How did Chandrayaan 2 fail? ISRO has the answer

Chennai: Indiaâ  s first moon lander Vikram successfully separated from its mother spacecraft Chandrayaan-2 on Monday at 1.15 a.m., said Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). According to ISRO, 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. (Photo: IANS)

Thiruvananthapuram: A last-minute software glitch led to the failure of the Chandrayaan 2 mission. Vikram Lander crash-landed on the moon's surface after its guidance software went kaput, according to an internal report presented to the Space Commission.

The Indian Space Research Organisaiton (ISRO) designed Chandrayaan 2 to soft-land a probe on the moon but the Vikram Lander lost control 500 metre short to the lunar surface and crashed. Efforts are on to locate the lander which was supposed to analyse the moon's terrain and send back data for 14 days. The glitch was unexpected since the software was functioning well throughout the trial period.

The Vikram Lander successfully glided from a height of 30 kilometers to five kilometers. After this “rough braking,” the lander experienced trouble during the “fine braking,” the final stage in which the lander operated only one of its thrusters and slowed down to just 146 meters per second. The lander veered off its trajectory and crashed 750 metre away from the intended landing spot. The impact of the crash damaged the machinery on board and the lander went incommunicado.

The Indian Space Research Organisation's internal committee led by Liquid Propulsion System Centre director V Narayanan examined the photographs and thermal images of the lander as recorded by Chandrayaan Orbiter which hovers just 100 kilometers away from the moon's surface. The committee was also supplied information from space agencies such as Nasa.

The ISRO has put in place a mission to rectify the mistakes and relaunch Chandrayaan 2 next November. The agency will build a new lander and rover which will be linked to the Orbiter which is rotating around the moon.

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