India begins space mission to investigate black holes


The Indian space agency has successfully launched a rocket carrying an observatory to study astronomical objects such as black holes.

It launched from the Sriharikota spaceport on Monday at 9:10 a. m local time (03:40 GMT).

This is only the world’s second mission of its kind after NASA launched one in 2021. The space agency said it wants to help scientists advance “knowledge about black holes. ”

“We are in for an exciting time,” S Somanath, chairman of the Indian Space Research Organization (Isro), said after the launch. A black hole is a region of space where matter collapses in on itself.

Gravity is so strong that nothing, not even light, can escape. Black holes appear after the explosive disappearance of some massive stars, and some are truly massive: their size is billions of times greater than the mass of our Sun.

Isro’s satellite – the X-ray Polarization Satellite (XPoSat) – will aim to conduct in-depth research on black holes. Built at a cost of approximately 25 million rupees ($30 million; £23. 5 million), the XPoSat satellite is expected to have a lifespan of five years.

This launch comes after a hugely successful year for Isro.

In August, its lunar mission Chandrayaan-3 touched down near the moon’s South Pole, a region no one has visited before. A few days later, it launched Aditya-L1, the first solar observation mission.

Monday’s launch is just one of many projects Isro plans to take up this year.

“2024 will be the year of preparation for Gaganyaan,” Mr. Somnath said, referring to the project that aims to launch three astronauts into low Earth orbit and bring them back in three days.

Isro carried out the maiden test flight for the mission in October 2023 and aims to be ready for the manned mission by 202


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