Indian Express 03rd March 2020

1) Explained: Eyes on the Sun, how ISRO is preparing for its next giant leap in space

Astrophysical Journal, analysing data from the first three flybys of the Parker Solar Probe, NASA’s historic mission to the Sun. The probe, launched on August 12, 2018, completed its fourth close approach — called perihelion.

So why is all of this exciting for India?

Alongside another mission to the Moon, being planned for next year, and the first human space flight scheduled for 2022, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) is also preparing to send its first scientific expedition to study the Sun. Named Aditya-L1, the mission, expected to be launched early next year, will observe the Sun from a close distance, and try to obtain information about its atmosphere and magnetic field.

ISRO categorises Aditya L1 as a 400 kg-class satellite, that will be launched using the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) in XL configuration. The space-based observatory will have seven payloads (instruments) on board to study the Sun’s corona, solar emissions, solar winds and flares, and Coronal Mass Ejections (CMEs), and will carry out round-the-clock imaging of the Sun.

Aditya L1 will be ISRO’s second space-based astronomy mission after AstroSat, which was launched in September 2015.

why is studying the Sun important?

Every planet, including Earth and the exoplanets beyond the Solar System, evolves — and this evolution is governed by its parent star.

The solar weather and environment, which is determined by the processes taking place inside and around the sun, affects the weather of the entire system.

Variations in this weather can change the orbits of satellites or shorten their lives, interfere with or damage onboard electronics, and cause power blackouts and other disturbances on Earth.

Knowledge of solar events is key to understanding space weather.

L1 refers to Lagrangian/Lagrange Point 1, one of five points in the orbital plane of the Earth-Sun system. Lagrange Points, named after Italian-French mathematician Josephy-Louis Lagrange, are positions in space where the gravitational forces of a two-body system (like the Sun and the Earth) produce enhanced regions of attraction and repulsion.

These can be used by spacecraft to reduce fuel consumption needed to remain in position. The L1 point is home to the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory Satellite (SOHO), an international collaboration project of NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA).

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