Chandrayaan 2 Completes Orbit Manoeuvres, One Step Away From Moon Landing

Following the landing, the rover – ‘Pragyan’ – will roll out from ‘Vikram’ between 5:30 and 6:30 am on September 7, and carry out experiments on the lunar surface for a period of one lunar day, which is equal to 14 earth days.

BENGALURU: The Chandrayaan 2 mission has completed all its orbit manoeuvres around the Moon and is ready to land close to the lunar south pole. The orbit manoeuvres, including the lander ‘Vikram’ separating from the orbiter, were performed to pin-point accuracy at its designated times. ISRO now aims to create history by making India the first nation to reach close to the Moon’s south pole in its first attempt. The Moon landing is scheduled for September 7 between 1:40 am and 1:55 am.

This morning, the second and final de-orbiting manoeuvre of Chandrayaan 2 spacecraft was successfully carried out by the Indian Space Research Organisation. “With this manoeuvre the required orbit for the Vikram Lander to commence it descent towards the surface of the Moon is achieved,” ISRO said in a statement.

The nine-second de-orbiting or retro-orbiting manoeuvre was executed at 3:42 am using the onboard propulsion system, the space agency said

The first de-orbiting manoeuvre was carried 19 hours earlier – a day after the lander ‘Vikram’ was separated from the Chandrayaan 2 orbiter.

While Chandrayaan 2 continues to orbit the Moon at a perigee or point of orbit closest to the Moon, of 96 km and an apogee or point of orbit farthest from the Moon, of 125 km, the Vikram Lander is at an orbit of 35 km perigee and 101 km apogee. “Both the Orbiter and Lander are healthy,” ISRO said in a statement.

ISRO also said that Moon lander ‘Vikram’ is scheduled for a powered-descent between 1 am and 2 am on September 7, followed by touch down of Lander between 1:30 am and 2:30 am.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi is expected to be in the mission control center to witness this historic touch down of the Vikram lander near the South Pole of the moon.

The last fifteen minutes of automatic and autonomous descent of the lander to the Moon surface has been described by ISRO Chairman K Sivan as “15 minutes of terror”, because ISRO has never done a soft-landing on the Moon before, whereas a Lunar Orbit Insertion (LOI) manoeuvre had been done successfully during the Chandrayaan-1 mission.

Following the landing, the rover – ‘Pragyan’ – will roll out from ‘Vikram’ between 5:30 and 6:30 am on September 7, and carry out experiments on the lunar surface for a period of one lunar day, which is equal to 14 earth days.

The mission life of the lander is also one lunar day, while the orbiter will continue its mission for a year.

India’s Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle, GSLV MK-III-M1 had successfully launched the 3,840-kg Chandrayaan 2 spacecraft into the earth’s orbit on July 22.

Chandrayaan 2 satellite had began its journey towards the Moon leaving the Earth’s orbit on August 14, after a crucial maneuver called Trans Lunar Insertion or TLI that was carried out by ISRO to place the spacecraft on “Lunar Transfer Trajectory”.

In a major milestone for India’s second Moon mission, the Chandrayaan 2 spacecraft had successfully entered the lunar orbit on August 20 by performing Lunar Orbit Insertion (LOI) maneuver.

The health of the spacecraft is being continuously monitored from the Mission Operations Complex (MOX) at ISRO Telemetry, Tracking and Command Network (ISTRAC) in Bengaluru with support from Indian Deep Space Network (IDSN) antennas at Bylalu, near Bengaluru, the space agency has said.

The orbiter carries eight scientific payloads for mapping the lunar surface and study the exosphere (outer atmosphere) of the Moon while the lander carries three scientific payloads to conduct surface and subsurface science experiments.

The rover carries two payloads to enhance the understanding of the lunar surface.

India’s second lunar expedition would shed light on a completely unexplored section of the Moon, its South Polar region.

According to ISRO, the mission objective of Chandrayaan 2 is to develop and demonstrate the key technologies for end-to-end lunar mission capability, including soft-landing and roving on the lunar surface.

On the science front, this mission aims to further expand the knowledge about the Moon through a detailed study of its topography, mineralogy, surface chemical composition, thermo-physical characteristics and atmosphere, leading to a better understanding of the origin and evolution of the moon, the space agency had said.

On successful completion, it will make India the fourth country after Russia, the US and China to soft-land on the Moon.

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