India’s Aditya-L1 mission blasts off to study the Sun

Aditya-L1 remains in orbits close to Earth for a span of 16 days, executing five maneuvers to attain the speed required for its expedition.
Rizwan Choudhury
Aditya-L1 ISRO liftoff.
Aditya-L1 ISRO liftoff.

Source: ISRO/YouTube 

India’s first-ever solar mission, Aditya-L1, successfully lifted off from the Sathish Dhawan Space Centre SHAR in Sriharikota on September 2, 2023. The mission aims to study the Sun and its influence on the space environment around the Earth and other planets.

Liftoff on PSLV-C57 rocket

The launch vehicle, a PSLV-C57 rocket will carry spacecraft into a low Earth orbit. The spacecraft will then use its onboard propulsion system to gradually raise its orbit and reach the Lagrangian point 1 (L1), situated roughly 1.5 million km from Earth. This unique vantage point will allow continuous observation of the Sun, free from obstructions like eclipses.

The spacecraft is equipped with seven payloads, designed to study various layers of the Sun—ranging from its photosphere to the outer corona. Among the instruments are the Visible Emission Line Coronagraph (VELC), which will study the solar corona and dynamics of Coronal Mass Ejections, and the Solar Ultra-violet Imaging Telescope (SUIT), designed to capture images in the Ultra-Violet spectrum.

The objective of the Aditya-L1 mission is to understand the physical processes that drive solar activity, such as coronal heating, solar wind acceleration, coronal mass ejection, flares, and space weather. The mission will also help to understand the nature and evolution of other stars in our galaxy and beyond.

The Aditya-L1 mission is unique in several ways. It is the first Indian mission to explore a celestial body other than the Moon or Mars. It is also the first mission to observe the Sun in the near UV band, which is important for studying the lower layers of its atmosphere. The mission will also be able to observe the dynamics of coronal mass ejections close to their origin, where they are still accelerating and changing their shape. This will provide crucial information about how these eruptions are initiated and propagated.

India’s Aditya-L1 mission blasts off to study the Sun
Aditya-L1 mission preview.

The mission will also have a smart onboard system that will automatically detect coronal mass ejections and flares using image processing algorithms. This will enable the spacecraft to prioritize data transmission based on scientific importance and reduce data volume. The mission will also measure the solar wind particles in different directions relative to the Sun-Earth line. This will help to study how the solar wind varies with angle and distance from the Sun. It will also help to measure the energy distribution and anisotropy of the solar wind, which can indicate the presence of waves, shocks, and turbulence.


The Aditya-L1 mission has seven scientific instruments that aim to study the Sun in depth. These instruments are both multi-directional and multi-wavelength based, which offers better observation of the boiling star body in close-ups and difficult situations. The Visible Emission Line Coronagraph (VELC) is one of them, and it is designed to observe the solar corona and the dynamics of Coronal Mass Ejections. Another instrument is the Solar Ultra-violet Imaging Telescope (SUIT), which takes pictures of the Sun’s Photosphere and Chromosphere in the near Ultra-violet (UV) range, and also monitors changes in solar irradiance in that spectrum. Some other instruments, such as the Aditya Solar wind Particle EXperiment (ASPEX) and the Plasma Analyser Package for Aditya (PAPA), are meant to analyse the properties of solar wind and the distribution of energetic ions. The mission also has two instruments that focus on X-ray flares from the Sun: the Solar Low Energy X-ray Spectrometer (SoLEXS) and the High Energy L1 Orbiting X-ray Spectrometer (HEL1OS). They cover a wide energy range of X-rays. Moreover, the Magnetometer payload can measure interplanetary magnetic fields at the Lagrangian L1 point.

India’s Aditya-L1 mission blasts off to study the Sun
Aditya-L1 payloads.

Solar Journey

Aditya-L1 remains in orbits close to Earth for a span of 16 days, executing five maneuvers to attain the speed required for its expedition. Following this, the satellite performs a Trans-Lagrangian1 insertion maneuver that signifies the start of its 110-day voyage towards the L1 Lagrange point. Upon reaching this point, an additional maneuver secures Aditya-L1 in an orbit around the L1 location, a gravitationally stable point between Earth and the Sun. Throughout its mission, the satellite maintains an irregular orbit around L1, situated roughly perpendicular to the axis connecting Earth and the Sun.

Being strategically positioned at the L1 Lagrange point enables Aditya-L1 to have a continuous, unobstructed observation of the Sun. This vantage point also allows the satellite to detect solar radiation and magnetic storms before they interact with Earth's magnetic field and atmosphere. Moreover, the gravitational stability of the L1 point reduces the need for frequent adjustments to the orbit, thereby enhancing the operational efficiency of the satellite.

The launch of Aditya-L1 marks a milestone for India’s space program and puts India on the global map of space-based solar science. The mission is expected to operate for at least five years and provide valuable data for scientists and researchers around the world.

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