Nasa’s radar tech that found India’s Chandrayaan I can make space travel safer

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Published: March 15, 2017 4:46:47 AM

Finding Chandrayaan-I, which was “lost” since August 2009, in its orbit around the moon is the newest feather in Nasa’s cap.

Nasa has already been using this technology to communicate with Voyager-I spacecraft, which has reached the edge of the solar system, but it was never, until now, used to discover a non-functional orbiter. (Reuters)

Finding Chandrayaan-I, which was “lost” since August 2009, in its orbit around the moon is the newest feather in Nasa’s cap. But it is the technique that enabled the find that is truly revolutionary. Scientists used ground-based radar technology, i.e., sending microwave beams and listening to echoes, to track the lost device orbiting the moon. Not only could they find the spacecraft, they could also determine its speed and orbit. Nasa has already been using this technology to communicate with Voyager-I spacecraft, which has reached the edge of the solar system, but it was never, until now, used to discover a non-functional orbiter. In fact, the only other time this was used to discover Nasa’s lunar reconnaissance orbiter, but even then, the spacecraft was operational.

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With companies and countries sending more space missions and satellites into orbits, the technique can help in providing interplanetary radar investigations to ensure that objects don’t collide in space. Though limited to moon so far, it can perhaps be used in the case of other planets, ensuring there is no overcrowding of space. Moreover, with ground radars having the ability to track lunar orbits, space travel can certainly become a lot safer. As many companies like Tesla, Amazon, etc, eye space travel as a business pursuit in the future, they too could use ground radar to reassure their passengers.

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