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Sunday, 8 September 2019

An update on India's lunar lander...


Update on the update
: The (fairly reliable) word is that the Vikram lander has been located, and is in one piece - but is tilted on its side. The landing will undoubtedly have been hard, but wasn't a crash - or at least not enough of one to split the lander into fragments. That still potentially leaves Vikram far from 'intact' as some translations have it. Being optimistic, while the lander stands a chance of being operational, it being on one side may still prevent it getting the antenna angle it needs to communicate with Earth or the orbiter. On another note, a lot of fake twitter accounts and false images have confused the story here - 'The Quint' gives a brief breakdown of that here.

Sources:
https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/isro-not-losing-hope-continues-to-make-all-out-efforts-to-restore-link-with-lander-vikram/articleshow/71045854.cms

https://www.indiatoday.in/science/story/chandrayaan-2-lander-vikram-intact-moon-isro-says-not-confirmed-1597265-2019-09-09

https://www.thequint.com/news/webqoof/fake-thermal-images-of-vikram-lander

https://twitter.com/isro/status/1170993695950172160
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On Saturday India's Chandrayaan 2 lunar mission - consisting of an orbiter and a lander named Vikram,  - attempted to land on the Lunar surface near the south pole. It's mission is/was to help learn about the amount and types of ices frozen into the soil … but, despite everything about the lander's descent looking good for most of the way down, contact with Vikram failed about 2km above the lunar surface.

The assumption has been that the lander is lost, smashed on the lunar surface.

However, the rumour mill has been grinding overtime today: The tale is that ISRO, the Indian space agency, has located Vikram intact - or at least something like intact - on the lunar surface. The lander does have a certain amount of autonomy, in that it can carry out pre-programmed commands without direct instruction from Earth. It's possible it could have continued to struggle for a landing after (for whatever reason) it lost contact with Earth, and partly or even wholly succeeded. Some claims of the lander being located seem to have been thoroughly debunked, but a more robust claim (and another here) has come from a reputable Indian news agencies: The lander has been located using the orbiter, appears to be in one piece (let's be clear: that's not the same as undamaged), and ISRO are attempting to contact it.

Now, until we get official word, all the above could just be rumour. But it seems that this story may not be played out yet, so keep watching...


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