India’s First Solar Mission


For Prelims: Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO), Aditya-L1 Mission, L1 (Lagrangian/Lagrange Point 1), Missions to the Sun

For Mains: Importance of the Aditya-L1 mission, Space Technology, and the ISRO Solar Mission

Why in the News?

The Indian Institute of Astrophysics (IIA) recently delivered the Visible Line Emission Coronagraph (VLEC), the main payload on board Aditya-L1, to the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO). 

  • By June or July 2023, ISRO intends to launch the Aditya-L1 mission, the nation's first solar- and solar-corona-observing spacecraft.

What is Aditya L1?

  • The Lagrangian point 1 (L1) of the sun-Earth system, about 1.5 million kilometers from Earth, will be the subject of the first Indian spacecraft, Aditya-L1, launched in 2015.
  • The Visible Emission Line Coronagraph (VELC), a single payload 400 kg class satellite, was the project's initial suggested name.
  • However, the mission was renamed "Aditya-L1 mission" because the satellite was in the Sun-Earth system's revered orbit of the Lagrangian point 1 (L1).
  • The Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV-XL), which has many Sanskrit names for the Sun, will be used to launch Aditya from Sriharikota, Andhra Pradesh.
  • There are seven payloads on board the mission to observe the photosphere, chromosphere, and the Sun's outermost layers, including:
    • VELC, or visible line emission coronagraph 
    • telescope for solar ultraviolet imaging,
    • Solar Wind Particle Experiment for Aditya, 
    • Plasma Analyzer Package for Aditya, 
    • Solar Low Energy X-ray Spectrometer, 
    • X-ray Spectrometer on an Orbit with High Energy L1,
    • Magnetometer.
  • In order to understand how energy is moved and transported from one layer to the next, the mission will take nearly simultaneous pictures of the many layers of the Sun's atmosphere.

Why does India need to complete the mission?

  • In particular, by examining the patterns and effects of solar flares, the payload data will be useful in understanding how the Sun affects the Earth and its surroundings.
  • The satellite's scientific investigations will improve our current understanding of the Solar Corona and provide crucial information for space weather studies.
  • A number of open questions in the field of solar astronomy are anticipated to be resolved by the data collected by VELC, which will aid in the continuous observation of the corona.
  • VELC, which can image the solar corona up to 1.05 times the solar radius, is the only solar coronagraph in orbit capable of doing so.
  • Additionally, it has the ability to perform imaging, spectroscopy, and polarimetry all at once, as well as capture observations at a very high resolution (level of detail) and numerous times per second.

Additional Solar Missions

  • The Parker Solar Probe, operated by NASA, is designed to track the flow of heat and energy through the Sun's corona and to investigate the causes of the solar wind's acceleration.
  • In 1976, NASA and the space agency of former West Germany launched the Helios 2 solar probe, which came within 43 million kilometres of the Sun's surface. 

What Characteristics and Importance Does VELC Payload Have?

  • Features:
    • VELC, one of the most precise instruments manufactured in India, will be the primary payload among seven intended to study various aspects of the Sun.
    • It took 15 years to conceptualize and design, and it will aid in resolving solar astrophysics mysteries.
  • Significance:
    • The corona's temperature, velocity, and density will be studied, as well as the processes that cause the corona to heat up and the solar wind to speed up. It will also be used to measure the corona's magnetic field and research the formation and causes of coronal mass ejections.


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