Scientists track eclipse from air

Scientists track eclipse from air


A Mirage-2000 fighter jet and an AN-32 medium lift transport aircraft took to the skies early this morning with a team of astrophysicists and IAF personnel onboard who carried out some experiments and filmed the longest total solar eclipse of the century.

The fighter aircraft took off from the IAF airbase in Gwalior, while the transport aircraft with scientists from Vigyan Prasar, an autonomous body of the Department of Science and Technology flew from Agra towards Khajuraho in Madhya Pradesh.

Scientists from Noida-based Vigyan Prasar, Udaipur-based Solar Observatory and Bangalore-based Indian Institute of Astrophysics participated in the experiments and the filming.

As the transport aircraft reached 25,000 feet altitude, its rear ramp was opened to enable the scientists carry out their experiments, T K Singha, spokesperson of the Indian Air Force said.

Four scientists and a six-member crew from Doordarshan conducted several experiments, particularly on the Corona observed during totality and filmed the celestial spectacle.

They had to wear oxygen masks while conducting experiments as they were flying at high altitude.

"There were lot of doubts yesterday because of the weather. But today we were very fortunate. The sky was clear and we would complete our experiments and videography at about 25,000 feet before and after the totality of the eclipse," Vinay Kamble, Director, Vigyan Prasar said.

"We are very satisfied. The experiments were very successful," he said.

Among other senior scientists involved in the experiment with the IAF include Prof. P Venkatakrishnan, Dr. Shibu Matthews from Udaipur Solar Observatory; Prof K.E. Rangarajan and Dr. B. Ravindra from Indian Institute of Astrophysics, Bangalore.

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