Space camera

When India’s first national astronomy satellite, Astrosat, goes into space, it will carry a camera developed by engineers at Leicester University.


When India’s first national astronomy satellite, Astrosat, goes into space, it will carry a camera designed by engineers at Leicester University.


The camera will be one of five instruments that the satellite will carry to observe objects such as black holes, neutron stars, and active galaxies at a number of different wavelengths simultaneously, from the ultraviolet band to energetic X-rays.


The SXT camera, designed by the engineers at Leicester University, is being manufactured at the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research in India. In addition to making the camera hardware, researchers at Tata also built the main telescope body and mirror.


Engineers at Leicester will assemble the camera, support the project through consultancy and calibrate the camera at the Leicester University Space Research Centre.


The Space Research Centre was asked to undertake the SXT camera development because of its track record in spacecraft design, in missions such as Swift and XMM-Newton and the experience gained from its CCD laboratory programmes.


Guy Peters, Astrosat SXT project manager UK, said: ‘In several months, when the camera has been assembled and the Leicester-built detector assembly and control electronics installed, it will be tested to space qualified standards and shipped back to India for integration into the spacecraft.’


Sangam Sinha from the Tata Institute added: ‘Astrosat is critical to the Indian space programme as it is the first satellite entirely dedicated to the pursuit of science. Astrosat also forms the beginning of a long-term collaboration between TIFR and the University of Leicester, through which it is hoped that many more missions will be undertaken jointly by the Indian and UK teams.’