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Chandrayaan 2 Vikram Landing Site Pictures Captured By NASA Orbiter; Time To Say Bye?
ISRO is racing against time to re-establish contact with Chandrayaan 2 Vikram lander before September 21 as it marks the beginning of the lunar night. In this scenario, NASA's LRO has captured photos of the lunar region where Vikram was supposed to soft-land and NASA says that they are still being processed.
Chandrayaan 2 Vikram Lander: What We Know So Far
Chandrayaan 2's Vikram was supposed to soft-land on the southern region of the lunar surface on September 7. However, in the wee hours of the touchdown, the lander lost communication with the ground station back on Earth. While it's hard to speculate what happened during the final descent, ISRO officials state that the Chandrayaan 2 orbiter is safe.
Next, it was decided that NASA's lunar orbiter called the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO), would flyby Vikram's attempted landing site on September 17. The LRO has captured pictures of Vikram to understand what went wrong. LRO's deputy project scientist John Keller said that the team is analysing the new images, which will be compared to Vikram's previous ones. The comparison will help tell if the lander is visible as it could be in shadow or outside the imaged area.
Chandrayaan 2 Vikram Lander: What Next?
However, the ISRO is facing a strict deadline to communicate before the lunar nightfall. ISRO states that the Vikram lander and its rover Pragyan have a mission life of just 14 days from its proposed touchdown. The temperature during a lunar night can drop massively and might go as low as minus 200 degrees Celcius, especially in the southern region where Vikram is stated.
Once the sun sets, the Vikram lander will no longer be able to generate power to get the comms up and running. Moreover, the lander isn't designed to withstand such low temperatures and the electronic components could get permanently damaged. NASA has assured to share any before/after images of the area where Vikram is believed to be lying. But if ISRO can't establish contact with Vikram soon, it'll need to bid adieu to the lander.