Science Wrap: Mount Etna erupts, ISRO tests NISAR before 2024 launch, NASA spots Earth clone

Debodinna Chakraborty
Debodinna ChakrabortyNov 18, 2023 | 10:00

Science Wrap: Mount Etna erupts, ISRO tests NISAR before 2024 launch, NASA spots Earth clone

Here are the top science news of the week. (Photo: AP, X/NASA)

This week’s science news includes yet another eruption case for Mount Etna volcano and ranges all the way to NASA’s Hubble Telescope discovering a “super hot” planet like Earth. 

Here are the top science news of the week. 

Mount Etna eruption 

Mount Etna, one of the world's most active volcanoes, erupted on Sunday, releasing lava and ash high over Sicily. 

  • The towering volcano on Sicily's east coast once again drew global attention with its dramatic eruption. 
  • The event, captured by the Copernicus Sentinel-2 mission from space, showcased the lava flow using shortwave-infrared bands.
  • The eruption created a striking plume of ash and lava visible across the Mediterranean island, sparking a flurry of social media posts capturing the fiery spectacle. 
  • Despite potential hazards, operations at Catania Airport, situated near the volcano's base, remained uninterrupted.
  • Europe is keeping an eye on another possible volcano besides Mount Etna.
  • Iceland is getting ready for a potential eruption because of earthquakes in Grindavik, suggesting a magma tunnel forming below. 
  • Thousands are being evacuated just to be safe.

NISAR gets tested in space-like environment

On November 13, 2023, ISRO’s Earth observation satellite - the Nasa-Isro Synthetic Aperture Radar (NISAR) - marked a major achievement by completing a rigorous 21-day test. 

  • This test, designed to assess its functionality in space's harsh conditions, validated Nisar's performance in extreme temperatures and vacuum.
  • Developed collaboratively by ISRO and NASA, the satellite showcased its capabilities during a thermal vacuum test at ISRO's Satellite Integration and Test Establishment (SITE) unit in Bengaluru.

The tests

  • Covered in gold thermal blanketing, it went into a vacuum chamber on October 19. 
  • It endured an 80-hour 'cold soak' at -10 degrees Celsius and a 'hot soak' at 50 degrees Celsius to mimic space conditions.
  • These tests were crucial to ensure the satellite could handle launch and orbit exposure to sunlight and darkness.

India gears up for Leonid meteor shower 

India along with the whole world is gearing up for the  upcoming Leonid meteor shower of 2023 which promises a captivating celestial display, illuminating the night sky from November 3 to December 2. 

  • Watchers in India and globally are in for a treat, as this annual event, ongoing since November 6, will peak on November 17 to 18. 
  • This meteor shower will showcase 15-20 meteors per hour in the pre-dawn hours.

Things to keep in mind

  • To catch this natural show caused by Earth passing through comet remnants, find a dark spot away from city lights in India.
  • Dress warmly for the dropping temperatures during your Leonid meteor shower observation.

The Hubble telescope discovers planet like Earth, but...

The Hubble Space Telescope recently gauged the size of the closest transiting exoplanet, LTT 1445Ac, finding it to be a rocky planet akin in diameter to Earth, which is located in a triple-star system 22 light years away from Earth.  

  • Discovered by NASA's TESS in 2022, uncertainties about its size were cleared by Hubble, revealing it's 1.07 times Earth's diameter. 
  • Despite its Earth-like size, it's scorching at 500°F, unfit for life. 
  • LTT 1445Ac orbits a red dwarf star, LTT 1445A, with two other planets. 
  • Hubble also resolved the other stars, LTT 1445B and C, about 3 billion miles away from LTT 1445A.
  • Among the exoplanets nearby, LTT 1445Ac is the closest that passes in front of its star, blocking some of its light. The larger the planet, the more light it blocks during this transit.
Last updated: November 18, 2023 | 10:00
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