The Indian government has provided an explanation of why the Chandrayaan-2’s Vikram lander crashed into the lunar surface on Sept. 2. The Times of India reports:
In a written reply to a question in the Lok Sabha, Jitendra Singh, the minister of state in the Prime Minister’s Office, who looks after the department of space, said the first phase of descent was performed normally from an altitude of 30 kms to 7.4 kms above the moon’s surface and velocity was reduced from 1,683 metres per second to 146 metres per second.
“During the second phase of descent, the reduction in velocity was more than the designed value. Due to this deviation, the initial conditions at the start of the fine braking phase were beyond the designed parameters. As a result, Vikram hard-landed within 500 meters of the designated landing site,” he said.
Singh reported, however, most components of technology demonstration, including the launch, orbital critical maneuvers, lander separation, de-boost and rough braking were successfully accomplished.
Vikram was India’s first attempt to land on the moon. The vehicle carried a small surface rover named Pragyan that would have been deployed on the surface.
The lander and the rover each carried three instruments that were designed to operate for the two-week lunar day.
ISRO has not made the results of its investigation into the landing failure public. The Chandrayaan-2 orbiter continues to return data.
ISRO has said it plans to send another lander to the surface. The vehicle could be launched by the end of 2020.
MOSCOW (Roscosmos PR) — Glavkosmos JSC, part of Roscosmos State Space Corporation, and Human Space Flight Centre of Indian Space Research Organization (HSFC of ISRO) on Friday signed a contract to review a project to assess the possibility of using Russian flight equipment in life support systems and providing thermal regime for the manned spacecraft Gaganyaan.
Dmitry Loskutov, Director General of Glavkosmos, and Dr. Unnikrishnan Nair, Head of the HSFC, signed the contract. The signing ceremony was held in the presence of Deputy Director General for international cooperation of Roscosmos State Space Corporation Sergey Savelyev.
BENGALURU, India (ISRO PR) — Imaging Infrared Spectrometer (IIRS) on-board Chandrayaan-2 is designed to measure the reflected sunlight and emitted part of Moon light from the lunar surface in narrow and contiguous spectral channels (bands) ranging from ~800 – 5000 nanometer (0.8-5.0 micrometer (µm)). It uses a grating to split and disperse the reflected sunlight (and emitted component) into different spectral bands.
The major objective of IIRS is to understand the origin and evolution of the Moon in a geologic context by mapping the lunar surface mineral and volatile composition using signatures in the reflected solar spectrum.
The first illuminated image of the lunar surface was acquired by IIRS. The image covers part of the lunar farside in the northern hemisphere. Few prominent craters are seen in the image (Sommerfield, Stebbins and Kirkwood).
Preliminary analysis suggests that IIRS could successfully measure the variations in the reflected solar radiation that bounces off the lunar surface from different kinds of surface types, namely, crater central peaks (e.g., Stebbins), crater floors (e.g., Stebbins and Sommerfield), very fresh reworked ejecta associated with small craterlets within the crater floor of a large crater (e.g., Sommerfield) and also the sun-illuminated inner rims of craters (e.g., Kirkwood).
The variations in the spectral radiance are primarily due to the mineralogical/compositional variations that exist in the lunar surface and also due to the effect of space weathering. More detailed analysis that follows, is expected to yield important results on the heterogeneity of lunar surface composition.
SEATTLE – Oct. 15, 2019 – Spaceflight, the leading satellite rideshare and mission management provider, today announced it will launch 14 more spacecraft from India’s Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) this year. Payloads will launch on PSLV’s C47, C48 and C49 missions, scheduled to launch in November and December 2019 from India’s Satish Dhawan Space Center. Customers aboard the missions include Analytical Space, Spire, iQPS and Kleos Space.
Luxembourg, 21 October 201 (Kleos Space PR) — Kleos Space S.A (ASX:KSS, Frankfurt:KS1), a space-powered Radio Frequency Reconnaissance data-as-a-service (DaaS) company, has received confirmation that the Kleos Scouting Mission1 will launch on a PSLV rocket from Chennai, India in December 2019.
GREENBELT, Md. (NASA PR) — The Chandrayaan-2 lander, Vikram, attempted a landing Sept. 7 (Sept. 6 in the United States), on a small patch of lunar highland smooth plains between Simpelius N and Manzinus C craters. Vikram had a hard landing and the precise location of the spacecraft in the lunar highlands has yet to be determined.
The lander, Vikram, was scheduled to touch down on Sept. 6 at 4:24 pm Eastern Daylight Time. This event was India’s first attempt at a soft landing on the Moon. The site was located about 600 kilometers (370 miles) from the south pole in a relatively ancient terrain (70.8°S latitude, 23.5°E longitude). In order to visualize the site, take a quick fly-around.
