The Indian Space Research Organisation has released the first photograph of its lunar orbiter Chandrayaan-2 as it approaches the moon with the Mare Orientale basin and Apollo craters clearly in view.

By Ian Horswill


Posted on August 26, 2019

India looks all set to be the fourth nation to land on the moon.

The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has released the first photograph of its lunar orbiter Chandrayaan-2 as it approaches the moon with the Mare Orientale basin and Apollo craters clearly in view.

The image was taken by Vikram, Chandrayaan-2’s lander, on August 21, from a height of 2,650 kilometres.

ISRO launched Chandrayaan-2 from the second launch pad at Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota, Andhra Pradesh, on July 22. It was launched onboard its most powerful launcher GSLV-Mk III.

Chandrayaan-2 is flying in an elliptical orbit of 118 kms x 4412 kms around the moon. The closest Chandrayaan-2 comes to the moon orbit is 118 kms and the farthest is 4412 kms.

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The Indian Space Research Organisation's Chandrayaan-2.

The spacecraft is scheduled to enter its final circular orbit around the moon on 1 September. This orbit will pass over the lunar poles, one of which will be the landing site for Vikram. The orbiter will orbit at a 62 miles (100 km) distance from the moon’s surface for a period of one year, making a pass over both of the moon’s poles with each revolution.

Vikram, the lander, and a lunar rover Pragyan are scheduled to make a soft landing on the moon on Sunday, 7 September.

A successful landing would make India the fourth country to achieve a soft landing on the Moon, after the space agencies of Russia (Roscosmos), the US (NASA) and China (CNSA).

Chandrayaan-2 is India’s second trip to the moon. The first probe, Chandrayaan-1, was launched in October 2008, which made India the first country in the world to send a probe successfully to the moon at the first attempt. Chandrayaan-1 discovered water on the moon.