ISRO rings in the New Year with launch of XPoSat to explore Cosmic X-Rays on 1 January 2024

JNS: The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) is gearing up to kick off the New Year with an exciting mission as it prepares to launch its first X-Ray Polarimeter Satellite (XPoSat) on 1 January, 2024.

This ambitious endeavor aims to explore the intense polarization of X-ray sources in outer space.

The X-Ray Polarimeter mission is India’s first and the world’s second, following NASA’s Imaging X-ray Polarimetry Explorer (IXPE) launched in 2021.

Through the XPoSat mission, astronomers are poised to gain invaluable insights into the behavior of X-rays in the cosmic expanse. Additionally, this mission promises to uncover new revelations about significant celestial events.

Scheduled to be executed by ISRO’s Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) at approximately 9:10 am on January 1, the XPoSat mission’s objectives are no less than ambitious.

It intends to closely study the 50 brightest-known sources in outer space, which include pulsars, black hole X-ray binaries, active galactic nuclei, neutron stars, and non-thermal supernova remnants.

The satellite will be positioned in a circular low Earth orbit (LEO) ranging from 500 to 700 kilometers and is expected to remain operational for a minimum of five years.

Following its insertion into a low Earth orbit at an altitude of about 650 kilometers, the XPoSat will commence providing valuable data for scientific study for the subsequent five years.

The X-Ray Polarimeter Satellite will carry two primary payloads—one developed by the Raman Research Institute (RRI) based in Bengaluru, and the other by ISRO’s U R Rao Satellite Centre (URSC).

The primary payload, known as POLIX (Polarimeter Instrument in X-rays), has been designed as an X-ray polarimeter catering to astronomical observations within the medium energy band of 8-30 keV. It will facilitate observations of a diverse range of bright astronomical sources across various categories.

The secondary payload, XSPECT, is an X-ray Spectroscopy and Timing instrument, purpose-built to provide rapid timing and spectroscopic resolution for soft X-rays (0.8-15 keV). XSPECT will enable the observation of various celestial phenomena, including X-ray pulsars, black hole binaries, low-magnetic field neutron stars (NS), active galactic nuclei (AGNs), and magnetars.

ISRO’s XPoSat mission represents a significant step forward in the realm of space exploration and promises to contribute significantly to our understanding of cosmic X-rays and the universe’s mysteries.”

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