Chandrayaan-2's Orbiter Is Still Going Strong

Chandrayaan-2's Orbiter Is Still Going Strong

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India’s Chandrayaan-2 orbiter attempted to drop a lander named Vikram near the lunar south pole yesterday afternoon (Sept. 6), but mission controllers lost contact with the descending craft when it was just 1.3 miles (2.1 kilometers) above the gray dirt. As of early Saturday morning (Sept. 7), the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) still had not officially declared Vikram dead. But comments by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi leave little room for optimism…

But Chandrayaan-2’s journey isn’t over yet, because the orbiter is still going strong. In fact, its yearlong moon mission has barely begun; the spacecraft slipped into lunar orbit just last month. Since then, the Chandrayaan-2 orbiter has been studying Earth’s natural satellite with eight different science instruments, from an altitude of 62 miles (100 kilometers). The probe’s data should eventually allow researchers to compile detailed maps of the lunar surface, revealing key insights about the moon’s elemental composition, formation and evolution, ISRO officials have said.

Some of these maps will attempt to assess the moon’s stores of water ice. A decade ago, Chandrayaan-2’s predecessor, the orbiter Chandrayaan-1, showed that water is widespread across the lunar surface, especially at the poles… Vikram was supposed to deploy a rover named Pragyan, which would have mapped out the elemental composition of the landing site, potentially providing up-close information about ice in the area.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.



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