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Space

Aditya-L1 Performs First Earth-Bound Manoeuvre; Chandrayaan-3 Rover Goes to Sleep

These manoeuvres are intended to help the spacecraft gain the necessary velocity to travel towards the Sun. ISRO announced that the next such manoeuvre is scheduled for Tuesday (September 5).

New Delhi: The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) announced on Sunday (September 3) afternoon that the Aditya-L1 mission had successfully completed its first “Earth-bound manoeuvre”.

“The satellite is healthy and operating nominally. The first Earth-bound manoeuvre (EBN#1) is performed successfully from ISTRAC, Bengaluru. The new orbit attained is 245km x 22459 km,” the space agency said on X (formerly Twitter).

According to the Hindustan Times, Aditya-L1’s Earth-bound manoeuvres help it gain the necessary velocity for the rest of its mission.

A senior ISRO scientist told the newspaper that the spacecraft will stay Earth-bound for the first 16 days of its journey, following which it will travel to the first Lagrange point between the Earth and the Sun (L1).

The craft, which was launched on Saturday (September 2), is scheduled to reach L1 a little less than four months after it ceases to be Earth-bound.

L1 is a stable location between the Earth and the Sun from which Aditya-L1 can make observations of the Sun. It is partly a result of the gravitational pulls of the two celestial bodies balancing each other out to an extent.

ISRO’s website states that Aditya-L1 is carrying seven scientific instruments to explore the outer layers of the Sun using “electromagnetic and particle and magnetic field detectors”.

The trajectory of the Aditya-L1 mission. Photo: ISRO

One of its scientific objectives is listed as studying what drives space weather. A former ISRO scientist told the BBC that the Sun influences space weather, which in turn has ramifications for human-made infrastructure.

“Space weather plays a role in how effectively the satellites function. Solar winds or storms can affect the electronics on satellites, even knock down power grids. But there are gaps in our knowledge of space weather,” Mylswamy Annadurai, who is also known as the Moon Man of India, said.

Meanwhile on the Moon, ISRO announced that it has put Chandrayaan-3’s Pragyan rover into “sleep mode”. The Indian Express quoted ISRO chief S. Somanath as saying that this was done in order to help the rover withstand the frigid temperatures of −120 °C during the Moon’s nighttime.

“It is like putting your phone on power saving mode till a charging cord is available. The charging cord for the lander and rover will be sunrise at the end of the lunar night,” a different ISRO scientist told IE.

When the Sun does rise over Pragyan, there is a chance it may resume operations.

“Hoping for a successful awakening for another set of assignments! Else, it will forever stay there as India’s lunar ambassador,” ISRO said on X on Saturday.