India's 'Aditya-L1' gears up to explore the Sun's secrets

Preparations are underway for the inaugural mission of India's initial spaceborne solar observatory, which aims to investigate the layers and phenomena of the Sun.
Rizwan Choudhury

India is not only aiming for the Moon with Chandrayaan-3 but also for the Sun with Aditya-L1, the country’s first space-based solar observatory.

The new spacecraft will study the Sun’s various layers and phenomena. It's the first space-based Indian observatory to study the Sun and will be ready for launch August-end or September.

Aditya-L1 was assembled and integrated at Bengaluru’s U.R. Rao Satellite Centre and transported to Sriharikota’s Satish Dhawan Space Centre on August 14, 2023.

First space-based solar observatory

It will be launched by a Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV), the same rocket that carried Chandrayaan-1 and Mars Orbiter Mission into space.

According to ISRO's statement, Aditya L1 is poised to become India's inaugural space-based mission aimed at investigating the Sun.

The spacecraft is set to be positioned within a halo orbit encircling the Lagrange point 1 (L1) in the Sun-Earth system, a distance of approximately 1.5 million km from Earth. This strategic orbital placement endows a key advantage: uninterrupted observation of the Sun without any instances of obstruction or eclipses. Consequently, this positioning enables the continuous monitoring of solar activities and their influence on space weather, all in real-time.

Within the spacecraft's arsenal are seven payloads meticulously designed to scrutinize distinct layers of the Sun – from the photosphere to the chromosphere, culminating in the outermost corona.

This multifaceted approach employs an array of electromagnetic, particle, and magnetic field detectors to glean comprehensive insights. What sets this mission apart is its strategic deployment at L1, enabling four of these payloads to gaze directly at the Sun.

The remaining three payloads are dedicated to conducting in-situ assessments of particles and fields situated at Lagrange point L1. In essence, this configuration offers an invaluable opportunity for investigating the propagation effects of solar dynamics across the interplanetary medium.

Closely monitoring the Sun's behavior

This mission stands as a testament to ISRO's dedication to unveiling the mysteries of our celestial neighbor, shedding light on the intricacies of the Sun's behavior and its far-reaching impacts.

The mission will provide valuable data for understanding behaviors such as how the Sun heats its outer layer (the corona) to millions of degrees, how it ejects massive clouds of plasma (coronal mass ejections), how it produces flares and eruptions, and how it affects the interplanetary medium among a few.

The anticipated launch window for Aditya-L1 is in the coming few weeks. Following the successful launch of PSLV-C56 on July 30, S. Somanath, ISRO chairman revealed that they are planning another PSLV mission soon, possibly in August or early September.

Aditya-L1 is a milestone for India’s space exploration, as it will be the first Indian mission to study the Sun, our nearest star, and the source of life on Earth.

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