India launches mission to Sun: What happens next after Aditya-L1 liftoff


As India’s Aditya-L1 blasts off to the Sun on Saturday morning, experts are now gearing up for the big mission ahead: To study the largest object in our solar system. This mission will be the first to probe into the Corona, the innermost part of the Sun.

Moments before the launch, experts explained key details about the historic expedition and what happens next after liftoff.

After the launch, Aditya-L1 begins a four-month journey to its “parking spot” near the Sun. It will be travelling a total distance of 1.5 million km from Earth.

Among the mission’s major objectives is to study the following:

  • Physics of solar corona and its heating mechanism
  • Solar wind acceleration
  • Coupling and dynamics of the solar atmosphere
  • Solar wind distribution and temperature anisotropy,
  • Origin of Coronal Mass Ejections (CME) and flares
  • Near-earth space weather

The Aditya-L1 mission holds the promise of significantly advancing our understanding of the Sun’s behaviour and its interactions with Earth and the space environment.

Annapurni Subramaniam, director of Indian Institute of Astrophysics, said a an instrument — called Visible Line Emission Coronagraph (VELC) — was placed on board the launch vehicle carrying Aditya-L1. This, she said, will provide an “unobstructed view of the Sun”.

“It will observe the Sun in the state of an eclipse all the time. This will be the first mission, which will take a close look at the innermost part of the Sun, the Corona,” Subramaniam said.

The spacecraft will be placed in a halo orbit around the Lagrange point 1 (L1) of the Sun-Earth system, allowing continuous viewing of the sun without any eclipses or obstructions.

Mayank N Vahia, a retired professor from Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, told ANI that the last solar mission that went to the L1 point was launched five years before Aditya-L1.

“The mission will observe the Sun simultaneously in optical, UV, and X-rays,” he added.

The launch vehicle carries seven different payloads, which will conduct a detailed study of the Sun. Four will observe the light from the Sun while the other three will measure in-situ parameters of the plasma and magnetic fields.


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