Aditya-L1: India’s First Space-Based Solar Observatory
India’s space agency, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), has achieved a remarkable feat by launching its first space-based solar observatory, Aditya-L1, on September 2, 2023. The mission aims to study the Sun and its various phenomena, such as the corona, the solar wind, the magnetic field, and the solar flares. Aditya-L1 is equipped with seven scientific instruments, all developed indigenously by ISRO and Indian academic institutes. The mission will provide valuable insights into the solar dynamics and help improve our understanding of the Sun-Earth system.
Aditya-L1 Escapes Earth’s Sphere of Influence
After orbiting in low Earth orbit (LEO) for about a month, Aditya-L1 has successfully escaped the sphere of influence of the Earth and has travelled over 9.2 lakh kilometres to date, ISRO announced on Saturday. The spacecraft has crossed the speed of 90,000 kmph and is now navigating its path towards the Sun-Earth Lagrange Point 1 (L1), a stable point in space where the gravitational forces of the Sun and the Earth balance each other. This is the second time in succession that ISRO has sent a spacecraft outside the sphere of influence of the Earth, the first time being the Mars Orbiter Mission in 2013. This is also the fifth consecutive time that ISRO has successfully transferred an object on a trajectory towards another celestial body or location in space, after three lunar missions and one Martian mission.
Aditya-L1 to Reach Sun-Earth L1 Point in Four Months
The total travel time from launch to L1 point is expected to take about four months for Aditya-L1, covering a distance of about 1.5 million km (15 lakh km) from Earth. Once the spacecraft reaches the L1 point, it will be injected into a large halo orbit around it, which will allow it to observe the Sun continuously without any interruption from the Earth or the Moon. The L1 point is ideal for observing the Sun’s corona, the outermost layer of the Sun’s atmosphere, which is visible only during a total solar eclipse from the Earth. The corona is the source of the solar wind, a stream of charged particles that affects the Earth’s magnetosphere and climate. Aditya-L1 will also monitor the solar flares and coronal mass ejections, which are explosive events that can disrupt communication and navigation systems on Earth.
Aditya-L1 to Enhance India’s Space Exploration Capabilities
The successful launch and navigation of Aditya-L1 is a testament to India’s growing space exploration capabilities and ambitions. ISRO has already demonstrated its prowess in lunar and interplanetary missions, and is now venturing into the realm of heliophysics, the study of the Sun and its influence on the solar system. Aditya-L1 is expected to contribute to the global scientific community’s efforts to understand the Sun and its impact on the Earth and other planets. The mission will also pave the way for future solar missions by ISRO, such as Aditya-L2 and Aditya-L3, which are planned to observe the Sun from different vantage points and wavelengths.