India’s first unmanned Lunar Orbiter Mission, the Chandrayaan-1, which lost ground contact with the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) barely 312 days after launch has been found orbiting the moon. The discovery was made by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) in Pasadena, California.
The JPL, in a press release, said that they were able to locate both Chandrayaan-1 as well as NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter using a 70-metre tall DSS-14 antenna located at the Goldstone Deep Space Communications Complex in California.
We have been able to detect NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter [LRO] and the Indian Space Research Organization’s Chandrayaan-1 spacecraft in lunar orbit with ground-based radar. Finding LRO was relatively easy, as we were working with the mission’s navigators and had precise orbit data where it was located. Finding India’s Chandrayaan-1 required a bit more detective work because the last contact with the spacecraft was in August of 2009.Marina Brozovic, Radar Scientist at JPL.
The investigation reported that Chandrayaan-1 was small, similar to the size of a small car, described as a cube, 1.5 metres (five feet) on each side. Although the interplanetary radar was used to find and detect small asteroids that were millions of miles away from the earth, researchers were skeptical of finding the Chandrayaan-1 due to its small size and its distance from the moon. The team believes that finding Chandrayaan-1 was a good demonstration of this technique.
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