Aditya-L1 Mission Latest Updates:
Aditya-L1 was launched by ISRO on 2 September , 2023 with the mission of observing, and helping us better understand the Sun. It arrives at its destination, L1 or the first Sun-Earth Lagrangian point, on 6 January 2024.
why study the Sun?
The Sun makes energy through nuclear fusion in its interior, and emits it from its outer layers. The photosphere, a 6,000-degree Celsius layer, emits all visible and infrared light, crucial for life. Above is the chromosphere, and higher still is the million-degree Celsius hot corona.
Interestingly, the corona is much hotter than the inner layers of the Sun — there must be some energy source which provides this heat. However, the processes involved in this are not yet fully understood. Moreover, it also emits ultraviolet and X-ray radiation which would be lethal to life on Earth, without the presence of the atmosphere which absorbs most harmful radiation.
The Sun also continuously streams electrically charged particles — a stream known as the Solar wind. These charged particles produce the spectacular aurorae, known as the Northern and Southern Lights, seen close to the north and south poles of the Earth.
There are also sudden bursts and ejections of charged particles from the Sun into interplanetary space, known as Solar flares and coronal mass ejections. These directly affect space weather, space-reliant technologies like satellite communication networks, and can produce electric power blackouts in Earth’s higher latitudes. Notably, they can be extremely difficult to predict.
What will Aditya-L1 do?
Since Aditya-L1 is located outside the Earth’s atmosphere, its instruments can observe the ultraviolet radiation from the corona, and in the process, better understand its workings. Moreover, we need to monitor the Solar atmosphere and the corona continuously to monitor eruptions on the Sun, and study the properties of charged particles in the Solar wind.
Crucially, this task has to be carried out from outside Earth’s atmosphere, and as close to the Sun as possible. This will then help provide early warning of Solar eruptions, and allow us to initiate actions to minimise the disruption they may cause.
Aditya-L1 has seven instruments for the observation of all the radiation and charged particles. Its location, 1.5 million km away from Earth towards the Sun (more on that next), allows uninterrupted observations.