India launches Aditya space mission to study the sun

4 Sep 2023

Aditya-L1 launch. Image: ISRO

The aim of the mission is to study the outer layers of the sun from the vantage point of Lagrange 1, an area about 1.5m km from Earth.

India’s first space mission to study the sun launched on Saturday (2 September).

Just over a week after India successfully landed a mission near the south pole of the moon, the Aditya-L1 spacecraft blasted off from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota, a region just north of Chennai.

Named after the Sanskrit word for the sun, the Aditya mission is heading for Lagrange Point 1 (L1), about 1.5m km from Earth and 1pc of the distance from the Earth to the sun. This is an area in space where the gravitational forces of the two celestial bodies, the Earth and the sun, are in equilibrium. By entering this area, the mission will be able to hover, using less fuel to maintain its position.


After a flight lasting 63 minutes and 20 seconds, which was watched by thousands, the spacecraft was injected into an elliptical orbit around the Earth. To gain enough velocity to head for L1, the craft will orbit the Earth four times before shooting off to a halo orbit of L1.

It’s expected to reach its destination in about 127 days.

Mission to study the sun’s outer layers

Another advantage of orbiting L1 is that the mission will be able to continuously view the sun without occultation or eclipses. According to the ISRO, “this will provide a greater advantage of observing the solar activities and its effect on space weather in real time”.

The spacecraft is carrying seven scientific payloads developed indigenously by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and other research institutes. These include instruments to study the photosphere, chromosphere and the outermost layers of the sun (the corona) using electromagnetic and particle detectors.

“The Aditya-L1 payloads 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 ISRO said.

In an update yesterday (3 September), the ISRO said the satellite “is healthy and operating nominally” and had successfully performed its first manoeuvre.

10 things you need to know direct to your inbox every weekday. Sign up for the Daily Brief, Silicon Republic’s digest of essential sci-tech news.

Rebecca Graham is production editor at Silicon Republic