunar lander, Vikram, which was thought to be lost after communication went down — has been spotted.

The next 14 days will determine whether or not ISRO can actually communicate with the lander. The longer Vikram is silent, the harder it will be establish contact.

If ISRO is unable to make contact before the deadline, it's unlikely to have the lunar lander up and running because after 14 days, the lunar night will set in for the next 14 days . This means the lander won't be able to charge itself using its solar panels.

Chandrayaan 2's orbiter, which is circling the Moon's poles, ISRO was able to pinpoint the lander's position with the Thermal Mapping Camera 2 (TMC-2).

"We've found the location of Vikram Lander on lunar surface and orbiter has clicked a thermal image of the lander. But there is no communication yet. We are trying to have contact. It will be communicated soon," said ISRO chairman, K Sivan.

The only thing is, Chandrayaan 2's soft landing might have ended up a hard one instead.

A soft landing is when a spacecraft gently lowers itself onto the surface, keeping itself intact. A hard landing is also when the spacecraft meets the surface — by crashing into in or at least damaging itself in some way.

ISRO has not yet confirmed if the lander has been damaged but Sivan told PTI, "It must have been a hard-landing."

It's not just the fate of the lander than hangs in the balance but also the rover — Pragyaan — that's onboard the lander.

Holding onto hope

ISRO lost communication with Vikram in the wee hours of the morning on 7 September 2019. The mission control operations center was grim and Sivan was distraught.

Distraught ISRO Chairman, K Sivan, breaks down in front on the Indian Prime Minister Nardendra ModiBCCL

Despite looking to make contact with the lander, Sivan said the mission is 95% successful since the landing only failed 2.1 kilometers from the lunar surface — seconds before touchdown.

He added that the lunar orbiter is still circling the Moon and will continue to do so for another seven and a half years.

Experts believe that ISRO will spend the next 14 days trying to contact the lander to hopes to getting it to work.
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