NEW DELHI :
Ever since ISRO lost contact with Chandrayaan 2's lander Vikram on the surface of the moon, NASA had been trying to locate its debris without any success till an Indian engineer helped out the US space agency. A computer programmer by profession, Chennai-based space enthusiast Shanmuga Subramanian tipped off NASA by scanning images from NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbital (LRO) Camera that the US space agency had released to the public.
"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," NASA said in a statement.
The Vikram moonlander debris first located by Subramanian is about 750 meters northwest of the main crash site.
"It was something challenging as even NASA can't find out so why can't we try out? And that's the thought that led me to search for Vikram lander," Subramanian told IANS.
LRO Project Scientist Noah Petro said: "The story of this really amazing individual (who) found it, helped us find it, is really awesome."
He said that Subramanian "is totally indpendent of the LRO, totally independent of the Chandraayan 2 team, just someone who is very interested in the Chandraayan 2 mission (who) used our data and identified a spot where there was a change that we had not identified".
"He went through the image, looking pixel by pixel and found that spot," Petro added.
The first mosaic image of the likely crash site made from pictures taken by the LROC on September 17 was downloaded by several people to look for signs of the Vikram, NASA said.
The ambitious Chandrayaan-2 mission to the Moon was launched in July. If the spacecraft had reached the surface in one piece on September 7, India would have been only the fourth country to successfully put a lander on the Moon.