Solar missions include deploying spacecraft to research the Sun in order to improve our knowledge of solar processes, space weather, and their effects on Earth. Missions such as NASA’s Parker Solar Probe and the European Space Agency’s Solar Orbiter collect data from various vantage points to improve our understanding of the Sun’s behaviour, therefore advancing space research and technology.
What are the challenges of a solar mission?
Solar missions have challenges such as efficient energy collecting, storage, and distribution; harsh environments in space; minimising launch costs; assuring system longevity; and creating sophisticated technologies for long-duration missions. Radiation, heat management, and sustaining operation in distant places are other significant challenges for successful solar missions.
How many countries have launched successful solar missions?
- The United States;
- The European Space Agency (ESA);
- Russia; and
- South Korea.
What exactly is Aditya- L 1?
Aditya L1 (Sanskrit:, lit: Sun) is a coronagraphy spacecraft being conceived and built by the Indian Space scientific Organisation (ISRO) and other Indian scientific organisations.
Aditya- L 1 Technical Specifications
The 1,500 kg (3,300 lb) satellite carries seven science payloads with a variety of objectives, including but not limited to coronal heating, solar wind acceleration, coronal magnetometry, the origin and monitoring of near-UV solar radiation (which drives Earth’s upper atmospheric dynamics and global climate). The coronagraph simulates a complete solar eclipse in space by covering sunlight with an occultor. This telescope will be able to image the corona spectrally in visible and infrared wavelengths.
Solar Ultraviolet Imaging Telescope (SUIT):
SUIT will study the Sun at wavelengths ranging from 200 to 400 nm and will give whole disc pictures of various layers of the solar atmosphere using 11 filters. In this wavelength range, the Sun has never been viewed from space. Inter-University Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics (IUCAA), Pune, is the principal investigator’s institute.
Aditya Solar Wind Experiment (ASPEX):
To investigate the variation and qualities of solar wind, as well as its dispersion and spectrum features.
PI Plasma Analyzer Package for Aditya (PAPA):
To investigate the composition and energy distribution of solar wind.
Solar Low Energy X-ray Spectrometer (SoLEXS):
To research the unexplained coronal heating process of the solar corona by monitoring X-ray flares.
PI High Energy L1 Orbiting X-ray Spectrometer (HEL1OS):
To study dynamic events in the solar corona and determine the energy required to accelerate solar energetic particles during eruptive events.
Used to determine the amount and kind of the interplanetary magnetic field.
What is Aditya-L 1 going to do?
Aditya-L1 will be able to observe the photosphere, chromosphere, and corona of the Sun. An instrument will also analyse the flow of solar energetic particles reaching the L1 orbit, while a magnetometer payload will assess the fluctuation in magnetic field strength at the halo orbit surrounding L1. These payloads must be located outside of the influence of the Earth’s magnetic field, and so could not have been functional in the low Earth orbit envisioned in the original Aditya mission design.
One of the greatest unanswered problems in solar physics is why the Sun’s high atmosphere is 1,000,000 K (1,000,000 °C; 1,800,000 °F) hot but the lower atmosphere is just 6,000 K (5,730 °C; 10,340 °F). Furthermore, it is unknown how the Sun’s radiation impacts the dynamics of the Earth’s atmosphere on both short and long time scales. The mission will take almost simultaneous photos of the many layers of the Sun’s atmosphere, revealing how energy is channelled and transported from one layer to the next. As a result, the Aditya-L1 mission will provide a thorough knowledge of the Sun’s dynamical processes as well as answer several lingering questions in solar physics and heliophysics.
How far will it travel?
It will travel about 1,500,000 km (930,000 mi) from Earth to enter the halo orbit around the L1 point
How long will it take to reach L 1 Orbit?
After launch, the Aditya-L1 mission will take about 109 Earth days.
What to Expect as launch date for Aditya-L 1
It is the first Indian mission devoted to observing the Sun, and it is slated to launch on September 2, 2023, using a PSLV-XL launch vehicle.
The SDSC will launch the Aditya L1 Mission. Initially, the Spacecraft will be put in Earth’s Low Orbit. Following that, the orbit will be elliptical, and the spacecraft will be propelled towards the L1 Point using onboard propulsion. The Aditya L1 Mission is scheduled to last 5.2 years.
What is the mission cost?
Aditya L 1 costs eight hundred twenty-five crore forty-eight lakh twenty-five thousand rupees (8,25,48,25,000.00) or $100 million (estimated).(It is important to realise that this is the mission cost, not the planned cost.)
Space exploration is an expensive effort. Launching an Aditya L 1 spacecraft into orbit may cost millions, if not billions, of dollars.
As a result, it is critical for space agencies to be cost-effective in their mission planning and implementation.
The Aditya L1 mission is a low-cost approach for India to investigate the Sun.
The Aditya L 1 mission is expected to cost roughly $100 million, which is a fraction of the cost of comparable missions undertaken by other nations.
However, no official word on the cost of the Aditya L 1 mission has been published by ISRO.
Why is Sun Study Important?
Every planet, including Earth and the exoplanets outside the Solar System, develops — and the parent star governs this development. The weather of the whole system is influenced by the solar weather and surroundings. Variations in this weather may cause satellites’ orbits to shift or their lifetimes to be cut short, interfere with or damage onboard electronics, and cause power outages and other disruptions on Earth. Understanding space weather requires knowledge of solar occurrences.
Continuous solar observations are required to learn about, monitor, and anticipate the effect of Earth-directed storms. According to ISRO’s website, every storm that erupts from the Sun and comes towards Earth goes via L1, and a satellite situated in the halo orbit around L1 of the Sun-Earth system has the primary benefit of continually seeing the Sun without any occultation/eclipses.