This mission shows how solar flares destroy life on exoplanets
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Commercial space missions will study how solar flares produced by nearby stars affect the habitability of orbiting exoplanets.
The mission, named Mauve, will be launched in 2024 by the private company Blue Sky Space. Blue Sky Space is also developing a commercial exoplanet observation satellite called Twinkle.
Mauve will carry an ultraviolet spectrometer and a 15 cm telescope to observe the activity of stars close to the Sun. Stars like the Sun typically emit large amounts of energized particles in the form of coronal mass ejections, producing powerful flashes of light known as solar flares. These phenomena affect the stellar environment, blowing strong solar winds onto nearby planets, eroding the planet’s atmosphere and sterilizing its surface. Astronomers can purchase observation time on Mauve to better understand how stellar activity affects the habitability of planets in orbit.
Giovanna Tinetti, professor of astrophysics at University College London and senior scientist at Blue’s Sky’s Space, said in a statement: (opens in new tab). “By monitoring other stars that host planets, we can also gain a better understanding of the behavior of our own star, the Sun, and its potential impact on Earth.”
Construction on the satellite, scheduled for launch in 2024, will begin in November, UK-based Blue Sky Space said in a statement. The spacecraft and its equipment will be built in collaboration with Hungarian manufacturer his C3S LLC and his Dutch ISISPACE Group.
Giuseppina Misela, an Italian astronomer at the INAF Observatory in Palermo, said, “Mauve opens up new avenues in astronomy and planetary science, providing better access to the [ultraviolet] data of stars.” Blue Sky Space CEO Marcell Tessenyi added: