7 Sep 2019

Chandrayaan 2: Why moon landing failed?



The Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro) has lost contact with Vikram Lander of Chandrayaan-2  due to a technical glitch moments before Vikram's scheduled landing on Moon's surface.

On 7 September at 1.37 am, Isro tweeted that the final descent of Vikram Lander has started. It said Vikram Lander has started its powered descent. "Rough braking of Vikram Lander begins," the tweet said.

Read full article on Chandrayaan 2

And for the next few minutes everything went right according to plan. Jubilant Isro scientists at the Mission Operations Complex cheered and clapped as Vikram aced the various stages of descent on to the lunar surface.

At 1.49am, Isro tweeted, "Rough breaking of Vikram Lander ends and fine braking phase starts." Soon, scientists clapped and cheered as Vikram Lander completed the rough braking phase before the fine braking phase started.
It was then that the scientists started becoming tense and went into a huddle.

Isro Chairman K Sivan was seen engaged in intense discussions with some scientists.
Soon the ISRO chairman K Sivan announced that the Vikram lander descent was as planned and normal performance observed up to altitude of 2.1 km.

Subsequently communications from Vikram Lander to ground station was lost, he said, adding the data was being analysed.

Isro has a number of data sets to go over -- those sent back by Vikram before it went incommunicado as well as those possibly captured by various Earth-based space communications devices. Isro is also making constant attempts to re-establish communication with the Vikram lander.

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What was the purpose of Vikram lander?


The lander of Chandrayaan-2  is named Vikram after Dr Vikram A Sarabhai, the father of the Indian space programme. It is designed to function for one lunar day.

Vikram has the capability to communicate with IDSN at Byalalu near Bengaluru, as well as with the Orbiter and Rover. The Lander is designed to execute a soft landing on the lunar surface. Lander weights 1,471 kg.

Read full article on Chandrayaan 2

Lander's payload includes :-

1. Lander’s instrument for Lunar seismic activity will examine the earthquake movement on the sight;

2. Surface thermo- physical experiment will study the thermal conductivity of the moon; and
3. Langmuir probe will study the surface of the Moon

Although the lander also has a Rover which was to be operated after landing safely. Rover named Pragyan also has to perform several tasks .

Chandrayaan-2  rover is a six-wheeled robotic vehicle Pragyan can travel up to 500 metres and leverages solar energy for its functioning. It can only communicate with the Lander. Pragyan weights just 27 kg.

Rover's payload includes :-

1. Rover’s Alpha particle x-ray spectrometer will do detail analysis of Moon’s surface; and

2. Leaser induced breakdown spectroscope will test the surface composition of moon near the landing sight.

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SO, HAS CHANDRAYAAN-2 FAILED?

Not at all. Landing a rover on the Moon was just one, no matter how ambitious part of the Chandrayaan-2  mission. In fact, the lander Vikram and rover Pragyaan combined carried lesser number of experiments (five) than the Chandrayaan-2 orbiter, which has on-board eight scientific payloads.

Even if the worst was to be assumed that Vikram and Pragyaan perished in the attempt to land on the Moon most of the Chandrayaan-2 mission's experiments will remain on course.

The orbiter, over the course of its one-year mission life, will perform these experiments and beam the results back to Earth. And ISRO chairman recently said that the orbiter has enough fuel to continue the mission of orbiter for seven and half years.

In fact, the one experiment that is most associated with Chandrayaan-2 estimating the quantity of iced water present in the south polar region of the Moon is to be performed by the orbiter and not Vikram or Pragyaan.

The mission life of the Orbiter is one  which should be extended upto seven and half years and it has been placed in a 100X100 km lunar polar orbit. Orbiter weights 2,379 kg.

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Orbiter’s payloads include:-

1. Terrain mapping camera will make digital elevation model of whole Moon;
2. Large area soft x-ray spectrometer will examine the composition of surface of the Moon;

3.  Solar x-ray monitor will provide the input of solar x-ray spectrum;
4.  Imaging IR spectrometer will find the evidence of presence of ice and minerals;
5. Orbiter will examine the polar region of moon for finding the evidence of ice under the surface;
6. Atmospheric composition explorer-2 will study the environment of Moon;

7. Orbiter high resolution camera will take pictures of the surface the Moon; and
8. Its dual frequency radio science experiment will study the Ionosphere of the Moon.

Although we have still hope as ISRO chairman recently said that their scientists are still trying to establish communication with Vikram lander and will keep trying for next 14 days.

In the interview to DD News, K Sivan also said that all Isro missions including Gaganyaan will take place as per schedule.

Meanwhile, the space agency said in a statement that Chandrayaan-2  mission was a highly complex mission, which represented a significant technological leap compared to the previous missions of Isro, which brought together an orbiter, lander and rover to explore the unexplored South Pole of the Moon.

Isro further said that the success criteria was defined for each and every phase of the mission and till date 90 to 95 per cent of the mission objectives have been accomplished and will continue to contribute to lunar science, notwithstanding the loss of communication with the lander.


1 comment:

  1. Basically the Robotic lunar module had a movement that caused it to land in the way it couldn't return the message so it could be low power or align the antenna. Low power could disrupt the communication or software.

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