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Aditya L1 : India’s First Solar observatory

Aditya L1

Aditya L1 is India’s first space-based solar mission, a groundbreaking endeavor that promises to unveil the secrets of our radiant star, the Sun. Launched with precision and determination on September 2, 2023 into a halo orbit around the Sun-Earth Lagrange point 1 (L1), by the renowned Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), this remarkable spacecraft has embarked on a celestial journey that will forever change our understanding of the cosmos.Aditya-L1 would overcome the drawbacks of Low Earth Orbits, where the view is periodically obstructed by the Earth itself, by offering an uninterrupted view of the Sun for protracted durations.

Aditya L1 is the first space based observatory class Indian solar mission to study the Sun from a substantial distance of 1.5 million kilometers. It will take approximately 125 days to reach the L1 point.

Table of Contents

Aditya L1 : Capabilities and Goals

Aditya-L1 launched using a PSLV XL launch vehicle from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota to establish a solar observatory at a halo orbit around the L1 lagrangian point of the Sun-Earth system. It carries seven payloads to examine the Sun’s properties using visible and X-ray spectrometers, a coronagraph, analysers for solar winds and energetic particles, and magnetometers. This multi-wavelength observation capacity will probe the Sun’s corona, the chromosphere, the photosphere, flares and coronal mass ejections.

Need for a Mission towards Sun:

Our Sun is the nearest star, distancing about 150 million kilometers and the largest object, which is the source of energy for our solar system.It is a hot glowing ball of hydrogen and helium gasses. Aditya L1 mission will help in,

  1. Launch a spacecraft from Earth with specialized instruments.
  2. Achieve a stable orbit around the Sun.
  3. Study the Sun’s core, radiative and convective zones, and photosphere.
  4. Explore the chromosphere, studying solar flares and prominences.
  5. Investigate the corona, its high temperature, coronal loops, and Coronal Mass Ejection(CME).
  6. Measure the solar wind and its impact on space weather.
  7. Detect and measure solar radiation, including X-rays and UV light.
  8. Map and analyze the Sun’s complex magnetic field.
  9. Improve space weather forecasting.
  10. Study the Sun’s role in Earth’s climate variations.
  11. Explore solar energy generation.
  12. Research spacecraft propulsion using solar radiation and solar wind.
  13. Develop radiation protection for space travel.
  14. Engage in educational outreach and  Foster international collaboration
  15. Contribute to the preservation of Earth’s ecosystem.

Payloads and its Objectives: Aditya L1

Aditya L1 payload

Want to see Some more details about Aditya L1:

Unveiling the Sun's Anatomy:

The sun and its atmosphere consist of several zones or layers.

  • The Core: It is the central region where nuclear reactions consume hydrogen to form helium. It is the hottest layer, with temperatures reaching up to 27 million degrees Celsius (50 million degrees Fahrenheit). The core is where the Sun’s energy is produced through nuclear fusion. These reactions release the energy that ultimately leaves the surface as visible light. 
  • The Radiative Zone: The radiative zone is the layer of the Sun that surrounds the core. It is much cooler than the core, with temperatures ranging from 15 million to 2 million degrees Celsius (27 million to 36 million degrees Fahrenheit). The energy from the core is transported through the radiative zone by photons, which are packets of light.
  • Convection zone: The convection zone is the outermost layer of the Sun’s interior. It is cooler than the radiative zone, with temperatures ranging from 2 million to 5,000 degrees Celsius (36 million to 9,000 degrees Fahrenheit). The energy from the radiative zone is transported through the convection zone by hot, less dense gas rising to the surface and cooler, denser gas sinking back down.
Sun Layers

The solar atmosphere:

 

  • Photosphere: The photosphere is the deepest layer of the Sun that we can observe directly. It reaches from the surface visible at the center of the solar disk to about 250 miles (400 km) above that. The temperature in the photosphere varies between 11,000 degrees F at the top and 6700 degrees F at the bottom (6200 and 3700 degrees C). Most of the photosphere is covered by granulation.
  • Chromosphere: The chromosphere is a layer in the Sun between about 250 miles (400 km) and 1300 miles (2100 km) above the solar surface (the photosphere). The temperature in the chromosphere varies between about 6700 degrees F at the bottom and 14,000 degrees F at the top (3700 and 7700 degrees C), so in this layer (and higher layers) it actually gets hotter if you go further away from the Sun, unlike in the lower layers, where it gets hotter if you go closer to the center of the Sun.
  • Transition Region: The transition region is a very narrow (60 miles / 100 km) layer between the chromosphere and the corona where the temperature rises abruptly from 14,000 to 900,000 degrees F( 7700 to 500,000 degrees C).
  • Corona: The corona is the outermost layer of the Sun, starting at about 1300 miles (2100 km) above the solar surface (the photosphere). The temperature in the corona is 900,000 degrees F (500,000 degrees C) or more. The corona cannot be seen with the naked eye except during a total solar eclipse or with the use of a coronagraph. The corona does not have an upper limit. 
Atmosphere of Sun

More Details about Zones and Layers of Sun :

What are Lagrange Points?

