Aditya L1 is waiting to be integrated into the PLSV-C57 fairings. Credits: ISRO.

The Aditya L1 Spacecraft Reached its New Destination

The first Indian solar mission, Aditya L1, reached a relevant milestone with the spacecraft's arrival at its final destination: the Lagrange Point 1

The first space-based Indian solar observatory, Aditya L1, entered a halo orbit around Lagrange Point 1 (L1) on January 6, 2024, at around 10:30 UTC. The orbit insertion maneuver ended with the firing of control engines for a short duration. This specific halo orbit is selected to ensure a mission lifetime of 5 years.

Lagrange Point 1, a privileged Sun observation spot

Lagrange points are the equilibrium points for small-mass objects influenced gravitationally by two massive orbiting bodies. In the Sun-Earth system, Lagrange Point 1 (L1) is the equilibrium point positioned along the leader line at 1.5 million kilometers from the Earth.

Sun-Earth Lagrange Points. Credits: ESA.
Sun-Earth Lagrange Points. Credits: ESA

Any object positioned at that point, or just orbiting it, will never be shadowed by the Earth or other bodies and will always view the sunlit face of the Earth. It will benefit from the gravitational equilibrium to stay at L1 using a very minimum quantity of fuel. For these reasons, L1 is the perfect spot for solar space observatories and telescopes.

The International Sun-Earth Explorer-3 (ISEE-3) was the first mission to leverage this panoramic viewpoint in November 1978. The objective of its first mission was to collect data on solar wind and other interactions with cosmic rays. The spacecraft then moved on to another orbit to fulfill its second mission.

An artist's impression of NASA's ISEE/ICE spacecraft. Credits: NASA.
An artist’s impression of NASA’s ISEE/ICE spacecraft. Credits: NASA

Currently, the following spacecraft are parked and working in L1: Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO), Wind, Advanced Composition Explorer (ACE), and Aditya-L1.


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Unveiling the whims of the sun

The main scientific mission objectives include the study of coronal heating, solar wind acceleration, Coronal Mass Ejections (CME), and dynamics of solar atmosphere and temperature anisotropy. The spacecraft payload carries seven payloads developed in collaboration with various ISRO centers (see our article Aditya-L1: India’s First Solar Mission Successfully Launched for more details).

Aditya L1 is staring at the Sun, an artist's impression. Credits: ISRO.
Aditya L1 is staring at the Sun, an artist’s impression. Credits: ISRO

Some of the scientific instruments were calibrated during the voyage, and they started the initial observation of the Sun. The spacecraft will continue commissioning in the next three months and then move to the formal operational status.


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Giancarlo Albertinazzi

Giancarlo Albertinazzi

Space Ambassador, Terranaut, Future Spacepolitan, Writer of Becoming Spacepolitans Blog

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