On September 2, 2023, the Indian Space Research Organization launched its first Sun-studying project. Called the Aditya-L1 mission, the objectives include settling the spacecraft at around 1.5 million kilometres away from Earth in a specific place called L1 point to keep an uninterrupted eye on the Sun. The Parker Solar Probe by NASA, on the other hand, was launched on August 12, 2018, and has been getting up really close and personal with the Sun.
Aditya-L1 mission vs Parker Solar Probe
Aditya-L1 mission by ISRO is India’s first Sun-studying mission, that expected to work for at least five years. It will go into a halo orbit around the Lagrange point 1 (L1) of the Sun-Earth system, located about 1.5 million km from Earth.
NASA’s Parker Solar Probe is a super-fast spacecraft, travelling at speeds of up to 430,000 miles per hour. In September 2023, it became the fastest human-made object ever, reaching 394,736 miles per hour.
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Location of the spacecrafts
Aditya-L1 mission spacecraft will settle in a big orbit around the Sun-Earth Lagrange Point L1, about 1.5 million kilometres from Earth. This point has balanced gravitational forces between the Sun and Earth.
Parker Solar Probe gets much, much, closer to the Sun at just about 3.9 million miles away. It completes 24 orbits around it in seven years.
Aditya-L1 Mission objectives
Aditya-L1 mission objectives include the study of the photosphere, chromosphere, and the outer layers of the Sun (the Corona). Aditya-L1 aims to understand issues like coronal heating, coronal mass ejection, and space weather dynamics.
Parker Solar Probe objectives
Parker Solar Probe is the first spacecraft to venture into the Sun’s corona. It’s studying magnetic fields, plasma, energetic particles, and the solar wind to understand its origins and evolution.
Instruments to studying the Sun aboard Aditya-L1 and Parker Solar Probe
Aditya-L1 spacecraft carries 7 instruments:
1. Visible Emission Line Coronagraph (VELC) for studying the solar corona and Coronal Mass Ejections.
2. Solar Ultraviolet Imaging Telescope (SUIT) for imaging the Solar Photosphere and Chromosphere.
3. Solar Low Energy X-ray Spectrometer (SoLEXS) for X-ray flares from the Sun.
4. High Energy L1 Orbiting X-ray Spectrometer (HEL1OS) for X-ray flares.
5. Aditya Solar Wind Particle EXperiment (ASPEX) for studying the solar wind.
6. Plasma Analyser Package for Aditya (PAPA) to study the solar wind and energetic ions.
7. Advanced Tri-axial High-Resolution Digital Magnetometers to measure interplanetary magnetic fields at the L1 point.
Parker Solar Probe has 4 instruments:
1. Fields Experiment (FIELDS) measures electric and magnetic fields in the solar corona and solar wind.
2. Integrated Science Investigation of the Sun (ISʘIS) measures plasma and dust in the solar corona and solar wind.
3. Wide Field Imager for Solar Probe (WISPR) measures the composition and energy of particles in the solar wind.
4. Solar Wind Electrons Alphas and Protons (SWEAP) takes images of the solar corona and solar wind.
In effect, there is a world of difference between the Aditya-L1 mission and the Parker Solar probe with both ISRO and NASA eyeing different objectives, but the ultimate goal is the same, which is to study and better understand the Sun.