3 Ultraviolet Telescopes in Space that are helping us explore the truly unknown

Tilted view of Astrosat

1. Hubble Space Telescope

Launched Date: April 24, 1990

Hubble Space Telescope is one of the largest and most versatile, well known both as a vital research tool and as a public relations boon for astronomy. The Hubble telescope is named after astronomer Edwin Hubble. 

Major Projects

Cosmic Assembly Near-infrared Deep Extragalactic Legacy Survey: Largest Hubble Space Telescope project, the Cosmic Assembly Near-IR Deep Extragalactic Legacy Survey is intended to document the first third of galactic evolution from z = 8 to 1.5 via deep imaging of more than 250,000 galaxies with WFC3/IR and ACS. It will also find the first Type Ia SNe beyond z > 1.5 and authenticate their competence as standard candles for cosmology. Five premier multi-wavelength sky regions are selected; each has multi-wavelength data from Spitzer and other facilities and has extensive spectroscopy of the brighter galaxies. The use of five widely separated fields mitigates cosmic variation and yields statistically robust and complete samples of galaxies down to 109 solar masses out to z ~ 8.

Cosmic Evolution Survey (COSMOS): The Cosmic Evolution Survey (COSMOS) is an astronomical survey designed to probe the formation and evolution of galaxies as a function of both cosmic time (redshift) and the local galaxy setting. The survey covers a two square degree equatorial field with spectroscopy and X-ray to radio imaging by most of the major space-based telescopes and a number of large ground-based telescopes, making it a key focus region of extragalactic astrophysics. 

2. Astrosat

Launch Date: 28 September 2015

Astrosat is India’s first dedicated multi-wavelength space telescope. It was launched on a PSLV-XL on 28 September 2015. After the success of the satellite-borne Indian X-ray Astronomy Experiment (IXAE), which was launched in 1996, the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) approved further development for a full-fledged astronomy satellite, Astrosat, in 2004.

A number of astronomy research institutions in India, and abroad have jointly built instruments for the satellite. Important areas requiring coverage include studies of astrophysical objects ranging from nearby solar system objects to distant stars and objects at cosmological distances; timing studies of variables ranging from pulsations of hot white dwarfs to those of active galactic nuclei can be conducted with Astrosat as well, with time scales ranging from milliseconds to days.

Astrosat is a multi-wavelength astronomy mission on an IRS-class satellite into a near-Earth, equatorial orbit. 

Major Projects:

  • Simultaneous multi-wavelength monitoring of intensity variations in a broad range of cosmic sources
  • Monitoring the X-ray sky for new transients
  • Sky surveys in the hard X-ray and UV bands
  • Broadband spectroscopic studies of X-ray binaries, AGN, SNRs, clusters of galaxies, and stellar coronae
  • Studies of periodic and non-periodic variability of X-ray sources

3. Hisaki

Launch Date: 23 January 2015

Hisaki, also known as the Spectroscopic Planet Observatory for Recognition of Interaction of Atmosphere (SPRINT-A) is a Japanese ultraviolet astronomy satellite operated by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA).

Hisaki remains operational and is performing joint observations with Juno orbiter.

Hisaki was named after a cape Hisaki (火崎, literally Cape Fire) used by local fishermen to pray for safe travels in the eastern part of Kimotsuki, Kagoshima near the Uchinoura Space Center, but has the additional meaning of “beyond the Sun”. An old name for the mission was EXCEED (Extreme Ultraviolet Spectroscope for Exospheric Dynamics)

Major Project

Hisaki carries an extreme ultraviolet spectrometer which will be used to study the composition of the atmospheres and the behavior of the magnetospheres of the planets of the Solar System. Designed for a one-year mission, Hisaki will be operated in a low Earth orbit with a perigee of 950 km (590 mi), an apogee of 1,150 km (710 mi), 31 degrees of inclination and a period of 106 minutes. 

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