Chandrayaan 2 completes final in-orbit manoeuvre before India's maiden moon landing on 7 Sept

The landing module is now well on its way toward its 7 September landing on the moon's surface.

The landing module of Chandrayaan 2, the Indian Space Research Organisation's second mission to the moon, has completed its second and final in-orbit adjustment in lunar orbit. This manoeuvre was started at 3.45 am IST on 4 September, and lasted all of 9 seconds. With this success, the Vikram lander and Pragyan rover (the two components in the landing module) are now closer than ever to making their highly-anticipated soft-landing on 7 September.

From its previous elliptical orbit of 109 x 120 km orbit (nearest x farthest distance from the surface), the landing module has been lowered to a more suitable 35 x 101 km orbit around the moon. The Chandrayaan 2 orbiter continues to orbit the Moon in a higher, elliptical orbit of 96 x 125 km. ISRO confirmed that both orbiter and lander are healthy.

An illustration of the Chandrayaan-2 orbiter and landing module's post-separation in their independent orbits around the moon. Image: ISRO/YouTube

"With this manoeuvre, the required orbit for the Vikram Lander to commence its descent towards the surface of the Moon is achieved," ISRO said in the Chandrayaan 2 update. The lander is scheduled to powered descent between 1-2 am IST on 7 September 2019, which is then followed by touchdown of the lander on the moon's surface between 1.30-2.30 am IST, they added. This key step will be streamed live from ISRO's control room at the Satellite Control Centre (SCC) in Bengaluru.

On 7 September (a.k.a landing day!), after a powered descent lasting 15 minutes, the Vikram lander will drop from a height of 100 km to attempt a soft-land on the moon around 1.55 am. This landing, if successful, will propel India to an exclusive group of only four nations that have soft-landed on the moon's surface.

Glimpse inside ISRO's control room during landing module's first in-orbit manoeuvre on 3 September. Image: ISRO

In the days to come, the first maps of the landing site will be created by the Vikram lander to ensure the landing site is safe, as previously thought, to make its planned soft-landing. This crucial step will be the most challenging of the mission since ISRO's engineers won't be operating the spacecraft remotely from the control centre, and will hand over controls (and the fate of the mission) to the lander's navigation system and engines.

The orbiter will also be surveilling its year-long home for the first time, ensuring that no damage was caused to its instruments on the journey so far and conducting a thorough examination of the Vikram lander's landing site at the moon's South Polar region.

While subsequent events in the mission prior to landing won't be streamed live, you can catch live updates on the mission on our dedicated Chandrayaan 2 domain, our Twitter pageISRO's website, or Twitter page.

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