The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO), which has multiple big science projects in its pipeline, will only be able to launch its third mission to Moon, Chandrayaan-3, in June or July next year, while it is more confident of launching its maiden mission to study Sun, Aditya-L1, in the first quarter of next calendar year.
Chandrayaan-3, on the other hand, will be ISRO’s second attempt at landing payload on the lunar surface after the failure of Chandrayaan-2.
ISRO chairman S.Somanath told TOI: “We are scheduling the launch only in June-July next year, while Aditya will happen before that. Aditya could be possible in January or February as payload integration is going on. But we’ll have to look at the availability of the PSLV and there are also some other factors.”
Aditya-L1, the first observatory-class space-based solar mission from India, will be placed in a halo orbit around the first Lagrange point (L1) of the Sun-Earth system. A satellite around the L1 point has the major advantage of continuously viewing the Sun without occultation/eclipses.
According to ISRO, this position provides a greater advantage of observing solar activities continuously. Aditya-L1 carries seven payloads to observe the photosphere, chromosphere, and the outermost layers of the Sun (the corona) using electromagnetic and particle detectors.
Four payloads directly view the Sun from the unique vantage point of L1, and the remaining three carry out in-situ studies of particles and fields at L1.
Sankarasubramanian K has been designated the principal investigator of the mission. A senior solar scientist at ISRO’s UR Rao Satellite Centre (URSC), is heading the centre’s Space Astronomy Group (SAG) involved in developing scientific payloads for Aditya-L1, XPoSat, and the science payload onboard the Chandrayaan-3 propulsion module.
“Sankarasubramanian has contributed to AstroSat, Chandrayaan-1 and Chandrayaan-2 missions of ISRO in several capacities,” ISRO said, adding that he is also the principal investigator for one of the X-ray payloads onboard Aditya-L1 also heads the Aditya-L1 Science Working Group, which has members from several institutes of India engaged in solar science research.