Another milestone for Chandrayaan-2, Moon lander ‘Vikram’ separates from Orbiter

ISRO scientists carried out the surgical action at 13:15 hrs, to detach the Lander from its mothercraft, the orbiter.

Written by September 2, 2019 14:44

New Delhi: India’s second lunar expedition Chandrayaan-2 crossed yet another big milestone today, with the moon lander ‘Vikram’ successfully separating from its Orbiter. ISRO scientists carried out the surgical action at 13:15 hrs, to detach the Lander from its mothercraft, the orbiter. In a matter of just a few milliseconds, the operation got over, by cutting the umbilical cord of the Lander with the mother craft.

With the separation, the focus has now shifted to navigating the lander module to the lunar South Pole. The module consists of the Lander Vikram and the rover Pragyaan, which are in an integrated form. The ISRO has planned two de-orbit manoeuvres tomorrow and day-after-tomorrow using the propellant on-board the lander. De-orbiting is aimed at nudging the lander to the most optimal path, directed towards the lunar surface, so that it can have a gentle touch down near its South Pole on 7th of September.

The Lander Vikram has been named in honour of the Father of Indian Space Programmes Dr Vikram Sarabhai. The name also means valour, as it is aiming for a territory on the moon where no probe has gone before. It houses in its belly the Rover Pragyan, which it will unleash after reaching its final destination, the lunar South Pole.

The Lander Vikram weighs nearly 1.5 tonnes and has the capacity to generate 650-watt power using its solar panels. It has three payloads, including the instrument for studying the lunar seismic activity. Quakes on the moon are said to be caused by the gravitational pull of the earth. More insights into it can be expected from the readings of the Lander of Chandrayaan-2.

The moon’s thermal conductivity will be observed using the Chandra’s Surface Thermo-Physical Experimental Device on the Lander. The Langmuir Probe atop it will conduct ionosphere studies on the lunar surface, as said by the ISRO in its earlier release. The mission life of the Lander and the Rover is a lunar day, which is equivalent to 14 days on the earth. The Lander also has the required propellant fuels to carry out minor manoeuvres to de-orbit it on its way to the lunar surface.

It is yet another proud moment in the journey of Chandrayaan-2, as the surgical operation to detach the Lander module from on top of the Orbiter got over in a very smooth and hassle-free way.

The ISRO scientists say the operation is almost similar to the separation of satellites from the rockets during launch missions. This is the first time an indigenously made Lander has entered deep inside the atmosphere of the moon and is moving independently of the mothercraft, the Orbiter.

The Orbiter has already got stabilized in its final destination around the moon, where it will move on for over a year, mapping the lunar terrain and observing its exosphere and the ionosphere. However, the focus is now on the lander, as the ultimate aim of the mission hinges on its soft-landing in the early morning on the 7th of this month. The mission is all set to propel India into the hall of fame of the nations who have soft-landed their probes on the lunar surface.