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As Chandrayaan-2 Readies for Moon Landing Tonight, Its Journey Explained in 5 Simple Steps

GSLV MkIII-M1 vehicle at the Second Launch Pad (Image: isro.gov.in)

GSLV MkIII-M1 vehicle at the Second Launch Pad (Image: isro.gov.in)

The Rs 978-crore Chandrayan 2 took 48 days to accomplish the task of landing on the Moon through meticulously planned orbital phases.

Sriharikota (Andhra Pradesh): The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), which launch a billion dreams into space with the lift-off of the Chandrayaan-2 mission, waits with bated breath as the spacecraft eyes landing on the moon early on Saturday. The mission, launched onboard the heavy-lift rocket GSLV-MkIII, nicknamed Baahubali, will land a rover near the unexplored lunar southern pole.

The three-component spacecraft weighing 3,850 kg comprises an orbiter, the lander and the rover. The Rs 978-crore Chandrayan 2 took 48 days to accomplish the task of landing on the Moon through meticulously planned orbital phases. Billed as the most complex and prestigious mission ever undertaken by the ISRO since its inception, Chandrayaan-2, if successful, will make India the fourth country to soft land on the lunar surface after Russia, the United States and China.

The Chandrayaan-2 has 13 payloads in total, with eight of them in the orbiter, three payloads in Vikram and two in Pragyan. Five payloads are from India, three from Europe, two from the US and one from Bulgaria. A Laser Retroreflector Array (LRA) of NASA is among the payloads and is aimed at understanding dynamics of Earth's Moon system and deriving clues on Lunar interior.

Here’s a look at Chandrayaan 2’s step-by-step journey after blast-off:

- About 16 minutes after the lift-off, the GSLV MkIII injected Chandrayan-2 into 170 x 40400 km Earth orbit. From then onwards, the mission witnessed a series of manoeuvres by scientists to carry out different phases of the mission.

- For the first 17 days from lift-off, the spacecraft was in Earth-bound phase before its orbit was finally raised to over 1.05 lakh km.

- After that, it nudged into the Lunar Transfer Trajectory, taking it to the proximity of Moon.

- Over the next few days, it was brought to the 100 X 100 km circular orbit when the lander separated.

- After another few days of orbiting, it is now ready to make a soft landing at a chosen place on the lunar surface.

With Chandrayaan-2, in which home grown technology is deployed, scientists aim to expand India's footprint in space, shed light on unexplored section of Moon — the South Pole region — enhance knowledge about space, stimulate advancement of technology and promote global alliances.