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Hoping to capture more of the $304-billion global space market, India will send a multi-million dollar mission to probe the Sun by 2020, local media quoted a top space official as reporting Saturday.
“The Aditya mission to the Sun has been planned between 2017 and 2020. The mission would be around the Earth. A few equipment are being planned for that,” the state-owned Indian Space Research Organization’s chief K. Radhakrishnan told reporters in the southern Indian city of Chennai on Friday.
Aditya was planned in 2008 to study the solar corona. This part of the Sun has temperatures of over 1 million degrees, with raging solar winds that reach a velocity of up to 1,000 km a second.
The satellite, which will carry as its payload an advanced solar coronagraph, will weigh just 400 kg. It was initially projected to cost $10 million, but due to an upgraded mission profile, it is now estimated to cost $20 million.
It is likely to be placed into a near Earth orbit of 800 km. The mission will study the fundamental problems of coronal heating, and other phenomena that take place in the Earth’s magnetosphere.
India’s low-cost Mars mission cost 4.5 billion rupees ($73 million), just over one-tenth of the cost of NASA’s latest mission there, which launched on November 18.