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What Is XPoSat, India’s First Polarimetry Mission?

XPoSat (X-ray Polarimeter Satellite) is India’s first dedicated polarimetry mission, designed to investigate the dynamics of intense astronomical X-ray sources under harsh conditions. In low Earth orbit, the spacecraft will...

XPoSat (X-ray Polarimeter Satellite) is India’s first dedicated polarimetry mission, designed to investigate the dynamics of intense astronomical X-ray sources under harsh conditions. In low Earth orbit, the spacecraft will carry two scientific payloads. POLIX (Polarimeter Instrument in X-rays), the principal payload, will measure polarimetry parameters (degree and angle of polarisation) in the medium X-ray energy range of 8-30 keV photons of astronomical origin. The XSPECT (X-ray Spectroscopy and Timing) payload will provide spectroscopic data from 0.8 to 15 keV.

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Why In The News?

  • The Indian Space Research Organisation Is Collaborating With The Raman Research Institute (RRI), Bengaluru, An Autonomous Research Institute, To Build The X-Ray Polarimeter Satellite (XPoSat) That Is Scheduled To Be Launched Later This Year.
  • Recently, ISRO Chairman S Somanath Urged Indian Scientific Institutions To Identify Talented Students And Take Steps To Motivate Them In Effectively Using The Data Emerging From Science-Based Space Missions. He Mentioned The XPoSat In This Regard.
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Polarimetry Studies:

  • The Field Of Polarimetry Studies The Measurement Of The Angle Of Rotation Of The Plane Of Polarized Light (That Is, A Beam Of Light In Which The Vibrations Of The Electromagnetic Waves Are Confined To One Plane) That Results Upon Its Passage Through Certain Transparent Materials.
  • The Emission Mechanism From Various Astronomical Sources Such As Black Holes, Neutron Stars, Active Galactic Nuclei, Pulsar Wind Nebulae Etc. Originates From Complex Physical Processes And Are Challenging To Understand.
  • Space-Based Observatories Are Also Unable To Give Information About The Exact Nature Of The Emission From Such Sources. Therefore, Newer Devices Can Measure Specific Properties.
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How Are X-Rays Witnessed In Space?

  • X-Rays Have Much Higher Energy And Much Shorter Wavelengths, Between 0.03 And 3 Nanometers, So Small That Some X-rays Are No Bigger Than A Single Atom Of Many Elements. The Physical Temperature Of An Object Determines The Wavelength Of The Radiation It Emits.
  • The Hotter The Object, The Shorter The Wavelength Of Peak Emission. X-rays Come From Objects That Are Millions Of Degrees Celsius – Such As Pulsars, Galactic Supernova Remnants, And Black Holes.
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What Is The XPoSat Mission?

  • XPoSat Will Study Various Dynamics Of Bright Astronomical X-ray Sources In Extreme Conditions.
  • It Has Been Billed As India’s First, And Only The World’s Second Polarimetry Mission That Is Meant To Study Various Dynamics Of Bright Astronomical X-Ray Sources In Extreme Conditions.
  • The Other Such Major Mission Is NASA’s Imaging X-Ray Polarimetry Explorer (IXPE) Which Was Launched In 2021.
What Is XPoSat Indias First Polarimetry Mission

NASA’s Imaging X-Ray Polarimetry Explorer (IXPE):

  • IXPE Carries 3 State-of-the-art Space Telescopes.
  • Each Of The Three Identical Telescopes Hosts One Light-weight X-ray Mirror And One Detector Unit.
  • These Will Help Observe Polarized X-rays From Neutron Stars And Supermassive Black Holes.
  • By Measuring The Polarization Of These X-rays, We Can Study Where The Light Came From And Understand The Geometry And Inner Workings Of The Light Source.

What Are XPoSat’s Payloads?

  • The Spacecraft Will Carry Two Scientific Payloads In A Low Earth Orbit. The Primary Payload POLIX (Polarimeter Instrument In X-rays) Will Measure The Polarimetry Parameters (Degree And Angle Of Polarization).
  • POLIX Is Expected To Observe About 40 Bright Astronomical Sources Of Different Categories During The Planned Lifetime Of The XPoSat Mission Of About 5 Years. This Is The First Payload In The Medium X-ray Energy Band Dedicated For Polarimetry Measurements.
  • The XSPECT (X-ray Spectroscopy And Timing) Payload Will Give Spectroscopic Information (On How Light Is Absorbed And Emitted By Objects). It Would Observe Several Types Of Sources, Such As X-ray Pulsars, Blackhole Binaries, Low-magnetic Field Neutron Star, Etc.
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