Updated: October 2, 2015 2:51:53 pm
Electromagnetic radiation from space is distorted during passage through Earth’s atmosphere, hindering understanding of celestial objects. In 1946, American astrophysicist Lyman Spitzer had the idea of an observatory in space; his vision was realised with NASA’s launch of Hubble Space Telescope in 1990. European, Japanese and Russian space agencies followed with their space telescopes and, on September 28, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) put its own Astrosat in orbit
LONG IN THE MAKING
ISRO carried out a satellite-bound Indian X-ray Astronomy Experiment in 1996 and, in 2004, the space observatory was approved for development. Progress was slow as ISRO focussed on projects like heavy rocket launchers, communication satellites and deep space missions like Moon (2008) and Mars (2014). Decisions on instruments and studies of the observatory took long
Astrosat is intended to
* Understand high-energy processes in binary star systems containing neutron stars and black holes
* Estimate magnetic fields of neutron stars
* Study star birth regions and high-energy processes in star systems beyond our galaxy
* Detect new, briefly bright X-ray sources
* Perform a limited deep field survey of the universe in the ultraviolet region
Data collected by the five payloads will be transmitted to the Indian Space Science Data Centre (ISSDC) at Byalalu near Bengaluru; will be accessible to researchers at top astronomy institutions and universities
Besides ISRO, the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research and Bhabha Atomic Research Centre, Mumbai; Indian Institute of Astrophysics and Raman Research Institute, Bengaluru; Inter-University Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics, Pune; and S N Bose National Centre for Basic Sciences, Kolkata, were involved.
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