India's made-on-Earth, Sun-seeking spacecraft, Aditya-L1, has well and truly exited Earth's sphere of gravitational influence.
It is now headed firmly towards its destination — the Sun-Earth Lagrange Point 1 (L1).
The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) provided this update on Saturday (30 September) on the social media platform X.
"The spacecraft has travelled beyond a distance of 9.2 lakh kilometres from Earth," ISRO said, "successfully escaping the sphere of Earth's influence."
"This is the second time in succession that ISRO could send a spacecraft outside the sphere of influence of the Earth, the first time being the Mars Orbiter Mission," the space agency added.
Aditya-L1 is making its way through space to the coveted L1 point.
L1 is a spot in space where gravity from the Sun and Earth balance the orbital motion of a satellite.
A spacecraft at this point stays in a fixed position relative to the Sun and Earth. It’s a kind of a gravitational sweet spot. Here, it doesn't take a lot of energy (fuel) to keep a spacecraft there (more about L1 here).
Still early days in its journey, Aditya-L1 has wasted no time in doing science.
In its 18 September update, ISRO said that a scientific instrument on the Aditya Solar Wind Particle EXperiment (ASPEX) had commenced the collection of scientific data.
The instrument in question is the Supra Thermal & Energetic Particle Spectrometer (STEPS).
STEPS is a high-energy spectrometre designed to measure high-energy ions of the solar wind.
The data it throws up can help scientists analyse the behaviour of particles around Earth, especially in the presence of the planet's magnetic field.
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