A setback for the Indian moon landing mission as Chandrayaan-2 lost contact just before its Vikram module was due to touch down at the lunar south pole.
The lander lost contact just 2.1 km above the surface of the moon and just seconds before the landing.
The fate of the lander is still not yet known, says India’s Space Research Organization (ISRO).
Chandrayaan-2 entered the Moon’s orbit on 20 August and was due to make a controlled descent to the surface early on Saturday, after 48 days journey.
The Vikram Lander successfully separated from Chandrayaan-2 Orbiter on September 2. The Chandrayaan-2 Orbiter continues to orbit the Moon.
Isro chairman Kailasavadivoo Sivan announced that the ship’s initial descent had been “normal,”, but it lost contact just seconds from touchdown.
Here’s a timeline for how each of these manoeuvers was performed:
24 July 2019, 2 – 3.30 pm: First orbit-raising manoeuver to a final orbit of 230 x 45,162 km (closest x farthest distance of its elliptical orbit around the Earth)
26 July 2019, 1 – 2 am: Second orbit-raising manoeuver to a final orbit of 250 x 54,689 km
29 July 2019, 2.30 – 3.30 pm: Third orbit-raising manoeuver to a final orbit of 268 x 71,558 km
2 August 2019, 2 – 3 pm: Fourth orbit-raising manoeuver to a final orbit of 248 x 90,229 km
6 August 2019, 2.30 – 3.30 pm: Fifth and final orbit-raising manoeuver to a final orbit of 221 x 1,43,585 km
Landing on moon’s surface require the lander to slow itself down to a near standstill, autonomously scan for surface obstacles, and then take steps to avoid them during touchdown.
The majority of attempts to land robots on the moon have ended in failure, either during launch or on the way to the surface.
If the landing had gone as planned, India would have been the global first to land on southernmost region, the fourth country to touch down anywhere on the lunar surface, and only the third nation to operate a robotic rover there.
Nevertheless, the Chandrayaan-2 mission a greatest achievement for a country that became an independent nation just 70 year ago…