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The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) is all set to launch a unique European mission, Proba-3, designed to create “artificial eclipses” in space. This ambitious project will shed light on the Sun’s mysterious corona, a region typically obscured during natural eclipses.

Proba-3 utilizes two small satellites that will launch together and then gracefully separate to fly in precise formation. Once separated, these satellites will act as a single, virtual telescope with a staggering 144-meter baseline – the distance separating them. This configuration forms a giant solar coronagraph, an instrument specifically designed to study the Sun’s faint outer atmosphere.

Proba-3 represents a pioneering mission in space-based formation flying. The successful execution of this complex choreography will pave the way for future multi-satellite missions operating as one cohesive unit.

The Sun’s corona, with its scorching temperatures and dynamic processes, remains an enigma. By creating an artificial eclipse that blocks the Sun’s bright face, Proba-3 will allow scientists to directly observe this elusive region.

The extended reach of the virtual coronagraph promises to deliver unparalleled detail of the corona’s structure and activity. This information is crucial for understanding solar wind and space weather events that impact Earth’s technology and environment.

This mission is part of the successful PROBA (Project for On-Board Autonomy) series by the European Space Agency (ESA). These missions serve a dual purpose: testing new spacecraft technologies and carrying out groundbreaking scientific investigations. Proba-3 carries the torch of innovation forward, pushing the boundaries of space exploration.