The hardest bits of India’s second moon mission seemed to have gone smoothly as hoped by the Indian Space Research Organisation as it was making its final orbital manoeuvres from the earth and get to the moon’s orbit. And now that the spacecraft is hovering around the moon’s orbit, Chandrayaan 2 was used to beam back the first images of the body, that ISRO has introduced to the public in a tweet on Thursday.
The image, taken at an altitude of 2650 kilometres from the moon’s surface was captured around 4.33pm EAT according to ISRO’s website.
— ISRO (@isro) August 22, 2019
This may be as scary as it is impressive for one of the most affordable missions in the space research history to get this far and it is pretty straightforward that everyone in the agency and India as a whole cannot wait for the touch down at the lunar surface.
This milestone comes shortly after Chandrayaan 2 successfully completed its first orbital manoeuvre on 20th August. What ISRO is currently working on is to make another critical manoeuvre that is one of four “retro firings” of the onboard propulsion system that are meant to lower the spacecraft’s orbit (thereby also reducing its speed) till the spacecraft is at its closest to the surface.
The spacecraft entered the lunar orbit on Tuesday after the six weeks since liftoff, having attained the 100-km orbit with all the three components still intact and stuck together. After a few circular orbits, the Vikram lander is expected to separate from the orbiter, on 2 September.
After that is when the Vikram lander will make its long-awaited powered descent and landing on the 7th of September in what ISRO describes as “15 minutes of terror”.
Updated on 30/09/2019
Chandrayaan-2 narrowed its distance from the moon’s surface after a crucial manoeuvre yesterday. According to ISRO, the spacecraft completed the third orbit action that lasted about 20 minutes bringing it closer to the lunar surface. All this was under the control from the Mission Operations Complex at ISTRAC (ISRO Telemetry, Tracking and Command Network) in Bengaluru.
The update that came on day 38 after launch stated, “The third lunar-bound orbit manoeuvre of Chandrayaan-2 spacecraft was performed successfully today (August 28) beginning at 0904 hours IST using the onboard propulsion system. All spacecraft parameters are normal.”
A total of five manoeuvres are planned to gradually make the lunar craft’s oval orbit circular with the desired circular orbit expected after two more orbit reducing operations – on August 30 and September 1.
From there, the vessel is due to land on the lunar surface in the early hours of September 7th IST.
Updated on 03/09/2019
The Indian Space Research Organisation has even more reasons to celebrate for the milestones so far. The second mission to the moon has been successful thus far and the likelihood of a successful landing is more than likely.
After completing its manoeuvre from the earth’s orbit and getting to the moon surface, the agency’s next task was to get the spacecraft to an independent orbit around the moon thus getting it closer to the lunar surface. And on 2nd September, the vessel did exactly that between 6.15pm-7.15pm EAT.
The Vikram lander and Pragyan rover, the two components in the landing module, are now one step closer to making their highly-anticipated soft-landing on 7 September. From its current position at the elliptical orbit, the landing module is then expected to be lowered further.
During the landing module’s powered descent to the moon’s surface, ISRO will oversee two deorbit (orbit-lowering) manoeuvres on 3 and 4 September respectively. This will be followed by a live stream from ISRO’s control room at the Satellite Control Centre (SCC) in Bengaluru, leading up to the landing itself, which the Chairman of ISRO described as “15 minutes of terror” for the complexity and challenge of soft-landing (something ISRO is attempting for the first time).
Updated on 05/09/2019
After blasting off the earth’s surface in July and snapping some gorgeous photos of the moon from a distance, the moment of truth is finally here for India’s Chandrayaan-2 mission.
The spacecraft completed its final manoeuvre from the moon’s orbit on September 3rd at 3.42 am IST (6.12pm 2nd ET). This was after a burn on the propulsion system that lasted for 9seconds. After several delays of this mission, ISRO is finally ready to get its robotic explorers onto the unexplored lunar surface.
This historic landing, if successful, will make India the fourth nation to achieve such a feat, scheduled for 4 am Friday ET (1.30 pm IST). ISRO is then expected to provide a live stream of the landing but those details are yet to be finalised.
Those looking to tune into the attempt will be able to do so on YouTube, through public broadcaster Doordarshan, below.
One other milestone that ISRO managed was the successful separation of the spacecraft’s parts on the 2nd; the orbiter and the lander, which contains the rover.
— ISRO (@isro) September 2, 2019
From here. the orbiter will continue to revolve around the moon as the lander commences its journey to the lunar south pole. The mission in total contains 12 robotic payloads, with five on the orbiter and lander and two on the rover. Each of these explorers will have the objective of achieving key science goals with the limited time they have on the surface.
There will be a ton of discoveries to make since the south pole of the moon has never been explored. The lander will operate for a single lunar day (around two Earth weeks) as it provides data back to the control rooms in India.