Chandrayaan 2, India’s second mission to the moon, is a three-component mission, comprising an orbiter, a lander named Vikram and a rover named Pragyan which together launched to the moon on July 22 atop a Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle Mark III (GSLV Mk III) rocket.

It took nearly 7 weeks to arrive at its destination, Chandrayaan-2 arrived in lunar orbit on Aug. 20, and the lander separated from the orbiter on Sept. 2 to begin its descent to the lunar surface.

The lander and the rover were designed to spend one lunar day about 14 Earth days investigating the lunar surface with a variety of scientific instruments. Both were expected to shut down come nightfall at the moon’s south pole because they weren’t built to withstand to frigid temperatures of the lunar night.

The specification of the lander and the rover of Chandrayaan-2:

Lander- Vikram:

  • Weight- 1,471 kg
  • Electric Power Generation Capability- 650 W

The Lander of Chandrayaan 2 is titled Vikram after Dr Vikram A Sarabhai, the Father of the Indian Space Programme. It is created to function for one lunar day, which is equal to about 14 Earth days.

Vikram can communicate with IDSN at Byalalu near Bangalore, as well as with the Orbiter and Rover. The Lander is devised to achieve a soft landing on the lunar surface.

Rover- Pragyan:

  • Weight- 27 kg
  • Electric Power Generation Capability- 50 W

Chandrayaan 2’s Rover is a 6-wheeled robotic vehicle called Pragyan, which translates to ‘wisdom’ in Sanskrit. It can explore up to 500 m (½-a-km) and leverages solar energy for its functioning. It can only interact with the Lander.

Loss of communication with Vikram lander:

The Chandrayaan 2 Vikram lander was targeted for a highland smooth plain about 600 kilometres from the south pole, unfortunately, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) lost contact with their  Vikram lunar lander shortly before the scheduled touchdown on Friday, September 6. 

Long, tense minutes stretched out inside the mission control centre for the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO), which designed the Chandrayaan-2 spacecraft. According to data shown during the descent manoeuvre, the lowest altitude reported back to Earth was 0.2 miles (0.33 kilometres) above the lunar surface.

A plot comparing live data received to the mission’s trajectory suggested that Vikram was about 0.6 miles (1 km) horizontally off-track from the targeted landing site when communications stopped.

The Vikram lander has been found:

India’s Vikram lunar lander, which crashed on its final approach to the Moon’s surface in September, has been found thanks in part to the sleuthing efforts of a space enthusiast. A dark, prickly, haloed bloom is tattooed on a distant field of pock-marked desolation: the silent portrait of a thwarted dream.

This arresting Nasa image, released on December 3, shows the precise spot on the Moon’s surface where Vikram, the lander deployed in India’s Chandrayaan-2 mission, hard-landed in early September. Vikram went incommunicado shortly before its scheduled touchdown near the lunar south pole. A tense nation watched as the Isro control room’s mood of cheerful anticipation evaporated. 

Despite the loss, getting that close to the surface was an amazing achievement. India would have become the fourth nation to land on the Moon if Vikram had reached its destination safe and sound.