Aditya-L1 to reach vantage point today, here’s all you need to know – Times of India

BENGALURU: In just a few hours, Isro will perform the final manoeuvre to put India’s Aditya-L1 space probe into a halo orbit, the solar space observatory’s final destination some 1.5 million-km from Earth, from where it will study the Sun for an expected period of five years.
The space agency launched Aditya-L1 on September 2 on its workhorse, the PSLV and the spacecraft commenced its journey to its final destination, the Sun-Earth Lagrange’s Point 1 (L1), on September 19.
The L1 is a region of stability between Earth and Sun where the gravity of the two bodies and the centrifugal force balance out. Aditya-L1 carries 7 instruments to study the Sun and solar storms, and L1 offers an unobstructed view of the Sun (read more below).

If reaching L1 is a challenging journey, staying there is also tricky. To ensure it gets to its destination and stays safely in orbit, Isro needs to know exactly where their spacecraft “was, is and will be”. This tracking process, called ‘orbit determination,’ involves using mathematical formulae and specially developed software by Isro’s URSC.
“…Once it reaches there, we will perform periodic manoeuvres to keep the spacecraft in the intended orbit,” Isro chairman S Somanath had told TOI.
The spacecraft will carry seven payloads to observe the photosphere, chromosphere, and the outermost layers of the Sun (the corona) using electromagnetic and particle detectors. Using the special vantage point of L1, four payloads will directly view the Sun and the remaining three payloads will carry out in-situ studies of particles and fields at the Lagrange point L1.

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The suit of Aditya L1 payloads are expected to provide most crucial information to understand the problems of coronal heating, Coronal Mass Ejection, pre-flare and flare activities, and their characteristics, dynamics of space weather, study of the propagation of particles, fields in the interplanetary medium, etc.
Now, let’s get into different aspects of the mission, beginning with the final destination, its subject of study, the Sun, the instruments that will enable this, and more:
Lagrange Points
For a two-body gravitational system, the Lagrange Points are positions in space where a small object tends to stay, if put there. These points in space for two-body systems such as Sun and Earth can be used by spacecraft to remain at these positions with reduced fuel consumption.

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“Technically at Lagrange point, the gravitational pull of the two large bodies equals the necessary centripetal force required for a small object to move with them. For two body gravitational systems, there are a total five Lagrange points denoted as L1, L2, L3, L4 and L5,” Isro said.
The Lagrange point L1 lies between the Sun-Earth line. The distance of L1 from Earth is approximately 1% of the Earth-Sun distance.
The Sun
Sun, a hot glowing ball of hydrogen and helium gases, is the nearest star and the largest object in the solar system, whose estimated age is 4.5 billion years. It is about 150 million-km from Earth, and is the source of energy for the entire solar system. Without solar energy, life on Earth, as we know, can not exist. The gravity of the sun holds all the objects of the solar system together.
At the central region of the Sun, known as ‘core’, the temperature can reach as high as 15 million degree Celsius. At this temperature, a process called nuclear fusion takes place in the core which powers the Sun. The visible surface of the sun known as photosphere is relatively cool and has temperature of about 5,500°C.
Given that it is the nearest star and therefore can be studied in much more detail as compared to other stars, studying Sun can teach much more about stars in the Milky Way and those from other galaxies.
Space Weather
The Sun constantly influences the Earth with radiation, heat and constant flow of particles and magnetic fields. The constant flow of particles from the sun is known as solar wind and are mostly composed of high energy protons. The solar wind fills nearly all the space of the known solar system. Along with the solar wind, the solar magnetic field also fills the solar system.

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“The solar wind along with other explosive/eruptive solar events like Coronal Mass Ejection (CME) affects the nature of space. During such events, the nature of the magnetic field and charge particle environment near to the planet change. In the case of the Earth, the interaction of Earth’s magnetic field with the field carried by CME can trigger a magnetic disturbance near the Earth. Such events can affect the functioning of space assets,” Isro has said.
“Space weather refers to changing environmental conditions in space in the vicinity of Earth and other planets. We use more and more technology in space, as understanding space weather is very important. Also, understanding near Earth space weather sheds light on the behaviour of space weather of other planets,” it added.
Protecting Spacecraft & More
“The Sun is a very dynamic star that extends much beyond what we see. It shows several eruptive phenomena and releases immense amounts of energy in the solar system. If such explosive solar phenomena is directed towards the earth, it could cause various types of disturbances in the near earth space environment,” Isro says.
Various spacecraft and communication systems are prone to such disturbances and therefore an early warning of such events is important for taking corrective measures beforehand. India has satellites worth crores of rupees in Space and this can be critical. In addition to these, if an astronaut is directly exposed to such explosive phenomena, he/she would be in danger.
Payloads Aditya-L1 Carries
■ VELC | Visible Emission Line Coronagraph is designed to study solar corona and dynamics of coronal mass ejections. The payload is developed by Indian Institute of Astrophysics, Bengaluru in close collaboration with ISRO.
■ SUIT | Solar Ultra-violet Imaging Telescope to image the Solar Photosphere and Chromosphere in near Ultra-violet (UV) and, to measure the solar irradiance variations in near UV. The payload is developed by Inter University Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics, Pune in close collaboration with ISRO.
■ SoLEXS & HEL1OS | Solar Low Energy X-ray Spectrometer and High Energy L1 Orbiting X-ray Spectrometer are designed to study the X-ray flares from the Sun over a wide X-ray energy range. Both these payloads are developed at U R Rao Satellite Centre, Bengaluru.
■ ASPEX & PAPA | Aditya Solar wind Particle EXperiment and Plasma Analyser Package for Aditya payloads are designed to study the solar wind and energetic ions, as well as their energy distribution. ASPEX is developed at Physical Research Laboratory, Ahmedabad. PAPA is developed at Space Physics Laboratory, Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre, Thiruvananthapuram.
■ MAG | Magnetometer payload is capable of measuring interplanetary magnetic fields at the L1 point. The payload is developed at Laboratory for Electro Optics Systems, Bengaluru.
Major Science Objectives
■ Understanding Coronal Heating and Solar Wind Acceleration.
■ Understanding initiation of Coronal Mass Ejection (CME), flares and near-earth space weather.
■ To understand coupling and dynamics of the solar atmosphere.
■ To understand solar wind distribution and temperature anisotropy
Uniqueness Of Aditya-L1
■ First-time spatially resolved solar disk in the near UV band
■ CME dynamics close to the solar disk (~from1.05 solar radius) thereby providing information in the acceleration regime of CME, which is not observed consistently
■ Onboard intelligence to detect CMEs and solar flares for optimised observations and data volume
■ Directional and energy anisotropy of solar wind using multi-direction observations

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