Tuesday, 25 April, 2017

India's Chandrayaan-1 lost since 2009 found orbiting moon

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Heather Davidson | 11 March, 2017, 00:16

Nasa attributed the discovery to its Jet Propulsion Laboratory's ground-based radar technique. According to the best calculations, Chandrayaan-1 was still in lunar orbit at an altitude of about 124 mi (200 km) with a period of about two hours and eight minutes, but exactly where was unknown, so it was officially classified as lost.

The Indian Space Research Organisation spacecraft was launched in 2008 and carried out more than 3,400 successful orbits of the moon before it became inoperative.

DSS-14, NASA's 70-meter antenna located at the Goldstone Deep Space Communications Complex in California, also known as the "Mars Antenna".

NASA has announced that it has found the India's lost lunar spacecraft Chandrayaan-1 that is still orbiting the moon.

But because using terrestrial radar to find and track satellites, spacecraft, and other objects that have gone dark (or are naturally so) would be handy, NASA researchers made it work anyway.

The first lunar spacecraft launched by ISRO (Indian Space Research Organization), the Chandrayaan-1, which was earlier considered lost, has now been found by the American space agency NASA.

Although it is a pleasant surprise that India's first lunar probe is still orbiting and is not exactly "lost" it may not have much operational significance for ISRO.

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With Chandrayan being found, it shows that the technology discovered by JPL is effective.

The cube-shaped Chandrayaan-1, roughly half the size of a Smart auto, was discovered orbiting the moon 124 miles above the surface.

NASA uses giant radar dishes to detect things like asteroids millions of miles away, and it's pretty easy to track satellites in Earth's orbit, but there are awkward middle distances that aren't so easy to monitor. The detection team said finding LRO was easy because they had its precise location data.

Over the next three months, the group listened to the radar "echoes" bounced back by the spacecraft, which were received by NASA's 330-foot Green Bank Telescope in West Virginia, along with the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico.

Chandrayaan-1's orbit profile. But after a few more trips around the moon, who knows where it might have gotten to?

Previously scientists have tried to use optical telescopes to see objects in the moon's orbit, however the glare of the moon has been too bright for anything to be seen. NASA says this will be essential for "collisional hazard assessment" and for helping spacecraft navigate in the event that they lose communication with the ground or their internal navigation systems. The probe worked for about a year as a scout, gathering data that may be useful for future crewed journeys to the moon; it shifted to more of a pure-science mode in September 2010.

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