New Delhi: The United States space agency National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) on Friday released images showing that lander ‘Vikram’ of India’s ambitious moon mission Chandryaan-2 had suffered a hard-landing on the lunar surface.
The high-resolution images captured by NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera (LROC) that was sent to aid the process of locating ‘Vikram’ in order to reconnect with it, found its exact landing site but failed to discover the lander itself.
Lander ‘Vikram’ of Chandrayaan 2 had attempted a soft landing on the on a small patch of Moon’s highland smooth plains between Simpelius N and Manzinus C craters on the south pole September 7 but lost connection with the ground station merely two kilometres away from the lunar surface.
“Vikram had a hard landing and the precise location of the spacecraft in the lunar highlands has yet to be determined. The scene was captured from a Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera (LROC) Quickmap fly-around of the targeted landing site image width is about 150 kilometres across the centre,” NASA told news agency PTI.
The American space agency said that the orbiter passed over the landing site on September 17 capturing high-resolution pictures of the region, but failed to locate or image the lander.
“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.
NASA has set October 14 as the next date for LRO to fly over the area. The lighting conditions are expected to be more favourable then, John Keller, Deputy Project Scientist Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Mission, Goddard Space Flight Centre told PTI.
Meanwhile, the Indian Space Research Agency (ISRO) had set the mission life of lander Vikram and its rover Pragyan to completed in one lunar day, or 14 Earth days. It has become increasingly difficult for the space agency to locate and restore communication with the lander since September 21 as the Moon is entering its lunar nights.
Once the south pole of the Moon enters lunar nights, it will be impossible to establish a connection with the rover that was not built to sustain the temperature drop. The temperature on the moon’s surface is likely to fall significantly within the next couple of days, and it can drop down as low as -200 degrees celsius.