India became the fourth country to execute a successful moon landing as part of ISRO’s Chandrayaan II mission following the footsteps of USA, Russia, and China.

The launch that took place around mid-July was set to hit the lunar surface in mid-September. The historical moment was just around the corner with India’s Vikram Lander hitting the moon’s surface when ISRO lost all communication with the device.

Despite untiring efforts, ISRO still couldn’t detect the lander’s presence on the radar and had to consider the possibility of a crash.

However, NASA made an astounding announcement on Monday, 3rd December 2019 saying that the Vikram Lander’s location has been detected as a massive debris on the lunar surface.

NASA acknowledged the fact that a Chennai based techie who happens to be a space nerd shares a major contribution in finding the spacecraft’s location.

How Did This Happen?

It all started on September 26 when NASA shared the images released by its LRO, Lunar Reconnaissance, to the public and asked them for help in finding the Vikram lander.

Shanmuga “Shan” Subramanian, a 33-year-old IT professional from Chennai, who happens to be a space enthusiast at core was one of the first respondents to the proposal.

He was able to conclude the lander’s location by studying the satellite images and put his bet in a tweet on October 3, 2019.

After two months of meticulous investigation and introspection done by NASA over the coordinates suggested by the space sleuth, NASA confirms the location of the Vikram Lander debris on 3rd December, 2019.

The entire nation has been rejoicing the discovery done by the young techie and he feels overwhelmed on receiving such huge recognition.

Shan says that it took him a total of around 30 hours to find the debris of the spacecraft. He says that his curiosity and an utmost interest in space science was the driving force behind this achievement.

Although, the Chennai based engineer has been really modest about his achievement in front of the media but on the other hand, his casualness about the discovery makes one wonder what ISRO got to say about this.

Shan who belongs to a non-space background seemed to be very confident about his knowledge as an aficionado, mentioned that,

“such a big achievement didn’t take him much of the efforts, in fact anybody with the right knowledge and interest could have been able to do so.”

Such a huge discovery undoubtedly requires enormous efforts and dedication that has been consistently put in by the scientists at space agencies like ISRO and NASA. Whereas, Shan’s statements about the same makes it look otherwise.

Let us understand why.

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Was It All This Easy?

In a series of interviews given to various news agencies, Shan discusses his approach taken without any technical knowledge or resources.

The space enthusiast talks about how he used just a simple image comparison technique and closely observed the change in pixel design everyday for some 4-5 hours for 6 days.

“While I was initially not sure where to look, later I found the intended landing site of Vikram Lander and started looking in the adjacent squares for differences,

Shan said while telling the media that he got an idea of the crash around the northern area as a part of his background research from various sources.

He further adds that, “I thought about developing an image processing tool for this purpose. But then decided that it was too much effort. The method I used was very crude. Just have the images open side by side and go through pixel after pixel,” which suggests that he made this discovery without any advance software tools.

The Verdict

The 33-year old engineer’s approach makes it look as if discovering the lander’s location was a cup of tea for him which he took as a challenge when NASA couldn’t locate the debris’ fall.

Considering the statements given by the app developer, it is speculated that if it was all so easy then why wasn’t ISRO able to locate the same despite their untiring efforts. Shan also mentions in an interview that ISRO has better satellite images of the Vikram Lander than those provided by LRO.

He suggested that things could have been easier if he had access to those images which subtly points out ISRO’s inefficiency towards the mission in a derogatory way.

We don’t know if the Chennai engineer intentionally tried to mock ISRO on their negligence or insufficient efforts for not being able to locate the debris of their own launch or he has been really modest about his intelligence and efforts put in the task.

Whatever be the case, the entire nation is proudly celebrating the findings of the talented citizen little realizing how his statements are misdirected and might be bad fame for the Indian Space Research Organization.

Update : ISRO scientific secretary Uma Maheswaran told Times Of India, “I have nothing to comment on it as ISRO had already found Vikram and declared the same on its website, three days after the launch date.”

Following the same, I went on ISRO’s official website to check the credibility of the statement.  It is to be noted that ISRO did post an update about locating the orbiter on September 10 on its official website. Whereas, on September 26 NASA threw an open challenge on Twitter asking people to help them find Vikram’s location.

Check ISRO’s update on Chandrayaan II:

ISRO’s post on September 10 contradicts NASA’s update on finding the lander on December 3, 2019.

All of this makes one wonder if both the pioneer space agencies don’t check on each other or what?

Image Credits: Google Images

Sources: Economic Times, The Hindu 

Find The Blogger: @ZehraYameena

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