Lesson in space

By Nagaland Post | Publish Date: 9/9/2019 10:21:58 AM IST

 It was supposed to have been a historic moment for India and a crowning glory for the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) but it turned out to be a big disappointment when Vikram module crash landed and thus, India failed to become the fourth country to make a soft landing on the Moon. Considered as the “most complex” stage of the country’s second expedition to the moon, the lander was on a powered decent for a soft landing when it lost contact. The Chandrayaan-2 mission’s success would have put India in the same league as the US, Russia and China. However, barely 2 km from the lunar surface, contact was lost with the lander . According to reports, something snapped in those ‘terrifying 15 minutes’ in which braking manoeuvres were to be performed as the lander began its descent. From hurtling at a great speed to fine-tuning the momentum into one of gentle landing, glitches prevented the objective from being attained. Data from the mission is being analysed and will reveal the reasons, whether it was a power failure or collision with the surface at high speed. ISRO officials have hinted that the lander could have lost control after its thrusters were switched off to facilitate soft-landing. The Rs 978-crore Chandrayaan-2 mission that was expected to provide information about the presence of water in the form of ice on the Moon, which in turn would help scientists in simulating conditions for human habitation. It has been a long journey for ISRO and the scientists in India who have worked hard to make the country a space-faring nation, tapping the final frontier to achieve self-reliance. Vikram’, named after Dr Vikram A Sarabhai, the father of the Indian space programme, was designed to execute a soft landing on the lunar surface and to function for one lunar day, which is equivalent to about 14 earth days. The rover was to roll down from the lander explore the surrounding lunar terrain, a few hours after the planned soft-landing. International space experts and media around the world called the snapping of communication with Vikram as a “partial loss” and that all was not lost as the other orbiter with key scientific instruments on board is still circling the Moon’s orbit. ISRO’s future projects will not be hampered by Chandrayaan-2’s temporary setback. The space agency plans to send a three-member crew to space for at least seven days under its Gaganyaan mission, scheduled for 2022. On September 6, the Indian Air Force said it has completed the first level of selecting astronauts for the mission from its pool of test pilots. In 2023, ISRO intends to send an orbiter mission to study the atmosphere of Venus for its Shukrayaan mission. Aditya, or the Aditya-L1 mission to study the Sun and Mangalyaan 2, are also in the pipeline. NASA has lauded Chandrayaan-2, saying India’s Moon mission has “inspired” the US space agency which is keen to jointly explore the solar system with ISRO, a day after the lunar expedition suffered a snag while attempting a historic landing on the uncharted South Pole of the Moon. India has entered the exclusive space club and the Chandrayaan-2 mission will be a lesson as even countries like the USA, Russia and China too had their moments of learning. Hopefully, the setback will make ISRO more wiser and determined not be an end to the country’s ambitious space programme.

Launched on December 3,1990. Nagaland Post is the first and highest circulated newspaper of Nagaland state. Nagaland Post is also the first newspaper in Nagaland to be published in multi-colour.

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