The Aditya-L1 Mission: Exploring the Sun’s Mysteries

Just weeks after the successful soft landing of Chandrayaan-3 on the moon’s south pole, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) is embarking on another remarkable journey. This time, it’s a mission to study the sun as the Aditya-L1 spacecraft is scheduled to lift off on Saturday, September 2. The Aditya-L1 mission is an observatory mission with a unique goal, and it’s set to make significant contributions to our understanding of the sun and its impact on Earth.

Aditya-L1 will be positioned at Lagrange point 1 (L1), a vantage point approximately 1.5 million kilometers from Earth and 148.5 million kilometers from the sun. At this location, gravitational forces between the sun and Earth are perfectly balanced, offering an uninterrupted view of the sun. The mission is expected to last for more than five years and carries seven essential payloads, with the visible emission line coronagraph (VELC) being the primary instrument. Notably, VELC has been developed and designed by Prof. Ramesh R and his team from the Indian Institute of Astrophysics (IIA) in Bengaluru.

Understanding Lagrange Point 1 (L1)

Lagrange point 1 (L1) holds a pivotal role in the Aditya-L1 mission’s objectives. To comprehend the significance of this choice, it’s essential to know what L1 is and why ISRO opted for it. Traditionally, ISRO and astrophysicists in India have studied the sun from Earth, but this approach has its limitations. Ground-based observational studies are restricted to daylight hours and are susceptible to distortions caused by atmospheric dust particles.

Prof. Ramesh explains, “When you say L1 point, if you consider the solar system with the sun and Earth as massive bodies, there are five vantage points where gravitational forces between these two are perfectly balanced. These five points are called Lagrange points as they were first invented by Italian astronomer Joseph Lagrange, so L1 is in a straight line with the sun and Earth. It’s a gravitational stable point with an uninterrupted view of the sun. Any scattering due to dust is also taken care of since you are going well above the earth. That’s one of the reasons why the mission was designed.”

Predicting Solar Flares and Coronal Mass Ejections

One of the critical objectives of the Aditya-L1 mission is to enhance our ability to predict solar flares and coronal mass ejections (CMEs). Solar storms, such as the one that occurred in March 1989, can have severe consequences on Earth’s power transmission systems. Understanding the circumstances leading to CMEs and solar flares is essential for better prediction of solar weather events.

“There can be violent eruptions from the sun’s atmosphere, and they can travel towards Earth. So, there is a need to study and monitor this on a 24-hour basis. The primary source for all these violent eruptions is the corona, and our primary payload will be looking at it. We will be capturing one photo every minute, resulting in 1,440 images per day, allowing us to study even subtle changes. Additionally, we are deploying an instrument called a polarimeter, which will monitor magnetic field changes. It can provide a forewarning of an impending violent solar eruption,” Prof. Ramesh explains.

At the end of the Aditya-L1 mission, scientists hope to accumulate enough data to identify the solar signatures indicative of an impending CME. Prof. Ramesh adds, “Sunspots in the center of the sun’s disk, if they decide to erupt due to changes in the magnetic field, will travel straight along the sun-Earth line. Therefore, sunspots near the solar disk are potentially more geo-effective, and we need to monitor that particular database—whether the size of the sunspot or its appearance or polarity is crucial.”

Coronal mass ejections (CMEs) involve large expulsions of plasma and magnetic fields from the sun’s corona, typically around sunspots. These ejections contain coronal material with embedded magnetic fields. Solar flares, on the other hand, are bursts of electromagnetic radiation from the sun that travel at high speeds. Both CMEs and solar flares can disrupt satellite functions in space, as well as communication and power lines on Earth.

Implications for Life on Earth

The Aditya-L1 mission holds immense promise for various aspects of life on Earth. By studying the sun from the unique vantage point of L1, scientists aim to provide more accurate and timely predictions of solar weather events. This capability has far-reaching implications, including:

  • Space Exploration: Improved forecasts of solar flares and CMEs will help protect astronauts and spacecraft from the harmful effects of solar radiation during space missions.
  • Communications: Solar storms can disrupt radio communications and navigation systems. Advanced warning can help mitigate these disruptions.
  • Power Grids: Solar-induced geomagnetic storms can damage power transmission systems. Better prediction can reduce the risk of power outages.
  • Aviation: Solar radiation can affect aircraft communication and navigation systems. Enhanced solar weather predictions are vital for aviation safety.

The Aditya-L1 mission represents a significant step forward in our understanding of the sun and its impact on our daily lives. As it embarks on its journey to Lagrange point 1, it brings the promise of a safer and more predictable future for Earth and space exploration.


The Aditya-L1 mission is poised to revolutionize our knowledge of the sun and its influence on Earth. By positioning itself at Lagrange point 1, it will provide an unprecedented view of the sun, enabling continuous and precise monitoring. This mission’s potential to predict solar flares and CMEs holds the key to safeguarding critical systems on Earth and in space. As we eagerly await the insights that Aditya-L1 will provide, one thing is certain – this mission marks a giant leap forward in our quest to unravel the mysteries of our nearest star.

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