Chandrayaan-2 orbiter performing well, national committee to analyse what went wrong

Pablo Tucker
September 27, 2019

The reason for this is likely "long shadows in the area" that might be obscuring the still-silent Vikram lander, NASA reiterated in a statement released along with the processed images.

The images captured by LROC also do not pinpoint Vikram lander's location but it is possible that it "is hiding in shadow", said NASA.

The photos shared by NASA were taken by its Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO), which passed over the landing site on 17 September.

NASA said that its camera located the site about 600 kilometers (370 miles) from the south pole in a relatively ancient terrain (70.8°S latitude, 23.5°E longitude). The lighting will be favourable when LRO passes over the site in October and once again attempts to locate and image the lander. "The scene above was captured from a Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera (LROC) Quickmap fly-around of the targeted landing site image width is about 150 kilometers across the center".

The Indian orbiter part of the Chandrayaan 2 mission was able to capture images of the lander a day after the attempted soft-landing went awry.

A wide view of a series of Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera's narrow angle camera images collected on September 17, 2019 showing the area of Chandrayaan 2 Lander Vikram's targeted landing site.

ISRO Chief K Sivan said on Thursday (September 26) that Chandrayaan-2 orbiter is doing very well.

Sivan further stated that a national-level committee has been constituted to analyse the issues with Vikram lander and based on the report, the organisation is determining its future course of actions. The photographs show that the Vikram landed "very close to the chosen site" and was in an "inverted position" according to officials, HT got in touch with. Following days of silence from the other end, USA space agency NASA had also joined the efforts to establish communication with lander Vikram.

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.

India's first Moon mission - Chandrayaan-1 in 2008 - carried out the first and most detailed search for water on the lunar surface using radars. After Vikram lost contact with ground stations, just 2.1 km above the touchdown site, the possibility of establishing contact with the lander had a deadline of September 21, because after that the region entered into a lunar night. Beijing's Chang'e-4 probe touched down on the far side this year, while Israel made an unsuccessful attempt to land its Beresheet spacecraft on the moon in April.

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