New Delhi: Less than a day after the Chandrayaan-2 moon mission, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) said the precise launch and mission management had ensured a long life of almost seven years for the Orbiter instead of a year as estimated earlier.
The agency also added that 90%-95% of the mission's objectives have been met till now.
“The precise launch and mission management has ensured a long life of almost seven years instead of the planned one year,” the space agency said in a statement on Saturday.
The orbiter, which weighs 2,379 kg and can generate up to 1,000 W of electric power, was placed in a 100X100 km lunar polar orbit.
In the early hours of Saturday, ISRO's plan to soft-land Chandrayaan-2's Vikram module on the lunar surface did not go as per script. The lander lost communication with ground stations during its final descent. However, ISRO officials said that the orbiter of the second lunar mission remains healthy and safe.
#Chandrayaan2 mission was a highly complex mission, which represented a significant technological leap compared to the previous missions of #ISRO to explore the unexplored south pole of the Moon. For more updates please visit https://t.co/4vIrztVnng— ISRO (@isro) September 7, 2019
“The Orbiter has already been placed in its intended orbit around the moon and shall enrich our understanding of the moon’s evolution and mapping of the minerals and water molecules in the polar regions, using its eight state-of-the-art scientific instruments,” ISRO said. “The Orbiter camera is the highest resolution camera (0.3m) in any lunar mission so far and shall provide high resolution images which will be immensely useful to the global scientific community.”
"The Vikram Lander followed the planned descent trajectory from its orbit of 35 km to just below 2 km 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," added the statement. "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."
The successful landing would have made India the fourth country after Russia, the United States, and China to achieve a soft landing on the moon, and also the first to launch a mission to the unexplored South Pole of the moon.
Pointing out that the orbiter has already been placed in its intended orbit, ISRO said, "It shall enrich our understanding of the moon's evolution and mapping of the minerals and water molecules in the Polar Regions, using its eight state-of-the-art scientific instruments."
Chandrayaan-2 satellite began its journey towards the moon, leaving the earth's orbit in the dark hours, on August 14, after a crucial manoeuvre called Trans Lunar Insertion (TLI) carried out by ISRO to place the spacecraft on "Lunar Transfer Trajectory".
Earlier today, enthusiasm soon turned into a sense of despair at ISRO's Mission Operations Complex as India's second lunar mission Chandrayaan-2's lander 'Vikram' lost communication with the ground stations on Saturday just ahead of the soft landing.
The mission that started from July 22 with the launch of the Chandrayaan-2 spacecraft achieved one milestone after another in a phased manner. However, the Vikram module lost contact minutes before the crucial touchdown on the lunar surface in the early hours of Saturday.
The landing module, which was supposed to carry out various tests on the lunar soil, completed the rough braking phase as planned and entered the phase of fine braking phase till the altitude of 2.1 km.
There were cheers and clapping both at the mission control centre and the area where media was stationed, as Vikram's descent was on as planned at that time. But, disappointment was palpable on the faces of the ISRO scientists within minutes as they stopped getting any communication from the lander.