India will launch its first spacecraft to study the sun this weekend, if all goes according to plan.
The launch of the Aditya-L1 solar observatory is scheduled for Saturday (September 2) at 2:20 AM EST (0620 GMT; 11:50 IST), Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO). announced on Monday (28 August).
The spacecraft will launch atop the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle from the Satish Dhawan Space Center, on Sriharikota Island, off the east coast of India. You’ll be able to watch the event here on Space.com, courtesy of ISRO.
Related: Space weather: what is it and how is it predicted?
🚀PSLV-C57/🛰️Aditya-L1 Mission: Aditya-L1, India’s first space observatory to study the Sun ☀️, is scheduled to launch on 🗓️ September 2, 2023, at 🕛11:50 am. ist from Sriharikota. Citizens are invited to view the launch from the Launch View gallery at… pic.twitter.com/bjhM5mZNrxAugust 28, 2023
Aditya-L1 will initially head into low Earth orbit, where its various systems will get an in-space check from the mission team. If all goes well, the spacecraft will gradually reduce its orbit, eventually freeing itself from our planet’s gravity. Once freed from Earth’s grasp, Aditya-L1 will make its way to Lagrange Point 1 between Earth and the sun, a gravitationally stable point about a million miles (1.5 million km) away.
“A satellite in corona orbit around point L1 has the great advantage of seeing the sun continuously without any occultation,” the ISRO officials wrote on Aditya-L1. Description of the task. “This will provide an even greater advantage for monitoring solar activities and their impact on space weather in real time.”
This destination explains the “L1” part of the task name. Meanwhile, the word ‘Aditya’ is translated as ‘sun’ in Sanskrit.
Once it reaches L1, the probe will use its seven science instruments to study the sun in a variety of ways. For example, the Aditya-L1 data can help researchers better understand the dynamics of solar flares, huge explosions of superheated solar plasma known as coronal mass ejections, ISRO officials said.
The mission could also shed light on why the sun’s outer atmosphere, known as the corona, is much hotter than its surface — about 1.8 million degrees Fahrenheit (1 million degrees Celsius), compared to just 10,000 degrees Fahrenheit (5,500 degrees Celsius). So.
India’s launch of the roughly ₹3.8 billion (US$45 million) Aditya-L1 mission will follow closely on the heels of the country’s huge success on the moon: the country’s two landers and Chandrayaan-3 rover successfully landed on Earth’s nearest neighbour. Last Wednesday (August 23).
Since then, Chandrayaan-3 has been exploring the moon’s south polar region, an area that has not hosted a surface mission yet. Exploration advocates are interested in the moon’s polar regions, because they are believed to contain large amounts of water ice, a key resource that could support human outposts.
Chandrayaan-3’s Vikram-3 lander and Pragyan rover are expected to operate for about one lunar day (14 Earth days) before they are silenced by the bitter cold and darkness of the long lunar night.