Aditya-L1: Unleashing Secrets of Sun & Six Cutting-Edge Tools

July 26, 2023

"Aditya" is a Sanskrit word meaning "Sun" or "Sun God."

Aditya-L1 is like a special solar observatory in space that the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) is planning to launch. This project is like a big science experiment aimed at understanding our Sun better.

At first, the project was going to be a small satellite orbiting close to Earth, but ISRO later decided to do something bigger and they renamed it to Aditya-L1.

The plan is to put the satellite at a special point in space where the gravitational pull of the Earth and the Sun balance out, about 1.5 million kilometers from us. From there, it will have an unobstructed view of the Sun.

This mission wants to study the Sun's outer atmosphere and its impact on Earth. It will carry six different instruments to collect data about the Sun, including its magnetic field and the particles it sends out.

It is planned to be launched by 26th of August 2023.

"Aditya-L1: Six Space Tools Revealing the Sun's Hidden Secrets"

Aditya-L1 is going to carry six instruments with it, each intended to perform a unique task.

1. Visible Emission Line Coronagraph (VELC): A camera that can take pictures of the outer atmosphere of the Sun, known as the corona. This is a very hot and glowing layer of gas that can't be seen from Earth because the Sun is too bright.

2. Solar Ultraviolet Image Telescope (SUIT): This is another camera that can take images of the Sun, but in ultraviolet light. This kind of light is invisible to our naked eyes, but carries information about parts of the Sun's atmosphere that are less hot than the corona.

3. Aditya Solar wind Particle Experiment (ASPEX): In simple terms, this is a particle sniffer. It will study the particles that the Sun releases into space which blow past our planet as solar wind.

4. Plasma Analyser Package for Aditya (PAPA): This tool will act like a weather station in space. It will measure the properties of the electrified gas or "plasma" that comes out from the Sun in the solar wind.

5. Solar Low Energy X-ray Spectrometer (SoLEXS): This gadget will observe the Sun in high-energy X-ray light, to figure out how hot certain parts of the Sun are.

6. High Energy L1 Orbiting X-ray Spectrometer (HEL1OS): This is another X-ray light observer, but it looks at even higher energy X-rays from the Sun. It can help figure out things like solar flares, which are big explosions on the surface of the Sun.

"Aditya-L1: A Journey to a Special Sun-Watching Spot in Space"

Aditya-L1 is like a scientific observatory in space, using these six tools to reveal the Sun's secrets. Each tool gives a different perspective, so together they provide a complete picture of what's happening in and around the Sun.

For the Aditya-L1 mission, the Indian Space Agency (ISRO) plans to use their reliable PSLV rocket to launch the spacecraft to a special spot in space. This spot is called halo orbit which is around the Lagrangian Point 1 (or simply L1).

The Aditya-L1 mission will take around 109 Earth days after launch to reach the halo orbit around the L1 point.

Imagine you are holding two magnets in your hands. There is a particular point at a certain distance between the two magnets where the pull from both magnets balance out. The L1 point is just like that, but instead of magnets, it's the Sun and the Earth. The L1 point is about 1.5 million kilometers away from Earth.

The unique aspect about this location is that, from there, our spacecraft can keep looking at the Sun all the time without being disturbed, which is great because the main job of the Aditya-L1 is to study the Sun continuously.

"Exploring the Solar Realm: Captivating Journeys and Pioneering Missions into the Heart of the Sun"

1. Parker Solar Probe (United States, NASA): Launched in 2018, its goal is to come as close as 3.8 million miles to the Sun's surface to study the Sun's outer corona.

2. Solar Dynamics Observatory (United States, NASA): Launched in 2010, this mission focuses on the solar atmosphere and its magnetic fields to understand the causes of solar variability and its impacts on Earth.

3. Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (European Space Agency and NASA): Launched in 1995, this mission investigates the Sun's structure and circulation, the heating of the corona, the origin and acceleration of the solar wind, and solar instabilities that cause solar storms.

4. Hinode (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency - JAXA, NASA, and UK's Particle Physics and Astronomy Research Council): This was launched in 2006 to examine the magnetic fields of the Sun.

5. STEREO (United States, NASA): Launched in 2006, this mission comprises two nearly identical spacecraft to provide a 3D view of the Sun and its eruptions.

6. Ulysses (European Space Agency and NASA): Launched in 1990, this was the first mission to observe the Sun's poles.

7. Solar Orbiter (European Space Agency and NASA): Launched in February 2020, it aims to perform detailed measurements of the heliosphere (the bubble-like region of space dominated by the Sun) from a close distance.

These missions provide invaluable data for better understanding the Sun and its influence on the solar system.





By Girish Linganna
Girish Linganna is an aerospace and defence analyst.
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