The celestial event of the century on Wednesday will be special for Indian astronomers as it will spur the making of a new satellite that will help study the sun and try to figure out its impact on Earth’s weather.
The satellite Aditya (meaning sun in Sanskrit) will take shape on the basis of scientific data gathered during the solar eclipse on July 22. The studies will focus on the sun’s corona — the turbulent and blazing outer shell — which impacts weather on Earth. It will also help understand the impact of solar flares on the atmosphere.
Aditya, with an expected lifespan of 10 years, will be hurled into space in 2012, and placed in an orbit about 400 km from the Earth.
Aditya is billed as the most advanced satellite after SOHO (Solar and Heliospheric Observatory), put into space in 1995 by the US’s National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the European Space Agency.
It will be designed and rolled out jointly by scientists of the Indian Institute of Astrophysics (IIA), Bangalore, the Physical Research Laboratory (PRL), Ahmedabad, and the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), Bangalore.
“We will attempt to build a holistic picture of the sun-earth system and the inter-planetary medium (through the studies),” Prof Siraj Hasan, director, IIA, told the Hindustan Times on Monday.
From 2012-18, Aditya will be the only and most sophisticated spacecraft studying the sun. Another NASA satellite will follow suit in 2018.