Joint Effort to Find Water on Moon Failed

Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter
Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter

An effort to use NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter and ISRO’s Chandrayaan-1 spacecraft to search for water in the same crater on the moon failed due to an instrumentation problem, Aviation Week reports.

On Aug. 20, the two spacecraft peered into a crater at the north pole from different angles using synthetic aperture radar units.

The first and only attempt to use both spacecraft for a look down into a deep crater from slightly different angles failed because of pointing problems, according to Stewart Nozette, principal investigator on the LRO’s Mini-RF. Scientists had hoped the tricky maneuver Aug. 20 would help them distinguish ice and rock radar signatures. The spacecraft were only 20 kilometers (12.4 miles) apart, which gave enough of an angle for differences in the radar-reflection brightness to signify whether the source was rock or ice. Ground controllers managed to get data back from both spacecraft, but it turned out to be unusable.

Chandrayaan-1 suffered a catastrophic failure only nine days later, ending a 10-month mission around the moon. There is no chance to repeat the experiment.

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