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  • Namana Nagaraj

SRO's Aditya-L1 solar observatory achieves operational milestone, Set to unveil solar secrets in five-year mission

India's Aditya-L1 solar observatory, successfully launched by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) on September 2, has reached a pivotal phase in its mission. The spacecraft has been strategically positioned in orbit around Lagrange Point-1, a unique point in space situated about 1.5 million km from Earth, marking a significant achievement in space exploration. This location allows Aditya-L1 an uninterrupted view of the Sun, providing an ideal vantage point for a comprehensive study of various solar aspects over the next five years.

Recent developments indicate that the observatory is fully operational, with all seven key instruments on board being systematically activated between Saturday and Sunday. This marks a crucial step in the mission's timeline, setting the stage for the acquisition of the first set of data, anticipated to be available in the coming weeks.

The journey to this point involved meticulous planning and execution. Following its launch from Sriharikota's spaceport, Aditya-L1 underwent a series of Earth-bound maneuvers to build up the required momentum for its 127-day journey. The final maneuvers were successfully completed on Saturday, culminating in the spacecraft being placed in a Halo Orbit around Lagrange Point-1.

The Aditya-L1 spacecraft is equipped with seven sophisticated instruments or payloads designed to observe and analyze different solar phenomena. These include the Visible Emission Line Coronagraph (VELC), Solar Ultraviolet Imaging Telescope (SUIT), Solar Low Energy X-ray Spectrometer (SoLEXS), and High Energy L1 Orbiting X-ray Spectrometer (HEL1OS) as remote sensing payloads. Additionally, the in-situ payloads, namely Aditya Solar wind Particle Experiment (ASPEX), Plasma Analyser Package for Aditya (PAPA), and Advanced Tri-axial High-Resolution Digital Magnetometers, will conduct on-the-spot studies of particles and fields.

The primary payload, VELC, was crafted by the Department of Science and Technology's Indian Institute of Astrophysics (IIA). This instrument holds a critical role in imaging the Sun's atmosphere, specifically the corona, with unprecedented resolution and time cadence. It incorporates 40 precision optical elements and will be maintained at a temperature of 22 degrees Celsius in the space environment.

ISRO's mission document, released in July, underscores the importance of Aditya-L1's payloads in addressing critical questions related to coronal heating, coronal mass ejection, solar flare activities, space weather dynamics, and the propagation of particles and fields in the interplanetary medium.

Renowned astronomer and former professor at the Indian Institute of Astrophysics, RC Kapoor, emphasized the significance of this mission. Aditya-L1, he stated, will continuously observe the Sun without interruptions for the next five years, contributing valuable data to the scientific community.

This achievement adds to the notable successes of India's space program in 2023, which include the historic lunar landing and significant milestones in the Gaganyaan human spaceflight program. India's commitment to advancing its capabilities in space exploration and contributing to global scientific knowledge is clearly evident in these recent accomplishments. As Aditya-L1 begins its observational journey, the scientific community eagerly anticipates the wealth of information it will unveil about the Sun and its dynamic behavior. Click here to get instant aerospace and Defence Updates! 

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