What to do with spent nuclear fuel?

Syllabus:  Alternate fuel

Context: Japan has started releasing treated radioactive water from the beleaguered Fukushima nuclear power plant into the ocean.

Nuclear energy

  • one of many alternatives to carbon-based power
  • Currently, 10% of the world’s electricity


  • Storage and disposal of nuclear waste in a safe, controlled manner.
  • Several temporary options are available
    • Low and intermediate level waste/spent fuel is stored in pools until they cool and in dry casks and burying them in near-surface disposal facilities at ground level or below.
    • High-level waste has few options; the most feasible is deep geological disposal, and Finland seems to be showing the way. A facility in this Scandinavian country will become the first to realise this option when the Onkalo repository opens in 2025.
  • But more permanent solution is required because the waste can persist in a dangerous state for long periods.

Smooth operation of ‘LAM’ critical to Aditya-L1 success

Syllabus: GS 3 – Space technology

  • The successful operation of LAM, short for Liquid Apogee Motor, is vital to the ISRO’s plans to place the Aditya spacecraft in a halo orbit at Lagrangian Point L1.
  • LAM has played an important role in missions, including the 2014 Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM), Mangalyaan, and the more recent Chandrayaan-3.
  • In simple terms, LAM engines are used for orbital adjustment manoeuvres of satellites and spacecraft in orbit.
  • Once the Aditya spacecraft exits the earth’s sphere of influence and heads toward its destination — the Lagrangian Point L1 which is 1.5 million km away — the LAM will shut down for the best part of the four-month journey.
  • The big challenge before the ISRO is restarting LAM at the precise moment for ‘braking’ the spacecraft as it closes in on its destination and nudging it into the desired halo orbit at L1.
  • The Aditya spacecraft is to be placed in a halo orbit at this vantage point in space to carry out studies with its seven scientific payloads.

Coronagraph of Aditya-L1 will send 1,440 images of sun

  • The Visible Emission Line Coronagraph (VELC), the primary payload on board will be sending 1,440 images of the sun every day to ground stations.
  • Though Aditya-L1 mission will be launched on September 2, there will be a cruise phase of 100-plus days before it reaches the L1 point. Once it reaches that point, the doors will be open from most likely from the first week of January 2024 and we will make continuous observations for using the VELC payload.
  • We need tremendous computing power for which the IIA is ready and all the software are being tested so that with the minimum overlap time the data from the spacecraft will be downloaded at the Indian Deep Space Network in Byalalu, sent to the IIA and back to the Indian Space Science Data Centre for dissemination.
  • There will be six other payloads on board the Aditya-L1, whose mission life is five years.

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