ISRO’s Aditya L1, India’s pioneering space mission dedicated to studying the Sun, has successfully executed its second Earth-bound maneuver, as announced by the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) during the early hours of Tuesday. This crucial operation was conducted by ISRO’s Telemetry, Tracking, and Command Network (ISTRAC).
During this maneuver, the Aditya L1 spacecraft was tracked by ISRO’s ground stations located in Mauritius, Bengaluru, and Port Blair. The outcome of this maneuver has shifted the spacecraft into a new orbit with dimensions of 282 km x 40225 km, as stated in ISRO’s communication on X (formerly Twitter).
The subsequent maneuver, known as EBN#3, is slated for September 10, 2023, around 02:30 Hrs. IST, according to ISRO’s announcement.
Aditya-L1 represents India’s first space-based observatory designed for Sun observation from a halo orbit positioned around the first sun-earth Lagrangian point (L1), approximately 1.5 million km from Earth. The first Earth-bound maneuver was effectively performed on September 3.
Before being positioned in the transfer orbit leading to Lagrange point L1, the spacecraft will undergo two additional Earth-bound orbital maneuvers. It is anticipated that Aditya-L1 will reach its intended orbit at L1 after approximately 127 days.
ISRO successfully launched the Aditya-L1 spacecraft on September 2 using the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV-C57) from the Second Launch Pad at the Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SDSC), Sriharikota. Following a flight duration of 63 minutes and 20 seconds, the spacecraft was accurately placed into an elliptical orbit measuring 235×19500 km around the Earth.
One significant advantage of placing a satellite in a halo orbit around L1, as highlighted by ISRO, is the uninterrupted view it provides of the Sun without any interruptions or eclipses. This positioning offers valuable insights into solar activities and their impact on space weather in real-time.
Aditya-L1 carries seven scientific payloads developed domestically by ISRO and various national research laboratories, including the Indian Institute of Astrophysics (IIA) in Bengaluru and the Inter University Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics (IUCAA) in Pune. These payloads are designed to observe the photosphere, chromosphere, and the Sun’s outermost layers (the corona) using electromagnetic, particle, and magnetic field detectors.
By utilizing the unique vantage point at L1, four of these payloads directly observe the Sun, while the remaining three conduct in-situ studies of particles and fields at Lagrange point L1, contributing valuable scientific data on solar dynamics in the interplanetary medium.
The data obtained from Aditya L1’s payloads is expected to be instrumental in understanding critical aspects such as coronal heating, coronal mass ejections, pre-flare and flare activities, space weather dynamics, and the propagation of particles and fields.
In scientific terms, Lagrangian points, or parking areas, are locations between the Earth and the Sun where small objects can maintain a relatively stable position with minimal fuel consumption. These points, named after the Italian-French mathematician Joseph-Louis Lagrange, are beneficial for spacecraft as they allow them to remain in place with reduced energy expenditure. At these Lagrange points, the gravitational forces of the Sun and Earth are balanced by the necessary centripetal force for a small object to stay in synchronization with them.