In 2015, India joined the United States, Japan, Russia and Europe by having its own space observatory satellite.
Until 2015, Indian scientists had to rely on the telescope operated by Nasa and the European Space Agency to study ‘radiation bands’ that carry information about neutron stars, newly-born or exploding stars and the spiralling hot gases around black holes.
Astrosat is generally described as India’s version of the Hubble telescope (11,110 kg) that Nasa had put in space in 1990. Hubble telescope is around eight times heavier than India’s satellite and more sophisticated telescope.
AstroSat is the first dedicated Indian astronomy mission aimed at studying celestial sources in X-ray, optical and UV spectral bands simultaneously. The payloads cover the energy banks of ultraviolet (Near and Far), limited optical and X-ray regime (0.3 keV to 100 keV). One of the unique features of AstroSat mission is that it enables the simultaneous multi-wavelength observations of various astronomical objects with a single satellite.
AstroSat with a lift-off mass of 1515 kg was launched on September 28, 2015 into a 650 km orbit inclined at an angle of 6°S to the equator by PSLV-C30 from Satish Dhawan Space Centre, Sriharikota. The minimum useful life of the AstroSat mission is expected to be 5 years.
The scientific objectives of AstroSat mission are :
(i) To understand high energy processes in binary star systems containing neutron stars and black holes
(ii) Estimate magnetic fields of neutron stars
(iii) Study star birth regions and high energy processes in star systems lying beyond our galaxy
(iv) Detect new briefly bright X-ray sources in the sky
(v) Perform a limited deep field survey of the Universe in the Ultraviolet region.
At present, all the payloads are operational and are observing the cosmic sources. The spacecraft and payloads are healthy.
Besides Isro, five premier instituted that played a key role in the development of AstroSat-1 are Indian Institute of Astrophysics (IIA), Bengaluru; Physical Research Lab (PRL), Ahmedabad; Raman Research Institute, Bangalore; Inter-UniversityCentre for Astronomy and Astrophysics (IUCAA), Pune; and M P Birla Institute of Fundamental Research (IFR), Bangalore.
Payloads of Astrosat
AstroSat – 2
To conduct further studies on astronomy and astrophysics, Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro) is planning to launch India’s second AstroSat-2.
ISRO made the announcement of opportunity on February 3, 2018 to seek proposals from all institutions currently involved in astronomy/astrophysics for the development of scientific instruments for astronomy payload and mission. The advantage of having such a space observatory in outer space is that it helps observe distant planets, galaxies and other astronomical objects more clearly than from the Earth. Space telescopes avoid problems of ground-based observatories, such as light pollution and distortion of electromagnetic radiation.