As India continues to carve its name in the annals of space exploration, the nation has added another significant milestone to its record. On Saturday, the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) successfully launched its first-ever mission to study the sun, a mere week after becoming the first country to land an unmanned robotic spacecraft near the moon’s south pole. The Aditya-L1 spacecraft, a symbol of India’s ambitious space program, embarked on its journey from the launchpad at Sriharikota in southern India, with the aim of observing the outer atmosphere of our star.
The mission, christened Aditya-L1, a Sanskrit word for sun, is destined for the Sun-Earth L1 point. This location in space, between the sun and Earth, is a point of gravitational equilibrium allowing the satellite to remain relatively stable with respect to both celestial bodies. The spacecraft will orbit the Earth several times before setting course for its destination, a journey that will span nearly four months, taking it some 1.5 million km (932,000 miles) from Earth. Once there, the satellite will spend its entire mission life orbiting this location, providing an uninterrupted view of the sun.
India’s Journey to the Sun Begins with Aditya-L1 Launch
India has embarked on its first space mission to study the sun, a significant milestone in the country’s ambitious space program. This launch comes just a week after the nation became the first to land an unmanned robotic spacecraft near the moon’s south pole.
Successful Launch of Aditya-L1
The Aditya-L1 spacecraft took off from the launchpad at Sriharikota in southern India around noon local time on Saturday. The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) confirmed the successful launch soon after. The spacecraft is now on a mission to observe the outer atmosphere of the sun. "The vehicle has placed the satellite precisely into its intended orbit. India’s first solar observatory has begun its journey to the destination of Sun-Earth L1 point," ISRO announced.
Destination: Lagrange Point 1
The mission’s name, Aditya, is a Sanskrit word for sun while L1 stands for Lagrange point 1. This is the location in space between the sun and Earth where the gravitational forces of the two bodies are in equilibrium. This allows an object positioned there to remain relatively stable with respect to both celestial bodies. The spacecraft will orbit the Earth several times before traveling to its destination. It is estimated to take nearly four months for the satellite to reach that point, which is some 1.5 million km (932,000 miles) from the Earth.
Uninterrupted View and Study of the Sun
According to ISRO, the satellite will spend its entire mission life orbiting that location, providing an uninterrupted view of the sun. It is carrying seven payloads to study the sun’s corona, the outermost part of its atmosphere, as well as the photosphere – the sun’s surface or what we see from Earth – and the chromosphere, a thin layer of plasma between the photosphere and the corona.
India’s Growing Aspirations in Space
This remarkable achievement follows the August touchdown of the Chandrayaan-3 mission to the moon, which was a significant success for India’s growing aspirations in space and was celebrated by its over 1 billion population. The lunar mission made India the fourth nation to touch down on the moon, and the first to land near the south pole, a coveted area thought to hold water in the form of ice.
A ‘Sunshine Moment’ for India
Jitendra Singh, India’s minister of state for science and technology, hailed the mission as a ‘sunshine moment for India’, further emphasizing the country’s commitment to expanding its reach in space exploration.
Takeaways: This is a proud moment for India as they continue to make strides in space exploration. The successful launch of the Aditya-L1 spacecraft is a major milestone in India’s space program. This mission will provide crucial insights into the study of the sun’s atmosphere and further demonstrates India’s growing capabilities in space technology and exploration.