Indian amateur helps NASA reveal fate of failed moon mission

Chandrayaan 2 NASA finds India's Vikram lander on Moon releases images

Chandrayaan 2 The image released by NASA shows the Vikram lander impact point and associated debris field

The American space agency's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera (LROC) tried to locate Vikram earlier in September as well but the light conditions were too harsh for an accurate image. This change in velocity caused the lander to "hard land" within 1,640ft of the intended site, but the impact was severe and the vehicle did not survive.

On acknowledgement of his help in finding the debris of the lander, Shan, as he calls himself, says, "I was really overwhelmed".

It approached the Moon as normal until an error occurred about 2.1km (1.3 miles) from the surface, moments before it was to touch down.

Subramanian said he sent an email about what he thought he saw to NASA on October 18 and again on November 20. The NASA team in its image also credited Subramanian for the findings.

The engineer said NASA's inability to find the lander on its own had sparked his interest.

A lot of people were looking, including Shanmuga Subramanian, an Indian computer programmer and mechanical engineer. But as on Tuesday, his bio on Twitter now reads, "I found Lander Vikram".

But when he compared the images taken by LAO in September with those taken before the scheduled landing of Chandrayaan-2 on September 7, he found a white dot and guessed that it could be Lander Vikram, considering its proximity to the planned landing site.

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. When the images for the first mosaic were acquired, the impact point was poorly illuminated and thus not easily identifiable. "Just have the images open side by side and go through pixel after pixel", he added.

Subramanian said there was burgeoning community of science enthusiasts online but efforts are needed to institutionalise it: " I would suggest Students and others to help out NASA, ISRO and other space organizations by building a good database of LRO images with features like comparison etc., now we have to compare it manually. wish someone can do more on that". "I would suggest students and others to help out NASA, ISRO and other space organisations by building a good database of LRO images with features like comparison etc.", Subramanian told IANS. But in that image, someone named Shanmuga Subramanian spotted one extraordinarily bright pixel and reached out to the LROC team, according to a NASA statement released yesterday. Two subsequent image sequences were acquired on October 14 and 15, and November 11.

The space agency released a picture showing the site of the rover's impact and the "associated debris field". "(The one on the left side was taken on July 16 and one on the right side was from September 17)", he said in a tweet accompanying the images.

The impact site is located at 70.8810AoS, 22.7840AoE, at an elevation of 834 metres.

Latest News