Sanjeevni Today

Hopes fading for Vikram lander as NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter returns empty-handed

Sanjeevni Today 25-09-2019 10:02 PM

There has been no clear sign of the whereabouts of the lost Vikram lander, even as an overflight of Chandrayaan 2 landing site on the moon by NASA’s

There has been no clear sign of the whereabouts of the lost Vikram lander, even as an overflight of Chandrayaan 2 landing site on the moon by NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter returned empty-handed. Another flyover with better lighting conditions is scheduled next month. Search for Vikram lander is being conducted by LRO’s high-resolution camera after the ground teams had lost contact with the spacecraft during a lunar landing attempt on September 6. In a statement regarding the whereabouts of Vikram lander, NASA had said, “LRO flew over the area of the Vikram landing site on Sept. 17 when local lunar time was near dusk; large shadows covered much of the area." “The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera (LROC) acquired images around the targeted landing site, but the exact location of the lander was not known so the lander may not be in the camera field of view," the space agency added. Lunar night set in on the South Pole of the moon between Friday night and early Saturday morning last week, which darkened the hopes of re-establishing contact with Chandrayaan-2’s Vikram lander. The region of the moon will remain dark for 14 days. The Indian Space Research Organisation’s moon lander was not designed to survive lunar night temperatures of -180 degrees Celsius. According to some media reports, the lander will also run out of power if its solar panels were not deployed during the hard landing. Officials from the Indian Space Research Organization said imagery from the country’s Chandrayaan 2 orbiter, which launched in tandem with the Vikram lander, had located the landing craft on the moon. “All possible efforts are being made to establish communication with (the) lander,” ISRO said in a statement on September 10. According to the final telemetry data, Vikram was plummeting towards the moon at high speed. Even if the Vikram lander landed intact, the spacecraft was only designed for a two-week mission, leaving little hope of recontacting the lander. The sun has set on the Vikram landing site, located near the lunar south pole, and the lander was not designed to survive the frigid, dark lunar night.

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