Back in September of this year, the news was filled with stories of the crashed Indian Moon lander Vikram. People around the world held their breath as space agencies looked for the lander on the Moon.
Then on September 8, 2019, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) revealed it had found its lander. "We've got the image of Vikram on the lunar surface from our orbiter. We are analyzing the data," ISRO Chairman K. Sivan told The Times of India.
A NASA spotting
Now, it seems even NASA has spotted the lost lander. On Monday, the agency released an image taken by its Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) that showed the site of the spacecraft's impact and its associated debris field.
NASA had already released a mosaic image of the site on September 26 and sought help from the public. 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 first person to spot the relevant signs was Shanmuga "Shan" Subramanian, a 33-year-old IT professional from Chennai. "Subramanian contacted the LRO project with a positive identification of debris. After receiving this tip, the LROC team confirmed the identification by comparing before and after images," said NASA's statement.
NASA revealed that images for the first mosaic were poorly illuminated. It was in image sequences acquired on October 14 and 15, and November 11 that the impact site could more easily be identified.
"The LROC team scoured the surrounding area in these new mosaics and found the impact site (70.8810°S, 22.7840°E, 834 m elevation) and associated debris field. The November mosaic had the best pixel scale (0.7 meters) and lighting conditions (72° incidence angle)," read NASA's statement.
NASA was also keen to point out that the ISRO's mission was still a success. "Despite the loss, getting that close to the surface was an amazing achievement," said the space agency.