Chandrayaan-2 to enter Moon orbit around 9.30am tomorrow

NEW DELHI: Around 29 days after liftoff from Sriharikota on July 22, Chandrayaan-2 is finally going to enter Moon’s orbit around 9.30am on Tuesday, which itself will be a milestone for Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro) before the lunarcraft’s historic moonlanding on September 7.

Isro chairman K Sivan told TOI, “Chandrayaan-2 is going to enter a crucial phase of lunar orbit insertion around 9.30am on Tuesday. On entering Moon’s sphere of influence, the onboard propulsion system of the craft will be fired to slow down the spacecraft to help it captured by Moon’s gravity. We will thereafter conduct five manoeuvres to put the spacecraft around 100km x 100km lunar orbit.” The five manoeuvres will be conducted on August 20, 21, 28, 30 and September 1 to lower the altitude of Chandrayaan-2 to bring it closer to Moon’s surface.

Explaining the lunar orbit insertion, former Isro chief Kiran Kumar told TOI, “Moon has 65,000km sphere of influence, meaning its gravity can pull space bodies up to that distance. On August 20, when Chandrayaan-2 will be just around 150km from the lunar orbit, we will do the reorientation. We will provide a critical velocity to Chandrayaan-2: reduce its velocity and change its direction so that it enters Moon’s orbit. If the velocity is more, it will simply fly by and go away from Moon.”


Subsequently, Vikram lander will separate from the orbiter on September 2. “Thereafter, two more manoeuvres will be performed on Vikram before the power descent starts to make the lander make a soft-landing on Moon between 1.30am and 2.30am on September 7,” Sivan said. The cameras fitted onboard the orbiter and lander will provide real-time assessment of the landing zone. The lander’s downward-looking camera will verify the surface during the touchdown and check for any obstruction.

After landing, six-wheeled Pragyan rover, housed within Vikram lander, will come out of it after four hours. It will roll out at a speed of 1cm per second. During its lifespan of one lunar day (14 Earth days), Pragyan will move up to 500 metre on the lunar surface. It will take images and analyse content on the lunar surface and send back data via Vikram or the orbiter to Earth within 15 minutes.

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