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Aditya- L1 mission

Topics Covered: Awareness in space.

Aditya- L1 mission

What to study?

For prelims and mains: Key features, objectives and significance of the mission.

Context: Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) is preparing to send its first scientific expedition to study the Sun. Named Aditya-L1, the mission, expected to be launched early next year, will observe the Sun from a close distance, and try to obtain information about its atmosphere and magnetic field.

About Aditya- L1 mission:

What is it? It is India’s first solar mission. It will be launched using the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) in XL configuration. The space-based observatory will have seven payloads (instruments) on board to study the Sun’s corona, solar emissions, solar winds and flares, and Coronal Mass Ejections (CMEs), and will carry out round-the-clock imaging of the Sun.

Objectives:

  1. Study the sun’s outer most layers, the corona and the chromospheres.
  2. Collect data about coronal mass ejection, which will also yield information for space weather prediction.

Significance of the mission:

The data from Aditya mission will be immensely helpful in discriminating between different models for the origin of solar storms and also for constraining how the storms evolve and what path they take through the interplanetary space from the Sun to the Earth.

Position of the satellite:

In order to get the best science from the sun, continuous viewing of the sun is preferred without any occultation/ eclipses and hence, Aditya- L1 satellite will be placed in the halo orbit around the Lagrangian point 1 (L1) of the sun-earth system.

What are Lagrangian points and halo orbit?

Lagrangian points are the locations in space where the combined gravitational pull of two large masses roughly balance each other. Any small mass placed at that location will remain at constant distances relative to the large masses. There are five such points in Sun-Earth system and they are denoted as L1, L2, L3, L4 and L5. A halo orbit is a periodic three-dimensional orbit near the L1, L2 or L3.

Why do we study the sun and the solar wind?

The sun is the only star we can study up close. By studying this star we live with, we learn more about stars throughout the universe. The sun is a source of light and heat for life on Earth. The more we know about it, the more we can understand how life on Earth developed. It is the source of the solar wind; a flow of ionized gases from the sun that streams past Earth at speeds of more than 500 km per second (a million miles per hour). Disturbances in the solar wind shake Earth’s magnetic field and pump energy into the radiation belts, part of a set of changes in near-Earth space known as space weather. Effects On satellites: Space weather can change the orbits of satellites, shorten their lifetimes, or interfere with onboard electronics. The more we learn about what causes space weather – and how to predict it – the more we can protect the satellites we depend on. Safety and preparedness: The solar wind dominates the space environment. As we send spacecraft and astronauts further and further from home, we must understand this space environment just as early seafarers needed to understand the ocean.

Sources: Indian Express.