Chandrayaan nudged closer to moon

November 11th, 2008 - 1:21 am ICT by IANS  

Bangalore, Nov 10 (IANS) India’s first unmanned lunar mission Chandrayaan-I was nudged closer to the moon late Monday in a second orbit-reduction manoeuvre, a top Indian space official said.The manoeuvre lasted 866 seconds.

“The spacecraft is at 187 km from the moon (periselene) and 255 km away (aposelene), orbiting elliptically once in every 2 hours and 16 minutes over the polar regions of the lunar planet,” Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) director S. Satish told IANS.

The liquid engine onboard the spacecraft was remotely fired for 14.4 minutes from 9.58 p.m. to 22.12 p.m. IST by the ISRO scientists from the spacecraft control centre at its telemetry, tracking and command network (Istrac) here.

The space agency’s deep space network (DSN) at Byalalu, about 40 km from India’s tech hub, coordinated the complex manoeuvre with the support of ground stations. Signals to and from the spacecraft were excellent, the official said.

“The complex exercise enabled Chandrayaan to move swiftly from 7,500 km aposelene late Sunday to 255 km, which is a remarkable feat. All sub-systems and instruments onboard are functioning satisfactorily,” Satish said.

The scientists also observed the motion of the spacecraft after the manoeuvre for a short distance to extrapolate its orbital path.

Chandrayaan-I will undergo two more orbit-lowering manoeuvres over the next two days to enter into its designated slot of 100 x 100km from the lunar surface for a two-year rendezvous with the moon.

ISRO plans to eject the moon impact probe Nov 14-15 from the spacecraft and crash it onto the lunar surface at a designated area, where the Indian tri-colour will be ‘hoisted’.

Chandrayaan carries 11 scientific instruments, including six foreign payloads-two from the US, three from the European Space Agency (ESA) and one from Bulgaria. The remaining five are indigenously designed and developed by various centres of the state-run ISRO.

The spacecraft was blasted off Oct 22 onboard the 316-tonne Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV-C11) from the Satish Dhawan space centre at Sriharikota spaceport, about 80 km north of Chennai.

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