xi's moments
Home | Asia Pacific

NASA finds Indian lunar lander with help of amateur

China Daily | Updated: 2019-12-04 10:12

This screen grab taken from a live webcast by Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) on August 6, 2019 shows Vikram Lander before it is supposed to land on the Moon. [Photo/VCG]

WASHINGTON - India's Vikram lunar lander, which crashed on its final approach to the moon's surface in September, has been found, thanks in part to the sleuthing efforts of an amateur space enthusiast.

NASA made the announcement on Monday, releasing an image taken by its Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter that showed the site of the spacecraft's impact on Sept 6.

A version of the picture was marked to show the associated debris field, with parts scattered over almost two-dozen locations, spanning several kilometers.

In a statement, NASA noted that it had released a mosaic image of the site - taken on Sept 17 but issued on Sept 26 - inviting the public to compare it with images of the same area before the crash to locate signs of the lander.

The first person to come up with a positive identification was Shanmuga "Shan" Subramanian, a 33-year-old IT professional from Chennai, who said that NASA's inability to find the lander on its own had sparked his interest.

"I had side-by-side comparison of those two images on two of my laptops. ... On one side there was the old image, and another side there was the new image released by NASA," he said, adding he was helped by fellow Twitter and Reddit users.

"It was quite hard, but (I) spent some effort," said the self-professed space nerd, finally announcing his discovery on Twitter on Oct 3.

NASA then performed additional searches in the area and officially announced the finding almost two months later.

"NASA has to be 100-percent 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.

Blasting off in July, emerging Asian giant India had hoped with its Chandrayaan-2 (Moon Vehicle 2) mission to become just the fourth country after the United States, Russia and regional rival China to make a successful moon landing. It would have been the first landing on the lunar south pole.

The main Indian spacecraft, which continues to orbit around the moon, dropped the unmanned lander Vikram for a descent expected to take five days, but the probe went silent just 2.1 kilometers above the surface.

Agence France-Presse

Global Edition
Copyright 1995 - . All rights reserved. The content (including but not limited to text, photo, multimedia information, etc) published in this site belongs to China Daily Information Co (CDIC). Without written authorization from CDIC, such content shall not be republished or used in any form. Note: Browsers with 1024*768 or higher resolution are suggested for this site.
License for publishing multimedia online 0108263

Registration Number: 130349