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Thursday 4 June 2020

Shanmuga Subramanian of Chennai locates Vikram for NASA

The debris first located by Shanmuga is about 750 m NW of the main crash site and was a single bright pixel identification: NASA

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It was after an Indian space enthusiast observed photographs of the moon from a US orbiting camera and informed NASA about what appeared to him like Lander Vikram of Chandrayaan 2, the US space agency said that it had found the crash site and debris of the Indian moon craft. The space enthusiast was Shanmuga Subramaniam from Chennai, who had downloaded the photographs from the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbital Camera (LROC).

This was confirmed by NASA and Arizona State University on Monday. Subramaniam discovered the wreck that scientists were looking for and he helped the scientists find the place where the Vikram Lander had crashed.

The US space agency NASA announced on Tuesday that the debris of Vikram Lander had been found and a picture of the place where the crash occurred had been released. NASA said in a statement, “The debris first located by Shanmuga is about 750 m northwest of the main crash site and was a single bright pixel identification in that first mosaic (1.3 m pixels, 84° incidence angle).”

NASA image read by Chennai space enthusiast Shanmuga Subramanian
NASA image read by Chennai space enthusiast Shanmuga Subramanian

Recognising the contribution of the Chennai man, NASA described the images thus: “Blue dots locate disturbed soil, likely where small bits of the spacecraft churned up the regolith. “S” indicates debris identified by Shanmuga Subramanian. This portion of the Narrow-Angle Camera mosaic was made from images M1328074531L/R and M1328081572L/R acquired Nov. 11.”

Explaining how the detection happened, NASA said, “Shanmuga Subramanian contacted the LRO project with a positive (sic) identification of debris. After receiving this tip, the LROC team confirmed the identification by comparing before and after images.”

Subramanian told the media, “I worked hard to find a possible route for Vikram Lander. I am very happy. I have always been fond of space science. I have never missed a launch.”

NASA said that the first blurry picture could be of the accident site which was made from the photographs taken by LROC on 17 September. Many people downloaded this picture to know about Vikram. NASA said one of them, Shanmuga Subramaniam, approached the LROC project with positive identification of the debris. LROC is located at Arizona State University (ASU).

ASU said, “After getting this information, the LROC team compared the ‘before and after’ photos and confirmed the identity.” The university said when photographs were taken for the first mosaic on 17 September, the accident site looked very blurred and could not be easily identified. But on 14-15 October and 11 November, the two sequences of pictures taken were better.

The university said that on the information given by Shanmuga Subramanian, the LROC team searched the surrounding area in the new Mojikes and looked at the location of the accident and debris. The university said that the accident site is located at 70.8810° S, 22.7840° E, 834 m altitude. ASU said, “Shanmuga first saw the debris 750 m north-west of the main crash site.”

On 6 September, Lander Vikram had lost contact with the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) station while attempting to do a soft-landing at the south pole of the moon after separation from the orbiter of Chandrayaan 2.

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