Sun Radio Interferometer Space Experiment(SunRISE Mission) aims to pinpoint places where giant particle storms are launched into space.
- Nasa has selected a new mission that will study how space weather forms on the sun and launches radiation storms into space.
- The mission consists of six small CubeSats that will provide three dimensional maps of solar activity to pinpoint the places where giant particle storms are launched into space
- Nasa has awarded $62.6m (£50m) to design, build and launch the array sometime after 1 July 2023 as a secondary payload on an existing commercial launch.
- The six small spacecrafts — each about the size of a toaster oven — will be stationed around 10 km apart into the geosynchronous Earth orbit and work together to capture radio images of low-frequency emissions from solar activity.
- These images will help create 3D maps of solar particle bursts to pinpoint where giant particle bursts originate on the Sun and how they evolve as they expand outward into space
- SunRISE was initially chosen by Nasa for its Explorers programme in August 2017 but underwent an extended period of formulation studies that only ended last month.
- Once in space, the CubeSats will fly within six miles of each other collecting radio signals from the sun that would be otherwise blocked by the Earth’s atmosphere.As well as tracking particle storms, the data will allow the pattern of the sun’s magnetic field to be traced from the solar atmosphere out into interplanetary space.
- A better understanding of space weather could help protect astronauts on moon or Mars exploration missions.
- SunRISE is led by Justin Kasper at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor and managed by Nasa’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California
India’s Aditya L1 Mission to Study Sun:
- The Aditya-1 mission was conceived as a 400kg class satellite carrying one payload, the Visible Emission Line Coronagraph (VELC) and was planned to launch in a 800 km low earth orbit.
- A Satellite placed in the halo orbit around the Lagrangian point 1 (L1) of the Sun-Earth system has the major advantage of continuously viewing the Sun without any occultation/ eclipses.
- Therefore, the Aditya-1 mission has now been revised to “Aditya-L1 mission” and will be inserted in a halo orbit around the L1, which is 1.5 million km from the Earth.
- The satellite carries additional six payloads with enhanced science scope and objectives.
- Aditya-1 was meant to observe only the solar corona.The outer layers of the Sun, extending to thousands of km above the disc (photosphere) is termed as the corona. It has a temperature of more than a million degree Kelvin which is much higher than the solar disc temperature of around 6000K. How the corona gets heated to such high temperatures is still an unanswered question in solar physics.
- Aditya-L1 with additional experiments can now provide observations of Sun’s Corona (soft and hard X-ray, Emission lines in the visible and NIR), Chromosphere (UV) and photosphere (broadband filters). In addition, particle payloads will study the particle flux emanating from the Sun and reaching the L1 orbit, and the magnetometer payload will measure the variation in magnetic field strength at the halo orbit around L1.
The complete list of payloads, their science objective and lead institute for developing the payload is provided below:
- Visible Emission Line Coronagraph (VELC): To study the diagnostic parameters of solar corona and dynamics and origin of Coronal Mass Ejections (3 visible and 1 Infra-Red channels); magnetic field measurement of solar corona down to tens of Gauss – Indian Institute of Astrophysics (IIA)
- Solar Ultraviolet Imaging Telescope (SUIT): To image the spatially resolved Solar Photosphere and Chromosphere in near Ultraviolet (200-400 nm) and measure solar irradiance variations – Inter-University Centre for Astronomy & Astrophysics (IUCAA)
- Aditya Solar wind Particle Experiment (ASPEX) : To study the variation of solar wind properties as well as its distribution and spectral characteristics – Physical Research Laboratory (PRL)
- Plasma Analyser Package for Aditya (PAPA) : To understand the composition of solar wind and its energy distribution – Space Physics Laboratory (SPL), VSSC
- Solar Low Energy X-ray Spectrometer (SoLEXS) : To monitor the X-ray flares for studying the heating mechanism of the solar corona – ISRO Satellite Centre (ISAC)
- High Energy L1 Orbiting X-ray Spectrometer (HEL1OS): To observe the dynamic events in the solar corona and provide an estimate of the energy used to accelerate the particles during the eruptive events – ISRO Satellite Centre (ISAC)and Udaipur Solar Observatory (USO), PRL
- Magnetometer: To measure the magnitude and nature of the Interplanetary Magnetic Field – Laboratory for Electro-optic Systems (LEOS) and ISAC.
With the inclusion of multiple payloads, this project also provides an opportunity to solar scientists from multiple institutions within the country to participate in space based instrumentation and observations. Thus the enhanced Aditya-L1 project will enable a comprehensive understanding of the dynamical processes of the sun and address some of the outstanding problems in solar physics.