India’s Chandrayaan-2 mission achieves lunar orbit ahead of Moon landing

India’s Chandrayaan-2 spacecraft has managed to orbit the Moon. The ambitious mission, consisting of an orbiter, lander and rover, aims to shed new light on the creation and evolution of Earth’s closest celestial neighbor.

Launch of Chandrayaan-2 at 2:43 p.m. IST on July 22 of this year, about a GSLV Mk-III rocket from the SHAR Satish Dhawan Space Center, located in Sriharikota, India.

Following its initial insertion into a parking orbit around Earth, Chandrayaan-2 carried out a series of altitude-increasing maneuvers designed to place the robotic rover on a transfer path with the Moon.

At 09:02 IST on August 20, after a 29-minute capture maneuver during which Chandrayaan-2’s thrusters drastically reduced their speed, the probe finally made orbit around the Moon.

The current orbit of Chandrayaan-2 is very eccentric. At its lowest point in relation to the Moon, also known as the perilune, it passes just 114 km (71 miles) from the surface of the Moon, while at its highest point, or apolune, it is 18,072 km (11,229 miles) away. .

The Pragyan rover photographed with the Vikram lander before launch

ISRO

The spacecraft and its scientific payload will soon begin work gradually lowering and adjusting its orbit through a series of four orbital maneuvers, until it reaches a final circularized polar orbit approximately 100 km (62 miles) above the lunar surface.

From this point of view, the solar orbiter will characterize the Earth companion, collecting data on its chemical composition, the distribution of these materials, and a number of other important characteristics.

On September 2, as the probe travels around the Moon in its scientific orbit, the spacecraft will launch the Vikram lander, which will continue to establish an orbit with a 30-km (19-mile) perilune and a 100-km apoll. (62 miles).

Once in this orbit, Vikram will undertake a series of braking maneuvers that (hopefully) will allow him to make a soft landing in the region of the south pole of the Moon, between the craters Manzinus C and Simpelius N. The landing is scheduled for September. . 7.

The Vikram lander pictured stacked on top of the Chandrayaan-2 orbiter before launch

The Vikram lander pictured stacked on top of the Chandrayaan-2 orbiter before launch

ISRO

Vikram is designed to conduct in situ experiments during one lunar day, which is equivalent to 14 Earth days. Upon landing on the surface, the lander will drop a solar powered rover called Pragyan, named after the Sanskrit word for “wisdom.”

The 60-pound, six-wheeled Pragyan rover is capable of traveling 500 m (1,640 ft) across the lunar surface and will transmit data collected from experiments conducted around the polar landing site to Earth via the lander Vikram. .

Source: Indian Space Research Organization

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