(Chandrayaan-2 Infographic Source: The Times of India)
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It was a mixed feeling when one heard on recent India’s attempt to land a lander on the Moon (the Americans & the Russians have done in the 1960s and recently the Chinese have done it on the dark side of the moon where it was once alleged to have a secret alien base):-
India’s space agency, Isro, has not yet released information on how it lost contact with its Moon lander seconds before it was due to touch down on the lunar surface. But former members of the agency tell the BBC what may have gone wrong.
Chandrayaan-2 (Moon vehicle 2) entered the Moon’s orbit on 20 August and was due to land on the lunar surface a little after midnight India local time (1800 GMT) on 7 September – a month after it first shot into space.
But contact was lost moments before the lander (named Vikram, after Isro founder Vikram Sarabhai) was expected to touch down at the lunar south pole.
The orbiter has since spotted the lander on the surface of the Moon – unbroken, but tilted on its side. So far, scientists have not been able to establish contact with it.
The head of India’s first Moon mission, Mylswamy Annadurai, also said the anomaly in the velocity profile was an indication that something had malfunctioned in the lander as it hurtled towards the Moon.
“Most likely the orientation [of the lander] could have been disrupted. Once we look at the data we will be able to say for sure what happened, but it is likely that either a sensor or a thruster could have malfunctioned,” he told BBC Tamil.
And there was the news of the Indian Prime Minister hugging ISRO’s chief which was rather emotional even though we are not Indian citizens. That was something unexpected.
Now whilst the some in this side of the world arguing on the nature of the mission, the success & failure of the said mission to the Moon and even whether India should be embarking on such scientific endeavours when many in the country still live below the poverty line & have no access to proper sanitation, look at the bigger picture – Chandrayaan is a major advancement by the Indians in the area of space and science and this will spur the advancement of its people to a greater thinking height.
And personally, for me, anything that touches on space exploration itself is a step forward for humankind as one day, we will need to leave this planet – we already had screwed this planet so much that it will not be able to sustain us. The same is on NASA’s mission statement on why space exploration is important:-
Humans are driven to explore the unknown, discover new worlds, push the boundaries of our scientific and technical limits, and then push further.
The intangible desire to explore and challenge the boundaries of what we know and where we have been has provided benefits to our society for centuries.
When Neil Armstrong stepped on the surface of the Moon on July 1969, he said: “That’s one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind”. He did not say for Americans.
And the same goes for all space explorations done thereafter and in future by the Russians, Europeans, Chinese and the Indians. Any space explorations have always been one giant leap for mankind.
All is not a lost with ISRO’s Chandrayaan-2 lander mission – they still have an orbiter in place and it has been a good effort till now.
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