India set to launch its first X-Ray Polarimeter Satellite says ISRO

The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has revealed plans for the launch of India’s inaugural X-Ray Polarimeter Satellite (XPoSat), dedicated to investigating the polarization of intense X-Ray sources. Despite the established presence of space-based X-Ray astronomy in India, with a focus on imaging, time-domain studies, and spectroscopy, the forthcoming XPoSat mission is positioned as a significant enhancement. This research, complementing traditional time and frequency domain studies, introduces a fresh dimension to X-Ray astronomy, generating anticipation and enthusiasm within the scientific community.

The XPoSat spacecraft is designed for observation from Low Earth Orbit (non-sun synchronous orbit at ~650 km altitude, with a low inclination of approximately six degrees), equipped with two scientific payloads. Through these payloads, the XPoSat mission facilitates simultaneous studies of temporal, spectral, and polarization features of bright X-Ray sources.

The mission’s objectives encompass measuring X-Ray polarization in the 8-30 keV energy band emitted from X-Ray sources, along with conducting long-term spectral and temporal studies of cosmic X-Ray sources in the 0.8-15 keV energy band. The mission’s anticipated lifespan is around five years, during which the payloads onboard XPoSat will observe X-Ray sources while the spacecraft transits through the Earth’s shadow, particularly during the eclipse period.

XPoSat’s primary payload, POLIX (Polarimeter Instrument in X-rays), is specifically designed by the Raman Research Institute (RRI) in Bengaluru to measure polarimetry parameters—particularly the degree and angle of polarization—in the medium X-ray energy range of 8-30 keV photons originating from astronomical sources. This payload was developed with support from various ISRO centers.

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