India launches rocket towards the sun after successful moon lander mission

The spacecraft took off from the Sriharikota space centre on a quest to study the sun from 1.5 million kilometers from earth, Issa Farfour reports

India launched its first space mission to study the sun on Saturday, less than two weeks after a successful uncrewed landing near the south polar region of the moon.

The Aditya-L1 spacecraft took off on board a satellite launch vehicle from the Sriharikota space centre in southern India on a quest to study the sun from a point about 1.5 million kilometers (930,000 miles) from earth.

The spacecraft is equipped with seven payloads to study the sun’s corona, chromosphere, photosphere and solar wind, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) said.

The ISRO said the launch was “accomplished successfully” in a post on social media.

“The vehicle has placed the satellite precisely into its intended orbit. India’s first solar observatory has begun its journey to the destination of Sun-Earth L1 point,” ISRO posted on the X platform, formerly known as Twitter.

The satellite is scheduled to take 125 days to reach the L1 point.

The sun study, combined with India's successful moon landing, would completely change the image of ISRO in the world community, said Manish Purohit, a former ISRO scientist.

"Those seven payloads are going to study the sun as a star in all the possible spectrum positions that we have visible, ultraviolet, and X-ray, ” Purohit said.

"It’s like we’re going to get a black and white image, the color image and the high-definition image, 4K image of the sun, so that we don’t miss out on anything that is happening on the sun."

India became the first country to land a spacecraft near the moon’s south pole on August 23 - a historic voyage to uncharted territory that scientists believe could hold vital reserves of frozen water.

After a failed attempt to land on the moon in 2019, India joined the United States, the Soviet Union and China as only the fourth country to achieve this milestone.

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