The Chandrayaan-2 orbiter is healthy and safe in the Lunar orbit, an ISRO official said after the Vikram lander lost contact with ground stations minutes before the touchdown on Moon's surface early on Saturday. "The orbiter is healthy, intact, functioning normally and safely in the Lunar orbit," the official told PTI. The mission life of the 2,379-kg orbiter is one year. The orbiter payloads will conduct remote-sensing observations from a 100 km orbit. Chandrayaan-2, a follow-on mission to the Chandrayaan-1 mission undertaken more than a decade ago, comprises an orbiter, lander (Vikram) and rover (Pragyan).
The orbiter carries eight scientific payloads for mapping the lunar surface and study the exosphere (outer atmosphere) of the Moon. 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, and ISRO said data is being analysed.
"Vikram lander descent was as planned and normal performance was observed up to an altitude of 2.1 km. Subsequently, the communication from lander to ground stations was lost," ISRO Chairman K Sivan said.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday asked ISRO scientists not to get disheartened by the hurdles in the moon mission Chandrayaan-2 and asserted that there will be a "new dawn". ISRO's plan to soft land Chandrayaan-2's Vikram module on the Lunar surface did not go as per script in the early hours of Saturday, with the lander losing communication with ground stations during its final descent. Addressing the scientists hours after ISRO announced that it had lost communication with the lander, he also said that the country's determination to land on the moon has become even stronger.
"We came very close, but we need to cover more ground.... Learnings from today will make us stronger and better," he told the scientists, adding, "The best is yet to come in our space programme. India is with you."
Modi had earlier watched the proceedings as the lander began its descent towards the moon surface at an ISRO centre in Bengaluru.