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ISRO to study solar eclipse

The Indian space agency will launch a series of rockets from its two centres between Thursday and Sunday to study Friday's solar eclipse and its aftereffects.

india Updated: Jan 15, 2010 15:57 IST

The Indian space agency will launch a series of rockets from its two centres between Thursday and Sunday to study Friday's solar eclipse and its aftereffects.

The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) is getting ready to send up a series of sounding rockets - rockets carrying instruments to measure the physical parameters of the upper atmosphere - from Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh and Thumba in Kerala to study the effects of the solar eclipse.

The solar eclipse Friday will be for a duration of 11.8 minutes. The sounding rockets will be fired before and after.

"On Jan 15 and 17, Rohini 560 (RH 560) sounding rockets will be launched in a parabolic flight path to measure various atmospheric and ionospheric parameters connected with the solar eclipse," Satish Dhawan Space Centre Associate Director M.Y.S. Prasad told IANS from Sriharikota.

The nine-metre RH 560 rockets weigh 1.5 tonnes and carry a 100-kg payload of instruments each. The two-stage rocket will take the instruments 500 km above the earth's surface.

From Sriharikota, there will be one launch each on Friday and Sunday.

Most of the rockets will be launched from ISRO's Thumba Equatorial Rocket Launching Station (TERLS) in Kerala.

According to ISRO officials, four rockets will be launched Thursday from TERLS and five on Friday.

The rockets fired from TERLS are smaller than RH 560. They will reach 75 to 120 km above the earth.

A similar coordinated experiment was conducted in 1980 and since then ISRO has set up several facilities to study the data.