Cosmic Cat Scan: Meet XPoSat, India’s Eye-Opening Mission to X-Ray the Universe

On January 1, 2024, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) achieved a significant milestone in space exploration with the successful launch of the XPoSat, an X-ray Polarimeter Satellite. This mission places India among the elite group of countries with the capability to deploy specialized observatories in space for advanced astronomical research. Following this achievement, let’s delve into the specifics of the XPoSat mission and its significance in the realm of space exploration and astrophysics.

Launch Details and Mission Objectives

  • Launch Date and Venue: XPoSat was launched on January 1, 2024, from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota, Andhra Pradesh.
  • Orbital Details: The satellite was placed into a 650-kilometer low Earth orbit with a 6-degree inclination, using the reliable Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV).
  • Mission Objectives: XPoSat is designed to measure the polarisation of X-rays emitted by approximately 50 cosmic sources, including black holes and neutron stars. This will help in understanding the dynamics and properties of these celestial objects.

Satellite Specifications and Payloads

  • Satellite Design: The design of XPoSat is based on a modified version of the IMS-2 bus platform, drawing from the heritage of ISRO’s IRS satellites.
  • Primary Payloads:
    • POLIX (Polarimeter Instrument in X-rays): Developed by the Raman Research Institute, this instrument is crucial for measuring the polarimetry parameters of X-ray emissions.
    • XSPECT (X-ray Spectroscopy and Timing): Built by the Space Astronomy Group of the U R Rao Satellite Centre, this payload is instrumental in X-ray spectroscopy and timing measurements.

Scientific Importance

  • Study of Black Holes and Neutron Stars: XPoSat will provide vital data on black holes, which are regions with such strong gravitational pull that even light cannot escape. Understanding black holes contributes significantly to the knowledge of space-time and gravitational theories.
  • Insight into Pulsars and Active Galactic Nuclei: The mission will also study pulsars (rotating neutron stars) and active galactic nuclei, which are highly luminous regions at the centers of some galaxies, often powered by supermassive black holes.
  • Contribution to Astrophysics: By studying these phenomena, XPoSat will contribute to a deeper understanding of the universe, offering insights into the formation, evolution, and behavior of stars and galaxies.

Significance for ISRO and Global Space Research

  • Positioning of ISRO: This successful launch reaffirms ISRO’s position as a key player in the global space research community, especially in the field of astronomical research.
  • Future Projects: The launch of XPoSat is a precursor to more ambitious projects by ISRO in 2024, including the highly anticipated Mission Gaganyaan.
  • International Collaboration and Recognition: The mission enhances India’s reputation in the international arena for its technological capabilities and its contributions to space science.


The XPoSat mission is a landmark achievement for ISRO, marking a new era in India’s space exploration journey. By embarking on this ambitious project, ISRO is not only expanding its own capabilities but also contributing significantly to the global understanding of the universe. The data gathered by XPoSat will be instrumental in answering fundamental questions about the cosmos and may pave the way for new discoveries in astrophysics.

The XPoSat mission is a testament to the growing capabilities and aspirations of ISRO in the field of space research and exploration. Its success is a proud moment for India and a significant contribution to the global scientific community​​​​​​.

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