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Chandrayaan 2: NASA’s Orbiter to fly over Vikram’s landing site, may give new cues

chandrayaan 2, Vikram Lander, NASA, LRO, ISROChandrayaan 2: NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) could bring in some hope for the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO).(Image: NASA)

Chandrayaan 2 Vikram Lander update: With just days left for the window to re-establish a connection with the Vikram lander, National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA) Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) could bring in some hope for the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). September 21 is being considered by the space experts as the deadline to re-establish the connection to the Vikram Lander as after that the lunar night will start in the south polar region of the Moon. Also, the life span of the Lander and Rover of Chandrayaan 2 is ’14-earth day’ or ‘1-lunar day’, which will end on September 21. ISRO is trying to figure out what would have happened to the Vikram lander of Chandrayaan 2. The Vikram lander has lost contact with the ground station during the soft landing process while it was just a few hundred metres above the Moon’s surface in the wee hours of September 7. The Reconnaissance Orbiter of NASA is expected to reveal new information after scanning the hard landing region of the Vikram after it flies over the landing region on Tuesday.

According to US media reports, the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) of NASA might also release images that it takes of the lander. The LRO’s project scientist, Noah Petro, told spaceflightnow.com, “To support the analysis of the Indian Space Research Organisation, NASA will share any before and after flyover imagery of the targeted Chandrayaan-2 Vikram lander landing site and area around it.”

According to a media report, a top ISRO official told The Indian Express that the PM Modi being present himself at the space mission’s command centre in Bengaluru gave a boost to the morale of the scientists and his promise of unambiguous support will certainly help in shaping the organisation’s next step.

READ | Chandrayaan 2: ISRO running against time for establishing communication with Vikram Lander! Here’s why

Sources informed that Modi had landed in New Delhi early on September 6 from his official trip of Russia and had a packed schedule of back-to-back engagements in Maharashtra on September 7 and Haryana on September 8. Despite this, he still wanted to be at the ISRO centre in Bengaluru on the night of Landing.

While returning from Russia, PM was busy with paperwork that remained or was carried over because of his trip on the flight to Bengaluru. “At around 9 am on September 7, when Prime Minister Modi’s aircraft touched down at the Air Force Station in Yelahanka, the mood was optimistic,” sources said.

During his stayover at a hotel near the ISRO Telemetry, Tracking and Command Network (ISTRAC), Prime Minister met the children who were selected after winning the MyGov Space Quiz. PM left for the ISRO centre at around 1 am. When it became evident that something has gone wrong, ISRO chairman K Sivan rushed to inform PM Modi about it in the visitor’s gallery, a few minutes after 1:50 am. Following this PM told ISRO chief to be calm and keep hope, assuring that the whole nation stands with the scientists as suggested by the sources. ‘Be courageous’ PM said to the scientists in the control room.

PM Modi after returning to the hotel asked his aides to contact the ISRO Chief as he wanted to meet the scientists again in the morning on September 7. Sources said that PM told his aids, “I will go back to the scientists in the morning, Call the ISRO chairman and fix the time.” The impromptu change in schedule was brought to the Maharashtra government’s notice.

Sources suggest that PM Modi is learnt to have said on the flight to Mumbai that he had seen India’s strength and those who make it at the control room in Bengaluru.

READ | Chandrayaan 2: Final minutes of ‘terror’ when Vikram Lander fell silent

Earlier, the Orbiter of Chandrayaan 2 has located the Vikram Lander and has taken its thermal image using Onboard cameras. But, ISRO has not provided any details of Vikram’s condition. An ISRO official said, “No update is available regarding the condition of Vikram as of now. We are still trying to establish contact.”

The south polar region of the Moon is uncharted territory and NASA is planning a manned mission to that part of the Moon. The information that Vikram lander and Pragyan Rover would have collected would have been very crucial for the agency.

With ENS inputs.

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