India's space-based Sun observatory completes second orbital adjustment, preparing for journey to Lagrange 1 Point

Aditya-L1, India's first space-based Sun observatory, has completed its second orbital adjustment, now revolving in an elliptical orbit measuring 282 km at its closest point and 40,225 km at its farthest around the Earth, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) said on Tuesday. This crucial manoeuvre helps Aditya-L1 gain velocity for its four-month-long journey for Lagrange point 1 (L1) in the Sun-Earth system, approximately 1.5 million kilometres from Earth.

ISRO's solar mission was launched to a near-Earth orbit by a Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) rocket from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SDSC) SHAR in Sriharikota on Saturday.

Aditya-L1 Mission Progress:

Aditya-L1 has to gain the necessary velocity for its journey to the balanced L1 Point through five Earth-bound manoeuvres within the 16 days following launch. Two of them have now been successfully completed.

First Earth-Bound Manoeuvre: The first Earth-bound manoeuvre (EBN#1) was performed the next day of launch on Sunday. The new orbit then attained was 245km x 22459 km.

Second Earth-Bound Manoeuvre: The second manoeuvre was performed successfully by ISRO Telemetry Tracking and Command Network (ISTRAC) in Bengaluru. ISRO's ground stations in Mauritius, Bengaluru, and Port Blair closely tracked the satellite during this operation, resulting in the achievement of the new orbit dimensions of 282 km x 40,225 km, the space agency announced.

Upcoming Manoeuvre: The third Earth-bound orbit-raising manoeuvre (EBN#3) is scheduled for September 10, around 2:30am IST.

What Lies Ahead For Aditya-L1?

Earth-Bound Orbit Raising Manoeuvres: Three more Earth-bound orbit-raising manoeuvres are planned, with the third one scheduled for September 10.

Exit from Earth's Gravitational Sphere of Influence (SOI): Aditya-L1 will gradually propel itself toward the L1 point using onboard propulsion, eventually departing Earth's gravitational Sphere of Influence.

Cruise Phase: After leaving Earth's SOI, the mission will transition into its cruise phase.

Halo Orbit: After a 110-day trajectory, Aditya-L1 will reach the L1 point and execute another manoeuvre to establish an orbit around the L1 Lagrange point—a large halo orbit.

During its mission life, the satellite will orbit L1 in an irregularly shaped orbit, oriented roughly perpendicular to the line connecting Earth and the Sun.

Aditya-L1's Mission Objectives:

Strategically positioned at the L1 Lagrange point, Aditya-L1 will enjoy a continuous and uninterrupted view of the Sun. This vantage point will enable the satellite to observe solar radiation and magnetic storms before they are influenced by Earth's magnetic field and atmosphere. Additionally, the L1 point's gravitational stability reduces the need for frequent orbital adjustments, optimizing operational efficiency.

The primary objectives of Aditya-L1 include studying solar winds, which can disrupt Earth's magnetosphere and manifest as awe-inspiring "auroras." Over the long term, data gathered from this mission could contribute to a deeper understanding of the Sun's influence on Earth's climate patterns.