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Aditya – L1: India’s Solar Mission

by Sanjenbam Jugeshwor Singh
0 comment 5 minutes read

As Vikram and Pragyan, the Chandrayaan-3 lander and rover continue to do science on the  Moon, ISRO has set the date for the launch of its solar mission on September 2.India’s first space-based observatory to study the sun has been launched on September 2, weeks after it became the first country to land a spacecraft on the unexplored south pole of the Moon .India’s space agency said the Aditya-L1 probe will study solar winds, which can cause disturbances on Earth and are commonly seen as auroras. The craft, named after the Hindi word for the sun, will be launched from the country’s main spaceport in Sriharikota using the PSLV launch vehicle, which will travel about 1.5 million km (932,000 miles), the agency said. It will take the Aditya-L1 about four months to travel to its observation point, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) said in a post on X, formerly Twitter. The spacecraft will be fired into a halo orbit in a region of space that will give the craft a continuous clear view of the sun. “This will provide a greater advantage of observing the solar activities and its effect on space weather in real time,” ISRO said.
The spacecraft will be carrying seven payloads to observe the sun’s outermost layers – known as the photosphere and chromosphere – including electromagnetic and particle field detectors. NASA and the European Space Agency have previously placed probes into orbit to study the sun, but this would be the first such mission for India. The unmanned Chandrayaan-3, which means “moon craft” in Sanskrit, touched down on the lunar surface last week, making India only the fourth country to land successfully on the moon, behind the United States, Russia and China. That marked the latest milestone in India’s ambitious but cut-price space programme, sparking celebrations across the world’s most populous country. India has a comparatively low-budget space programme but one that has grown considerably in size and momentum since it first sent a probe to orbit the moon in 2008. It’s latest moon mission had a budget of about $75m – less than that of the Hollywood space thriller Gravity.
ISRO aims to better understand coronal heating, coronal mass ejection, pre-flare and flare activities and their characteristics, dynamics of space weather and propagation of particles and fields through the Aditya-L1 mission. The 3,300-pound satellite comprises a number of science, observation and experimentation payloads, including four remote sensing payloads.Aditya-L1, codenamed PSLV-C57, has various scientific goals, such as examining solar upper atmospheric dynamics, investigating chromospheric and coronal heating, observing on-site particles and plasma environments, and studying the physics of the solar corona and its heating mechanism. The mission also aims to identify drivers for space weather. In 2008, Aditya-L1 was originally conceptualized as Aditya (“sun” in Hindi) to study the solar corona — the outermost layer of the sun’s atmosphere. However, ISRO later renamed the mission Aditya L-1 to expand its objective and project it as a full-fledged observatory for studying solar and space environments. The Indian government allocated approximately $46 million for the Aditya-L1 mission in 2019, though updates on the mission costs have not been disclosed yet.
Experts say India can keep costs low by copying and adapting existing technology and having an abundance of highly skilled engineers who earn a fraction of the wages of their foreign counterparts. In 2014, India became the first Asian nation to put a craft into orbit around Mars, and it is slated to launch a three-day crewed mission into Earth’s orbit by next year. It also plans a joint mission with Japan to send another probe to the moon by 2025 and an orbital mission to Venus within the next two years..
Last week, the space agency grabbed international attention for the successful landing of its Chandrayaan-3 mission, which was launched in July as the successor to Chandrayaan-2 that crashed in 2019. The remarkable achievement of the spacecraft made India the first country to land on the lunar South Pole and the fourth nation globally to make a soft landing on the moon, after the former Soviet Union, U.S. and China.
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. The spate of successful missions from Isro is expected to bolster India’s reputation in the global space race. Talking to Mint on the day of the landing of Chandrayaan-3, Pawan Kumar Goenka, chairman of the Centre’s nodal space authorization body Indian National Space Promotion and Authorization Centre (In-Space) said that the moon landing feat would also give private space firms in the country a boost in their ambitions, potential clientele and ability to attract international investors. In August last year, Mint reported that a lack of certification of space readiness had largely kept global investors away from the nascent domestic private space sector. While the likes of Skyroot Aerospace and Pixxel have attracted global funding, India presently awaits clarification to foreign direct investments (FDI) in the space sector in order to attract international space funding.
(Writer can be reached at:[email protected])

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