April 21, 2024

India’s solar observing mission entered the Sun’s orbit after a four months journeythe latest success for the space exploration ambitions of the world’s most populous country.

The Aditya-L1 mission was launched in September and has a variety of instruments to measure and observe the Sun’s outer layers.

India’s Minister of Science and Technology, Jitendra Singh, said on social media that the probe had reached its final orbit “to discover the mysteries of Sun-Earth connection”.

The US and the European Space Agency has sent numerous probes to the center of the solar system, starting with Nasa’s Pioneer program in the 1960s. Japan and China have also launched their own solar observatory missions into Earth’s orbit.

But the latest mission by the Indian space research organization is the first by any country in Asia to be placed in orbit around the Sun.

India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi hailed it as another landmark in the country’s space program. “This is a testament to the relentless dedication of our scientists,” he said on social media. “We will continue to pursue new frontiers of science for the benefit of humanity.”

Named after a Hindu sun deity, Aditya traveled 932,000 miles (1.5m km) from Earth – still only 1% of the distance between Earth and the Sun. It is now at a point where the gravitational forces of both celestial bodies cancel, allowing it to remain in a stable halo orbit around the Sun.

The orbiter, which is believed to have cost $48m (£38m), will study coronal mass ejections, a periodic phenomenon in which large discharges of plasma and magnetic energy are released from the Sun’s atmosphere. These eruptions are so powerful that they can reach the Earth and disrupt the operation of satellites.

The mission also aims to shed light on the dynamics of various other solar phenomena by imaging and measuring particles in the Sun’s upper atmosphere.

India has a relatively low-budget space program, but one that has grown in size and momentum since it first sent a probe to orbit the moon in 2008. In August last year, India became the first country to ‘ an unmanned craft near the largely unexplored lunar south pole, and the fourth country to land on the moon.

India became the first Asian country to put a spacecraft into orbit around Mars in 2014 and it is expected to launch a three-day crewed mission to Earth’s orbit later this year.

India is also planning a joint mission with Japan to send another probe to the moon by 2025 and an orbiter to Venus within the next two years.

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