Eight years after losing contact with the Chandrayaan-1 satellite sent to orbit around the Moon by India in 2008, NASA managed to relocate it, the US space agency said on Thursday (March 9th).
On October 22, 2008, Chandrayaan-1 was the first lunar satellite sent by a country of the South, after the Soviet Union, the United States and Europe.
One year later, the Indian satellite disappeared and all contact had been lost. Chandrayaan-1 was precisely located by NASA, the agency said in a statement published on its website, Thursday. 9 March. And this, thanks to a new tripartite technique of terrestrial antennas, reports CNN .
The Moon, satellite cemetery
Faced with the immensity of space, optical telescopes and interplanetary radar have difficulty detecting objects, even more so when they are extremely small and close to the Moon . For there they tend to be obscured by the lunar light.
But above all, this spatial region is known for its irregular gravitational properties that affect the orbit of satellites. It is what happened to Chandryaan-1: with its cube shape and its sides of a meter and a half, it was until then untraceable.
Three terrestrial antennas
But last July, NASA used three terrestrial antennas, one in California, the other in Virginia and the last in Puerto Rico, to send microwaves to the north pole of the Moon, to where was located Potentially the Indian satellite, according to scientists’ estimates. “NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory calculations indicated that Chandrayaan-1 was still in orbit, 200 kilometers above the surface of the Moon, but was considered ‘lost’,” says NASA Its release.
By analyzing the reflected waves intercepted by the antennas, the agency determined the precise speed and distance of the satellite . As a result, NASA readjusted its 180-degree estimates to match its exact position. “Chandrayaan-1 was nevertheless in the alignment we had estimated,” says Ryan Park, a member of NASA’s lab. In addition to its symbolic significance, the mission was made famous after detecting traces of water on the surface of the star.
In addition to the Indian satellite, NASA’s lunar reconnaissance orbit (LRO), which is still active, has also been accurately located. This new research technique based on the three terrestrial antennas should be mobilized in the future to evaluate the risks of collisions and to reinforce the security in the missions around the Moon.
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