ISRO Testing Own Space Observatory ‘Astrosat’ for Launch in October

ISRO scientists working on ASTROSAT which is ready for tests ahead of its launch in October. (Photo: ISRO)

ISRO scientists working on ASTROSAT which is ready for tests ahead of its launch in October. (Photo: ISRO)

India will launch its own first dedicated space observatory similar to NASA’s Hubble to study deep space data about stars, galaxies and black holes, said ISRO, which has launched Mars Orbiter successfully last year.

With the assembly of the 1650-kg space mission over, intense testing will be done to ensure the mission’s five-year orbit around Earth at 650-km speed equatorially, said the Indian Space Research Organisation on Tuesday.

The observatory was built by Bangalore-based ISRO Satellite Centre (ISAC) and once launched, India hopes to join the elite club of space players like the US, Europe, Russia and Japan with the independent space exploratory mission to provide data to its astronomy community for the next five years.

ISRO said the assembly of the mission was completed last week and switched on. “All the payloads and sub-systems are integrated into the satellite. Mechanical fit checks of the satellite with the PSLV payload adaptor were performed successfully,” the space agency informed.

Moreover, Astrosat would be the first of its kind with the ability to scan the sky in variable frequencies from ultraviolet to optical and low to high energy X-ray bands, said ISRO. It is significant as the ASTROSAT is the first mission to be operated as a space observatory by ISRO.

The past satellites of ISRO carried out specific tasks unlike the current one which is huge with a dedicated astronomical observatory. “It should be of immense benefit to our scientists, who have depended on inputs from other agencies and sources like the Hubble,” said ISRO.

Now that the mission is ready to be launched on ISRO workhorse PSLV C-34, Astrosat will be put to tests such as electromagnetic interference, electromagnetic compatibility, thermal vacuum, vibration and acoustics, among others. “Spacecraft parameters are normal, which indicates everything is functioning well,” said ISRO.

Once successfully tested, the observatory will be transported to the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota, Andhra Pradesh for launch in October.

The PSLV will carry six payloads developed by ISRO jointly with the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Mumbai, the Indian Institute of Astrophysics and the Raman Research Institute in Bangalore and the Inter-University Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics in Pune. Other two payloads were developed by foreign space researchers — the Canadian Space Agency and the University of Leicester, UK.

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