India to Launch its First Spacecraft for Solar Study this Weekend India will launch its first spacecraft for the study of the Sun this weekend. The solar probe Aditya-L1 will take off on Saturday, September 2nd, at 06:20 GMT. The announcement was made on Monday, August 28th, by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO).
The spacecraft will launch aboard a Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre on Sriharikota Island, off the eastern coast of India. The solar probe Aditya-L1 will initially head towards low Earth orbit, where its various systems will be controlled by the mission team. If all goes well, the spacecraft will gradually release from Earth’s gravitational attraction, eventually breaking free from it.
At that point, Aditya-L1 will head towards the first Lagrange point L1, a gravitationally stable point about 1.5 million kilometers away from us. “A satellite positioned in the halo orbit around the L1 point has the great advantage of continuously viewing the Sun without occultations/eclipses” ISRO officials wrote in a mission description (ref.). “This will provide a significant advantage in observing solar activity and its effects on real-time space weather”.
Once at L1, the probe will use its seven scientific instruments to study the Sun in various ways. For instance, Aditya-L1’s data could help researchers better understand the dynamics of solar flares and the massive eruptions of super-hot solar plasma known as coronal mass ejections. The Aditya-L1 probe could also shed light on why the Sun’s outer atmosphere, known as the corona, is much hotter than its surface – 1 million degrees Celsius compared to just 5,500 degrees Celsius.
Indian Space Endeavor
India’s investment in the mission amounts to 45 million dollars. The solar probe Aditya-L1 closely follows the nation’s significant success on the Moon. The country’s Chandrayaan-3 lander-rover duo managed to land on Wednesday, August 23rd.
Since then, Chandrayaan-3 has explored the southern polar region of the Moon, an area that had not hosted a surface mission until now. Exploration enthusiasts are intrigued by the lunar polar regions because they are believed to hold large amounts of water ice, a key resource that could support human outposts.