NASA orbiter spots crash site of Indian lunar lander

WASHINGTON — NASA, with the assistance of an amateur image analyst, has identified the crash site of India’s Vikram lunar lander, the agency announced Dec. 2. NASA released images taken by the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) showing the impact site and resulting debris field from Vikram, which attempted to make a soft landing in the south polar regions of the moon nearly three month ago as part of India’s Chandrayaan-2 mission. Contact was lost with the lander during its final phases of descent, about two kilometers above the surface. LRO first imaged the landing site Sept. 17, but the poor lighting of the area made it difficult to identify where the spacecraft had come down. The project released the full images, allowing others to examine them. Among them was an Indian amateur image analyst, Shanmuga Subramanian, who spotted what appeared to be a piece of debris about one kilometer from the expected landing location. He alerted the project, which confirmed the discovery. Follow-up images taken in mid-October and again Nov. 11 identified the impact site, about 750 meters away from that initial piece of debris, as well as other debris. The images confirm what had long been expected: that Vikram crashed while attempting to land. The Indian space agency ISRO has remained tight-lipped about the lander’s fate since losing contact, failing to even confirm that it had crashed. ISRO claimed in a Sept. 10 statement that Vikram “has been located by the orbiter of Chandrayaan-2,” but never released any images or other data to substantiate that finding. S. Somanath, director of ISRO’s Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre, said during an Oct. 21 interview at the International Astronautical Congress in Washington that ISRO was holding off on making a formal announcement about the lander’s fate until engineers completed simulations of what happened to it after contact was cut off. However, he acknowledged then that it likely landed at a speed “beyond its survivability.” In a written response to questions Nov. 20 to the Lok Sabha, the lower house of India’s Parliament, Jitendra Singh, minister of state for the Department of Space, said that the Vikram lander “hard landed” on the moon half a kilometer from its projected landing site because of a problem with the lander’s braking thrusters. The problem, Singh said in the statement, took place after the thrusters completed the first phase of the lander’s descent as expected. “During the second phase of descent, the reduction in velocity was more than the designed value,” he said. “Due to this deviation, the initial conditions at the start of the fine braking phase were beyond the designed parameters.” The statement, though, didn’t elaborate on the cause of the “deviation,” and didn’t explicitly state that it crashed. ISRO hasn’t provided additional details since that statement. Singh emphasized that despite the problems with the Vikram lander, the Chandrayaan-2 orbiter was working well, and should be able to operate for seven years. He stated that the total cost of the mission, including its launch on a GSLV Mark 3 rocket, was 9.7 billion rupees ($135 million). ( More More

Similar stories

When ISRO Isn't Enough, There's Another Place You Can Go to Find Out More - The Wire

When ISRO Isn't Enough, There's Another Place You Can Go to Find Out More  The Wire

Posted on 5 December 2019 | 10:33 pm | Google News

India's Space Chief: We Found Our Lander Months Before NASA - Futurism

India's Space Chief: We Found Our Lander Months Before NASA  Futurism

Posted on 5 December 2019 | 11:35 am | Google News

NASA locates debris from India moon lander that crashed - Morning Call

  1. NASA locates debris from India moon lander that crashed  Morning Call
  2. Not so fast, NASA! India says it knew where its Moon lander crashed months ago  BGR
  3. Amateur astronomer finds crashed lunar lander site on moon  9News
  4. NASA shock: Tensions erupt with India over Vikram Lander crash site on the Moon
  5. NASA finds wreckage of lost Indian lunar lander on the moon  SOFREP
  6. View full coverage on Google News

Posted on 5 December 2019 | 6:22 am | Google News

Today's Tidbits: December 3, 2019 -

Today's Tidbits: December 3, 2019

Posted on 3 December 2019 | 7:25 pm | Google News

Axios Space - December 3, 2019 - Axios

Axios Space - December 3, 2019  Axios

Posted on 3 December 2019 | 1:02 pm | Google News

NASA finds debris of India's lost lunar lander - Mother Nature Network

NASA finds debris of India's lost lunar lander  Mother Nature Network

Posted on 3 December 2019 | 7:31 am | Google News

Copyright © 2019 | Contact info