The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has released an overdue update on the Chandrayaan 2 orbiter. All the eight payloads on the orbiter are powered, and initial trials run on them have been successful, with all payload systems ready to get busy.
"Payloads of the orbiter are operational, have started sending images and scientists have to go through them," said Dr K Sivan, Chairman of ISRO to the Times of India.
Among the eight instruments on the orbiter are capabilities to make 3-D maps of the lunar surface, and identify traces of water ice and minerals.
The orbiter's camera and radar instruments are similar to those on Chandrayaan 1. The Terrain Mapping Camera-2 (TMC-2) will map the lunar surface and help prepare 3-D maps of its surface. The Miniature Synthetic Aperture Radar (mini-SAR) on Chandrayaan 1 was developed by NASA, and has been revamped in the Chandrayaan 2 orbiter to map the surface, study water-ice in the South Pole and the thickness of the regolith (moon sand) on the surface.
As the window to re-establish communication with the Vikram lander nears, NASA's active Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) satellite has captured a series of images of the region the failed soft-landing attempt was made. The LRO's images from a flyby on 17 September are currently being validated, analyzed and reviewed.
This won't be the last time the LRO spots Vikram. It is scheduled to make another flyby on 14 October. However, the fate of the Vikram lander might be sealed by the then, since it will be in the midst of a 14-day lunar night where the South Pole will be blanketed by freezing temperatures of upto -240 degrees Celsius. At temperatures this extreme, there's a strong possibility of the instruments on the lander and rover getting damaged.