ISRO’s Aditya L1 Mission Starts Analyzing Solar Wind & Energetic Particles


India’s Aditya L1 Mission Begins Studying Solar Wind Particles from Space

After India’s successful solar mission, the Aditya L1 spacecraft has embarked on its journey towards Lagrange point 1. This crucial maneuver has allowed the spacecraft to start studying energetic particles in the solar wind from space. According to a senior astrophysicist, this study of the solar wind, which is the continuous flow of charged particles from the sun permeating the solar system, will be conducted using a device called the Supra Thermal & Energetic Particle Spectrometer (STEPS). STEPS is part of the Aditya Solar wind Particle Experiment (ASPEX) payload, developed by the Physical Research Laboratory (PRL) with support from the Space Application Centre (SAC) in Ahmedabad.

Studying Solar Wind Particles from the L1 Point

Dr. Dibyendu Chakrabarty, a professor of Space and Atmospheric Sciences at PRL, shared that STEPS is now operational from space. However, he revealed that it had already been active within Earth’s magnetic field since September 10, when Aditya was positioned 52,000 kilometers above our planet. This positioning allowed STEPS to collect valuable data prior to its journey to Lagrange point 1. Dr. Chakrabarty highlighted that the primary goal of STEPS is to study the energetic particles’ environment from the spacecraft’s position on the L1 point. The data gathered by STEPS during its entire lifespan will contribute to a better understanding of space weather changes.

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An In-Depth Look at STEPS and its Capabilities

STEPS is equipped with six sensors, each observing in different directions and specifically designed to measure supra-thermal and energetic ions. By collecting data during Earth’s orbits, scientists can analyze the behavior of particles surrounding our planet, particularly within its magnetic field. These observations provide valuable insights to maintain the health and performance of space assets. Additionally, they help us gain knowledge about the impact of space weather, enabling us to enhance the design of future space missions.

The Journey to Lagrange Point 1

Launched by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) on September 2, Aditya-L1 embarks on a mission to reach the First Lagrangian point, which is approximately 1.5 million kilometers from Earth. ISRO confirmed on September 18 that the spacecraft successfully performed the Trans-Lagrangean Point 1 Insertion (TL1I) maneuver, putting it on a trajectory towards the Sun-Earth L1 point. Lagrangian points, discovered by mathematician Joseph Louis Lagrange, hold significant importance for solar observations. These points are where gravitational forces acting between two objects balance each other, enabling a spacecraft to “hover” for an extended period.

The Significance of the L1 Point for Solar Observations

Among the Lagrangian points, the L1 point is deemed the most crucial for solar observations. It offers a strategic position where a spacecraft can closely monitor the sun, Earth, and the solar wind. From this vantage point, Aditya-L1 will facilitate groundbreaking research, shedding light on various aspects of solar physics and the behavior of the solar wind.

Conclusion

India’s Aditya L1 spacecraft has commenced its mission to study energetic particles in the solar wind from space. Equipped with the STEPS device, it will collect vital data that will contribute to the better understanding of the solar system and space weather. By reaching the L1 point, Aditya-L1 will offer unprecedented insight into solar observations and enable scientists to enhance the design and performance of future space missions. As India continues to make strides in space exploration, the findings from this mission will undoubtedly provide valuable contributions to the field of astrophysics and our understanding of the universe.

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