India’s $50 million astronomy satellite Astrosat that will be put in the polar circular orbit in 2013 is to launch a study of the universe at multi-wavelengths. The study will be the first of its kind. The satellite, weighing 1.6 tonne will be launched from Sriharikota spaceport, off the Bay of Bengal coast in Andhra Pradesh
“The Astrosat mission will study for the first time the cosmic sources of the vast universe at optical, ultraviolet and X-ray wavebands simultaneously,” said V Koteshwar Rao, scientific secretary of state-run Indian Space Research Organisation. The satellite will be launched onboard a 300-tonne rocket equipped with 5 scientific instruments that will study multiple wavelengths. The equipment will have a soft X-ray telescope, ultraviolet imaging telescope, imager and sky scanning monitor.
“Unlike astronomical satellites of other countries, Astrosat will study visible to high-energy X-ray emissions from celestial objects on a single platform, take the highest angular resolution imaging in ultraviolet and measure short-term variation of X-ray emissions,” added Rao.
“Most astronomical objects emit radiation spanning the electromagnetic spectrum from long wavelength radio waves to very short wavelength gamma rays. Simultaneous observation of the multi-wavelengths will enable us to understand the physical processes behind the phenomenon,” Rao explained. The satellite will have a 5 year life span and will orbit the earth at a speed of 650 km.
Part of the universal probe will include study across visible, UV, soft and hard X-ray bands inorder to determine source of radiation, study of magnetic fields on neutron stars, searching for the source of black holes and scanning the farthest regions of the universe.
The project is in collaboration with private organisations like Indian Institute of Astrophysics, Raman Research Institute, Tata Institute of Fundamental Research and its Physical Research Laboratory, Ahmedabad. The Canadian Space Agency and Britain’s University of Leicester will also be a part of this venture.
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