Chandrayaan-2: Was India’s Moon Mission Actually a Success?

Scientists tell the BBC why the ambitious Chandrayaan-2 mission cannot be dismissed as a failure.

According to Wikipedia,

Chandrayaan-2 is the second lunar exploration mission.

It is developed by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), after Chandrayaan-1.

It consisted of a lunar orbiter, the Vikram lander, and the Pragyan lunar rover.

Both of which were developed in India.

The main scientific objective is:

  1. To map and study the variations in lunar surface composition
  2. As well as the location and abundance of lunar water.

The mission was launched on its course to the Moon from the second launch pad at Satish Dhawan Space Centre on 22 July 2019 at 2.43 PM IST (09:13 UTC) by a Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle Mark III (GSLV Mk III).

The craft reached the Moon’s orbit on 20 August 2019. It began orbital positioning manoeuvres for the landing of the Vikram lander. Vikram and the rover were scheduled to land on the near side of the Moon.

It was in the south polar region at a latitude of about 70° south at approximately 20:23 UTC on 6 September 2019.

There was conduct scientific experiments for one lunar day, which approximates two Earth weeks.However, the lander deviated from its intended trajectory starting at 2.1 kilometres (1.3 mi) altitude. Therefore, it had lost communication when touchdown confirmation was expected.

Initial reports suggesting a crash have been confirmed by ISRO chairman K. Sivan, stating that the lander location had been found, and “it must have been a hard landing”.

Both ISRO and NASA tried unsuccessfully to communicate with the lander for two weeks before the lunar night set in.

The orbiter, part of the mission with eight scientific instruments remains operational. Therefore, it is expected to continue its seven-year mission to study the Moon.

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