Indian space agency, Isro, has released the first images transmitted by the country’s pioneering solar-observing mission, Aditya-L1, as it embarks on its journey towards the Sun.
recently released, Aditya-L1 will travel 932,000 miles from Earth, which is just 1% of the Earth-Sun distance. The mission is scheduled to last four months as it heads toward its celestial goal.
The maiden flight of Aditya-L1 closely follows India’s historic achievement in becoming the first nation to land successfully near the Moon’s south pole. These milestones underscore India’s burgeoning prowess in space exploration.
Aditya-L1 Debut Captures Snapshot of Earth and Moon
This Thursday morning, Isro revealed two photographs captured by a camera attached to Aditya-L1. One of the images offers a striking composition, presenting both the Earth and the Moon in the same frame. While the Earth dominates the foreground, the Moon appears as a distant speck. The second photograph is a unique “selfie” showing two of the seven scientific instruments carried aboard the solar mission.
Aditya-L1 derives its name from Surya, the Hindu god who symbolizes the Sun. The “L1” in its name corresponds to Lagrange point 1which designates the precise location between the Sun and the Earth towards which the Indian spacecraft is heading.
In essence, a Lagrange point is where the gravitational forces of two massive celestial bodies, such as the Sun and Earth, balance out, allowing a spacecraft to maintain a stable position.
Once Aditya-L1 reaches this strategically located “parking spot” on L1, it will synchronize its orbit with Earth’s, minimizing fuel requirements for its operations. This favorable vantage point will facilitate uninterrupted solar observations.
While Isro has not revealed the exact cost of the mission, Indian media reports put it at Rs 3,780 crore, or $46 million.
Aditya-L1 carries seven scientific instruments designed to investigate and examine the solar corona (the outer layer), the photosphere (the visible surface of the Sun) and the chromosphere (a thin layer of plasma that lies between the photosphere and the corona).
India joins the sungazing club
The successful completion of the Aditya-L1 mission will see India join the select group of nations already engaged in solar research. Established organizations such as NASA, Japan’s JAXA, and the European Space Agency (ESA) have been examining the Sun for decades.
Most notably, NASA and ESA jointly launched the Solar Orbiter in February 2020, which offers close-up observations of the Sun’s dynamics.
In 2021, NASA’s Parker Solar Probe made history by becoming the first spacecraft to venture through the Sun’s corona, its outer atmosphere.
These collective efforts promise a deeper understanding of the enigmatic behavior of the Sun, enriching our knowledge of this celestial body.
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