However, the agency has not been able to get a communication signal from the lander which went incommunicado just minutes before it’s scheduled landing on September 7.
While a scientist had told TOI late Saturday that the agency was looking at the image from the orbiter, Isro chairman K Sivan, on Sunday confirmed it. “We’ve had the image and we are analysing the data,” Sivan said.
“Once the image was taken yesterday (Saturday), we had to ascertain if the object we saw was Vikram. Then based on the latitude and longitude we checked old images from the same site. The old images didn’t show any objects, while the new one showed an object, which is how we concluded that it was Vikram,” the scientist said.
On what the condition of the lander was and if it had landed on all four legs, Sivan said: “At this moment we don’t have any information about that yet. Also, we are still trying to re-establish a communication link.” A source said that the agency was yet to conclude if the transponder on Vikram is still intact.
A senior scientist analysing the data said that the probe, among other things, is also focussing on the “unknown” or “natural phenomena” that may have caused Vikram to lose its orientation and change trajectory.
“At the outset, it appears that a more than optimal thrust, or a more than required horizontal velocity could have caused the lander to spin out of control. But we are also looking at other things, including what we may have not anticipated,” the scientist said.
Explaining further, he said that there could have been some “unknown” effect on the lander while it was performing the descent from which it couldn’t recover. “It could as well be a natural phenomena we hadn’t accounted for. We are still looking,” he said.
On this specific question, Sivan said: “As of today we don’t have enough…We are yet to find anything conclusive, we are still analysing the information. But yes, we are looking into all these angles.”
Reiterating that Chandrayaan-2 orbiter’s bonus lifespan is a big takeaway, he said that the satellite will provide breakthrough data.
“.. I am telling you that we will have another breakthrough with data about water. Given that our orbiter orientation is 90 degree, we have an advantage in locating ice and water. We will be specifically able to look at solidised or frozen water 10m under the surface of the Moon. We will make history,” he added.
Orbiter Altitude Reduction
Another scientist told TOI that the space agency is considering performing more manoeuvres on the orbiter to bring it down to a lower orbit after a few months.
“After about a year, once all the eight payloads complete the primary objective of collecting data from a 100km orbit and we receive all of that, there is a thinking about lowering its orbit,” the scientist said.
He added that the cameras, especially would be used more optimally from a lower orbit.
When asked, Sivan said: “If we go to a 50km orbit the resolution would be even better. But at this point no final decision has been taken and the 7.5 years of life for the orbiter presents us with an opportunity, for the first time, to map the whole of Moon using such good cameras.”
He added that so far only NASA’s LRO (lunar reconnaissance orbiter) -which is in a 50km orbit -has mapper the Moon fully and that Chandrayaan-2 orbiter cameras were better than LRO’s.
In Video:Isro gets image of Vikram lander on Moon’s surface, but no communication established