Aditya-L1 mission set to unlock solar mysteries as it approaches target position

ISRO's Aditya-L1 mission journeys to study the Sun, unravelling solar mysteries with advanced instruments along the way, aiming to enhance space weather understanding and scientific insights.

| Updated on: Nov 13 2023, 13:36 IST
Aditya -L1 Mission: ISRO’s maiden solar mission heading toward the Sun
1/5 ISRO's Aditya-L1 mission, launched on September 2, 2023, marks India's inaugural dedicated mission to study the Sun's photosphere, chromosphere, and corona. The spacecraft is now en route to its ultimate destination, the Sun-Earth Lagrange Point 1 (L1).   (ANI)
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2/5 Lagrange points are unique positions in space where the gravitational forces of two massive bodies, in this case, the Sun and Earth, perfectly balance the centripetal force required for a smaller object, like a spacecraft, to remain in sync. These points minimize the need for orbit corrections and fuel consumption, making them ideal for scientific missions. (ANI)
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3/5 Among the five Lagrange points, L1 is especially significant because it is situated between the Sun and Earth, offering a prime location for spacecraft. This positioning enables continuous observation of both primary bodies, unbroken communication with Earth, and an unobstructed view of celestial objects. (ANI)
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4/5 Aditya-L1 will adopt a 'Halo orbit' around L1, situated approximately 1.5 million kilometers from Earth. Halo orbits are three-dimensional paths around a Lagrange Point, providing continuous visibility from Earth, resembling a halo. (ANI)
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5/5 Space missions, such as the International Sun-Earth Explorer (ISEE-3), the Genesis mission, ESA's LISA Pathfinder, China's Chang'e 5 lunar orbiter, and NASA's Gravity Recovery and Interior Recovery (GRAIL) mission, have previously leveraged the Sun-Earth L1 point to enhance our understanding of space and monitor space weather events. Several operational spacecraft currently occupy this location, playing a crucial role in providing early warnings about adverse space weather events, safeguarding orbiting space assets and ground-based infrastructure. (ANI)
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Aditya-L1 spacecraft embarks on a mission to decode solar mysteries, equipped with advanced instruments to observe the Sun and measure high-energy particles. (ISRO Facebook)

India's space agency, ISRO, is making significant strides with its Aditya-L1 mission, aimed at advancing our understanding of the Sun. Equipped with seven cutting-edge instruments, the spacecraft is not only observing the Sun from a distance but also measuring high-energy particles emitted as it travels. This data is crucial for monitoring space weather and gaining insights into dynamic solar processes, still shrouded in mystery.

The Chromosphere Conundrum

A key focus of the mission is to unravel the Sun's enigmatic heating process, from the chromosphere to the corona. Recent research suggests that fine structures on the chromosphere hold the answers to why the outer atmosphere is hotter than the surface, akin to a campfire getting hotter as one moves away from it.

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While Aditya-L1 lacks infrared instruments to avoid saturation by intense sunlight, it has already transmitted data from its Supra Thermal and Energetic Particle Spectrometer (STEPS) and High Energy L1 Orbiting X-ray Spectrometer (HEL1OS) instruments.

Journey to L1

Heading towards the Sun's first Lagrange point (L1), a gravitationally stable region, the spacecraft has encountered challenges in tracking its position due to the Sun always being ahead and the Earth behind. However, this unique vantage point is ideal for minimal fuel consumption.

ISRO Chairman S Somanath emphasised the mission's significance, highlighting its potential to enhance our comprehension of solar impacts on space weather. The suite of instruments on Aditya-L1 will not only provide valuable data but also aid in interpreting observations from other space missions.

Mission Update

Space Minister Jitendra Singh shared an update, noting that the Aditya mission has commenced sending data and is scheduled to commence full operations in January. The spacecraft, launched on November 2, 2023, is expected to reach its target position in the second week of January. Once in position at the L1 point, Aditya-L1 will continuously observe the Sun without interruptions, offering unprecedented insights into our host star's dynamics, PTI reported.

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First Published Date: 13 Nov, 13:27 IST