India‚Äôs Moon Odyssey » The journey
 
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The journey

The launch of Chandrayaan-1 takes place from the Second Launch Pad at Satish Dhawan Space Centre, SHAR, Sriharikota in the Nellore district of Andhra Pradesh. Sriharikota is situated at a distance of about 80 km to the north of Chennai.

The spacecraft begins its journey from Earth onboard India's Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV-C11) and first will reach a highly elliptical Initial Orbit (IO). In the Initial Orbit, the perigee (nearest point to Earth) is about 250 km and apogee (farthest point from Earth) is about 23,000 km.

After circling the Earth in its Initial Orbit for a while, Chandrayaan-1 spacecraft is taken into two more elliptical orbits whose apogees lie still higher at 37,000 km and 73,000 km respectively. This is done at opportune moments by firing the spacecraft's Liquid Apogee Motor (LAM) when the spacecraft is near perigee.

Subsequently, LAM is fired again to take Chandrayaan-1 spacecraft to an extremely high elliptical orbit whose apogee lies at about 3,87,000 km.

In this orbit, the spacecraft makes one complete revolution around the Earth in about 11 days. During its second revolution around the Earth in this orbit, the spacecraft will approach the Moon's north pole at a safe distance of about a few hundred kilometers since the Moon would have arrived there in its journey round the Earth.

Once the Chandrayaan-1 reaches the vicinity of the Moon, the spacecraft is oriented in a particular way and its LAM is again fired. This slows down the spacecraft sufficiently to enable the gravity of the moon to capture it into an elliptical orbit.

Following this, the height of the spacecraft's orbit around the Moon is reduced in steps. After a careful and detailed observation of perturbations in its intermediate orbits around the Moon, the height of Chandrayaan-1 spacecraft's orbit will be finally lowered to its intended 100 km height from the lunar surface.

Later, the Moon Impact Probe will be ejected from Chandrayaan-1 spacecraft at the earliest opportunity to hit the lunar surface in a chosen area. Following this, cameras and other scientific instruments are turned on and thoroughly tested. This leads to the operational phase of the mission. This phase lasts about two years during which Chandrayaan-1 spacecraft explores the lunar surface with its array of instruments that includes cameras, spectrometers and SAR.

 
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