India Finds Its Lander on Moon

Vikram still isn't sending a signal
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 8, 2019 10:50 AM CDT
Lunar Lander Found, Still Silent
A photo released by the Indian Space Research Organization shows liftoff on July 22 at Satish Dhawan Space center in Sriharikota.   (Indian Space Research Organization via AP)

India's orbiter has found the missing Vikram lander on the moon's surface, but controllers have been unable to reestablish contact. The unmanned lander showed up on Chandrayaan-2's cameras Sunday, the Times of India reports; Vikram had gone silent as it attempted to land. The orbiter recorded a thermal image of the lander, the head of India's space agency told ANI news service. That image has not been released, nor has the condition of the craft, though agency chief K. Sivan said, "It must have had a hard landing," per ABC. The space agency is still trying to get a signal from the lander. It was designed to work for 14 days, and controllers will keep trying to make contact for at least that long. One official said that "with the right orientation," Vikram might be able to use its solar panels to recharge its batteries.

But as time passes, he said, "it looks less and less probable." The orbiter, on the other hand, is working well, India said. Chandrayaan-2 was intended to circle the moon for a year. Instead, the space agency said, "the precise launch and mission management has ensured a long life of almost 7 years." While orbiting the moon, Chandrayaan-2 is using instruments to map the terrain, study moon water ice and analyze the thin exosphere, as well as collect other data, per (The journey was worth the effort, India's prime minister said.)

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