Home Nation News A 15-Year Journey That Saw Indian Astronomers Build Most Complex Satellite Payload Ever

A 15-Year Journey That Saw Indian Astronomers Build Most Complex Satellite Payload Ever

A 15-Year Journey That Saw Indian Astronomers Build Most Complex Satellite Payload Ever

Scientists on the Indian Institute of Astrophysics (IIA) in Bengaluru have spent over 15 years constructing, calibrating and painstakingly assembling almost 40 totally different optical components into a fancy payload that may drive India’s first-ever mission to the Sun this yr.

This January 26 noticed the fruits of that work because the crew lastly handed over some of the difficult scientific payloads that they’ve ever constructed to the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). The 90-kg Visible Line Emission Coronagraph (VERC) is without doubt one of the seven, however crucial payloads, which can now be built-in into Aditya L1 satellite tv for pc which can fly into house this yr aboard the company’s previous warhorse – PSLV.

The historic flight set to take off within the first quarter of 2023 will mark India’s first-ever devoted scientific mission to check its most essential star – the mighty Sun. The PSLV rocket would ascend into house from Sriharikota and journey almost 1.5 million kilometres in direction of the Sun – virtually thrice the gap of Earth from its closest neighbour Moon.


“It is indeed one of the most arduous and challenging scientific instruments that our scientists have ever built,” stated Professor Annapurni Subramaniam, the senior astronomer who heads the Bengaluru-based IIA, in an unique interview to News18.

Prof Annapurni Subramaniam, the senior astronomer who heads the Bengaluru-based Indian Institute of Astrophysics. (News18)

“The institute has been studying the Sun for long now. For over 100 years, we have had the historic image of the Sun, but it is the first time an instrument built by our scientists will be sent so close to it, that it can possibly capture what’s happening on it.”

Mission – Aditya L-1 is being thought of a serious milestone in India’s house astronomy. What makes it most daunting is the sheer scale, scientific rigour and the precision that the mission requires with a purpose to achieve success.

It comes only a yr after NASA’s Parker Probe made headlines for changing into the first-ever mission to “touch” the Sun throughout a flyby. The US probe went out and in of Sun’s Corona – the primary to enter its ambiance. But India’s maiden photo voltaic mission guarantees to be distinctive, with a functionality that no different mission has achieved earlier than, say astronomers.

Unlike some other satellite tv for pc earlier than, Aditya L-1 can be stationed exactly at a degree — L1 (Lagrangian Point) — between the Sun and the Earth. The vantage level will make sure that it obtains an unobstructed view of the Sun throughout its whole mission life — no eclipses, no occultation because it collects an unlimited trove of photographs, knowledge and observations.


It isn’t any thriller that the Sun is blazing scorching. But scientists for lengthy have struggled to reply why the Sun’s floor is simply 5,700℃ scorching, whereas its outer ambiance layer Corona is over one million levels hotter than that.

Unlike some other satellite tv for pc earlier than, Aditya L-1 can be stationed exactly at a degree — L1 (Lagrangian Point) — between the Sun and the Earth. (News18)
Flagging off the truck with the 90-kg Visible Line Emission Coronagraph. (News18)

“It is a million-dollar question that continues to baffle astronomers the world over,” says Prof Subramaniam. “How is this Corona formed? What are the various small-scale processes that drive this energy? Answering this puzzle needs continuous observations of the Corona, right from its lowermost boundary upwards. But we cannot do that without getting overwhelmed with the powerful bright light from the surface of the Sun (the Sun’s disk).”

In order to beat the problem, the astrophysicists have built-in an inside occulter within the VELC payload — a defend that may separate out the sunshine from the Sun’s disk and discard it. The remaining gentle which is from the Corona will then be studied. The devices inside VELC should be stored at 22℃, whereas additionally radiating away the big quantity of warmth and light-weight from the photo voltaic disk.

Another thriller that puzzles astronomers is the Coronal Mass Ejection – the highly effective radiation storms that erupt immediately from the Sun’s Corona into house, and typically even attain the Earth. These massive expulsions crammed with magnetic vitality could be harmful for the spacecraft and the astronauts. But regardless of years of observations, there aren’t any such forecasting instruments accessible which can assist scientists to foretell these huge clouds of vitality. “We do not have many clues,” says the senior astronomer.


With 40 totally different optical components, an internally occulted coronagraph that reduces the scattering of Sun’s highly effective gentle to reveal minimal, and a super-polished mirror constructed by ISRO, the payload guarantees to be like no different, guarantee scientists. It can picture the photo voltaic Corona all the way down to as shut as 1.05 Ro — ranging from 1.05 occasions the photo voltaic radius. This is the closest that any coronagraph on an area mission will be capable of picture the corona ever, which is why it took so lengthy to get it proper.

The crew with the truck carrying the payload. (News18)

Prof Raghavendra Prasad, who’s the Principal Investigator of the VELC payload, calls it the “perfect number” that no different nation has ever achieved. “No other solar mission has the capability that we are trying to achieve – to image the solar corona so close to the solar disk. We are trying to measure the exact numerical values of temperature, velocity and density which can only be done through spectroscopic studies,” he stated.

The payload has been designed exactly to do all of it – seize photographs, take observations at a really excessive decision and roughly thrice each second.


On Friday, the essential payload virtually the dimensions of a mini-satellite can be transported to the UR Rao Satellite Centre the place it is going to be built-in into the satellite tv for pc. If all goes properly, the ISRO might look to clear the long-standing mission for a take-off this July. Once it lifts off from Earth, the PSLV would take almost a 100 days (over three months) to succeed in the L-1 level close to the Sun.

“It has taken 15 years for VELC from concept to completion, and this period was needed for a complex system like this. But, now we are set to look at the Sun a little closer that we ever have. It is the most important Star for us, and we need to understand its effect on us. We are confident about our PSLV and hopefully it will take the satellite to its designated point L1 and let it stay there for as long as we want it to be,” ISRO chairman S Somnath stated as he celebrated the milestone with scientists in Bengaluru.

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