Written byRamya Patelkhana ·
Nearly 23 days after its launch on July 22, Chandrayaan-2 left the earth's orbit at 2:21 am on Wednesday, heading towards Moon in a straight path which is 3.84 lakh km away.
The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) said the crucial Trans Lunar Insertion (TLI) maneuver was successfully performed as planned.
ISRO Chairman K Sivan said Chandrayaan-2 will reach Moon's orbit on August 20.
#ISRO— ISRO (@isro) August 13, 2019
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 Centre at ISTRAC, Bengaluru pic.twitter.com/dp5oNZiLoL
"During the final orbit-raising of the spacecraft around the earth, the liquid engine was fired for about 1,203 seconds. With this, Chandrayaan-2 entered the Lunar Transfer Trajectory," ISRO said.
The orbit of the spacecraft was raised by the space agency for the sixth and final time around Earth. The orbit of Chandrayaan-2 was earlier increased five times progressively between July 23 and August 6.
Sivan said, "Like we had raised the Earth-orbit of Chandrayaan-2 with the help of the propulsion system to take the craft away from Earth, we will use the propulsion system to lower the lunar-orbit of Chandrayaan-2. We will do five-six maneuvers to reduce its orbit."
After the lunar orbit of Chandrayaan-2 is lowered, its "Vikram" Lander will separate from the orbiter to enter a 100kmx30km orbit around the moon.
On September 6, after the Lander reaches an altitude of 30km from Moon's surface, its final descent will begin.
According to Sivan, the final descent of the spacecraft will be the most terrifying for the ISRO team.
"The final descent of 30km for 15 minutes will be the most terrifying moments...we will be handling this most complex operation for the first time," Sivan told TOI.
"The final descent of Chandrayaan-2, when its thrusters...move into reverse direction so as to reduce the spacecraft's speed, will be shaky. It will be just like holding a newborn baby for the first time," he said.
The Lander will soft-land in Moon's South Pole region, where no country has gone so far, on September 7.
If the mission is successful, India will become the fourth country to soft-land a rover on Moon after Russia, the US, and China.
Notably, Chandrayaan-2 is ISRO's first interplanetary mission to be led by women scientists: Project Director Muthayya Vanitha and Mission Director Ritu Karidhal.
After landing, Chandrayaan-2's "Pragyan" rover will roll out of the Vikram lander after four hours.
Pragyan will travel upto 500 meters on Moon's surface. It will take images, conduct experiments, and send data to Earth via Vikram/orbiter within 15 minutes.
The mission life of Vikram and Pragyan is one lunar day (14 Earth days) while the orbiter will continue its mission for a year.
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