ISRO Chairman K Radhakrishnan recently said that ISRO would launch its first navigation satellite next year, under its Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System programme which would be followed by six more such spacecraft. He said that ISRO was now going to make a “very major inroad” in science, and referred to Astrosat, a multi wave-length observatory in space, which it plans to launch in the next financial year. He stressed the need to build “sufficient number of scientific talent” to utilise the space-based data generated by ISRO’s satellites.

Here are some important points on Astrosat:

  • Astrosat is India’s first dedicated astronomy satellite.
  • It is scheduled to launch on board the PSLV in 2012.
  • This satellite comes as further development of the successful satellite-borne Indian X-ray Astronomy Experiment (IXAE), which was launched in 1996.
  • It will study the 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 (AGN) with time scales ranging from milliseconds to few hours to days.
  • Its main focus will be
    • Simultaneous multi-wavelength monitoring of intensity variations in a broad range of cosmic sources
    • Monitoring the X-ray sky for new transients
    • Sky surveys in the hard X-ray and UV bands
    • Broadband spectroscopic studies of X-ray binaries, AGN, SNRs, clusters of galaxies and stellar coronae
    • Studies of periodic and non-periodic variability of X-ray sources.

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