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‘I found a tiny dot’: Chennai techie explains how he spotted Vikram lander

Shanmuga Subramanian, the engineer from Chennai who helped locate the lander of India’s second moon mission Chandrayaan-2, has said that he spent many nights probing a picture of the impact site shared by US space agency Nasa.

Subramanian believes that the crash landing of Vikram lander made more people interested on the moon mission. “I don’t think Vikram lander would have made such an impact on minds of Indian public if it had landed successfully,” he told reporters.

The 33-year-old information technology (IT) professional said the crash landing certainly got him interested. “I got hooked and started comparing Nasa’s picture to previous ones every night for some 4-5 days,” he said.

Nasa made the announcement of the discovery on Tuesday morning and released an image taken by its Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) on November 11 showing the landing site.

Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro) attempted a soft landing of Vikram on the lunar surface on September 7 but lost contact with the Chanrayann-2 lander shortly before the scheduled touchdown.

In a statement on Tuesday, NASA said that it released a mosaic image of the lunar site on September 26 (taken on September 17) and asked people to compare images of the area before and after the crash of Vikram lander.

Shanmugham said he was interested in space missions since childhood and never missed a rocket launch.

To find the location of Vikram lander, he also went through Isro’s live images and zeroed in on 2 sq km around the landing area.

“I searched around the north of the landing spot and found a tiny little dot. When I compared it to LRO images of the site from the last 9 years, the debris was located and I reached out to NASA,” Shanmugham said.

Nasa performed additional searches in the area and went through the better lit images of the site that the acquired during its flyover on October 14 and November 11.

The official announcement by Nasa on Shanmugham’s finding came almost two months later.

“Before going public they [Nasa] need to be 100% sure so was waiting for the confirmation and eventually got it today,” Subramanian said.

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