It is good news that the Indian Space Research Organization’s second mission is getting closer to the moon. This time it has completed its final(Lunar Orbit) in-orbit adjustment.
The process for the same began on 4 September which lasted for approximately 9 seconds. With this success, the Vikram lander and Pragyan rover (the two components in the landing module) are now closer than ever, and this increases the probability that it will make a soft landing on 7 September.
From its previous elliptical orbit of 109 x 120 km orbit (nearest x farthest distance from the surface), the landing module has been lowered to a more suitable 35 x 101 km orbit around the moon. The Chandrayaan 2 orbiter continues to orbit the moon in a higher, elliptical orbit of 96 x 125 km. ISRO confirmed that both orbiter and lander are well.
“With this maneuver, the required orbit for the Vikram Lander to commence its descent towards the surface of the Moon is achieved,” ISRO said in the Chandrayaan 2 update. “The lander is scheduled to powered descent between 1-2 am IST on 7 September 2019, which is then followed by touchdown of the lander on the moon’s surface between 1.30-2.30 am IST, they added. This key step will be gushed live from ISRO’s control room at the Satellite Control Centre (SCC) in Bengaluru.
On 7 September, after a powered descent lasting 15 minutes, the Vikram lander will drop from a height of 100 km to attempt a soft-land on the moon around 1.55 am. This landing, if successful, will move India to an exclusive group of only four nations that have soft-landed on the moon’s surface.
In the days to come, the first maps of the landing site will be created by the Vikram lander to assure the landing site is safe, as previously thought, to make its planned soft-landing. This significant step will be the most challenging of the mission since ISRO’s engineers won’t be operating the spacecraft remotely from the control center, and will hand over controls (and the fate of the mission) to the lander’s navigating system and engines.
The orbiter will also be surveilling its year-long home for the first time, assuring that no harm was caused to its devices on the journey so far and administering a thorough examination of the Vikram lander’s landing site at the moon’s South Polar region.