NASA Finds India's Long Lost Lunar Probe 'Chandrayaan-1'

NASA Finds India's Long Lost Lunar Probe 'Chandrayaan-1'

NASA Finds India's Long Lost Lunar Probe 'Chandrayaan-1'

The spacecraft, which was located by scientists at Nasa's Jet Propulsion Laboratory with the help of a powerful ground-based radar, can not be revived however, given its glitch-hit power system. Nasa attributed the discovery to its Jet Propulsion Laboratory's ground-based radar technique. JPL's orbital calculations indicated that Chandrayaan-1 was still circling 200km above the lunar surface. After being successfully launched in 2008, the lunar probe remained operational up to August 2009, after which it vanished mysteriously. "Ground-based radars could possibly play a part in future robotic and human missions to the moon, both for a collisional hazard assessment tool and as a safety mechanism for spacecraft that encounter navigation or communication issues".

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

"ISRO said that the Chandrayaan-1" kilometres made more than 3400 orbits around the moon and the mission was concluded when the communication with the spacecraft was lost on August 29, 2009".

On July 2 past year, the team pointed Goldstone and Green Bank at a location 160 km above the moon's north pole and waited to see whether the lost spacecraft crossed the radar beam.

Faced with the immensity of space, optical telescopes and interplanetary radar have difficulty detecting objects, even more so when they are extremely small and close to the Moon.

An artist's conception of Chandrayaan-1 orbiting the moon. They used this radar to pinpoint the location of Nasa's own Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO), but this was easy as they had precise orbital data for the LRO. According to scientists associated with Chandrayaan-1, the finding reveals the development of radar technologies that can even protect the earth from being struck by objects like asteroids. Radar doesn't mind, of course, but at distances of hundreds of thousands of miles, it's better at finding things like the moon itself, not car-sized objects in its orbit.

The challenge posed by Chandrayaan-1 was that nobody knew where it was coupled with the fact this is a very small cube spacecraft measuring only 1.5 meters wide. The radar echoes bounced back were received by the Green Bank Telescope in West Virginia. This is especially hard as Moon has places with a high gravitational pull which have the ability to distort the orbits of spacecraft. The spacecraft's instrument readings yielded signatures of water molecules on the moon.

The main objectives of the Chandrayaan-1 were to test the impact of a sub-satellite (Moon Impact Probe - MIP) on the surface on the Moon as a fore-runner to future soft-landing missions and also to detect water-ice on the Moon.

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