Dipankar Banerjee, a scientist from Indian Institute of Astrophysics has been selected by NASA as Co-Investigator (Co-I) in its PUNCH Mission.
- The PUNCH Mission (Polarimeter to Unify the Corona and Heliosphere) is a mission to take images of the Sun beyond the outer Corona.
- Southwest Research Institute, Texas has been selected by NASA to lead the Mission.
- The Mission will help in understanding the particle transition from Sun’s Corona to the Solar Wind that spreads to the interplanetary space.
- As a Co-I, Prof. Banerjee will be studying how solar will is accelerated with a focus on Sun’s polar regions.
- The mission involves placing four microsats in the Earth’s orbit in a formation and they will study the corona is connected to the interplanetary medium.
- The mission will be launched by 2022.
- In the joint collaboration, India’s Aditya-L1 satellite that will be launched soon will be used.
- At first, Aditya-L1 was planned to be a 400kg satellite to be placed at 800 km from the surface of the earth in a halo orbit around the Lagrangian point 1 (L1) of the Sun-Earth system.
- The orbit allows for continuous viewing of the sun without occultation/eclipses.
- Now, the mission is upgraded to place the satellite at 1.5 million kilometres from earth and will carry six payloads along with Visible Emission Line Coronagraph (VELC).
Collaborations such as this will help India to gain knowledge and capabilities in understanding the complex space science.