I was just watching a video about a competition to put rovers on the Moon. Near the beginning of the video, it mentioned a handful of the objects that landed there over the decades. Then at about the 5 minute mark, it begins talking about satellites in orbit around the Moon and it made me wonder what's up there.

I found this list on Wikipedia of artificial satellites orbiting the Moon, but based on what the video said, I don't think it's up to date. From what I can tell this list only includes satellites sent by NASA and the Soviet Union, but the video mentioned NASA, ESA, China, India, and Japan.

How many satellites are orbiting the Moon, and what are their names (or other identifiers)?

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ This is a duplicate of Which artificial satellites in lunar orbit are currently active?. The answer to that question explains the unstable nature of lunar orbits. There are stable orbits but they are high and not very useful for scientific probes where the point is to get close and take measurements. $\endgroup$
    – kim holder
    Jun 17 '15 at 13:47
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    $\begingroup$ Also see the list at Exploration of the Moon it's kept more up to date than the link you include. $\endgroup$
    – TildalWave
    Jun 17 '15 at 13:59
  • $\begingroup$ The Soviet Union has ended in 1991. Do you mean Russia? $\endgroup$
    – mins
    Jun 17 '15 at 18:16
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    $\begingroup$ At the time the objects in that list were sent it was the Soviet Union. $\endgroup$
    – duzzy
    Jun 17 '15 at 19:03

To the best of my knowledge, there are four active satellites orbiting the Moon.

  1. The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter: Polar mapping orbit, mission by NASA.

  2. ARTEMIS (two spacecraft): "Acceleration, Reconnection, Turbulence and Electrodynamics of the Moon’s Interaction with the Sun". ARTEMIS P1 and P2 orbit the Moon right now.


Visualisation of ARTEMIS near the Moon. (Wikimedia)

  1. Chang'e 5-T1: The command module of this Chinese spacecraft has been in a stable orbit around Luna since January 2015.

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