Obscured in the Lunar Highlands?

Flyover of Chandrayaan 2 landing site from Quickmap
The Chandrayaan-2 lander, Vikram, attempted a landing September 7th Indian time (Friday the 6th in the United States), on a small patch of lunar highland smooth plains between Simpelius N and Manzinus C craters. Unfortunately the landing was not successful and location of the spacecraft has not been announced. The scene above was captured from an LROC Quickmap fly-around of the site, image width is about 150 kilometers across the center [NASA/GSFC/Arizona State University].

The lander, Vikram, was scheduled to touch down on 6 September 2019 at 20:24 UTC (4:24 pm Eastern Daylight Time). This event was India's first attempt at a soft landing on the Moon. The site was located about 600 kilometers (370 miles) from the south pole in a relatively ancient terrain (70.8°S latitude, 23.5°E longitude). Perhaps the best way to visualize the site is to take a quick fly-around. LRO passed over the landing site on 17 September and acquired a set high resolution images of the area; so far the LROC team has not been able to identify the lander.  We note that it was dusk when the landing area was imaged and thus large shadows covered much of the terrain, perhaps the Vikram lander is hiding in a shadow. The lighting will be favorable when LRO passes over the site in October and LROC will attempt to image the lander at that time.

Nadir view of Vikram landing site
A view looking down on the Vikram landing site (image acquired before the landing attempt), image width 87 kilometers (54 miles) [NASA/GSFC/Arizona State University].

ISRO announced that the orbiter is functional and it is scheduled to send back observations over the next year; read about the impressive array of scientific instruments on the ISRO Chandrayaan 2 webpage.

Search for the lander in this large mosaic centered on the targeted landing coordinates. Note this mosaic is quite large (28314 pixels by 57851 lines) with approximately  900 million illuminated pixels (1.25 meter pixels, 1000 meter grid, polar stereographic projection) [NASA/GSFC/Arizona State University].

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Published by Mark Robinson on 26 September 2019