ISRO successfully launched India's first space observatory ASTROSAT from Sriharikota on Monday.Wikimedia Commons/Johnxxx9

Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) registered another milestone in its history by successfully launching a rocket, including India's first dedicated space observatory, on Monday from Sriharikota spaceport in Andhra Pradesh.

The rocket, PSLV C-30, carrying seven satellites and six passengers was launched at 10 am.

A rocket, carrying seven satellites, including India's first space observatory, blasted off on Monday. The 44.4-metre-tall, weighing around 320 tonne, polar satellite launch vehicle's XL variant (PSLV-XL) blasted off the first launch pad at the rocket port, IANS reported.

The rocket carries one satellite each from Indonesia and Canada, and four nanosatellites from the United States, along with ASTROSAT -- India's first dedicated multi wavelength space observatory that has a lift-off mass of about 1513 kg..

"What it means for India is this: it is one of the first scientific missions which will be available to the Indian researcher community as an observation opportunity. This is a starting point for such things," ISRO Chairman AS Kiran Kumar had recently said on the launch, according to PTI report.

"ASTROSAT will observe universe in the optical, Ultraviolet, low and high energy X-ray regions of the electromagnetic spectrum, whereas most other scientific satellites are capable of observing a narrow range of wavelength band. All major astronomy Institutions and some Universities in India will participate in these observations," ISRO said on its website.

The spacecraft control centre at Bengaluru will manage ASTROSAT after it is injected into Orbit.

"After injection into Orbit, the two solar panels of ASTROSAT are automatically deployed in quick succession. The spacecraft control centre at Mission Operations Complex (MOX) of ISRO Telemetry, Tracking and Command Network (ISTRAC) at Bangalore will manage the satellite during its mission life," ISRO said.

ISRO defines the scientific objectives of ASTROSAT mission as:

  • To understand high energy processes in binary star systems containing neutron stars and black holes.
  • Estimate magnetic fields of neutron stars.
  • Study star birth regions and high energy processes in star systems lying beyond our galaxy.
  • Detect new briefly bright X-ray sources in the sky.
  • Perform a limited deep field survey of the Universe in the Ultraviolet region.

The data will be gathered by five payloads of ASTROSAT and transmitted to the ground station at MOX, where it (data) will be processed, archived and distributed by Indian Space Science Data Centre (ISSDC) located at Byalalu, near Bangalore.

  • The Ultraviolet Imaging Telescope (UVIT) capable of observing the sky in the Visible, Near Ultraviolet and Far Ultraviolet regions of the electromagnetic spectrum.
  • Large Area X-ray Proportional Counter (LAXPC) is designed for study the variations in the emission of X-rays from sources like X-ray binaries, Active Galactic Nuclei and other cosmic sources.
  • Soft X-ray Telescope (SXT) is designed for studying how the X-ray spectrum of 0.3-8 keV range coming from distant celestial bodies varies with time.
  • Cadmium Zinc Telluride Imager (CZTI), functioning in the X-ray region, extends the capability of the satellite to sense X-rays of high energy in 10-100 keV range.
  • Scanning Sky Monitor (SSM) is intended to scan the sky for long term monitoring of bright X-ray sources in binary stars, and for the detection and location of sources that become bright in X-rays for a short duration of time.

The five payloads of ASTROSAT rely on the visible, Ultraviolet and X-rays coming from distant celestial sources. The payloads have been developed by ISRO in collaboration with Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Indian Institute of Astrophysics, Inter-University Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics and Raman Research Institute.

Canadian Space Agency and University of Leiscester, the United Kingdom, has also contributed in the development of two payloads, ISRO said.

India became the fourth country to launch its own space observatory after Hubble Space Telescope by the US and Europe together, Russian scientific satellite Spektr-R and Japan's Suzaku astronomy satellite.

ISRO had registered a milestone for the first time when it injected Mangalyaan or Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM) into the orbits of Mars in September 2014, nearly a year after launching it in November 2013.

ISRO became the first space agency in Asia to enter Mars in first attempt and fourth in the world to reach Mars after the Soviet space program, NASA, and the European Space Agency.