A lunar rover operated by the United States is scheduled to fly over the landing site of the Chandrayaan-2 lander Vikram sometime on Monday. Communication with Vikram was lost during the Chandrayaan-2 lander’s attempt to land on the Moon on September 7. Vikram is likely dead now after a cold lunar night during which its instruments were probably frozen out of operation.
This is the second time the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter — operated by the US space agency National Aeronautics and Space Administration — will fly over Vikram’s landing site and attempt to take pictures. The LRO previously flew over Vikram’s landing site on September 17 (10 days after the lander lost contact) and took pictures of the area.
However, the photographs were shot at a time when it was dusk in the south polar region of the Moon where Vikram attempted landing, and so, the Chandrayaan-2 lander was not clearly visible in the images. Then, Nasa had indicated that Vikram could be hiding in the long shadows present on the lunar surface.
Nasa had also said that its LRO would fly over Vikram’s landing site again on October 14. Lighting conditions during the LRO’s second fly-past over Vikram’s landing site are expected to be better than on September 17 and so, could offer clues about the Chandrayaan-2 lander’s physical condition.
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.
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