Coming off the high of sending a spacecraft to Mars, the much heralded Mangalayaan, with jugaad technology, ISRO is getting ready to launch India’s first space observatory, Astrosat, in October this year.
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The 1650-kg-heavy spacecraft will orbit Earth equatorially at a distance of 650 km and will study galaxies, black holes etc. i.e. distant celestial objects. Astrosat has been designed to function for 5 years and will provide astronomy related information. Indian astronomers till now have had to rely on foreign space telescopes like the Hubble.
With this launch slated for October, India will join an exclusive club with only the US, Russia, Europe and Japan having launched space observatories so far.
ISRO developed the 6 payloads (4 x-ray, 1 UV telescope, 1 charge particle monitor) in collaboration with several Indian and foreign institutes/universities. These were the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Mumbai; the Indian Institute of Astrophysics and the Raman Research Institute, Bengaluru; and the Inter-University Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics, Pune; Canadian Space Agency and the University of Leicester, U.K.
Currently, tests are being conducted before the launch in October from Sriharikota.
According to The Hindu, one of the ISRO directors said that Astrosat would be the first such satellite to scan, simultaneously, the sky in most of the frequency spectra from ultraviolet to optical and low- to high-energy X-ray bands.