New interplanetary radar technique spots "lost" lunar spacecraft


On Thursday, Nasa found it again using a new ground radar system. According to the best calculations, Chandrayaan-1 was still in lunar orbit at an altitude of about 124 mi (200 km) with a period of about two hours and eight minutes, but exactly where was unknown, so it was officially classified as lost.

India's first unmanned mission to the moon- Chandrayaan 1- which was believed lost, is still orbiting the moon, say NASA scientists.The Chandrayaan-1, which cost $79 million, was launched in 2008 to map the moon's surface and look for precious resources. Then they chose to send microwave beams towards the north pole of the moon using the antenna in the Goldstone Deep Space Communications Complex. The newly developed technology might be extremely useful for future moon missions.

The craft was reportedly located a total of seven times in three months since July 2016.

Spotting NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) was a piece of cake. This new radar technique changes that, and made it possible for NASA to find its Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter and the Chandrayaan-1 from the Indian Space Organization.

The spacecraft came equipped with high-resolution remote sensing equipment for surveying the lunar surface and mapping the moon's chemical characteristics.

"Chandrayaan-1 was our first interplanetary mission and I am delighted that it has been found". The difficulties were further compounded by the fact that Chandrayaan-1 is kind of small by the perspective of satellites - somewhere around the size of a Maruti 800 auto. The interplanetary radar was created to detect and analyze small asteroids located several million miles from our planet, but scientists did not expect it to be able to spot such a small spaceship in the orbit of the moon.

An artist's conception of Chandrayaan-1 orbiting the moon. No one has ever detected the exact position of something that small that far away. This antenna sent out a beam of microwaves which reached the moon and then the radar echoes bounced back from the orbit of the moon, being intercepted by the Green Bank Telescope in West Virginia. The detection team said finding LRO was easy because they had its precise location data. On July 2 a year ago, the scientists pointed two antennas, one in California and the other in West Virginia, to a location about 160km above the Moon's north pole. Chandrayaan-1 is small - about half the size of a smart vehicle which makes its detection even more noteworthy.

Indian scientists have also used Chandrayaan-1's camera imagery to discover lunar caves that some have predicted could be potential sites for future human settlements. The spacecraft's instrument readings yielded signatures of water molecules on the moon.



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