tech2 News StaffSep 01, 2019 09:56:38 IST
Chandrayaan 2, India's second moon mission, is expected to complete its final orbit-lowering manoeuvre around the moon this evening. The lunar-bound manoeuvre is planned for 6-7 pm on 1 September by firing the spacecraft's onboard propulsion system. This fourth and final manoeuvre will move Chandrayaan 2 from its current 126 x 168 km (nearest x farthest distance) elliptical orbit to an almost-circular orbit of 114 x 128 km.
The Chandrayaan 2 composite has carried out three successful in-orbit manoeuvres since it entered lunar orbit — all to lower its altitude for separation of the Vikram lander and the landing itself. If successful, the final manoeuvre today will put the spacecraft on a circular path that passes over the lunar poles at a distance of roughly 100 km from the surface. Entering this circular orbit is the mission's final milestone before the Vikram lander separates from the orbiter to make its planned soft-landing on the moon's surface on 7 September at 1.55 am IST.
Chandrayaan 2 composite orbiting the moon before the lander's separation. Image: ISRO
The 100 x 100 km circular orbit will be close enough for the Vikram lander, currently bound to the orbiter in a 'composite', to separate. The separation and landing sequences are planned for 2 September and 7 September at 1.40 am, respectively. Between these two key milestones, 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.
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