Published: Tue, December 03, 2019
Sci-tech | By Patricia Wade

NASA finds Chandrayaan - 2's Vikram lander debris on Moon, tweets pic

NASA finds Chandrayaan - 2's Vikram lander debris on Moon, tweets pic

It takes a special set of eyes and dedication to find what is left of a spacecraft that was originally the size of a minivan, parked some 384,400 kilometres (238,855 miles) away.

Nasa, the only space agency to put a man on the Moon and a growing partner and mentor for the ISRO had said, "Despite the loss (of Vikram lander), getting that close to the surface was an incredible achievement".

NASA released an image taken by its Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) that showed the site of the spacecraft's impact (September 6 in India and September 7 in the US) and associated debris field, with parts scattered over nearly two dozen locations spanning several kilometers.

Premier US space agency Nasa announced on Monday it had found the Chandrayaan-2 moon lander Vikram not far from where it was supposed to land in September, based on a tip from an Indian engineer and blogger.

During its orbits the LRO had routinely flown over the presumed crash site on September 17, October 14 and November 11. But despite having acquired the images, the lander's location remained a mystery.

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The US's space agency's space craft orbiting the Moon has located Vikram and the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera team released the first images of it.

NASA released another processed image that makes the site easier to spot. While the exact number of downloads is unknown, according to NASA, the images were studied by many across the globe, including Subramanian. Finally it was authenticated and NASA's deputy project scientist scientist (LRO) John Keller wrote to him.

The image shows the Vikram lander's impact (confirmed or likely debris, in green dots), as well as places where the surface was disturbed - where small flyaway bits of the lander might have moved some of the regolith (soil-like material covering the moon's surface). It said many people, including Shanmuga Subramanian, were searching for the lander, which had lost contact with the ISRO.

The lander and the rover it had on board may have met a sad fate, but the Chandrayaan-2 orbiter is still in operation and is busy studying the moon in detail from above.

"NASA has to be 100% sure before they can go public, and that's the reason they waited to confirm it, and even I would have done the same", said Subramanian.

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