The spacecraft will travel 1.5 million km to reach Lagrange point 1, a point in space where the gravitation pulls of Earth and the Sun are in equilibrium
The diagram shows the location where Aditya L1 will be placed. Courtesy: ISRO
Days after Chandrayaan 3 made a soft landing near the south pole, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) successfully launched its first solar mission Aditya L1 on September 2, 2023.
The spacecraft was launched by the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle from Sathish Dhawan Space Centre, Sriharikota.
The spacecraft will travel 1.5 million km to reach Lagrange point 1 (L1), a point in space where the gravitation pulls of Earth and the Sun are in equilibrium, allowing a spacecraft to stay in place with minimal fuel consumption.
The distance between Earth and the sun is 150 million kilometres. L1’s distance from Earth, according to ISRO, is approximately 1 per cent of the Earth-Sun distance.
The European Space Agency’s Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO), launched in 1995 to study the Sun’s atmosphere and The Deep Space Climate Observatory, launched in 2015, which looks at real-time solar wind monitoring capabilities, which are critical to the accuracy and lead time of National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s space weather alerts and forecasts are placed in L1.
The L1 point provides a view of the Sun minus any occultation or eclipses. So far, the United States, Russia, Europe, China and Japan have been successful in launching solar missions.
Aditya L1 will first reach the low earth orbit before being launched towards the Lagrange point L1 by using on-board propulsion.
As it leaves the low-Earth orbit, the spacecraft will leave the Earth’s gravitational Sphere of Influence (SOI), which has a of radius 924,000 km.
After exiting from SOI, the cruise phase begins. It will eventually be injected into a large halo orbit — a 3D orbit — around L1. The period of this halo orbit around the L1 Lagrangian point is approximately 178 days.
The total travel time from launch to L1 would take about four months for Aditya L1.
ISRO hopes to observe solar activities and how they impact space weather in real time. The spacecraft carries seven payloads to observe the photosphere (the Sun’s surface), chromosphere (thin layer of plasma between the photosphere and the Sun’s upper atmosphere or the corona) and the outermost layers of the Sun using electromagnetic particle and magnetic field detectors.
The suits of Aditya L1 payloads are expected to study coronal heating, coronal mass ejection, dynamics of space weather (changing environmental conditions in space in the vicinity of Earth and other planets), and the like.
Space weather is important as radiation, heat and the constant flow of particles (solar wind) and magnetic fields from the sun reach the Earth.
The solar wind is made of high-energy protons, which fill nearly all of the known solar system. The solar magnetic field also has the same effect.
Coronal Mass Ejection (CME), large outbursts of plasma and magnetic field from the Sun’s corona, affects the nature of space.
CME interacts with the Earth’s magnetic field to trigger a magnetic disturbance near the Earth. Such events can affect the functioning of space assets such as satellites.
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