Originally published at sciencepolicyforall.wordpress.com
During an attempt to become the fourth country to land on the moon (after the U.S., former Soviet Union and China), India lost communication with its lunar lander Vikram early last Friday. Contact was lost during the “15 minutes of terror”, the autonomous final descent to the lunar surface.
The Vikram lander was being carried by the Chandrayaan-2 orbiter, which was launched in July. It was attempting to land near the South Pole of the moon, currently a region which is completely unexplored. After landing Vikram would have deployed Pragyaan, a rover that would have collected data for 2 weeks.
Over the weekend the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) announced that they had located Vikram using the Chandrayaan-2 orbiter, and that they were attempting to reestablish communication.
Despite the landing failure, Indian scientists remain optimistic about the future of the Indian space program. Even with the loss of the lander, they will still be able to do research using the Chandrayaan-2 orbiter. The orbiter has eight instruments and will map the moon from orbit for at least one and potentially up to seven years. In light of this success, the ISRO stated that 90-95% of the mission objectives were successful.
(Jonathan O’Callaghan, Forbes)