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Private space mission to study how solar flares kill exoplanet life


A commercial space mission will investigate the potential impact of solar flares from neighboring stars on the habitability of exoplanets in their orbit.


The private business Blue Sky Space, which is already creating a commercial exoplanet-watching satellite called Twinkle, will launch the mission, dubbed Mauve, in 2024.


To track the activity of stars near the sun, Mauve will be equipped with a 6-inch (15-centimeter) telescope and an ultraviolet spectrometer. Large quantities of energetic particles are frequently ejected from stars like the sun in the form of coronal mass ejections, which also cause solar flares, which are intense bursts of light.


These occurrences have an impact on the atmospheres of surrounding planets, hammering them with strong solar winds that can eat away at their atmospheres and sterilize their surfaces.


To learn more about how a star's activity impacts a planet's habitability in its orbit, astronomers will be able to purchase observing time on Mauve.


Giovanna Tinetti, a professor of astrophysics at University College London and the director of Blue Skies Space, said in a statement that Mauve will be "transformative" in understanding the activity of a population of neighboring stars, many of which are much more active than our sun . By observing other stars with planets, we can learn more about the behavior of the sun, our own star, and its possible effects on Earth.


The satellite's construction will start in November, according to a statement from Blue Sky Space, a British company with headquarters in the U.K. Together with the Hungarian company C3S LLC and the Dutch company ISISPACE Group, the spacecraft and its sensors will be produced.


In the statement, Italian astronomer Giuseppina Micela from the INAF Observatory of Palermo, who provided the team with science advice, said that Mauve "will open a new opportunity for astronomy and planetary research and generate greater access to stellar [ultraviolet] data which is currently very sparse."


"I am very excited about the cutting-edge science provided by Mauve and the tight collaboration between UK and European partners to create it, facilitated by the financing support of the European Commission," said Marcell Tessenyi, CEO of Blue Sky Space.


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