Chandrayaan 2: NASA fails to locate Vikram lander due to 'long shadows' over landing site
National Aeronautics and Space Administration's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) has failed to spot Chandrayaan 2 Vikram lander, days after the lander lost contact with Indian Space Research Organisation just before touching the Moon's surface. The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter camera instrument has sent pictures of the intended Moon touchdown site for the Vikram lander but shadows in the area could not capture the lander's exact position.
"It was near dusk as the region prepares to transition from a two-week lunar day to an equally long lunar night, so shadows covered much of the region, and Vikram may not be in the LROC's field of view," Aviation Week quoted NASA as saying.
NASA is expected to share images of the touchdown area -- before and after lunar night -- to support analysis by the ISRO. NASA added that during LRO's flyover on September 17, the entire touchdown area was near dusk. It posed a challenge in capturing images due to poor lighting.
ISRO has only two days left to re-establish contact with the Vikram lander as it is soon going to be a night on the Moon, which will last for around two weeks. As days pass, hope of lander Vikram's revival also diminishes because of the 14 days deadline. Fourteen days or one lunar day is all that the lander has to do its job as that's the only period it will be exposed to the Sun's rays.
Thereafter, the solar panels will not be able to energise and it will be too cold for lander Vikram to operate. Since the Vikram lander attempted to land on the moon on September 7, it was the beginning of the lunar day. It has already been 11 days since the Vikram lander went silent at a crucial juncture of the Chandrayaan 2 mission.