Aditya-L1: Second Earth-bound manoeuvre successful; satellite in new orbit
The Aditya-L1 mission represents India's first space-based observatory-class solar mission designed to investigate the Sun. It will be placed in a halo orbit around the Lagrangian point (L1) of the Sun-Earth system.
Scientists from the ISRO telemetry, tracking, and command network (Istrac) in Bengaluru on Tuesday successfully executed the second Earth-bound manoeuvre for the Aditya-L1 spacecraft. ISRO reported that the satellite was tracked during this operation by ground stations in Mauritius, Bengaluru, and Port Blair, resulting in a new orbit with dimensions of 282 km x 40225 km. The next manoeuvre, the third out of five scheduled Earth-bound manoeuvres, is set for 2:30 a.m. on September 10.
Aditya-L1, India's inaugural dedicated mission to the Sun, launched at 11:50 am from Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh on September 2, embarking on a 125-day journey toward the Sun.
This mission is a collaborative effort between the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and six other national institutes. The Aditya-L1 mission represents India's first space-based observatory-class solar mission designed to investigate the Sun. It will be placed in a halo orbit around the Lagrangian point (L1) of the Sun-Earth system.
Unlike ISRO’s previous mission, which was a lunar rover program, Aditya-L1 is a solar probe that will study the Sun from a distance of around 1.5 million km from Earth. It is the first Indian space-based observatory to study the Sun.
The spacecraft is carrying seven payloads to observe the photosphere, chromosphere, and the outer corona of the Sun. Four of these payloads will directly study the Sun, and the other three will study particles and fields on point L1, which the craft will take a few months to get to.
The ‘L1’ in Aditya-L1’s name stands for ‘Lagrange Point 1’. A Lagrange point is a point in space where objects at that point generally stay put. More scientifically, at a Lagrange point, the gravitational forces of two large bodies precisely equal the centripetal force required for a small body to move with them.
These points become convenient for sun-studying spacecraft like Aditya-L1, as they can stay in the same relative position without burning too much fuel.
There are five Lagrange points in the Earth-Sun system, and Aditya will be situated at the first point, L1. This point gives an uninterrupted view of the Sun, which is exactly what Aditya needs for its observations. It is also currently home to the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory Satellite, or SOHO.
Aditya will be situated 1.5 million kilometres from the Earth, or around one-hundredth of the way to the Sun. The probe that has gone the closest to the Sun is NASA’s Parker Solar Probe, which will ‘touch’ it at a distance of around 6 million kilometres from the star.
While it seems frivolous to study the sun, there are good reasons to do so. The weather on Earth and the other planets of the solar system depends on the Sun’s weather. Changes in solar weather can affect the orbit and life of satellites, interfere with technology onboard them, or even cause blackouts and other technological disturbances on Earth.
With the Aditya-L1 mission, scientists can better understand the Sun’s weather and thus predict and prepare for solar storms. After Aditya, ISRO still has grand plans for the future of India’s space program, such as NISAR, a joint venture with NASA to map the globe in 12 days and provide consistent and accurate information on the Earth’s ecosystems.