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Business News/ News / India/  After Chandrayaan-3 success, Isro to launch solar mission on 2 Sept
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After Chandrayaan-3 success, Isro to launch solar mission on 2 Sept

The mission aims to study solar characteristics and their impact on earth and space weather and is expected to boost India's reputation in the global space race and attract international investors to the country's private space sector

A graphic representation of ISRO’s Aditya L1 mission. (HT_PRINT)Premium
A graphic representation of ISRO’s Aditya L1 mission. (HT_PRINT)

NEW DELHI: After India’s successful moon landing last week, the Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro), India’s central space agency, confirmed the launch of its upcoming mission to study the sun, called Aditya-L1, on 2 September. The launch will take place from Isro’s Sriharikota launch base at a scheduled time of 11:50 AM, aboard Isro’s most-used launch rocket, the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV)’s C57 mission.

Aditya-L1 is India’s first mission to study the sun, and will seek to study solar characteristics and their impact on earth and the overall space weather, from a vantage point. The observatory will carry a total of seven payloads, and will be deployed at Lagrange Point-1 (L1)—one of three strategic points in space between the earth and the sun. While Isro has not disclosed an official figure, various reports have claimed that the total budget of the Aditya-L1 mission is under 400 crore, or less than $45 million.

The primary objectives of the Aditya-L1 mission would be to study the upper atmospheric conditions of the sun, including observing heating in the sun’s corona—the outermost layer of the solar atmosphere. Studies will also seek to observe solar flares, as well as get a deeper understanding of the physics behind partially ionized plasma—also known as the fourth state of matter. Aditya-L1 will also seek to understand the sequence of solar conditions that lead to solar flares, which in turn could be crucial to predict particularly strong such flares.

To be sure, while this is Isro’s first space observatory directed at the sun, it isn’t India’s first space observatory. In September 2015, Isro’s AstroSat became India’s first space observatory and was scheduled to serve as India’s own space telescope for five years. The space telescope remains active to date.

The study of solar flares has been globally regarded as crucial to understanding how changes in conditions on the sun may affect life on earth. While solar flares may not directly lead to death, strong solar radiations can cause blackout of satellite and radio communications on earth—leading to potentially significant disruption of global communications infrastructure. The most recent such incident took place on 7 August, leading to the disruption of radio and navigation signals across the North American continent.

These storms are typically rated on a scale issued by the Space Weather Prediction Centre at the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Studying the solar conditions, according to scientists, would be key to predicting the cycle, causing factors and magnitude of these storms—in effect protecting networks and infrastructure from earth from outages and downtimes.

Isro’s upcoming feat comes off the back of its success in landing on the moon. On 23 August, Chandrayaan-3’s Vikram lander touched down on the lunar surface in the lunar south pole region, making India the first nation to do so, and the fourth to land on the moon to date. Scientific observations from the mission are currently underway.

The spate of successful missions from Isro is expected to bolster India’s reputation in the global space race. Talking to Mint on the day of the landing of Chandrayaan-3, Pawan Kumar Goenka, chairman of the Centre’s nodal space authorization body Indian National Space Promotion and Authorization Centre (In-Space), said that the moon landing feat would also give private space firms in the country a boost in their ambitions, potential clientele and ability to attract international investors.

In August last year, Mint reported that a lack of certification of space readiness had largely kept global investors away from the nascent domestic private space sector. While the likes of Skyroot Aerospace and Pixxel have attracted global funding, India presently awaits clarification to foreign direct investments (FDI) in the space sector in order to attract international space funding.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Shouvik Das
Shouvik Das is a science, space and technology reporter for Mint and TechCircle. In his previous stints, he worked at publications such as CNN-News18 and Outlook Business. He has also reported on consumer technology and the automobile sector.
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Published: 29 Aug 2023, 09:25 AM IST
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