Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi wants to recreate India’s IT boom with space, a government official told Reuters. And the Indian Space Research Organisation’s efforts do show that the country truly is serious about wanting to be known as a major player. Just a week after Chandrayaan-3 touched down on the moon, the country’s space agency has already launched a rocket carrying Aditya-L1, the first Indian mission dedicated to observing the sun.
Aditya-L1 will travel 930,000 miles over four months until it reaches the L1 Lagrange Point between the sun and our planet. A Lagrange point is a place of equilibrium between two massive orbiting bodies where objects tend to stay put, thereby minimizing a spacecraft’s fuel consumption. The spacecraft will remain in orbit to collect data that scientists are hoping would help them figure out why the sun’s corona is hotter than its surface.
They’re also hoping that the mission could provide information on how solar radiation and various solar phenomena affect communication systems and satellites, as well as power grids. By understanding those effects, space companies and agencies can better protect satellites in orbit. If scientists can predict coronal mass ejections, for instance, they can alert operators so that they can shut down their satellites’ power before the phenomenon occurs. In addition, scientists are hoping that Aditya-L1 can shed light on solar wind behavior and on how the sun’s activity can influence the Earth’s climate in the long run.
Sankar Subramanian, principal scientist of the mission, said: “We have made sure we will have a unique data set that is not currently available from any other mission. This will allow us to understand the sun, its dynamics as well as the inner heliosphere, which is an important element for current-day technology, as well as space-weather aspects.”
India already has several other missions lined up for the coming years. It’s working with Japan to send an uncrewed lander and rover to explore the south pole region of the moon by 2025. Before that, by next year, it’s planning to launch orbiters to observe Mars and Venus.