April 13, 2024, Saturday
Nepal 1:37:26 pm

India launches its first mission to the Sun

The Nepal Weekly
September 5, 2023

Indian space agency has launched its first observation mission to the Sun, just days after it created history by becoming the first to land near the Moon’s south pole.

Aditya-L1 lifted off from the launch pad at Sriharikota on Saturday at 11:50 India time. It will travel 1.5 million km from the Earth – 1% of the Earth-Sun distance.

India’s space agency informed that it will take 4 months to travel that far. India’s first space-based mission to study the solar system’s biggest object is named after Surya – the Hindu God, Sun, also known as Aditya. And L1 stands for Lagrange point 1 – the exact place between the Sun and Earth where the Indian spacecraft is heading.

According to the European Space Agency, a Lagrange point is a spot where the gravitational forces of two large objects – such as the Sun and the Earth – cancel each other out, allowing a spacecraft to “hover”.

Once Aditya-L1 reaches this “parking spot”, it will be able to orbit the Sun at the same rate as the Earth. This also means the satellite will require very little fuel to operate.

On Saturday morning, a few thousand people gathered in the viewing gallery set up by the Indian Space Research Agency (Isro) near the launch site to watch the blastoff.

It was also broadcast live on national TV where commentators described it as a “magnificent” launch. Isro scientists said the launch had been successful and its “performance is normal”. The spacecraft will now travel several times around the Earth before being launched towards L1. From this vantage position, Aditya-L1 will be able to watch the Sun constantly – even when it is hidden during an eclipse – and carry out scientific studies.

Isro has not disclosed how much the mission would cost, but Indian media put it at IRs. 3.78bn rupees ($46m).