Chandrayaan-2: ISRO scientists accept Vikram's fate

With just 10 days to go before darkness engulfs the South polar region of the lunar surface, hopes to re-establish communication link with the Lander Vikram has faded.

Scientists at the Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro) have reportedly been told to focus more on the Orbiter instead.

Since early Saturday morning, when Vikram was just 2.1 km from a soft-landing, Isro had lost contact with the critical Chandrayaan-2 Lander.

Frantic attempts to reconnect with it failed.

Vikram has not responded to any of the signals sent by the Orbiter.

But in their hour of despair, Isro scientists found a ray of hope in the Orbiter's extended life.

Isro Chairman K Sivan had confirmed that the Orbiter now has enough fuel to orbit the Moon for 7.5 years. This would mean massive amounts of data on the lunar terrain to be studied over an extended period of time.

Over the next 10 days, Isro will continue to send signals from the antenna installed at Byalalu near Bengaluru, where its deep space network centre is located. So far, the transponders aboard Vikram and a phased array antenna have not responded.

Isro sources attribute this to Vikram's hard-landing, probably on two legs, that caused a tilt.

The antenna's orientation also changed in the process, making it even tougher to establish a communication link with the Orbiter.

The space agency reportedly approached even the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (Nasa) to send a signal through its Jet Propulsion Laboratory. But this too turned futile as there was no response from Vikram.

Once a link is established, the Lander could be potentially directed to switch on its solar panels.

If the soft-landing had been achieved as planned, the Rover Pragyan too would have activated its panels and rolled out three hours and 15 minutes after landing.

Sivan had earlier indicated that both the Lander and Rover had an outside chance of surviving the lunar night equivalent to 14 Earth nights, and come back to life after sunrise. However, this is now only of academic interest since Isro has virtually given up hope on reviving Vikram.

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