India launches probe to Sun

Lazy eyes listen


Aditya-L1, India’s first solar mission, lifted off on Saturday from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre launch pad on Sriharikota island in the southern state of Andhra Pradesh.

The first solar space observatory from the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) was launched aboard the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) and holds seven different payloads. Four of the payloads will examine the Sun’s light, while the other three will measure plasma and magnetic field properties.

ISRO chief S Somanath told reporters ahead of the launch that the Aditya L1 satellite will take 125 days to reach the Lagrangian point (L1), named after the Italian scientist Joseph Louis Lagrange.

Aditya-L1 will remain in Earth-bound orbits for 16 days after launch, performing five maneuvers to obtain the requisite velocity for its voyage. The satellite and its payloads will be positioned in a fixed Sun-Earth system orbit and will continue to orbit the Sun in order to collect data. According to the ISRO, Aditya-L1 will remain 1.5 million kilometers away from Earth, pointing toward the Sun, which is approximately 1% of the distance between the Earth and the Sun.

The Aditya L1 payloads are expected to give critical information for understanding solar phenomena such as the heating of the Sun’s outermost layer of atmosphere, the corona, and the ejection of the magnetic field and plasma from the corona.