After Chandrayan 3, Aditya L1 is bound to create history and provide information about how the solar radiation affects the orbiting satellites. Scientists at ISRO seek to learn more about the effect of solar radiation on satellites. Aditya-L1 was launched by ISRO on September 2, 2023, with the mission of observing and helping us better understand the Sun. It arrived at its destination, L1 or the first Sun-Earth Lagrangian point, on January 6,2023.
ISRO chairman S Somanath speaks on the success of Adtiya-L1 mission
“Today’s event was only placing the Aditya-L1 in the precise Halo orbit. So it was moving towards a high orbit, but we had to… So right now, in our calculation, it is at the right place. But we are going to monitor it for the next few hours to see whether it is at the right place. Then if it is slightly drifted, we may have to do a little bit of correction. We don’t expect that to happen… Images have been already put out on the website. We also have particle measurements, what is coming out of the sun… Then we also have x-ray measurements, which are in low energy and high energy x-ray measurements. We also have a magnetometer, which looks at the space magnetism field, which is coming because of these ejections. The solar wind is essentially the particle emission which is happening… A lot of people are interested in understanding this effect. So we look forward to a lot of scientific outcomes in the coming days. At least five years of life is guaranteed with the fuel left out in the satellite,” says ISRO chief.
About Aditya L1
Aditya L1, positioned in a halo-shaped orbit around the Sun-Earth Lagrange Point 1, is India’s first space-based observatory dedicated to studying the Sun. The point is located facing the Sun at a distance of about 1.5 million kilometres from Earth. Lagrange points are special places in space where the gravitational pull of two enormous bodies almost cancels out. They are named after the French mathematician and astronomer Joseph-Louis Lagrange. Spacecraft orbit maintenance around these points is simpler and uses less fuel.
In order to do a thorough study of the sun, Aditya-L1 is carrying seven distinct payloads, four of which will monitor solar light and the remaining three of which will measure magnetic and plasma fields and in-situ parameters.
Aditya L1’s Mission to study the sun
Understanding coronal heating and solar wind acceleration, comprehending the start of a coronal mass ejection (CME), flares, and near-Earth space weather, learning about the coupling and dynamics of the solar atmosphere, and obtaining a deeper understanding of solar wind distribution and temperature anisotropy—a non-uniformity in different directions—are the main goals of the mission, according to ISRO.
Sun produces energy through nuclear fusion in its interior, and emits it from its outer layers. The photosphere, a 6,000-degree Celsius layer, emits all visible and infrared light, crucial for life. Above is the chromosphere, and higher still is the million-degree Celsius hot corona. It’s interesting to note that the corona is significantly hotter than the Sun’s interior layers; heat like this must come from an energy source. The mechanisms underlying this, though, are still not entirely understood. Furthermore, without the atmosphere to absorb the majority of the damaging radiation, it would be fatal to life on Earth to produce ultraviolet and X-ray radiation.
The sweet spot, or L1, is where the centrifugal force and the gravitational attraction that the two celestial bodies exert on a spacecraft balance each other out. It is located between Earth and the Sun. Because of this, if Aditya was positioned precisely at L1, she would stay there forever without using any energy.
Mission’s Director Nigar Shaji and her team’s remarkable work
In 2016, Shaji and her group began working on the Aditya L1 project. The project development continued even when the Covid epidemic put a stop to it in 2020 when ISRO activities were almost halted. After it was launched on September 2 of last year, she and her team kept working on the solar observatory, which is equipped with seven scientific instruments. After multiple rotations, Shaji and her crew maintained a close watch on the spacecraft towing us to the L1 point from Earth. After much effort, Aditya-L1 has now arrived at its target, the halo orbit, from which it will be able to monitor the Sun without interference or occulations.
The 59-year-old, has contributed significantly to many ISRO missions, and is now viewed as an inspiration by many female aspirants to work in space science.
By: Gursharan Kaur