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Aditya-L1 mission: Solar wind ion spectrometer becomes operational, says ISRO

The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) on Sunday said that the Solar Wind Ion Spectrometer (SWIS), the second component of the Aditya Solar Wind Particle Experiment (ASPEX) within its inaugural solar mission, Aditya L1, has become operational.

“The Solar Wind Ion Spectrometer (SWIS), the second instrument in the Aditya Solar Wind Particle Experiment (ASPEX) payload is operational. The histogram illustrates the energy variations in proton and alpha particle counts captured by SWIS over 2-days,” ISRO said in a post on X.

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As per a statement issued by ISRO, the Aditya Solar Wind Particle Experiment (ASPEX) payload onboard India’s Aditya-L1 satellite is performing normally.

The release further noted that ASPEX comprises two cutting-edge instruments – the Solar wind Ion Spectrometer (SWIS) and STEPS (SupraThermal and Energetic Particle Spectrometer). “The STEPS instrument became operational on September 10, 2023. The SWIS instrument was activated on November 2, 2023, and has exhibited optimal performance,” the statement mentioned.

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ISRO said that the ASPEX has begun its measurements of solar wind ions.

“SWIS, utilizing two sensor units with a remarkable 360° field of view each, operates in planes perpendicular to one another. The instrument has successfully measured solar wind ions, primarily protons and alpha particles,” the statement said.

“A sample energy histogram acquired from one of the sensors over two days in November 2023 illustrates variations in proton (H ) and alpha particle (doubly ionized helium, He2 ) counts. These variations were recorded with nominal integration time, providing a comprehensive snapshot of solar wind behaviour,” it added.

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The directional capabilities of SWIS enable precise measurements of solar wind protons and alphas, contributing significantly to addressing longstanding questions about solar wind properties, underlying processes, and their impact on Earth, ISRO said.

The statement added that as researchers delve deeper into the collected data, the international scientific community eagerly awaits the wealth of knowledge that Aditya-L1’s ASPEX is set to unveil about the enigmatic solar wind and its implications for our planet.

In its update, ISRO on November 7, Tuesday, noted that the spectrometer on board Aditya-L1 recorded the impulsive phase of solar flares, during its first observation period from approximately October 29, 2023.

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The X-ray spectrometer, HEL1OS, attached to the Aditya-L1 spacecraft captured the first high-energy X-ray glimpse of solar flares.

A solar flare is a sudden brightening of the solar atmosphere. Flares produce enhanced emission in all wavelengths across the electromagnetic spectrum – radio, optical, UV, soft X-rays, hard X-rays and gamma-rays.

Commissioned on October 27, 2023, the HEL1OS X-ray spectrometer is currently undergoing fine-tuning of thresholds and calibration operations. It has been monitoring the Sun for hard X-ray activities ever since.

Also Read: Aditya L1 successfully escapes sphere of Earth’s influence, navigating its path to Lagrange Point 1: ISRO

In early October, the Aditya-L1 spacecraft, engaged in India’s inaugural solar mission, executed a trajectory correction manoeuvre (TCM) lasting approximately 16 seconds. The ISRO highlighted that this adjustment was necessary to rectify the trajectory following the Trans-Lagrangean Point 1 Insertion (TL1I) manoeuvre conducted on September 19.

Also Read: ISRO’s Aditya L1 successfully performs 3rd earth-bound manoeuvre; fourth to take place on This date

Following the accomplished gentle touchdown of Chandrayaan-3 in the vicinity of the Moon’s South Pole, ISRO initiated the nation’s inaugural solar mission, Aditya-L1, on September 2, launching it from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota.

ISRO clarified that Aditya-L1 is not intended to land on or closely approach the sun.

Its strategic orbital position ensures continuous solar observation without interference from eclipses or occultation, facilitating real-time scientific study of solar activities and their influence on space weather.

(With inputs from ANI)


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Updated: 02 Dec 2023, 02:08 PM IST


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