March 1, 2024

Lukmaan IAS

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SIGN OF THE FUTURE: ON ISRO’S PSLV C58 MISSION

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THE CONTEXT: The ISRO has launched two missions in the five months since its success with Chandrayaan-3. The Aditya L-1 space probe to study the sun and the XPoSat to study polarised X-rays emitted in astrophysical phenomena. XPoSat has been launched in a two-part mission, onboard a Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) on its C58 flight.

WHAT IS X-RAY POLARIMETER SATELLITE (XPOSAT)?

  • It aims to analyse the polarisation of X-rays emanating from bright celestial sources in the medium frequency band.
  • XPoSat comprises two payloads, including Indian X-ray Polarimeter (POLIX) and X-ray Spectroscopy and Timing (XSPECT). They have been built by Raman Research Institute and UR Rao Satellite Centre respectively, both located in Bengaluru. The spacecraft is designated for observation from low earth orbit.
  • Together, they are expected to shed light on intense X-ray sources such as pulsars and black holes.
  • The observations will be done when the magnetars or neutron stars are in transit through the Earth’s shadow during the eclipse period.

SCIENTIFIC PAYLOADS ONBOARD XPOSAT:

  • POLIX: It is the world’s first instrument designed to operate in the medium X-ray of 8 to 30 kilo electron Volt (keV) energy band. It comprises a collimator, which is the key component to filter light originating from bright sources in the field of view. Moreover, there is a scatterer consisting of four X-ray proportional counter detectors that prevent the trapped light from escaping. It will observe a few tens of astronomical sources.
  • XSPECT: It is designed to conduct fast timing and high spectroscopic resolution in a soft X-ray energy band (0.8-15 keV). It will observe a variety of sources like X-ray pulsars, black hole binaries, low-magnetic field neutron stars, active galactic nuclei and magnetars.

ISRO’s MISSION SIGNIFICANCE:

  • Significance of PSLV: This is only the third time ISRO has operated the PSLV fourth stage in this way. The PSLV C58 mission represents a union of the aspirations of professional scientists, aspiring students of science, and India’s private spaceflight sector.
  • Increasing demands: This mission is an illustration of the increasing demands of ISRO itself as it shows increasing technological capabilities based on scientific missions. The PSLV C58 mission is a symbol of the demands being made of
  • Research oriented: It is being observed that the ratio of scientific to technological missions that ISRO has launched is skewed in favour of the latter, at the expense of research in the sense of discovery. Those science-oriented missions have all been exceptional.
  • Cost effective mission: ISRO has been successful in cost effective missions. Through a strategic blend of innovation and planning, ISRO consistently executes missions that meet its objectives while maintaining affordability.
  • Collaborations: There is enduring partnership of ISRO with educational institutions, research organizations, and private industry to leverage diverse expertise and resources leading to innovation.

THE WAY FORWARD:

  • Unique needs and priorities: The science-technology skew is a reminder that ISRO is among one of the world’s spacefaring organisations with its unique needs and priorities. This is exemplified by the second part of the C58 mission.
  • Striking a balance: India faces competition with established space powers like the US, Russia, and China, who have made significant strides in space exploration. There is a need of striking a balance between collaborating with international space agencies to compete on global stage.
  • Enhancing capabilities of state: There is a need for enhancing capabilities of the state to establish frameworks and procedures that can overcome financial constraints and enable the harnessing of important resources.
  • Promote Indigenous Technologies: There is a need to encourage the development of indigenous technologies that ensures self-reliance and reduces dependence on external sources for space technologies.

THE CONCLUSION:

India’s space missions are full of promises and upcoming missions hold the potential to reshape our understanding of space. There is a need for constant enhancing of our technological capabilities to solidify India’s position as a prominent player in the realm of space exploration.

PREVIOUS YEAR QUESTIONS:

Q.1 What is India’s plan to have its own space station and how will it benefit our space programme? (2019)

Q.2 Discuss India’s achievements in the field of Space Science and Technology. How the application of this technology has helped India in its socio-economic development? (2016)

MAINS PRACTICE QUESTIONS:

Q.1 India has achieved remarkable successes in space missions in recent years. In this regard, discuss the challenges and opportunities for Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO).

SOURCE: https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/editorial/sign-of-the-future-the-hindu-editorial-on-isros-pslv-c58-mission/article67695030.ece#:~:text=The%20XSPECT%20payload%2C%20by%20ISRO’s,as%20pulsars%20and%20black%20holes.

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