ISRO sets eyes on stars; plans a mini Hubble

Intending to study the stars and other celestial bodies in the space, Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) is developing Astrosat, a smaller version of Hubble Space Telescope.

"Astrosat is nearly getting ready and it would be unique with three aspects -- UV rays, visible and X rays. Even Hubble does not have this aspect. Though Hubble is big, Astrosat will be a small one," Kiran Kumar, Director, Space Application Centre, Ahmedabad told reporters here.

While the optics of Hubble was 2.4 metre diameter, Astrosat would have a optical diameter of 300 mm, he said.

"The satellite is being developed and it is likely to be launched sometime next year," he said, flanked by ISRO Chairman K Radhakrishnan and other senior scientists.

When asked about the space agency's plan to send 'Aditya' satellite around the Earth to study the Sun, he said work was progressing in that mission and the launch was expected in three to four years.

Aditya would study the corona emissions of the Sun and help space scientists in understanding the head of the Solar System.

ISRO, which successfully launched a GSLV with indigenous cryogenic engine, would conduct an experimental launch of GSLV Mark III in June this year, Radhakrishnan said.

French satellite SPOT 7 and four other foreign satellites would also be launched in the same month on board PSLV, he told reporters here after the successful launch of IRNSS 1B, the second of the seven satellite Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System (IRNSS).

Radhakrishnan, also the Secretary of Space Department, said that the outlay for the department for the 12th Five Year Plan between 2012 and 2017 was Rs 39,750 crore.

Updating on the status of ISRO's Mars Mission, launched last November, Kiran Kumar said, "Right now MOM is 35 million km away. We are regularly checking the health of the satellite and it is satisfactory."

He also said the second of the four Trajectory Correction Manouvre (TCM) planned on the Mars Mission was not necessary and the next TCM was being planned in June. The mission is expected to reach the Mars orbit by September 24.

Governor of Chhattisgarh Shekhar Dutt, who witnessed the IRNSS 1B launch, said the mission was "extremely important for India and it provides the navigation to our assets."

"I heartily congratulate of all scientists of ISRO", he said.

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