It is a first for India: For the first time, the country has sent a research satellite on its way to the sun. “Aditya-L1” will orbit the star for five years and observe its electromagnetic fields.
The US space agency NASA and the European Space Agency ESA have already sent space probes into space to explore the sun – now India is following suit. At around 12 noon (local time), a launch vehicle carrying the Aditya-L1 research satellite took off from the Satish Dhawan spaceport on the eastern Indian island of Sriharikota. More than 860,000 people watched the rocket take off in a live broadcast by the space agency ISRO. Shortly thereafter, ISRO reported on X, formerly Twitter, that the probe had now reached space.
Sun god Aditya is the namesake
The research satellite is to be positioned in an area of space 1.5 million kilometers from Earth. It will take around four months for the probe to reach its orbit around the sun, an ISRO spokesman said. If the mission is successful, “Aditya-L1” should have an uninterrupted view of the star, i.e. without darkness.
The satellite is named after the Sanskrit word for the sun god Aditya. “Aditya-L1” consists of seven modules and is intended to observe the outer layers of the sun using detectors for electromagnetic fields. Specifically, solar activities such as wind acceleration and flickering are to be examined. The mission also aims to gain a better understanding of the dynamics of the solar wind.
The data on the solar phenomena that India wants to collect should help to better understand the weather on Earth and other planets. In addition, they should help to better protect communication and climate satellites around the earth, said an ISRO spokesman. The mission is expected to last a little over five years.
India is already lunar nation
So far, the USA, China, Europe and Japan, among others, have studied the sun – alone or in joint missions. Just over a week ago, India landed the Chandrayaan-3 spacecraft on the south pole of the moon. India thus became the fourth moon traveler nation in the world. In 2014, India became the first Asian nation to launch a spacecraft into orbit around the planet Mars.