Skip to main content

India will launch its first solar probe, Aditya-L1, this weekend

Following the success of its historic recent moon landing, India’s space agency, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), is launching its first solar probe this weekend. The Aditya-L1 mission is scheduled to launch from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in India at 2:20 a.m. ET on Saturday, September 2 (11:20 p.m. PT on Friday, September 1).

Aditya-L1 ready for launch.
The Aditya-L1 solar probe is ready for launch. ISRO

The satellite will be heading for the first Lagrange point, L1, which is a stable orbit around the sun that is used by several other sun-studying missions. Aditya-L1 will join the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory, a joint NASA and European Space Agency mission, and a long-standing NASA mission called the Advanced Composition Explorer in this orbit. L1 is opposite the L2 Lagrange point, which is the home of telescopes like the James Webb Space Telescope and the recently launched Euclid space telescope.

When at L1, Aditya-L1 will investigate how and why an upper portion of the atmosphere, called the corona, gets so hot.  The corona is much hotter than the surface of the sun, and it’s not entirely clear why this is. Aditya-L1 will also study the sun’s magnetic fields and look at what aspects of the sun’s behavior drive the space weather that can affect communications systems here on Earth.

The satellite carries seven instruments, including spectrometers, a magnetometer, and a coronagraph, as well as an experiment into solar wind particles. “Using the special vantage point L1, four payloads directly view the sun and the remaining three payloads carry out in-situ studies of particles and fields at the Lagrange point L1, thus providing important scientific studies of the propagatory effect of solar dynamics in the interplanetary medium,” the ISRO explains.

This will be India’s first mission to study the sun, and it will have to travel around 1 million miles from the Earth to reach its L1 destination. The spacecraft will not travel there directly, however, but will rather use a transfer maneuver to adjust its course around the Earth before heading out to L1.  More details on the maneuver are available on the website of the European Space Agency, which is supporting the mission with communications services and flight dynamics software.

The launch will be lives-streamed by ISRO on its website or on YouTube. You can also watch using the video embedded below, with coverage beginning at 1:50 a.m. ET on September 2 (10:50 p.m. PT on September 1).

Launch of PSLV-C57/Aditya-L1 Mission from Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SDSC) SHAR, Sriharikota

Editors' Recommendations

Georgina Torbet
Georgina is the Digital Trends space writer, covering human space exploration, planetary science, and cosmology. She…
Virgin Orbit in final prep for its first night-time rocket launch
Virgin Orbit rocket

Virgin Orbit is making the final preparations for its Straight Up mission as it seeks to take on the likes of SpaceX and Rocket Lab for small-satellite deployments.

Currently on track to launch from the Mojave Air and Space Port in California at 10 p.m. PT on Wednesday, June 29, the mission will deploy payloads for the Department of Defense's Space Test Program and mark the company’s first night-time launch.

Read more
NASA delays launch of its first tourism mission to ISS
A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launching from Cape Canaveral.

NASA has delayed the launch of its first space tourism mission to the International Space Station (ISS).

The Ax-1 mission, organized by Texas-based Axiom Space, was supposed to launch from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Sunday, April 3, but the date has been shifted to Wednesday, April 6.

Read more
Rocket startup Astra scrubs its first launch for NASA
astra nasa launch livestream 22 01 10 lv0008 john kraus cape canaveral prewdr web 12 1536x1024 1

Rocket startup Astra had to scrub its first launch for NASA, scheduled for yesterday, Saturday, February 5, due to a range asset issue.

"Standing down from today's launch of @NASA's ELaNa 41 mission due to a range asset that went out of service," Astra wrote on Twitter. "The team is setting up for next opportunity on Sun., Feb 6. Stay tuned."

Read more