Bengaluru: The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) plans to launch ‘Aditya-L1’, the first Indian mission to study the sun, by the year 2020. The project has been approved and the satellite will be launched in the 2019 – 2020 time frame by PSLV-XL from Sriharikota.
ISRO Director Mylswamy Annadurai, while recently revealing the space agency’s plans, also said that the space organisation is planning to launch four more important satellites in the next three months and is working to launch 70 satellites in the next three years.
Earlier, the NASA-ESA mission SOHO was launched in 1995, and while it made many discoveries, its coronagraph, meant to image the sun, broke down shortly after the mission commenced. Hence there is currently no satellite imaging the sun from space. Aditya-L1 will not only fill this gap it will also literally, look deeper into the sun than SOHO. “The nominal mission lifetime is expected to be five years, though it is expected to go on for much longer, perhaps even ten,” says Dipankar Banerjee from Indian Institute of Astrophysics (IIAP), Bengaluru, which is collaborating with ISRO on this project.
The mission will carry seven payloads,consisting of a coronagraph, equipment that will image the sun using ultraviolet filters, X-ray spectrometers, and particle samplers all being made within the country.
The largest payload, or instrument, aboard the satellite, will be the Visible Emission Line Coronagraph (VLEC). This can view the sun more closely than has been done before even by SOHO.
The Aditya-1 mission was conceived as a 400kg class satellite carrying one payload, the Visible Emission Line Coronagraph (VELC) and was planned to launch in 800 km low earth orbit
A Satellite placed in the halo orbit around the Lagrangian point 1 (L1) of the Sun-Earth system has the major advantage of continuously viewing the Sun without any occultation/ eclipses.
Therefore, the Aditya-1 mission has now been revised to “Aditya-L1 mission” and will be inserted in a halo orbit around the L1, which is 1.5 million km from the Earth. The satellite carries additional six payloads with enhanced science scope and objectives.
With additional experiments Aditya-L1 can now provide observations of Sun’s photosphere (soft and hard X-ray), chromosphere (UV), and corona (Visible and NIR).