NASA has discovered a spaceship that disappeared eight years ago.
The space agency spotted an Indian craft orbiting the moon using its massive STEREO-B radar dish.
From The New York Post
Space is home to plenty of man-made cosmic junk that has broken off during missions and been left to float through the vast abyss.
NASA uses its special lunar observer to spot strays and to monitor current missions.
It was celebrating after tracking down its own, still-active wayward Lunar Reconnaissance Orbit, which launched in 2009.
But finding the discovery of the tiny, 5-foot Indian orbiter, which lost contact in August 2009, is an incredible feat for science.
“Finding LRO was relatively easy, as we were working with the mission’s navigators and had precise orbit data where it was located,” Marina Brozovic, a radar scientist at JPL, said in a statement. “Finding India’s Chandrayaan-1 required a bit more detective work because the last contact with the spacecraft was in August of 2009.”
Chandrayaan-1 was India’s first-ever mission to the moon, and stopped communicating after 10 months.
After calculating where the tiny craft might be, some 124 miles above the moon, the scientists could estimate where to send microwave beams that could detect anything crossing their path.
An object responded twice, with the radar signature of a small spacecraft.
Hunting down LRO and rediscovering Chandrayaan-1 spell a new way to track astronauts from the ground.
NASA said: “Working together, the large radar antennas at Goldstone, Arecibo and Green Bank demonstrated that they can detect and track even small spacecraft in lunar orbit. Ground-based radars could possibly play a part in future robotic and human missions to the moon, both for a collisional hazard assessment tool and as a safety mechanism for spacecraft that encounter navigation or communication issues.”