Our own orbiter located Vikram lander first: ISRO chief Sivan

Chennai: ISRO chief K Sivan has rejected NASA’s claims that they have located the debris of the crashed Vikram lander on the lunar surface and said the Indian Space Research Organisation had located it long back.

Sivan has said, ”Our own orbiter had located Vikram lander. We had already declared that on our website, you can go back and see.”

On Tuesday, NASA released an image taken by its Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) that showed the site of the spacecraft’s impact (6 September in India and 7 September in the US) and associated debris field, with parts scattered over almost two dozen locations spanning several kilometres.

In a statement, NASA said it released a mosaic image of the site on 26 September, inviting the public to search it for signs of the lander. It added that a person named Shanmuga Subramanian contacted the LRO project with a positive identification of debris with the first piece found about 750 meters northwest of the main crash site.

NASA said the debris, as located by space enthusiast Subramanian, is about 750 metres northwest of the main crash site where Vikram made a hard landing on 7 September.

ISRO’s Chandrayaan 2 mission was expected to make a soft landing on the Moon’s surface when it lost contact with the Vikram lander ahead of the scheduled touchdown.

Three days after Vikram lander crashed on the lunar surface, on 10 September, ISRO had tweeted, ”Vikram Lander has been located by the orbiter of Chandrayaan 2, but no communication with it yet. All possible efforts are being made to establish communication with lander.”

NASA said it was able to locate the debris after a tip-off by Shanmuga Subramanian, a 33-year-old mechanical engineer and app developer from Chennai.

NASA’s LROC had captured imaged of the landing site during a fly-by. The space agency said it couldn’t locate the lander based on the image due to the large shadows that covered the area.

NT Bureau