NASA has discovered a spaceship that was last seen eight years ago

NASA employs its special lunar observer locate strays and to monitor on-going missions.

Carmelo Sheppard | Mar 14, 2017

   

The United States space agency spotted the Indian craft orbiting the moon using its large STEREO-B radar dish.

Space is littered with plenty of human-made cosmic junk that has broken off during missions and has been left to float through the abyss.

NASA employs its special lunar observer locate strays and to monitor on-going missions.

The agency was celebrating after successfully tracking down its own, still active wayward Lunar Reconnaissance Orbit, which launched in 2009.

Finding the small, 5-foot Indian orbiter, which lost contact in 2009, is an amazing feat for science and the agency.

"Finding LRO was relatively easy, as we were working with the mission's navigators and had precise orbit data was located," said Marina Brozovic, a radar scientist at JPL, said in a statement.

According to Brozovic, finding India's Chandrayaan-1 required a bit more detective work, because the last contact with the spacecraft was back in August 2009.

Chandrayaan-1 was India's pioneer mission to the moon and ceased communication after ten months.

After calculating where the small aircraft might be, approximately 124 miles above the moon, the scientists were the able to estimate where to send microwave beams that could detect anything crossing the path.

An object responded twice, and it had the radar signal of a small spacecraft.

Hunting down LRO and rediscovering India's Chandrayaan-1 means there is a new method to track astronauts from the ground.

NASA said that by working together, the large radar antennas at Goldstone, Arecibo, and Green Bank demonstrated that they could detect and even track small spacecraft in lunar orbit.

Ground-based radars could potentially play a role in future robotic and human missions to the moon.

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