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India’s Aditya-L1 Space Observatory Begins Journey to Study the Sun at L1 Point

Bangalore | September 20, 2023: In a remarkable step towards advancing our understanding of the Sun and its various phenomena, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) recently initiated the Trans-Lagrangian 1 Insertion (TL1I) maneuver for its space-based observatory, Aditya-L1. Launched aboard the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) on September 2, Aditya-L1 is now on a trajectory towards the Lagrangian 1 (L1) point, which sits between the Earth and the Sun.

The L1 point, located approximately 1.5 million km from Earth, marks a pivotal location for solar observation. Aditya-L1’s primary mission is to collect invaluable data concerning coronal heating, coronal mass ejections, pre-flare and flare activities, space weather dynamics, and particle and field propagation. This data is expected to offer critical insights into these solar phenomena.

Aditya-L1 boasts a five-year mission life and is equipped with seven payloads, five of which were developed by ISRO, with two contributions from Indian academic institutes in collaboration with the space agency. Upon its arrival at the L1 point in January 2024, another maneuver will be executed to position the observatory in an irregular orbit, perpendicular to the Earth-Sun line.

One of the exciting developments is the activation of the Supra Thermal and Energetic Particle Spectrometer (STEPS) instrument, part of the Aditya Solar Wind Particle EXperiment (ASPEX) payload. STEPS is equipped with six sensors, enabling the observation of supra-thermal and energetic ions and electrons in various directions. This data collection is crucial for understanding the behavior of particles around Earth, particularly in the presence of Earth’s magnetic field.

STEPS was activated on September 10, 2023, at a distance exceeding 50,000 km from Earth, well beyond Earth’s radiation belt region. ISRO reports that the instrument is operating within normal parameters. The data collected by STEPS during Aditya-L1’s journey towards the L1 point and its subsequent orbit will provide valuable insights into the origin, acceleration, and anisotropy of solar wind and space weather phenomena.

The success of the TL1I maneuver marks the fifth consecutive achievement by ISRO in transferring objects on trajectories toward celestial bodies or locations in space. Aditya-L1’s mission represents a significant step forward in India’s contributions to solar research and space exploration, promising a wealth of knowledge about our nearest star, the Sun, and its impact on Earth.

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