Dec 2 (The Street Press India) – ISRO announced on Saturday that the Aditya-L1 satellite’s Solar Wind Particle Experiment is up and running smoothly, doing its job as expected.
On September 2, ISRO’s Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV-C57) triumphantly sent the Aditya-L1 spacecraft into orbit from the second launch pad at Satish Dhawan Space Centre, Sriharikota.
Aditya-L1 marks India’s inaugural space observatory, focusing on Sun study from a unique halo orbit around the Sun-Earth Lagrangian point (L1), positioned approximately 1.5 million km away from Earth.
According to ISRO’s statement, the Aditya Solar Wind Particle Experiment (ASPEX) includes two advanced instruments: the Solar Wind Ion Spectrometer (SWIS) and SupraThermal and Energetic Particle Spectrometer (STEPS). The STEPS instrument started operating on September 10, 2023, while the SWIS instrument was activated on November 2, 2023, demonstrating excellent performance.
ISRO’s statement highlights that SWIS, employing two sensor units with an impressive 360° field of view each, functions in planes perpendicular to one another. The instrument has effectively measured solar wind ions, predominantly protons and alpha particles.
ISRO reported that a sample energy histogram obtained from one of the sensors during two days in November 2023 showcases fluctuations in counts of protons and alpha particles (doubly ionized helium, He2+). The agency noted that these variations were captured with standard integration time, offering a comprehensive snapshot of solar wind behavior.
ISRO clarified that SWIS’s directional capabilities facilitate accurate measurements of solar wind protons and alphas, playing a crucial role in addressing enduring queries about solar wind properties, associated processes, and their influence on Earth. The space agency highlighted that the observed shift in the proton and alpha particle number ratio by SWIS holds the potential to offer indirect insights into the arrival of Coronal Mass Ejections (CMEs) at the Sun-Earth Lagrange Point L1.
The heightened alpha-to-proton ratio is commonly recognized as a sensitive indicator of interplanetary coronal mass ejections (ICMEs) passing through L1, making it a vital aspect for space weather studies.