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Having Conquered the Moon, India Now Looks to the Sun

India's space agency is launching its first mission to the Sun on September 2 to learn more about space weather.

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An illustration of the Aditya-L1 spacecraft. Illustration: ISRO
An illustration of the Aditya-L1 spacecraft. Illustration: ISRO

India is getting ready to launch its first mission to the Sun, switching its attention to Earth’s host star after finally touching down on the Moon less than a week ago.

The Aditya-L1 mission is set for launch on September 2 at 2:20 a.m. ET (11:50 p.m. local time) on board a Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre. As India’s first mission to study the Sun, Aditya (which refers to the Hindu sun god) will observe solar activities to better understand space weather and how it affects Earth.


The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) will place the spacecraft in the Earth-Sun Lagrange Point 1, a gravitationally stable spot located about 1 million miles (1.5 million kilometers) away. “A satellite placed in the halo orbit around the L1 point has the major advantage of continuously viewing the Sun without any occultation/eclipses,” according to ISRO.

Aditya-L1 carries seven science instruments on board, four of which will be aimed directly at the Sun while the remaining three will be used to measure particles at the Lagrange Point 1 to study the effects of solar dynamics in the interplanetary medium (or the space between the planets and the Sun).

Related article: India’s Moon Mission Makes Unprecedented Measurements at the Lunar South Pole

ISRO is still on a high from landing its first mission on the Moon. Chandrayaan-3, India’s second attempt at a touchdown on the lunar surface, achieved a soft landing on August 23. The mission added India to a short list of countries who have achieved the tough feat of landing on the Moon (the Soviet Union, U.S. and China), and became the first lander to touch down on the lunar south pole.


India has been making strides with its growing space program, recently signing onto the Artemis Accords with NASA to make way for increased cooperation on the ongoing lunar program that aims to establish a habitat on the Moon. ISRO also has preliminary plans to launch a mission to Mars and Venus.

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