India's inaugural solar mission captured images of itself, the earth, and the moon while orbiting in a highly elliptical path around our planet. The ISRO announced on Thursday that the Aditya-L1 mission, bound for the sun-earth L1 point, snapped a selfie along with pictures of the earth and the moon. A video shared by ISRO displayed a segment of the spacecraft as captured by the camera onboard. In the video, one hemisphere of the earth is seen bathed in sunlight, and there is a small white dot that the space agency clarified to be the moon.
“It showcases two essential instruments of Aditya-L1 such as the Visible Emission Line Coronagraph (VELC), designed to investigate the solar corona, including its innermost layers, a region largely unexplored by previous missions and the Solar Ultraviolet Imaging Telescope (SUIT), which will examine various layers of the solar atmosphere using shorter UV wavelengths that are not observable from the earth. In the video, one hemisphere of the earth is bathed in sunlight, and there is a small white dot that the space agency had to clarify as being the moon,” space expert Girish Linganna told THE WEEK.
Space experts pointed out that the relevance of India's Aditya-L1 mission taking images of itself as well as the earth and the moon from its highly elliptical orbit around the earth is that it helps to calibrate the spacecraft's instruments and sensors. This is necessary to ensure that the data collected by the spacecraft is accurate and reliable.
“The Aditya-L1 mission is equipped with a number of instruments that will be used to study the sun such as a coronagraph, which will block out the light from the sun's disk so that the corona can be studied, a spectrometer, which will be used to study the composition of the solar atmosphere, and a magnetometer, which will be used to study the sun's magnetic field. In order to ensure that the data collected by these instruments is accurate, it is important to calibrate them properly. This is done by taking images of known objects, such as the earth and the moon. The brightness and size of these objects in the images can then be used to calibrate the instruments,” explained Linganna.
The Aditya-L1 mission is expected to provide valuable insights into the sun and its behaviour. By studying the sun, scientists can better understand the causes of space weather events, such as solar flares and coronal mass ejections. This knowledge can be used to protect astronauts and satellites from the harmful effects of space weather.
Besides, the Aditya-L1 mission could also help scientists to better understand the origins of life on the earth. The sun is the source of all energy on the earth, and its activity plays a role in the formation of clouds and rain. These processes are essential for life as we know it.
“The successful calibration of the Aditya-L1 mission's instruments is a major milestone. It means that the mission is now ready to begin its scientific journey of studying the sun,” added Linganna.
The spacecraft is presently engaged in a sequence of maneuvers aimed at increasing both its orbit and velocity until it can be propelled toward the sun. On September 5, the spacecraft completed its second maneuver around the earth, achieving an orbit measuring 282 km x 40,225 km. The upcoming maneuver is scheduled for September 10 at 02:30 am.