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All about the Aditya-L1, India's first mission to study the Sun


New Delhi, Jan 7: The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) plans to launch 'Aditya-L1', the first Indian mission to study the sun, by the year 2020. Originally named as the Aditya-1 mission, is a satellite designed to study the solar corona (outer layers of the Sun) which is quite similar to NASA's Parker Solar Probe.


With Aditya-L1, India seems poised to advance its status among the global science community and, indeed, among private companies seeking a bargain on space exploration technology.

The main aim of the solar mission is to do coronal and near UV studies of the sun and help resolve some unanswered questions in solar physics.

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The mission is a joint venture between ISRO and physicists from various institutes including Indian Institute of Astrophysics (Bengaluru), Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (Mumbai) and Inter University Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics (Pune). Aditya L1 satellite will be launched by using PSLV XL. The launch will take in early part of next solar cycle.

The satellite will be programmed to orbit L1 point and image sun's magnetic field from space for very first time in world. Scientists hope to capture close-ups of sun from here, uninterrupted by eclipses for years.

According to the ISRO, the Aditya-1 mission was conceived as a 400kg class satellite carrying one payload, the Visible Emission Line Coronagraph (VELC) and was planned to be launch in a 800 km low earth orbit. Scientists say that any satellite in the halo orbit around the Lagrangian point 1 (L1) of the Sun-Earth system can view the Sun without any occultation/ eclipses.

What is the solar corona?

ISRO had planned to use Aditya-1 to observe only the solar corona, which is the outer layer of the Sun and extends to thousands of km above the disc (photosphere).

The outer layers of the Sun, extending to thousands of km above the disc (photosphere) is termed as the corona. Aditya-1 was meant to observe only the solar corona. It has a temperature of more than a million degree Kelvin which is much higher than the solar disc temperature of around 6000K.

Solar physicists haven't yet been able to know how the corona gets heated to such high temperatures.

Aditya-L1 with additional experiments can now provide observations of Sun's Photosphere (soft and hard X-ray), Chromosphere (UV) and corona (Visible and NIR). In addition, particle payloads will study the particle flux emanating from the Sun and reaching the L1 orbit, and the magnetometer payload will measure the variation in magnetic field strength at the halo orbit around L1.

These payloads have to be placed outside the interference from the Earth's magnetic field and could not have been useful in the low earth orbit.

When will the Aditya - L1 be launched?

• The Aditya - L1 is set to launch during 2019-2020 timeframe by Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV-XL) from Sriharikota, Andhra Pradesh

• Aditya, which is the Sanskrit word for 'sun' will be ISRO's second high-profile space mission after it launched its Mars orbiter in 2013.

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