India Launches X-Ray Polarimetry Space Observatory for Cosmic Radiation Research

India marked the beginning of the new year with a significant milestone in its space program by launching an X-ray polarimetry space observatory. The Indian Space Research Organisation’s (ISRO) XPoSat was successfully deployed aboard the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle, also known as PSLV-C58, on New Year’s Day. This observatory is the first of its kind from India and the second globally, following NASA’s Imaging X-ray Polarimetry Explorer (IXPE) launched in 2021.

The primary objective of XPoSat is to study cosmic radiation sources such as black holes, pulsars, and neutron stars. Equipped with two payloads, POLIX (Polarimeter Instrument in X-rays) and XSPECT (X-ray Spectroscopy and Timing), XPoSat will precisely measure the angle and degree of polarization in X-rays. These measurements will provide valuable insights and enhance our understanding of existing data.

The atmosphere on Earth does not allow for accurate observations of X-rays due to absorption, making it essential to carry out such research from space. By depositing XPoSat into a 650km orbit with a six-degree inclination, the PSLV-C58 launch vehicle successfully positioned the observatory in its desired location.

In addition to XPoSat, the PSLV-C58 also carried ten payloads on the PSLV Orbital Experiment Module 3 (POEM-3). This module, based on the spent fourth stage of the PSLV, serves as a low-cost micro-gravity test bed for startups, academia, and other budget users. These payloads included experiments such as radiation shielding, interplanetary dust counting, and fuel cell demonstrations.

The successful mission has garnered praise and attention, raising the bar for India’s space program and placing it on par with other leading nations in the industry. Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed his delight, stating, “A great start to 2024 thanks to our scientists! This launch is wonderful news for the space sector and will enhance India’s prowess in this field.” Meanwhile, ISRO Chairman S Somanath assured everyone that this is only the beginning, as India is preparing for its ambitious human space mission, Mission Gaganyaan, scheduled for launch in 2025.

With this latest achievement, India’s space program continues to push boundaries and contribute to the advancements of space science and research.

FAQs about India’s XPoSat X-ray polarimetry space observatory:

1. What is XPoSat?
XPoSat is an X-ray polarimetry space observatory launched by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) on New Year’s Day. It is the first of its kind from India and the second globally.

2. What are the objectives of XPoSat?
The primary objective of XPoSat is to study cosmic radiation sources such as black holes, pulsars, and neutron stars. It will measure the angle and degree of polarization in X-rays to provide valuable insights and enhance our understanding of existing data.

3. Why is it important to carry out X-ray observations from space?
The atmosphere on Earth does not allow for accurate observations of X-rays due to absorption. By conducting research from space, XPoSat can overcome this limitation and provide more accurate measurements.

4. What payloads are equipped on XPoSat?
XPoSat is equipped with two payloads: POLIX (Polarimeter Instrument in X-rays) and XSPECT (X-ray Spectroscopy and Timing). These payloads enable precise measurement of X-ray polarization.

5. What other experiments were carried out during the launch?
In addition to XPoSat, the launch vehicle PSLV-C58 also carried ten payloads on the PSLV Orbital Experiment Module 3 (POEM-3). These payloads included experiments such as radiation shielding, interplanetary dust counting, and fuel cell demonstrations.

6. How is this mission significant for India’s space program?
The successful launch of XPoSat has raised the bar for India’s space program and placed it on par with other leading nations in the industry. It showcases India’s prowess in space science and research.

7. What was the response from the Prime Minister and ISRO Chairman?
Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed delight and stated that this launch is wonderful news for the space sector and will enhance India’s capabilities. ISRO Chairman S Somanath assured that this is only the beginning, and India is preparing for its ambitious human space mission, Mission Gaganyaan, scheduled for launch in 2025.

Key terms:
– X-ray polarimetry: The measurement of the polarization of X-rays. Polarization refers to the orientation of the electromagnetic waves.
– Cosmic radiation sources: Objects or phenomena in space that emit radiation, such as black holes, pulsars, and neutron stars.
– Polarimeter: A device used to measure the polarization of light or X-rays.

Related links:
– Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO)

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