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  • Namana Nagaraj

Aditya-L1's ASPEX Unveils Mysteries of Solar Wind, Boosting India's Solar Mission

In a significant leap forward for India's solar exploration endeavors, the Indian Space Research Organisation's (Isro) spacecraft, Aditya L1, has begun unraveling the secrets of solar wind. The spacecraft's Aditya Solar wind Particle Experiment (ASPEX) payload, equipped with cutting-edge instruments, is now actively sending crucial data back to Earth, shedding light on the behavior and properties of solar wind.

L1 sheds a light on mysteries of solar wind

The ASPEX payload comprises two state-of-the-art instruments: the Solar wind Ion Spectrometer (SWIS) and the SupraThermal and Energetic Particle Spectrometer (STEPS). Both instruments are currently operating seamlessly, marking a significant milestone for India's space exploration program.

The SWIS instrument, activated on November 2, has exhibited optimal performance in measuring solar wind ions, including protons and alpha particles. With two sensor units providing a remarkable 360° field of view each, SWIS operates in perpendicular planes, offering detailed insights into the complex behavior of solar wind.

ISRO reports that a sample energy histogram from November showcased variations in proton (H+) and alpha particle (He2+) counts, providing a comprehensive snapshot with nominal integration time. The successful activation of the STEPS instrument on September 10 further adds to the mission's achievements.

Aditya-L1, launched on September 2 from Sriharikota, captured high-energy X-ray glimpses of solar flares in November, marking another historic milestone for the mission.

Aditya-L1 Mission

The spacecraft is currently en route to Lagrange Point L1 and is expected to reach its destination in January. Once at L1, Aditya-L1 will continuously observe the Sun without any occultation or eclipses, allowing for unprecedented data collection.

The SWIS payload's directional capabilities enable precise measurements of solar wind protons and alphas, offering valuable insights into solar wind properties and their impact on Earth.

One notable capability of SWIS is its potential to provide indirect information about the arrival of coronal mass ejections (CMEs) at the Sun-Earth Lagrange Point L1.

Researchers are particularly interested in the observed change in the proton and alpha particle number ratio, as it holds the potential to serve as a sensitive marker for the passage of interplanetary coronal mass ejections (ICMEs) at the L1.

An artistic rendering of the Sun-Earth space environment with Aditya-L1 spacecraft at the centre.

This information is crucial for space weather studies and enhances our ability to forecast space weather events.

As scientists delve deeper into the wealth of data collected by Aditya-L1's ASPEX, the international scientific community eagerly anticipates groundbreaking insights into the enigmatic solar wind and its implications for our planet.

These findings are expected to significantly contribute to our understanding of solar phenomena, ultimately enhancing space weather forecasting capabilities. The successful operations of ASPEX mark a momentous step forward for India's space exploration efforts and underscore the country's growing prominence in the field of space scienc

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