Aditya-L1 commences scientific data collection beyond 50,000 kms from Earth

JNS: India’s pioneering solar exploration mission, Aditya-L1, has officially initiated its scientific data collection mission at distances exceeding 50,000 kilometers from Earth. The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) made the announcement in a mission update on Monday.

The pivotal aspect of this mission is the Supra Thermal & Energetic Particle Spectrometer (STEPS) instrument, which has now initiated its data collection.

The STEPS instrument comprises six sensors, each with a distinct field of view, responsible for monitoring suprathermal and energetic ions with energy levels ranging from 20 keV/nucleon to 5 MeV/nucleon, along with electrons with energies surpassing 1 MeV.

This critical data collection endeavor aids scientists in comprehending the behavior of particles encompassing Earth, especially within the influence of Earth’s magnetic field.

The historic launch of STEPS took place on September 10, 2023, and it has been positioned at a distance exceeding 50,000 kilometers from Earth, more than eight times the radius of our planet.

After successfully passing instrument health checks, the data collection process commenced as the spacecraft ventured beyond the designated 50,000-kilometer threshold.

All STEPS units are operating within established norms, with one of the sensors already producing readings that highlight fluctuations in the energetic particle environment within Earth’s magnetosphere. These STEPS measurements will continue during the cruise phase of the Aditya-L1 mission as it approaches the Sun-Earth L1 point, and data collection will resume once the spacecraft is in its intended orbit.

The insights gained from data gathered near L1 will be instrumental in understanding the origin, acceleration, and anisotropy of solar wind and space weather phenomena.

STEPS is the brainchild of the Physical Research Laboratory (PRL) in Ahmedabad, India, with invaluable support from the Space Application Centre (SAC).

Notably, Aditya-L1’s journey into the realm of scientific data collection marks a significant milestone in India’s space exploration endeavors. With STEPS at the helm, scientists are poised to unravel the mysteries of the solar wind and the intricate dynamics of particles in the vicinity of Earth, providing invaluable insights into space weather occurrences.

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