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ISRO Gears Up To Launch ESA’s Proba-3 Mission To Study The Sun In Late 2024

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The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) will be launching the European Space Agency’s (ESA) new mission to study the Sun later this year. The launch is targeted for September and it will be carried from Sriharikota using ISRO’s PSLV-XL rocket. Designated Proba-3 (PRoject for On-Board Autonomy), this mission consists of two probes that will be installed in a highly elliptical orbit (600X60,530 kilometer).

Europe currently lacks a launch provider after the retirement of Arianespace’s Ariane 5 rocket and the delay in introduction of the new Ariane 6.

What is the Proba-3 mission about?

This mission is aimed at studying the Sun’s corona- its outer atmosphere by creating an artificial solar eclipse. The eclipse will happen when the two probes will align themselves approximately 150 meters apart and the one ahead will block the Sun for the second one (see picture below).

Artist’s impression of the Proba-3 satellites in space. Image: ESA

The two satellites are called the Coronagraph spacecraft and the Occulter – one to block the Sun and the other two observe the resulting eclipse.

According to ESA, this mission will allow scientists to study the Sun’s faint corona closer to the solar rim than has ever before been achieved. The corona has been a subject of interest for astronomers for a long time due to its strange properties. For one, it heats up to a million degrees more than the Sun’s surface, reason for which is still unknown.

Once in orbit, the Proba-3 satellites will create eclipses that will last for six hours at a time, providing the scientists plenty of time for observations. The mission is expected to last at least two years.





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Webb Telescope Discovers Galaxies Formed Right After Birth Of The Universe With Earliest Elements

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A group of astronomers sifting through the James Webb Space Telescope have found three galaxies from the earliest universe. According to their findings, which have been published in the journal Science, the universe was just 400 to 600 million years old when the said galaxies were born. According to current estimates, the universe is about 13.8 billion years old.

Kasper Heintz, the lead author and an assistant professor of astrophysics at the University of Copenhagen, called these galaxies “sparkling islands in a sea of otherwise neutral, opaque gas.”

ALSO SEE: Webb Telescope Finds Best Evidence Of Potential Atmosphere Around A ‘Super-Earth’

Scientists believe that the universe was very different during the Era of Reionisation – the period of several hundred million years after the big bang. At this point, gas between stars and galaxies was largely opaque and things became transparent only after one billion year later.

About the galaxies discovered using the Webb telescope‘s data, they are believed to be surrounded by almost purely hydrogen and helium which are the earliest elements to form in the universe.

Darach Watson, a co-author of the paper, said that the large gas resorvoirs suggest that “the galaxies have not had enough time to form most of their stars yet.”

Moving forward, the researchers will work to build large statistical samples of these galaxies and measure the prevalence and prominence of their features.

ALSO SEE: Webb Telescope Discovers Oldest Ever Black Hole Merger From Over 13 Billion Years Ago

(Image: NASA)





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Neuralink’s Rival Company Precision Creates World Record By Placing Over 4,000 Electrodes In Human Brain

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Elon Musk-owned Neuralink’s rival Precision Neuroscience has set the world record for placing 4,096 electrodes in the human brain. It is double the number of electrodes placed last year – 2,048.

According to the official statement, the record-setting operation took place in April at the Mount Sinai Health System in New York, as part of an ongoing clinical trial for the brain chip.

Precision’s chip in the brain. Image: Precision Neuroscience

Precision’s implant uses a thin-film microelectrode array containing 1,024 miniature electrodes covering 1.6 square cm of area. Four such arrays were placed on the patient’s brain.

More number of electrodes will ensure higher data transmission to and from the brain, and this will determine the capability of the chip.

ALSO SEE: Neuralink’s Paralysed Patient Desires A Tesla Robot Assistant He Can Control With His Mind

“This record is a significant step towards a new era. The ability to capture cortical information of this magnitude and scale could allow us to understand the brain in a much deeper way,” said Benjamin Rapoport, Precision’s co-founder and Chief Science Officer.

Also a co-founder of Neuralink, Rapoport exited the company and established Precision with two other Neuralink members in 2021.

According to Ars Technica, he told The Wall Street Journal that the reason for his exit from Neuralink were the safety concerns regarding the brain implants which he says are too invasive.

ALSO SEE: Elon Musk’s Neuralink Gets Approval For Second Chip Implant In Human Brain

The company claims that its ‘Layer 7 Cortical Interface’ can conform to the brain’s cortex with minimal invasiveness and without damaging any tissue.

Neuralink is currently at the forefront in the brain-computer interface game. It implanted the chip in the first patient earlier this year and is preparing for the second operation.

As for Precision, it is testing its chip through research collaborations with West Virginia University’s Rockefeller Neuroscience Institute, Perelman School of Medicine (Penn Medicine), and New York’s Mount Sinai Health System.

(Image: Precision Neuroscience)





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Boeing To Launch Starliner With Sunita Williams Without Fixing The Leak: Report

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Boeing has decided to go ahead with Starliner’s crew launch without fixing the helium leak, a report said. Targeted for 9:55 pm on June 1, the Crew Flight Test mission of Boeing is its first with two astronauts – Sunita Williams and Barry Wilmore.

The company is already busy defending itself for the safety concers with its planes. This now seems to be spilling onto the space business, but NASA says it should not be a problem.

“We can handle this particular leak if that leak rate were to grow even up to 100 times,” Steve Stich, manager of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program, said per Futurism, which quoted Agence France-Presse.

Barry Wilmore and Sunita Williams at the Kennedy Space Center. Image: NASA

The leakage was detected on Starliner earlier this month after the launch was scrubbed on May 7. While that particular scrub was due to a malfunctioned valve on the United Launch Alliance’s (ULA) Atlas V rocket, Starliner was found to be faulty a few days later due to the leakage in it service module.

ALSO SEE: Elon Musk Weighs In On Rival Boeing’s Failure To Reach Orbit; ‘Too Many Non-Technical Managers’

Amid the concerns, Stitch also reportedly cited the example of SpaceX’s Dragon spacecraft which launched despite losing fuel in 2022. The official said that the leak caused by a defective seal will only affect one of Starliner’s 28 attitude-control thrusters.

If the launch were to get delayed again for some reason, additional opportunities will be available on June 2, June 5 and June 6.

The mission is meant to test Starliner with Williams and Wilmore onboard as Boeing is looking to win a NASA contract for routine flights to the International Space Station (ISS). The leaky spacecraft is without a doubt a hazard which could be disastrous for the mission.

Starliner has faced several issues which included a flammable tape and a problematic parachute line which had to be removed a few weeks ago. The helium leak has now added to the problem.

Meanwhile, the astronauts have arrived at the Kennedy Space Center for the launch and are preparing for the third flight of their career.

ALSO SEE: NASA’s Partner Wants Boeing To Stop Crew Launch ‘Before Something Catastrophic Happens’

(Image: NASA)





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