Vikram Lander was 400-meters away from Moon before losing contact
As ISRO races against time to make contact with the Vikram Lander of Chandrayaan-2, a report has revealed that the robotic contraption was much closer to its destination before losing communications. The folks at India Today studied the graphical representation of Vikram's descent and came to the conclusion that the Lander was 400m from the lunar surface, not the previously assumed 2.1km. Here's more.
What happened during Vikram's descent?
When Vikram began its powered-descent, everything worked just as the Indian space agency expected. However, a mere 10 minutes into the landing, something went awry and the Lander was lost. ISRO Chairman K Sivan issued a statement saying "normal performance was observed up to an altitude of 2.1 km. But, subsequently, the communications between the lander and ground station was lost."
People assumed Vikram stopped communicating at 2.1km
With no clarity on what had happened, people apparently started misinterpreting Sivan's statement and believed that the Lander stopped communicating at an altitude of 2.1km from the lunar surface. However, the analysis of the descent graph revealed that Vikram went off course from its original trajectory at an altitude of 2.1km and stopped sending signals somewhere around 400 meters from the ground.
This is why the craft wasn't probably broken
Losing communications on the way down meant Vikram landed far from the targeted site. The graph cited by India Today clearly shows how it deviated from the planned trajectory (red line) at an altitude of 2.1km and disappeared completely at around 400 meters. Still, ISRO's control up to a lower altitude would have certainly helped the Lander stay intact, even after hard landing.
Now, ISRO wants to establish communication with Vikram
That said, the entire team at ISRO is now working days and nights to ensure that Vikram starts sending signals. The craft's internalized rover, Pragyaan, was meant to explore the lunar south pole, but none of that could be achieved unless the Vikram starts working. Notably, the space agency spotted the Lander on the Moon but has not provided details on its condition.