X-ray Polarimeter Satellite(XPoSat): ISRO’s XPoSat mission is a significant endeavor by the Indian Space Research Organisation to enhance our understanding of the emission mechanisms of various astronomical sources such as black holes and neutron stars. While there are already existing space-based observatories that provide valuable spectroscopic and timing data, determining the exact nature of the light emitted by these celestial bodies remains a challenging task for astronomers.
The XPoSat mission, scheduled to commence on January 1, 2024, aims to measure the orientation of vibration in the light wave over five years. This measurement will enable scientists to gain insights into the radiation mechanism and geometry of celestial sources. By capturing the degree and angle of polarization, the mission will provide two crucial dimensions that will contribute to our comprehension of these celestial phenomena, as stated by ISRO.
What is the XPoSat mission of ISRO?
ISRO’s XPoSat is a space-based observatory that aims to address the challenge faced by astronomers in determining the nature of light emitted by celestial bodies. While existing observatories provide spectroscopic and timing data, understanding the exact characteristics of this light remains a complex task.
Over 5 years, the XPoSat mission will focus on measuring the orientation of vibration in light waves, enabling a better understanding of the radiation mechanism and geometry of celestial sources. By capturing the degree and angle of polarization, this mission will contribute two essential dimensions to our comprehension of these celestial phenomena, as stated by ISRO.
About The XPoSat mission
- The ISRO’s PSLV will carry out the mission at approximately 9.10 am on January 1.
- The objective of the XPoSat is to investigate the 50 most luminous celestial sources in space, such as pulsars, black hole X-ray binaries, active galactic nuclei, neutron stars, and non-thermal supernova remnants.
- Placed in a circular low Earth orbit ranging from 500 to 700 km, the satellite is expected to operate for a minimum of five years.
- Once the XPoSat is positioned in a low Earth orbit (LEO) at an altitude of around 650 km, it will commence transmitting data for the subsequent five years. I
- SRO has disclosed that the X-Ray Polarimeter Satellite will carry two primary payloads.
- The first payload, known as POLIX (Polarimeter Instrument in X-rays), is developed by the Raman Research Institute (RRI) based in Bengaluru. POLIX functions as an X-ray Polarimeter specifically designed for astronomical observations within the medium energy range of 8-30 keV. Its capabilities extend to observing various bright astronomical sources.
- The second payload, named XSPECT, is an X-ray Spectroscopy and Timing instrument.
- It is engineered to provide rapid timing and spectroscopic resolution in soft X-rays spanning from 0.8 to 15 keV.
- XSPECT will be utilized to study a diverse range of sources, including X-ray pulsars, black hole binaries, low-magnetic field neutron stars (NS), active galactic nuclei (AGNs), and magnetars.
- The X-Ray Polarimeter mission holds the distinction of being India’s inaugural endeavor in this field and the world’s second, following the launch of NASA’s Imaging X-ray Polarimetry Explorer (IXPE) in 2021.
Techniques/Tools developed by ISRO that will help in the XPoSat mission
- ISRO has made a significant technological contribution with the creation of FEAST (Finite Element Analysis of Structures), an advanced software tool.
- Developed by scientists and engineers at ISRO’s main center VSCC in Thiruvananthapuram, this tool is specifically designed for conducting Finite Element Analysis (FEA) on structures such as satellites, rockets, aircraft, and buildings.
- Polarimetry is a technique used to measure the polarization degree of light reflected from a satellite’s surface.
- By employing polarimetry, astronomers can analyze and quantify various characteristics of celestial objects that may be challenging to identify using alternative methods.
- For instance, polarimetry enables the determination of the size, shape, and orientation of dust particles found around comets or within planet-forming disks orbiting stars.
The XPoSat mission symbolizes India’s dedication to venturing into uncharted territories in the field of astronomy. Through the exploration of X-ray polarization, our goal is to enhance our understanding of the vast cosmos and ignite a passion for groundbreaking scientific endeavors in generations to come. India, a formidable player, is currently making significant advancements in an industry that was previously limited. This remarkable progress showcases the maturity and confidence of our nation, as we fearlessly delve into the realm of space exploration.