An Indian solar probe is on its way to its operational position. The device, called Aditya-L1, was launched on Saturday morning German time from the Satish Dhawan spaceport on the coast of the state of Andhra Pradesh. “The satellite is intact and functioning properly,” wrote the Indian space agency Isro on Platform X, formerly Twitter.

Shortly before, Isro had also announced news from her current moon mission: The rover, which landed on the moon almost two weeks ago, was safely parked there and temporarily put into sleep mode until its next mission.

The Sun Mission probe is scheduled to travel around four months (125 days) before it is expected to reach an orbit around the Sun around 1.5 million kilometers from Earth, a spokesman for the Indian Space Agency said ahead of the launch. The first maneuver has now been carried out successfully, it said.

Roughly speaking, the probe will orbit the earth several times in the coming days to pick up speed. Then it should make its way to a position between the earth and the sun. The next maneuver is scheduled for September 5th.

Named after the sun god Aditya

The Aditya-L1 mission is named after the Sanskrit word for the sun god Aditya. If successful, she should have an uninterrupted view of the sun, i.e. no darkness. The outermost layers of the sun are to be analyzed. The mission is expected to last a little over five years.

The data on solar phenomena that India wants to collect should help to better understand the weather on Earth and on other planets. In addition, they should help to better protect communication and climate satellites around the world, Isro said.

At 1475 kilograms, Aditya-L1 is lighter than India’s recently launched Chandrayaan-3 lunar mission. On August 23, India became the fourth country ever to make a soft landing on the moon.

Ready for new orders

“The rover has completed its tasks,” Isro wrote on Saturday on X. Collected data would be transmitted to Earth via the lander. The rover’s battery is currently fully charged. The solar panel is aligned in such a way that it receives the light of the next sunrise – expected on September 22, 2023.

“We hope for a successful awakening to another set of quests!” Isro wrote. “Otherwise he will stay there forever as India’s ambassador on the moon.”

Previously, only the Soviet Union, the United States and China had successfully landed on the moon. With the unmanned mission, India wants to explore the little-studied south side of the moon, with a focus on the frozen water that is there. Such ice could also be useful in future manned lunar missions. “Chandrayaan” means “lunar vehicle” in Sanskrit.

While the landing of “Chandrayaan-3” was successful, a few days earlier the first Russian moon mission in around half a century had failed: According to Russian information, the “Luna-25” space probe crashed on the moon. In the meantime, however, not only state space agencies, but also private companies are trying to land on the moon.

India’s space program began in the 1960s. In the first decades, the focus was primarily on getting satellites into space cheaply. India now has more ambitious goals.