India Space Science Programs
Space Sciences & Planetary Exploration missions contribute significantly towards understanding the mysteries of the universe, and provide an opportunity towards development of cutting edge technologies. Through space science investigations, investigators seek to understand the processes governing solar radiation, evolution of planetary system, formation of galaxies, evolution of stellar systems and the universe. Front ranking scientific investigations are being carried out in the fields of astronomy, atmospheric sciences and long term climatic research using satellites, balloons, sounding rockets & ground instruments.
Space Science and research has been an integral part of the Indian space program. The goal of the Space Science programme is to promote research in space science, inspire and enthuse the young talented scientists and students to get involved in space science and research.
The Indian space research activities were initiated with the launching of sounding rockets from the Thumba Equatorial Rocket Launching Station (TERLS) in 1963 to measure the equatorial electrojet parameters. Since then, the Space Science Programme has progressed with the setting up of state-of-the-art ground based experimental facilities and conducting large number of rocket and balloon borne experiments on upper atmospheric phenomena, cosmic rays, energetic X-rays and gamma rays.
With the advent of satellite era, scientific payloads have been launched to investigate the upper atmosphere/ ionosphere, observe in the X-ray and UV wavelengths which otherwise would not have been possible from ground. The first Indian satellite Aryabhata carried a payload consisting of X-ray telescopes in the medium energy range 2-20 keV and the hard energy range 20-150 keV. An X-ray sky monitor camera was placed on the Bhaskara I satellite.
The Space Science research in the country has gained impetus with the successful launch of Chandrayaan-1, India’s first mission to the Moon which marked the commencement of India’s planetary exploration program.
Missions initiated during the 11th Plan such as Chandrayaan-2, Astrosat-1 and Aditya-1 will be realised in 12th plan 2012-2017. Undertaking India’s First Mission to Mars, Mars Orbiter Mission will be an important milestone during the 12th Plan. In addition, an X-Ray polarimeter (POLIX) to study the x-ray polarization from bright x-ray emitting objects shall also be pursued.
Space Science research has been an important element of Indian space program. The space science research activities are pursued at PRL, SPL, NARL and SAG at ISAC. A number of space science research projects in the field of atmospheric science, astronomy and planetary exploration and science payload development activities are supported and implemented at various Universities and Research Institutes by ISRO through the recommendations of ISRO’s Advisory Committee for Space Sciences (ADCOS).
The main objective of the Space Capsule Recovery Experiment (SRE) is to develop and demonstrate capability to recover an orbiting capsule back to earth and to carryout micro-gravity experiments in orbit. The recoverable capsule (SRE-I) was successfully launched onboard PSLV-C7 on January 10, 2007 and successfully recovered from the Bay of Bengal after re-entry from orbit on January 22, 2007. SRE-I was a unique mission incorporating several Key technologies such as reusable thermal protection system, deceleration and flotation system, re-entry control and propulsion systems, space qualified parachute systems, locating aids, etc. The successful recovery of SRE-I is a major landmark achievement of Indian Space Programme and it has laid a strong technological foundation for future re-usable launch vehicle systems. SRE-II is a follow-on mission to SRE-I to further validate the re-entry technologies. Space Capsule Recovery Experiment (SRE-II) Project was formed with the main objective of realising a fully recoverable capsule and to provide a platform to conduct micro-gravity experiments. SRE capsule has four major hardware, namely, Aero Thermo-structure (ATS), Spacecraft platform, deceleration and floatation system and payloads. The main objective of SRE II is to realize a fully recoverable capsule and provide a platform to conduct microgravity experiments on Micro-biology, Agriculture, Powder Metallurgy, etc. SRE-2 is proposed to be launched onboard PSLV.
The SRE II Aero thermo structure with silica tile thermal protection system has been realised. Propulsion system integration has been completed. Solar panels are ready after acceptance tests. Payloads qualification models are realized and tests are in progress. Parachutes and floats are ready after acceptance tests. Mission management unit (MMU) hardware is ready and on-board software in loop (OILS) tests for de-boost phase is completed.
Aditya-1 is a scientific mission designed to study solar corona. The major scientific objectives of the proposed space solar coronagraph are to achieve a fundamental understanding of the physical processes that (a) Heat the solar corona (b) Accelerate the Solar Wind, and (c) Produce Coronal Mass Ejections (CMEs). The proposed design of the coronagraph instrument is aimed to understand High Frequency Intensity Oscillations(~1Hz), Dynamics of Coronal Loops with High Cadence, Magnetic Field Topology and CMEs close to the Solar Disk. Aditya-1 is planned to be launched by PSLV into 800 km polar orbit. It will carry an internally occulted solar coronagraph of mass 130 kg. The 20 cm coronagraph, having a Field of View of corona from 1.05 R to 3.0 R, uses an off axis parabolic mirror. The payload will have three CCD detectors system with a capability of simultaneous imaging in 6374 Å, 5303 Å and in 5800 Å for continuum/broadband.
Front ranking scientific investigations are being carried out in the fields of astronomy, atmospheric sciences, planetary science and long term climatic research using satellites, balloons, sounding rockets & ground instruments. India’s first mission to moon, Chandrayaan-1 was successfully launched on October 22, 2008 on-board the PSLV C-11. The payloads of Chandrayan-1 have sent useful scientific data about Moon. The data collected from various payloads of Chandrayaan-1 were analysed by world wide scientists. Development of a multi-wave length astronomy satellite ASTROSAT and India’s second mission to moon, Chandrayaan-2 have also been taken up. An Orbiter Mission to Mars, Mars Orbiter Mission, was launched in November, 2013.
The Indian Space program has enabled a significant role for national industries in realisation of space systems. A strong bond with academic institutions exists through extensive research partnership. Unique organisational systems have been evolved in the national space program for fulfilling diverse functions like development, operations and applications of complex space systems. The space program has enabled significant technology growth in multiple disciplines as spin-off benefits.
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