Chandrayaan-2 lander homing in on moon

Vikram’s orbit is 35 km from the lunar surface, touchdown planned early on Saturday

Updated - December 03, 2021 08:16 am IST

Published - September 04, 2019 07:34 am IST - Bengaluru

An illustration of Chandrayaan-2 lander Vikram. Photo: ISRO

An illustration of Chandrayaan-2 lander Vikram. Photo: ISRO

Chandrayaan-2’s mission handlers have further honed moon lander Vikram’s orbit to as close as 35 km from the lunar surface, sharply priming it to the descent planned early on Saturday.

The second and probably the last manoeuvre on the lander before it reaches the lunar surface took place at 3.42 a.m. on Wednesday as planned.

After the nine-second operation, the lander now goes around moon in its new orbit of 35 km x 101 km. Before this its orbit was set at 109 km x 120 km.

An update from the Indian Space Research Organisation said: “With this manoeuvre, the required orbit for the Vikram lander to commence its descent towards the surface of moon is achieved. The lander is scheduled to [make a] powered descent between 0100 and 0200 hrs IST on September 7, which is then followed by the lander’s touchdown between 0130 and 0230 hrs IST.”

Both the orbiter and the lander are healthy, it said. The primary Chandrayaan-2 orbiter continues to orbit the moon at a distance of 96 km x 125 km.

Its previous orbit of 119 x 127 km of September 1 seems to have been slightly trimmed again later on Tuesday but this could not be confirmed.

The orbiter carries eight scientific payloads for mapping the lunar surface and study the exosphere (outer atmosphere) of the Moon while the lander carries three scientific payloads to conduct surface and subsurface science experiments.

The rover carries two payloads to enhance the understanding of the lunar surface.

India’s second lunar expedition would shed light on a completely unexplored section of the Moon, its South Polar region.

According to ISRO, the mission objective of Chandrayaan-2 is to develop and demonstrate the key technologies for end-to-end lunar mission capability, including soft-landing and roving on the lunar surface.

On the science front, this mission aims to further expand the knowledge about the moon through a detailed study of its topography, mineralogy, surface chemical composition, thermo-physical characteristics and atmosphere, leading to a better understanding of the origin and evolution of the moon, the space agency had said.

On successful completion, it will make India the fourth country after Russia, the U.S. and China to pull off a soft landing on the moon.

(With inputs from PTI)

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