NEW DELHI :
Over two months after India lost contact with Chandrayaan-2's Lander, the US Space agency has found its impact site and the potential debris on the moon.
Sharing images of the impact site on the lunar surface, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) said the Lander Vikram has been found by its moon orbiter - Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LAO). The images shows the Vikram Lander impact point and associated debris field.
However, this was only achieved after an Indian computer programmer, Shanmuga Subramanian who studied the mosaic images released by NASA on September 26 and contacted the agency.
In the images, green dots indicate the possible debris of the spacecraft and blue dots locate the disturbed soil, likely where small bits of the spacecraft churned up the regolith, or the moon's surface.
"S" indicates debris identified by Shanmuga Subramanian.
The first mosaic images of the site were acquired by LAO on September 17 and released on Sep 26. Many scientists around the world downloaded these images, some of them to search for Lander Vikram.
Shanmuga Subramanian, an Indian computer programmer contacted the LRO project with a potential identification of debris, which was later confirmed by the NASA team when they compared the before and after images of the site.
While the first 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 Oct. 14 and 15, and Nov. 11. The final findings emerged from the images acquired on November 11.
The NASA team scoured the surrounding area in these new mosaics and found the impact site and associated debris field. The debris first located by Shanmuga is about 750 meters northwest of the main crash site and confirms Isro's attempt to land near the south pole of the moon.
The November mosaic shows best the impact crater, ray and extensive debris field. The three largest pieces of debris are each about 2x2 pixels and cast a one pixel shadow.
Vikram Lander was part of India's second mission to the moon, Chandrayaan alongwith an orbiter and a Rover Pragyan. It was targeted to land about 600 kilometers from the south pole, however the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) lost contact with it, minutes before the scheduled touchdown during the wee hours of September 7.
Despite the loss, NASA said India getting that close to the moon's surface was an amazing achievement. If successful, India would have become only the fourth country to make a soft landing on the moon after US, Russia and China.