Following the fifth and final orbit raising maneuver which put Chandrayaan-1 closer to the moon, the spacecraft snapped the first picture of its final destination.
This clear, crisp image of the moon While the images are still being processed and are not available yet, mission managers says the images bode well for spacecraft’s mission to map the entire moon’s surface with its Terrain Mapping Camera. And all systems are go for the final maneuver on November 8, which will put Chandrayaan-1 in lunar orbit.
After launch on October 22, the spacecraft was first injected into an elliptical 7-hr orbit around Earth, at 255 km from Earth at perigee (its closest point) and 22,860 km away at apogee, its farthest point. After five engine firings, Chandrayaan-1 has spiraled outwards in increasingly elongated ellipses around Earth, until it reached its lunar transfer orbit on November 4.
In the final maneuver, engineers fired the spacecraft’s 440 Newton liquid-fuel propelled engine for about two and a half minutes. The lunar transfer orbit’s farthest point from Earth is about 380,000 km.
On November 8, as it nears the moon, the spacecraft’s engine will be fired again to slow the spacecraft, allowing the moon’s gravity to capture it, and then it will go into an initial elliptical orbit around the moon. A group of engineers from JPL are assisting the engineers from India, acting as experienced back-up for the “first-time-flyers” from India. And everything has gone smoothly thus far.
The spacecraft will make observations from the initial orbit, and then the orbit will be lowered a 100 km circular polar orbit. Following this, the Moon Impact Probe (MIP) will be ejected, impacting the lunar surface. Then the main mission will begin with Chandrayaan-1 exploring the moon from orbit with its array of instruments for two years.
Source: Bharat Chronicle