India's ambitious lunar mission Chandrayaan 2 left the Earth's orbit today and is headed towards the moon after a crucial maneuver by the Indian Space Research Organization.
The satellite is another step closer to the moon after the "Trans Lunar Insertion (TLI) maneuver was carried out successfully at 2.21am as planned," the space agency said.
"The final orbit raising maneuver of Chandrayaan-2 spacecraft was successfully carried out today at 2:21 am IST During this maneuver, the spacecraft's liquid engine was fired for about 1203 seconds. With this, Chandrayaan-2 entered the Lunar Transfer Trajectory, "ISRO said in a statement. An orbit-raising maneuver is the process of raising a satellite into an orbit towards the moon while it is still revolving around the earth.
Trans Lunar Insertion (TLI) maneuver was performed today (August 14, 2019 ) at 0221 hrs IST as planned.
For details please see https://t.co/3TUN7onz6z
Here's the view of Control Center at ISTRAC, Bengaluru pic.twitter.com/dp5oNZiLoL
– ISRO (@isro) August 13, 2019
An elated ISRO chief, Dr K Sivan, told NDTV: "The firing had to be precise and totally accurate now from a distance of 276 kilometers from earth – where the midnight operation was conducted on Chandrayaan 2 – it will now head for a long lunar marathon of 3.84 lakh km to the moon. "
" The whole process is very complex since Chandrayaan 2 has been imparted an earth leaving velocity of 39,240 kilometers per hour, which is almost 30 times the speed at which sound travels through air, "he said. Even a sma ll mistake can make Chandrayaan 2 miss its rendezvous with the moon, he added.
Chandrayaan 2, billed as ISRO's most complex and prestigious mission, will make India the fourth country to soft land a rover on the lunar surface after Russia, US and China. The last nation to attempt a soft landing on the moon, Israel, failed in its maiden attempt earlier this year.
The mission stands out because of its low cost, with some Rs. 1,000 crore spent on preparations for the mission – a much smaller price tag compared to similar missions by other countries.
The spacecraft's orbit was "progressively increased five times" between July 23 and August 6 after India's second lunar mission was launched on July 22 from its launch pad in Andhra Pradesh's Sriharikota on July 22.
The lift off was successful in its second attempt, a week after it was aborted just under an hour from its launch due to a technical glitch. The 3.8 tonne satellite will now cruise for the next six days and is expected to reach the moon's orbit on August 20.
As the spacecraft approaches the moon on August 20, its liquid engine will be fired again to insert it into the lunar orbit , the ISRO said. "Following this, there will be four orbit maneuvers to make the spacecraft enter its final orbit, passing over the lunar poles at a distance of about 100 km from the moon's surface," it said.
After 13 days of moon-bound orbit phase, the spacecraft will engage Vikram, a 1.4-tonne lander, who will turn the 27-kilogram rover Pragyan down on a high plain between two craters on the lunar south pole, where no country has gone so far, according to the ISRO. It is expected to soft land on moon on September 7.
After landing, the rover carries out experiments on moon's surface for one lunar day, which is equal to 14 earth days. The mission life of the lander is also one lunar day, while the orbiter will continue its mission for a year.
The Chandrayaan 2 mission aims to expand knowledge about the moon, leading to a better understanding of its origin and evolution.
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