Know all about ISRO’s Aditya-L1, the space detective trying to solve solar puzzle

The Sun is the most important star in our solar system. It provides us with light, heat, and energy. It also influences our climate, weather, and communication systems. But how much do we really know about the Sun and its mysteries? How does it affect our planet and life on Earth? What are the secrets hidden in its corona, chromosphere, and photosphere?

To answer these questions, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) is launching its first dedicated solar mission, Aditya-L1. This mission will observe the Sun from a unique vantage point and study its various aspects with seven scientific instruments. Aditya-L1 will be India’s contribution to the global effort to understand the Sun and its impact on our environment.

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What is Aditya-L1 mission?

Aditya-L1 is a spacecraft that will be launched by ISRO on a Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV-XL) from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota, Andhra Pradesh. The launch is expected to take place on 2 September 2023.

The spacecraft will carry seven payloads that will observe the Sun from different perspectives and wavelengths. The payloads are:

  • Visible Emission Line Coronagraph (VELC): This instrument will image the solar corona, the outermost layer of the Sun’s atmosphere, which is normally visible only during a total solar eclipse. The VELC will measure the magnetic field, temperature, density, and velocity of the coronal plasma. It will also study the formation and evolution of coronal mass ejections (CMEs), which are huge eruptions of plasma and magnetic fields from the Sun that can affect Earth’s magnetosphere and cause geomagnetic storms.
  • Solar Ultraviolet Imaging Telescope (SUIT): This instrument will image the solar disc and the chromosphere, the layer below the corona, in the ultraviolet wavelength. The SUIT will measure the intensity and variability of the solar ultraviolet radiation, which affects the Earth’s upper atmosphere and ozone layer.
  • Aditya Solar wind Particle Experiment (ASPEX): This instrument will measure the properties of the solar wind particles, such as their energy, mass, charge, and direction. The solar wind is a stream of charged particles that flows outwards from the Sun and interacts with the interplanetary medium and planetary magnetospheres.
  • Plasma Analyser Package for Aditya (PAPA): This instrument will measure the composition and distribution of the solar wind ions and electrons. It will also study the variations of the solar wind parameters with respect to the solar activity cycle.
  • Solar Low Energy X-ray Spectrometer (SoLEXS): This instrument will measure the low energy X-rays emitted by the Sun during flares and other events. It will also monitor the solar X-ray background radiation, which affects the ionization of the Earth’s atmosphere.
  • High Energy L1 Orbiting X-ray Spectrometer (HEL1OS): This instrument will measure the high energy X-rays emitted by the Sun during flares and other events. It will also monitor the solar energetic particles, which can pose a radiation hazard to satellites and astronauts.
  • Magnetometer: This instrument will measure the magnetic field variations in the vicinity of the spacecraft. It will also provide information about the interplanetary magnetic field, which influences the solar wind dynamics.

Why study Sun from L1 point?

The L1 point is one of the five Lagrangian points in the Sun-Earth system, where a spacecraft can maintain a stable orbit under the gravitational influence of both bodies. The L1 point is located about 1.5 million km from Earth in the direction of the Sun.

The advantage of placing a spacecraft at L1 point is that it can have a continuous view of the Sun without being eclipsed by Earth or Moon. It can also avoid the distortion caused by Earth’s atmosphere and magnetic field.

By observing the Sun from L1 point, Aditya-L1 will be able to capture high-resolution images and spectra of the solar phenomena that affect Earth’s environment. It will also be able to measure the solar wind parameters at their source before they are modified by their interaction with the interplanetary medium.

Video Credit : WION

What are the benefits of Aditya-L1 mission?

Aditya-L1 mission will provide valuable scientific data and insights into various aspects of the Sun and its influence on Earth. Some of the benefits are:

  • It will improve our understanding of the physics of the solar corona and chromosphere, the heating mechanisms, the origin and evolution of CMEs and flares, and the dynamics of the partially ionized plasma.
  • It will enhance our knowledge of the solar ultraviolet radiation, the solar wind composition and variability, the solar X-ray and energetic particle emissions, and the interplanetary magnetic field.
  • It will help us to monitor and forecast the space weather conditions, the geomagnetic disturbances, the ionospheric effects, and the radiation hazards.
  • It will contribute to the global network of solar observatories and missions, such as the Parker Solar Probe, the Solar Orbiter, and the Daniel K. Inouye Solar Telescope.
  • It will inspire and motivate the young generation of scientists and engineers to pursue careers in space science and technology.

Aditya-L1 is a milestone mission for ISRO and India. It will showcase India’s capabilities and achievements in space exploration and research. It will also pave the way for future solar missions, such as Aditya-L2 and Aditya-L3, which will study the Sun from different orbits and angles.

Aditya-L1 is a space detective that will try to solve the solar puzzle and reveal the secrets of our nearest star. It is a mission that will benefit not only India, but also the world. Let us wish Aditya-L1 a successful launch and a fruitful journey.