India’s government has admitted that its Chandrayaan-2 Vikram lunar lander suffered a crash landing into the moon’s surface after losing communication with the control team on Earth in September.
In a report issued to lawmakers by Jitendra Singh, Minister of State for the Department of Space, Vikram’s breaking thrusters suffered a malfunction during its second phase of decent on September 6. This resulted in the lander performing an unexpected somersault which left the lander upside down, a mere 500 meters of its designated landing zone on the lunar surface.
If the mission had been a success, India would have become the fifth country to successfully land a ‘vehicle’ on the moon’s surface, after Russia (USSR), Japan, China, and the European Space Agency. Currently, The United States is the only nation to actually step onto the surface of the moon.
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There is still light at the end of this somewhat gloomy tunnel. According to Singh, all of the eight scientific instruments aboard the Vikram are still fully functional and are providing scientists with valuable data.
“With regards to the scientific objectives, all the 8 state of the art scientific instruments of the Orbiter are performing as per the design and providing valuable scientific data.” Singh said.
This is not the first lunar-related failure of the year. In April, a private Israeli project suffered a similar crash when their probe collided with the moon’s surface. The probe apparently lost power in its main engine during the final moments of its descent.
Feature image: ISRO.gov