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Astronomers building small space telescope to explore nearby stars

The telescope uses a mirror system with coatings optimized for ultraviolet light. Together with the camera, the system can measure very small changes in the brightness of M dwarf stars to carry out the primary science of the mission.

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The name of the stars which astronomers will study are called M-Dwarfs. Pixabay
The name of the stars which astronomers will study are called M-Dwarfs. Pixabay
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  • Astronomers are building a space telescope to study the nearby stars.
  • the telescope will be small along with a camera attached to it.
  • Studying these nearby stars will help astronomers help study the way planets orbit around the stars.

Astronomers are in the process of building a small space telescope to explore the flares and sunspots of small nearby stars to assess how habitable the space environment is for planets orbiting them.

The telescope with a diameter of 9 centimetres, or 3.6 inches, will be fitted on a spacecraft known as the Star-Planet Activity Research CubeSat, or SPARCS to be launched in 2021, to focus on stars that are small, dim and cool by comparison to the sun.

Astronomers through this feat will be able study the path of planets.
Astronomers through this feat will be able study the path of planets.

These stars — known as M dwarfs — are less than half the sun’s size and temperature and they shine with barely one per cent of its brightness.

The telescope will be built alongside a camera with two ultraviolet (UV)-sensitive detectors to be optimised for observations using UV light, which strongly affects the planet’s atmosphere and its potential to harbour life on the surface.

“People have been monitoring M dwarfs as best they can in visible light. But the stars’ strongest flares occur mainly in the ultraviolet, which Earth’s atmosphere mostly blocks,” said Evgenya Shkolnik, Assistant Professor at the Arizona State University.

Although the orbiting Hubble Space Telescope can view stars at ultraviolet wavelengths unhindered, its overcrowded observing schedule would let it dedicate only the briefest of efforts to M dwarfs.

Telescope can view stars at ultraviolet wavelengths unhindered. Wikimedia Commons
Telescope can view stars at ultraviolet wavelengths unhindered. Wikimedia Commons

The telescope uses a mirror system with coatings optimized for ultraviolet light. Together with the camera, the system can measure very small changes in the brightness of M dwarf stars to carry out the primary science of the mission.

M dwarfs are exceedingly common that they make up three-quarters of all the stars in our Milky Way galaxy as well as nearly 40 billion rocky planets in habitable zones around these stars, meaning that most of the habitable-zone planets in our galaxy orbit M dwarfs.

Capturing lengthy observations of M dwarfs will let astronomers study how stellar activity affects planets that orbit the star. IANS

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SpaceX Dragon Delivers To International Space Station After Delay

Three astronauts will be on board the station on Christmas, while three others will return to Earth on December 20.

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SpaceX Dragon
In this image taken from NASA Television, the SpaceX Dragon cargo spacecraft approaches the robotic arm for docking to the International Space Station. VOA

A SpaceX Dragon cargo ship finally delivered more than 2,500 kilograms of holiday treats Saturday to the International Space Station after a communications drop-out delayed the shipment.

After two approach attempts, the Dragon locked onto the orbiting lab three days after launching from Cape Canaveral in the southeastern U.S. state of Florida.

NASA nixed the first approach because of a glitch in the communication network that serves the space station.

SpaceX Dragon is pictured about 30 meters from the International Space Station before being captured minutes later at its capture point of 10 meters from the station.
SpaceX Dragon is pictured about 30 meters from the International Space Station before being captured minutes later at its capture point of 10 meters from the station. VOA
 Mission Control ordered the Dragon to back up from the station before approaching again after NASA switched another communications satellite.

With the Dragon positioned about nine meters from the station, Commander Alexander Gerst locked the lab’s robot arm onto the cargo ship one-and-a-half hours later than planned.

In addition to holiday offerings — including smoked turkey, green bean casserole and fruit cake — mice and worms also were delivered for science experiments.

Three astronauts will be on board the station on Christmas, while three others will return to Earth on December 20. Until then, the station will be home to six astronauts: Gerst, who is German, two Americans, two Russians and one Canadian. (VOA)