NASA radar finds India's lost lunar spacecraft Chandrayaan-1 orbiting the moon

NASA Wins Hide-and-Seek Game With Lost Lunar Spacecraft

NASA Just Found a Lost Lunar Spacecraft After 8 years

Chandrayaan-1 was India's first lunar mission and it was a successful one.

Researchers at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) used a new ground-based radar technique to locate the lunar probe. Earlier, JPL's calculations indicated that Chandrayaan-1 was circling some 200 kilometres above the lunar surface, but it was generally considered "lost". NASA also managed to detect its own spacecraft, the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO). The spacecraft has been found by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California. ISRO had lost communication with Chandrayaan-1 on August 29, 2009, and according to NASA's scientists finding it was harder it than finding LRO.

In August 2009, ISRO said it lost contact with Chandrayaan-1, meaning that the space agency couldn't receive any images from the spacecraft, nor could it assume control over it.

More troubling was that the Chandrayaan-1 spacecraft is very small, about half the size of a smart vehicle, and about 380,000 kilometers away.

Optical telescopes can not find such small objects because the moon's enormous brightness would overwhelm the view of objects passing in front of it.

The Indian spacecraft, which is small at about half the size of a smart auto, was found using existing interplanetary radar technology.

"We have been able to detect NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter [LRO] and the Indian Space Research Organisation's Chandrayaan-1 spacecraft in lunar orbit with ground based radar", said Marina Brozovic, a radar scientist at JPL and principal investigator of the test project, in a press note released by JPL on Thursday.

However, the Rs 380-crore Chandrayaan-1 mission has always been viewed as a success. The Moon's mascons (regions with higher-than-average gravitational pull) were an added risk as they "can dramatically affect a spacecraft's orbit and even cause it to have crashed into the moon", the statement said. However, it seems like Chandrayaan-1 is holding up at the moment. The dormant Chandrayaan-1 was predicted to complete one orbit around the moon every two hours and 8 minutes and when the signature of a small spacecraft crossed the beam, the team knew they had found what they were looking for. Nasa explained that radar echoes from Chandrayaan-1 were obtained seven more times over three months and were in ideal agreement with the new orbital predictions.

Powerful radar beamed from Earth has found a tiny Indian moon probe that last contacted its handlers more than seven years ago. They then studied the radar "echoes" that bounced back to Earth using the 330-foot (100 m) Green Bank Telescope in West Virginia. While engineers figure out the problem, this new radar application could keep tabs on it and make sure its orientation and orbit is correct.

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