Chandrayaan-2's lander Vikram was performing nominally during descent until about 2 km before landing, but then suddenly the communication was lost.

Did cold temperature of the lunar south pole cause Chandrayaan-2's onboard electronics to fail?I have read that the Lunar south pole is one of the coldest places in the solar system

  • $\begingroup$ Possible duplicate of Is there any way to determine the fate of Chandrayaan-2? $\endgroup$
    – Hobbes
    Commented Sep 7, 2019 at 8:01
  • $\begingroup$ @Hobbes I don't see any answer there that answers this question. The recipe for duplicate is related to the answers, not the similarity of the question. As you can see there is nothing in that answer that addresses the actual cause. This is a yes/no question; "Did cold temperature of the lunar south pole cause Chandrayaan-2's onboard electronics to fail?" We don't know the cause yet, we don't even know if the loss of contact is permanent yet. So per Stack Exchange definition of a duplicate, this is not one. $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Commented Sep 7, 2019 at 8:04
  • $\begingroup$ When the answer to the related question becomes available (and this could be several months), it will answer this question as well. "The fundamental goal of closing duplicate questions is to help people find the right answer by getting all of those answers in one place." $\endgroup$
    – Hobbes
    Commented Sep 7, 2019 at 8:12
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ @Hobbes that sounds like Philip K. Dick's Pre-crime. You are voting to close an answer because you think that a future answer on another question will answer this one. I don't believe that's how closing works. (See also Minority Report 1, 2). You also don't know if it will be months, or days, or hours. $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Commented Sep 7, 2019 at 8:19
  • $\begingroup$ Not the same questions. One is about what resources can be used to figure out why it failed. The other is about a specific reason it may have failed. If one garners an answer, it may incidentally answer the other, but that doesn't make the questions duplicates. $\endgroup$ Commented Sep 8, 2019 at 7:29

1 Answer 1


Did the cold temperature of the lunar south pole cause Chandrayaan-2's on board electronics to fail?

tl;dr: Probably not, the spacecraft was likely in sunshine at the time, and would have also been built and insulated to withstand regular short eclipses.

Currently we don't know what happened, or if the mission is lost.

At the time of the second communications loss (the first loss of communications with the Deep Space Network was recovered per Wikipedia) the spacecraft was close to landing at 70.9°S 22.8°E which certainly would be sunlit for the landing; the Moon had already reached first quarter so this longitude will be warming up nicely.

Since the loss of contact was close, the spacecraft is likely to have been sunlit as well, and for several tens of minutes beforehand.

But I think the important point is that the spacecraft was built to work in a polar lunar orbit which regularly goes into the shadow of the Moon. So the chances that the electronics got too cold in orbit or during descent are very small.

More likely something other than "cold electronics" went wrong.


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