Nasa finds wreckage of Indian spacecraft that crashed on the moon

Nasa has found the remains of a pioneering Indian spacecraft that crashed whilst attempting to land on the moon.

The Chandrayaan 2 Vikram lander was due to touch down on a smooth plain near the lunar south pole in September this year.

But it lost with the Indian Space Research Organisation and met a tragic end on the lunar surface.

Now Nasa has discovered the wreckage of India’s spacecraft and released pictures of its final resting place.

It was spotted by an engineer and blogger called Shanmuga Subramanian, who analysed pictures of the moon from his home in Chennai.

He tipped off Nasa and it photographed the area in detail, proving his analysis was correct.

The American space agency praised the achievement of its Indian counterpart.

Nasa said: ‘Despite the loss, getting that close to the surface was an amazing achievement.’

The complex $140 million (£114 million) mission involved carrying out a soft landing with a rover – a space exploration vehicle designed to move across the surface of the moon – to search for signs of water.

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Vikram’s descent looked normal until it lost when it was just 1.2 miles from the lunar surface.

India would have become only the fourth country to land a vessel on the lunar surface, and the third – behind Russia, the US and China – to operate a robotic rover on it.

At the time Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who was at Mission Control in the southern city of Bengaluru at the time, said he was proud of the scientists despite the disappointing outcome.

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Modi hailed the nation’s achievements in space as a symbol of the country’s rising ambition as a global power.

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He said on ‘We remain hopeful and will continue working hard on our space programme…

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‘They’ve [scientists] given their best and have always made India proud. These are moments to be courageous, and courageous we will be!’

Isro’s control centre had been jubilant during the first 10 minutes of the lander’s descent, with scientists breaking out in occasional cheers.

But the mood suddenly turned sombre when the craft stopped sending data during its final minutes of descent.

‘I can understand the sadness in your face,’ Modi later told scientists after being briefed by the space agency chairman.

‘I have lived the moment with you when communication with spacecraft was lost.’

However, even after communication was lost, scientists at the mission control chanted ‘Victory for Mother India’ in response to Modi’s speech.

The mission known as Chandrayaan-2, was intended to study permanently shadowed moon craters that are thought to contain water deposits, which were confirmed by India’s Chandrayaan-1 mission in 2008.

Isro’s chairman had earlier called Chandrayaan-2 the ‘most complex mission ever’ undertaken by the space agency.

The mission lifted off on July 22 from the Satish Dhawan space centre in Sriharikota – an island off the coast of the southern state of Andhra Pradesh.

After its launch, Chandrayaan-2 spent several weeks making its way towards the moon, and entering lunar orbit on August 20.

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On September 2, Vikram separated from the mission’s orbiter, and the lander began a series of braking maneuvers to lower its orbit and ready itself for landing.

Last January, China achieved the first landing on the far side of the moon.

In April, an Israeli spacecraft attempting to land crashed moments before touchdown.

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