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India’s Heaviest Rocket GSLV-Mk III with GSAT-19 Satellite all set for Maiden Flight

The rocket, weighing 640 tonnes and standing 43.43 metres tall, will blast off from the second launch pad at India’s rocket port at Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh

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Sriharikota: Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO)'s communication satellite GSAT-9 on-board GSLV-F09 lifts off from Satish Dhawan Space Center in Sriharikota on Friday. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has termed the satellite as India's “space gift for South Asia”. PTI
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Chennai, June 6, 2017: India’s heaviest rocket — Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle-Mark III (GSLV-Mk III) — is all set for its maiden flight into space along with a communications satellite GSAT-19 on Monday evening.

The countdown of 25 hours and 30 minutes began at 3.58 pm on Sunday, an official of the Indian space agency said.

The rocket, weighing 640 tonnes and standing 43.43 metres tall, will blast off from the second launch pad at India’s rocket port at Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh, around 105 km from Chennai.

It will carry a 3,136-kg GSAT-19 communications satellite — the heaviest to be lifted by an Indian rocket till date — to an altitude of around 179 km above the Earth after just over 16 minutes into the flight.

On June 2, the Mission Readiness Review Committee and Launch Authorisation Board had cleared the countdown for GSLV Mk-III D1/GSAT-19 mission.

The rocket’s main and bigger cryogenic engine has been developed by space scientists here.

The mission’s success will enable India to launch four-tonne satellites on its own rocket instead of paying huge amounts of money to foreign space agencies to execute the operation.

According to Indian Space Research Organisation, GSAT-19 with a life span of 10 years is a multi-beam satellite that carries Ka and Ku band forward and return link transponders and geostationary radiation spectrometer.

“The rocket’s design carrying capacity is four tonnes. The payload will be gradually increased in future flights of the GSLV Mk-III,” K. Sivan, Director, Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre, told IANS earlier.

The Indian space agency had flown a similar rocket without the cryogenic engine but with 3.7-tonne payload in 2014 mainly to test its structural stability while in flight and the aerodynamics.

S. Somanath, Director, Liquid Propulsion Systems Centre, told IANS that the inputs of the 2014 mission enabled the ISRO to reduce the rocket load by around 20 per cent.

Interestingly, GSLV-Mk III at around 43 metres is slightly shorter than Mk-II version that is around 49 metres tall.

“The new rocket may be slightly short but has more punch power,” an ISRO official told IANS.

India presently has two rockets — the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle and GSLV-Mk II — with a lift-off mass of 415 tonnes and a carrying capacity of 2.5 tonnes. (IANS)

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Habitability Of Surrounding Planets Affected By Super Flares Of Red Dwarfs: NASA

Red dwarfs -- especially young red dwarfs -- are active stars, producing flares blast out energy

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NASA, space, red dwarf
Superflares from red dwarfs may affect habitability of planets Pixabay

Using NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope, astronomers have found that violent outbursts, or superflares, from red dwarf stars could affect the habitability of any planets orbiting it.

Young low-mass stars flare much more frequently and more energetically than old stars and middle-age stars like our Sun, the findings of the study published in the Astrophysical Journal showed.

The findings are based on observations of the flare frequency of 12 red dwarfs.

Hubble is observing such stars through a large programme called HAZMAT — Habitable Zones and M dwarf Activity across Time.

“M dwarf” is the astronomical term for a red dwarf star — the smallest, most abundant and longest-living type of star in our galaxy.

Hubble Telescope. red dwarf
Hubble Telescope. Flickr

The HAZMAT programme is an ultraviolet survey of red dwarfs at three different ages — young, intermediate, and old.

“The goal of the HAZMAT programme is to help understand the habitability of planets around low-mass stars,” explained the programme’s principal investigator, Evgenya Shkolnik from Arizona State University.

“These low-mass stars are critically important in understanding planetary atmospheres,” Shkolnik added.

Stellar flares from red dwarfs are particularly bright in ultraviolet wavelengths, compared with Sun-like stars.

Red dwarf  planet
Artist’s view of planets transiting red dwarf star in TRAPPIST-1 system. Flickr

Hubble’s ultraviolet sensitivity makes the telescope very valuable for observing these flares.

The flares are believed to be powered by intense magnetic fields that get tangled by the roiling motions of the stellar atmosphere.

When the tangling gets too intense, the fields break and reconnect, unleashing tremendous amounts of energy.

The team found that the flares from the youngest red dwarfs they surveyed — just about 40 million years old — are 100 to 1,000 times more energetic than when the stars are older.

This younger age is when terrestrial planets are forming around their stars.

Red dwarf
This illustration shows a red dwarf star orbited by a hypothetical exoplanet. NASA

About three-quarters of the stars in our Milky Way galaxy are red dwarfs. Most of the galaxy’s “habitable-zone” planets — planets orbiting their stars at a distance where temperatures are moderate enough for liquid water to exist on their surface — orbit red dwarfs.

In fact, the nearest star to our Sun, a red dwarf named Proxima Centauri, has an Earth-size planet in its habitable zone.

Also Read: NASA Plans For Science Payloads For Delivery To Moon

However, red dwarfs — especially young red dwarfs — are active stars, producing flares that could blast out so much energy that it disrupts and possibly strips off the atmospheres of these fledgling planets. (IANS)