‘ISRO Found It Earlier’: K Sivan After NASA Locates Vikram Lander

NASA said it released a mosaic image of the site, inviting the public to search it for signs of the lander.

Updated04 Dec 2019, 05:58 AM IST
2 min read

A NASA satellite orbiting the Moon has found India's Vikram lander which crashed on the lunar surface in September, news agency PTI reported, quoting the US space agency.

Meanwhile, Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) Chief K Sivan said that the ISRO had already located the Vikram lander.

“Our own orbiter had located Vikram lander, we had already declared that on our website, you can go back and see,” said Sivan, speaking to ANI.

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

NASA’s confirmation came after an Indian computer programmer and mechanical engineer named Shanmuga Subramanian contacted its project. “After receiving this tip, the LROC team confirmed the identification by comparing before and after images,” said the United States’ space agency.

“When the images for the first mosaic were acquired the impact point was poorly illuminated and thus not easily identifiable. Two subsequent image sequences were acquired on 14 October and 15 October, and 11 November.”
NASA Statement
The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) Camera team released the first mosaic, acquired on 17 September, of the site on 26 September.
Image released by NASA.
Image released by NASA.
(Photo: NASA)

After the space agency tweeted the photos from its Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO), on 3 October, Shanmuga Subramanian, a Chennai-based mechanical engineer tagged the handles of NASA, its Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) and ISRO in a tweet, asking a rather innocuous-looking question, “Is this Vikram lander?”

All it took Subramanian to reach his conclusion was absence of a white spot on the lunar surface in its old images.

As it turns out, Subramanian was spot on with his inferences, and now NASA has credited him for finding the lander.

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, and the first on the lunar south pole.

The main spacecraft, which remains in orbit around the Moon, dropped the unmanned lander Vikram for a descent that would take five days, but the probe went silent just 2.1 kilometers above the surface.

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    (Photo: NASA)
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    (Photo: NASA)

Days after the failed landing, the Indian Space Research Organization said it had located the lander, but hadn't been able to establish communication.

(With inputs from PTI)

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Published: 03 Dec 2019, 12:59 AM IST

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