Chandrayaan 2 edges closer to moon's surface after completing second orbital manoeuvre

The spacecraft is expected to make its long-awaited descent & landing on 7 September, starting 1.40 am.

India's second moon exploration mission Chandrayaan 2, successfully completed its second orbital manoeuvre in lunar orbit today. The critical manoeuvre was begun at 12.50 pm IST, using the onboard propulsion system. It lasted about 20 minutes, during which time the spacecraft was brought closer to the lunar surface. The spacecraft entered lunar orbit on Tuesday, 20 August after a  week sojourn from liftoff.

Now that the lunar capture, or entry of the spacecraft into lunar orbit, is complete without hitch or glitch, the 13-day (lunar-bound) phase of the mission begins.

Chandrayaan 2 composite orbiting the moon before the lander's separation. Image: ISRO

Chandrayaan 2 composite orbiting the moon before the lander's separation. Image: ISRO

The manoeuvre lasted exactly 1228 seconds, and the final orbit achieved was 118 x 4412 km (nearest x farthest distance). The space agency said all the parameters of the craft are normal. The series of orbit manoeuvres will enable Chandrayaan 2 to enter its final orbit passing over the lunar poles at a distance of about 100 km from the moon's surface, ISRO said.

The next manoeuvre in lunar orbit is scheduled for 28 August, ISRO has said, following by two more on 30 August and 1 September. Each of these manoeuvers will lower the orbital altitude of Chandrayaan 2 in preparation for landing. From 2nd September, all eyes will be on the lander, Dr Sivan said, much like a bridegroom on her wedding.

On 3 and 4 September, the first maps of the landing site will be created to ensure the landing site is as safe as previously thought to make a soft-landing. This is crucial since ISRO's mission engineers won't be operating the spacecraft remotely. This is an important part of the orbiter's mission: surveilling its year-long home for the first time, ensuring that no damage was caused to its instruments on the journey thus far, and a thorough examination of the Vikram lander's landing site at the moon's South Polar region.

Chandrayaan 2 is expected to make its long-awaited powered descent and landing on 7 September at 1.40 am IST in a landing sequence that the ISRO Chief describes as '15 minutes of terror'.

While subsequent events in the mission 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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