XPoSat mission


  • The Indian Space Research Organisation is collaborating with the Raman Research Institute (RRI), Bengaluru, an autonomous research institute, to build the X-Ray Polarimeter Satellite (XPoSat) that is scheduled to be launched later this year.

What is the XPoSat mission?

  • According to ISRO, “XPoSat will study various dynamics of bright astronomical X-ray sources in extreme conditions.”
  • It has been billed as India’s first, and only the world’s second polarimetry mission that is meant to study various dynamics of bright astronomical X-ray sources in extreme conditions.

    XPoSat mission
    Photo Credit: Wikipedia
  • The other such major mission is NASA’s Imaging X-ray Polarimetry Explorer (IXPE) that was launched in 2021.
  • IXPE carries three state-of-the-art space telescopes.
  • Each of the three identical telescopes hosts one light-weight X-ray mirror and one detector unit.
  • These will help observe polarized X-rays from neutron stars and supermassive black holes. By measuring the polarisation of these X-rays, we can study where the light came from and understand the geometry and inner workings of the light source.

How are X-Rays witnessed in space?

  • As NASA explains on its website, X-rays have much higher energy and much shorter wavelengths, between 0.03 and 3 nanometers, so small that some x-rays are no bigger than a single atom of many elements.
  • The physical temperature of an object determines the wavelength of the radiation it emits. The hotter the object, the shorter the wavelength of peak emission.
  • X-rays come from objects that are millions of degrees Celsius — such as pulsars, galactic supernova remnants, and black holes.

What are XPoSat’s payloads?

  • The spacecraft will carry two scientific payloads in a low earth orbit.
  • The primary payload POLIX (Polarimeter Instrument in X-rays) will measure the polarimetry parameters (degree and angle of polarisation).
  • The payload is being developed by RRI in collaboration with ISRO’s U R Rao Satellite Centre (URSC) in Bengaluru.
  • POLIX is expected to observe about 40 bright astronomical sources of different categories during the planned lifetime of XPoSat mission of about 5 years.
  • This is the first payload in the medium X-ray energy band dedicated for polarimetry measurements.
  • The XSPECT (X-ray Spectroscopy and Timing) payload will give spectroscopic information (on how light is absorbed and emitted by objects).
  • It would observe several types of sources, such as X-ray pulsars, blackhole binaries, low-magnetic field neutron star, etc.

Source: IE

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