BEIJING - China's second unmanned lunar probe, Chang'e-2, was maneuvered to correct its trajectory on the earth-moon transfer orbit Saturday.
Scientists successfully activated the attitude control engines on Chang'e-2 and trimmed the satellite for the first time on its journey, according to a flight control official in Beijing.
"During Chang'e-2's 380,000-km journey to the moon, we will conduct more orbit corrections if necessary to ensure that it enters a lunar orbit," said Ma Yongping, vice director of the flight control center.
Chang'e-2 blasted off on a Long-March-3C carrier rocket from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center, in Southwest China's Sichuan province, at about 7 pm Friday.
It is China's first unmanned spacecraft to be boosted from the launch site directly to the earth-moon transfer orbit, greatly reducing the journey time from that of its predecessor Chang'e-1.
Chang'e-1 took about 13 days to travel to a lunar orbit after orbiting the earth in a geosynchronous orbit and then transferring to the earth-moon transfer orbit.
Chang'e-2 is expected to travel for about 112 hours, or almost five days, to arrive in a lunar orbit.
To acquire more detailed moon data, Chang'e-2 will enter a lower lunar orbit about 100 km above the surface, compared with the 200-km altitude of Chang'e-1, according to the control center.
The satellite will eventually be maneuvered into an orbit just 15 kilometer above the moon. At that point, Chang'e-2 will take pictures of moon's Bay of Rainbows area, the proposed landing ground for Chang'e-3, with a resolution of 1.5 meters. The resolution on Chang'e-1's camera was 120 meters, said Wu Weiren, chief designer of China's lunar orbiter project.