The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) passed over the landing site on Sept. 17 and acquired a set of high resolution images of the area; so far the LROC team has not been able to locate or image the lander. It was dusk when the landing area was imaged and thus large shadows covered much of the terrain; it is possible that the Vikram lander is hiding in a shadow.
The lighting will be favorable when LRO passes over the site in October and once again attempts to locate and image the lander.
Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) and National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)
Joint Statement on Cooperation in Lunar Exploration
During their September 24, 2019, meeting at JAXA Headquarters in Tokyo, NASA Administrator James Bridenstine and JAXA President Hiroshi Yamakawa welcomed the ongoing engagement between their agencies to realize JAXA’s participation in NASA’s Artemis program and vision for the participation of Japanese astronauts in lunar exploration.
Well, it’s not the famous winter of Game of Thrones, but the 14-day lunar night has arrived where India’s Vikram lander and Pragyan rover made what IRSO officials have called a “hard landing” two weeks ago with no communication between them and ground controllers.
Since neither vehicle was designed to survive the frigid temperatures of the lunar night, the Indian space agency has called it a day in a rather bare bones announcement.
ISRO’s Chandrayaan-2’s orbiter has spotted the Vikram lander in the surface of the moon, but it’s not looking very good.
“Yes, we have located the lander on the lunar surface. It must have been a hard landing,” Sivan told PTI….
Asked if the lander was “damaged” during the “hard landing”, Sivan said: “That we do not know.”
Sivan had said on Saturday that the space agency would try to establish link with the lander for 14 days and reiterated on Sunday after it was located on the lunar surface by Chandrayaan-2’s on-board cameras that those efforts would continue.
Fourteen days is the length of a lunar day. The lander and the Pragyan rover it carried are not designed to survive the frigid cold of the lunar night.
The Vikram lander stopped communicating with ground controllers as it descended toward a landing near the moon’s south pole. ISRO said the loss of communications occurred less than 2 km (1.25 miles) above the surface.
Chandrayaan-2 is India’s second mission to the moon and first attempt to land a payload on the surface.
ISRO has provided an update on its failed attempt to place Chandrayaan-2’s Vikram lander and Pragyan rover on the moon:
“The Vikram Lander followed the planned descent trajectory from its orbit of 35 km to just below 2 km [1.25 miles] above the surface. All the systems and sensors of the Lander functioned excellently until this point and proved many new technologies such as variable thrust propulsion technology used in the Lander.
The success criteria was defined for each and every phase of the mission and 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.
ISRO stressed that the Chandrayaan-2 Orbiter continues to circle the moon and is expected to return a wealth of scientific data:
India’s first attempt to place a lander and a rover on the surface of the moon might have failed on Friday.
ISRO officials say that descent operations of Chandrayaan-2’s Vikram lander were normal until it reached 2.1 km above the landing spot near the south pole before all telemetry ceased. ISRO said it is evaluating the data.
It is not clear whether the lander crashed along with its Pragyar rover or if there was a communications glitch. The Chandrayaan-2 orbiter is functioning normally, ISRO said.
PARIS (CNES PR) — On the occasion of the state visit to France of India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi, an agreement signed by CNES President Jean-Yves Le Gall and K Sivan, Chairman of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), was officially announced to start development and production of a constellation of satellites on which studies have been underway since President Emmanuel Macron’s state visit to India in March 2018.
This constellation carrying
telecommunications (AIS*) and radar and optical remote-sensing
instruments will constitute the first space-based system in the world
capable of tracking ships continuously. The satellites will be operated
jointly by France and India to monitor ships in the Indian Ocean. The
system will cover a wide belt around the globe, benefiting a broad range
of French economic interests. With a revisit capability making it
possible to task acquisitions several times a day, it will also be able
to detect oil slicks and trace their origin.
The first de-orbiting maneuver for Chandrayaan-2 spacecraft was performed successfully today (September 03, 2019) beginning at 0850 hrs IST as planned, using the onboard propulsion system. The duration of the maneuver was 4 seconds.
The orbit of Vikram Lander is 104 km x 128 km.
Chandrayaan-2 Orbiter continues to orbit the Moon in the existing orbit
and both the Orbiter and Lander are healthy.
The next de-orbiting maneuver is scheduled on September 04, 2019 between 0330 – 0430 hrs IST.
The Vikram Lander successfully separated from Chandrayaan-2 Orbiter at 1315 Hrs IST today (September 02, 2019). The Vikram Lander is currently located in an orbit of 119 km x 127 km. The Chandrayaan-2 Orbiter continues to orbit the Moon in its existing orbit.
The health of the Orbiter and Lander is being monitored from the Mission Operations Complex (MOX) at ISRO Telemetry, Tracking and Command Network (ISTRAC) in Bengaluru with support from Indian Deep Space Network (IDSN) antennas at Bylalu, near Bengaluru. All the systems of Chandrayaan-2 Orbiter and Lander are healthy.
The next maneuver is scheduled tomorrow (September 03, 2019) between 0845-0945 hrs IST