Aditya-L1, India’s premier solar observatory, embarked on its 110-day expedition to the Sun-Earth system’s Lagrange Point-1 (L1), following a successful trans-Lagrangean Point insertion by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). This crucial operation propelled the spacecraft beyond Earth’s orbit in the early hours of Tuesday.
“The Trans-Lagrangean Point 1 Insertion (TL1I) manoeuvre was successfully executed, setting the spacecraft on a trajectory toward the Sun-Earth L1 point. After approximately 110 days, an additional manoeuvre will inject it into an orbit around L1,” ISRO announced in a Tuesday statement. The agency also verified that this marks the fifth successful attempt at placing an object on a trajectory to another celestial body or spatial location.
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) explains that Lagrange Points are locations in space where the gravitational pull of a two-body system, such as the Sun and Earth, generate enhanced zones of attraction and repulsion. These points can act as ‘parking spots’ for spacecraft, allowing them to remain stationary with minimal fuel usage.
On September 2, ISRO launched Aditya-L1, India’s first mission aimed at studying the Sun, from Sriharikota’s spaceport. A series of Earth-bound operations were conducted post-launch to ensure the craft accumulated enough momentum for its 125-day journey.
This mission will provide Indian scientists with the opportunity to gain fresh understanding about our solar system’s core by facilitating continuous observations of the Sun. The plan is to position the spacecraft in a halo orbit around the Sun-Earth system’s L1, approximately 1.5 million km from Earth. Intriguingly, this point is just 1% of the Earth-Sun distance.
Tuesday’s operation successfully disengaged the spacecraft from Earth’s orbit, setting it on course toward its destination. Before reaching L1, ISRO will execute a final manoeuvre to secure the craft where it will spend at least the upcoming five years investigating the Sun’s various aspects.