India’s latest space mission is now en route to the solar system’s core, marking the first Asian attempt to orbit the Sun. The four-month expedition aims to closely examine the Sun’s outermost layers.

The latest mission in India’s ambitious space program blasted off Saturday on a voyage towards the center of the solar system, a week after the country’s successful unmanned Moon landing.

Aditya-L1 launched shortly before midday, with a live broadcast showing hundreds of spectators cheering wildly against the deafening noise of the rocket’s ascent.

The mission is carrying scientific instruments to observe the Sun’s outermost layers in a four-month journey.

If successful, the latest mission from the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) will be the first by any Asian nation to be placed in orbit around the Sun.

The mission probe would study coronal mass ejections, a periodic phenomenon that sees huge discharges of plasma and magnetic energy from the Sun’s atmosphere, astrophysicist Somak Raychaudhury told broadcaster NDTV on Friday.

These bursts are so powerful they can reach the Earth and potentially disrupt the operations of satellites.

Aditya will help predict the phenomenon “and alert everybody so that satellites can shut down their power”, he said.

“It will also help us understand how these things happen, and in the future, we might not need a warning system out there.”

Aditya, the name of the Hindu Sun deity, will travel 1.5 million kilometers (930,000 miles) to reach its destination, still only one percent of the vast distance between Earth and the Sun.

Katrine Dige Houmøller, with AFP