Saturday, 06 June, 2020

Chandrayaan 2: NASA Finds Vikram Lander's Debris, Shares Images

Chandrayaan 2: NASA Finds Vikram Lander's Debris, Shares Images Chandrayaan 2: NASA Finds Vikram Lander's Debris, Shares Images
Cary Erickson | 03 December, 2019, 21:28

American Space Agency NASA has credited Chennai-based engineer and space science enthusiast Shanmuga Subramanian for a tip-off that led to the discovery of ISRO's moonlander Vikram, which crashed into the surface of the moon in the last stages of a complex manoeuvre in September this year.

NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter had been on the hunt for the lander, but initially failed to spot it in the shadowy surface images captured during flybys.

In its own post on the topic shared today, NASA presented a few images that show the lander's impact site on the Moon, as well as the debris field surrounding it.

During the random searches at his spare time, Shanmuga noticed a white speck around the Moon touchdown site pictures released by NASA.

The space agency explained that the debris first spotted by Subramanian is about 2,461 feet (750 meters) northwest of the main crash site. "This portion of the Narrow-Angle Camera mosaic was made from images M1328074531L/R and M1328081572L/R acquired November 11", said a statement from NASA. "I got confirmation from Nasa today", Subramanian told ANI here.

Following news of Shanmuga's achievement, industrialist Anand Mahindra took to Twitter to praise his efforts and intellectual capabilities.

"The crash landing of Vikram made more people interested in it and it also got eventually hooked me, which lead to me searching NASA's pic for almost some 4-5 hours every night".

Several attempts have been made to discover Vikram lander after the ISRO lost touch with the lander shortly before its scheduled landing on September 7.

He looked for it on the images from NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbital (LRO) Camera that the U.S. space agency had released to the public.

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The largest chunks of debris are a pair of green dots, each around 2x2 pixels in size, which cast a one-pixel shadow on the moon's surface, NASA added.

A day later, the ISRO said it had been a "hard landing".

NASA said that, while the mission resulted in the loss of Vikram, "getting that close to the surface was an unbelievable achievement". He even pointed out to the American space scientists that Vikram would only be visible as a dot since the new image was 1.25m per pixel.

In its statement, NASA said: "Shanmuga Subramanian contacted the LRO project with positive identification of debris".

Vikram was supposed to land on a high plain between two craters, Manzinus C and Simpelius N, which are around 70° south. The crash was apparently due to a problem with its braking thrusters, although the Chandrayaan-2 spacecraft that released it is still operational and orbiting the moon, collecting data.

The spacecraft carrying the Vikram lander launched from Sriharikota in southern India on July 22.

When the images for the first mosaic were acquired on September 17, the impact point was poorly illuminated and could not easily identify it, ASU said.

That tipoff, plus images with better lighting and resolution taken in mid-October and on November 11, gave LROC specialists the details they needed to map the full scope of the surface changes caused by the hard landing.