Earlier in the week, NASA launched its Parker Solar probe in space, in order to study the Sun’s atmosphere, known as the corona. The $1.5 billion probe will be the closest man-made device to ever reach the Sun in the history of space exploration. Its mission is to mostly study and track solar winds emitted by Corona, which is an aura of plasma that surrounds the Sun. Now, India’s ambitious space agency ISRO ( Indian Space Research Organisation) is also getting ready to launch its very own probe to study the Sun called the Aditya-L1.
The satellite is being targeted to launch sometime between 2019 – 2020. Initially the mission was dubbed as the Aditya-1 and was only said to carry a payload of 400kg, which consisted of the Visible Emission Line Coronagraph. The satellite was planned to be launched in an 800 km low earth orbit. However, the agency then realized that a satellite placed in the halo orbit around the Lagrangian point 1 (L1) of the Sun-Earth system has an advantage of continuously observing the Sun without being affected by any occultation or eclipse.
Taking these into account, the ISRO revised the Aditya-1 mission to be called Aditya-L1, which now will be deployed with six more payloads in order to get more information about the Sun’s atmosphere. The satellite will be inserted in a halo orbit around the L1 which ISRO states it to be about 1.5 million miles away from the Earth.
While the original payload on Aditya-1 was only meant to observe the solar corona, the additional payload consisting of enhanced equipment will further help observe the Sun’s Photosphere (soft and hard X-ray), Chromosphere (UV) and corona (Visible and NIR). There are also particle payloads that will study the particle flux emitted from the Sun, reaching the L1 orbit. In addition, Aditya-L1 will also measure the variation in magnetic field strength at the halo orbit around L1. ISRO has listed out all the details of these payloads on its website including the equipment used, their objective and institute that provided it.
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ISRO hopes that the findings from Aditya-L1 will help provide an opportunity to solar scientists from multiple institutions in the country to take part in space-based instrumentation and observations. It states, “the enhanced Aditya-L1 project will enable a comprehensive understanding of the dynamical processes of the sun and address some of the outstanding problems in solar physics.”