NASA finding something orbiting around the moon that was created by intelligent life should be a huge announcement that sends shockwaves through the scientific community, right? Well NASA did exactly that, only the object they found wasn’t built by some ancient alien species or race of reclusive Moon men; it was built by the Indian space program, who completely lost contact with their Chandrayaan-1 probe over seven years ago and had no way of locating exactly where it ended up. Needless to say, it makes the discovery slightly less Earth-shattering, but it’s still pretty cool.
The five-foot-wide lunar probe was sent up in 2008 and then stopped sending messages back to Earth several months later in the midst of many technical hiccups, and fell just short of accomplishing all of its mission objectives. While the orbiter was only active for about half of the its planned time in space, it did still manage to release an impactor which struck the Moon and provided concrete evidence of water ice.
What’s particularly interesting is that the Chandrayaan-1 wasn’t detected by another spacecraft, but by researchers here on Earth using an extremely powerful radar beamed from NASA’s California-based Goldstone Deep Space Communications Complex. The radar produced a clear image of the Indian probe in a polar orbit around the Moon, which was more or less in the same place the researchers expected it to be. The Indian space agency will launch the second Chandrayaan mission early next here, and it will include another orbiter and lander, as well as a rover.