Sivan's silver lining: Orbiter to live for 7.5 yrs

Isro Chairman K Sivan

Amid the gloom of Chandrayaan-2’s failed Lander touchdown, Isro Chairman K Sivan on Saturday offered a silver lining: The Orbiter will now stay alive for 7.5 years, orbiting the Moon way beyond its intended life of 12 months.

Declaring the mission “a near-100% success”, Sivan’s confidence in the Orbiter’s extended life stemmed from its “extra fuel” on board. “Its high resolution cameras cover only a small area. But over a long duration of 7.5 years, the entire lunar surface can be mapped,” he said in a interview.

In a statement, Isro said the Orbiter would “enrich our understanding of the Moon’s evolution, mapping of the minerals and water molecules in the Polar Regions”. 

The Orbiter camera, Isro said, is the highest resolution camera (0.3m) in any lunar mission so far. The dual frequency (L and S) Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) will provide enhanced capabilities compared to Chandrayaan-1’s S-band miniSAR.

Isro attributed the Orbiter’s life extension to “precise launch and mission management”.

On the Lander, Isro had this to state: “All the systems and sensors of the Lander functioned excellently until this point (at 2.1km height) and proved many new technologies such as variable thrust propulsion technology.” The success criteria was defined for each and every phase of the mission.

Echoing what Sivan said, the official statement said: “Till date, 90 to 95% of the mission objectives have been accomplished and will continue contribute to lunar science, notwithstanding the loss of communication with the Lander.”

The space agency said the Orbiter can capture the images of the Lander Vikram through its high resolution cameras if the latter is not fully damaged.

 

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