What is the Astrosat Mission?

By : Neha Dhyani

Updated : May 17, 2022, 7:26

Astrosat marks the beginning of a new era in the field of Indian astronomy. It is India's first dedicated astronomy mission to observe and study celestial sources in multiple wavelengths, such as Optical Bands, Near Ultraviolet (NUV), Far Ultraviolet (FUV), and soft to hard X-rays.

Astrosat, the dedicated multi-wavelength space telescope, was launched on a Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle named PSLV-C30. It was launched on 28th September 2015. The success of the Astrosat Mission has prompted the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) to announce Astrosat's successor, Astrosat-2, to increase India's capability further.

Astrosat Mission - Vital Facts

The payloads of Astrosat cover the energy bands of limited optical, Ultraviolet (Near and Far), and X-ray regimes between 0.3 keV and 100keV. Astrosat contains five main scientific payloads. They are as follows:

  1. One Soft X-ray Telescope or SXT
  2. Three Large Area Xenon Proportional Counters or LAXPCs
  3. One Cadmium-Zinc-Telluride Imager or CZTI
  4. Two UltraViolet Imaging Telescopes or UVITs - while one is for the visible and near-UV channels, the other is for far-UV
  5. Three Scanning Sky Monitors or SSMs

Besides the payloads mentioned above, the satellite also contains a Charged Particle Monitor or CPM.

Astrosat Mission Features

The unique quality and feature of the Astrosat Mission are that it facilitates multiple multi-wavelength observations of several astronomical objects with only one satellite. When Astrosat was launched from Sriharikota's Satish Dhawan Space Centre, its lift-off mass was 1,515 kg, and it was thrown into a 650km orbit that was inclined at a 6-degree angle to the equator. After Astrosat was injected into orbit, the space telescope's two solar panels were quickly deployed.

The Astrosat Mission's minimum useful life is around 5 years. The satellite is managed, maintained, and controlled by the Spacecraft Control Centre situated inside ISRO Telemetry, Tracking and Command Network (ISTRAC), Bengaluru's Mission Operations Complex (MOX).

The five payloads of Astrosat gather scientific data and telemeter it to the MOX's ground station. Consequently, the Indian Space Science Data Centre near Bengaluru processes, archives, and distributes the data thus obtained.

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Astrosat Mission - Scientific Objectives

The primary scientific objectives of the Astrosat Mission are the following:

  • To understand binary star systems' high energy processes. Binary star systems contain black holes and neutron stars.
  • Observe and estimate neutron stars' magnetic fields
  • Study high energy processes in star systems and star birth regions in the outer galaxy
  • Detect and identify new bright X-ray sources in the sky
  • Perform a limited deep field survey of the Ultraviolet region's Universe
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Besides these, the Astrosat Mission will also carry out the following:

  • Study X-ray emitting objects over a wide energy band through low-to-moderate-resolution Spectroscopy
  • Timing studies of X-ray binaries' periodic and aperiodic phenomena
  • Study X-ray pulsars' pulsations
  • Monitor active galactic nuclei's short and long-term intensity variations
  • Perform time-lag studies in UV/Optical radiation and low/hard X-rays
  • Detect and study X-ray transients

The Astrosat Mission has transformed India's might in the field of astronomy. To use Astrosat data more efficiently, ISRO has partnered with the Inter-University Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics (IUCAA) Pune to establish an AstroSat Support Cell (ASC). The ASC plays a pivotal role in proposal making and deciphering the data received from the Astrosat.

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FAQs on the Astrosat Mission

Q1) What is the Astrosat mission?

Astrosat marks the beginning of a new era in the field of Indian astronomy. It is India's first dedicated astronomy mission to observe and study celestial sources in multiple wavelengths, such as Optical Bands, Near Ultraviolet (NUV), Far Ultraviolet (FUV), and soft to hard X-rays.

Q2) What is the full form of Astrosat?

Astrosat's full form is Astronomy Satellite. It is a dedicated multi-wavelength space telescope launched on a Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle named PSLV-C30.

Q3) What type of telescope is the Astrosat?

Astrosat is a dedicated multi-wavelength space telescope to observe and study celestial sources in multiple wavelengths, such as Optical Bands, Near Ultraviolet (NUV), and Far Ultraviolet (FUV), and soft to hard X-rays.

Q4) Where is the Astrosat located?

Astrosat is managed, maintained, and controlled by the Spacecraft Control Centre situated inside ISRO Telemetry, Tracking and Command Network (ISTRAC), Bengaluru's Mission Operations Complex (MOX).