FOR INDIA’S FIRST SOLAR MISSION, WHICH IS LIKELY TO BE LAUNCHED BY JUNE-JULY, THE INDIAN INSTITUTE OF ASTROPHYSICS HANDED OVER A CRUCIAL PAYLOAD TO ISRO,

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Continuous observations of the Corona from its lowest boundary upwards are required to solve this puzzle.

Bangalore: The Indian Institute of Astrophysics (IIA) on Thursday handed over the Visible Line Emission Coronagraph (VELC) payload to the Indian Space Research Organisation for India’s first space mission, Aditya-L1, to observe the Sun and the solar corona, which is scheduled to launch in June or July 2023. This is a significant boost for India’s first mission to the Sun.

Aditya-main L1’s payload, the VELC, was assembled, tested, and calibrated at the IIA’s Centre for Research and Education in Science and Technology (CREST) Campus. It is an internally occulted reflective coronagraph. The temperature difference between the Sun’s surface and its atmosphere, known as the Corona, which is at a little under 6,000 degrees Celsius, is one of the key mysteries in solar astrophysics.

The Corona must be continuously observed from its lowest boundary upwards in order to solve this puzzle. However, it is very challenging to distinguish the lower Corona from the extremely bright light coming from the Sun’s disc. An “internal occulter” in the VELC separates the light from the disc and throws it away.

For further processing, the remaining light from the Corona, ranging from 1.05 Ro to 3 Ro (where Ro is the radius of the Sun), is sent. VELC measures 0.7 m by 1.1 m by 700 mm and weighs 90 kg. Of the seven payloads and telescopes that will be launched on Aditya-L1, VELC is the largest and one of the most technically difficult. The VELC will now undergo additional testing before being eventually integrated with the Aditya-L1 spacecraft by ISRO.

At its CREST campus in Hoskote, Bangalore, the IIA successfully completed the VELC’s assembly, testing, and calibration. S Somanath, the chairman of ISRO, accepted a 3D-printed model of the VELC payload from IIA and stated, “ISRO aims to pay an important role in future science experiments in space. An ecosystem needs to be created for this, including a roadmap for the next few decades. An Aditya-L1 helpdesk is being planned, according to M. Sankaran, Director of the UR Rao Space Centre, ISRO, and it will assist researchers and students in understanding and using Aditya-L1 data.

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