Astrosat: India Eyeing Deep Space !!

(This article was published in Youth Ki Awaaz. Can be accessed here.)

Author: Parveen Kaswan ( He is an Aerospace Engineer and holds a Masters Degree in Engineering Designs from Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore.)

It is said that astronomy is as old as human presence. All through history man is constantly inquisitive about the space and far off stars. The creation of telescope supported him enormously, which is an instrument that aides in perception of far off objects. Distinctive sorts of telescope are utilised relying upon the part of electromagnetic range we need to see like Radio, X-ray, Infrared, Visible light etc.

India is prepared to launch its first Space Based Observatory : Astrosat !! It will be dispatched on September 28th, and by this India will turn out to be just the fourth nation to have this sort of lookout in orbit. Space based observatories are similar to a major telescope fitted on satellite rotating around the earth in a settled orbit and making observations in the unfathomable universe.

It is well known that earth is surrounded by a layer of atmosphere and this layer can possibly square X-Ray, Infrared and Ultraviolet beams. It can likewise distort/twist Microwaves and Visible light which has an immediate effect on the picture quality of ground based telescopes. In spite of the fact that some of these issues can be rectified by setting observatories on higher elevations furthermore utilising technological advances like adaptive optics however they have their own limits. Additionally even space based radio and visible light telescopes are complementary in nature to their earth based counterparts. As a space based telescope won’t be effected by climatic twists furthermore by simulated or artificial lights it will give us sharp pictures of space and remote cosmic systems.

Though they have their own particular problems including the issues which are confronted by any earth circling satellite. These sort of observatories at some point need essential rectification additionally which is very much a mind boggling mission. And they have their own particular mission period if the refuelling part is not a part of project.

One of Hubble's most famous images, "Pillars of Creation". Courtesy: NASA

One of Hubble’s most famous images, “Pillars of Creation”. Courtesy: NASA

Hubble telescope, the space observatory named after astronomer Edwin Hubble, is the best case which was operationalised in 1990 and now gives high resolution pictures of outer space and galaxies. Its observation has also helped in unravelling the riddles of universe and determining the rate of expansion after the Big Bang.

Indian ASTROSAT was initially planned for dispatch in 2005, then in 2010, lastly in 2015. The reason for delay were mainly technical in nature. The considerable thing about this venture is that it is very participatory in nature as nearly 10 noteworthy research institutions including ISRO, TIFR, BARC, Raman Research Institute, Canadian Space Agency and so forth are a part of it. It will also “measure the magnetic fields of neutron stars and understand high energy processes that occur in binary and extragalactic systems.”

The observatory will rotate in an equatorial near earth orbit with five instruments on board. These will cover Visible, near Ultraviolet, far Ultraviolet, soft X-ray and hard X-ray regions of electromagnetic spectrum. According to ISRO it will study “astrophysical objects ranging from the nearby solar system objects to distant stars, to objects at cosmological distances; timing studies of variables ranging from pulsations of the hot white dwarfs to active galactic nuclei with time scales ranging from milliseconds to few hours to days.”

Courtesy: ISRO

Courtesy: ISRO

After some exceptionally successful ‘Technology Demonstrator’ missions like MOM and Chandrayaan it is time that we look towards some scientific activities too. Astrosat mission gives an adequate extension to India for presenting itself a major contender of the space market pie, which is viewed as worth 400 billion dollar‘Indian Remote Sensing’ system is today the world’s largest constellation of satellites in civilian use which is also a good source of income for ISRO. Its application are used in socio-economic development of the country, from agriculture to town planning and from geology to marine fisheries.

Such feats are required to tap Asian and African space markets by providing cost effective and reliable services. It is high time that India should also look beyond horizon and deep into space !!



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