Bangalore: With scientists performing a second orbit-raising manoeuvre on Saturday, India's lunar probe, the Chandrayaan-1, has now covered 20 per cent of its journey towards the moon, according to the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO).
ISRO spokesperson S Satish said the lunar spacecraft's onboard 440 Newton Liquid engine had been fired for about 16 minutes from 5.48 am, raising the probe's apogee (farthest point to earth) to 74,715 km. The probe's perigee (closest point to earth) is now raised to 336 km.
ISRO chairman G Madhavan Nair termed the orbit-raising operation as "record-breaking".
"So far, Indian-made satellites have reached to a height of only 36,000 km. Today's firing has taken Chandrayaan-1 to something like 75,000 km. That's well beyond what we have reached so far. It was a good event, and done precisely," Nair said.\
Indicating the complexity of the task faced by Indian scientists, Nair said that when the spacecraft is closer to the earth its gravitational field is well defined and scientists can shape the trajectory. "When you go further and further, earth's influence comes down. Influence of the moon and the sun becomes predominant. Even other planets will have an influence on it," he said.
The moon lies at a distance of about 384,000 km from earth and the Chandrayaan-1 is expected to settle into a lunar orbit, 100 km above moon on, or around, November 8.
Meanwhile, ISRO also said that all systems on board the spacecraft were functioning normally. It added that further orbit-raising manoeuvres, to take Chandrayaan-1 to still higher orbits, are planned over the next few days.
Chandrayaan-I was launched on launched on 22 October.