A NASA spacecraft orbiting the moon has discovered the crash site of india’s ill-fated Vikram lunar lander, which crashed into the moon’s surface during a landing attempt in September,media The Verge reported. Images taken by the spacecraft confirm that the lander encountered the explosive end, revealing the landing site and the surrounding debris caused by the accident.
Vikram is believed to be the first Indian spacecraft to land on the lunar surface as part of India’s MoonShip 2 mission. India hopes to use Vikram to place a spacecraft intact on the lunar surface to study the lunar environment in more detail. Vikram even carried a rover capable of traveling more than 1,640 feet (500 meters) on the moon’s surface, which was used to learn more about the composition of the moon’s surface.
But when Vikram landed on September 6, at a distance of 2.1 kilometers from the moon’s surface, the lander suddenly lost contact with the ground control center of the Indian Aerospace Research Organization (ISRO). It is not clear exactly what happened to the lander for some time. In the days after landing, some ISRO officials said they had found the spacecraft on the moon’s surface and were still trying to establish it. But just last week, ISRO admitted that Vikram made a “hard” landing when it struggled to brake during the vehicle’s descent.
Now, with the latest images captured by NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO), researchers have confirmed the serious impact. On September 17, a team of scientists identified the crash site using photographs taken by cameras on the orbiter. They found a small number of possible pieces of debris in the image and confirmed that it came from Vikram. However, the area where Vikram hit was not well lit, so the team took another photo of the site in October and November for a better look. Eventually, they found the site and captured more detailed images of the site and debris field.
Although the Vikram lunar lander has crashed, India’s MoonShip2 mission has not completely failed. The Vikram lander flew to the moon with another spacecraft designed to study the lunar surface from above. The spacecraft successfully entered lunar orbit in August and is still collecting data on the moon.