The US-based space agency NASA announced on December 3 that its satellite orbiting the Moon has found India’s Vikram lander which crashed on the lunar surface in September.
NASA released an image taken by it’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) showing the spacecraft’s impact site (September 6 in India and September 7 in the United States) and related debris field, with pieces spread over nearly two dozen locations spanning several kilometers.
— NASA (@NASA) December 2, 2019
In a statement, NASA said it released a mosaic image of the site on September 26, inviting people to compare it with images of the same area before the crash to find signs of the lander.
The US space agency has credited a Chennai-based Shanmuga “Shan” Subramanian, a 33-year-old IT professional, who spent hours comparing before and after images of the landing site. His Twitter bio now reads, “I found Vikram Lander!”.
— Shan (@Ramanean) December 2, 2019
Shanmuga told AFP “I had side-by-side comparison of those two images on two of my laptops… on one side there was the old image, and another side there was the new image released by NASA”. He added I was helped by fellow Twitter and Reddit users.
Shanmuga announced his discovery on Twitter on October 3 “Is this Vikram lander? (1 km from the landing spot) Lander might have been buried in Lunar sand?”
In a statement, NASA said the “debris first located by Shanmuga Subramanian about 750 meters northwest of the main crash site and was a single bright pixel identification in that first mosaic.”
Indian space agency ISRO had lost contact with the lander shortly before the scheduled attempt to soft-land on the moon on September 7.
Shortly before the planned attempt to soft-land on the moon on September 7, the lander had lost contact. Days after the failed landing, ISRO said the lander had been located, but could not establish communication.
NASA later confirmed that the Chandrayaan-2 lander had a hard landing on the lunar South Pole. The agency released pictures of the targeting landing site.
The main spacecraft, which was designed to remain in orbit around the Moon, dropped the unmanned lander Vikram for a descent on the lunar South Pole.
Vikram would take five days to come out of the spacecraft, but the research went silent just 2.1 kilometers above the surface.
Located inside the lander, Vikram and lunar rover Pragyan were scheduled to operate for one lunar day (equal to 14 Earth days) and perform a series of surface and sub-surface experiments.
(with input from agencies)