Aditya L1 shall be the first space-based Indian mission to study the Sun. The spacecraft shall be placed in a halo orbit around the Lagrange point 1 (L1) of the Sun-Earth system, which is about 1.5 million km from the Earth. 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 in observing solar activities and their effect on space weather in real-time.
The spacecraft carries seven payloads to observe the photosphere, chromosphere, and the outermost layers of the Sun (the corona) using electromagnetic particle and magnetic field detectors. Using the special vantage point L1, four payloads directly view the Sun and the remaining three payloads carry out studies of particles and fields at the Lagrange point L1. This provides important scientific studies of solar dynamics in the interplanetary medium.
The suits of Aditya L1 payloads are expected to provide the most crucial information to understand the problem of coronal heating, coronal mass ejection, pre-flare, and flare activities and their characteristics, dynamics of space weather, propagation of particles and fields, etc.
The mission will obtain near images of the different layers of the Sun’s atmosphere, which will reveal the ways in which energy may be channeled and transferred from one layer to another. Thus, the Aditya-L1 mission will enable a comprehensive understanding of the dynamic processes of the Sun.
The major science objectives of Aditya-L1‘s mission are:
- Study of Solar upper atmospheric dynamics.
- Study of the chromosphere and coronal heating, initiation of the coronal mass ejections.
- Physics of solar corona and its heating mechanism.
- Diagnostics of the coronal and coronal loops plasma: Temperature, velocity and density.
- Development, dynamics, and origin of CMEs.
- Identify the sequence of processes that occur at multiple layers.
- Magnetic field topology and magnetic field measurements in the solar corona.
- Drivers for space weather and dynamics of solar wind.
The primary objectives of the Aditya-L1 mission would be to study the upper atmospheric conditions of the sun, including observing heating in the sun’s corona the outermost layer of the solar atmosphere. Studies will also seek to observe solar flares, as well as get a deeper understanding of the physics behind partially ionized plasma also known as the fourth state of matter. Aditya-L1 will also seek to understand the sequence of solar conditions that lead to solar flares, which in turn could be crucial to predicting particularly strong such flares.
The study of solar flares has been globally regarded as crucial to understanding how changes in conditions on the sun may affect life on Earth. While solar flares may not directly lead to death, strong solar radiations can cause blackout of satellite and radio communications on earth leading to potentially significant disruption of global communications infrastructure. The most recent such incident took place on 7 August 2023, leading to the disruption of radio and navigation signals across the North American continent.
Isro’s upcoming feat comes off the back of its success in landing on the moon. On 23 August, Chandrayaan-3’s Vikram lander touched down on the lunar surface in the lunar south pole region, making India the first nation to do so, and the fourth to land on the moon to date. Scientific observations from the mission are currently underway.
For past more than ten decades India has been using ground-based telescopes. We were dependent on another source for solar data. To be proud Aditya L1 presents a unique opportunity to address the unsolved problems. The launch of both Chandrayaan-3’s Vikram lander and Aditya L1 within a short interval of time will be an inspiration to the youth and every citizen of India who reside across the world and this will be a remarkable history of India for the years to come.
After India’s successful moon landing last week, the Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro), India’s central space agency, expects to boost India’s reputation globally and attract international investors to the country’s private space sector. While the likes of Skyroot Aerospace and Pixxel have attracted global funding, India presently awaits clarification on foreign direct investments (FDI) in the space sector in order to attract International space funding.