Sunday 10 December 2023

India blasts off on crucial sun mission days after 'moon conquest'

NEW DELHI, September 2, 2023

Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro) has successfully launched its first observation mission to the Sun, just days after the country made history by becoming the first to land near the Moon's south pole, said media reports.
Aditya-L1 today (September 2) proudly lifted off from the launch pad at Sriharikota at 11:50 India time (06:20 GMT).
The country's first space-based mission to study the solar system's biggest object is named after Surya - the Hindu god of Sun who is also known as Aditya.
India's ambitious Aditya-L1 mission marks the country's inaugural foray into space-based solar studies and promises to provide crucial insights into the Sun's activities and their implications for the Earth, reported Press Trust of India, citing experts.
The rocket left a trail of smoke and fire as scientists clapped, a live broadcast on the ISRO website showed.
It will travel 1.5 million km from the Earth - 1% of the Earth-Sun distance and reach the target in four months.
India's space agency said L1 stands for Lagrange point 1 - the exact place between Sun and Earth where the Indian spacecraft is heading. This spot is where the gravitational forces of two large objects - such as the Sun and the Earth - cancel each other out, allowing a spacecraft to "hover".
In its recent update, ISRO said that the first earth-bound firing to raise the Aditya-L1 orbit is scheduled for September 3 around 11.45am, reported ANI. 
"Aditya-L1 started generating the power. The solar panels are deployed. The first EarthBound firing to raise the orbit is scheduled for September 3 around 11:45 hours. The third stage of the separation of PSLV carrying the Aditya-L1 orbiter has been completed," it added.
India's space agency on social media platform X, formerly Twitter, later said the satellite was now in orbit.
After an hour and four minutes of flight-time, ISRO declared it "mission successful".
Prime Minister Narendra Modi extended his heartfelt congratulations to ISRO and its dedicated team of scientists on the remarkable achievement of successfully launching India's inaugural solar mission. 
"Our tireless scientific efforts will continue in order to develop better understanding of the universe for the welfare of entire humanity," he said on 'X'. He emphasized the relentless commitment of India's scientific community to continue their pursuit of knowledge, aiming to deepen our comprehension of the universe for the benefit of all humanity, he stated.
Once Aditya-L1 reaches this "parking spot", it would 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 blast off.
It took nearly 63 minutes for one of the heaviest configurations of the PSLV to place the spacecraft in a precise elliptical orbit of nearly 235 km x 19,500 km, reported Indian Express.
This was the first time the fourth stage of the PSLV was fired two separate times to take the primary payload of the mission to the precise place for orbit insertion.
During the firings of the fourth stage of PSLV and the coasting phase in between, there were two instances — one for nearly 25 minutes and another for just over two minutes — when there were no eyes on the satellite. It was only after a ship-based station and then Kourou ground station acquired the data that the flight path could be seen.
"Now it will continue on its journey - it's a very long journey of 135 days, let's wish it [the] best of luck," Isro chief Sreedhara Panicker Somanath said.
Project director Nigar Shaji said once Aditya-L1 reaches its destination, it will benefit not only India, but the global scientific community.
Aditya-L1 will now travel several times around the Earth before being launched towards L1.
From this vantage position, it will be able to watch the Sun constantly - even when it is hidden during an eclipse - and carry out scientific studies.
India currently has more than 50 satellites in space and they provide many crucial services to the country, including communication links, data on weather, and help predict pest infestations, droughts and impending disasters.


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