India’s Vikram Lander Crash Site Found on Moon

Katie Ramirez
December 3, 2019

After nearly three months of frantic search for the Vikram lander by space scientists and space agencies from across the world, it was a techie from Chennai who found the debris of Chandrayaan-2's Vikram lander on Moon's south pole by using United States space agency Nasa images. During the mission, the Vikram lander was supposed to target a patch of high ground between two craters, called Simpelius N and Manzinus C, as it attempted a soft-landing on the lunar surface, some 600 kilometers from the south pole, but lost contact with the ground station. An image of Moon with blue and green dots show the impact point of Vikram and an associated debris field. The green dots indicate confirmed or likely spacecraft debris and blue dots show where the soil was disturbed by the impact. "S" indicates debris identified by Shanmuga Subramanian", the Nasa statement read. As per the space agency, its Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera (LROC) had released its first set of pictures of the contact site on September 26.

"Shanmuga Subramanian contacted the LRO project with positive identification of debris". The LROC team confirmed that the location does exhibit changes in images taken before and after the date of the landing.

"Vikram", named after Dr Vikram A Sarabhai, the father of the Indian Space Programme, was created to execute a soft-landing on the lunar surface, and to function for one lunar day, which is equivalent to about 14 earth days. See the first mosaic of the impact site, NASA said in a tweet. "The November mosaic had the best pixel scale (0.7 meter) and lighting conditions (72° incidence angle)", it said.

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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 three largest pieces of debris are each about 2×2 pixels and cast a one pixel shadow. The images also showed the associated debris field.

Lighting conditions had made it hard to spot the subtle changes on the moon's surface that showed where the lander broke apart on impact.

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