Debris from India’s doomed spacecraft that crashed into the moon in September has been found by NASA.
The US space agency unveiled a photo today showing the site of the $216 million lander’s impact and the debris field, crediting an Indian engineer for helping locate the site.
The engineer, Shanmuga Subramanian, said he examined an earlier NASA photo to locate the debris.
The space agency said in a statement that Mr Subramanian first located the debris about 750 metres northwest of the main crash site.
NASA has found debris from India’s doomed lunar lander after a tip-off from a mechanical engineer. Picture: AP Photo/Aijaz Rahi, FileSource:AP
“It took days of work to find the crash site,” Mr Subramanian said.
“I searched around the north of the landing spot and found a small little dot.
“When I compared it to the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter images of the site from the last nine years, I located the debris and reached out to NASA.”
The 33-year-old engineer announced his discovery on Twitter on October 3.
Is this Vikram lander? (1 km from the landing spot) Lander might have been buried in Lunar sand? @LRO_NASA@NASA@isro#Chandrayaan2#vikramlanderfound#VikramLanderpic.twitter.com/FTj9G6au9x— Shan (@Ramanean) October 3, 2019
NASA then performed additional searches in the area and made an official announcement on December 3.
The space agency said that after receiving Mr Subramanian’s findings, its team “confirmed the identification” by comparing before and after images.
Despite the loss, getting that close to the surface was an amazing achievement, NASA said.
The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) lost touch with the Vikram lunar lander after it crash-landed during its final approach in early September.
The Vikram lander was supposed to be India’s first landing on the moon. Instead the module crashed into the surface. Picture: ISRO/AFPSource:AFP
It was approaching the moon’s south pole to deploy a rover to search for signs of water.
Moments before the Chandrayaan-2’s Vikram craft was due to touch down the computer screen appeared to freeze.
K Sivan, chairman of ISRO, said: “Communications from lander to ground station was lost. The data is being analysed.”
A successful landing would have made India just the fourth country to land a vessel on the lunar surface and only the third to operate a robotic rover there.
NASA has promised to land astronauts on the moon for the first time in 50 years by 2024.
It has named the program Artemis after Apollo’s twin sister in Greek mythology and promises the first moonwalking team will include a woman.
This article originally appeared on The Sun and was reproduced with permission