'Already Done,' Says ISRO Boss On Chennai Engineer Spotting Lander Debris

Vikram Moon Lander Impact Site

NASA spots lost Vikram lunar lander’s impact site on the Moon

Nearly three months after India lost contact with Chandrayaan-2's Vikram lander, a NASA satellite orbiting the Moon has found debris of the crashed lander with the help of a Chennai engineer.

NASA released an image taken by its Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) that showed the site of the spacecraft's impact (September 6 in India and September 7 in the US) and associated debris field, with parts scattered over nearly two dozen locations spanning several kilometers.

On Tuesday, nearly three months after ISRO's Chandrayaan-2 crash landing on the moon, NASA said that it has found the debris of the Vikram Lander.

Vikram Lander was supposed to make a soft landing on the moon on September 7 but just minutes before the landing, ISRO lost contact with the Lander.

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Subramanian said that he used to analyse images released by NASA's LROC to compare moon's earlier images with the ones after Vikram had lost contact. The American space agency, which had been closely following the mission, as well as several worldwide agencies, collaborated in the Isro search for clues on the lander's whereabouts.

After receiving this tip, the LROC team confirmed the identification by comparing before and after images.

Subramanian spent many a sleepless nights over the next 45-odd days trying to locate the debris.

Having some idea about the location of the landing, he took a closer look at the particular area in the images with the help of Nasa's telemetry data. On September 17, NASA's LRO, orbiting the moon, had taken a picture of the part towards which the lander was to land.

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Also marked in the image is a piece of debris identified by Shanmuga Subramanian, an Indian computer programmer and mechanical engineer, marked as "S". "The November mosaic had the best pixel scale (0.7 meters) and lighting conditions (72° incidence angle)", read NASA's statement.

The image tweeted by NASA shows the Vikram Lander impact point and associated debris field.

The mission known as Chandrayaan-2 was to study the permanently shaded moon craters, which are believed to contain water deposits, confirmed by the Chandrayaan-1 Indian Mission in 2008.

In an email sent to Subramanian, LROC deputy project scientist John Keller apologised for the delay, saying "we needed to be certain of our interpretation of the observation as well as making sure that all stakeholders had an opportunity to comment before we could announce the results".

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