The Indian space agency aims for yet another accomplishment. A week after its successful unmanned Moon landing, a mission to explore the Sun will be launched on Saturday.
At 11:50 am (0620 GMT), Aditya-L1 will launch for a four-month journey with scientific equipment to investigate the Sun’s outermost layers.
Beginning with NASA’s Pioneer program in the 1960s, the United States and the European Space Agency (ESA) have launched multiple missions to the solar system’s core.
The most recent mission by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), however, will be the first by any Asian country to be placed in solar orbit if it is successful.
“It’s a challenging mission for India,” astrophysicist Somak Raychaudhury told broadcaster NDTV on Friday.
The mission probe, according to Raychaudhury, would investigate coronal mass ejections, a recurring event that involves enormous bursts of plasma and magnetic energy from the Sun.
These bursts are so strong that they can impact Earth and perhaps interfere with satellite operations.
Aditya will aid in the phenomenon prediction and “warn everyone so that satellites can turn off their power,” the speaker assured.
“It will also help us understand how these things happen, and in the future, we might not need a warning system out there.”
Aditya — the name of the Hindu Sun deity — will travel 1.5 million kilometres (930,000 miles) to reach its destination.
It is travelling on the ISRO-designed, 320-tonne PSLV XL rocket that has been a mainstay of the Indian space programme, powering earlier launches to the Moon and Mars.
The mission also aims to shed light on the dynamics of several other solar phenomena by imaging and measuring particles in the Sun’s upper atmosphere.