The Chandrayaan 2 lander had a “hard landing” when it lost contact with the ground station during a historic attempt to soft-land on the lunar surface, NASA said today, adding that a team of scientists at the US space agency has not been able to locate it.
“The Chandrayaan-2 lander, Vikram, attempted a landing Sept. 7 (Sept. 6 in the United States), on a small patch of lunar highland smooth plains between Simpelius N and Manzinus C craters. Vikram had a hard landing and the precise location of the spacecraft in the lunar highlands has yet to be determined,” NASA said in a statement and released pictures of the targeted landing site, labeling the craters.
The pictures were captured by NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) spacecraft during its flyby on September 17. The images were taken at dusk, and the team was not able to locate the lander, the US space agency said.
The Chandrayaan 2 lander may be hiding in a shadow, it added. “The scene above was captured from a Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera (LROC) Quickmap fly-around of the targeted landing site image width is about 150 kilometers across the center…so far the LROC team has not been able to locate or image the lander. It was dusk when the landing area was imaged and thus large shadows covered much of the terrain; the Vikram lander may be hiding in a shadow,” the statement said.
The moon orbiter will try to “locate and image the lander” again in October when lighting will be favorable, NASA said.
The deadline to contact Vikram, which had a 14-day mission life, ended on Saturday last as lunar night began to fall in the south polar region of the moon where the lander was attempting a descent.
On Thursday, ISRO chief K Sivan said a national-level commission is investigating “what went wrong with the lander”. “We have got no sign from the lander. A national-level council is now investigating what went wrong with the lander. Maybe after the committees presents the report, we’ll work on the plan. Required approvals and other processes are required. We are operating on that,” Mr Sivan briefed ANI.
“Our upcoming preference is Gaganyaan mission,” the top space scientist in the nation replied.
India had anticipated to make space history with the Rs. 1,000-crore Chandrayaan 2 mission.