India’s inaugural solar observatory, Aditya-L1, recently achieved a significant milestone by detecting its first solar flare, as confirmed by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). The HEL1OS instrument, adept at capturing high-energy X-rays from the Sun, recorded this ‘benign’ C-class solar flare, showcasing India’s expanding capabilities in space science.
Over six weeks into its journey to the L1 Lagrange point—a vantage position for uninterrupted solar observation—Aditya-L1 has already begun its scientific endeavors. The satellite, set to travel 1% of the distance to the Sun, represents the furthest an Indian-made satellite has ventured. After breaking free from Earth’s orbit in September, the satellite is on course to reach its destination within approximately 110 days, with orbital insertion around the L1 point scheduled for early January.
ISRO activated the HEL1OS payload on October 27, and within days, on October 29, it commenced its first measurements. These initial observations not only aligned with those from the US Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellites (GOES) but also brought to light impulsive solar events, only faintly observed in the GEOS data.
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As the HEL1OS instrument continues to be fine-tuned through calibration operations, this early detection of a solar flare is a promising start for Aditya-L1’s mission to study the Sun. This venture is poised to deepen our understanding of solar phenomena and enhance our capabilities in monitoring space weather, which has profound implications for satellite communications and power grids on Earth.