tech2 News StaffSep 02, 2019 10:01:39 IST
Chandrayaan 2, India's second moon mission, has completed its final orbit-lowering manoeuvre around the moon at 6.21 pm this evening. With this final adjustment to the spacecraft's altitude, the Chandrayaan 2 composite was lowered from an elliptical orbit of 126 x 168 km (nearest x farthest distance) elliptical orbit to an almost-circular orbit of 119 x 127 km.
The spacecraft's onboard propulsion system (popularly known as "thrusters" were fired for 52 seconds in the mission's fifth and final orbit-lowering manoeuvre in the moon's orbit. ISRO has also announced that the landing module (the Vikram lander with the Pragyan rover inside it) is scheduled for separation on 2 September between 12.45 - 1.45 pm. If successful, Vikram lander will then be put on a separate, circular path identical to the orbiter, passing over the lunar poles at a distance of roughly 100 km from the surface.
By attaining a near-circular orbit, there are only three more mission milestones before the Vikram lander attempts its planned soft-landing on the moon's surface on 7 September at 1.55 am IST. This includes two deorbit (orbit-lowering) manoeuvres on 3 and 4 September and its powered descent from an elliptical orbit of 36 x 110 km between 1.30-2.30 am on 7 September.
Over the course of the next few days, the first maps of the landing site will be created (planned for 3 and 4 September) by the Vikram lander to ensure the landing site is safe, as previously thought, to make a soft-landing. This is a crucial step in the mission since ISRO's mission engineers won't be operating the spacecraft remotely from the control centre.
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.