Nasa to share images of Vikram’s moon landing site with Isro
Chandrayaan 2: Apart from the radio signal, the Nasa will also be sharing the images from its own Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, which will pass over the landing site of the Vikram on September 17.
US space agency, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration or Nasa, said it would share “before and after” images of the location where Chandrayaan 2’s Vikram lander made a hard-landing in the early hours of September 7.
“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 Organization,” a Nasa statement to the New York Times said.
The US space agency is also attempting to re-establish communication with Vikram lander, which has not transmitted any signal since September 7.
NASA’s Deep Space Network (DSN) is sending radio signals in the hope of re-establishing communication with the lander, while Isro is still using the Indian Deep Space Network (IDSN) antennas at Bylalu near Bengaluru to communicate with the lander.
“#Chandrayaan2 and #Queqiao (Chinese spacecraft) briefly embrace before Chandrayaan 2 orbiter slips behind the Moon yet again... Meanwhile the DSN24 continues emitting its beacon in hopes #VikramLander will respond...” tweeted Scott Tilley, an amateur astronomer who located the missing American weather satellite IMAGE in 2018.
The Indian lander-rover was carrying on board a NASA passive experiment called, the laser retroreflector array, that reflects laser beams from Earth. An analysis of the round-trip time of the laser helps to caliberate location systems for navigation of spacecraft.
This Nasa payload was also aboard the Israeli lunar mission, Beresheet, which crashed into the surface of the moon in April this year.
“These radio signals are sent in the hope of establishing some form of communication with the lander. If a communication is established, scientists will at least be able to tell what systems are working and assess what might have gone wrong during the last moments. Whether they will be able to send any commands or not, I am not sure,” said Dr Nirupam Roy, assistant professor of physics at the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bengaluru.
Apart from the radio signal, the Nasa will also be sharing the images from its own Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, which will pass over the landing site of the Vikram on September 17.
General Larry James, deputy director of Jet Propulsion Laboratory(JPL) that runs the Deep Space Network of Nasa, also visited the Isro headquarters on Thursday along with Prof David Tirrell, Provost of California Institute of Technology (CalTech), USA. The purpose of the visit was not mentioned by ISRO though.
Isro scientists have to try and locate the lander before the lunar night [equal to 14 Earth days] begins on September 21 because Vikram lander that runs on solar power would go on sleep mode.
“The location of the lander is already known from the images taken by the orbiter, but for establishing communication the lander has to be in a working condition and has to be oriented properly in two ways — the solar panel for power and the antennae for communication. From what I know, the battery backup of the lander can at best last for 14 days. In that case, all hope of establishing communication will end as the lunar night begins,” Roy said.