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India plans for X-ray spacecraft 2009 launch

India's first dedicated astronomy research satellite, Astrosat, designed to observe the universe using the X-ray and ultraviolet wavelengths, is to be launched in 2009 using a four-stage Indian Space Research Organisation Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle.

According to ISRO, while operating from its 8° inclination in its 650km (400 miles) orbit Astrosat's scientific objectives include spectroscopic studies of X-ray binaries, supernova remnants, active galactic nuclei and galaxy clusters. In particular Astrosat will look at active galactic nuclei at the core of the Milky Way that is believed to have a super massive black hole and other cosmological objects including quasars and pulsars.

ISRO also plans to launch a small probe named Aditya, which means Sun in Sanskrit, to study the solar corona. Aditya's launch will coincide with the next solar maximum in 2012. The maximum is a period when the average sunspot numbers over 12 months reach their highest. The last solar maximum occurred in 1989. On 4 November ISRO announced that its first lunar orbiter, Chandrayaan-1, launched on 22 October, had began its journey on its lunar transfer trajectory to reach the Moon.

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