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.
Karan Kamble writes on science and technology. He occasionally wears the hat of a video anchor for Swarajya's online video programmes.
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