Images of the lunar surface just released by NASA confirm that the Indian lunar lander turn on debris on crashlanding on September 7. Its debris was strewn across at least 750 metres of the crash site .
The U.S. space agency also credited Indian engineer Shanmuga Subramanian with first finding the debris from the Chandrayaan-2 mission’s lander.
In the images, NASA’s team tentatively identifies about 20 points with debris and a few spots where the lunar ‘soil’ or regolith was disturbed on its impact. Vikram also had a rover within.
NASA has located crash site of Vikram Lander with the help of Chennai techie Shanmugha Subramaniam who has relentlessly scoured the surface of the moon in his spare time.
The American space agency has acknowledged the contribution of the amatuer in a statement.
The Chandrayaan 2 Vikram lander was targeted for a highland smooth plain about 600 kilometers from the south pole; unfortunately the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) lost contact with their lander shortly before the scheduled touchdown (Sept. 7 in India, Sept. 6 in the United States). Despite the loss, getting that close to the surface was an amazing achievement.
The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera team released the first mosaic (acquired Sept. 17) of the site on Sept. 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. When the images for the first mosaic were acquired the impact point was poorly illuminated and thus not easily identifiable.
Two subsequent reputation sequences were acquired on Oct. 14 and 15, and Nov. 11. The LROC team scoured the surrounding area in these new mosaics and found the impact site (70.8810°S, 22.7840°E, 834 m elevation) and associated debris field. The November mosaic had the best pixel scale (0.7 meter) and lighting conditions (72° incidence angle).”
NASA has added “The debris first located by Shanmuga is about 750 meters northwest of the main crash site and was a single bright pixel identification in that first mosaic (1.3 meter pixels, 84° incidence angle). The November mosaic shows best the impact crater, ray and extensive debris field. The three largest pieces of debris are each about 2×2 pixels and cast a one pixel shadow.”