Nasa discovers India's lost lunar spacecraft orbiting the moon

11 March, 2017, 00:19 | Author: Lorena Waters
  • The launch will involve new challenges for China taking off from the moon and high-speed reentry to the Earth's atmosphere making it'one of China's most complicated and difficult space missions, said Hu Hao an official from China's Lunar Exploration

The Indian spacecraft, Chandrayaan-1, that was being considered as lost since 2009, was found orbiting the moon by National Aeronautics and Space Administration's (NASA) Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California.

The lost of India's first lunar space probe - the Chandrayan-1 left the entire global space community in a state of shock. In the year 2008, Chandrayaan-1 was launched from Sriharikota on October 22. Nevertheless, to track a spaceship situated at about 237,000 miles away, the team from JPL used NASA's 230-foot antenna at NASA's Goldstone Deep Space Communications Complex in California.

Though Prof. Rao and his colleagues anticipated the spacecraft to drift and ultimately crash into lunar surface a couple of years after losing contact, the latest discovery points to the fact that Chandrayaan-I has remain-ed at an orbit 200 km from lunar surface from the time the glitch wrought a premature end to the mission.

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

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These echoes picked out Chandrayaan-1, India's first moon probe, as well as NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO).

"It turns out that we needed to shift the location of Chandrayaan-1 by about 180 degrees or half a cycle from the old orbital estimates from 2009", Ryan Park, manager of the JPL's solar system dynamics group, said in the release. While such radar techniques are used to observe small asteroids several million kilometres from Earth, the scientists were not certain whether an object as small as Chandrayaan-1 near the Moon could be detected.

As the Chandrayaan-1 spacecraft is very small, a cube about 1.5 metres on each side, it is indeed an achievement for the interplanetary radar. "But otherwise, Chandrayaan-1's orbit still had the shape and alignment that we expected". Apparently, it was easy for the new radar technology to detect LRO because astronomers were working with the navigators of the spacecraft and, thus, they had the correct orbit data where it was located. If anything was out there, it would bounce the signal back to the 330-foot Green Bank Telescope in West Virginia. Detecting these objects in orbit around Earth's moon is even more hard. Nasa said that the timing of the detections matched the time it would take for Chandrayaan-1 to complete one orbit and return to the same position above the moon's pole. In addition to its symbolic significance, the mission was made famous after detecting traces of water on the surface of the star. The news comes from NASA, which claims that it has discovered the satellite, which seem to have inherited ISRO's tenacity and is still orbiting the moon.

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