India just landed on the moon, now it’s launching a spacecraft to the Sun

By Alma Fabiani

Published Sep 1, 2023 at 11:25 AM

Reading time: 1 minute

India’s space agency, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), is set to launch a new satellite aimed at studying the Sun, just days after the country successfully landed a spacecraft on the moon as part of its Chandrayaan-3 mission. The country’s ambitious mission of landing a spacecraft on the moon’s south pole—a feat which, until now, had been achieved by no other country—will now be followed just days later by the launch of the Aditya-L1 satellite.

Today, Friday 1 September 2023, ISRO announced on X (formerly Twitter) that the launch would occur tomorrow, Saturday 2 September.

Aditya, which translates to ‘Sun’ in Hindi, will be fired into a halo orbit in a region of space about 1.5 million kilometres from Earth, providing the craft with a continuous clear view of the Sun. “This will provide a greater advantage of observing the solar activities and its effect on space weather in real-time,” ISRO explained.

Aditya-L1 will be carrying seven payloads to observe the Sun’s outermost layers (known as the photosphere and chromosphere), by using electromagnetic and particle field detectors. Among several other objectives, the mission aims to study the drivers for space weather to better understand the dynamics of solar wind.

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While NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA) have previously placed orbiters to study the Sun, it will be India’s first mission to do the same.

The unmanned Chandrayaan-3 touched down on the lunar surface last week, making India only the fourth country, behind the US, Russia, and China, to land successfully on the moon. This marked the latest milestone in the country’s ambitious space programme, sparking celebrations across the world.

​India has a comparatively low-budget space programme but one that has grown considerably in size and momentum since it first sent a probe to orbit the moon back in 2008.

​In 2014, India became the first Asian nation to put a craft into orbit around Mars and it is slated to launch a three-day crewed mission into the Earth’s orbit by 2024. Last, but certainly not least, it also plans a joint mission with Japan to send another probe to the moon by 2025 plus an orbital mission to Venus within the next two years.

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