Back in October 2008, Indian space agency ISRO had launched it first lunar mission – the Chandrayaan-1 spacecraft, which after just months of communication, had lost contact in August 2009.
The spacecraft was thus generally considered lost and India had moved on to its next Lunar mission, Chandrayaan 2.
But now, nearly 8 years after being lost, the lunar spacecraft has been found by the US space agency NASA and is said to be still orbiting the moon.
NASA scientists, in a statement, have said that they have found Chandrayaan 1 while using their new technological application of interplanetary radar and that the probe is still circling the moon about 200 kilometers above the lunar surface.
What is more, Chandrayaan 1 is not the only lunar spacecraft that they have found. They have also located NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO), which too is around the Moon.
“We have been able to detect NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) and the Indian Space Research Organisation’s Chandrayaan-1 spacecraft in lunar orbit with ground-based radar.”
ISRO had lost communication with Chandrayaan-1 on August 29, 2009, and according to NASA’s scientists finding it was harder it than finding LRO.
“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.”
The NASA scientists explained that finding derelict spacecraft and space debris in Earth’s orbit can be technologically very challenging and detecting these objects in Moon’s orbit is even more difficult.
These are not easy to find via optical telescopes because they are too small and with the bright glare of the Moon finding these objects is even more difficult.
However, to improve upon these, new technological application of interplanetary radar is being used and it was with these that the scientists at JPL were successfully able to locate these two spacecraft.