It’s been almost two full weeks since India’s lunar lander, Chandrayaan-2, went quiet moments before what was alleged to be a soft landing on the Moon. The spacecraft crashed, and it is handlers back on the Earth haven’t been able of setting up contact since.
Last week, NASA stated it might do its best to help by targeting the suspected crash site with its Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter. It was thought that if the LRO captured a clear picture of the downed spacecraft, it would provide some additional data and assist the India Space Research Organization to resolve methods to proceed. Sadly, the LRO’s highly effective camera could not find the lander, and faith for restoring the mission is sinking rapidly.
The Chandrayaan-2 mission involved a lunar orbiter, a lander, and a small rover. The orbiter, which continues to be traveling around the Moon, apparently spotted the crash site itself, based on ISRO. However, the agency has not published any of these pictures, and it’s unlikely the camera on the orbiter would have been capable of managing the position of the crashed lander.
NASA’s LRO had a better shot at collecting some useful data; however, it couldn’t locate the lander or any proof of a crash. This isn’t completely surprising since the angle of the Sun cast huge shadows over a lot of the surface while the LRO was attempting its search. As Aviation Week explains, this likely obscured the crash site.
At this point, it appears clear the lander is severely damaged, even if ISRO says its initial glimpse of the crash site advised it was still in one piece. It’s a huge bummer for the Indian space program, and right now there’s little the Chandrayaan-2 team can do however maintain on to the last shreds of hope that the lander may wake back up.