Two years after its lander, rover combination crash-landed on the far side of the moon, the Chandrayaan-2 mission is still delivering critical observations to India as it completes 9,000 orbits around the Moon. The Indian Space & Research Organisation (Isro) chairman K Sivan said that the spacecraft has completed 9,000 revolutions of the Moon and onboard instruments are functioning nominally.
The latest announcement was made by the Isro chief during a two-day Lunar Science Workshop-2021, which began on Monday. The workshop is being held to commemorate the completion of two years of operation of Chandrayaan-2 spacecraft around the lunar orbit.
“Till date, Chandrayaan-2 has completed more than 9,000 orbits around the Moon,” said Sivan, who is also Secretary in the Department of Space (DoS). He added that the eight payloads onboard the Chandrayaan-2 spacecraft are conducting remote sensing and in-situ observations of the Moon at around 100 km altitude from the lunar surface.
“The science data are being made available for analysis by academia and institutes, for greater participation to bring out more science from the Chandrayaan-2 mission,” PTI quoted ISRO as saying.
The latest announcement comes as the Indian space agency preps for the Chandrayaan-3 mission that will use the orbiting spacecraft to communicate with Earth. Sivan, expressing confidence in the orbiter hovering in the lunar orbit, said that he has reviewed the science results, and found them to be “very much encouraging”.
Meanwhile, A S Kiran Kumar, Chairman of Apex Science Board, Isro said “Chandrayaan-2 has really incorporated many new features in its instruments which are taking the observations carried out on Chandrayaan-1 to a newer and higher level." During the two-day workshops science results from the eight payloads are being presented by the scientists in the workshop being held virtually.
What is the Chandrayaan-2 mission?
Chandrayaan-2 mission was the successor of its parent mission Chandrayaan and consisted of an Orbiter, Lander and Rover with the goal of exploring the south pole of the Moon. The mission aimed at studying not just one area of the Moon but all the areas combining the exosphere, the surface as well as the sub-surface of the moon in a single mission.
It was launched on GSLV Mk-III, India's most powerful launcher to date, on July 22, 2019, and reached the lunar orbit on August 20. The lander and rover were set to land on the far side of the Moon on September 6 after being separated from the orbiter. However, the missions did not go as planned when the combination crash-landed on the surface of the Moon.
While the lander and rover were lost in the accident, the orbiter continues operating in the lunar orbit to date providing key observations of the surface. Isro has already said that it will use the orbiter for its Chandrayaan-3 mission likely to be launched in 2022.
The government revised the timeline for the launch of the lunar mission after work was delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic and the successive lockdowns. "We are working on it. It is the same configuration as Chandrayaan-2 but it will not have an orbiter. The orbiter launched during Chandrayaan-2 will be used for Chandrayaan-3. With that, we are working on a system and mostly the launch will be next year in 2022," Isro Chief K Sivan had said earlier in February.