A NASA satellite has finally found ISRO's Vikram lander over two months after it crash-landed on Moon's surface. "The Chandrayaan 2 Vikram lander has been found by our @NASAMoon mission, the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter," confirmed the US space agency. The images released by NASA show the Vikram lander impact point and associated debris field. "Green dots indicate spacecraft debris. Blue dots locate disturbed soil, likely where small bits of the spacecraft churned up the regolith," the space agency said.
Interestingly, NASA has credited an amateur, an Indian computer programmer and mechanical engineer, for this amazing feat. As per the space agency, its Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera (LROC) had released the first set of pictures of the Vikram lander contact site on September 26. "...And many people have downloaded the mosaic to search for signs of Vikram. Shanmuga Subramanian contacted the LRO project with a positive identification of debris. After receiving this tip, the LROC team confirmed the identification by comparing before and after images," the agency said, crediting Shanmuga for finding debris identified as "S".
NASA further said: "The debris first located by Shanmuga 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 degree incidence angle). The November mosaic shows best the impact crater, ray and extensive debris field. The three largest pieces of debris are each about 2x2 pixels and cast a one pixel shadow.
Shanmuga Subramanian, in a tweet, said NASA had credited him for locating the Chandrayaan 2's Vikram Lander on the Moon's surface. Thanking Subramanian for an interesting observation, NASA said its LROC team confirmed that location did exhibit changes in images taken before and after the day of landing. "Using this information the LROC team did additional searches in this area and located the site of the primary impact as well as other debris around the impact location," it wrote to Subramanian.
The Chandrayaan 2's Vikram lander was targeted to land on Moon's highland smooth plain, about 600 kilometres from its the South Pole. However, India's attempt to create history by becoming the first nation to land on the South Pole had faced setback after Vikram lander lost communication just before the scheduled touchdown on September 7.
Edited by Manoj Sharma