New Delhi: Spotting images of debris and disturbed soil captured from the Moon’s surface recently, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) on Tuesday confirmed that Indian lunar lander ‘Vikram’ deployed in India’s Chandrayaan Mission 2 in early September crashed down into several pieces after losing its communication from Indian Space and Research Organisation (ISRO) ahead of its scheduled landing.
In a moment of pride for Indians, NASA has credited a Chennai-based Indian engineer, Shanmuga Subramanian for first finding the debris of Chandrayaan 2’s lander in the lunar surface.
In a statement released recently, NASA stated that the ‘debris’ first located by Subramanian is about 750 metres northwest of the main crash site and was a single bright pixel identification in that first mosaic (1.3-meter pixels, 84° incidence angle). Examining the images, the expert team from NASA tentatively identified about 20 points with debris and a few spots where the lunar ‘soil’ or regolith was disturbed on its impact.
In its statement, NASA further informed that 33-year old Subramanian contacted the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter project with positive identification of debris. After receiving the tip, the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera (LROC) team confirmed the identification comparing the captured before-and-after images. When the images for the first mosaic were acquired the impact point was poorly illuminated and thus not easily identifiable. Two subsequent image sequences were acquired on October 14 and 15 and from November 11. The LROC team scoured the surrounding area in these new mosaics and found the impact site and associated debris field.
However, there has been no official statement made by ISRO about the spotting of the Vikram lander’s crash site.
Earlier on September 7 this year, Vikram lander of India’s Chandrayaan 2 with a rover inside it named as ‘Pragyan’, lost its communication from ISRO’s ground control room just three minutes ahead of its scheduled touchdown on the lunar surface after completing a 16-day promising journey that started on July 22.
Since then, several space experts and amateur teams have been piecing together bits of all findings to know how and where Vikram lander crashed while ISRO providing sketchy information and shied away from sharing the details.