ISRO Scheduled to Launch PSLV-C58 with XPoSat on January 1 for the Study of Black Holes and Neutron Stars

Scheduled for liftoff at 9:10 am, the XPoSat mission will ride atop the PSLV, following in the footsteps of NASA’s Imaging X-ray Polarimetry Explorer (IXPE), which was launched in 2021 and marked the world’s first dedicated polarimetry mission.

India is set to embark on a groundbreaking space exploration mission as the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) prepares to launch the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV-C58) carrying the nation’s first X-Ray Polarimeter Satellite (XPoSat) in January the next year. This mission signifies a significant milestone in India’s space exploration journey, as XPoSat aims to delve into the intricate study of polarisation in intense X-ray sources, positioning India at the forefront of space-based polarimetry.

Scheduled for liftoff at 9:10 am, the XPoSat mission will ride atop the PSLV, following in the footsteps of NASA’s Imaging X-ray Polarimetry Explorer (IXPE), which was launched in 2021 and marked the world’s first dedicated polarimetry mission. XPoSat aims to scrutinize the polarisation characteristics of the 50 brightest known sources in the universe, encompassing a diverse range of celestial objects such as pulsars, black hole non-thermal supernova remnants, X-ray binaries, neutron stars, and active galactic nuclei.

The satellite is destined for a circular low Earth orbit, positioned at an altitude ranging from 500 to 700 kilometers, with an expected mission lifespan of at least five years. The primary payload, the Polarimeter Instrument in X-rays (POLIX), is designed to measure both the degree and angle of polarisation in the medium X-ray energy range of 8-30 keV photons originating from astronomical sources. Complementing POLIX, the X-ray Spectroscopy and Timing (XSPECT) payload will furnish spectroscopic information within the energy range of 0.8-15 keV.

These cutting-edge instruments, developed through collaboration between the Raman Research Institute (RRI) and the U R Rao Satellite Centre (URSC), are poised to provide novel insights into the physics of celestial objects. The measurement of X-ray polarisation enables scientists to extract crucial information about the geometry and emission mechanisms of these distant sources.

The XPoSat mission is anticipated to revolutionize our comprehension of the universe by introducing two critical dimensions—degree and angle of polarisation—to the existing spectroscopic and timing data. This approach holds the potential to resolve ambiguities in current theoretical models related to astronomical emissions, paving the way for a deeper understanding of the cosmos. As India embarks on this scientific endeavor, it stands poised to make significant contributions to the global understanding of celestial phenomena and further solidify its position in the realm of space exploration.