NASA finds lost lunar spacecraft orbiting the moon

FORT IRWIN, Ca. (WFLA) —Nearly eight years after it vanished, India’s first lunar spacecraft, Chandrayaan-1 was found orbiting around the moon.

Scientists had no clue where the spacecraft could be found. It measures only five feet wide.  It looked like a spec in the sky to researchers working to track it down.

But NASA eventually determined the tiny craft was some 124 miles above the moon, and tracked it down using a powerful radar.

A 230-foot antenna at the Goldstone Deep Space Communications Complex in California was used to beam microwaves towards the moon.

The microwaves, which can detect any object that crosses their path, picked up signal from Chandrayaan-1, which responded twice.

NASA said finding the probe was less of a challenge, considering data from the mission’s navigators was provided to aid the search.

“Working together, the large radar antennas at Goldstone, Arecibo and Green Bank demonstrated that they can detect and track even small spacecraft in lunar orbit. 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 agency said in a statement.

 

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