US space agency
on September 26 released high-resolution images of
lander Vikram’s intended landing site but said it was unable to determine the exact location of Vikram.
“Vikram had a hard landing and the precise location of the spacecraft in the lunar highlands is yet to be determined,” a Nasa statement read.
The pictures were taken by a
Camera (LROC) Quickmap fly-around of the targeted landing site.
Our @LRO_NASA mission imaged the targeted landing site of India’s Chandrayaan-2 lander, Vikram. The images were tak… https://t.co/K37sBatI4N
— NASA (@NASA) 1569531605000
“The lander, Vikram, was scheduled to touch down on September 6 at 4:24 pm Eastern Daylight Time. This event was India’s first attempt at a soft landing on the Moon,” the statement read.
The site was located about 600 kilometers (370 miles) from the south pole in a relatively ancient terrain.
“The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) passed over the landing site on September 17 and acquired a set of high-resolution images of the area; so far the LROC team has not been able to locate or image the lander. It was dusk when the landing area was imaged and thus large shadows covered much of the terrain; the Vikram lander may be hiding in a shadow,” Nasa said.
The agency added that the lighting will be favorable when LRO passes over the site in October and once again attempts to locate and image the lander.
Vikram lost contact
with ground stations, just 2.1 km above the touchdown site, the possibility of establishing contact with the lander had a deadline of September 21, because after that the region entered into a lunar night.
Isro had said the mission life of the Vikram lander and the Pragyan rover it carried will be one lunar day, which is equal to 14 Earth days.
The lunar nights can be very cold, especially in the south polar region where Vikram is lying. Temperatures could drop to as low as minus 200 degrees Celsius during the lunar night.
The instruments aboard the lander are not designed to withstand that kind of temperature. The electronics would not work in absence of solar energy and would get permanently damaged.
Nasa orbiter passed
over the Vikram landing site on September 17 and acquired a set of high-resolution images of the area; so far the LROC team has not been able to locate or image the lander.
“LRO will next fly over the landing site on October 14 when lighting conditions will be more favourable,” John Keller, Deputy Project Scientist Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Mission, Goddard Space Flight Centre, told PTI via email.
“It was dusk when the landing area was imaged and thus large shadows covered much of the terrain; it is possible that the Vikram lander is hiding in a shadow. The lighting will be favourable when LRO passes over the site in October and once again attempts to locate and image the lander,” Nasa said.