Did you lose this? NASA spots wreckage from India’s Vikram lunar lander

Pablo Tucker
January 5, 2020

The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera team released the first mosaic (acquired September 17) of the site on September 26 and many people downloaded the mosaic to search for signs of the Vikram lander.

"Currently we have to compare it manually (and I) wish someone can do more on that, with NASA's scientists time-crunched for their Moon missions", he added.

Replying to their old tweet of congratulating ISRO for the Chandrayan 2 take off, they wrote, "Could the #NASA team that found #VikramLander also help us find the cricket balls hit by ABD & Virat?"

The crash of the Vikram lander was a blow to ISRO's Chandrayaan-2 mission, but it wasn't the only machine that made the trip to the Moon.


NASA checked Subramanian's findings by performing additional scans of the area and officially announced the news on Monday, some two months later.

LRO first imaged the landing site September 17, but the poor lighting of the area made it hard to identify where the spacecraft had come down.

On September 2, "Vikram" successfully separated from the orbiter, following which two de-orbiting manoeuvres were performed to bring the lander closer to the Moon. "The LROC team confirmed that the location does exhibit changes in images taken before and after the date of the landing", said deputy project scientist Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter mission John Keller.

"Vikram lander has been located by the orbiter of Chandrayaan-2, but no communication with it yet".


But it was Shanmuga Subramanian, a mechanical engineer who works in IT in Chennai, India's east, who had discovered the crash site after combing through images of the Moon taken in September.

The lunar lander was part of India's unmanned Chandrayaan-2 mission and was meant to search for signs of water on the moon. "We keep the rover alive through transit and landing so it can go do its job". "I would again scan the photos till 8 am", he said.

However, NASA was helped in this endeavour by a young amateur space enthusiast from India. During the mission, the Vikram lander was supposed to target a patch of high ground between two craters, called Simpelius N and Manzinus C, as it attempted a soft-landing on the lunar surface, some 600 kilometers from the south pole, but lost contact with the ground station.

A successful landing would have made India just the fourth country to land a vessel on the lunar surface, and only the third to operate a robotic rover there.


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