After the successful landing of Chandrayaan-3, ISRO is preparing to study the Sun. Today at 11:50 AM, ISRO will launch the Aditya L1 mission using the PSLV XL rocket from Sriharikota.
Aditya L1 will be India’s first solar mission, reaching Lagrange Point-1 (L1) four months after launch, allowing unobstructed solar observations. The estimated cost of this mission is 378 crores INR.
Lagrange Point-1 (L1) is named after the Italian-French mathematician Joseph-Louis Lagrange. In colloquial language, it’s denoted as L1. It’s one of five points in space where the gravitational forces of Earth and the Sun balance, creating a stable point where the gravitational pull from both bodies cancels out, requiring minimal energy to maintain a stable position.
In this position, any object placed there will remain relatively stationary with respect to Earth and the Sun, needing minimal energy to stay in place. The first Lagrange Point is located approximately 1.5 million kilometers away from both Earth and the Sun.
The L1 point is gravitationally neutral, making it ideal for positioning.
Aditya L1 will be placed in a heliocentric orbit around the L1 point, allowing continuous observation of the Sun and the region between Earth and the Sun. ISRO states that any satellite or spacecraft located in the vicinity of the L1 point can observe the Sun without any interference, enabling real-time monitoring of solar activities and space weather.
Aditya L1 will have 7 payloads, enabling it to study solar phenomena comprehensively. Positioned at the Lagrangian point between the Sun and Earth, it will closely observe solar storms. It will explore various layers, including the photosphere, chromosphere, and the outermost corona, as it orbits around this Lagrangian point.
Aditya L1’s 7 payloads will investigate coronal heating, coronal mass ejections, pre-flare, and flare activities, as well as particle movement and space weather. The mission will particularly focus on studying the solar corona and its heating mechanisms.
The Aditya L1 mission will carry seven payloads to study various aspects of the Sun:
- Visible Emission Line Coronagraph (VELC): This payload will focus on the dynamics of the solar corona and coronal mass ejections.
- Solar Ultraviolet Imaging Telescope (SUIT): SUIT will capture images of the solar photosphere and chromosphere in ultraviolet wavelengths, as well as study solar irradiance.
- Aditya Solar Wind Particle Experiment (ASPEX): ASPEX and the Plasma Analyzer Package for Aditya (PAPA) will analyze solar wind and energy distribution in the solar wind particles.
- Solar Low Energy X-ray Spectrometer (SoLEXS): SoLEXS will observe X-rays from solar flares.
- High Energy L1 Orbiting X-ray Spectrometer (HEL1OS): HEL1OS will study X-rays from solar flares in high-energy ranges.
- Plasma Analyzer: This payload will examine the magnetic fields in the interplanetary magnetic field.
These seven payloads will work together to provide valuable insights into various aspects of the Sun’s behavior and help advance our understanding of solar phenomena.
Aditya L1 is being developed entirely within India, with collaboration from Indian institutions. According to an ISRO official, this mission represents a concerted effort towards complete indigenization, and its payloads are being developed in partnership with Indian organizations. For example, the Visible Emission Line Coronagraph (VELC) payload is being developed by the Indian Institute of Astrophysics (IIA) in Bengaluru, and the Solar Ultraviolet Imaging Telescope (SUIT) payload is being developed by the Inter-University Center for Astronomy and Astrophysics (IUCAA) in Pune. This mission showcases India’s commitment to advancing its space capabilities and scientific research in the field of solar astronomy.
The study of the Sun is crucial for several reasons.
The Sun is the central body of our solar system, around which all the planets, including Earth, orbit. It is the source of light and heat for our planet and is responsible for the existence of life on Earth. The Sun continuously emits energy, primarily in the form of charged particles. Studying the Sun helps us understand how the variations and phenomena on the Sun, such as solar flares and coronal mass ejections, can impact space weather and potentially affect technology and infrastructure on Earth. It also provides insights into the fundamental processes of stars and the broader universe. In summary, studying the Sun is essential for understanding both the immediate environment of our solar system and the broader aspects of astrophysics and space science.