LRO Fails to See Vikram on Lunar Surface Obscured by Shadows

The area where India’s Vikram spacecraft had a hard landing was captured by the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera (LROC) Quickmap during a fly-around of the targeted landing site. The image width is about 150 kilometers across the center. (Credits: NASA/Goddard/Arizona State University)

GREENBELT, Md. (NASA PR) — 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.

A view looking down on the Vikram landing site (image acquired before the landing attempt), image width 87 kilometers (54 miles) .(Credits: NASA/Goddard/Arizona State University)

The lander, Vikram, was scheduled to touch down on Sept. 6 at 4:24 pm Eastern Daylight Time. This event was India’s first attempt at a soft landing on the Moon. The site was located about 600 kilometers (370 miles) from the south pole in a relatively ancient terrain (70.8°S latitude, 23.5°E longitude). In order to visualize the site, take a quick fly-around.

The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) passed over the landing site on Sept. 17 and acquired a set of high resolution images of the area; 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; it is possible that the Vikram lander is hiding in a shadow.

A wide view of a series of Lunar Reconnaisance Orbiter Camera’s narrow angle camera images collected on Sept. 17 showing the area of the targeted Vikram landing site. The pixel scale is 28314 pixels by 1041 lines. The resolution is 34 meters per pixel. The full resolution mosaic can be found at: http://lroc.sese.asu.edu/posts/1128. Note this mosaic is quite large (28314 pixels by 57851 lines) with approximately 900 million illuminated pixels (1.25 meter pixels, 1000 meter grid, polar stereographic projection). (Credits: NASA/Goddard/Arizona State University)

The lighting will be favorable when LRO passes over the site in October and once again attempts to locate and image the lander.