GRAPES-3 Telescope

  • GRAPES-3 (GammaRay Astronomy PeV EnergieS phase-3) experiment is designed to study cosmic rays with an array of air shower detectors and a large area muon detector. It aims to probe acceleration of cosmic rays.
  • The objectives are to study
  • The origin, acceleration and propagation of >1014eV cosmic rays in the galaxy and beyond.
  • Existence of “Knee” in the energy spectrum of cosmic rays.
  • Production and/or acceleration of highest energy (~1020eV) cosmic rays in the universe.
  • Astronomy of multi-TeV γ-rays from neutron stars and other compact object.
  • Sun the closest astrophysical object, accelerator of energetic particles and its effects on the Earth.
  • The GRAPES-3 experiment has been started as a collaboration of the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Mumbai, India and the Osaka City University, Osaka, Japan.Currently it is getting upgraded to accurately determine the time taken for the solar storm to travel to the earth.

Benefits of upgradation

      • The upgraded detector will have an increased coverage of the sky and improved capacity to determine the direction of incident cosmic rays. The latter property, of being able to discern the direction of detected particles, makes it unique among cosmic ray detectors in the world; it can also to measure the intensity of the particles. Since the enhanced facility can cover a wider field of view (from present 37% to 57%), the chances of spotting solar storms will be higher.
      • It is important to know the time when plasma will reach the earth, accurately, so that preventive and protective measures can be put into place in case solar storms were to strike the earth. If the earth’s magnetic field were to be weakened by extreme solar storms, charged particles would shower on to the planet. Apart from rendering electronic devices defunct, charged particles in an extreme solar storm can also short current carrying over-head high voltage lines, leading to large-scale transformers burn out and thereby, power blackouts.

Practice Question:

India is part of which of the following international projects?
    1. Thirty Meter Telescope
    2. Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory
    3. Facility for Antiproton and Ion Research


     a)  1 and 2
     b)  Only 2

     c)  2 and 3

     d)  All

Ans: d

Exp: The different experiments are:

LIGO – Gravitational Wave Analysis

      • LIGO or Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory is a large-scale physics experiment that detects cosmic gravitational waves and develops them as an astronomical tool.
      • There are two LIGO observatories in USA (at Livingston and Richland) that are operated by Caltech and MIT. The Indian team in the global LIGO collaboration, which is involved in analysing the data collected by LIGO observatories, has 60 members.

Thirty Metre Telescope – World’s Most Advanced Telescope

      • The Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) will be the world’s most advanced and capable ground-based telescope. At the heart of the telescope will be a mirror made up of 492 individual segments. Precisely aligned, these segments will work together as a single reflective surface with a diameter of 30 metres.
      • The TMT- India project will propel India into a special league of deep space research. The main Indian institutes working on this unique project are Aryabhatta Research Institute for Observational Sciences (ARIES), the Indian Institute of Astrophysics (IIA), and the Inter-University Center for Astronomy and Astrophysics (IUCAA).

FAIR – Facility for Antiproton and Ion Research

      • The Facility for Antiproton and Ion Research (FAIR) is an international accelerator facility that will be used to study the building blocks of the universe. Situated in Darmstadt in Germany, FAIR will use intense beams of antiprotons and ions for research in the fields of nuclear, particle, plasma and anti-matter physics.
      • In India, the project is being co-ordinated by the Indo-FAIR Coordination Centre (IFCC) at Bose Institute, Kolkata and being jointly implemented by the Department of Science and Technology and the Department of Atomic Energy. Several Indian industries are also involved in building advanced equipment for the FAIR accelerator.