Former ISRO Chairman G Madhavan Nair on September 7 said that the Chandrayaan-2 has achieved 95 percent of its mission objectives, irrespective of contact with the Vikram lander being lost just 2.1 km away from the Lunar surface. The former Secretary in the Department of Space and ex-Space Commission Chairman noted that the orbiter is healthy and functioning normally in the Lunar orbit and that Chandrayaan-2 had multiple objectives which have been successful.
"I think we need not worry too much...I will rate more than 95 percent of the mission objectives have been achieved," Madhavan Nair told PTI. "Already, orbiter is in space and it should do an excellent job of mapping", he added.
Chandrayaan-2, a follow-on mission to the Chandrayaan-1 mission undertaken just over a decade ago, comprises an orbiter, lander (Vikram) and rover (Pragyan). The 2379-kg orbiter, with a designed mission life of one year, carries eight scientific payloads for mapping the lunar surface and studying the exosphere (outer atmosphere) of the Moon. The orbiter payloads will conduct remote-sensing observations from a 100 km orbit.
Madhavan Nair further added that the lander's contact-loss was highly disappointing and unexpected. "It's disappointing for all of us. The entire country was looking forward to it." He said the entire mission -- from the launch till the lander lost its communication with ground-stations at an altitude of to 2.1 km from the Moon's surface -- went like text-book precision.
"When you look at operation 2.1 km down below, it's really complex; half of us were keeping our fingers crossed because there are several instruments and thrusters will have to work very precisely; only then the final objective can be achieved," the former ISRO Chief said.
"If you start listing, there are at least ten points where it could have gone wrong. What has really gone wrong is difficult to predict now", he said. "Only thing is in the last ten seconds (of the mission), there was a deviation in the trajectory and velocity path. Looking at the data available till that point I am sure ISRO will be able to identify (where things went wrong)," Nair added.
ISRO on September 2 successfully carried out the separation of lander Vikram (with rover Pragyan housed inside) from the Chandrayaan-2 orbiter. In the early hours of Saturday, communication from 'Vikram' lander to ground stations, was lost during its powered descent to the Lunar surface. ISRO said the data from the Chandrayaan 2 mission is being analyzed.