Nellore: Though Isro scientists have taken all measures to ensure that the Vikram lander has a soft-landing on the surface of the moon on September 7, the fact is that only 37 per cent of all attempts to soft-land remotely controlled vehicles have ended well so far on the moon. This is keeping everyone concerned with the mission on tenterhooks.
The latest was Israel’s attempt to land on the moon which ended in failure in April. The Beresheet spacecraft was scheduled for a soft landing in the Sea of Serenity. Only seconds before the touchdown, the Mission Control had lost contact with the spacecraft, and it crashed into the moon shortly thereafter.
“Beresheet taught us that the landing sequence itself needs to be largely, if not completely, autonomous. (controlled by the spacecraft without live input from Isro scientists)”, Isro chairman Dr K. Sivan said while referring to the Israel’s mission during a recent press conference.
According to former group head of Satish Dhawan Space Centre, Ravindranath Chivukla, landing on the moon has been a difficult feat but it has been done by both manned and unmanned spacecraft.
While the US is the only country to have ever put people on the moon, Russia (the former USSR) is the very first nation to reach the surface of the Moon through a spacecraft.
Between 1958 and 1976, the Soviets sent several orbiters, landers and rovers to the Moon as part of their Luna, Zond and Lunakohd programmes. The first two missions (Luna 1 and 2) were sent in January and September 1959, respectively.
Nasa, before putting the first human — Neil Armstrong — on the moon 50 years ago, had sent several unmanned probes to conduct scientific studies.
It has since launched further probes to the moon, the latest being on September 7, 2013, where the LADEE probe mission began and ended on April 18, 2014.
As of August, there have been additional nations/ agencies that have had unmanned impact probes that had crashlanded on moon. Those nations/ agencies include Japan, the United States, the European Space Agency, China, India and Israel.
India launched Chandra-ayan-1 on October, 22, 2008. The Moon Impact Probe separated from the spaceship on November 14, 2008, and crashed, as planned, into the lunar south pole after a controlled descent.
The MIP struck the Shackleton Crater, releasing moon surface dust that could be analysed by the orbiter for presence of water/ice.