Saturday December 7, 2019
Home Lead Story Vikram Lander...

Vikram Lander Spotted On Moon

The Vikram moonlander was sent by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) aboard the Chandraayan 2 that orbited the moon

0
//
India’s Vikram lunar lander
India’s Vikram lunar lander, which crashed on its final approach to the Moon’s surface in September, has been found. Pixabay

BY ARUL LOUIS 

Shanmuga Subramanian, the eagle-eyed citizen space scientist who found Vikram moonlander said on Tuesday that he took spotting it as a challenge when NASA couldn’t.

He said in an email interview to IANS: “It was something challenging as even NASA can’t find out so why can’t we try out? And that’s the thought that led me to search for Vikram lander.”

Subramanian, who works as an information technology architect, in his spare time looked through the images taken by NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) camera on September 17 and spotted a debris from Vikram.

Those images were taken when the light during moon’s dusk was very harsh at the place where the moonlander crashed and the long shadows made the hunt for Vikram difficult, NASA and LRO said at that time.

LRO Project Scientist Noah Petro, to whom Subramanian emailed his finding, told IANS: “The story of this really amazing individual (who) found it, helped us find it, is really awesome.”

The Vikram moonlander was sent by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) aboard the Chandraayan 2 that orbited the moon.

Vikram was launched from Chandrayaan on September 6 in hopes of making a safelanding and exploring the moon’s surface. However, it lost contact with ISRO minutes before the scheduled landing and crashed.

Vikram Moon Lander
A Moon landing is the arrival of a spacecraft on the surface of the Moon. Pixabay

Petro said: “This is the wonderful thing about our data. We released it for the world and anyone can use and he used it to make this discovery.”

Subramanian suggested a crowd-sourced citizen scientist movement to help space organisations.

“LRO’s data is a treasure trove. I would suggest students and others to help out NASA, ISRO and other space organisations by building a good database of LRO images with features like comparison etc.,” Subramanian told IANS.

“Currently we have to compare it manually (and I) wish someone can do more on that, with NASA’s scientists time crunched for their Moon missions,” he added.

Asked how he got interested, Subramanian said: “Space exploration is nothing new for me as I have been interested in space right from the scratch and watched ISRO’s rocket launches closely even managed to capture some of it on my YouTube channel.

“I don’t think Vikram lander would have made a such impact on the minds of the Indian public if it had landed successfully (but) since it was lost there was a lot of discussion in public forums as well as on my Facebook regarding what malfunctioned etc.

“The crash landing of Vikram made more people interested in it and it also got eventually hooked me, which lead to me searching NASA’s pic for nearly some 4-5 hours every night.”

Subramanian spoke of the social media world of space enthusiasts where intense discussions were taking place about the mystery of Vikram and which helped his quest.

“Initially there was lot of false positives I got (that were) corrected by Twitterati and one of the tweets led to me a Reddit forum where they had the exact intended landing location and the path of Vikram,” he said.

Vikram on moon
The Moon is an astronomical body that orbits the Earth as its only permanent natural satellite. Pixabay

On being able to narrow down the area for his search, he said: “Though there was no data available about the path of Vikram lander, I eventually concluded it would have come from North Pole as one of the tweets from ‘cgbassa’ said Vikram has crossed the North Pole of the moon. And from ISRO’s live images, I made out it would have stopped short of around 1 km from the landing spot so it eventually led to me searching around 2 sq km around the landing area.”

That tweet was from CG Bassa, an astronomer with Astron, the Dutch radio astronomy institute.

ALSO READ: Nations and their Moon Missions

After better pictures came from the LRO’s pass over the area in October and on November 11, when the light conditions improved, the LRO camera team scoured the area surrounding the spot where Subramanian had spotted a debris and found the impact spot of Vikram’s crash and other debris, the ASU said.

The impact site is located at 70.8810AoS, 22.7840AoE, at an elevation of 834 metres, it added. (IANS)

Next Story

Robots May Cut Cost Of Repairing Broken Satellites In Space

Sending humans to space for satellite repairs is prohibitively expensive

0
Using an artificial intelligence called genetic fuzzy logic, the researchers were able to get three robots and then five robots to move the token where the researchers wanted. Pixabay

As sending humans to space to repair broken satellites is very expensive, researchers are working on robotic satellites that can dock with other satellites for repairs or refueling.”Big commercial satellites are costly. They run out of fuel or malfunction or break down,” said Ou Ma, Professor at University of Cincinnati in the US.

The most useful repair satellite will be able to complete multiple tasks, Ma said. In his lab, Ma and University of Cincinnati senior research associate Anoop Sathyan are developing robotic networks that can work independently but collaboratively on a common task.

For their latest study, the researchers put a group of robots to the test with a novel game that uses strings to move an attached token to a designated spot on a table.

Since the robots each control just one string, they need the other robots cooperation to move the token to the right spot by increasing or relaxing tension on the string in response to each robot’s actions.

Using an artificial intelligence called genetic fuzzy logic, the researchers were able to get three robots and then five robots to move the token where the researchers wanted. The findings published in the journal Robotica showed that by using five robots, the collective could accomplish the task even if one of the robots malfunctioned.

The most famous satellites
The most famous satellite released from the Space Shuttle’s payload bay is the Hubble Space Telescope. Pixabay

“This will be especially true for problems with larger numbers of robots where the liability of an individual robot will be low,” the researchers concluded.

Ma said a million things can go wrong with every satellite launch. But for most of those glitches, nothing can be done once the satellite is deployed. A $400 million Intelsat satellite the size of a small school bus malfunctioned this year after reaching a high elliptical orbit, according to Space News.

Perhaps the most famous satellite glitch of all time occurred in 1990 when the Hubble Space Telescope was deployed only for NASA to learn its pricy mirror was warped. A subsequent repair mission aboard the space shuttle Endeavor in 1993 replaced the mirror to provide astonishing images of the universe.

Sending humans to space for satellite repairs is prohibitively expensive, Ma said. Four subsequent Hubble service missions costing billions of dollars combined were performed by astronauts from the space shuttle.

ALSO READ:- Researchers Develop an App which will Convert your Phone into Robot

NASA is also working on finding better solutions for repairing satellites stranded in space. In 2022, the agency will launch a satellite capable of refueling other satellites in low Earth orbit.

The goal is to intercept and refuel a US government satellite. The project called Restore-L is expected to provide proof of concept for autonomous satellite repairs, NASA said. (IANS)