20 votes
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Suppose Zuma wasn't "lost" — what would it take to detect it?

First of all, what do we know about it's orbit? From the direction that the rocket took off, we know it's inclination was about 50 degrees. That could be adjusted higher in flight at a time that is ...
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12 votes
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What is the current record for the farthest detection of a "dead" spacecraft?

There are two potential candidates that I'm aware of. The first is J002E3, which is believed to be the Apollo 14 Saturn 5 upper stage. At the time of detection, it was orbiting Earth between 1-2 ...
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10 votes
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How could the presence of 3He be detected on the lunar surface?

NASA [1] indicates that helium-3 can be assessed indirectly by measuring the presence of titanium dioxide and soil characteristics ("maturity"), the correlation having been derived from the study of ...
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7 votes

What is the process to produce a chemical composition spectrum of a celestial body?

The spectrum you show from Titan was taken using the IRIS spectrometer aboard Voyager 1. Of course Voyager 2 had one as well. A huge amount of work went into developing and optimizing the design in ...
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6 votes

Suppose Zuma wasn't "lost" — what would it take to detect it?

There are other wavelengths than those discussed in this answer. On the off-chance that Zuma might broadcast data or telemetry, Canadian amateur astronomer Scott Tilley used a nice antenna and SDR to ...
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6 votes

How well could a satellite hide from Earth detection?

The answer to your question is classified. What is almost certain is that the USA launched stealth satellite in low Earth Orbit, so presumably it works well enough. These satellites were called MISTY ...
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5 votes
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How well could a satellite hide from Earth detection?

There are basically 3 means of tracking satellites: Radar- Can hide from this, see anything about stealth aircraft out there (Same principals) Visible- To hide from visible, it would basically be ...
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4 votes

What is the process to produce a chemical composition spectrum of a celestial body?

They use a tool called a spectrograph. There are a number of ways to make these, one of the easiest to understand is a prism. That prism breaks the incoming light in to a large number of colors, which ...
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2 votes

How could the presence of 3He be detected on the lunar surface?

@OscarLanzi's reality-based answer is thorough and excellent! In short, the 3He flux from the Sun is known and how deep those particles will embed themselves in the regolith surface and the rate of ...
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2 votes

What is the current record for the farthest detection of a "dead" spacecraft?

I can name two other spacecraft, one of which was significantly further away than Rosetta: SOHO (The Solar and Heliospheric Observatory) near L1 (approx 1 million miles from earth). After a gyroscope ...
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