Launch of Astrosat

On Sept 28, ISRO launched India’s Astrosat observatory into its planned 600 km, 6 degree inclination orbit. The observatory comprises four X-ray telescopes, and two for UV and blue wavelengths. All instruments are co-aligned, and work simultaneously. Canada has a 5% time-share for providing the solar-blind detectors for UVIT – the UltraViolet Imaging Telescopes. The instruments are all operating, and the mission is in a 6-month period of commissioning and automating of operations. Instrument team demonstration-science observations will be released in April 2016, and team observations will continue until proposal-time observing begins in September. A call for the first Canadian proposals will be issued in ~March, and these may request observations from all instruments. CSA are funding an expert to support Canadian proposals and data processing for UVIT.

NGC 2336 - UVIT, NUV channel, res. = 1.2 arcsec.

NGC 2336 – UVIT, NUV channel, res. = 1.2 arcsec.

Astrosat offers a new and unique facility for Canadian research, and its performance appears to be excellent. UVIT in particular offers wide-field imaging in 3 simultaneous wavelength channels, with ~1” resolution, and a suite of filters and gratings. More
information may be found at this site.

The first UVIT observations were made on Dec 1, following a planned interval to allow for full outgassing. The operations efficiency and data handling are being ramped up slowly, as is normal for a complex space observatory, but the spacecraft and instruments are working well, in some cases exceeding specifications.

Submitted by John Hutchings
(Cassiopeia – Hivers/Winter 2015)

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