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NASA Retrieved The Lost Indian Spacecraft Orbiting The Moon After 8 Years

First Posted: Mar 14, 2017 04:00 AM EDT
NASA Finds Long-Lost Indian Lunar Orbiter
NASA's ground-based radars found the lost Indian spacecraft "Chandrayaan-1" after being missing since August 2009.
(Photo : Science/YouTube screenshot)

The Indian spacecraft known as Chandrayaan-1, which was lost on Aug. 29, 2009, has been recovered by NASA radars. It was located orbiting the Moon 124 miles above the surface.

Chandrayaan-1 spacecraft was about 1.5 meters (5 feet) in height and had orbited the Moon for over 3,400 times since its launching on Oct. 22, 2008. On the other hand, it lost track in August 2009.

The researchers speculated that it might be 200 km (124 miles) above the Moon. After 8 years, it was detected by NASA's Earth-based radars, according to Science Alert.

Marina Brozovic, a radar scientist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), said that finding India's Chandrayaan-1 required a bit more detective work because the last contact with the spacecraft was in August of 2009. The scientists radiated microwaves on the Moon's north pole at about 380,000 km (237,000 miles) away. They used a big antenna at NASA's Goldstone Deep Space Communications Complex in California to locate the missing satellite.

Ryan Park, the manager of JPL's Solar System Dynamics group, said that it turns out that they needed to shift the location of Chandrayaan-1 by about 180 degrees or half a cycle from the old orbital estimates from 2009. On the other hand, he further said that Chandrayaan-1's orbit still had the shape and alignment that they predicted.

Meanwhile, the NASA scientists were able to detect as well the NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO). Brozovic stated that finding LRO was relatively easy as they were working with the mission's navigators and had precise orbit data where it was located.

According to NASA, rediscovering the LRO and the Chandrayaan-1 signals a new and distinctive expertise. The ground-based radars could have a role in the futuristic robotic and human missions to the Moon for evaluating dangerous collisions and a secure tool for spacecraft. Meanwhile, the huge radar antennas at Goldstone, Arecibo and Green Bank could identify and monitor small spacecraft in lunar orbit.

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