The Vikram lander of the Chandrayaan-2 mission has moved away from the main spacecraft, and closer to the moon, lowering itself into an orbit that was 104 km from the lunar surface at the nearest point and 128 km at the furthest. The lander had separated itself from the main spacecraft on Monday and had started moving independently, though in the same orbit as the main spacecraft.
After a four second manoeuvre performed at 0850 am this morning, Vikram, which carries the Pragyaan rover inside, changed its orbit and reached closer to the moon. Through a similar operation on Wednesday, Vikram would lower itself further into an orbit that would be about 36 km from the lunar surface at its nearest point. It is from this orbit that it will begin its final descent on to the moon on the early hours of Saturday.
The main spacecraft would continue to remain in its original orbit, and would relay information to the tracking station in Bengaluru for at least one year. “Both the Orbiter (main spacecraft) and Lander are healthy,” ISRO said in a statement after today’s manoeuvre.
The manoeuvre that took just 4 seconds was done using the onboard propulsion system, Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) said. The lander’s next de-orbiting manoeuvre is now scheduled to take place on Wednesday, September 4 between 03:30-04:30 hours IST.
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Here’s view of Control Centre at ISTRAC, Bengaluru pic.twitter.com/Ddeo2URPg5
— ISRO (@isro) September 3, 2019
A lot of developments have taken place with Chandrayaan-2 during the past one week. India’s second lunar mission is just days away from creating history as it prepares for a soft landing on the surface of the moon.
The Vikram lander which is carrying the Pragyaan rover separated from the main spacecraft module on Monday and is orbiting the moon independently, preparing itself for the descent to the lunar surface in the early hours of Saturday, September 7.
The main spacecraft module of Chandrayaan-2 had reached the near-circular orbit this past Sunday. Its orbit is 119 km from the moon’s surface at its nearest and 127 km at the farthest, according to the information given in the ISRO statement. It had completed its fourth lunar orbit manoeuvre on Friday.