CHENNAI Indian amateur space scientist Shanmuga Subramanian beat both NASA and Isro in locating Chandrayaan-2's elusive Vikram lander by scouring through the images from the United States space agency's Moon orbiting spacecraft called Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO).
The 33-year-old engineer posted on Twitter that Nasa has credited him with finding the Vikram debris on the lunar surface as his conclusions from Nasa images helped the U.S. space agency to spot the exact location of the lander that reportedly broke into several pieces on crashlanding.
Subramanian, a mechanical engineer and app developer, found the debris field while meticulously surveying a photograph taken by NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera (LROC) a few days after the crash.
The lander Vikram was scheduled to soft-land on the far side of the Moon on September 7 but all communication with it was lost minutes before its landing. NASA released a statement saying the Vikram Lander has been found on the lunar surface. The American space agency, which had been closely following the mission, as well as several global agencies, collaborated in the Isro search for clues on the lander's whereabouts.
The space agency said that, after receiving Mr Subramanian's findings, its team "confirmed the identification by comparing before and after images". Subramanian said he studied the images, pixel by pixel, taken by NASA's LRO, monitoring them on two computers every night from the end of September to October 3. "I feel happy I could find the debris". A version of the picture mosaic picture, one marked up to show the debris field generated by the crash, was released with the announcement. The three largest pieces of debris are each about 2×2 pixels and cast a one-pixel shadow.
"I just located the debris of the lander". He tweeted about it and informed Isro and Nasa. "(1 km from the landing spot) Lander might have been buried in Lunar sand?". The exact location of the debris remained a mystery until Monday, when NASA released images showing the main crash site as well as scattered wreckage. "Congratulations for what i am sure was a lot of time and effort on your part", said the scientist in his letter to Subramanian who shared it on Twitter.
Chandrayaan-2 mission to the Moon launched in July.