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India’s Chandrayaan-2 Spacecraft Enters the Moon’s Orbit

Long-time Slashdot reader William Robinson writes: An unmanned spacecraft, Chandrayaan 2, India launched last month has begun orbiting the moon before it lands on the far side to search for water. The spacecraft is in orbit of 114 km x 18072 km and will continue circling the moon in a tighter orbit until reaching a distance of about 100 km x 30 km from the moon’s surface. “The lander will then separate from the orbiter and use rocket fuel to brake as it attempts to land in the south polar region of the moon on Sept. 7 — an area where no moon landing has been attempted before,” reports CTV News. The mission is carrying a total of 14 payloads — 13 Indian and one passive payload from NASA — with special focus of the orbiter on mapping craters in the polar region, besides checking for water again.

Space.com shares the first photo of the moon snapped by the spacecraft on Wednesday, noting that “If the lander safely touches down, India will become the fourth country to complete that feat, after the Soviet Union, the U.S. and China.

“The lander and rover would operate for one lunar day but are not designed to withstand the frigid lunar nights.”

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