NASA releases high resolution lunar site images, says didn't locate Vikram lander

Chandrayaan-2: NASA releases high-resolution photos of Vikram’s landing site

Chandrayaan-2: NASA releases high-resolution photos of Vikram’s landing site

However, the USA space agency said that it was unable to determine the exact location of the Vikram, which unsuccessfully attempted a soft landing on the south side of the moon on September 7.

A wide view of a series of Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera's narrow angle camera images collected on September 17, 2019 showing the area of Chandrayaan 2 Lander Vikram's targeted landing site.

After the lander's mission life of 14 days ceased the temperature during the lunar night was estimated to drop to less than minus 200 degrees Celsius which Vikram would not be able to sustain.

Nasa said the targeted site was located about 600km (370 miles) from the South Pole in a "relatively ancient terrain".

On September 7, ISRO had planned the soft landing of Vikram lander on lunar surface followed by the Rover roll out.

The photos shared by NASA were taken by its Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO), which passed over the landing site on 17 September.

Vikram was traveling at a horizontal speed of 157 feet (48 meters) per second and descending 197 feet per second, just over half a mile from the landing point, according to US-based organization The Planetary Society.

A view looking down on the Vikram landing site, image width 87 kilometers
A view looking down on the Vikram landing site, image width 87 kilometers

The NASA satellite carried out an overhead fly-by of the exact location the Chandrayaan 2 orbiter spotted after it lost communication with ISRO during its descent. NASA directed the LRO's camera to scan the would-be landing site in search of the downed lander, but nothing immediately jumps out of the image as an indication of a crash. Sivan added that once the committees submit their report, the space agency will work on a plan.

"It was dusk when the landing area was imaged and thus large shadows covered much of the terrain, it is possible that the lander is hiding in a shadow", the statement read. When that moment finally came, something went terribly wrong, and the lander is presumed destroyed.

The Vikram Lander had successfully separated from Chandrayaan-2 Orbiter on September 2. "We have not received any signal from the lander".

Earlier, NASA had also tried establishing contact with lander Vikram by activating its deep space network - an array of worldwide space antennas.

India would have been the fourth nation to make a soft landing on the Moon.

Meanwhile, the Indian Space and Research Organisation (ISRO) has been trying to re-establish contact with the lander since the landing attempt.

In its statement, ISRO said "normal performance (of Vikram) was observed up to an altitude of 2.1 km", and "subsequently, communication from Lander to the ground stations was lost".

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