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ISRO’s Chandrayaan-2 leaves Earth’s orbit, heads for the moon

ISRO on Sunday released the first set of images of earth captured by Chandrayaan-2 from outer space. (Twitter/@isro)

The Chandrayaan-2 spacecraft left the Earth’s orbit in the early hours of Wednesday, nearly 23 days after its launch on July 22. The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) said it carried out a manoeuvre called ‘Trans Lunar Insertion’ (TLI) at 2:21 am. After this operation, Chandrayaan-2 will move towards the Moon.

India s second moon mission Chandrayaan-2 is expected to reach the moon s orbit on August 20 and land on the lunar surface on September 7. According to the space agency, the spacecraft has successfully entered the Lunar Transfer Trajectory.

"Trans Lunar Insertion (TLI) manoeuvre was performed today (August 14, 2019) at 0221 hrs IST as planned. Today (August 14, 2019) after the Trans Lunar Insertion (TLI) manoeuvre operation, #Chandrayaan2 will depart from Earth’s orbit and move towards the Moon (sic)," it said.

"During this manoeuvre, the spacecraft’s liquid engine was fired for about 1203 seconds. With this, Chandrayaan-2 entered the Lunar Transfer Trajectory. Earlier, the spacecraft s orbit was progressively increased five times during July 23 to August 6, 2019," ISRO added.

"The health of the spacecraft is being continuously monitored from the Mission Operations Complex (MOX) at ISRO Telemetry, Tracking and Command Network (ISTRAC) in Bengaluru with support from Indian Deep Space Network (IDSN) antennas at Byalalu, near Bengaluru. Since its launch on July 22, 2019 by GSLV MkIII-M1 vehicle, all systems onboard Chandrayaan-2 spacecraft are performing normal," the space agency said.

ISRO said the spacecraft’s liquid engine will be fired again to insert it into lunar orbit as it approaches the moon on August 20. "Chandrayaan-2 will approach Moon on August 20, 2019 and the spacecraft’s liquid engine will be fired again to insert the spacecraft into a lunar orbit. Following this, there will be further four-orbit manoeuvres to make the spacecraft enter into its final orbit passing over the lunar poles at a distance of about 100 km from the Moon s surface."

The Bengaluru-headquartered space agency said it has carried out a manoeuvre called ‘Trans Lunar Insertion’ (TLI) at 2:21 am on Wednesday. (Source: Twitter/@isro)

Also Read | From launch to first Earth photos, here s what Chandrayaan 2 has done so far

"Subsequently, Vikram lander will separate from the orbiter on September 02, 2019. Two orbit maneuvers will be performed on the lander before the initiation of powered descent to make a soft landing on the lunar surface on September 07, 2019," it added.

Chandrayaan-2 launched on July 22. (Source: ISRO)

The 3,850-kg three-module Chandrayaan-2 was launched on July 22 into an eliptical orbit around the Earth with the aim of landing a rover in the uncharted Lunar South Pole on September 7, marking a giant leap in the country s space programme. The mission, if successful, will make India the fourth country after Russia, the US and China to make a soft landing on the moon.

On August 4, ISRO had released the first set of images of Earth captured by Chandrayaan-2.

The mission objective of Chandrayaan-2 is to develop and demonstrate the key technologies for end-to-end lunar mission capability, including soft-landing and roving on the lunar surface. It also aims to further expand the knowledge about the moon through a detailed study of its topography, mineralogy, surface chemical composition, thermo-physical characteristics and atmosphere, leading to a better understanding of the origin and evolution of the moon, ISRO had said.