India’s Aditya L1 solar mission marked a significant milestone with its successful launch from Sriharikota on Saturday. In the coming months, the spacecraft will be positioned in its Halo orbit, L1, near the Sun, where its seven payloads will embark on a mission to answer intriguing questions about the Sun.
One of the primary mysteries the mission aims to unravel is the extreme temperature of the Sun’s corona. The corona, the Sun’s outermost atmosphere layer, is typically concealed by the Sun’s brilliant surface light.
Ashoka University’s Vice-Chancellor and scientist, Somak Raychaudhury, explains, “One of our primary goals is to understand why the Sun’s corona is astonishingly hot, reaching temperatures of up to 2 million degrees, in stark contrast to the relatively cooler surface of the Sun at around 5,000 degrees.”
Key Objectives of the Aditya L1 Mission
The primary objective of the Aditya L1 mission is to enable uninterrupted, 24/7 observation of the Sun. This unhindered observation will greatly enhance the monitoring of solar activity. To achieve this goal, Aditya L1 is equipped with two major instruments and five smaller ones.
- SUIT (Ultraviolet Imaging Telescope): This instrument captures continuous ultraviolet images of the Sun, which is crucial for solar observations. It allows scientists to study the significant ultraviolet and X-ray radiation emitted from the Sun’s corona.
- VELC (Visible Emission Line Coronagraph): VELC is a spectrograph that focuses on the Sun’s corona, the outermost layer of its atmosphere. It extends far beyond the Sun’s visible disk and will work in conjunction with SUIT to monitor the corona, aiding ISRO scientists in correlating corona changes with solar surface events.
Unlocking the Sun’s Enigma
Somak Raychaudhury elaborates on the enigmatic phenomenon of the Sun’s corona’s high temperature, emphasizing that it reaches up to 2 million degrees—a stark contrast to the Sun’s cooler surface at around 5,000 degrees. This temperature difference remains a “baffling mystery in solar science.” The study of high-energy phenomena of the Sun’s corona aims to shed light on this mystery and establish causal connections between the Sun and its corona.
Aditya L1’s observations will also contribute to understanding the relationship between the Sun’s surface and the emission of high-energy particles during solar storms. These storms are closely tied to the Sun’s magnetic activity and have the potential to disrupt human technologies, including satellites and communication systems.
India’s Aditya L1 mission promises to illuminate the Sun’s secrets, advancing our understanding of this crucial celestial body and its impact on our solar system.