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 2,379kg orbiter is one year. The orbiter payloads will conduct remote-sensing observations from a 100km 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 2.1km. Subsequently, the communication from the lander to ground stations was lost," ISRO Chairman K Sivan said.
"The data is being analysed", he added at the Mission Operations Complex at ISRO Telemetry, Tracking and Command Network (ISTRAC) in Bengaluru as disappointment was writ large on the faces of ISRO scientists.
PM Modi, who flew into Bengaluru on Friday night to watch the planned touchdown of Vikram, told ISRO scientists not to get dejected and disheartened and said the country was proud of them. "I see disappointment on your faces. No need to get dejected. We have learnt a lot," PM Modi said. "These are moments to be courageous, and courageous we will be! We remain hopeful and will continue working hard on our space programme".