New Delhi: A NASA spacecraft has successfully pinged the Indian Space Research Organisation Chandrayaan-3 on the Lunar surface.
For the first time on the Moon, a laser beam was transmitted and reflected between an orbiting NASA spacecraft and an Oreo-sized device on ISRO’s Vikram lander on the lunar surface. The successful experiment opens the door to a new style of precisely locating targets on the Moon’s surface.
“At 3 pm EST (local time) on December 12, 2023, NASA’s LRO (Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter) pointed its laser altimeter instrument toward Vikram. The lander was 62 miles, or 100 kilometres, away from LRO, near Manzinus crater in the Moon’s South Pole region when LRO transmitted laser pulses toward it. After the orbiter registered light that had bounced back from a tiny NASA retroreflector aboard Vikram, NASA scientists knew their technique had finally worked,” NASA said in a statement.
According to NASA, sending laser pulses toward an object and measuring how long it takes the light to bounce back is a commonly used way to track the locations of Earth-orbiting satellites from the ground.