Discussing Chandraayan-1’s bistatic experiment with LRO

Universe Today has an interesting interview with Paul Spudis, who ran the Mini-SAR radar instrument on the ill fated Chandraayan-1 lunar probe. The Indian space agency ISRO declared the probe lost at the end of last month, marking the end of the mission and the beginning of the write-up of the masses of data it collected.

The interview concerns a revolutionary experiment attempted with the help of NASA. The probe Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter was sent into formation with Chandraayan-1. The ISRO probe was then to beam its radar down and read the backscatter whilst LRO detected the radar bounced back at other angles, a sure fire way of discriminating between ice and rock which would’ve settled the water on the Moon question in one reading. Sadly it seems that the equipment gremlins that did for the probe (due to insufficient radiation shielding on the spacecraft) were working on it even then. The two orbiters attained the correct orbital formation, but Mini-SARs was ignoring commands asking it to point down.

The radar was fired into space.

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