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Developments of Aditya-L1

Syllabus: Space Technology [GS Paper-3]

Context

The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has released a series of images of the Sun captured by its Aditya-L1 spacecraft during the intense solar storm that occurred in May 2024. The images, taken by the Solar UltraViolet Imaging Telescope (SUIT) and the Visible Emission Line Coronagraph (VELC), showcase the dynamic activities of the Sun and provide valuable insights into the solar flares and coronal mass ejections that occurred during the storm.

Aditya-L1 Mission

  • Aditya-L1 is India’s first solar mission, which was launched on September 2, 2023, and its goal is to explore the outermost layer of the Sun’s atmosphere, the middle layer of the Sun’s atmosphere, and the layer that is directly visible from Earth. 
  • Thus, the total number of scientific instruments on the spacecraft was seven; among them, the SUIT and VELC instruments would investigate the Sun’s ultraviolet and visible radiation. 
  • Aditya-L1 is sited at the LL1 position which is approximately 1. Located at a distance of five million kilometres from the Earth, the moon is also used to give a constant observation of the Sun.

The Solar Storm

  • The solar storm that hit the Earth in May 2024 was one of the strongest in the past few years wherein Sun active region AR13664 emitted several X-class and numerous M-class flares. 
  • These flares were connected to the large coronal mass ejections that happened from May 8 to May 9 bringing forth a severe geomagnetic storm on May 11. 
  • The storm was considered to be a level-5 storm under the geomagnetic scale which is commonly referred to as solar storm and is regarded as one of the worst storms to have happened to the earth in the last 30 years.

SUIT Observations

  • SUIT payload on Aditya L1 captured images of photosphere / chromosphere using MgII k line (NB3) and Narrow Band 276 nm (NB2). 
  • The images illustrate the sun disk with bright, dynamically gleamed areas which are associated with the magnetic activity and large flares sources. 
  • While comparing the relative brightness of these sunspots in different narrow wave bands it is understandable that the quantity and structure of the magnetic tubes at different heights of the atmosphere are also different.

VELC Observations

  • Using the VELC instrument, this work presented useful measurements in the line 5303 Angstrom and performed rastering of the solar corona. 
  • They display the location of AR13664 that is encased within the rectangular box and some information concerning the coronal activities during the storm. 
  • The VELC observations were conducted on May 14 and the resulting image represents weighted-sum of the wavelength-averaged slit image as the sun was swept across by the spectrograph slit.

Significance of the Observations

  • The data collected by Aditya-L1 in the course of the solar storm happening in May 2019 would be useful for explaining the dynamics of the outer layers of the sun and the interaction between solar radiation and Earth’s magnetic field. 
  • The images taken by SUIT and VELC are ‘golden,’ so to speak, in the study of the solar flares and coronal mass ejections during the storm, which would be useful in the further long-term analysis of solar variabilities and space weather events. 
  • This data will then help in the scientific analysis of solar flares, energy distribution, sunspots and UV radiation, at various ranges of wavelengths through the use of Aditya-L1.

Conclusion

India’s Aditya-L1 spacecraft from the Indian Space Research Organisation ISRO captures photos of the Sun during the storm in May that shows The Lower Atmospheric Activity of the Sun. SUIT- and VELC-derived observational data is valuable for the exploration of the flaring and escaping CME events during the storm; it will be also useful for investigating long-term solar modulations and space weather manifestations. Fluid mechanics is the fundamental scientific principle that is directly relevant to the Aditya-L1 mission, as it has showcased India’s prowess in designing and developing sophisticated space missions.

Source: The Hindu

UPSC Prelims Practice Questions

Q. Consider the following statements regarding Aditya-L1:

  1. Aditya-L1 is India’s first solar mission aimed at studying the Sun.
  2. It will be placed in a halo orbit around the Lagrange point 2 (L2) of the Sun-Earth system.
  3. One of its primary objectives is to study the solar corona and understand its heating mechanism.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

a) 1 only

b) 1 and 3 only

c) 2 and 3 only

d) 1, 2, and 3

Ans: “b”

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