GS Paper 3:
Topics Covered: Awareness in space.
A team of scientists from different units of ISRO used ‘S-band’ radio signals from Mangalyaan, the Indian Mars orbiter, to study the solar corona and locate the area of the sun where the temperature rises abruptly.
- The details are yet to be published.
Significance of the study:
- The scientists utilised the solar conjunction event, when the Earth and Mars are on the opposite sides of the Sun.
- During conjunction events, which happens once in two years for Mars, the radio signals from Mangalyaan pass through the solar corona — about 10 solar radii or about 69,57,000 km from the centre of the Sun.
- This provides scientists a unique opportunity to study solar dynamics. Each solar radii is about 6,95,700 km.
What is Solar Conjunction?
It is the period when Earth and Mars, in their eternal march around the Sun, are obscured from each other by the fiery orb of the Sun itself.
- The two planets are temporarily invisible to each other like dancers on either side of a huge bonfire.
- Solar conjunction occurs every two years.
How will it impact space missions?
Mission controllers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory respond in a variety of ways.
- Before solar conjunction, the mission team sends up any necessary commands.
- They turn off some instruments. They collect data from others and store it.
- In some cases, they continue sending data to Earth, knowing that some data will be lost.
- No one attempts to send new instructions to Mars during solar conjunction.
Did you know about the Great Conjunction?
Astronomers use the term great conjunction to describe meetings of the two biggest worlds in the solar system, Jupiter and Saturn.
- It happens about every 20 years.
- The conjunction is the result of the orbital paths of Jupiter and Saturn coming into line, as viewed from Earth.
- Jupiter orbits the sun about every 12 years, and Saturn about every 29 years.
- Recently, the conjunction occurred on 21st December, 2020– the date of the December solstice. It was the closest alignment of Saturn and Jupiter since 1623, in terms of distance. The next time the planets will be this close is 2080.
- Solar conjunction.
- Great conjunction.
- Sun’s surface.
What is the Great Conjunction? Why is it significant? Discuss.
Sources: Indian Express.