Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC), Thiruvananthapuram, launched a series of Rohini Sounding Rockets from TERLS, Thumba, to investigate the effects of the solar eclipse on the atmosphere. The spectacle began at 11:17 am at Dhanushkodi island, off Tamil Nadu coast, the best location to watch the eclipse.
Four sounding rockets of series RH 200 and RH300MK II with peak altitudes of about 70 km and 116 km respectively were launched on Thursday to collect data. This was followed by another five launches on Friday, the eclipse day, an ISRO release said.
Two larger Rohini rockets of the series RH 560 MK II were also launched from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SDSC), Sriharikota, on Thursday and Friday, which will have a peak altitude of 548 km.
The occurrence of eclipse will result in a sudden cut-off of solar radiation. This affects the atmospheric structure and dynamics. There will be a large reduction in ionisation and temperature, ISRO said.
It is also a unique opportunity to investigate the effects of the fast varying solar flux on the photochemistry and electrodynamics of different atmospheric regions, especially the equatorial mesopause and ionosphere-thermosphere regions, the space agency added in the release.
These experiments will coordinate modern ground-based eclipse observations with in-situ space measurements. Interpretation of eclipse data together with space data will give new insights to the earlier eclipse observations, ISRO said in the release.As the eclipse began, astronomers — amateur and professional — aimed their telescopes to capture every moment of the event.
“We recorded the event in special filters and obtained pictures to study the various aspects of the celestial event,” said R C Kapoor, a scientist with the Bangalore-based Indian Institute of Astrophysics.