It has been exactly 10 days since the Chandrayaan-2’s Vikram lander lost its communication link with the ISRO ground station but in a boost to the space agency, a NASA orbiter is expected to reveal new information on its fate once it flies over the landing site on the Moon on Tuesday.
ISRO has said its efforts to restore the link have not been successful as of now.
NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) will fly over the part of the Moon where the lander is lying after it lost contact with the ISRO control centre when it was 335 metres from the surface of the Moon on September 7.
The NASA orbiter is also likely to release the images that it takes of the lander. “NASA will share any before and after flyover imagery of the area around the targeted Chandrayaan-2 Vikram lander landing site to support analysis by the Indian Space Research Organisation,” spaceflightnow.com quoted Noah Petro, the LRO’s project scientist, as saying.
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— ISRO (@isro) September 17, 2019
The LRO is a robotic spacecraft currently orbiting the Moon. It studies the Moon’s surface, clicks pictures, and collects data that help in figuring out the presence and possibility of water ice and other resources on the Moon, as well as plan future missions to it.
The Chandrayaan-2 orbiter has since located and taken thermal images of the lander on the Moon but ISRO has so far not provided any details of its condition. Former scientists have reasoned that a hard landing on the surface of the Moon might have disabled the communication system on ISRO’s Vikram lander.
The mission life of the lander is one lunar day (14 earth days) since solar panels mounted on the body of the lander are the primary source of power for various systems, including communications.
Technically, the systems on the lander will have no source of power from September 21, when the lunar day ends, making it difficult for ISRO to make any contact with the lander subsequently.