Lunar night set in on the South Pole of the moon between Friday night and early Saturday morning, darkening any hope of re-establishing contact with Chandrayaan-2’s Vikram lander.
The region of the moon will remain dark for 14 days. The Indian Space Research Organisation’s moon lander was not designed to survive lunar night temperatures of -180 degrees Celsius. The lander will also run out of power if its solar panels were not deployed during the hard landing, the Hindustan Times reported.
Vikram was designed to conduct experiments during the day and extract lunar minerals. “The South Pole of the moon is one of the most strategic [pieces of] real estate in the inner solar system, with an abundance of resources, to include water-ice, iron ore, platinum, titanium,” Namrata Goswami, an independent analyst specialising in foreign relations and space policy, told Al Jazeera.
According to News18, the moon lander was designed for a soft landing, but had made a hard landing. It was also set to have a mission life of one lunar day, or 14 earth days, ending on Saturday morning.
The Indian Space Research Organisation lost contact with the lander minutes before touchdown on the moon on September 7. Following the setback, NASA had praised ISRO’s attempt to land the rover at the moon’s south pole and said the Indian space agency had inspired it with its journey. Had it succeeded, India would have become the first country to land a rover at the moon’s south pole.
The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter of the United States National Aeronautics and Space Administration flew over the targeted landing site of Chandrayaan-2’s lander Vikram on Tuesday and clicked a series of images but failed to locate it. The NASA spacecraft has been orbiting the moon for 10 years. It will fly over the area again on October 14, when lighting conditions are expected to be better, but by then Vikram would have gone silent.
On Tuesday, ISRO had tweeted a thank you message, and two days later said that Chandrayaan-2’s orbiter “continues to perform scheduled science experiments to complete satisfaction”. “The National committee of academicians and ISRO experts is analysing the cause of communication loss with Vikram lander,” ISRO said.
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