Chandryaan-2 Closing In, Just A Few Days Away From A Historical Moment
Coming a day closer to making a historical landing on the moon, the Chandrayaan-2 lander and rover lowered their orbit around the moon a day after separating from the Chandrayaan-2 orbiter. This is the first time since Chandrayaan-2 was launched that Vikram, the lander is operating independently and underwent its first manoeuvre around the moon.
The Vikram lander holds inside it the six-wheeled rover Pragyaan, which is scheduled to touchdown on the lunar South Pole on September 7. ISRO successfully completed the first de-orbiting manoeuvre at 8.50 am Tuesday, using Vikram’s propulsion systems for the first time.
“The duration of the manoeuvre was 4 seconds. The orbit of Vikram is 104kmX128km, the Chandryaan 2 orbiter continues to orbit Moon in the existing orbit and both the orbiter and lander are healthy,” ISRO said.
The next de-orbiting manoeuvre is scheduled on September 04 between 3.30am and 4.30am. This will bring Vikram into an even lower orbit of 36kmX110km around the moon. The landing module successfully separated from the orbiter at 1.15pm Monday. This pushed Chandrayaan-2 mission into its last leg of landing on the moon.
#ISRO— ISRO (@isro) September 3, 2019
The first de-orbit maneuver for #VikramLander of #Chandrayaan2 spacecraft was performed successfully today (September 03, 2019) at 0850 hrs IST.
For details please visit https://t.co/K5dS113UJL
Here's view of Control Centre at ISTRAC, Bengaluru pic.twitter.com/Ddeo2URPg5
“The operation was great in the sense that we were able to separate the lander and rover from the orbiter – It is the first time in the history of ISRO that we’ve separated two modules in space. This was critical and we did it very meticulously,” ISRO chairman K Sivan told Times of India after the separation.
On September 7, Vikram will begin a 15-minute powered descent after which it will place Pragyaan rover on the surface of the moon. ISRO had announced Vikram would land at 1.55am. “We are looking at starting the powered descent at 1.40am or 1.45am. The landing must happen 15 minutes after that,” Sivan further said.
Once it is on the moon, Pragyaan has 14 days to venture on the lunar surface and gather crucial data from the rocky celestial body. ISRO chose the moon’s lunar South Pole as Pragyaan’s mission location as it is one of the coldest spots in the Solar System and has not received sunlight for billions of years.
When Chandrayaan-2 lands on the moon, it will make India only the fourth country in the world to land a rover on the surface of the moon. So far, only the United States, the former Soviet Union and China have landed their rovers on the moon.
On 11 April 2019, a soft landing attempt by Israel on the moon surface failed when its craft faced problems during descent and it had to be crashed onto the moon. Learning from the mistakes of Israel, ISRO made a number of adjustments to its Chandrayaan-2 lander so that it avoids a repeat.
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