Astrosat Will Study Star Birth Regions and Black Holes

Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) on Monday successfully launched India’s first astronomy satellite Astrosat, 11 years after the government cleared the project. A Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV-C30) carrying Astrosat and six other satellites, including four US nano satellites, lifted off from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota at 10am.

With the successful launch, India is now in a select club of nations having its own space observatory along with the US, Japan, Russia and Europe.

This is the first time India is launching a US satellite. The other two satellites are of Canada and Indonesia.

Astrosat, which had a lift-off mass of 1,513kg, will now embark on a five-year astronomy mission studying distant celestial objects.

It will observe the universe in the optical, ultraviolet, low and high energy x-ray regions of the electromagnetic spectrum, compared to most other scientific satellites that are capable of observing a narrow range of wavelength band.

Among its assignments, the five payloads of Astrosat will study star birth regions and black holes.

ISRO’s website lists out the objective of the observatory: to understand high energy processes in binary star systems containing neutron stars and black holes, estimate magnetic fields of neutron stars, study star birth regions and high energy processes in star systems lying beyond our galaxy, detect new briefly bright x-ray sources in the sky and perform limited deep field survey of the universe in the ultraviolet region.

Carrying five payloads, Astrosat is capable of observing the sky in the visible, near ultraviolet (UV) and far UV regions of the electromagnetic spectrum.

The two telescopes on the Ultraviolet Imaging Telescope (UVIT) payload are designed to achieve an excellent image resolution, while the other four payloads have their specific roles.

The other payloads are Large X-Ray Proportional Counter (LAXPC), Soft x-ray Telescope (SXT), Cadmium Zinc Telluride Imager (CZTI) and Charge Particle Monitor (CPM).

The payloads will start working on next Monday, on the eighth day after launch.