ISRO chief rejects NASA's Vikram Lander discovery claim

K Sivan says that ISRO orbiter located it first
Last Updated 04 December 2019, 12:35 IST

ISRO chief K Sivan on Wednesday denied the claim made by NASA of finding the Vikram lander, asserting that ISRO's orbiter had located it first.

ISRO chief said, "Our own orbiter had located Vikram Lander, we had already declared that on our website, you can go back and see," according to an ANI tweet.

Early Tuesday morning, NASA tweeted an image of Vikram’s impact site, captured by its Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO). The space agency credited Chennai engineer Shanmuga Subramanian for detecting the debris first, about 750 metres northwest of the main crash site.

Tracking Chandrayaan-II from its inception stage, he spent 40 hours over five days, doing a side-by-side comparison of two images – an old image of the same spot and the new image released by National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) – on two different laptops to conclude that the dot or the white spot was indeed the Vikram lander.

The image that Shans, as Shanmuga Subramanian calls himself, worked on was clicked by Nasa on September 17 and was posted on its website on September 29. From September 29 to October 3, Shans literally burnt the midnight oil to research on the white spot. The job wasn’t easy as the images released by Nasa weren’t of high resolution.

“When I zoomed in on a particular picture, I had an inkling that it could be the debris of Vikram lander. I knew the intended landing location of the lander. Taking a cue, I kept working six to eight hours a day for five days by zooming in further on the image,” Shans, a software engineer, told DH.

“Thanks to the public data that was available, I could compare the new picture with the old ones by going through block by block. Fifteen days after putting out the tweet, I wrote to NASA formally on October 18, explaining my findings with proof. After over 50 days, I received a reply on Tuesday about the findings, with Nasa crediting me for this feat,” he said.

Onboard the powerful GSLV Mark III rocket, Chandrayaan-2 was launched from Sriharikota on July 22, a week after an earlier attempt was called off due to a technical glitch. The spacecraft had performed remarkably well, meeting all the parameters before the communication breakdown with the Lander.

(Published 04 December 2019, 04:33 IST)

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