New Delhi: On Tuesday, US space agency NASA said that it has found the crash site and debris of India’s Chandrayaan 2 Vikram moon lander. However, it was a Chennai-based engineer who led them to this crucial discovery and helped them unravel the biggest mystery in India’s space history.
In an official email, NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LROC) mission of Goddard Space Flight Centre credited Shanmuga Subramanian, a 33-year-old mechanical engineer, for alerting them about the presence of the debris of the lander of Chandrayaan 2, India’s ambitious moon mission.
In a statement, NASA said the “debris first located by Shanmuga Subramanian about 750 meters northwest of the main crash site and was a single bright pixel identification in that first mosaic.”
As it happened
On September 7, Vikram lander lost contact shortly before the scheduled attempt to soft-land on the moon. Subramanian, who works as an information technology architect, in his spare time looked through the images taken by NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) camera on September 17 and spotted a debris from Vikram.
Few days later, on October 3, Subramanian tagged the handles of NASA, its Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) and ISRO in a tweet, asking, “Is this Vikram lander?” He arrived at the conclusion after he noticed an absence of a white spot on the lunar surface in its old images.
Further, he worked hard to tracking the intended path of Vikram lander and said that NASA’s inability to find the lander on its own had sparked his interest even more.
“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.
And as fate would have it, his conclusions turned out to be true and and now NASA has lauded him for finding the lander. Though Subramanian, had contacted NASA in October only, the American space agency said that it needed to be certain of its interpretation of the observation.
In an interview with ANI, he said, ”I spent 7-8 hours each day for 4-5 days on this. This is something that can be done by anyone with right knowledge. This should inspire a lot of people”.
In his Twitter bio, Subramanian describes himself as a mechanical Engineer, blogger and a app developer. After being credited by NASA, the new updated bio says, ”I found Vikram Lander”!
Ever since ISRO lost contact with Vikram, NASA had made several attempts to locate the Chandrayaan-2 lander with the help of its Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter.
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.