The Aditya-L1 satellite, equipped with the Aditya Solar wind Particle Experiment (ASPEX) payload, has initiated its mission with promising results. ASPEX incorporates two state-of-the-art instruments – the Solar wind Ion Spectrometer (SWIS) and STEPS (SupraThermal and Energetic Particle Spectrometer). Operational since September 10, 2023, STEPS, and the recently activated SWIS as of November 2, 2023, are showcasing optimal performance.
SWIS, featuring two sensor units with an impressive 360° field of view each, operates in perpendicular planes. It has successfully measured solar wind ions, with a focus on protons and alpha particles. A sample energy histogram from November 2023 provides a detailed snapshot of proton (H+) and alpha particle (He2+) counts, capturing variations with nominal integration time, offering comprehensive insights into solar wind behavior.
The directional capabilities of SWIS enable precise measurements of solar wind protons and alphas, significantly contributing to addressing longstanding questions about solar wind properties, underlying processes, and their impact on Earth.
SWIS’s observation of the proton and alpha particle number ratio holds potential for indirectly predicting the arrival of Coronal Mass Ejections (CMEs) at the Sun-Earth Lagrange Point L1. The enhanced alpha-to-proton ratio serves as a sensitive marker for the passage of interplanetary coronal mass ejections (ICMEs) at the L1, crucial for advancing space weather studies.
As researchers delve deeper into the collected data, the international scientific community anticipates the wealth of knowledge ASPEX on Aditya-L1 is poised to unveil about the enigmatic solar wind and its implications for our planet. This mission marks a significant leap toward understanding solar phenomena and enhancing our ability to predict and manage space weather events.