IAS Gyan

Daily News Analysis


16th August, 2023 Science and Technology

Disclaimer: Copyright infringement not intended.


  • ISRO is set to launch its first solar mission Aditya-L1 to study Sun.



  • The Aditya-L1 mission, developed by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), represents India's first space-based observatory dedicated to studying the Sun.
  • Positioned at the Lagrange point 1 (L1), located about 1.5 million km from Earth, this pioneering mission aims to unravel the mysteries of the Sun's behavior, magnetic fields, and space weather impacts.

Mission Overview

  • Halo Orbit Placement: Aditya-L1 is designed to be positioned in a halo orbit around the L1 Lagrange point, ensuring a stable vantage point for continuous solar observations.
  • Launch and Deployment: The mission will be launched using the ISRO PSLV rocket from the Sathish Dhawan Space Centre SHAR (SDSC SHAR) in Sriharikota. The spacecraft will initially be placed in a low Earth orbit, which will then be transformed into an elliptical orbit before reaching L1 using on-board propulsion.
  • Cruise Phase and Halo Orbit: As the spacecraft journeys towards L1, it will exit Earth's gravitational sphere of influence, marking the commencement of the cruise phase. Once at L1, it will enter a vast halo orbit around the Lagrange point.

Mission Objectives

  • Solar Upper Atmospheric Dynamics: Aditya-L1's primary objective is to study the dynamic behavior of the Sun's upper atmosphere, including the chromosphere and corona. The mission seeks to understand processes like chromospheric and coronal heating, and the initiation of solar eruptive events.
  • Space Weather Impact: By observing solar activities and their impact on space weather in real-time, the mission aims to contribute to the understanding of solar events like coronal mass ejections (CMEs) and their influence on Earth's space environment.
  • Particle and Plasma Environment: Aditya-L1 will provide valuable data on particle dynamics from the Sun, contributing to the study of solar wind, particle propagation, and the partially ionized plasma in the solar atmosphere.

Payloads and Scientific Instruments

  • VELC (Visible Emission Line Coronagraph): This payload will focus on studying the corona through imaging and spectroscopy, along with observing coronal mass ejections.
  • SUIT (Solar Ultraviolet Imaging Telescope): SUIT will capture images of the photosphere and chromosphere, measuring solar irradiance variations and facilitating narrow and broadband imaging.
  • SoLEXS (Solar Low Energy X-ray Spectrometer) and HEL1OS (High Energy L1 Orbiting X-ray Spectrometer): These payloads will study X-ray flares over a wide energy range, providing insights into the Sun's X-ray emissions.
  • ASPEX (Aditya Solar wind Particle Experiment) and PAPA (Plasma Analyser Package For Aditya): These instruments will analyze electrons, protons, and energetic ions in the solar wind, helping understand the solar particle environment.
  • Advanced Tri-axial High Resolution Digital Magnetometers: This payload will examine the interplanetary magnetic field at L1, revealing crucial information about solar magnetic dynamics.

Research Goals and Expected Outcomes

  • Coronal Heating and Eruption Mechanisms: Aditya-L1 aims to uncover the mechanisms behind coronal heating, coronal mass ejections, and solar flares, providing insights into the complex interactions within the Sun's atmosphere.
  • Space Weather Prediction: By studying space weather impacts and solar events, the mission intends to enhance space weather prediction models, offering the potential to mitigate their effects on Earth's technological infrastructure.
  • Solar Wind and Magnetic Field Studies: The mission will contribute to understanding the solar wind's composition, dynamics, and magnetic field topology, shedding light on their roles in driving space weather.

Significance and Future Prospects

  • Advancement in Solar Physics: Aditya-L1's observations and data will contribute to advancements in solar physics, plasma dynamics, and magnetism, enriching our understanding of stellar astrophysics.
  • Space Exploration Endeavors: The mission sets a precedent for India's space exploration initiatives, enabling future solar and space-based research missions.

Lagrange Points

  • Lagrange points, named after the French mathematician Joseph-Louis Lagrange, are five distinct positions in space where the gravitational forces of two large bodies, such as the Earth and the Moon, produce enhanced gravitational effects.
  • These points represent positions of dynamic equilibrium where the gravitational forces and the centripetal acceleration due to the motion of objects around them are perfectly balanced.

Basics of Lagrange Points

  • Definition: Lagrange points are locations in a two-body system where the gravitational forces and centripetal forces on a third, much smaller object become balanced, allowing it to remain in a stable or nearly stable position relative to the larger bodies.
  • Numbering: The five Lagrange points are denoted as L1, L2, L3, L4, and L5.

