AstroSat News

The ISRO Astrosat mission is making slow but encouraging progress. There are four X-ray telescopes and two UV telescopes (see the web page link). The latter include the Canadian photon-counting detectors systems. The project has seen delays through a number of loosely-estimated launch dates, mainly because of issues with the science instruments. The UVIT telescopes have been assembled, aligned and tested at IIA, and were the first instrument package delivered to ISRO, early this year. The other instruments are expected over the next 2-4 months. In particular, significant problems with the LAXPC are reported as solved.

The UVIT telescopes have undergone qualification-level vibration tests at ISRO, and await thermal vacuum tests before integration with the mission spacecraft and data handling systems. One of the channels (the Visible, designed mainly for drift-tracking) was found to have an electronics problem in its post-vib functional test, and the instrument has been shipped back to IIA cleanroom for diagnostics and repair. We have a 3 week window to accomplish this before we lose our place in the TV chamber. The entire Canadian team (CSA, ComDev, and myself) are involved in dealing with this, along with Joe who is presently in Bangalore.

The overall news for UVIT is very good. The images through the whole system are 1 arcsec or better in all channels, and drift-correction should add not more than another 0.1″ or so. Other calibrations are within spec and are being fed into the data-pipeline for the instrument. Joe is working with the Indian teams on pipeline development.

All instruments (except LAXPC) and the ground-segment, have passed their final reviews, and the full mission review is expected by June. A schedule with little contingency leads to a launch in Spring of 2014. A more realistic date is some months later.

Calibration and commissioning plans are in place, with specific targets to be selected from lists, depending on the launch date. Team science planning has still made no real progress, and is an issue within the Science Working Group. While this is a concern for several of us, the emphasis continues to be on the hardware at the moment. There are some personnel changes and migrations within the Indian teams, which generally constitute good news. I am also receiving more regular progress/problem reports, following several requests. I will pass on project news at it happens.

John Hutchings
April 4, 2013.

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