ISRO’s Chandrayaan-3 Mission Secures Global Acclaim with Leif Erikson Lunar Prize

In a momentous recognition of India’s prowess in space exploration, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) was conferred with the prestigious Leif Erikson Lunar Prize on December 19, 2023. The accolade, bestowed by the esteemed Exploration Museum in Húsavík, Iceland, stands as a testament to ISRO’s relentless pursuit of excellence in advancing lunar exploration and unraveling celestial mysteries.

The Leif Erikson Lunar Prize, named after the legendary Norse explorer, is a coveted acknowledgment of extraordinary achievements in lunar exploration. ISRO’s Chandrayaan-3 mission, a landmark in India’s space exploration history, received this honor for its groundbreaking efforts in lunar exploration, particularly the successful soft landing near the Moon’s South Pole on August 23, 2023.

Notably, this feat positioned India as the first nation to achieve a lunar landing in this challenging region, elevating the country into an elite league of global space powers. The Chandrayaan-3 mission was marked by significant technological innovations, including sophisticated navigation algorithms, state-of-the-art guidance systems, and advanced fault tolerance mechanisms, showcasing ISRO’s engineering prowess.

The mission’s lander, Vikram, equipped with the Chandra’s Surface Thermophysical Experiment (ChaSTE), played a pivotal role in acquiring crucial data about the Moon’s surface temperature, penetrating up to 10 centimeters below the surface. Simultaneously, the Pragyan rover conducted in-situ experiments, contributing substantially to humanity’s understanding of the Moon’s environment.

ISROs ChandrayanISRO Chairman S Somanath expressed his gratitude for the global recognition, underscoring the award’s significance in reflecting India’s ascent as a major player in space exploration. He stated, “The Leif Erikson Lunar Prize not only acknowledges ISRO’s achievements but also highlights the international community’s recognition of India’s capabilities in space exploration.”

The Leif Erikson Awards, initiated in 2015, have been a hallmark in recognizing the efforts of individuals and organizations significantly contributing to exploration and space science. The 9th iteration of these awards, announced on November 26, 2023, continued this legacy of honouring exceptional contributions to humanity’s quest in space.

The growth of ISRO, evident in its achievements such as the Chandrayaan-3 mission, resonates on the global stage. Comparatively, ISRO’s strides in space exploration stand tall among other space organizations, showcasing India’s commitment to pushing the boundaries of scientific exploration.

As the world acknowledges ISRO’s accomplishments, world leaders have commended India’s role in advancing space exploration. “ISRO’s Chandrayaan-3 mission is a remarkable demonstration of India’s technological prowess and its commitment to contributing to our understanding of the universe. This achievement reflects India’s leadership in the global space community,” remarked [World Leader], highlighting the significance of India’s accomplishments in the space sector.

In conclusion, the Leif Erikson Lunar Prize serves as a prestigious recognition of ISRO’s indomitable spirit and its significant contribution to lunar exploration. This achievement not only reflects the growth of ISRO but also underscores India’s emergence as a formidable force in the realm of space exploration, garnering admiration and applause from the international community.

Successful Halo-Orbit Insertion Marks Key Milestone for India’s Aditya-L1 Solar Observatory

On January 6, 2024, at approximately 16:00 Hrs (IST), the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) achieved a significant milestone with the successful Halo-Orbit Insertion (HOI) of its solar observatory spacecraft, Aditya-L1. This final phase of the maneuver involved a brief firing of control engines, culminating in the spacecraft’s insertion into a periodic Halo orbit located around 1.5 million km from Earth on the Sun-Earth line.

The Aditya-L1 spacecraft is now positioned in a unique three-dimensional orbit at Lagrangian point L1, involving the Sun, Earth, and the spacecraft itself. This specific Halo orbit, with an orbital period of approximately 177.86 Earth days, was meticulously selected to ensure a mission lifetime of five years. The advantages of this strategic orbit include minimizing station-keeping maneuvers, reducing fuel consumption, and providing a continuous, unobstructed view of the sun.

The primary mission of Aditya-L1 is to observe and understand the chromospheric and coronal dynamics of the Sun in a continuous manner. Placing the spacecraft in a Halo orbit around L1 offers several advantages over a Low Earth Orbit (LEO), including a smooth Sun-spacecraft velocity change suitable for helioseismology, positioning outside the Earth’s magnetosphere for “in situ” sampling of the solar wind and particles, and enabling continuous observation of the Sun and Earth for seamless communication with ground stations.

The intricate process of Halo orbit insertion began as Aditya-L1 crossed the XZ plane in the Sun-Earth-L1 rotating system with the required orbital state. This insertion maneuver was crucial to nullify the X and Z velocity components and attain the required Y-velocity in the L1 rotating frame for the desired Halo orbit. The targeted parameters for Aditya-L1’s Halo orbit are Ax: 209200 km, Ay: 663200 km, and Az: 120000 km.

The insertion of Aditya-L1 into this Halo orbit represented a critical mission phase, demanding precise navigation and control. Constant monitoring and adjustments to the spacecraft’s speed and position were carried out using onboard thrusters. The success of this insertion not only highlights ISRO’s capabilities in complex orbital maneuvers but also instills confidence in handling future interplanetary missions.

Aditya-L1, designed and realized at the UR Rao Satellite Centre (URSC) with contributions from various ISRO centers, carries payloads developed by Indian scientific laboratories such as IIA, IUCAA, and ISRO. Launched on September 2, 2023, by PLSV-C57 from SDSC SHAR, Aditya-L1 initially entered an elliptical parking orbit (EPO) of 235.6 km by 19502.7 km. The spacecraft then embarked on a remarkable journey toward the Sun-Earth-L1 Lagrange point, progressively increasing its orbital size with the help of the onboard propulsion system.

During the Earth orbit phase, five liquid engine burns (LEB) were executed to raise the apogee of the EPO gradually. The fifth burn, known as the trans-L1 injection (TL1I) maneuver, played a crucial role in achieving the desired trajectory. To minimize incremental velocity addition (ΔV) and reduce exposure to the high radiation Van Allen belts, a careful maneuver strategy was implemented. Addressing errors during the TL1I phase, two short burns, TCM-1 on October 5, 2023, and TCM-2 on December 14, 2023, were conducted to ensure compliance with Halo orbit insertion condition parameters.

The spacecraft then underwent a cruise phase lasting approximately 110 days to reach the present condition before the targeted HOI on January 6, 2024. Throughout the pre-commissioning phase, all payloads were rigorously tested, confirming the satisfactory performance of each payload.

ISRO’s successful Halo-Orbit Insertion of Aditya-L1 not only marks a key milestone for India’s space exploration endeavors but also demonstrates the organization’s adeptness in executing intricate orbital maneuvers. This success paves the way for continued advancements in solar observation and sets a precedent for future interplanetary missions. As India continues to make strides in space exploration, Aditya-L1 stands as a testament to the nation’s growing prowess in the field of astrophysics and satellite technology.