Last month, India became the fourth country to land on the moon, and the first to do so on its southern polar region, with its Chandrayaan 3 spacecraft. It was the nation’s second try at a moon landing, after its Chadrayaan 2 craft crashed in 2019, and came just days after a Russian lander, also aiming for the southern polar region, had crashed.
The recent successes of India’s space program parallel the nation’s growth as an economic and geopolitical power, and officials cite them as a manifestation of its strong traditions in science and technology. India’s space research agency, called ISRO, has accomplished its goals on a budget much smaller than that of many other space-faring countries.
India’s solar mission is the latest in a string of probes of the sun; some by NASA, both individually and in cooperation with the European space agency, and others by China and Japan.
The Aditya L1 spacecraft is carrying seven payloads, including remote sensing instruments. After it travels nearly a million miles, the craft will be placed in a halo orbit called Lagrange point 1 (L1), which will provide an uninterrupted view of the sun and its activities and its effects on space weather in real time.
With increasing attention and competition in space, understanding space weather is becoming important for planning missions and protecting satellites and spacecraft. Indian scientists hope the data Aditiya L1 provides will add to the knowledge of potential disturbances in space weather that are traced back to the sun’s energy, and will help in predicting such disturbances.