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ISRO plans for sun mission in 2020 after Chandrayaan 2.

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After Chandrayaan-2, the ISRO has planned launch of its solar mission, Aditya-L1, in the first half of 2020 to study the Sun’s corona, according to the space agency.

Aditya-L1 is meant to observe the corona, which are the outer layers of the Sun, extending to thousands of kilometers.

India on Monday successfully launched its second lunar mission Chandrayaan-2 onboard its powerful rocket GSLV-MkIII-M1 from the spaceport here to explore the unchartered south pole of the celestial body by landing a rover.

In a news conference last month, Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) K Sivan had said, “It is 1.5 million kilometres from the Earth. It will always look at the Sun and give analysis of the corona because it has a major impact on climate change.”

He said the mission is planned for launch in the first half of 2020.

Another interplanetary mission to Venus will be launched in the next 2-3 years, Sivan, who is also the secretary, Department of Space, had said.

Aditya-L1, with additional experiments, can provide observations of the Sun’s photosphere, chromosphere and corona.

In addition, particle payloads will study the particle flux emanating from the Sun, it added.

These payloads have to be placed outside the interference from the Earth’s magnetic field and cannot be useful in the low earth orbit, the ISRO added.

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Water discovered on a potentially habitable super-Earth

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In the dim, red light of an alien sun, scientists have found the first evidence for water in the atmosphere of a “super-Earth”-size planet — offering a tantalizing (if cryptic) new target in the search for life in the universe.

The intriguing world, which goes by the impersonal designation K2-18b, lies just 110 light-years away in the constellation Leo. More important: It sits in its star’s “habitable zone,” where it is bathed in the same amount of energy from its star as Earth gets from the sun.

Twice as large as our own planet and eight times as massive, K2-18b possesses powerful gravity that would make it difficult to walk upon. It orbits close to a red dwarf star, much smaller and cooler than our sun. And aside from water vapor, its atmosphere contains mostly hydrogen gas — a molecule that makes up less than 1 part per million of our own atmosphere.

It is no “second Earth,” said astronomer Angelos Tsiaras, the lead author of a study on the planet published Wednesday in the journal Nature Astronomy. But he believes it is “the best candidate for habitability that we know right now.”

The paper by Tsiaras draws on publicly available data produced by Björn Benneke, a planetary astronomer at the University of Montreal in Canada. On Tuesday, Benneke’s team posted its own analysis of K2-18b on the preprint server arXiv, which hosts academic papers not yet published in peer-reviewed journals.

Benneke and his colleagues also found signatures of water vapor in K2-18b’s skies. But they were less optimistic than Tsiaras about the potential habitability of this world. The Montreal-based team’s interpretation of its data suggests the hydrogen atmosphere forms a thick, gaseous envelope around the planet. This would generate intense pressures at the planet’s surface — perhaps enough to push hydrogen into a liquid form.

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