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Next India Space Mission Aims at the Sun

Printable version / Version imprimable

EIRNS—Coming directly on the heels of the successful soft-landing by India’s spacecraft Chandrayaan-3 on the South Pole of the Moon, India’s next mission, the Aditya L-1, is scheduled to launch on Sept. 2, in India’s first space-based mission to study the Sun.

Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) will make the launch from Satish Dhawan Space Center, and the spacecraft will be positioned at Lagrange Point 1 (L1), which is approximately 1.5 million kilometers (about 930,000 miles) from Earth, inside its orbit. This particular Lagrange Point lies between Earth and the Sun, so the spacecraft will have an uninterrupted view of solar activity. For perspective, the James Webb Space Telescope is orbiting at Lagrange Point 2 (L2), which is approximately 1.5 million km outside the Earth’s solar orbit ; L1 and L2 are in line with each other, and the Earth sits between them.

The ISRO website describes it, "The spacecraft carries seven payloads to observe the photosphere, chromosphere and the outermost layers of the Sun (the corona) using electromagnetic and particle and magnetic field detectors. Using the special vantage point L1, four payloads directly view the Sun and the remaining three payloads carry out •in-situ• studies of particles and fields at the Lagrange point L1, thus providing important scientific studies of the propagatory effect of solar dynamics in the interplanetary medium.

“The suites of the Aditya L1 payloads are expected to provide 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 particle and fields etc.”

Its instruments include:

• Visible Emission Line Corona-graph (VELC): It will use spectro-polarimetry to investigate the magnetic field and dynamic processes of the solar corona.

• Solar Ultraviolet Imaging Telescope (SUIT): The chromosphere and transition region emissions in the Solar ultraviolet band will be observed by this device.

• Aditya Solar Wind Particle Experiment (ASPEX): It will measure the properties of solar wind plasma as well as variations in composition.

• Solar Low Energy X-ray Spectrometer (SoLEXS): SoLEXS will measure solar X-ray spectra to study solar flares and coronal heating.

This research will be especially important in light of the recent solar flare activity of the Sun, some of which have impacted sections of Earth’s electrical systems with blackouts. [jgw]