Chandrayaan-3 spacecraft successfully enters a ‘near-circular orbit’ around the Moon following another maneuver.

India’s Chandrayaan-3 spacecraft, part of the country’s third ambitious Moon mission, underwent an additional maneuver on Monday, bringing it even closer to the lunar surface, according to ISRO. Following its launch on July 14, the spacecraft entered lunar orbit on August 5, undergoing two orbit reduction maneuvers on August 6 and 9. ISRO reported that the precise maneuver conducted on Monday has resulted in a “near-circular orbit” of 150 km x 177 km around the Moon. The next operation is scheduled for August 16 around 8:30 am.

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As the mission progresses, ISRO is implementing a series of maneuvers to gradually reduce the orbit of Chandrayaan-3 and position it over the lunar poles. According to ISRO sources, an additional maneuver is planned for August 16 to place the spacecraft in a 100 km orbit, after which the landing module, including the lander and rover, will detach from the propulsion module.

Subsequently, the lander is expected to execute a “deboost” maneuver to slow down, achieving a soft landing on the Moon’s south polar region on August 23.

ISRO Chairman S Somnath highlighted the challenge of transitioning the lander’s velocity from a horizontal to vertical direction during landing. He emphasized the need to ensure accurate fuel consumption, distance calculations, and proper functioning of algorithms.

Chandrayaan-3, a follow-on mission to Chandrayaan-2, aims to showcase safe landing and rover capabilities on the lunar surface. It comprises an indigenous propulsion module, a lander module, and a rover, with the objective of demonstrating technologies essential for interplanetary missions.

The propulsion module will transport the lander and rover configuration to the 100 km lunar orbit. The propulsion module features the Spectropolarimetry of Habitable Planet Earth (SHAPE) payload, designed for spectral and polarimetric measurements of Earth from lunar orbit.

Chandrayaan-3’s mission objectives include demonstrating a safe and gentle lunar landing, rover mobility on the Moon, and conducting in-situ scientific experiments. The lander will soft land on a designated lunar site and deploy the rover to conduct on-site chemical analysis of the lunar surface.

Both the lander and rover are equipped with scientific payloads for experiments on the Moon’s surface. Over several maneuvers, the spacecraft has been gradually guided from Earth’s orbit to a trajectory toward the Moon, demonstrating the intricate calculations and strategies required for a successful lunar mission.

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