Following the successful landing of Chandrayaan 3 near the Moon's south pole, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) is preparing for the launch of its inaugural space-based solar mission to study the Sun, Aditya L1, scheduled for September 2 at 11:50 am via the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) from Sriharikota's Satish Dhawan Space Centre. With the Aditya L1 mission, India takes a significant stride in the fields of solar physics and heliophysics.
Aditya L1 will travel to the First Lagrangian point, situated approximately 1.5 million km from Earth. At this point, the spacecraft will gather and transmit data, a substantial portion of which will be shared with the scientific community for the first time from a space-based platform. Solar physicist Prof Dipankar Banerjee, a member of the team that conceptualized the mission over a decade ago, explained that this data transmission will significantly contribute to solar research.
What is Lagrange Point 1?
Lagrangian points denote positions where the gravitational forces between two orbiting objects are balanced, allowing a spacecraft to remain in a relatively stable position for an extended period.
Aditya L1 Spacecraft | ISRO
A Lagrangian point is a specific location in space where a small object can maintain a stable position due to the gravitational effects of both the Sun and Earth counteracting each other, providing an ideal spot for spacecraft to observe celestial bodies with minimal energy consumption for a longer period of time.
The First Lagrangian point (L1) represents a significant location for solar observations, discovered by mathematician Joseph Louis Lagrange. The Aditya-L1 mission's choice of L1 as its destination is strategic due to its uninterrupted view of the Sun.
"A satellite placed in the halo orbit around the L1 point has the major advantage of continuously viewing the Sun without any occultation/eclipses. This will provide a greater advantage of observing solar activities and their effect on space weather in real-time," says ISRO.
Aditya L1 spacecraft trajectory to L1 | ISRO
This positioning enables continuous observation of solar activities in real time, crucial for studying solar flares and massive eruptions known as coronal mass ejection (CME).
The Aditya L1 Mission would carry seven payloads to investigate different aspects of the Sun, including its corona, chromosphere, photosphere, and solar wind. This will be achieved by utilizing a range of instruments like electromagnetic, particle, and magnetic field detectors.
Objectives of Aditya L1 Mission and its uniqueness | ISRO
Furthermore, the mission aims to gain insights into how the Sun influences Earth's atmosphere and the overall climate of the planet. This will involve observing the process of energy transfer across various layers of the Sun's atmosphere.
Through the simultaneous observation of various layers within the Sun's atmosphere, Indian researchers aspire to decipher the mechanisms behind the transfer of energy from one layer to another.