Chandrayaan-2 enters Moon orbit, now inching closer to landing site
After traveling in space for nearly 30 days, Chandrayaan-2, India's second robotic mission to the Moon, has been positioned into the lunar orbit. On August 20, ISRO scientists on Earth maneuvered the space probe from the lunar transfer arc, taking it into the Moon's orbit and on the path to reach its final destination - the lunar South Pole. Here are the details.
Orbit transition: One of the complex parts of the mission
The maneuver, dubbed Lunar Orbit Insertion, made one of the most complex parts of the mission as it required just the right approach velocity and altitude to transition into the lunar orbit. A slight increase in velocity could have thrown Chandrayaan-2 off-track and into deep space, while a slower approach could have meant being pulled by the Moon and crashing into its surface.
However, ISRO nailed the maneuver
The team at ISRO nailed the move to perfection by firing the on-board liquid engine-powered propulsion system of the craft. They started the transition at 9:02 am and took about 29 minutes to place the craft successfully into the lunar orbit. Now, the craft is orbiting the Moon, eventually heading to its final destination - the lunar South Pole.
Here's the update from ISRO
#ISRO— ISRO (@isro) August 20, 2019
Lunar Orbit Insertion (LOI) of #Chandrayaan2 maneuver was completed successfully today (August 20, 2019). The duration of maneuver was 1738 seconds beginning from 0902 hrs IST
For more details visit https://t.co/FokCl5pDXg
What happens after this?
ISRO says Chandrayaan-2 will now perform a series of orbit maneuvers to enter the final orbit passing over the lunar South Pole at a distance of about 100 km. From here, the agency will perform the most complex move, which would see the lander detach and soft-land on the lunar surface with a series of braking operations. The landing is scheduled for September 7.
Then, the lander, rover, and orbiter elements will work
After the lander settles, ISRO's six-wheeled rover, dubbed Pragyaan, will roll out and stroll on the lunar surface at a speed of 1 centimeter per second. It will conduct several experiments, including on-site chemical analysis of the surface, in conjunction with the lander. Meanwhile, the orbiter element of the mission will gather data from orbit and relay the same back to Earth.