Did you lose this? NASA spots wreckage from India’s Vikram lunar lander

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A NASA satellite plucked a needle from a haystack, spotting debris from India’s ill-fated Vikram lunar lander, which crashed on the Moon’s surface in September after an unsuccessful touch-down attempt.

NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) snapped images of the crash site and its associated debris field, which were published on Monday. Though hard to make out, the new photos show the craft’s impact crater and wreckage scattered across several kilometers of the lunar surface.

While NASA’s high tech orbital probe deserves some credit for finding the lander, it was Indian computer programmer Shagufta Subramanian who actually pointed out the crash site after the agency invited the public to join the search, publishing a mosaic image in late September for anyone to pore over.

An animation released by NASA also shows a before and after comparison of the crash site, in which a faint streak of debris can be seen near the bottom third of the more recent photo.

Vikram was launched last July as part of India’s Chandrayaan-2 Moon mission, with which New Delhi hoped to become the fourth nation after the US, Russia, and China to make a successful Moon landing. It would have been the first touch-down on the natural satellite’s south pole. The mission’s primary craft remains in orbit around the Moon, but it lost contact with the Vikram soon after it departed for its failed landing attempt.

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