India's Moon spacecraft performs second orbit-raising manoeuvre

Inside Dark Polar Moon Craters

A permanently shadowed lunar crater. Credit NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

The earth bound maneuvers for Chandrayaan 2 spacecraft were executed from July 24 onwards.

The GM said all the parameters of the machine were validated during the pre-dispatch inspection thus confirming the entity's strength to build such high-end machines. The next manoeuvre is scheduled on July 29 between 2.30 pm and 3.30 pm.

An hour before the launch, a technical snag was observed.

Over the next few days, mission controllers will use Chandrayaan-2's onboard propulsion system to perform a series of orbital adjustments. With each orbit-raising manoeuvre, the spacecraft would gain energy that would eventually be adequate for it to leave the orbit around the earth and move towards the moon.

Originally Vikram was planned to land on the moon 54 days after the rocket's lift off and now the landing will take place in 48 days. The soft landing region will be chosen by itself.

It blasted off on top of India's most powerful rocket - the GSLV Mk III, and its unmanned lander is due to touch down near the moon's south pole on 7 September. Now India will be only the fourth nation after the US, China and Russian Federation to land on the Moon.

How India's Chandrayaan 2 will make it to the moon.

It will be the second time India has been to the moon. India's first Lunar Mission in 2008 had identified traces of water on Moon. The Vikram lander will deploy Pragyan, a six-wheeled robotic vehicle (Pragyan means "wisdom" in Sanskrit).

The craters present shade from the Sun, and at evening temperatures can reach as low as -233 Celsius.

The US$142 million (S$194 million) mission aims to map the lunar surface, examine its composition and search for water in 14 days of experiments. Meanwhile, the Vikram lander will try to detect moonquakes, measure the Moon's thermal conductivity (the degree to which the lunar surface can conduct electricity), and study the lunar ionosphere (the zone that's ionised by solar and cosmic radiation). Chandrayaan-1 had 11 payloads - five from India, three from Europe, two from the USA and one from Bulgaria - and the mission had the credit for discovery of water on the lunar surface.

As for the Chandrayaan-2 orbiter, it will function in lunar orbit for about one year, and it will observe the surface from a height of around 100 kilometres (60 miles). Nevertheless, a staff of researchers now imagine there might be far more water than previously advised - and it may very well be positioned in craters formed by meteor strikes.

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