The United States’ National Aeronautics and Space Administration said that it found no evidence of Chandrayaan-2’s Vikram lander in the images taken during the latest fly-by of its Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter on October 14, PTI reported on Wednesday. The Vikram lander had attempted a soft landing on September 7, but lost communication with the Indian Space Research Organisation minutes before touchdown.
“The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter imaged the area of the targeted Chandrayaan-2 Vikram landing site on October 14 but did not observe any evidence of the lander,” said Project Scientist for the lunar orbiter mission Noah Edward Petro in an exclusive conversation with the news agency. The scientist said that the camera team had carefully gone over the pictures and made use of the change detection technique [using a ratio of a picture from before and after Vikram’s landing attempt].
Petro claimed that this technique was employed to find new meteorite impacts on the lunar surface, and also helped in locating the Israeli Beresheet lander. “It is possible that Vikram is located in a shadow or outside of the search area,” said John Keller, the deputy project scientist of the mission. “Because of the low latitude, approximately 70 degrees south, the area is never completely free of shadows.”
The American space agency has attempted to locate the Indian lander before. The last attempt was on September 27 when NASA said the Chandrayaan-2 lander had a “hard landing” on the moon’s surface. The agency released images of the targeted landing site.
The Vikram lander was set to have a mission life of one lunar day, or 14 earth days, ending on the morning of September 21. The lander was not built to survive lunar night temperatures of -180 degrees Celsius, and will run out of power if its solar panels were not deployed during the hard landing.
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