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ADITYA-L1 India launches solar observatory, its 1st-ever sun probe

September 1, 2023

Aditya-L1 is a satellite dedicated to the comprehensive study of the Sun. It has 7 distinct payloads developed, all developed indigenously. Five by ISRO and two by Indian academic institutes in collaboration with ISRO.

Aditya in Sanskrit means the Sun. L1 here refers to Lagrange Point 1 of the Sun-Earth system. For common understanding, L1 is a location in space where the gravitational forces of two celestial bodies, such as the Sun and Earth, are in equilibrium. This allows an object placed there to remain relatively stable with respect to both celestial bodies.

Following its scheduled launch on September 2, 2023, Aditya-L1 stays Earth-bound orbits for 16 days, during which it undergoes 5 maneuvres to gain the necessary velocity for its journey. Subsequently, Aditya-L1 undergoes a Trans-Lagrangian1 insertion maneuvre, marking the beginning of its 110-day trajectory to the destination around the L1 Lagrange point. Upon arrival at the L1 point, another maneuvre binds Aditya-L1 to an orbit around L1, a balanced gravitational location between the Earth and the Sun. The satellite spends its whole mission life orbiting around L1 in an irregularly shaped orbit in a plane roughly perpendicular to the line joining the Earth and the Sun.

The strategic placement at the L1 Lagrange point ensures that Aditya-L1 can maintain a constant, uninterrupted view of the Sun. This location also allows the satellite to access solar radiation and magnetic storms before they are influenced by Earth’s magnetic field and atmosphere. Additionally, the L1 point’s gravitational stability minimizes the need for frequent orbital maintenance efforts, optimizing the satellite’s operational efficiency.

Quick Facts: Aditya-L1 will stay approximately 1.5 million km away from Earth, directed towards the Sun, which is about 1% of the Earth-Sun distance. The Sun is a giant sphere of gas and Aditya-L1 would study the outer atmosphere of the Sun. Aditya-L1 will neither land on the Sun nor approach the Sun any closer.


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