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No ISRO update on Chandrayaan-2 lander but social media goes wild with speculation

No clarification has been issued by ISRO on the status of the Vikram lander which was imaged by the Chandrayaan-2 orbiter Sunday.

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Bengaluru: The status of the Chandrayaan-2 lander remains the same, two days after ISRO Chairman K. Sivan announced that the orbiter had imaged the lander on the lunar surface.

There is rampant online speculation about the condition of the lander — how it landed, its angle of tilt, whether it’s in one piece, and how far it is from its intended landing spot.

No official clarification has been issued on any of these speculation.

Also read: Chandrayaan-2 orbiter has a task cut out as ISRO tries to re-establish contact with Vikram

A landing gone awry

The Vikram lander was scheduled to touch down on September 7 at 1:53 AM, near the southern polar region of the Moon.

However, 2.1 kilometres above the surface, just moments before the scheduled touchdown, the lander went silent and ISRO lost communication with it.

It was, subsequently, imaged by the orbiter of the same mission as it passed overhead. The camera that imaged these pixels is the Orbiter High Resolution Camera (OHRC), which has the highest resolution of any cameras in orbit around the Moon today.

Efforts to communicate with the lander, from both the ground and the orbiter, have been going on since Friday to no avail.

Recent ISRO statement

The chairman also released a statement Friday, saying 90 to 95% of mission objectives have already been met. The statement was met with much criticism due to a lack of transparency on the calculation of these percentages.

Most of the payloads are intact on the orbiter, which had an initial lifespan of one year, but is expected to function for at least seven years, according to the latest statement from ISRO.

The mission also consisted of a rover that was housed inside the lander. The rover would not be functional until communication with the lander is re-established.

Also read: Vikram lander lies tilted on moon as single piece after hard landing, claims ISRO official

Eight important payloads in the orbiter

The eight important scientific payloads on the orbiter are more sophisticated than the ones that went on the first lunar mission, Chandrayaan-1. There are two cameras for imaging, two payloads that would study x-rays from the sun and the lunar regolith, two that would study the thin lunar exosphere using radio signals, one that would study water ice and one that would study the thickness of lunar soil.

The Vikram lander has a lifespan of 14 days till September 20, beyond which it would no longer be in sunlight and thus have no power.

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