India’s future in astrophysics looks bright

  • Apoorva Puranik, Hindustan Times, Mumbai
  • Updated: Jan 05, 2015 16:19 IST

The country seems to be on the right track as far as its future in astrophysics is concerned with mega projects, including international collaborations, currently in progress. A session on one of the projects underway — India’s first dedicated astronomy satellite, Astrosat’ set to launch in mid-2015 — was held at the Indian Science Congress on Sunday.

The two-hour-long session, titled ‘Mega Science Projects in Astronomy’ was attended by scientists working on projects like LIGO-India and the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) and speak about the potential of their projects and their work in progress on them.

The world’s largest and most sensitive radio telescope, the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) has been one of the most ambitious scientific projects and is part of the ten countries of the SKA organisation. The National Centre for Radio Astrophysics (NCRA) Pune represents India in the organisation and in August 2014, got full member rights.

Speaking on the subject, Yashwant Gupta, senior professor, NCRA, said India was playing a vital role in international projects of establishing the world’s most sensitive and largest radio telescope. “It will be built it two phases, SKA 1 and 2, and is scheduled to be completed by 2024. It will be equipped to use 3,000 dish antennae as well as aperture arrays made of Diplo antennae,“ Gupta said.

Tarun Souradeep, of the Inter University Center for Astronomy and Astrophysics, Pune, said the proposed ‘Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory’ (LIGO) project will help the Indian scientific community to be a major player in the emerging research frontier of gravitational wave astronomy. “Improved undergraduate education system will produce large scale interest in the subject as well,” said Souradeep.

S Seetha, a scientist at ISRO, said the satellite would be used to study the different aspects of stellar science and would be able to map it from its life to death.

Astrosat will be launched aboard a PSLV and have six instruments and can be described as a multi-wave length observatory in space. It will carry five astronomy payloads for simultaneous multi-band observations and will focus on simultaneous multi-wavelength monitoring of intensity variations in a broad range of cosmic sources.

“Space science exercises to the maximum human intellect to interpret things, “said Seetha.

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