Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) successfully launched the first ever space observatory ‘ASTROSAT’ today. With the launch of ASTROSAT, India joined the league of few like the United States, European Space Agency, Japan and Russia having such facility. The satellite was launched from first launch pad at the Satish Dhawan Space Centre, Sriharokota along with six satellites for Canada, Indonesia and the United States. This was also the first time that ISRO launched a satellite for the United States.
ASTROSAT is the Country’s first dedicated multi wavelength space observatory and will serve as a one-stop shop for studying astronomical sources. While the other such satellites are capable of observing only a narrow range of wavelength band, ASTROSAT is unique in its own way. The five instruments (payloads) of ASTROSAT can observe a wider variety of wavelengths – from visible light to the ultraviolet & low and high energy X-ray regions of the electromagnetic spectrum, thus giving a detailed understanding of our Universe.
ISRO has made ASTROSAT with the help of all major astronomy institutions like Inter University Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics (IUCAA) Pune, Tata Institute of Fundamental Research Mumbai, Indian Institute of Astrophysics and Raman Research Institute Bangalore and two institutions from Canada and the United Kingdom. ISRO will soon conduct thorough tests of all the five instruments of ASTROSAT before commencing the regular operations.
Dr. Varun Bhalerao, Post Doctoral Fellow at IUCAA, Pune said to a national newspaper, “ASTROSAT is not the first of its kind but is the best so far. It is the best all rounder in the world. It is a one-stop shop for studying astronomical sources.” India also have the ground-based telescopes, but like other instruments, ground-based telescopes have limited uses. These can only detect radio waves and infrared radiation as they penetrate the Earth’s atmosphere and hence what radiations they receive are basically modified. With having the facility to detect the radiations in space, this would enhance the accuracy of the studies.
ASTROSAT was launched using ISRO’s Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle PSLV-C30 which is also the thirtieth consecutive success for the launch vehicle. Within 22 minutes of its launch, PSLV successfully placed the ASTROSAT in the orbit and then separated other six satellites in next three minutes, as reported by ISRO. The seven satellites carried by PSLV-C30 together weighed about 1631 kg at lift-off. Earlier five British Satellites were launched by ISRO in July.
Till date, PSLV has launched a total of 84 satellites including 51 satellites for foreign customers. The satellite launch of today was assisted by ANTRIX Corporation Limited, the commercial arm of ISRO, owned by Government of India and managed by Department Of Space.
The other six satellites launched are Canada’s NLS-14 nanosatellite, Indonesia’s LAPAN-A2 microsatellite and four identical LEMUR nano satellites for the United States. Canada’s NLS-14 is a maritime monitoring nanosatellite using the Automatic Identification System, Indonesia’s LAPAN-A2 is aimed at benefitting Indonesian radio amateur communities for disaster mitigation and carrying out Earth surveillance. All the four identical LEMUR satellites for the United States are non-visual remote sensing satellites that aims to focus on global maritime intelligence through vessel tracking.
ISRO Chairman A.S. Kiran Kumar congratulated the scientists and said, “Today is one of the eventful days for us. Our PSLV has once again proved to be a workhorse.” President Pranab Mukherjee and Prime Minister Narendra Modi also congratulated for the successful launch of satellites.