"Got Good Response From NASA": Chennai Engineer Who Spotted Vikram Debris

Chandrayaan 2: Armed with just his laptop and an internet connection, Shanmuga Subramanian said he worked for up to seven hours every day in his Chennai apartment in his mission to locate Vikram the lander.

Shanmuga Subramanian is an engineering graduate from the Government Engineering College in Tirunelvelli

Shanmuga Subramanian, the Chennai-based engineer who has been credited by NASA after he alerted them about the presence of the debris of the lander of Chandrayaan 2, said he had alerted both the US space agency and the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). The 33-year-old mechanical engineer told NDTV that he got a good response from the scientists at NASA.

"I did send a tweet to NASA and ISRO. I sent emails to a couple of NASA scientists. They were in charge of the LRO (Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter) images. I got a good response from them," Mr Subramanian told NDTV. 

ISRO had lost contact with the lander Vikram following its launch from Chandraayan 2 moon orbiter on September 6 when it tried to make soft-landing near the moon's south pole. A successful soft-landing on the moon's surface would have made the country only the fourth - after the United States, Russia and China - to achieve the feat.

Armed with just two laptops and an internet connection, Mr Subramanian said he worked for up to seven hours every day in his Chennai apartment in his mission to locate the lander. "I narrowed my search to 2 square kilometres. I used only a laptop and searched all the images," he said.

"Is This Vikram Lander?  (1 Km From The Landing Spot) Lander Might Have Been Buried In Lunar Sand?" Mr  Subramanian had tweeted on October 3, tagging NASA and ISRO. On November 17, he tweeted more details with two images of the crash site.

NASA said it released a mosaic image of the site on September 26 (but taken on September 17), inviting the public to compare it with images of the same area before the crash to find signs of the lander.

Mr Subramaniam was first person to come up with a positive identification. He said NASA's inability to find the lander on its own had sparked his interest.

"It's quite big but it is a little sad at the same time because we all expected Vikram to land on the surface. I hope ISRO will again have a successful Chandrayaan 3 and they will be able to land on moon next time," he told NDTV.

Mr Subramanian is originally from Madurai and works in the IT sector, at a multinational firm. He is an engineering graduate from the Government Engineering College in Tirunelvelli. The space enthusiast says his discovery will inspire many amateurs.

Highlights

  • Shanmuga Subramanian, 33, alerted NASA about Chandrayaan 2 lander debris
  • He said he studied images from Chennai and spotted debris
  • ISRO had lost contact with lander Vikram after September 6 launch
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