14Scientific Satellites

Scientific satellites provide space-based platforms to carry out fundamental research about the world we live in, our near and far space. Prior to the development of satellite-based scientific missions, our access to the universe was mainly from ground-based observations. Use of satellites for scientific research has removed constraints like attenuation and blocking of radiation by Earth's atmosphere, gravitational effects on measurements and difficulty in making in situ or closed studies imposed by Earth-based observations. Moreover, satellite-based scientific research is global by nature and helps in understanding the various phenomena at a global level. There are two approaches to scientific research in space. Firstly, scientific instruments are carried on board satellites whose primary mission is not scientific in nature. For instance, these instruments have been put on board the remote sensing and weather forecasting satellites. Secondly, a large number of dedicated satellites have been launched for the purpose. They have the advantage that all their parameters are optimized keeping the scientific mission in mind.

This chapter focuses on scientific applications of satellites covering in detail the contributions made by these satellites to Earth sciences, solar physics, astronomy and astrophysics. Major scientific satellite missions launched for each of these applications are listed. Payloads carried by these satellites are also discussed. Like previous ...

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