India, Sept. 7 — In its first statement after moon mission suffered a huge setback on Saturday, the Indian Space Research Organization described India’s Chandrayaan-2 as a highly-complex mission that represented a “significant technological leap“.

The space agency also underscored that 90-95 per cent of the mission objectives had been achieved and would contribute to lunar science despite the loss of communication with the Vikram lander.

It specifically counted the precise launch and the mission management as one success area, one that would enable the Orbiter to stay in place for the next seven years instead of the planned one year.

This was a unique mission which aimed at studying not just one area of the Moon but all the areas combining the exosphere, the surface as well as the sub-surface of the moon in a single mission,” the statement said.

The Vikram Lander followed the planned descent trajectory from its orbit of 35 km to just below 2 km above the surface. The statement did not spell out what exactly had happened beyond this point.

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But till then, the statement said, all the systems and sensors of the Lander “functioned excellently” and proved many new technologies such as what it called “the variable thrust propulsion technology“.

The Orbiter has already been placed in its intended orbit around the Moon and shall enrich our understanding of the moon’s evolution and mapping of the minerals and water molecules in the Polar Regions, using its eight state-of-the-art scientific instruments,” the statement said.

The Orbiter camera is the highest resolution camera (0.3m) in any lunar mission so far and shall provide high resolution images which will be immensely useful to the global scientific community. Isro said it would have a long life of almost 7 years instead of the planned one year.

The success in placing the Orbiter was a point that has been highlighted by Prime Minister Narendra Modi as well, first in his televised address to the Isro scientists and later at the inauguration of metro projects in Mumbai.

We have to remember that orbiter is still there… This is also a historic achievement,” he said in Mumbai.

Hours earlier, Prime Minister Modi had comforted crestfallen scientists and a stunned nation from mission control in Bengaluru.

In the early hours of Saturday, the Vikram lander – named after Vikram Sarabhai, the father of India’s space programme – had gone silent just 2.1 kilometres above the lunar surface.

PM Modi told scientists to not lose heart and thanked them for the milestones achieved during this historic attempt. “It is not a small achievement and the country is proud of you. If the communication starts again, then the mission will be able to give us a lot of information. Let’s hope for the best,” he said.

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