Who: Satellite for astronomy research ASTROSAT
What: Launched by ISRO
When: 28 September 2015
Indian Space Research Orgnaisation (ISRO) on 28 September 2015 launched India’s first dedicated satellite for astronomy research, named ASTROSAT.
The satellite was launched from the first launch pad of Satish Dhawan Space Centre at Sriharikota, Andhra Pradesh at 10 am by Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV-C30). PSLV-C30 is the tenth flight of PSLV in its ‘XL’ Configuration.
It was launched after the end of its 50-hour long countdown for its launch which began on 26 September 2015 at 8am.
Scientific objectives of ASTROSAT
• 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.
• Perform a limited deep field survey of the Universe in the Ultraviolet region.
Characteristic features of ASTROSAT
• ASTROSAT is India’s first dedicated multi wavelength space observatory.
• The mission is capable of performing observations in Ultraviolet (UV), optical, low and high energy X-ray wavebands at the same time.
• The satellite is of about 1513 kg and was placed in a 650 km orbit inclined at an angle of 6 deg to the equator around the Earth.
• It carries four X-ray payloads, one UV telescope and a charge particle monitor.
• ASTROSAT’s life span is five years.
The satellite during its mission life will be managed by the spacecraft control centre at Mission Operations Complex (MOX) of ISRO Telemetry, Tracking and Command Network (ISTRAC) at Bangalore.
Payloads of ASTROSAT
ASTROSAT has five payloads which have been developed by ISRO in collaboration with four Indian institutions and two foreign organisations, namely Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR), Indian Institute of Astrophysics (IIA), Inter-University Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics (IUCAA), Raman Research Institute (RRI), Canadian Space Agency (CSA) and University of Leiscester (UoL), UK.
Ultraviolet Imaging Telescope (UVIT): capable of observing the sky in the Visible, Near Ultraviolet and Far Ultraviolet regions of the electromagnetic spectrum.
Large Area X-ray Proportional Counter (LAXPC): It is designed for study the variations in the emission of X-rays from sources like X-ray binaries, Active Galactic Nuclei and other cosmic sources.
Soft X-ray Telescope (SXT): It is designed for studying how the X-ray spectrum of 0.3-8 keV range coming from distant celestial bodies varies with time.
Cadmium Zinc Telluride Imager (CZTI): functioning in the X-ray region extends the capability of the satellite to sense X-rays of high energy in 10-100 keV range.
Scanning Sky Monitor (SSM): It is intended to scan the sky for long term monitoring of bright X-ray sources in binary stars, and for the detection and location of sources that become bright in X-rays for a short duration of time.
Six foreign satellites carried by PSLV-C30
PSLV-C30 also carried six small satellites from different countries. This launch also marked the first ever commercial flight of US Satellites from India, four of which share the boardroom of the PSLV-C30. The other two payloads are of Canada and Indonesia.
LAPAN-A2, Indonesian: 76-kg satellite is a micro-satellite from the National Institute of Aeronautics and Space and will provide maritime surveillance using automatic identification system (AIS). It will support Indonesian radio amateur communities for disaster mitigation and carrying out earth surveillance using video and digital camera.
NLS-14 (Ev9), Canada: 14-kg is a maritime monitoring Canadian nano satellite using the next generation AIS. It was designed by the Space Flight Laboratory, University of Toronto Institute for Advanced Studies.
LEMUR nano, the US: These are four non-visual remote sensing satellites developed by Spire Global Inc, San Francisco, US with focus primarily on global maritime intelligence through vessel tracking via AIS and high-fidelity weather forecasting using GPS radio occultation technology.
Why the launch is unique?
Astrosat is India’s major scientific mission after the highly acclaimed Chandrayaan-I and Mangalyaan and this attempt of ISRO will help it to set up an observatory in space, a place from where it can study cosmological phenomena.
This launch and its success makes India a member of elite group of nations having their own space observatory after the US, Japan, Russia and Europe.
This is the third time that an Indian rocket carried seven satellites in a single mission. In 2008, ISRO launched 10 satellites in one go including India’s Cartosate-2A satellite.