Longest Solar Eclipse Seen, ISRO to Launce Five Rockets to Study it

Following millennium’s longest ‘annular’ solar eclipse, the Indian space agency is all set to launch five on rockets on Friday to study the its effects, reported IANS.

P Ratnakar Rao, Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) project director, was quoted as saying: “Five rockets are being launched on Friday between 1 and 3 pm to investigate the effects of the solar eclipse in the lower and middle levels of the atmosphere.”

Report said that the Rohini (RH) sounding rockets would be launched from the Thumba Equatorial Rocket Launch Station (TERLS) at the Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC) of ISRO in the Kerala capital.

Of the five rockets, three will be in RH 300MK-II series and two in RH 200 series carrying scientific instruments to measure the effects of the eclipse in the earth’s atmosphere and ionosphere, said report.

“The effects are measured by the instruments during the rockets’ flight path after they zoom into the sky and their data is relayed to our space centre before they plunge into the Arabian Sea or the Indian Ocean,” Rao was quoted as saying.

From its spaceport at Sriharikota, the space agency will also launch one larger Rohini rocket (RH 560 MK II) between 1 and 2 pm to a peak altitude of 548 km for collecting additional data.

On Thursday, ISRO had launched three rockets between 1 to 3 pm to peak altitudes of 70 km and 116 km for collecting data during a normal day for comparison with the data gathered during the eclipse.

“We will compare the data obtained on normal days with data during and immediately after the eclipse to study the difference,” Rao was quoted as saying.

Earlier in the day, the solar eclipse was seen in country’s southern states beginning 11.17 am and lasting 1.30 pm.

The eclipse that reduced the sun to a blazing ring surrounding a black disk also entered the record books as the longest ‘annular’ eclipse for 1000 years.

The phenomenon, lasting eleven minutes and eight seconds, set a record that will not be beaten for another millennium.

An ‘annular’ eclipse means the moon only blocked the sun’s middle only, therefore creating a ring.

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