India’s moonshot Chandrayaan 2 has been successfully manoeuvred into lunar orbit today after a 30 day journey.
The approach velocity had to be just right and the altitude over the moon rather precise. A higher-than-expected approach velocity would have bounced off the spacecraft into deep space, while a slow approach would have led to the moon’s gravity to pull Chandrayaan 2 and crash it on the lunar surface.
This was one of the trickiest operations in the mission.
ISRO Chairman K Sivan speaking with reporters said: “Three more manoeuvres are to be completed. The next is tomorrow around 1 pm. The big event is on September 2 when the lander will be separated.”
On statement released on its website ISRO said:
“Lunar Orbit Insertion (LOI) maneuver was completed successfully today (August 20, 2019). The duration of maneuver was 1738 seconds beginning from 0902 hrs IST. With this, Chandrayaan-2 was successfully inserted into a Lunar orbit. The orbit achieved is 114 km x 18072 km.
Following this, a series of orbit maneuvers will be performed on Chandrayaan-2 spacecraft to enable it to enter its final orbit passing over the lunar poles at a distance of about 100 km from the Moon’s surface.
Subsequently, the lander will separate from the Orbiter and enters into a 100 km X 30 km orbit around the Moon. Then, it will perform a series of complex braking maneuvers to soft land in the South polar region of the Moon on September 7, 2019.
The health of the spacecraft is being continuously monitored from the Mission Operations Complex (MOX) at ISRO Telemetry, Tracking and Command Network (ISTRAC) in Bengaluru with support from Indian Deep Space Network (IDSN) antennas at Bylalu, near Bengaluru. All the systems of Chandrayaan-2 are healthy.
The next Lunar bound orbit maneuver is scheduled tomorrow (August 21, 2019) between 1230-13:30 hrs IST.”
The process of landing Chandrayaan 2 on the moon is very complex since it blasted off at a velocity of 39,240 kilometres per hour, which is almost 30 times the speed at which sound travels through air.
The mission stands out because of its low cost, with just about Rs. 1,000 crore spent.
If successful, the mission will make India the fourth country to soft land a rover on the lunar surface after Russia, US and China. The last nation to attempt a soft landing on the moon, Israel, failed in its mission earlier this year.
Source : Various