Watch this space: Aditya L1, China’s methane rocket and Webb’s ghost | Technology news

The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) on Friday shared the first full disk image of the Sun in infrared light captured by the Aditya-L1 mission. The images are the first full-disk efev images of the Sun at wavelengths from 200 to 400 nm, according to the space agency.

India’s neighbors were also busy. China’s private space technology firm LandSpace Technology on Friday launched three satellites on its pioneering Zhuque-2 rocket, which is fueled by a mixture of methane and liquid oxygen. Using methane in commercial launches could potentially help reduce costs and make rockets easier to reuse, and LandSpace was the first company to demonstrate the technology.

All space exploration does not involve launching rockets. This week, scientists announced the results of a study in which they used the James Webb Space Telescope to identify AzTECC71, a dusty galaxy so faint that it was invisible to ground-based and orbiting telescopes for many years.

ISRO’s Aditya L1 mission

The images were captured by the Solar Ultraviolet Imaging Telescope (SUIT) instrument on Aditya L1. It is one of the mission’s seven payloads and is designed to take UV images of the Sun’s photosphere and chromosphere and study variations in the emitted light energy.

Prior to the full disk images, the Solar Wind Ion Spectrometer (SWIS) and the Wind Particle Experiment (ASPEX) had already begun their science operations. The mission also captured its first high-energy X-ray view of solar flares using its orbiting X-ray spectrometer, which ISRO launched last month.

The main overall goal of the Aditya L1 mission is to help gain a deeper understanding of the Sun and how its radiation, heat, magnetic fields and particle streams affect Earth. Interestingly, it may even provide clues to a long-standing mystery of the solar corona.

A Chinese rocket powered by methane

The Zhuque-2 Y-3 mission lifted off from the Jiquan Satellite Launch Center in China’s Inner Mongolia region at 1709 IST on Friday, according to Reuters. The launch vehicle had already taken off in July without satellites. This launch made LandSpace the first company in the world to launch a rocket using liquid methane and oxygen. The mission, which launched on Friday, was carrying two 50-kilogram test satellites developed by Chinese startup Spacety.

The company claims that these two successful launches prove that its Zhuque-2 rocket is ready for commercial launches. It is currently capable of carrying a payload of up to 1.5 metric tons into an orbit of 500 kilometers. LandSpace plans to increase this number to 4 tons with upgraded future versions.

Landpsace also revealed factories for the future Zhuque-3 rocket, which will use stainless steel fuel tanks and liquid methane and oxygen engine clusters. The two-stage rocket will have a payload capacity of up to 20 metric tons when used in expendable mode. In reusable mode, the launch vehicle will weigh between 11 and 16.5 tons, based on configuration.

The Ghost of the James Webb Space Telescope

It was first seen as a bright spot in ground-based telescopes before being blurryly imaged by the Hubble Space Telescope. But soon it completely disappeared from the eye of the telescope. Now it has reappeared as a faint galaxy in an image taken by the James Webb Space Telescope.

The object is called AzTECC71 and has been identified as a dusty star-forming galaxy. The fact that it is shrouded in dust makes it very difficult to see, but it is forming many new stars at a rapid rate. We are observing the dusty galaxy as it was more than a billion years after the Big Bang. To put this into context, scientists estimate that the Big Bang happened about 13.8 billion years ago.

Dusty star-forming galaxies are quite difficult to spot because the dust usually absorbs most of the light emitted by the stars. Later, they emit all this energy, mostly in the form of infrared light. This made it quite difficult for Hubble to observe them. The researchers went on the hunt, narrowing down the object’s location using data from multiple ground-based telescopes before viewing and photographing it with Webb.

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First published on: 10/12/2023 at 12:00 PM IST

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