So close, yet so far: On Chandrayaan 2
lander debacle (The Hindu)
Mains Paper 3: Science and Tech
Prelims level: Chandrayaan 2
Mains level: Highlights of the Chandrayaan 2 mission
- The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) came tantalisingly close
to creating history in the early hours of September 7 when the robotic
lander Vikram followed the predetermined descent trajectory and came just
within 2 km of the lunar surface before contact was lost.
- While it is unfortunate that the lander failed to safely touchdown, it
is apt to remember that ISRO was attempting powered landing for the first
- To put it in perspective, there have been 38 attempts so far by other
countries to land a rover on the moon and have succeeded only a little more
than half the time.
- This April, Israel’s Beresheet lunar lander crashed to the lunar
- But early January this year, China’s Chang’e-4 touched down on the lunar
far side and deployed the Yutu-2 rover to explore the South Pole-Aitken
- In Vikram, the velocity was successfully reduced from about 6,000 km per
hour at the start of the descent at 35 km altitude to a few metres per
second before communication snapped. That strongly indicates that powered
landing went as per plan till about 2 km altitude from the lunar surface.
- While the powered landing of Vikram and exploration of the moon’s
surface for 14 earth days by the Pragyan rover were one of the main
objectives of Chandrayaan 2, it is wrong to think that the mission itself
- On the contrary, 90-95% of the mission objectives have already been
- The orbiter is safe in the intended orbit around the moon. And with the
“precise launch and mission management”, its life span will extend to almost
- Carrying eight of the 13 payloads, the orbiter will spend the next
nearly seven years making high-resolution maps of the lunar surface, mapping
the minerals, understanding the moon’s evolution, and most importantly
looking for water molecules in the polar regions.
- Some of the impact craters in the South Pole are permanently shadowed
from sunlight and could be ideal candidate sites to harbour water.
- Water on the moon would, in principle, be used for life support and
manufacturing rocket fuel.
- With the U.S. wanting to send astronauts to the South Pole by 2024, the
National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), in particular, will be
keen on data from the Chandrayaan 2 orbiter.
- The ISRO’s Moon Impact Probe and NASA’s Moon Mineralogy Mapper on board
Chandrayaan 1 had already provided evidence of the presence of water in the
thin atmosphere of the moon, on the surface and below.
- A NASA study last year found regions, within 20° of each pole in general
and within 10° in particular, showed signs of water.
- The Chandrayaan 2 orbiter will now possibly reconfirm the presence of
water on the moon.
Q.1) Which of the following award conferred to ISRO Chairman Dr. K Sivan.
A. Balasaraswathi Award
B. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam award
C. Padma Vibhushan Awad
D. Kural Peedam Award
Q.1) Chandrayaan 2 might have failed in an objective, but the mission
itself is not a failure. Comment.