Isro prevents Chandrayaan-2 collision
GS Paper - 3 (Space Technology)
The Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro) has disclosed that Chandrayaan-2 orbiter had to perform a collision avoidance manoeuvre (CAM) to avoid colliding with NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO), in October. A very close conjunction between the Chandrayaan-2 Orbiter and the LRO was expected to occur on 20 October 2021 near the Lunar North pole.
- Over a span of one week prior to the conjunction, analyses by both Isro and JPL/NASA consistently showed that the radial separation between the spacecraft would be less than 100 m and the closest approach distance would be only about 3 km at the aforementioned time of closest approach.
- The manoeuvre was scheduled on 18 October 2021. It was designed to ensure a sufficiently large radial separation at the next closest conjunction between the spacecraft.
- Chandrayaan-2 and LRO orbit Moon in a nearly polar orbit and hence, both the spacecraft come close to each other over the Lunar poles.
- It is common for satellites in Earth Orbit to undergo CAMs to mitigate collision risk due to space objects including space debris and operational spacecraft.
- Isro monitors such critical close approaches and executes CAMs for its operational satellites whenever risk is assessed to be critical.
- However, this is the first time such a critically close conjunction was experienced for a space exploration mission of Isro.