Here's why India's moon mission remains 95% successful
Priya Wadhwa
Space Exploration

Here's why India's moon mission remains 95% successful

All is not lost say experts and international media.

India's mission to the moon with Chandrayaan-2 was highly ambitious. The spacecraft, Chandrayaan-2, blasted off successfully, it flew past the Earth's orbit, and even successfully made the tricky Lunar Orbit Insertion (LOI) manoeuvre to enter the Moon's orbit. Moreover, it also lowered into the final orbit of the moon, 100 kilometres from its pole.

That's when the lander called Vikram detached from the spacecraft to attempt a soft landing on the Moon's south pole. It carried the Moon rover called Pragyan, which in the ideal scenario for India would have safely rolled out of the lander to roam the Moon's surface to conduct experiments.

Sadly, during the landing attempt of the Vikram, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) lost communication with the lander when it was just 2.1km from the lunar surface, leaving its ultimate fate to imagination.

However, all is not lost, as many are claiming. This is because the Pragyan rover was only on a two-week mission to study the south pole of the moon. Most of the research relating to Earth's only natural and permanent satellite, is done through the orbiter, Chandrayaan-2, which is successfully orbiting the Moon, and has key scientific instruments still on board.

Indeed, the ISRO declared that Chandrayaan-2 is still intact, is successfully orbiting the Moon and has a life of one year. Hence even after the communication loss with the Vikram lander, it will continue to support scientific discovery and that 90-95 percent of the mission's objectives have been successful.

The Chandrayaan-2 spacecraft will continue to take pictures of the Moon to send it to the ISRO to further research and discovery. Officials have said that it will also try to take pictures of the lander.

The ISRO is still sifting through data to determine the reason for the communication loss.

Chandrayaan-2 was an ambitious mission which is a source of pride for the country, which took only a fraction of the cost compared to that of NASA. Its cost-effectiveness in itself is one major success, as pointed out by The Washington Post.

Most of the space exploration and studies are conducted through an orbiter rather than the rover. If the lander had successfully made a soft landing on the south pole, it would have been the first in the world, which would have garnered significant knowledge. However, the mission in itself was 95 percent successful, there is much that went right and a lot can be learned from the mission.