5 days before moonlanding, lander separates from orbiter

Just five days before the scheduled moon landing on September 7, Vikram lander housing a rover finally got separated from Chandrayaan-2's orbiter at 1.15 pm on Monday, a day after the integrated lunar module entered the circular orbit around Moon. Till the separation, the lander and the rover had together completed a 42-day journey from Earth to Moon covering a distance of 3.84 lakh kilometer.

Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro) said the lander is currently located in an orbit of 119 x 127km while the orbiter continues to circle Moon in the same orbit and both lunar components are healthy.

Isro will now conduct two deorbit maneuvers on Vikram lander one around 9-10am on September 3 and thereafter on 3-4 am on September 4 — using the lander’s own propulsion system to lower its orbit to 36 x 110km in order to prepare it for the final descent. If the Vikram lander successfully lands at the scheduled time of 1.55am on Saturday, India will become the first country in the world to land in the south pole region of Moon and the fourth country after Russia, the US, and China to attain the capability to soft land on Earth's natural satellite.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be at the Isro headquarters in Bengaluru on Saturday to witness the historic moon landing. He will watch the historic event along with 60 children who have been selected from across the country on the basis of an online space quiz. Not only India, but space enthusiasts and scientists from across the world will keep an eye on Chandrayaan-2's moon landing. In fact, space agencies, including Nasa, will also keenly watch India's historic event as scientific findings and data from Chandrayaan-2 will help the world explore Moon better and also likely to give a clue of exactly where to set up human colonies on Earth's natural satellite. In fact, Nasa has a "passive" payload on Vikram lander that will not only help calculate the exact distance between Earth and Moon but will also provide the exact location of the lander.

UP farmer's daughter among 60 students to witness moon landing of Chandrayaan-2 with PM Modi

60 students were selected on the basis of a 'Space Quiz' conducted by ISRO.

Rashi Verma, a farmer's daughter who studies in class 10 at DPS school in Lucknow, will have the privilege to witness the moon landing of Chandrayaan-2 with Prime Minister Narendra Modi along with 59 other students from all across India on September 7.

Rashi Verma left her village in Uttar Pradesh where her father works as a farmer to live with her aunt in Lucknow to study in a good school.

60 students were selected on the basis of a 'Space Quiz' conducted by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). These students will be able to witness the historic landing of Chandrayaan-2 on the surface of the moon on September 7 at Indian Space Research Centre headquarters in Bengaluru.

Rashi said that she was very excited about the opportunity to watch the live telecast with PM Modi. She also nurtures dreams to become an IAS officer and serve society.

Chinmay Choudhury, a Class VIII student from Jharsuguda in Odisha, will also be able to witness the historic event.

I have given the exam online. It consisted of 20 questions required to be completed in 10 minutes. The questions were pertaining to rocket, satellite, heavenly bodies, etc, said Chinmay Choudhury to ANI.

Shrijal Chandrakar, class 9 student from Belsondha, Chattisgarh, is also among the 60 winners. Shrijal said, "I thank my school for guiding me for the ISRO quiz on its space program.

"ISRO has great pleasure in informing that you have been selected to watch the historical Chandrayaan-2 moon landing on the early hours of September 07, 2019, at the ISRO Tracking Centre (ISTRAC), Bengaluru, in the presence of Honourable Prime Minister of India Shri Narendra Modi Ji. You are requested to reach Bengaluru by 1400 hrs on Friday, September 06, 2019, along with one parent/guardian," ISRO's letter to Delhi student Manogya Singh Suyansh, stated.

The quiz was conducted for students from the eighth standard to the tenth standard. The students were given a timeframe of 10 minutes to answer 20 questions related to space and the winner of the contest was selected on the basis of the number of correct answers scored by the student within the time frame.

In a bid to promote awareness about the space program among the students of India, the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) had written to all school boards to encourage children to participate in the quiz.

Two students from every state will have the privilege to witness the Chandrayaan 2 moon landing with Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Chandrayaan-2 is expected to land on the surface of the moon on September 7. It entered the moon's orbit on August 20 and the first Lunar bound orbit maneuver for the spacecraft was performed successfully the next day.

India created history on July 22 when ISRO launched the country’s second lunar mission. Chandrayaan 2 seeks to explore the far side of the moon, a feat no other country has achieved yet. If this landing is successful, the 10-billion-rupee mission will allow scientists to carry out studies regarding the presence of water at the moon’s south pole.

The Chandrayaan-2 lunar mission will make India the fourth country in the world to land a rover on the moon. It will also be the only country to land a rover on the south pole region of the moon.

A day before the orbiter-lander separation, Isro chairman K Sivan told TOI, “After the Chandrayaan-2 launch (on July 22), we have been working on the composite module and using its propulsion system to maneuver it. After the separation, our entire focus will be on Vikram. However, another team will monitor the orbiter.”

The orbiter will spend the rest of its lifespan of over a year in this circular orbit. With eight payloads and power of 1000W, the 2,379kg orbiter will conduct remote-sensing observations of Moon. Besides taking scores of Moon images from over 100km altitude, the orbiter with the help of its payloads will conduct elemental composition of Moon, mineral mapping, look for water ice, polar-region mapping to find sub-surface water ice, and topography mapping.

The Isro chief had said, “The final powered descent will start at 1.40am on September 7 to make the lander soft-land near the south pole at 1.55am. This landing operation will be the most complex process as we had never tried it before." During the last 15 minutes of the final descent, which are considered to be the most “terrifying moments” for Isro, the lander will go down at a velocity of 2 metre per second as its five engines will be running to push it in the reverse direction so as to break the free fall. Just moments before the touchdown, Vikram's camera will collect data and images of the landing spot to find out whether the site is good enough for landing or it should switch to the alternative site.

The touchdown will be between two craters Manzinus C and Simpelius N at a latitude of about 70.9 degrees South 22.7 degrees East. If it fails to land on the desired spot, Isro also has an alternative site which is 67.7 degrees South and 18.4 degrees West.

After the landing of Vikram, the six-wheeled Pragyan rover, housed within the lander, will roll out of it and touch Moon’s ground after 4 hours. The 27-kg rover, which is loaded with two payloads and has images of the Tricolour and Isro logo embossed on it, will move on the lunar surface at a speed of 1cm per second. During its lifespan of one lunar day (14 Earth days), Pragyan, which can generate 50W power using solar energy, will move up to 500 metres and take images and analyze content on the lunar surface. It will send back data via Vikram to Earth within 15 minutes.

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