Wednesday’s total solar eclipse will be special for Indian astronomers. It will spur the building of a new satellite to help figure out the mysteries of the sun.
Crucial inputs to determine the features of Aditya (meaning sun in Sanskrit) will come from the data gathered during the eclipse. Aditya is the satellite Indian scientists are building to carry out studies on the sun.
Wednesday’s studies will focus on the sun’s corona — the turbulent and blazing outer shell — and its impact on weather.
Aditya, with an expected lifespan of 10 years, will be hurled into space in 2012 and will be 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, ESA.
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,” Prof Siraj Hasan, director, IIA, told HT.
For six years from 2012-18, Aditya will be the only and most sophisticated spacecraft carrying out studies on the sun. Another satellite, Probe Plus, of NASA, will follow suit in 2018.