India’s Aditya-L1 spacecraft reaches its destination in space to study the sun

India’s Aditya-L1 spacecraft has reached its final destination point (Lagrange point L1) in space to study the sun at about 4 p.m. IST (or 10:30 UTC) on January 6, 2024, according to the Indian Space Agency, ISRO.

Artist's impression of the Aditya-L1 spacecraft observing the sun
Artist’s impression of the Aditya-L1 spacecraft observing the sun. (Image credit: ISRO)

It is the first space-based, observatory-class spacecraft of India to study Aditya (in Sanskrit, Aditya means the sun).

Here, the final destination point, Lagrange point L1, is an imaginary position in space that is located 1.5 million km away from Earth and directed towards the Sun. It is approximately four times the earth-moon distance.

Aditya-L1 spacecraft will stay there for 5 years (mission duration) and orbit the Lagrange point L1 periodically (orbital period of 177.86 days). Please remember that Aditya-L1 spacecraft will neither land on the sun nor approach the sun any closer than L1.

During the course of its five years, the spacecraft will observe the photosphere, chromosphere, and outermost layers of the sun (the corona) with its seven scientific instruments (payloads).

Launch of the Aditya-L1 spacecraft by the PSLV-C57 rocket
Launch of the Aditya-L1 spacecraft by the PSLV-C57 rocket of ISRO. (Image credit: ISRO)

The spacecraft takes a little more than 4 months to reach its final destination point in space, as it was launched on September 2, 2023, at 11:50 a.m. IST (or 6:20 UTC) from Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SDSC) SHAR, Sriharikota, a spaceport of India.

Why L1?

Position of the Aditya-L1 spacecraft around L1 in space
Position of the Aditya-L1 spacecraft around Lagrange Point 1 (L1) in space. (Image credit: ISRO)

Scientifically, Lagrange Point 1 (L1) of the Sun-Earth system is a region in space where the gravitational forces of the Sun and Earth create an equilibrium. It is also called the parking spot in space. Please remember there are five Lagrange Points (L1, L2, L3, L4 and L5) of the Sun-Earth system.

As Lagrange Point 1 (L1) is an equilibrium position, that’s why Aditya-L1 can carry out its scientific work with minimum fuel consumption and with minimum maintenance from the ground control room.

Scientific payloads (instruments) of Aditya-L1:

Aditya-L1 carries seven scientific payloads to study the sun from space. All payloads are indigenously developed in close collaboration with ISRO.

Scientific payloadsFull nameFunctionDeveloped by
VELCVisible Emission Line CoronagraphTo study solar corona and dynamics of coronal mass ejectionsIndian Institute of Astrophysics, Bengaluru
SUITSolar Ultra-violet Imaging TelescopeTo image the solar photosphere and chromosphere in near ultraviolet (UV)Inter University Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics, Pune
SoLEXSSolar Low Energy X-ray SpectrometerTo study the X-ray flares from the Sun over a wide X-ray energy rangeU R Rao Satellite Centre, Bengaluru
HEL1OSHigh Energy L1 Orbiting X-ray SpectrometerTo study the X-ray flares from the Sun over a wide X-ray energy rangeU R Rao Satellite Centre, Bengaluru
ASPEXAditya Solar wind Particle EXperimentTo study the solar wind and energetic ionsPhysical Research Laboratory, Ahmedabad
PAPAPlasma Analyser Package for AdityaTo study the solar wind and energetic ionsSpace Physics Laboratory,
Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre, Thiruvananthapuram
MAGMagnetometerTo measure interplanetary magnetic fields at the L1 pointLaboratory for Electro Optics Systems, Bengaluru

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Ashim

Ashim Chandra Sarkar founded Space & Telescope in 2022. He holds a M.Sc. in physics and has five years of research experience in optical astronomy. His passion for astronomy inspired him to open this website. He is responsible for the editorial vision of spaceandtelescope.com.

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