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Proba-3 Mission

Why is it in the news?

  • India is set to launch the European Space Agency’s (ESA) groundbreaking Proba-3 mission in September 2024.
  • The mission will be facilitated by India’s Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV-XL)

(Europe’s Proba-3 mission on PSLV, show formation flying in space) 

 More about the news

  • The Proba-3 mission is led by the European Space Agency (ESA), showcasing international collaboration in space exploration.
  • Proba-3 is hailed as the world’s first precision formation flying mission.
  • It aims to establish a 144-metre-long solar coronagraph through two small satellites, demonstrating precise formation flying in space.
  • Proba-3 comprises two distinct components — a Coronagraph spacecraft and an Occulter spacecraft designed in the shape of a solar disc.
  • The Coronagraph instrument enables scientists to study the Sun’s corona in unprecedented proximity and detail.
  • By maintaining a tight formation approximately 150 meters apart, the Occulter spacecraft will cast its shadow precisely onto the Coronagraph’s telescope.
  • This strategic positioning will create an artificial eclipse, allowing the Coronagraph to capture images of the faint solar corona in visible, ultraviolet, and polarized light for extended durations.

Significance of the Mission:

  • Proba-3’s unique positioning will offer new insights into the origins of coronal mass ejections (CMEs), solar eruptions that can disrupt satellites and power grids on Earth.
  • The mission will measure total solar irradiance, monitoring changes in the Sun’s energy output that could impact Earth’s climate.
  • Proba-3’s formation flying serves as a testbed for upcoming multi-satellite missions, emphasizing its role in advancing space exploration capabilities.

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