NASA orbiter captures images of Chandrayaan 2 Lander Vikram’s attempted landing site

The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter images, captured during its flyby of Vikram’s attempted landing site near the moon’s uncharted south pole, are still being processed, a NASA official said.

Updated - December 03, 2021 08:08 am IST

Published - September 19, 2019 09:06 pm IST - Houston

Moon’s south pole, visualised with data from NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter. Photo: Twitter/@NASA_NCCS

Moon’s south pole, visualised with data from NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter. Photo: Twitter/@NASA_NCCS

As the deadline to re-establish communication with Chandrayaan 2’s Vikram lander nears, NASA’s moon orbiter has captured images of the lunar region where the Indian mission made an unsuccessful attempt to soft-land, a senior official with the U.S. space agency confirmed on September 19.

NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) spacecraft has snapped a series of images during its flyby on September 17 of Vikram’s attempted landing site near the moon’s uncharted south pole.

“The LRO images are still being processed,” Grey Hautaluoma, Senior Communications Team Lead at NASA, told PTI in an email.


The probability of establishing contact with the lander has a deadline of September 21 because after that the moon region will enter into a lunar night.

LRO deputy project scientist John Keller shared a statement confirming that the LRO camera captured the images, according to a report in “The LROC team will analyse these new images and compare them to previous images to see if the lander is visible (it may be in shadow or outside the imaged area),” Mr. Keller was quoted as saying in the statement.


NASA is validating, analysing and reviewing the images. It was near lunar dusk when the orbiter passed over, meaning large parts of the area were in shadow, the report said.


According to the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), the lander Vikram and rover Pragyan were supposed to be functional only for 14 days from the day of their touchdown.

At the start of the mission, ISRO said the mission life of the lander and the rover will be one lunar day which is equal to 14 Earth days, whereas that of the orbiter will be one Earth year.

The nights on the moon can be very cold, especially in the south polar region where Vikram is lying. Temperatures could drop to as low as minus 200°C during the lunar night. The instruments aboard the lander are not designed to withstand that kind of temperature. The electronics would not work and would get permanently damaged.


Therefore, if no connection is established in the next two days, ISRO may have to give up the hope to establish connection with the lander.

In the early hours of September 7, ISRO’s plan to soft-land Chandrayaan 2’s Vikram module on the lunar surface did not go as per script. The lander lost communication with ground stations during its final descent. ISRO officials said that the orbiter of Chandrayaan 2 remained healthy and safe.

A NASA spokesperson had earlier said that the space agency will share any before and after flyover imagery of the area around the targeted Chandrayaan 2 landing site to support analysis by ISRO.


0 / 0
Sign in to unlock member-only benefits!
  • Access 10 free stories every month
  • Save stories to read later
  • Access to comment on every story
  • Sign-up/manage your newsletter subscriptions with a single click
  • Get notified by email for early access to discounts & offers on our products
Sign in


Comments have to be in English, and in full sentences. They cannot be abusive or personal. Please abide by our community guidelines for posting your comments.

We have migrated to a new commenting platform. If you are already a registered user of The Hindu and logged in, you may continue to engage with our articles. If you do not have an account please register and login to post comments. Users can access their older comments by logging into their accounts on Vuukle.