About: Lagrange points are special positions in space where the gravitational forces of two large orbiting bodies, such as the Sun and the Earth, balance each other out. 

This means that a small object, such as a spacecraft, can stay at these points without using much fuel to maintain its orbit. There are five Lagrange Points, each with distinct characteristics. These points enable a small mass to orbit in a stable pattern amid two larger masses.

Lagrange Points in the Sun-Earth System: L1: L1 is considered the most significant of the Lagrange points for solar observations. A satellite placed in the halo orbit around the L1 has the major advantage of continuously viewing the Sun without any occultation / eclipses. It is currently home to the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory Satellite (SOHO).
L2: Positioned directly ‘behind’ Earth as viewed from the Sun, L2 is excellent for observing the larger Universe without Earth’s shadow interference. The James Webb Space Telescope orbits the Sun near L2.
L3: Positioned behind the Sun, opposite Earth, and just beyond Earth’s orbit, it offers potential observations of the far side of the Sun.
L4 and L5: Objects at L4 and L5 maintain stable positions, forming an equilateral triangle with the two larger bodies. They are often used for space observatories, such as those studying asteroids.

Note: L1, L2, and L3 points are unstable, meaning that a small perturbation can cause an object to drift away from them. Therefore, satellites orbiting these points need regular course corrections to maintain their positions
Lagrange points

Aditya L1 Destination : Lagrange Point L1

PSLV-C57/Aditya-L1 Mission Current Position and History:

September 18, 2023
Aditya L1 has commenced the collection of scientific data: The Supra Thermal & Energetic Particle Spectrometer (STEPS) instrument, a part of the Aditya Solar Wind Particle Experiment (ASPEX) payload, has begun the collection of scientific data.

September 15, 2023:
Fourth Earth-bound maneuvre (EBN#4) is performed successfully. The new orbit attained by Aditya L1 is 256 km x 121973 km.
September 10, 2023: Third Earth-bound maneuvre (EBN#3) is performed successfully. The new orbit attained by Aditya L1 is 296 km x 71767 km.
September 05, 2023: Second Earth-bound maneuvre (EBN#2) is performed successfully. The new orbit attained by Aditya L1 is 282 km x 40225 km.
September 03, 2023: The next maneuvre (EBN#2) is scheduled for September 5, 2023, around 03:00 Hrs. IST.The first Earth-bound maneuvre (EBN#1) is performed successfully from ISTRAC, Bengaluru. The new orbit attained by Aditya L1 is 245 km x 22459 km

The satellite is healthy and operating nominally

September 02, 2023: India’s first solar observatory has begun its journey to the destination of Sun-Earth L1 point

 

The vehicle has placed the satellite precisely into its intended orbit
The launch of Aditya L1 by PSLV-C57 is accomplished successfully

 

Aditya L1 18-09-2023
Aditya L1 Earth Bound position

Summary

ISRO’s groundbreaking solar research with the help of Aditya L1 offers a fascinating glimpse into the Sun’s elusive eruptions and their implications. Through detailed exploration of the Sun’s anatomy, unraveling the secrets of solar phenomena, and employing cutting-edge technology, ISRO is at the forefront of solar exploration.

Other Previous Solar Missions:

The most famous spacecraft sent to observe the Sun is the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO), built by NASA and ESA, and launched in December, 1995. SOHO has been continuously observing the Sun since then, and sent back countless images. A more recent mission is NASA’s STEREO spacecraft. This was actually two spacecraft, launched in October 2006. These twin spacecraft were designed to watch the same activity on the Sun from two different vantage points, to give a 3-D perspective of the Sun’s activity, and allow astronomers to better predict space weather .

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Aditya L1 Mission :

What is ISRO’s mission?
Why is understanding solar eruptions important?
What are the key layers and phenomena of the Sun?
How do sunspots and solar flares impact solar eruptions?
What are coronal mass ejections?
What are the key instruments used by ISRO for solar observations?
How does AI contribute to the analysis of solar data?
What are the potential impacts of solar activity on Earth?
How does ISRO mitigate space weather risks?
How does ISRO’s research contribute to space weather forecasting?
Our curiosity is piqued by the Aditya L1 Mission, India’s brilliant journey to embrace the Sun, which holds the possibility of illuminating the deep mysteries of our planetary neighbour.This groundbreaking mission serves as a tribute to humanity’s unrelenting quest for knowledge in the cosmos and exemplifies India’s constant dedication to scientific exploration. It also serves as a ray of hope and discovery in the vastness of the universe.
&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbspCongratulations to all the Scientists involved in this esteemed project.

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