NASA finds Indian moon lander with help of amateur space enthusiast

A handout image released by NASA, and taken by the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera team, shows the Vikram Lander impact point. (NASA via AFP)
Updated 03 December 2019

NASA finds Indian moon lander with help of amateur space enthusiast

  • NASA released an image taken by its Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter that showed the site of the spacecraft’s impact
  • A version of the picture was marked up to show the associated debris field

WASHINGTON: India’s Vikram lunar lander, which crashed on its final approach to the Moon’s surface in September, has been found thanks in part to the sleuthing efforts of an amateur space enthusiast.
NASA made the announcement on Monday, releasing an image taken by its Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) that showed the site of the spacecraft’s impact (September 7 in India and September 6 in the US).
A version of the picture was marked up to show the associated debris field, with parts scattered over almost two dozen locations spanning several kilometers.
In a statement, NASA said it released a mosaic image of the site on September 26 (but taken on September 17), inviting the public to compare it with images of the same area before the crash to find signs of the lander.
The first person to come up with a positive identification was Shanmuga “Shan” Subramanian, a 33-year-old IT professional from Chennai, who said that NASA’s inability to find the lander on its own had sparked his interest.
“I had side-by-side comparison of those two images on two of my laptops ... on one side there was the old image, and another side there was the new image released by NASA,” he said, adding he was helped by fellow Twitter and Reddit users.
“It was quite hard, but (I) spent some effort,” said the self-professed space nerd, finally announcing his discovery on Twitter on October 3.
NASA then performed additional searches in the area and officially announced the finding almost two months later.
“NASA has to be 100% sure before they can go public, and that’s the reason they waited to confirm it, and even I would have done the same,” said Subramanian.
Blasting off in July, emerging Asian giant India had hoped with its Chandrayaan-2 (“Moon Vehicle 2“) mission to become just the fourth country after the United States, Russia and regional rival China to make a successful Moon landing, and the first on the lunar south pole.
The main spacecraft, which remains in orbit around the Moon, dropped the unmanned lander Vikram for a descent that would take five days, but the probe went silent just 2.1 kilometers above the surface.
Days after the failed landing, the Indian Space Research Organization said it had located the lander, but hadn’t been able to establish communication.


Egyptian inventor trials robot that can test for COVID-19

Updated 25 November 2020

Egyptian inventor trials robot that can test for COVID-19

  • Cira-03 tests a patient for COVID-19 by cupping their chin and then extending an arm with a swab into their mouth
  • The creation can also take blood tests, perform echocardiograms and X-rays

TANTA: With Egypt facing a second coronavirus wave, an inventor is trialing a remote-control robot which can test for COVID-19, take the temperature of patients, and warn them if they don’t wear masks at a private hospital north of Cairo.
Mahmoud el-Komy, who designed the robot, called Cira-03, says it can help limit exposure to infection and prevent the transmission of the virus.
His creation, which has a human-like face and head and robotic arms, can take blood tests, perform echocardiograms and X-rays, and display the results to patients on a screen attached to its chest.
“I tried to make the robot seem more human, so that the patient doesn’t fear it. So they don’t feel like a box is walking in on them,” he said.
“There has been a positive response from patients. They saw the robot and weren’t afraid. On the contrary, there is more trust in this because the robot is more precise than humans.”
Cira-03 tests a patient for coronavirus by cupping their chin and then extending an arm with a swab into their mouth.
Abu Bakr El-Mihi, head of a private hospital where the robot is being tested, said they were using the robot to take the temperature of anyone suspected of having COVID-19.