ISRO's mission to probe Sun before 2020

Chennai, Feb 28: Indian Space Research Organisation has lined up over a dozen missions, including its first probe on the Sun, ISRO chairman K Radhakrishnan said today.

Though, the mission to probe the Sun was already on the cards, the agency now has a clear picture of its plan and had put a timeframe within which it hoped to undertake it, Radhakrishnan said, while addressing students at a private University here.

He said the "Aditya" mission to the Sun had been planned between 2017 and 2020. "The mission would be around the Earth. A few equipment are being planned for that. We hope for the launch between 2017 and 2020," ISRO chairman said. Apart from Aditya, space habitat studies were also being planned in these three years.

Before that, ISRO would focus on ASTROSAT -- a project aimed at design, development, fabrication and launch of an astronomical observatory for studies of cosmic sources -- and Chandrayaan -- II between 2014 and 2017.

"We are planning to have an indigenous lander and rover for Chandrayaan -- 2 mission," he said. However, later during an interaction, he declined to comment whether the Union Cabinet had cleared the project.

ISRO's next in line was IRNSS 1-B, the second of seven satellites, which form the Indian Regional Navigational Satellite System -- an Indian equivalent of USA's Global Positioning System.

The launch of IRNSS 1-B was likely in April first week, while the experimental launch of GSLV Mark III was expected in the last week of May or in the first week of June, he said. On the capacity of launching vehicles, he said ISRO aimed at increasing the capacity of GSLV by four tonnes between 2014 and 2017 and further enhancing to six to 10 tonne before 2020.

Detailing on the utility of ISRO satellites in tackling natural disasters, he said three satellites, including Kalpana and INSAT - 3D were very helpful during the recent cyclone 'Phailin', sending over 400 images during crucial four days. "With their inputs, we were able to predict the velocity, intensity and the date of landfall almost accurately," he said adding the loss of life was only six or seven due to the cyclone.

Updating on ISRO's ambitious inter-planetary mission to the Mars, he said the Mars Orbiter Mission, launched on November 5 last year, had travelled over one third of the total distance of 680 million km.


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