According to the Indian Space Research Organisation, India’s Chandrayaan-2 spacecraft conducted a manoeuvre to avoid colliding with NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) (ISRO).
The Bengaluru-based space agency said in a statement that close conjunction between Chandrayaan-2 Orbiter (CH2O) and NASA’s LRO near the Lunar North Pole was expected on October 20 at 05:45 UTC (11:15 am IST).
The radial gap between the two spacecraft would be less than 100 meters and the closest approach distance would be only approximately three kilometers 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.
On October 18, the manoeuvre was to take place. It was created to ensure that the two spacecraft would have a large enough radial separation during their next closest approach.
On October 18, at 14:52 UTC (8:22 IST), the CAM was officially launched.
According to ISRO, after orbit determination of CH2O using post-manoeuvre tracking data, it was reconfirmed 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.
“Moreover, 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.