Position and Characteristics

  • L1: Located on the line connecting the two massive bodies, closer to the larger body. Objects placed at L1 move in sync with the Earth's orbital motion, making it suitable for space observatories like the James Webb Space Telescope.
  • L2: On the line connecting the two bodies, beyond the larger body. Objects at L2 enjoy a constant view of the night sky and are used for solar and Earth observations.
  • L3: Opposite to the larger body, forming a straight line with the two massive bodies. It's unstable, making objects there prone to perturbations and drift.
  • L4 and L5: Form equilateral triangles with the two massive bodies. Objects at these points tend to accumulate over time due to gravitational forces, forming regions known as Trojan asteroids or Lagrange point clouds.

Applications of Lagrange Points

  • Space Observatories: L1 and L2 are commonly used for space observatories. Their stable positions allow telescopes to maintain consistent views of distant objects, free from atmospheric interference.
  • Solar and Planetary Observation: Observatories positioned at L1 and L2 provide continuous views of the Sun, monitoring solar activities and space weather phenomena.
  • Communication Relays: L4 and L5 could potentially serve as communication relay points for future deep-space missions, providing continuous coverage for signals.
  • Asteroid Exploration: Lagrange points have been considered as staging areas for missions to study asteroids, given their relatively stable positions.

Challenges and Limitations

  • Orbital Perturbations: While Lagrange points offer stability, they are not completely free from disturbances. Orbital perturbations from other celestial bodies and non-gravitational forces can affect objects stationed at these points.
  • Energy Requirements: Positioning and maintaining objects at Lagrange points require careful fuel management due to the need to counteract gravitational influences and maintain desired orbits.

Future Exploration and Utilization

  • Artemis Program: NASA's Artemis program aims to establish a sustainable human presence on the Moon. Gateway, a lunar orbiting space station, could be positioned at the Earth-Moon L2 point to facilitate lunar exploration.
  • Deep-Space Missions: As humanity ventures further into space, Lagrange points could play a significant role in supporting missions beyond our Moon, enabling efficient communication and observation.

The Sun

  • The Sun, a colossal ball of hot, glowing plasma, serves as the center of our solar system and is the primary source of light, heat, and energy that sustains life on Earth.
  • Its immense size and intense energy production have fascinated astronomers and scientists for centuries.

Structure and Composition

  • Core: The Sun's core is the central region where nuclear fusion reactions occur. Hydrogen atoms fuse to form helium, releasing an enormous amount of energy in the process.
  • Radiative Zone: Surrounding the core, the radiative zone is characterized by the transfer of energy through photons created in the core's fusion reactions.
  • Convection Zone: Above the radiative zone, the convection zone experiences heat transfer through the movement of hot plasma. Large cells of rising and sinking material create the granulated appearance seen on the Sun's surface.
  • Photosphere: The visible surface of the Sun is the photosphere, where most of its visible light is emitted. This layer is marked by sunspots and granules, indicating complex magnetic activity.
  • Chromosphere: Above the photosphere lies the chromosphere, emitting a reddish glow during solar eclipses due to the presence of hydrogen emissions.
  • Corona: The outermost layer, the corona, extends millions of kilometers into space and is visible during solar eclipses as a halo of plasma. The corona's temperature is much higher than the Sun's surface, a phenomenon still under study (coronal heating problem).

Solar Energy and Fusion

  • Nuclear Fusion: The Sun's immense energy results from nuclear fusion, where hydrogen nuclei combine to form helium, releasing energy in the form of light and heat.
  • Energy Transport: Energy produced in the core travels through the radiative and convective zones before reaching the photosphere and being radiated into space.

Solar Activities and Phenomena

  • Sunspots: Dark areas on the photosphere caused by intense magnetic activity. These regions are cooler than their surroundings due to magnetic fields inhibiting convection.
  • Solar Flares: Sudden bursts of energy and radiation caused by the release of magnetic energy in the Sun's atmosphere. They can impact Earth's space environment and communication systems.
  • Coronal Mass Ejections (CMEs): Large expulsions of solar plasma and magnetic fields into space. CMEs can trigger geomagnetic storms on Earth, affecting power grids and satellites.
  • Solar Wind: A constant stream of charged particles emitted by the Sun, which affects the Earth's magnetosphere and contributes to space weather.

Solar Influence on Earth

  • Energy Source: The Sun provides the energy required for various natural processes on Earth, including photosynthesis, weather patterns, and ocean currents.
  • Space Weather: Solar activities like CMEs and solar flares influence space weather, potentially disrupting satellites, communication systems, and power grids.


The Aditya-L1 mission represents India's foray into solar research and exploration, promising valuable insights into the Sun's intricate dynamics and their impacts on our technological environment. By studying the Sun's upper atmospheric behavior, space weather phenomena, and solar particle interactions, Aditya-L1 aims to unravel longstanding mysteries while contributing to global scientific knowledge and the advancement of space technology.


Q. Discuss the objectives, significance, and international collaboration of India's Aditya L1 mission. Highlight its focus on studying the solar corona, space weather prediction, and magnetic field dynamics, along with its potential contributions to scientific knowledge, technological innovation, and global space exploration efforts.  (250 Words)