Nasa satellite finds debris of Chandrayaan-2 lander Vikram, releases pics

Impact point of the lander is near the center of the image and stands out due the dark rays and bright outer halo. Note the dark streak and debris about 100 meters to the SSE of the impact point

After nearly three months of frantic search for the Vikram lander by scientists from across the world, it was finally a 33-year-old techie from Chennai who found the debris of Chandrayaan-2's lander on Moon by using Nasa's lunar images.

Speaking to ThePrint, Shanmuga Subramanian said after NASA released the first image, he found the expected coordinates on ISRO's live stream of the attempted soft landing and social news aggregation platform Reddit.

In its statement, NASA said: "Shanmuga Subramanian contacted the LRO project with positive identification of debris". The Chennai-based technologist discovered debris about 750 m from the main crash site of the lander and informed NASA from whom he got a "good response" said the engineer. The agency had asked that people compare the new image with past images of the same area before the crash to find signs of the lander.

"The crash landing of Vikram rekindled an interest in the moon not only for me and others also", he wrote in an email.

Though he was reading up and following updates on the mission from space scientists and enthusiasts across the globe, his curiosity peaked when NASA released images from its Lunar Renaissance Orbiter (LRO) that flew over the area of Vikram Lander's landing. On Monday, Subramanian said he received a message from NASA confirming his discovery. The space organisation said the lander's descent was normal until two kilometres from the lunar surface. "It was worth it", Subramanian said.

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The sleepless nights over the last one-and-a-half months, or about 45 days, appeared to pay off early on Tuesday morning when NASA tweeted confirmation about finding the pieces of the spacecraft Vikram Lander and credited the Chennai engineer for the find.

"I am insane about rockets from my childhood and never missed a rocket launch to watch on TV until I reached college", he said. "I was able to find something out of ordinary over there and I sent out a mail to Nasa", he said.

In late September, pictures from a Nasa spacecraft had showed the targeted landing site of the Vikram rover. On September 10, ISRO had announced that it had located the Lander but no communication has been estabished yet.

Subramanian told AFP that he did a side-by-side comparison of the before and after impact of Vikram lander using two of his laptops. Newly released images show the impact crater itself, dark ejecta rays and light lines marking the debris field.

Chandrayaan-2, a follow-on mission to the Chandrayaan-1 mission undertaken more than a decade ago, was one of the country's attempts to conquer the moon.

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