BENGALURU: With three days to go for the lunar night to set in for 14 earth days, which will put Chandrayaan-2’s lander Vikram in complete darkness and severe cold, Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has written a “thank you” note to all its followers on social media. The past few days , the space agency has been making all-out efforts to contact lander Vikram which was said to have lost connectivity with the ground station at ISRO Telemetry & Tracking Command Network (ISTRAC) in Bengaluru and Indian Deep Space Network (IDSN) at Bylalu in the wee hours of September 7, when India was to make its historic moon landing.
“Thank you for standing by us. We will continue to keep going forward propelled by the hopes and dreams of Indians across the world!” ISRO put out a tweet on Wednesday. Just 2.1 km from the lunar surface, the 1,471 kg lander Vikram had gone incommunicado. While there have been suppositions that the lander would have captured essential data, there is no way to ascertain this unless contact is made.
Vikram carries three payloads — Radio Astronomy of Moon Bound Hypersensitive ionosphere and Atmosphere (RAMBHA), to measure ambient electron density/temperature near the lunar surface, and evolution of lunar plasma density for the first time near the surface under varying solar conditions; Chandra’s Surface Thermophysical Experiment (ChaSTE) to measure the vertical temperature gradient and thermal conductivity of the lunar surface; and Instrument for Lunar Seismic Activity (ILSA) to study minute ground displacement, velocity or acceleration caused by lunar quakes.
Both NASA and ISRO have been relentlessly attempting to make contact with Vikram, the latter is also set to continue tracking the signals on October 4-5, when the next lunar day (equivalent to 14 Earth days) begins. “On September 21-22, the location near the lunar south pole will creep into darkness. The atmospheric conditions will change.
And two weeks later, when the Sun begins to shine on the area again, we will try to revive the lander if communication is possible,” a senior scientist connected to the mission had told TNIE A hurdle that stares the space organisation in the face, is the survival of the lander in the cold lunar night, which sees temperatures dip to as low as -150 degrees Celsius.