With the successful placement of a spacecraft in an orbit where it will study the sun for five years, India has accomplished another significant milestone in its space exploration program.
Four months after becoming the first nation to land an unmanned spacecraft on the moon’s southern pole area, India joined an elite group of countries already studying the sun, solidifying its position as a country rising on the frontlines of space exploration.
The space observatory Aditya L-1, according to the Indian Space Research Organization, arrived at its current location on Saturday, enabling it to monitor the sun’s outer layer and transmit data back to Earth. It took the spacecraft four months to get to its objective after it was launched on September 2.
An ISRO statement stated that the Aditya-L1 spacecraft is “located approximately 1.5 million km [kilometers] from earth and is in a periodic Halo orbit.”
Aditya-L1 is named after Aditya, the Sanskrit word for the Hindu sun god. “L1” stands for Lagrange point 1, which is the place where the spacecraft is parked in space between the sun and Earth.
“This demonstrates India’s capability to travel over a million kilometers away from the Earth’s orbit. It is a capability that very few countries have and India is the first in Asia to do so,” according to Chaitanya Giri, associate professor of environmental sciences at Flame University in Pune. “The ability to maintain deep space communication with a spacecraft that has traveled so far and sustain a mission for a long period is also significant.”
For five years, the Indian expedition is expected to study the sun. Even during eclipses, the spacecraft’s position at “Lagrange 1” affords an unobstructed view of the sun.
According to space scientists, the mission’s primary goal is to better understand space weather—variations in the climate in space between Earth and the sun—which is essential for safeguarding satellites and other spacecraft.
Ajay Lele, a space scientist and former senior fellow at the Manohar Parrikar Institute of Defense Studies and Analyses in New Delhi, stated that “it is vital to understand space weather at a time when there are thousands of satellites in space.”
“Space weather is about disturbances that happen on the sun such as solar winds, solar flares and coronal mass ejections. These three components need to be studied,” he said.
It is anticipated that Aditya-L1 will be able to alert people to space storms that may occasionally interfere with radio communications and satellite operations and have an effect on Earth.
The spacecraft has seven scientific instruments to investigate magnetic fields and particles in the solar wind.
Japan, China, the European Space Agency, and the United States Space Agency have all launched solar observatory missions thus far.
India’s space program, which dates back to the 1960s, has become more well-known under Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who has made it a priority to advance India’s standing internationally.
“India creates yet another landmark. It is a testament to the relentless dedication of our scientists in realizing among the most complex and intricate space missions,” Modi said in a post on X, formerly known as Twitter, on Saturday.
This year’s scheduled launch of a human space mission and an interplanetary expedition to Mars are among the other significant missions that the Indian space agency has planned.
Experts claim that India is aiming to improve its military capabilities in space in addition to conducting space adventures for scientific purposes like these. In 2019, it performed an anti-satellite weapon test to show that it could take down satellites in space, a capacity that only the United States, China, and Russia have. This was the first indication that it is giving a military aspect to its space program.
Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) chief S. Somanath announced last month that the nation intends to build 50 new artificial intelligence-based satellites over the course of the next five years in order to strengthen border monitoring and improve “geo-intelligence” capabilities.
Experts say that India’s imperative is to improve its military capabilities for space monitoring. Its concerns are centered on the Indian Ocean region, where China has been gaining power, as well as its boundaries with China in the Himalayas, where disputed borders between the two have prompted military tensions.