November, 28

    Mission Daksha: 2 satellites for 360-degree watch of skies

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    Each Daksha satellite will utilise three distinct types of detectors to achieve broad energy coverage.

    Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay, and Inter-University Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics astronomers will construct satellites that provide a 360-degree view of the sky.

    Other scientific institutions involved in the ‘Daksha’ mission include the Physical Research Laboratory, Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, and Raman Research Institute.

    It is funded by the Indian Space Research Organisation and will consist of two broadband satellites orbiting opposing sides of the planet to offer continuous coverage of the entire sky.

    Over the course of five years, Daksha will investigate high-energy equivalents to gravitational wave sources, earth occultation imaging, and gamma-ray bursts created by powerful electric fields generated above or within thunderstorms.

    Principal investigator Varun Bhalerao stated, “Daksha is an ambitious mission proposal to construct the world’s most sensitive all-sky high energy transient satellites, surpassing the sensitivity and reach of NASA’s Neil Gehrels Swift Observatory, Fermi Gamma-Ray Space Telescope (NASA and Europe), and GECAM (China).”

    Bhalerao continued, “ISRO was presented with Daksha in 2018 in response to a call for proposals for space astrophysics missions. They provided seed funds and instructed us to create a laboratory model to demonstrate the viability of the concept. This development is now complete, and a review is imminent. After ISRO approval, it will be constructed in three to four years by the cooperating institutes with substantial industrial participation.”

    Numerous graduate and undergraduate students have contributed to the development of Daksha’s hardware and science. It will provide hands-on training to a large number of new students and engineers and enhance space astronomy people resources. Several students from outside the partner institutes are already contributing to Daksha’s technical and scientific advancements, he added.

    Each Daksha satellite will utilise three distinct types of detectors to achieve broad energy coverage. They are designed to offer excellent uniformity over the sky, which necessitates the installation of four units beneath the bus.

    There will be powerful onboard processing capabilities to detect and localise transients, and this data will be transmitted with minimal latency to the ground.

    National and international groups interested in following up on transients from Daksha will use ground observations.

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