Ten days after successfully landing an unmanned vehicle near the Moon’s south poleIndia on Saturday (September 2) launched a rocket carrying a solar probe for a four-month journey to the Sun, as shown by a live broadcast from the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO).
Mission control technicians cheered as the rocket lifted off from ISRO’s launch pad on Sriharikota Island at 11:50 a.m. local time (7:20 a.m. PST). Named “Aditya-L1” (“Sun” in Hindi), the probe carries scientific instruments to observe the outer layers of the Sun and begins a four-month journey to its destination, located 1.5 million kilometers away.
The study satellite is carried by the 320-ton PSLV-XL rocket, designed by ISRO. She is one of the pillars of the Indian space program and has already carried out launches to the Moon and Mars.
“An ambitious mission”
NASA and the European Space Agency have already placed spacecraft in orbit to study the Sun, but this is a first for India.
“This is an ambitious mission for India”, astrophysicist Somak Raychaudhury told NDTV on Friday. And to add that the probe would study coronal m ejections. These periodic phenomena which result in discharges of plasma and magnetic energy from the atmosphere of the Sun are so powerful that they can reach the Earth and potentially disrupt the functioning of satellites. Aditya-L1 will help predict these phenomena “and to alert everyone so that the satellites can cut off their power”argued the scientist.
India’s aerospace program has a relatively modest budget, but one that has been significantly increased since its first attempt to place a probe in orbit around the Moon in 2008. In 2014, India was the first nation on the Asian continent to have placed a machine in orbit around Mars.
According to industry experts, India manages to keep costs low by replicating and adapting existing space technology for its own purposes, thanks in particular to the large number of highly qualified engineers who are paid much less than their foreign counterparts. The successful moon landing on August 23 – a feat previously achieved only by Russia, the United States and China – cost less than $75 million.
The country plans to launch a three-day manned mission around the Earth by next year. In addition, a joint mission with Japan must send a probe to the Moon by 2025 as well as a mission to Venus within two years.
The World with AFP