An Indian Engineer Helps NASA Find Debris of Chandrayaan-2

NASA claims that one of its satellites has spotted the debris of India’s Moon rover, which crashed on the lunar surface in September. The Space Agency released a picture showing the site of the Rover’s impact and its associated field.

NASA has acknowledged the work of an Indian engineer, Shanmuga Subramanian, in helping to locate the site of the debris. Subramanian examined a NASA picture ‘pixel by pixel’ and spotted the first debris-about 750m from the crash site.

“The Crash”

Chandrayaan-2 (Moon vehicle-2) was supposed to touch down at the lunar South Pole on the 7th of September, over a month after it first took off. Everything was going according to the plan until an error occurred about 2.1km (1.3 miles) before the touchdown.

The rover lost contact and had a “hard landing” about 600km (370 miles) from the South Pole in a “relatively ancient terrain”.

How did they locate the site?

NASA released a mosaic image, announcing that they have located the Vikram Lander. According to a statement by the space agency, many people downloaded the image released by NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera (LROC) team.

The agency said that after receiving Subramanian’s tip about the location of the debris, the LROC team compared before and after images, confirming the debris from Chandrayaan-2.

NASA sent an email to Subramanian congratulating him for his efforts. Later he tweeted the mail saying “NASA has credited me for finding the Vikram Lander on moon’s surface”.

“The Mission”

Chandrayaan-2 was the most complex mission ever attempted by the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO).

After the launch, ISRO’s chief K Sivan had stated that it is the beginning of a historical journey. The Lander carried a 27kg (59lbs) rover named ‘Pragyan’ (meaning wisdom in Sanskrit) with instruments to analyze the lunar soil.

The rover could travel 500m from the Lander in its 14-day life span and would have sent data and images back to the Earth for analysis. The mission would have concentrated on the lunar surface, searching for water and minerals and measuring moonquakes, among other things.

Even if the mission was not successful, it was a matter of national pride. The mission also made global headlines because it was so cheap – the budget for Avengers: Endgame was more than double at an estimated cost of $356m.

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