India's first unmanned lunar spacecraft Chandrayaan-1 successfully entered moon orbit on Saturday. With this development, India's moon mission has been declared successful.
When India's first mission to the moon took off nearly a fortnight ago, there was both joy and anxiety. There was joy because the mission put India in an exclusive club of countries.
Though scientists rejoiced as the Chandrayaan blasted off, they knew they had a tougher job at hand, to put the satellite in moon's orbit. That happened on Saturday evening and the mission was declared a success.
Indian scientists were worried because the last part of Chandrayaan's journey was dangerous, as it had to go through an area in which the gravitational forces of the earth and moon nearly cancel each other out. Even a small deviation could have sent the spacecraft into a crash course towards the earth or on a path leading into deep space, but everything went according to plan.
When the spacecraft was about 500 km short of the moon, it was to be slowed down. The moon's gravity would then pull the craft into its orbit. Later, it would be stabilised in a 100 km circular orbit.
This is great! I can't wait for the new images and the science reports to start coming out. With Selene in orbit as well, we have a new era of Lunar exploration.