No Initial Correction Needed
Chang'e I, China’s first lunar
probe carried out its first orbital correction on the morning of
November 2, to ensure it travels on its preset orbit, according to
The Beijing Aerospace Control Center (BACC) issued the
instructions at 10:25 am on Friday, November 2; when two small
engines on Chang'e I were ignited to slightly modulate its
Eight minutes later, the orbital correction was completed,
according to BACC reports.
An earlier plan to adjust the orbit was canceled when the probe
continued on its proper trajectory after leaving Earth’s
orbit on October 31, according to BACC engineers, as reported by ANN.
"Data shows we have reached our expectation through the orbital
correction," chief engineer Wang Yejun said. "That's also the
reason why we didn't employ the main engine on Chang'e I for the
first orbital correction, because it is not necessary and it also
saves energy for the orbiter's future operation."
A second orbital correction might be carried out on Sunday,
November 4, Wang said.
Orbital correction is necessary to prevent the probe from
veering off its projected course, according to Pang Zhihao, a
researcher with the China Academy of Space Technology.
"An aircraft faces many disturbances, such as gravitation from
celestial bodies. When it travels in space, we have to carry out
corrections to ensure it moves on the right track," Pang said.
"Just like driving a car, we must keep turning the steering
wheel to ensure the car stays on the road," he said.
Chang'e I entered the Earth-moon transfer orbit on Wednesday and
is expected to arrive at the lunar orbit at 11:25 am on November
Once it becomes a real circumlunar satellite after being
captured by lunar gravity, the satellite will relay its first
pictures of the moon in late Novembe. It will then continue
scientific explorations of the moon for a year further.