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PAPA detects solar wind impact of CMEs

Published: 4th Mar, 2024

Context

The Plasma Analyser Package for Aditya (PAPA) payload onboard the Aditya-L1 has been operational and performing nominally. Its advanced sensors have successfully detected the impact of coronal mass ejections (CMEs) including those that occurred recently.

What is PAAPA?

  • PAPA is an energy and mass analyzer designed for in-situ measurements of solar wind electrons and ions in the low energy range.
  • It has two sensors:
    • the Solar Wind Electron Energy Probe (SWEEP, measuring electrons in the energy range of 10 eV to 3 keV)
    • the Solar Wind Ion Composition Analyser (SWICAR, measuring ions in the energy range of 10 eV to 25 keV and mass range of 1-60 amu)
  • The sensors are also equipped to measure the direction of arrival of solar wind particles.

Important Observations

  • The SWEEP and SWICAR sensors on PAPA-Aditya-L1 are currently making continuous observations of solar wind electrons and ions in the default mode, demonstrating that they are performing as per the design in all modes of operations.
  • The observations made by PAPA emphasise its effectiveness in monitoring space weather conditions and its capability to detect and analyse solar phenomena.

Aditya-L1

  • The launch of Aditya-L1 by PSLV-C57 rocket was successfully accomplished by ISRO.
  • Aditya-L1 spacecraft carried seven payloads to study the Sun — four to observe the light from the Sun and the remaining three to measure in situ parameters of the plasma and magnetic fields.
  • Aditya-L1 was placed in a halo orbit around the Lagrangian Point 1 (L1), which is 1.5 million km from the Earth in the direction of the Sun.
  • It revolves around the Sun with the same relative position and hence can see the Sun continuously.

Important Terms

  • Coronal Mass Ejection (CME): A coronal mass ejection is a large expulsion of plasma and magnetic field from the sun’s corona. Plasma is the highly ionised gas present on the sun, while corona is the outermost part of the sun’s atmosphere. The corona is structured by strong magnetic fields. If these fields are closed, the solar atmosphere can release sudden, violent bubbles of gas and magnetic fields which constitute the CME.
  • Solar Storm: Solar storms are magnetic plasma ejected at great speed from the solar surface. They occur during the release of magnetic energy associated with sunspots (‘dark’ regions on the Sun that are cooler than the surrounding photosphere), and can last for a few minutes or hours. 
  • Lagrangian Point 1 (L1): L1 is among the five Lagrange points in the Earth-Sun system. At this point, the gravitational forces of the two bodies balance the centrifugal force felt by a smaller object.
  • Halo Orbit:A halo orbit is a type of orbit around an L1, L2, or L3 Lagrangian point. 
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