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India is not alone on its way to the moon. ISRO reports traffic in space as the Chandrayaan-3 mission to now in the direction of lowering its orbit around the Moon and analyses six active lunar orbiters in an area with more incoming.
There occur several ongoing activities in the lunar orbit by the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (1), Capstone (2), and two probes P1 & P2 from THEMIS mission repurposed under ARTEMIS by NASA (3); Chandrayaan-2 by India (4), and Korea Pathfinder Lunar Orbiter by South Korea (5).
Safe landing on the way
There's barely a fortnight of wait before ISRO starts its attempt to safe-land Vikram to the Moon. The Chandrayaan-3 lander is currently on the lunar surface and ISRO released a detailed report of the traffic surrounding the lunar highway.
The report suggested the traffic is to obtain rise in the near future as several countries like Russia are all set for their rocket launches to the Moon. Managing the traffic shall be an active/continuous process for ISRO.
ISRO calls it a continuous process since the Chandrayaan-2 orbiter which was released back in 2019 to the lunar orbit has so far performed three collision avoidance maneuvers to mitigate censoriously close approaches with other spacecraft in the orbit.
Who else is in the space?
Chandrayaan-3 is India's latest entry into the Lunar orbit alongside six other active lunar orbiters. Here are the following orbiters causing traffic to the Moon:
- P1 & P2 2/5 probes of NASA's THEMIS mission, later re-purposed under ARTEMIS actively operating in the eccentric orbits of low inclination.
- Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter by Nasa, actively operating orbits the Moon in a nearly polar and slightly elliptical orbit.
- Chandrayaan-2 by India, actively operating in polar orbits at 100km altitude.
- Korea Pathfinder Lunar Orbiter by South Korea actively operates in polar orbits at 100 km altitude.
- Capstone by Nasa, actively operating in the Nearly Rectilinear Halo Orbit which is considered a more stable network.
At an altitude of 50-200km, the LRO orbits the Moon and develops high-resolution maps of the lunar space. The ARTEMIS P1 and P2 probes are operating sufficiently at an altitude of 100km x 19,000km in stable equatorial and high-eccentricity orbits.
At an altitude of 100km, Chandrayaan-2 & KPLO are operating actively in the polar orbit despite losing contact with its Vikram while Capstone is operating actively in the NRHO.
But did you know there are two more spacecraft but "inactive" in orbit? Yes, Ouna by Japan which was released in 2009, and Chandrayaan-1 by India which was released in 2008.
Technically there were more but there is no track of others as suggestions being they are either being moved out of the moon-bound orbital regime or have gotten impacted by the lunar surface due to failure to succeed in a safe landing.
We are also anticipating Russia's Luna-25 to actively reach a lunar orbit of 100km by the 16th of August and is expected to achieve landing on the lunar South pole of the moon by 21 or 23 of August, quoted in the reports of ISRO.
The Future of Space
The lunar highway is soon to become a busier route to the Moon as there are several incoming to occur in the coming days and months. Russia's Luna-25 is set to launch today and is expected to reach lunar orbit by 16 August.
Russia is aiming for exploring the south pole of the Moon, one of the complex tasks, and the mission is also considered Russia's comeback after 47 years to the Moon. It is expected to rush the highway in a 100km altitude orbit and is scheduled to land on the Moon's south pole by 21-23 of August.
Moreover, Nasa's ARTEMIS program is also on the move and is expected to jam the highway even more. Moon is soon to become a hotspot for scientific exploration, the only place we never imagined humans to jam.
However, the uproar of engines entering the lunar traffic also welcomes some more challenges to address which is to coordinate and manage various orbiters from avoiding potential collisions and ensure a smooth flow and functioning.