BENGALURU: On Twitter, Shan@Ramanean added a new attribute to his profile on Tuesday: I found Vikram lander!
Shanmuga Subramanian, 33, or Shan to his friends and colleagues, has every reason to be proud of his discovery of the lander on lunar soil, for it was acknowledged by NASA, but little did he realize that one tweet about the US space agency applauding his feat could trigger an avalanche of requests for interviews from media persons from across the world.
The early birds among journalists in Chennai showed up at a his apartment in Besant Nagar Tuesday morning, while others made their way to his office in the IT Park in Tharamani or waited in the line for interviews over the phone, through emails, or through direct message (DM) on Twitter.
“I searched pixel by pixel (each pixel measures about 1.25 meters) of NASA’s images. I spent about 30 hours on two computers. I did not use any additional software tools, but only basic image viewing tools. Of course, I have developed tools and Apps for many other applications, and write on these issues on two of my websites (www.ramanean.com andwww.azuredevopsguide.com),” he told this newspaper, adding “DM if you have more questions.”
Eighty seven days after Chandrayaan-2’s lander ‘Vikram’ crashed while drifting towards a landing site near the Moon’s South Pole, NASA credited the Chennai-based blogger, coder, photographer, and a nerd who dabbles in a wide array of interests like travel, space, philosophy, politics etc.
“The Chandrayaan-2 Vikram lander has been found by our NASA Moon mission, the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter. See the first mosaic of the impact site,” NASA said in a tweet, sharing images beamed by its Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) before and after the crash of ‘Vikram’. “The debris first located by Shanmuga is about 750 metres northwest of the main crash site and was a single bright pixel identification in that first mosaic,” NASA added.
ISRO, however, maintained a stoic silence on discovery of ‘Vikram’. “I do not wish to comment, I will not respond to any questions on Chandrayaan-2” was Dr K Sivan’s response when asked about spotting of the lander by Shanmuga and subsequent announcement by NASA.
On September 7, Indian space scientists were inconsolable when ‘Vikram’ veered off course and lost contact minutes before a soft touchdown on lunar soil. A few days later, on September 17, NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera (LROC) team released the first mosaic of images acquired during a flight over the site chosen by ISRO for landing. NASA also released a mosaic image of the site on September 26, inviting people to compare it with images of the same area before the crash to find signs of the lander.