Are they Vikram debris? ISRO advisor questions NASA’s claim of locating lunar lander

Senior advisor says ‘discovery’ defies common sense as crash site will resemble a crater 

Published: 04th December 2019 08:41 AM  |   Last Updated: 04th December 2019 11:37 AM   |  A+A-

Techie Shanmuga Subramanian | Ashwin Prasath

Express News Service

CHENNAI: ISRO senior advisor Tapan Mishra has made sharp observations questioning NASA’s claim of locating the Vikram lander debris. In a Facebook post, Mishra sarcastically said that the ‘discovery’ defied common sense. “The lander with partially burnt fuel must have had a mass of 700-800 kg, similar to that of a sedan car or a small aircraft. And as per ISRO data, it was travelling at a speed of 534 km per second, speed of a jet aircraft.

With this impact like jet crash on lunar regolith, a very fine dust of 0.5m to 5-6m thick covering of lunar surface, I expected a great upheaval in the first impact site, spreading around 10m or more across. Almost like a small crater or dent. In fact the dust or debris could jump up much more than on earth, as lunar gravity is one sixth of that of earth. But surprisingly not a single change in dent one can see, except local brightness variation,” he said.

ALSO READ | Chennai engineer spotted Vikram lander debris months after crash landing, confirms NASA

“Also I expected, the unspent fuel would have got spilt on lunar surface and must have burnt a while as both fuel and oxidizer were present. This could have left a dark patch on lunar surface. But nothing like this is seen. Also I expected some debris left behind at the first impact site. But I could see none. Further all spacecraft components and structure elements are black painted. But looks like all the debris identified, are shiny. I thought they should appear dark,” he said. 

However, he placed a disclaimer stating that these were his personal views. Express’ efforts to contact ISRO Chairman K Sivan and Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC) director S Somanath, the key man behind the Chandrayaan-3 project, were futile.  Sources told Express that NASA had informed ISRO of its findings on Vikram before going public. John Keller, deputy project scientist, NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, said the space agency had taken time to interpret as well as make sure all stakeholders had an opportunity to comment before they announced the results, which implied it had informed ISRO beforehand. 

ALSO READ | Chennai techie over the moon after spotting Vikram lander

The truth will be out when Chandrayaan-2 Orbiter High Resolution Camera (OHRC), which has a ground resolution of 0.32 metres, scans the debris. NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter has passed over the mission’s intended landing site, on a high plain near the south pole, several times since September. But initial analyses of the images did not reveal an obvious impact scar comparable to the Beresheet lander launched by Israel this year, which crashed in April. 

Stalin congratulates Shanmuga Subramanian
Chennai : DMK president MK Stalin congratulated the Chennai-based engineer, Shanmuga Subramanian, who first found the debris of the Vikram lander on the Moon’s surface. Stalin stated in his official twitter handle, “I commend Chennai-based programmer Shanmuga Subramanian who had used lunar images to trace #VikramLander on the Moon’s surface. Was also pleased to see confirmation and appreciation of this discovery by NASA and I wish Shanmuga Subramanian the very best.”

ISRO takes away ‘fished out’ satellite motor
Puducherry: Following the unusual catch that a group of fishermen in Puducherry had, of the ‘solid strap on motors’ used in the satellite launch vehicle PSLV-C47 on Monday, a team of scientists from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre, Sriharikota, took away the device that was lying ashore in public view. “The strap motor was used in the PSLV-C47 to launch Cartosat-3 satellite on November 27, from Sriharikota. Cartosat-3  is an advanced Indian Earth Observation satellite built and developed by ISRO, which will replace the IRS (Indian Remote Sensing) series. During the launch of the satellite, this spent-stage motor is programmed to fall into the sea,” ISRO scientists said.


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  • Max Coutinho

    I am not able to understand why we are so interested in this debris? Are we planning to salvage it and sell it in scrap or what? Why debate like we struck gold or something!
    3 years ago reply
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