MUMBAI: In a novel astrophysics mission, Indian Institute of Technology-Bombay (IIT-B) in partnership with various scientific institutions has begun work on designing an X-ray space telescope called Daksha to study gravitational waves.
The project comprises two satellites to be deployed on opposite sides of the earth to ensure continuous coverage of the entire sky. Like India’s first space telescope, Astrosat, Daksha will be deployed 650 metres above the earth’s surface.
Speaking to TOI, principal investigator for the project, Varun Bhalerao, said Daksha’s main goal is to study what are known as “X-ray emissions from gravitational wave events.” It will also detect explosive events in space like about a 1,000 gamma ray bursts.
Bhalerao, who is attached to IIT’s physics department, said the project is led by IIT-B in partnership with Ahmedabad-based Physical Research Laboratory, an Isro affiliate, the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, the Pune-based Inter-University Centre For Astronomy and Astrophysics and the Bengaluru-based Raman Research Institute and Isro.
According to Bhalerao, Daksha will be more sensitive than Nasa’s Swift and Fermi satellites which study gamma ray bursts.
Two years ago Isro had invited proposals from across the country for designing an astrophysics mission. “Isro received 20 proposals of which five, including the Daksha mission, were shortlisted. It will be launched three years after it receives the green signal from Isro,” he said.
Daksha will be IIT-B’s fifth space-themed project—the first was the Pratham student satellite launched on September 26, 2016, the second, Advitiy, is under development, besides a mission to the moon in collaboration with the University of Colorado under the GLEE project (Great Lunar Expedition For Everyone) and the Mars Rover designed and built by IIT-B students.

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