NASA’s orbiter is now expected to fly over the site next on October 14. Lighting conditions are expected to be favourable then. However, it could be too late for hopes of establishing contact
National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has said India’s Vikram lander may not have been in the field of view of camera on board its orbiter.
It was reported earlier that US space agency’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) would send back images that it captures of the lander.
“The LROC acquired images around the targeted landing site, but the exact location of the lander was not known so the lander may not be in the camera field of view,” Joshua A Handal, public affairs officer, planetary science division of NASA said, according to Hindustan Times.
The site is currently in its lunar dusk period. The sun is lower in the horizon and shadows of surrounding topography would be long.
“LRO flew over the area of the Vikram landing site on September 17 when the local lunar time was near dusk; large shadows covered much of the area... It (the lander) may be in the shadow...,” Handal added, according to the report. Moneycontrol could not independently verify the report.
NASA’s LRO is now expected to fly over the site next on October 14. The lighting conditions are expected to be favourable then.
The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has been trying to establish contact with the lander since September 7, after it crashed at a site just a few hundred metres above the Moon.
It was expected that the orbiter will be able to add information about the lander’s condition, which may help India in its efforts to connect with the ground station.
NASA had confirmed that it would share before and after images of Chandrayaan 2’s landing site with ISRO. NASA orbiter’s project scientist Noah Petro said: “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 Organisation.”
Race against time
Meanwhile, ISRO has continued its efforts to contact the Vikram lander amid challenges.
ISRO had set a 14-day deadline to establish contact with Vikram.
It takes 14 Earth days for one Moon day. After September 21, Moon will enter the lunar night. In the southern polar region, the temperature could fall to as low as -2,000 degree Celsius during this period. The lander is not designed to withstand a temperature that low. During the lunar night period, instruments on board the lander could get damaged.
So, even when the lunar 14-day long lunar night ends, the lander may not be operable.