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"Through this programme designed to attract young professionals, we received two dozen great ideas from a diverse cohort of innovators at universities, research laboratories, and NASA centres," said Paul Hertz, director of NASA's astrophysics division at NASA Headquarters in Washington. Pinterest

NASA has selected four small-scale astrophysics missions for further concept development in a new programme called “Pioneers” to study the secrets of the universe.

Through small satellites and scientific balloons, these selections enable new platforms for exploring cosmic phenomena such as galaxy evolution, exoplanets, high-energy neutrinos, and neutron star mergers, the US space agency said in a statement on Thursday.


“The principal investigators of these concept studies bring innovative, out-of-the-box thinking to the problem of how to do high-impact astrophysics experiments on a small budget,” said Thomas H Zurbuchen, associate administrator of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate.

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“Each of the proposed experiments would do something no other NASA telescope or mission can do, filling important gaps in our understanding of the universe as a whole.” Aspera is a SmallSat that will study galaxy evolution. Through observations in ultraviolet light, it will examine hot gas in the space between galaxies, called the intergalactic medium, and the inflow and outflow of gas from galaxies.

Pandora is a SmallSat that will study 20 stars and their 39 exoplanets in visible and infrared light. “Understanding how changes in starlight affects measurements of exoplanets is an outstanding problem in the search for habitable planets beyond the solar system,” NASA said.


NASA has selected four small-scale astrophysics missions for further concept development in a new programme called “Pioneers” to study the secrets of the universe. Pinterest

StarBurst is a SmallSat that will detect high-energy gamma rays from events such as the mergers of dense stellar remnants called neutron stars. This would provide valuable insight into such events, which are also detected through gravitational waves by observatories on Earth.

Finally, PUEO is a balloon mission designed to launch from Antarctica that will detect signals from ultra-high energy neutrinos, particles that contain valuable clues about the highest-energy astrophysical processes, including the creation of black holes and neutron star mergers.

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“Neutrinos travel across the universe undisturbed, carrying information about events billions of light-years away. PUEO would be the most sensitive survey of cosmic ultra-high energy neutrinos ever conducted,” the US space agency noted. After additional definition, these four concept studies will undergo a concept study review before being approved for flight.

“Through this programme designed to attract young professionals, we received two dozen great ideas from a diverse cohort of innovators at universities, research laboratories, and NASA centres,” said Paul Hertz, director of NASA’s astrophysics division at NASA Headquarters in Washington. (IANS)


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The aim of the book is to teach children that families can exist in different forms, and show them how to accept the diversity in family backgrounds.

By Siddhi Jain

Delhi-based author Pritisha Borthakur is set to release her new book, 'Puhor and Niyor's Mural of Family Stories'. The 1,404-word children's book was put together to address a new kind of societal debacle in the family system. The author says the aim is to teach children that families can exist in different forms, and show them how to accept the diversity in family backgrounds.

The author who named the book after her twin sons -- Puhor and Niyor -- is a parent who has seen and heard the tales of ridicule and discrimination suffered by many in India and beyond. She says the book is an artistic illustration for kids that details how different families can live and coexist. Whether it's children with two dads or two moms, children with a single dad or single mom, and even multiracial family units, Borthakur's book teaches love, understanding, and compassion towards unconventional families.

Beyond race, gender, color, and ethnicity which have formed the bases for discrimination since the beginning of time, this book aims to bring to light a largely ignored issue. For so long, single parents have been treated like a taboo without any attempt to understand their situations; no one really cares how or why one's marriage ended but just wants to treat single parents as villains simply for choosing happiness and loving their children.

Homosexual parents, a relatively new family system, is another form that has suffered hate and discrimination for many years. Pritisha emphasizes the need to understand that diversity in people and family is what makes the world beautiful and colourful. 'Puhor and Niyor's Mural of Family Stories' is a firm but compassionate statement against all forms of discrimination on the bases of sexual identity, gender, race, and even differences in background

four children standing on dirt during daytime 'Puhor and Niyor's Mural of Family Stories' is a firm but compassionate statement against all forms of discrimination on the bases of sexual identity, gender, race and even differences in background. | Photo by Ben Wicks on Unsplash


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