One orbit closer: Chandrayaan-2 successfully inserted into lunar orbit

The spacecraft will now be performing a series of orbit maneuvers before the soft landing on the lunar surface on September 7.

August 21, 2019 By Ayushee Chaudhary Photo(s): By ISRO

Embarked on a mission to explore the lunar South Pole, ISRO's Chandrayaan-2 was successfully inserted into a Luna night orbit on August 20. This came after the Lunar Orbit Insertion (LOI) maneuver (with the duration of 1738 seconds) was successfully completed by Chandrayaan-2 on Tuesday.

To commemorate this significant moment in the Indian Space Research Organization's (ISRO) second moon mission, a press meet was organized on Monday by Dr. K Sivan, Chairman, ISRO at the organization's headquarters in Bengaluru.

"The LOI maneuver was performed successfully today morning using the onboard propulsion system for a firing duration of about 29 minutes. This maneuver precisely injected Chandrayaan-2 into an orbit around the Moon," announced Dr. Sivan in his briefing. Stressing on the unique requirement of 90 degree orbital inclination of Chandrayaan-2, Dr. Sivan said that it was achieved by the precise execution of both the Trans Lunar Injection (performed on August 14) and today's LOI maneuver. With this Chandrayaan-2 has achieved the orbit of 114 km x 18072 km.

Indian Space Research Organization's Chairman, Dr. K Sivan during a media briefing conducted in Bengaluru on Tuesday, August 20 on the occasion of Lunar Orbit insertion of Chandrayaan-2.

Dr. Sivan added that till September 1 a series of four orbit maneuvers will be performed on Chandrayaan-2 spacecraft to enable it to enter its final orbit passing over the lunar poles. While on September 2, the Vikram lander will separate from the Orbiter.

"The LOI maneuver was performed successfully today morning using the onboard propulsion system for a firing duration of about 29 minutes. This maneuver precisely injected Chandrayaan-2 into an orbit around the Moon," announced Dr. Sivan in his briefing.

Launched on the three stage GSLV-Mk-III-M1, Chandrayaan-2 carried an Orbiter, a Lander (named Vikram) and a Rover (named Pragyaan). The mission was propelled on July 22.

A statement released by the space organization also affirmed that following the insertion on August 20, a series of orbit maneuvers will be performed on Chandrayaan-2 to enable it to enter its final orbit passing over the lunar poles at a distance of about 100 km from the Moon's surface.

Subsequently, the lander is scheduled to separate from the Orbiter on September 2 and enter into a 100 km X 30 km orbit around the Moon. Post this, a series of complex braking maneuvers are to be executed by Vikram to soft land in the South polar region of the Moon on September 7.

The next Lunar bound orbit maneuver is scheduled for Wednesday, August 21 between 1230-13:30 hrs IST, informed ISRO.

This would be the world's first space mission to conduct a soft landing on the Moon's South Polar Region. The surface area in the this region of the Moon that remains in shadow is much larger compared to that in the North Polar Region. ISRO had also informed earlier that the lunar South Pole region has craters that are cold traps and contain a fossil record of the early Solar System. Moon's South Polar Region is also where India's first moon mission, Chandrayaan-1 had detected traces of water.

ISRO also added that a few hours after Vikram soft lands on the lunar surface, the Rover Pragyaan will roll down from Vikram and will perform in situ exploration of the surrounding lunar surface.

The instruments on the Rover will analyze the surface and send back data. The orbiter will move around the Moon for remote sensing, while the various science payloads will gather information on lunar topography, mineralogy, elemental abundance, lunar exosphere and signatures of hydroxyl and water-ice.

Chandrayaan-2 is believed to be ISRO's most complex and ambitious mission for now and is certainly awaited by the world's space explorers.

Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, who has displayed a significant and keen interest in ISRO'S missions also congratulated the space agency on this occasion.

"The health of the spacecraft is being continuously monitored. All the systems of Chandrayaan-2 are healthy," said ISRO's statement.

The next Lunar bound orbit maneuver is scheduled for Wednesday, August 21 between 1230-13:30 hrs IST, informed ISRO.

This is India's maiden attempt to land on the lunar soil. As of now, only Russia, USA, and China have been successful in achieving soft-landing on the Moon. If successful, India would be the fourth country in the list.