India’s ambitious Aditya-L1 mission, designed to study the Sun, reached a significant milestone on Monday as it commenced data collection using one of its onboard instruments, just one day before its departure from Earth’s orbit. The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) reported that the Supra Thermal and Energetic Particle Spectrometer (STEPS), a part of the Aditya Solar Wind Particle Experiment (ASPEX) payload, is now actively measuring fast-moving charged particles generated by processes within our nearest star.
“This data will aid scientists in analyzing the behavior of particles in the vicinity of Earth,” stated ISRO in an official statement.
A Mission of Remarkable Timing:
Aditya-L1, India’s pioneering solar mission, was successfully launched on September 2, 2023, using the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV-C57) from Sriharikota. This achievement followed closely after the triumph of the Chandrayaan-3 mission, which included the successful soft landing of the Vikram Lander on the Moon’s south polar region.
On a Journey Towards the Sun:
As of now, the Aditya-L1 spacecraft is orbiting Earth in a heavily elliptical path with dimensions of 256 km x 121,973 km. In the early hours of Tuesday, it is scheduled to bid farewell to Earth’s orbit and embark on its journey toward the L1 (Lagrange 1) point within the Earth-Sun system. This designated location will serve as the vantage point for Aditya-L1 to conduct observations of our Sun.
The activation of the STEPS sensors took place on September 10, coinciding with the spacecraft’s orbit extending beyond 50,000 km from Earth, as confirmed by ISRO. Following the requisite health checks on the instrument, ground stations have initiated the collection of data. Importantly, this sub-system will continue gathering valuable data throughout Aditya-L1’s voyage to the L1 point and beyond.
Unlocking Solar Mysteries:
ISRO’s Aditya-L1 mission is poised to provide unprecedented insights into the origin, acceleration, and directional properties of solar wind and space weather phenomena. The data collected from the L1 point will be instrumental in advancing our understanding of these critical aspects of the Sun.
As Aditya-L1 embarks on this historic journey towards our nearest star, the scientific community and space enthusiasts eagerly await the wealth of knowledge and discoveries that this remarkable mission will undoubtedly bring to light.
Stay tuned for more updates on this groundbreaking space endeavor, as Aditya-L1 inches closer to unlocking the secrets of our Sun.