NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California has found what we have lost on August 29, 2009. Yes the Chandrayaan-1 that ISRO sent to the moon is still orbiting it.
Even though ISRO is not getting signals from it now, but it’s still orbiting moon some 200 kms above the Moon. Thanks to NASA’S revolutionary laser technique has found not only the Chandrayaan-1 but also NASA’S very own Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO).
Marina Brozovic, a radar scientist at JPL and principal investigator for the test project puts it,”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. Optical telescopes are unable to search for small objects hidden in the bright glare of the moon. However, a new technological application of interplanetary radar pioneered by scientists at NASA’s JPL can do so. 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.”
If Brozovic is to be believed then Chandrayaan-1 was a much tricky object to find because of its size which is about five feet (1.5 meters) on each side — about half the size of a smart car.
She further explained,”Finding India’s Chandrayaan-1 required a bit more detective work because the last contact with the spacecraft was in August of 2009. Finding a derelict spacecraft at lunar distance that has not been tracked for years is tricky because the moon is riddled with mascons (regions with higher-than-average gravitational pull) that can dramatically affect a spacecraft’s orbit over time, and even cause it to have crashed into the moon.”
Based on their calculations, the scientists at JPL then used 70-meter antenna at NASA’s Goldstone Deep Space Communications Complex in California and 100-meter Green Bank Telescope in West Virginia to hunt for Chandrayaan-1. On July 2, 2016, the scientists got a response that showed the presence of Chandrayaan-1 around 160 kilometers above the moon’s north pole.
It’s not only a good news for NASA’S new technology but also it’s great news for India as India is one of only handful countries to have sent a satellite to the moon. Even though ISRO lost contact with Chandrayaan-1 few months after the launch, it was said to have completed the set of experiments that it originally set out to complete.