NEWS

NASA Finds Spacecraft That Was Lost Eight Years Ago

India's Chandrayaan-1 disappeared in 2009, but Nasa has rediscovered it orbiting the moon.

10/03/2017 12:32 SAST | Updated 10/03/2017 13:18 SAST
DIBYANGSHU SARKAR / AFP / Getty Images
Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) Chairman Madhavan Nair gives a press conference at the ISRO office in Bangalore on September 25, 2009. Nair confirmed the discovery of water molecules by the moon mineralogy mapper (M3) through its Lunar mission Chandrayaan-1.

In 2009, the Chandrayaan-1 spacecraft made history as India's first unmanned lunar spacecraft. It was launched with tremendous fanfare, and then it vanished.

On Thursday, Nasa found it again using a new ground radar system.

"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," said Marina Brozovic, a radar scientist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, reported CNN.

"Finding LRO was relatively easy, as we were working with the mission's navigators and had precise orbit data where it was located."

Finding Chandrayaan-1 proved to be harder, not only because of how small it is, but because the glare of the moon made it very difficult for optical telescopes to find objects around it.

Scientists used interplanetary radar to locate the spacecraft, a technology that had previously been used to detects asteroids orbiting millions of kilometres away from earth.

The new technology will be vital for new lunar missions, reported CNN.