New Delhi: India’s maiden solar mission – Aditya L1 – successfully performed the fourth Earth-bound maneuver during the early hours on Friday, informed Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO).
With this maneuver, the satellite has now reached a new orbit measuring 256 km x 121973 km. ISRO’s ground stations in Mauritius, Bengaluru, SDSC-SHAR, and Port Blair tracked the satellite during the critical maneuver. ISRO shared the latest development regarding the ambitious mission on X (formerly Twitter), stating, “The fourth Earth-bound maneuver (EBN#4) has been performed successfully. ISRO’s ground stations in Mauritius, Bengaluru, SDSC-SHAR, and Port Blair tracked the satellite during this operation, while a transportable terminal currently stationed in the Fiji Islands for Aditya-L1 will support post-burn operations.”
Aditya-L1 is set to perform a total of five orbit maneuvers during its journey around Earth, of which four have been successfully completed.
Notably, the next manoeuvre Trans-Lagragean Point 1- a send-off from the Earth – is scheduled for September 19, at around 02:00 Hrs. Previously, the satellite completed its third earth-bound maneuver on September 10, achieving an orbit of 296 km x 71,767 km, while the first was performed on September 3.
India’s Maiden Solar Mission
After making history with the landing of Chandrayaan-3 near the South pole of the moon, ISRO launched India’s first solar mission, Aditya-L1, from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota on September 2. The satellite carries seven payloads that will conduct a detailed study of the sun. Out of these seven payloads, four will observe the light from the sun, while the other three will measure in-situ parameters of the plasma and magnetic fields.
Once it reaches its destination, which is 1.5 million km away from Earth, Aditya-L1 will be placed in a halo orbit around Lagrangian Point 1 (L1).
It is projected to complete the journey in four months. Aditya-L1 will orbit at a distance of approximately 1.5 million kilometres from Earth, facing the Sun, which is about 1 percent of the Earth-Sun distance. The Sun, a massive sphere of gas, will be the subject of study for Aditya-L1, particularly focusing on its outer atmosphere.
ISRO already cleared that Aditya-L1 will neither land on the sun nor approach the star any closer.
Named after the Italian-French mathematician Joseph-Louis Lagrange, there exist five Lagrange points between Earth and the Sun, where a small object remains stationary if placed there. At these points, the gravitational forces of Earth and the Sun balance the centripetal force required for a small object to move with them.
To reach the Lagrange L1 point, the spacecraft will be launched using onboard propulsion. This launch will allow it to escape Earth’s gravitational influence and proceed toward the L1 point. Subsequently, it will be inserted into a large Halo Orbit around the L1 point, which is close to the Sun. The Aditya-L1 Mission, ISRO stated, will take approximately four months from launch to reaching the L1 point.
The rationale behind studying the Sun, according to ISRO, is that it emits radiation across a broad spectrum of wavelengths, along with various energetic particles and magnetic fields. Earth’s atmosphere and its magnetic field serve as protective shields, blocking harmful radiation wavelengths. To detect such radiation, solar studies are conducted from space.
The primary objectives of the mission include understanding Coronal Heating and Solar Wind Acceleration, the initiation of Coronal Mass Ejections (CMEs), near-Earth space weather, and the distribution of the solar wind.