On Sunday, senior scientists at the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) announced the likelihood of launching the country’s first polarimetry mission , the X-Ray Polarimeter Satellite (XPoSat), by December 28. In a statement, ISRO highlighted the significance of this mission, noting that while India has established space-based X-Ray astronomy with a focus on imaging, time-domain studies, and spectroscopy, XPoSat represents a substantial value-addition.
Polarimetry, a potent tool in astronomy, allows astronomers to deduce information about celestial objects, ranging from passing comets to distant galaxies.ISRO scientists consider the mission unique and crucial because it will offer insights into the polarization of light emitted by challenging-to-study astronomical sources, including black holes, neutron stars, active galactic nuclei, and pulsar wind nebulae.
According to ISRO‘s latest mission document, the XPoSat spacecraft will conduct observations from a low earth orbit, positioned at an altitude of approximately 650km and maintaining a low inclination of around six degrees, which is non-Sun synchronous. The spacecraft will carry two scientific payloads.
This upcoming mission is positioned to have a considerable influence on India’s space exploration initiatives. Symbolizing a notable milestone in the progress of studying celestial phenomena through the application of polarimetry techniques.
“…With these two payloads, the XPoSat mission is capable of simultaneous studies of temporal, spectral, and polarization features of the bright x-ray sources. The mission objectives include—measurement of x-ray polarization in the energy band of 8-30 keV emanated from x-ray sources; long-term spectral and temporal studies of cosmic x-ray sources in the energy band of 0.8-15 keV. The payloads onboard XPoSat will observe the x-ray sources during its transit through the Earth’s shadow—during the eclipse period,” the space agency said.