NASA finds Chandrayaan-2’s Vikram Lander on moon’s surface

The NASA on Tuesday found Chandrayaan-2’s Vikram Lander on the surface of the Moon and released the images of its impact site on the lunar surface. In September 2019, the lander had lost communication with the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) moments before its scheduled soft-landing. The NASA posted images clicked by its Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) Camera, showing the site`s changes on the Moon and the impact point before and after the spacecraft had made a hard-landing on the lunar surface. It also showed the impact spot of the lander and an associated debris field created by the crash with blue and green dots respectively.

“Green dots indicate spacecraft debris (confirmed or likely). Blue dots locate disturbed soil, likely where small bits of the spacecraft churned up the regolith. “S” indicates debris identified by Shanmuga Subramanian,” read a statement. “Shanmuga Subramanian contacted the LRO project with positive identification of debris. After receiving this tip, the LROC team confirmed the identification by comparing before and after images,” it added.”

Vikram Lander

Vikram Lander was just 2.1 kilometres above the lunar surface when it lost contact with ISRO, throwing a pall of gloom over the Indian space agency. After the hard-landing of Vikram Lander on the lunar surface, the ISRO had expressed hopes that they have at least 14 days to establish contact with it.

The Chandrayaan 2 Vikram lander was targeted for a highland smooth plain about 600 kilometres from the south pole but the ISRO lost contact with their lander shortly before the scheduled touchdown (September 7). Shanmuga Subramanian contacted the LRO project with positive identification of debris. After receiving this tip, the LROC team confirmed the identification by comparing before and after images.

The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera team released the first mosaic (acquired September17) of the site on September 26 and many people have downloaded the mosaic to search for signs of Vikram. When the images for the first mosaic were acquired the impact point was poorly illuminated and thus not easily identifiable. Two subsequent image sequences were acquired on October 14 and 15, and Novemebr 11. The LROC team scoured the surrounding area in these new mosaics and found the impact site and associated debris field. The November mosaic had the best pixel scale (0.7 meter) and lighting conditions (72° incidence angle).

The debris first located by Shanmuga is about 750 meters northwest of the main crash site and was a single bright pixel identification in that first mosaic (1.3 meter pixels, 84° incidence angle). The November mosaic shows best the impact crater, ray and extensive debris field. The three largest pieces of debris are each about 2×2 pixels and cast a one pixel shadow.

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