India’s solar observation mission has entered the sun’s orbit after a four-month journey, the latest success for the space exploration ambitions of the world’s most populous nation.

The Indian Space Research Organisation’s Aditya-L1 mission was launched in September and is carrying an array of instruments to measure and observe the sun’s outermost layers.

“India creates yet another landmark,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi said in a post on X on Saturday. “It is a testament to the relentless dedication of our scientists in realising among the most complex and intricate space missions.”

India’s science and technology minister Jitendra Singh said on social media that the probe had reached its final orbit “to discover the mysteries of Sun-Earth connection”.

The spacecraft has positioned itself at Lagrange Point 1, from where it will undertake a comprehensive study of the sun, focusing on the solar corona and its influence on space weather.

The satellite covered approximately 1.5 million kilometres (930,000 miles) over the span of four months, just a fraction of the Earth-sun distance of 150 million kilometres (93 million miles).

Named after the Hindi word for the sun, this mission follows India’s recent achievement of being the first country to successfully land on the moon’s south pole, with the Chandrayaan-3 mission in August last year.

Scientists involved in the project aim to gain insights into the impact of solar radiation on the increasing number of satellites in orbit, with a particular focus on phenomena affecting ventures like Elon Musk’s Starlink communications network.

“Today’s event was only placing the Aditya-L1 in the precise Halo orbit … A lot of people are interested in understanding this effect. So we look forward to a lot of scientific outcomes in the coming days. At least five years of life is guaranteed with the fuel left out in the satellite,” ISRO Chairman S Somanath told reporters in India.

“We definitely need to know more about the sun, as it controls the space weather,” Manish Purohit, a former ISRO scientist, told the Reuters news agency. The low earth orbit is going to get “super” crowded over the coming years, he added.

ISRO has been sharing regular updates of the mission through posts on X, since the solar landing.

The United States and the European Space Agency have sent numerous probes to the centre of the solar system, beginning with NASA’s Pioneer programme in the 1960s.

Japan and China have both launched their own solar observatory missions into Earth’s orbit.

But the latest mission by the ISRO is the first by any Asian nation to be placed in orbit around the sun.


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