The Chandrayaan-2 spacecraft made an evasive manoeuvre to avoid colliding with NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter.
According to the Indian Space Research Organisation, India’s Chandrayaan-2 spacecraft made an evasive manoeuvre to avoid colliding with NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) (ISRO).
The Bengaluru-based space agency said in a statement that a very close conjunction between Chandrayaan-2 Orbiter (CH2O) and NASA’s LRO was expected to occur on October 20 at 05:45 UTC (11:15 am IST) near the Lunar North Pole.
The radial gap between the two spacecraft would be less than 100 metres and the closest approach distance would be only approximately three kilometres at the moment of closest approach, according to analyses conducted by both ISRO and JPL/NASA over a one-week period previous to the conjunction.
Both authorities agreed that the circumstances required a collision avoidance manoeuvre (CAM) to reduce the chance of a near approach, and CH2O consented to perform the manoeuvre.
The manoeuvre was supposed to take place on October 18th. It was created to ensure a large enough radial gap between the two spacecraft at their next closest approach.
On October 18, at 14:52 UTC (8:22 pm IST), the CAM was launched.
According to ISRO, after orbit determination of CH2O using post-manoeuvre tracking data, it was determined that there would be no more close encounters with LRO in the near future due to the attained orbit.
LRO, like CH2O, orbits the Moon in a roughly polar orbit, bringing the two spacecraft close together over the Moon’s poles.
Satellites in Earth Orbit frequently undergo CAM to reduce the chance of collision with space objects such as space debris and operating spacecraft.
ISRO said it analyses such critical near approaches on a regular basis and performs CAMs for its operational satellites when the collision risk is deemed critical.
“However, this is the first time such a dangerously close conjunction has been experienced for an ISRO space exploration mission, necessitating an evasive manoeuvre,” according to the statement.
It was said that the occurrence emphasises the significance of continuous assessment of close approach circumstances for Lunar and Martian missions, as well as the fact that successful reduction of close approach danger requires close collaboration and synergy among several space organisations.