BENGALURU: All eyes are on the Chandrayaan-2 mission’s lander Vikram, which will separate from the orbiter on Monday between 12.45 pm and 1.45 pm. The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) on Sunday evening performed the fifth and final lunar-bound orbit manoeuvre for Chandrayaan-2 spacecraft (the orbiter), beginning at 6.21 pm by firing the orbiter’s on board propulsion systems for a duration of 52 seconds. The present orbital altitude is 119 km x 127 km and all spacecraft parameters have been found to be normal.
The mission plan entails the separation of the lander when the orbiter achieved an orbital altitude close to 100 km x 100 km. According to ISRO, the lander will now separate from the orbiter on Monday afternoon.
Vikram carries the 27 Kg robotic rover, Pragyan, which will come into play after the lander touches down on a high plain between two craters, Manzinus C and Simpelius N, between 1.30 am and 2.30 am on September 7.
When it does, India will be the first country to land near the moon’s south pole. ISRO said after the lander separates from the orbiter on Monday afternoon, the first de-orbit manoeuvre on lander Vikram will be performed on September 3 morning between 9 am and 10 am to lower the lander’s orbital altitude to 109 Km x 120 Km. The second manoeuvre will take place on September 4 between 3 am and 4 am to further lower the lander’s orbital altitude to 36 km x 110 km.
The lander’s orbit is from the moon’s pole-to-pole. In the early hours of Septamber 7, when lander Vikram approaches the lunar south pole at an altitude of 36 km, ISRO will carry out its powered descent to attempt a precision landing at the designated spot on the high plain between craters Manzinus C and Simpelius N. The landing is scheduled to take place between 1.30 am and 2.30 am on September 7. This will be witnessed live by PM Narendra Modi from ISRO Telemetry, Tracking and Command Network in Peenya, from where the mission is being controlled remotely.
As per plans, rover Pragyan is expected to roll out of lander Vikram between 5.30 am and 6.30 am on Saturday to carry out lunar surface-based exploration and experiments for 14 earth days (1 lunar day). While the lander will remain static on the lunar high plains between the two craters even as it relays experiment data of its own and that of Pragyan, the orbiter will continue orbiting the moon for one year before it crashes on the lunar surface.
The Rs 978 crore mission has several science payloads to expand the lunar scientific knowledge through detailed study of topography, seismography, mineral identification and distribution, surface chemical composition, thermo-physical characteristics of top soil and composition of the tenuous lunar atmosphere, leading to a new understanding of the origin of the Moon.
The Orbiter payloads will conduct remote-sensing observations from a 100 km orbit, while payloads of lander Vikram and rover Pragyan will perform in-situ measurements near the landing site.