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ISRO sets up national committee to analyse cause of communication loss with Vikram Lander

ISRO  has set up the national committee after the final hopes to establish communication contact with the Vikram Lander went down after the sun set on the lunar surface.

Sep 24, 2019 12:32 IST
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The Indian Space Research Organisation has set up a national-level panel to analyse the cause of communication loss with the Vikram Lander.  The national committee will comprise academicians and ISRO experts.  ISRO also revealed that the Chandrayaan 2 orbiter continues to perform scheduled science experiments to complete satisfaction.

ISRO set up the national committee after the final hopes to establish communication contact with the Vikram Lander went down after the sun set on the lunar surface. The 14-day window to establish a connection with the Lander ended on September 20.

The Vikram Lander had begun its powered descent onto the lunar surface on September 7, 2019 but ISRO lost all communications with the lander mere seconds before it was supposed to soft land on Moon’s surface. The Lander was approximately at an altitude of 2.1 km from the lunar surface when its communication with the ground station broke off.

At that moment, it wasn’t clear whether the Vikram Lander had landed on the lunar surface or not. However, on September 10, 2019, ISRO confirmed that Chandrayaan 2 orbiter had been able to locate the Lander and it appeared to be tilted, but intact. ISRO stated that all possible efforts to re-establish communication with the Lander were being made.

ISRO had only 14 days to re-establish contact, as after that it would be lunar night and Lander would stop functioning post it. Despite continuous attempts, ISRO failed to re-establish contact with the Vikram Lander. A tweet by ISRO on September 17 confirmed that the space organization had almost given up on reviving the communication link. However, ISRO continued to try till September 20, the last window to re-establish contact.

Why Vikram lost contact: Theories

As per popular theories, the most practical reason for the loss of communication with the Vikram Lander could have been the speed of the Lander. Most theories suggest that the Vikram lander crash-landed on the lunar surface, damaging its communication equipment.

The exact landing speed of the lander is still unknown. It was supposed to slow down as it approached the lunar surface to initiate a soft landing. It was technically an extremely difficult maneuver and only three countries have successfully soft-landed on the moon so far and they include- the United States, Russia and China. ISRO Chairman K Sivan had himself described the last 15 minutes of the Moon landing mission as most crucial and ‘terrifying’.

Another reason for the communication loss has been stated to be the use of five throttle engines. The Lander was originally meant to have only four throttle engines and apparently, the fifth engine was introduced later.

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