A spacecraft launched by Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) 8 years back in 2008, named Chandrayan-1, and lost since 2009 has just been found out by NASA’s newly developed ground based radar technology designed at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL).
Along with ISRO’s lost Chandrayan-1, NASA also spotted its Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) with new radar technique involving 70-meter (230-foot) antenna at NASA’s Goldstone Deep Space Communications Complex in California to send out a beam of micro-waves in the direction of moon and the 100-meter (330-foot) Green Bank Telescope in West Virginia to capture the echoes bounced back from lunar orbit. The bounced echoes reveal the the location of a spacecraft estimated by scientists using velocity and the distance to the target.
Among the two found spacecrafts, according to one NASA official, finding Chandrayan-1 was tricky and difficult since it’s a small 5-feet orbiter whose data hasn’t been known as it has been a long while since it has been lost.
The spotting of the moon orbiter was possible because of the parameters on basis of which NASA predicted its orbiting cycle. The Chandrayan-1’s cycle time and the predicted parameter matched which confirmed its identity as ISRO’s Chndrayan-1. Finding the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter went easier as the spacecraft is still in the operational stage.
With the achievement of the ground radar technique in finding these two spacecrafts, NASA scientists and researchers believe that this newly developed technique can come quite handy in the future missions to the Moon. This radar technique could make interplanetary radar investigations much efficient and can be a great facilitator in combating the issues related to navigation and communication. Apart from that, it can also help in avoiding the collisions and help manage the traffic around the orbit.