The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) has announced that it prevented the Chandrayaan-2 orbiter from colliding with Nasa’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) over the Moon’s north pole.
In October, ISRO performed a Collision Avoidance Manoeuvre on the Chandrayaan-2 orbiter to avoid an incident resulting in a large debris field and a massive loss for the agency.
The distance between the two spacecraft hovering above the Moon, according to the analysis, could be less than 100 metres, and the closest approach distance would be less than three kilometres. The information was released nearly a month after the collision, which occurred at 11:15 a.m. IST on October 20.
“Both the agencies deemed that the situation warranted a collision avoidance manoeuvre (CAM) to mitigate the close approach risk, and it was mutually agreed that Chandrayaan-2 Orbiter would undergo the CAM,” Isro said in a statement.
According to ISRO, after determining the orbit of the Chandrayaan-2 Orbiter using post-manoeuvre tracking data, it was confirmed that there would be no close encounters with LRO in the near future. Both orbiters orbit the moon in nearly polar orbits, bringing them close to each other over the lunar poles.
“Such coordination between space agencies is an ongoing part of ensuring safe operation of satellites around the moon,” Nancy Jones, NASA spokesperson at Goddard Space Flight Center, told CNET.
“At no time was NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter or Chandrayaan-2 in danger,” Jones added.
The incident brought to light the importance of monitoring all man-made objects and the need for international cooperation. A collision would have been costly and would have jeopardised many other operations, including human lives.