Chandrayaan 2 Vikram lander: The landing site of Vikram on the Moon would be exposed to Sun again, and there are chances that NASA would be able to pinpoint the exact location of the spacecraft
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera (LROC) has scheduled another flyover over the landing site of ISRO’s Chandrayaam 2 Vikram lander. If it’s successful in capturing Vikram lander’s position, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) will be able to identify what went wrong with the lunar lander. The United States’ premier space agency, during its previous flyby over the site, had revealed on September 17 that Vikram had a “hard landing” on the Moon’s surface.
While releasing high-resolution images captured by its LROC, NASA had said the Vikram lander attempted a soft landing on a small patch of lunar highland smooth plains between “Simpelius N and Manzinus C craters” but failed. The agency, however, could not verify the exact location of the spacecraft. NASA had said since lighting would be favourable in October, the LROC would again attempt to “locate and image the lander”.
The Vikram lander lost communication with the orbiter moments before it was scheduled to land on the moon. The site where the lander was scheduled to soft-land was located about 600 kilometres from the South Pole in a relatively ancient terrain. Out of the 38 global attempts of ‘soft landing’ on the lunar surface, only 20 have been successful. Just five months back, Israel’s attempt to land on Moon had also failed.
LANDING ATTEMPT GONE WRONG
Vikram attempted landing on the Moon on September 7 as part of the Chandrayaan-2 mission’s grand dream of placing a rover on the Moon. Vikram housed the six-wheeled rover Pragyaan, which, if things had gone according to plan, would have explored the lunar surface for one lunar day, equivalent to 14 Earth days.
Initially, Vikram’s 15-minute lunar descent went according to plan. However, moments before Vikram was to land on the Moon, it went silent and the Indian Space Research Organisation lost all contact with the Chandrayaan-2 lander.
Since then, Vikram has not been heard from and we still do not know what exactly went wrong. However, according to an India Today Magazine report based on data and readings gathered from the lunar descent, Vikram inexplicably performed a somersault during its landing attempt.
And so, Vikram’s reverse thrust-producing engines briefly pointed skyward. According to the report, what this meant was that the engines, located on Vikram’s belly, instead of slowing the craft down propelled it towards the lunar surface. It was around this time communication with Vikram was lost.