India marks another significant achievement in space research with the launch of Aditya L1 on its mission to explore the Sun and its atmosphere.
Just days after the successful Chandrayan-3 landing, India has yet again grabbed the global headlines by kicking off another space mission, the solar mission! Indian Space Research Organisation’s (ISRO) launched PSLV-C57 carrying Aditya-L1 spacecraft, India’s first solar space observatory, on Saturday, September 2, 2023, from Satish Dhawan Space Centre, Sriharikota, Andhra Pradesh.
Aditya-L1 is a satellite dedicated to the comprehensive study of the Sun. It has 7 distinct payloads developed, all Made in India.
Aditya in Sanskrit means the Sun.
L1 refers to Lagrange Point 1 of the Sun-Earth system. It is a location in space where the gravitational forces of two celestial bodies, such as the Sun and Earth, are in equilibrium.
Image Credit – ISRO
Aditya-L1 stays in Earth-bound orbits for 16 days, undergoing 5 maneuvres to gain the necessary velocity. Thereafter, Aditya-L1 will undergo a Trans-Lagrangian1 insertion maneuvre and begin its 110-day trajectory to the destination around the L1 Lagrange point.
After it arrives at the L1 point, another maneuvre binds Aditya-L1 to an orbit around L1, a balanced gravitational location between the Earth and the Sun. The satellite will spend its mission life orbiting around L1 in an irregularly shaped orbit in a plane roughly perpendicular to the line joining the Earth and the Sun.
Image Credit – ISRO
The strategic placement of the L1 Lagrange point ensures that Aditya-L1 maintains a constant, uninterrupted view of the Sun. This location also allows the satellite to access solar radiation and magnetic storms before Earth’s magnetic field and atmosphere influence them.
Additionally, the L1 point’s gravitational stability minimizes the need for frequent orbital maintenance efforts, optimizing the satellite’s operational efficiency.
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Importance of Aditya-L1 Solar Mission
Aditya-L1 would study the Sun’s outer atmosphere. The major objectives of ISRO’s Aditya-L1 mission are:
- Study the Sun’s upper atmospheric dynamics (chromosphere and corona).
- Physics of the partially ionized plasma, initiation of the coronal mass ejections, and solar flares
- Observe the in-situ particle and plasma environment, providing data for studying particle dynamics from the Sun.
- Physics of solar corona and its heating mechanism.
- Temperature, velocity and density studies of the coronal and coronal loops plasma.
- Development, dynamics and origin of CMEs.
- Identify the processes at multiple layers (chromosphere, base and extended corona).
- Magnetic field topology and measurements in the solar corona.
- Drivers for space weather (origin, composition and dynamics of solar wind.
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Interesting Facts –
- Aditya-L1 will stay around 1.5 million km from Earth and be directed towards the Sun, marking about 1% of the Earth-Sun distance.
- It will neither land on the Sun nor go any closer to the Sun.
FAQs About Aditya L1 Solar Mission
Q1. How much time will Aditya L1 take to reach Sun?
Ans. Aditya L1 is expected to take about 4 months from the time of launch from Earth to reach the L1 point.
Q2. How long will Aditya L1 operate?
Ans. Aditya L1 is expected to operate for a period of five years.
Q3. What instruments will be onboard Aditya-L1 to study the Sun?
Ans. Aditya-L1 carries multiple instruments, including a Coronal Diagnostic Spectrometer (CDS), High-Resolution Coronal Imager (Hi-CRI), Solar Wind Composition Spectrometer (SWCS), Solar X-ray Spectrometer (SXS), Magnetometer (MAG), Solar Electron Proton Telescope (SEPT), In-situ Plasma Spectrometer (IPS), and Spacecraft Attitude and Orbit Control System (SACOCS) to understand the Sun’s atmosphere, its heating mechanism, its magnetic field, and its interactions with the solar wind.
Q4. Where will Aditya-L1 be positioned in space?
Ans. Aditya-L1 will be positioned at the first Lagrangian point (L1), about 1.5 million kilometres (0.93 million miles) from Earth. This location provides a stable platform for uninterrupted solar observations.
Q5. What are the objectives of Aditya L1?
Ans. The Aditya L1 mission will help us better understand the Sun and its effects on Earth. This knowledge will improve our understanding of space weather and develop better ways to protect our planet from solar storms.