Onward, sunward – Aditya-L1, India’s First Space Mission Dedicated to Studying the Sun | 4 September 2023 | UPSC Daily Editorial Analysis

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What's the article about?

  • It talks about India's first solar mission, Aditya-L1.


  • GS3: Achievements of Indians in Science & Technology; Indigenization of Technology and Developing New Technology; Awareness in the fields of Space.
  • Prelims


  • The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has launched Aditya-L1, India's first space mission dedicated to studying the sun.
  • This article discusses the significance of Aditya-L1 and how it will deepen the relevance of India's space program.

Instruments on board Aditya-L1:

  • Aditya-L1 has seven distinct payloads developed indigenously, which are tuned to observe the solar atmosphere mainly the chromosphere and corona.
  • The instruments of Aditya-L1 are expected to provide crucial information to understand the problem of coronal heating, coronal mass ejection, pre-flare and flare activities and their characteristics, dynamics of space weather, propagation of particle and fields, etc.
  • The following instruments have been selected for the mission:
    • Visible Emission Line Coronagraph (VELC)
    • Solar Ultraviolet Imaging Telescope (SUIT)
    • Aditya Solar wind Particle Experiment (ASPEX)
    • Plasma Analyser Package for Aditya (PAPA)
    • Solar Low Energy X-ray Spectrometer (SoLEXS)
    • High Energy L1 Orbiting X-ray Spectrometer (HEL1OS)
    • Magnetometer (MAG)

Lagrange points:

  • Lagrange points are positions in space where the gravitational forces of two large masses, such as the Sun and the Earth, produce enhanced regions of attraction and repulsion.
  • These points are named after Italian-French mathematician Joseph-Louis Lagrange, who considered the mathematical problem of the “General Three-Body Problem” in his prize-winning paper in 1772.
  • There are five Lagrange points, labeled L1 to L5, for any combination of two orbital bodies, all in the orbital plane of the two large bodies. Of the five Lagrange points, three are unstable and two are stable.
  • The unstable Lagrange points – L1, L2, and L3 – lie along the line connecting the two large masses, while the stable Lagrange points – L4 and L5 – form the apex of two equilateral triangles that have the large masses at their vertices.
  • These points can be used by spacecraft to reduce fuel consumption needed to remain in position, and they can make an excellent location for satellites, as few orbit corrections are needed to maintain the desired orbit.


  • Aditya-L1 will study the sun in multiple wavelengths with its suite of seven instruments: four remote-sensing and three in situ.
  • The spacecraft will travel to the L1 Lagrange point, a point 1.5 million kilometers from the earth, where it will have an unobstructed view of the star while it stays in a halo orbit around the point.
  • Aditya-L1 will record and transmit data to earth as quickly as possible, where the data downlink and analysis pipeline will have to operate with similar haste, so that scientists can piece together a concurrent image of the sun.
  • The Significance of Aditya-L1:
    • Even though the sun is the star closest to the earth and has been and continues to be observed by a panoply of telescopes, the sun still holds many secrets.
    • Aditya-L1's findings could inform future space missions, considering the solar wind affects space weather and, in turn, the digital components of spacecraft.
    • Aditya-L1 will also help solve mysteries such as the coronal heating problem, which is why the uppermost layer of the sun’s atmosphere is a thousand times hotter than the sun’s surface.
  • ISRO's Maturity:
    • ISRO's recent achievements, including the successful soft-landing of a robotic lander and rover on the moon’s south polar region, illustrate a certain maturity on the part of the Indian space program.
    • ISRO enters a phase where its growth from strength to strength becomes indistinguishable from international leadership in space exploration, even as it carries forward an old tradition of studying the sun, exemplified by the Kodaikanal Solar Observatory.

Way Forward:

  • Aditya-L1 seems relatively simple given ISRO’s recent achievements, but it gives the Indian space program and the national solar physics community one more boundary to push.
  • ISRO has demonstrated its ability to handle complex navigational tasks in interplanetary missions, and the attendant skills will be brought to bear on Aditya-L1 as well. Aditya-L1 is a significant milestone for India's space program and will deepen our understanding of the sun and its effects on space weather.

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