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NASA finds Lost Indian Lunar Mission with New Radar Technique
NASA has found lost Indian lunar mission Chandrayaan-1 after the Indian space agency lost contact with the mission few years back. A new technological application of interplanetary radar has been able to locate lunar mission. NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory team in California informed that this technique can be used in future missions.
JPL team has been successful in finding Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter [LRO] and the Indian Space Research Organization's Chandrayaan-1 spacecraft. It was difficult to find Chandrayaan-1 as its size is quite small (a cube measuring five feet on each side). By finding Lunar mission, NASA engineers have demonstrated capabilities of this new technique in finding a small object.
Earlier, interplanetary radar has been used to keep an eye on small asteroids several million miles from Earth. Jet Propulsion Lab team used NASA's 70-meter (230-foot) antenna at NASA's Goldstone Deep Space Communications Complex in California to send out a powerful beam of microwaves directed toward the moon. They were able check the signal bouncing back from lunar orbit by using 100-meter Green Bank Telescope in West Virginia.
"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," said Ryan Park, the manager of JPL's Solar System Dynamics group, who delivered the new orbit back to the radar team. "But otherwise, Chandrayaan-1's orbit still had the shape and alignment that we expected."
NASA release further informed, “Radar echoes from the spacecraft were obtained seven more times over three months and are in perfect agreement with the new orbital predictions. Some of the follow-up observations were done with the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico, which has the most powerful astronomical radar system on Earth. Arecibo is operated by the National Science Foundation with funding from NASA's Planetary Defense Coordination Office for the radar capability.”
In August 2009, ISRO lost contact with its lunar probe. As the thermal shield wasn’t working effectively, probe sensors started failing. After 8 years, NASA has spotted the probe, orbiting 124 miles above the surface of moon.
Using a new technological application of interplanetary radar developed by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), the probe has been spotted by NASA engineers.
Chandrayaan-1 was the first unmanned spacecraft sent by Indian space agency in 2008.
Marina Brozovic, a radar scientist with NASA informed, "We have been able to detect NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter and the Indian Space Research Organisation's Chandrayaan-1 spacecraft in lunar orbit with ground-based radar. Finding India's Chandrayaan-1 required a bit more detective work because the last contact with the spacecraft was in August of 2009.”