A south Indian software engineer helped NASA find what remained of India’s moon lander after studying satellite images as a hobby, NASA announced Tuesday.
“Shanmuga Subramanian contacted the LRO project with a positive identification of debris. After receiving this tip, the LROC [Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera] team confirmed the identification by comparing before and after images,” NASA said in a statement. “When the images for the first mosaic were acquired the impact point was poorly illuminated and thus not easily identifiable. Two subsequent image sequences were acquired on Oct. 14 and 15, and Nov. 11.”
Subramanian told Indian television channel NDTV that he found what he thought might be debris from the lander after poring over images of the moon’s surface for six to seven hours a day. He emailed his findings to NASA in October.
“I did feel a lot of happiness that I was able to find it,” he told NDTV.
India launched its Chandrayaan-2 mission in July with a goal of becoming the fourth nation to lend a craft on the moon by Sept. 7, but engineers lost contact during the craft’s descent, with the government later announcing it had “hard-landed” on the moon’s surface.
Subramanian, an avid follower of India’s space program, told the outlet he had received personal congratulations on the discovery from a NASA scientist and urged his homeland not to give up on its efforts in space travel.
“Failure is a steppingstone to success,” Subramanian told NDTV.