Chandrayaan-2 completes final pre-landing manoeuvre

Second de-orbit operation successfully completed on Lander, Vikram

Credits: ISRO/Twitter

India’s boldest Moon Mission Chandrayaan-2 completed its final pre-landing manoeuvre early morning on Sept.4 with a stamp of success. The second de-orbiting manoeuvre on the mission’s Lander was performed at 3.42 am as planned.

To achieve this, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) used the Lander, Vikram’s onboard propulsion system. Although the operation lasted a mere nine seconds, the mission component was placed in the predefined orbit. 

Currently, the Lander is in an orbit of 35 km X 101 km. “Chandrayaan-2 Orbiter continues to orbit the Moon in an orbit of 96 km x 125 km and both the Orbiter and Lander are healthy,” certified ISRO.

The successful Wednesday manoeuvre implies Vikram is now all set to commence its descent towards the lunar surface. The Lander’s powered descent has been scheduled between 1 am and 2 am on September 7, Saturday. This will be followed by the final touchdown between 1.30 am and 2.30 am.

Once the Lander touches down, the Rover, Pragyaan will roll out of Vikram within three to four hours. Pragyaan is expected to probe the lunar surface for an entire lunar day equivalent to 14 Earth days. 

One of its many critical tasks will be to probe deeper for water, the presence of which was first indicated by the Chandrayaan-1 mission in 2008. The Rover will also explore the chemicals and other surface material towards a better understanding of the origins of the solar system.

Most complex operation

While Isro Chairman K Sivan is on record dubbing the final descent as '15 minutes of terror,' former Isro Chairman G Madhavan Nair has called the operation the most complex to be attempted in the space agency's history. Nair had spearheaded the Chandrayaan-1 mission over a decade ago. 

The complexity of the manoeuvre, according to Nair, lies in the onboard cameras of the Orbiter mapping the terrain to identify the best location for the Lander to touch down. The Lander will be virtually on autonomous mode once the landing site is decided. 

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