After India’s successful moon landing, the space agency of India launched a rocket Aditya-L1 to study the sun on Saturday in its first solar mission. The rocket left a trail of smoke and fire as scientists cheered, and the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) streamed the event live on its website.
Nearly 500,000 viewers watched the broadcast, while thousands gathered at a viewing gallery near the launch site to witness the probe’s lift-off. The mission’s goal is to study solar winds, which can cause disturbances on Earth, such as the auroras. Named ‘Aditya-L1’ after the Hindi word for the sun, this launch followed India’s achievement of becoming the first country to land on the moon’s south pole, surpassing Russia with the successful landing of Chandrayaan-3.
The Aditya-L1 spacecraft is designed to travel approximately 1.5 million km (930,000 miles) over four months to reach a stable position in space known as Lagrange Points. These points are named after the Italian-French mathematician Joseph-Louis Lagrange and offer reduced fuel consumption for the spacecraft due to balancing gravitational forces.
This mission holds significant scientific potential. Solar energy particles can disrupt communication satellites on Earth, and understanding these effects is crucial. Somak Raychaudhury, involved in developing components of the observatory, highlighted the importance of safeguarding satellites in low Earth orbit, especially with the increasing presence of global private players like Elon Musk’s Starlink network.
Scientists aim to gain insights into the impact of solar radiation on the growing number of satellites in orbit and the origins of solar wind, a stream of particles emanating from the sun that travels through the solar system.
India, driven by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has opened up its space launch sector to privatization and foreign investment, targeting a five-fold increase in its share of the global launch market within the next decade. As space evolves into a global industry, ISRO’s success remains vital in showcasing India’s capabilities in the sector.