NASA Orbiter to take Vikram landing site pic on Sept 17

NASA Orbiter to take Vikram landing site pic on Sept 17

A National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Orbiter is expected to take an image of the Chandrayaan-2 Lander Vikram or its landing site as the American spacecraft passes over the lunar spot on September 17.

This could give a better picture of Vikram’s damage and orientation.

Although the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) had confirmed that the Lander was intact, it is yet to release any image of the landing site. Now, the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter of Nasa could snap a picture with a higher resolution.

NASA is also expected to share with ISRO any before and after flyover imagery of the area around the landing site, according to The New York Times, which quoted a NASA spokesperson. This imagery could help the ISRO analyse what really happened in the final stage of Vikram’s descent.

With life of about 7.5 years, the Chandrayaan-2 Orbiter High-Resolution Camera (OHRC) is capable of capturing an area of 12 km X 3 km with a ground resolution of 0.32 m. ISRO says its images, taken from two different angles, can generate Digital Elevation Models of the landing site.

However, not everyone is convinced that the OHRC imagery could conclusively prove the Lander is intact after a hard-landing in the early hours of September 7. The NYT report drew attention to a tweet by Jonathan McDowell, an astrophysicist at the Centre for Astrophysics in Cambridge, Massachusetts, who tracks space missions. McDowell’s contention was this: That the small lander, roughly eight feet wide, would be barely visible in photographs taken by the Chandrayaan-2 orbiter.

“Guessing they only have one or two pixels. Not enough to tell intact lander from the wreckage,” the tweet said.