Vikram lander located: It hit lunar surface, says ISRO

The Chandrayaan-2's Vikram module has been located on the lunar surface and it must have been a hard-landing, ISRO Chairman K Sivan said on Sunday, in an admission that the planned soft-landing wasn't successful.

"Yes, we have located the lander on the lunar surface. It must have been a hard-landing", Sivan said. The image of the lander rover 'Pragyan' is housed inside it was captured by on-board camera of Chandrayaan-2 orbiter, which is healthy, safe and functioning normally in the intended orbit around the Moon.

This screen grab taken from a live webcast by ISRO on August 6 shows Vikram lander before it was to land. Pic/AFP

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 Bengaluru-headquartered space agency had said earlier.

India's bold mission to soft-land on the moon suffered a setback with the 'Vikram' module losing communication with ground stations, just 2.1 km from the lunar surface during its final descent in the early hours of Saturday.

ISRO Chairman K Sivan

Considered as the "most complex" stage of the country's second expedition to the moon, the lander was on a powered decent for a soft landing when it lost contact. The data is being analysed, the ISRO had said soon after. Asked if the lander was 'damaged" during the 'hard landing", Sivan said, "That we do not know". But some space experts said Vikram suffering damage in the hard-landing cannot be ruled out.

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.

NASA lauds Chandrayaan-2

NASA has lauded Chandrayaan-2, saying India's moon mission has "inspired" the US space agency which is keen to jointly explore the solar system with ISRO. "Space is hard. We commend ISRO's attempt to land their Chandrayaan2 mission on the Moon's South Pole," the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) said in a tweet. "You have inspired us with your journey and look forward to future opportunities to explore our solar system together," it said.

Rs 978 crCost of Chandrayaan-2, an unmanned moon mission

'Support, a morale boost'

ISRO Chairman K Sivan said Prime Minister Narendra Modi's address and outpouring of support and kind words for ISRO after Chandrayaan-2's Vikram's unsuccessful bid to touchdown on the lunar surface have boosted the morale of its scientists and engineers. "We are extremely happy (the PMs address as well as nation rallying behind ISRO). It has boosted the morale of our people", Sivan said.

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