HT Interview: No one got continuous data on Sun yet, we will, says Jagdev Singh | Latest News India - Hindustan Times

HT Interview: No mission has been able to get continuous data on Sun, we will, says Jagdev Singh

Sep 02, 2023 05:08 AM IST

India's Aditya-L1 mission will study Sun and provide data on its visible emission line and solar corona, according to Professor Jagdev Singh.

New Delhi: Aditya-L1, India’s maiden mission to study the Sun, will for the first time provide various data aspects of its nearest star and surroundings, including data on the visible emission line and solar corona, professor Jagdev Singh from Bengaluru’s Indian Institute of Astrophysics (IIA) has said.

Jagdev Singh (HT Photo) PREMIUM
Jagdev Singh (HT Photo)

It was Singh’s initial efforts that resulted in the development of the Visible Emission Line Coronagraph payload, the primary payload that will be carried onboard the Aditya-L1 spacecraft which is scheduled to take flight from Satish Dhawan Space Centre at at 11.50am on Saturday.

Ahead of the launch, Singh told HT that he is confident of the mission’s success. Edited excerpts:

What is the Aditya-L1 mission?

Aditya-1 or Aditya-L1, as it is now known, is India’s first dedicated scientific mission to study the Sun. The initial plan was to launch it at an 800 km low earth orbit but in 2012, after discussions with Isro, it was decided that the mission will be inserted in a halo orbit around the L1 (Lagrange Point-1), which is 1.5 million km from the Earth towards the Sun.

With this mission, we will be able to study different aspects of the Sun, including temperature plasma, why does the plasma temperature get so high, what are the processes that lead to the heating of the cooler plasma to become heated, etc, through continuous observations. It will also help us accurately predict the exact time and speed of the coronal mass ejection (CME) – the ones that reach Earth – to minimise damage. This will be like weather forecasts or disaster warnings.

Even though the Aditya-L1 mission was conceived in 2012, your work to shape this started much earlier. Could you tell us how this journey began?

On February 16, 1980, there was a total solar eclipse in India and at the time, the founder-director, MK Vainu Bappu, encouraged me to conduct experiments to study the outer atmosphere of the Sun. I conducted 10 such expeditions between 1980 and 2010… I realised that during an eclipse, you get only around 5-7 mins of observations. This limits systematic long observation time. These observations are not enough to conduct long-term study. I spoke to many people in Isro and other agencies to have a mission to help study the aspects of the Sun for a continuous period. It was around 2009 that talks around such a possible mission started and later in 2012, a concrete plan was developed.

What is the duration of the mission and what data are you expecting from it?

The spacecraft will take 127 days to reach there, and then, we will be conducting some tests. Data is expected to start coming in by February or March next year. Generally, a satellite is planned to live for five years – that is the minimum mission life – but it can continue to provide us with data for up to 10-15 years. Since the satellite will be placed at L1, which is a stable point, and there we do not have to do too many manoeuvres, the orbit will be stable, so we are expecting the life to be more. This is the first time we will be getting data on the visible emission line… how changes in the solar corona are taking place, and how these small changes play a role in the heating of the plasma and transfer of energy from the chromosphere to the corona, etc. We are expecting unique data. Till now, no one has managed to get continuous data, but we will be able to do it.

This mission is coming right after the huge success of Chandrayaan-3. How confident are you of the success of Aditya-L1 and are there any last moment preparations happening?

Our teams have tested the equipment in the laboratory multiple times. All test data shows that all the instruments are working perfectly. After putting the instruments through shakers, vibrators and temperature fluctuations at every stage, they are stable and well calibrated. We are 100% confident. We don’t expect any issue.

Is there any follow-up mission being planned for Aditya-L1?

There are talks but nothing concrete has come yet. We are waiting for the first set of data to come so that the next mission can be planned based on the results we find.

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