New Delhi: In a setback for India, Chandrayaan-2’s Vikram lander still remains missing as US space agency NASA has once again failed to locate it.
During its latest flyby over the Moon’s south pole, NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) was unable to find any evidence of Vikram lander near the landing site.
In an exclusive interaction with PTI, the Project Scientist for the LRO mission Noah Edward Petro said that the LRO photographed the area of the targetted landing site of ISRO’s Vikram lander on October 14, however, it could not find any evidence of the lander of India’s second lunar mission.
Petro further added that the camera team carefully examined the images and employed the change detection technique, using a ratio of an image from prior to the landing attempt to the one acquired on October 14.
Another NASA scientist, John Keller, said this could be because the Vikram lander is lying in a shadowed part of the Moon or because the Chandrayaan-2 lander is located outside the area the US space agency photographed.
On the early hours of September 7, ISRO’s Vikram lander was scheduled to make a soft landing on the lunar surface. However, it did not turn out to be successful as the Indian space agency lost contact with the lander in the final moments of its landing process.
Ever since then, NASA has made two attempts to locate the Chandrayaan-2 lander with the help of its Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter. The LRO flew over Vikram’s landing site once on September 17 and next on October 14 and took photos of the landing site which failed to locate Vikram.
Notably, India’s ambitious lunar mission, Chandrayaan-2 was launched from Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota on July 22. On August 20, the ISRO successfully fired the liquid engine of Chandrayaan-2 and inserted the spacecraft in the lunar orbit from the earth orbit.