Following India’s successful moon landing, the country’s space agency ISRO launched a rocket on Saturday to study the sun in its first solar mission, Aditya-L1.

Scientists applauded as the rocket left a trail of smoke and flames, as a live feed on the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) website showed.

The broadcast was watched by nearly 500,000 viewers, and thousands gathered on an observation deck near the launch site to watch the liftoff of the probe, which is designed to study the solar wind that can cause here on Earth what are often seen as auroras interference.

The Aditya-L1 launch, named after the Hindi word for sun, comes after India beat Russia late last month to become the first country to land on the moon’s south pole. While Russia has more powerful rockets, India’s Chandrayaan-3 beat out the Luna-25 with a textbook landing.

The Aditya-L1 spacecraft is designed to travel about 1.5 million kilometers in four months to a parking lot in space, where objects tend to stay in place due to the balance of gravity, reducing the spacecraft’s fuel consumption.

These locations are known as Lagrange points, named after the Italian-French mathematician Joseph-Louis Lagrange.

Somak Raychaudhury, who was involved in the development of some of the observatory’s components, said the mission was capable of a “big bang in science”, adding that energetic particles emitted by the sun could hit satellites that control communications on Earth. .

“There have been cases of major communication outages due to satellite exposure to large corona radiation. Satellites in low earth orbit are the main focus of private players globally, which makes the Aditya L1 mission a very important project,” he said. .

Scientists want to learn more about the effects of solar radiation on the thousands of satellites in orbit, a growing number of satellites following the success of projects like Elon Musk’s SpaceX’s Starlink communications network.

Rama Rao Nidamanuri, head of the Department of Earth and Space Sciences at the Indian Institute, said: “Low-Earth orbit has become heavily polluted due to private involvement, so understanding how to protect satellites there is of particular importance in today’s space environment. Significance.” Space Science and Technology.

In the long run, ISRO scientists said the mission’s data could help to better understand the sun’s influence on Earth’s climate patterns and the origin of the solar wind, the stream of particles flowing from the sun through the solar system.

Pushed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, India has privatized space launches and is seeking to open the industry to foreign investment, aiming to quintuple its share of the global launch market within the next decade.

As space becomes a global business, the country is also counting on ISRO’s success to demonstrate its prowess in the field.

© Thomson Reuters 2023

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