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India to send Sun Mission Aditya in 2012
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India will send its space mission to the Sun in 2012 to find out answers for how and why solar flares and solar winds disturb the communication network and play havoc with electronics back home on the Earth.

The Sun's corona as also its flares and winds create geomagnetic field disturbances on the Earth and often damage man-made satellites and spacecraft hovering up in the sky under intense sunlight.

After the successful launch of its moon mission, Chandrayaan-1, the Indian Space Research Organisation is now gearing up for the Mission Aditya, aimed at unravelling the secrets of the Sun, the father of our solar system. ISRO chairman G Madhavan Nair on Monday announced in Bengaluru that ISRO was ready with its new space programme to explore the corona of the Sun in 2012.

Mission Aditya has been on the cards for quite some time now and it got a boost after the successful launch of Chandrayaan-1 lunarcraft into its designated orbit around the Moon.

The success of the Aditya Mission will not only solve some of the mysteries surrounding the Sun but also provide vital clues for ISRO on how to protect its satellites and spaceware from being damaged by hot winds and flares ejected out of the corona, the outermost layer of the solar atmosphere. The temperature in corona ranges between 8 lakh to 30 lakh Celsius. Material is ejected from the corona into space containing several billion tons of matter with speed ranging to several million miles per hour. Such material interacts with spacecraft and other man-made material in its path inducing electrical currents. They also damage power systems, disrupt communications and degrade high-tech navigation systems.

ISRO's Aditya Mission is a solar coronagraph or equipment that measures or studies the corona of the sun. Madhavan Nair said Aditya will study corona in visible and near infra red bands to "study the coronal mass ejection and consequently crucial physical parameters for space weather such as the coronal magnetic field structures, velocity fields and their variability in the inner corona".

Unlike the Chandrayaan-1, which has entered the realms of the lunar world for observation as close as 100 km, Aditya will study the Sun riding piggyback on the Earth. It will weigh about 100 kgs and will have a near-earth orbit of 600 km.

ISRO has planned Aditya launch in 2012 in coordination with the solar maximum when the sunspots will be at the maximum. The last solar maximum occurs once in 11 years. Aditya Mission will cost about Rs 50 crore as against Chandrayaan-1's about Rs 400 crore. Like Chandrayaan-1 it will have a life span of two years and ISRO team hopes to generate enough data during this period.

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