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Debris from India's crashed lunar lander found on the Moon's surface

3 Dec 2019, 14:00 UTC
Debris from India's crashed lunar lander found on the Moon's surface
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India has an ambitious space program; they had a successful Mars orbiter and two missions to the Moon. Their second lunar mission, Chandrayaan-2, was only partly successful: While the orbiter has been mapping the Moon and continues to perform well, the Vikram lander (also equipped with a rover) suffered a malfunction in early September while descending to the surface. It veered off-course while still a couple of kilometers up, and contact was lost seconds before touchdown. It was presumed to have crashed.

There is now direct evidence of this: NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) took images of the site, and after receiving a tip from an Indian space enthusiast who found some evidence of debris in the images, the LRO Camera team positively identified the impact site and debris from the spacecraft.

A before-and-after animation shows the lighter colored lunar material disturbed by the impact of the Indian Vikram lander in September 2019. Credit: NASA/GSFC/Arizona State University

The animation shows the change between two images taken before and after the crash. The difference is a bit subtle, but the "after" image shows a lighter pattern of lunar regolith (the powdery surface material), which tends to look lighter when disturbed. The ...

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