Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) on Monday said that the Aditya L1, India's first space-based mission to study the Sun, has commenced collecting scientific data. The sensors of the Supra Thermal and Energetic Particle Spectrometer (STEPS) instrument have begun measuring supra-thermal and energetic ions and electrons at distances greater than 50,000 km from Earth.
The space agency said that this data helps scientists analyze the behaviour of particles surrounding Earth.??"Aditya-L1 has commenced collecting scientific data. The sensors of the STEPS instrument have begun measuring supra-thermal and energetic ions and electrons at distances greater than 50,000 km from Earth. This data helps scientists analyze the behaviour of particles surrounding Earth. The figure displays variations in the energetic particle environment, collected by one of the units," ISRO said in a post on X.
According to ISRO, the STEPS instrument, a part of the Aditya Solar Wind Particle EXperiment (ASPEX) payload, has begun the collection of scientific data. STEPS comprises six sensors, each observing in different directions and measuring supra-thermal and energetic ions ranging from 20 keV/nucleon to 5 MeV/nucleon, in addition to electrons exceeding 1 MeV. These measurements are conducted using low and high-energy particle spectrometers. The data collected during Earth’s orbits helps scientists to analyse the behaviour of particles surrounding the Earth, especially in the presence of the magnetic field of Earth.
STEPS was activated on September 10, 2023, at a distance greater than 50,000 km from Earth. This distance is equivalent to more than 8 times the Earth's radius, placing it well beyond Earth's radiation belt region. After completing the necessary instrument health checks, data collection continued until the spacecraft had moved farther than 50,000 km from Earth.
Each unit of STEPS is operating within normal parameters. A figure displays measurements depicting variations in the energetic particle environment within Earth's magnetosphere, collected by one of the units. These STEPS measurements will persist during the cruise phase of the Aditya-L1 mission as it progresses toward the Sun-Earth L1 point. They will continue once the spacecraft is positioned in its intended orbit. Data collected around L1 would provide insights into the origin, acceleration, and anisotropy of solar wind and space weather phenomena. STEPS was developed by the Physical Research Laboratory (PRL) with support from the Space Application Centre (SAC) in Ahmedabad.
About Aditya-L1 Mission
ISRO's Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV-C57) had on September 2 successfully launched Aditya-L1 from the Second Launch Pad of Satish Dhawan Space Centre, Sriharikota. Aditya-L1 is the first Indian space-based observatory that will study the Sun from a halo orbit around the first Sun-Earth Lagrangian point (L1), which is located roughly 1.5 million km from the Earth.
According to ISRO, the spacecraft placed in a halo orbit around the Lagrange point 1 (L1) of the Sun-Earth system, which is about 1.5 million km from the Earth, has the major advantage of continuously viewing the Sun without any occultation or eclipses.
The suits of Aditya L1 payloads are expected to provide the most crucial information to understand the problem of coronal heating, coronal mass ejection, pre-flare and flare activities and their characteristics, dynamics of space weather, and propagation of particles and fields.