India Launches Mission To Moon and we got a great view of a strange bright light

India has successfully launched its second-ever mission to the Moon, and hopes with it to join a handful of countries that have landed on the lunar surface.

Folks across Qld, NT and northern NSW got treated to an amazing light show about 7:30pm local time. The light which looked a bit like a comet was moving front the NW to NE

In binoculars it was clearly a rocket like what I had late in seen in 2018 with the launch of the Tesla

Anyway the Indian craft has a slow journey ahead: The rover and lander won’t touch down until early September.

As the Apollo missions the U.S. spent the weekend commemorating prove, it doesn’t necessarily have to take seven weeks to land on the moon. But the lander and rover of Chandrayaan-2 was due to touch down on Sept 7 local time but that was before the launch was delayed nearly a week.

The rather slow and round-about track that Chandrayaan-2 will follow to reach the moon reflects the lower power of the Indian rocket used to launch the spacecraft. It is called the Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle Mark-III and doesn’t carry the same amount of thrust as the giant Saturn V rockets had that drove NASA’s Apollo program. Those US boosters were the most powerful rockets ever built.

The Apollo missions were also designed to carry astronauts, while Chandrayaan-2 is a smaller, uncrewed mission and was always scheduled to spend a while orbiting Earth before transferring to lunar orbit.

After the launch delay last week, engineers at the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), which oversees the mission, adjusted the mission timeline to ensure the landing schedule wouldn’t be seriously affected.

it is very important to Prevent the landing time from slipping too far as the lander and rover aren’t designed to withstand the very cold lunar nights which cane get down to -173 degrees Celsius. A nigh on the Moon lasts the equivalent of two weeks here on Earth. the Chinese spacecraft Chang’e 4 has been designed to shutdown during this time.

According to the mission’s new schedule, Chandrayaan-2 will spend 23 days orbiting Earth, gradually raising its altitude on one side of an elliptical orbit around the planet. Then, in mid-August, it will turn its sights on the moon, completing a series of manoeuvres to leave Earth orbit and begin circling the moon.

During the first week of September, the Chandrayaan-2 orbiter will release its Vikram lander, which will then descend to the surface, touching down just a bit later than the mission’s original timetable called for. If all goes well, a rover called Pragyan, will then be deployed from the lander a few hours later.

When Vikram lander does land, it will do so near the moon’s south pole, an area of particular interest due to potential for water ice.

Donna the Astronomer

I am a keen astronomer lucky enough to live and work in Coonabarabran the Astronomy Capital of Australia! I am a ‘Drover’s Brat’ and discoverer of a couple of comets and asteroids. I operate Milroy Observatory and can show you how to best integrate dark sky experiences into your tourism, farm stay or AirBnB business.

This Post Has One Comment

  1. Ggreybeard

    I think we are witnessing the early stages of a second Moon race, Donna.
    China and India seem to be in it, maybe Russia and Japan.
    I think this may be what sparked the recent US programme to return to the Moon and then on to Mars.
    Interesting times ahead!
    Regards, Roger

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