After launching earth-watching satellites of all kinds, India took a vantage position some  650 km from earth to gaze at some of the universe's deepest secrets, including black holes and star births.
A Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV-C30) carried Astrosat, India's first space observatory , to orbit in another textbook launch on Monday morning. Riding piggyback on the `telescope in the sky' were six foreign satellites, including four from the US. Astronomers have been peering into space through telescopes on earth, but a telescope in space allows clearer observation, without scattering light and pollution in Earth's atmosphere.
Since the early 1970s, a few countries have set up observatories in space, the biggest of them being the Nasa-ESA joint venture Hubble telescope that continues to awe humankind with the galactic grandeur it has been capturing as photographs since 1990. At 1,513 kg, Astrosat may be a minion in comparison to the 11,110 kg Hubble, but nobody disputes that it could stumble upon something significant.
Astrosat will study high energy processes in binary star systems containing neutron stars and black holes, estimate magnetic fields of neutron stars and study star birth regions. Indian Space Research Organisation chairman A S Kiran Kumar said data gathered by Astrosat will be accessible to students and scientists alike.

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