U.S. space agency National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has officially said moon lander Vikram had a hard-landing and that its own orbiting spacecraft could not get clear pictures of Vikram’s crash site during its recent flyover.
NASA on Thursday night released a set of hazy lunar surface images of the southern site where the lander probably crashed on September 7.
Vikram’s precise location eluded the sharp camera of the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) when it last flew over the probable site on September 17.
The LRO captured a 150-km-wide area in the southern lunar highlands but the pictures were not clear as it was sunset and light had faded.
A NASA statement titled ‘ Obscured in the lunar highlands?’ said, “[So] far the LROC team has not been able to locate or image the lander.
It is possible that the Vikram lander is hiding in a shadow. The lighting will be favourable when LRO passes over the site in October and once again attempts to locate and image the lander.”
This was the reconfirmation that Indian Space Research Organisation and the space community have awaited to figure out where and how the lander of the Chandrayaan-2 mission had fallen when it attempted to touch down on moon.
The LRO, orbiting moon since September 2009, has a camera with 50-cm high resolution and goes around in an eccentric orbit of 20 km x 165 km.
The remaining Indian orbiting module has a camera with a 30-cm resolution. ISRO already has pictures sent by it from its 100-km height soon after the landing failed.
The landing region lies between two craters about 70° south of the lunar equator and about 600 km from its shadowy south pole.
The orbiting Chandrayaan-2 and the LRO routinely fly over the same spot at regular intervals. Images from their next flyovers could help ISRO give conclusive information, Indian experts said earlier.
ISRO on September 7 only said that it lost signal contact from a descending lander merely three minutes and 2.1 km before its scheduled soft-landing on lunar surface. A team of experts is analysing the crash landing, it recently said.
Take a a quick fly-around to visualise the targeted landing site of Vikram.