Chandrayaan 2: NASA's LRO performs second flyover to locate Vikram's landing site on the moon

The LRO has on a previous occasion tried to image the landing site of Vikram lander but failed.

NASA has scheduled a flyover of its Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) over the landing site of India’s Vikram Lander yesterday, 14 October. It is trying to locate ISRO's Vikram lander and capture images of it. We just might get lucky this time around and finally see the condition of the crashed lander as the lighting conditions are thought to be better.

The LRO, on a previous occasion (17 September), has flown over the landing site but was not able to see Vikram because it was dusk at the lunar South Pole. "Long shadows in the area" was thought to be obscuring the area. However, NASA did release images of the moon and the site where the lander is thought to have crashed.

NASA's LRO to flyover Vikram lander's crash site. image credit: NASA

NASA's LRO to flyover Vikram lander's crash site. image credit: NASA

The lander is most likely dead after the lunar night. (14 earth days makes up one lunar night).  ISRO had said once the lunar night falls, there would be no sunlight for the lander to generate power for its working and also it was not designed to operate in the heavy cold temperature of moon during the phase.

If NASA locates the lander, the images from this flyover will be made public as it is NASA policy.

The LROC lead investigator Mark Robinson from Arizona State University, said in a statement to Inside Outer Space"Per NASA policy, all LRO data are publicly available. NASA will share any before and after flyover imagery of the area around the targeted Chandrayaan 2 Vikram Lander landing site to support analysis by the Indian Space Research Organization."

The landing

The lander Vikram was carrying Pragyan the rover. It was to roll out after the soft landing had been executed. However, the lander lost communication with the ground control during its final descent, just 2.1 km above the moon’s surface.

ISRO tried to re-establish connections with the lander on many occasions but to no avail.

Once lunar night fell, 14 days after the landing, there was no hope to get in contact with the lander.

ISRO’s orbiter has spotted the lander with its onboard camera.

The orbiter

An ISRO official has confirmed that the orbiter is “healthy, intact, functioning normally and safely in the lunar orbit.”

Chandrayaan 2 composite orbiting the moon before the lander's separation. Image: ISRO

Chandrayaan 2 composite orbiting the moon before the lander's separation. Image: ISRO

The orbiter will continue to orbit the moon for a period of one year and its payloads will conduct remote sensing observations from a 100 km orbit.

Recently, the orbiter’s High-Resolution Camera (OHRC) recently captured the highest resolutions pictures of the moon.

Chandrayaan 2

This was the second moon mission of India’s space agency – ISRO. it was a follow-on mission to the Chandrayaan-1 mission that was undertaken more than a decade ago.

Chandrayaan 2 comprises of an orbiter, lander (Vikram) and rover (Pragyan).

The mission was launched on a GSLV-MkIII on 22 July and was scheduled to land on 7 September.

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