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UK boosts space tech funding

Morris is a longstanding advocate for the UK space industry and chairs the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Space…reports Asian Lite News

Funding for pioneering new space technologies will help to cut carbon emissions, improve energy security and enhance the UK’s reputation as a science superpower, the Business and Energy Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng announced today.

£3 million of grant funding will be made available for space-based solar power (SBSP) projects that collect the Sun’s energy using solar panels orbiting the Earth and can deliver clean energy, day and night, unaffected by the weather.

The technology has the potential to boost energy security by providing reliable, affordable alternative to expensive and volatile fossil fuels, while reducing the UK’s contributions to climate change.

Grant funding will also be made available for cutting-edge weather monitoring sensors to aid more accurate weather forecasts. The sensors will be put into orbit for the first time, thanks to a partnership with data and analytics company Spire Global.

The Hyperspectral Microwave Sounder (HYMS), developed by the Science and Technology Facilities Council’s RAL Space, will help meteorological agencies and businesses around the world involved with planning, shipping and flood warnings. It is 4 times more powerful than the sensors used on existing satellites.

In a further demonstration of the government’s commitment to the sector, Morecambe and Lunesdale MP David Morris will serve as the first ever National Space Champion. He will work closely with industry to ensure the UK’s space sector continues to grow, attract investment, and develop innovative products. Morris is a longstanding advocate for the UK space industry and chairs the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Space.

Business and Energy Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said, “Space-based solar power could provide an affordable, clean and reliable source of energy for the whole world to benefit from, helping the move away from expensive fossil fuels. Today’s investment is an exciting example of how we can go even further in our ambitions to make the UK a science superpower.”

These projects are major milestones for our National Space Strategy, developing the UK’s space capabilities while boosting the economy and delivering high-skill jobs.

National Space Champion David Morris MP said, “It is a privilege to be asked to be the first UK National Space Champion and the appointment shows the government’s commitment to the sector and its commitment to its growth. The UK space sector is fast becoming a world leader and I look forward to being a champion for the industry within government to ensure we are able to spearhead the industry to even further growth.”

Similarly, the HYMS occupies a footprint fifty times smaller than current technology, which makes it possible to launch dozens of HYMS-equipped satellites, together forming a constellation that can track fast moving extreme weather events such as hurricanes.

Dr Paul Bate, Chief Executive of the UK Space Agency, said, “Satellite technology is helping us solve some of the most significant challenges we face. We’re working with the space sector to drive innovation, catalyse investment and bring tangible benefits to people and businesses across the UK.” The UK space sector employs around 47,000 people directly around the UK and supports around 190,000 jobs in the supply chain. By building on the commitments of the National Space Strategy to grow the economy and lead pioneering scientific discovery, these 2 projects will help to protect and grow these high-quality jobs across the country for generations to come.

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Science USA

NASA’s universe images flashed on Times Square screens

The images captured on the world’s most powerful space Telescope, James Webb Space Telescope were taken from its most powerful observatory ever placed in orbit….reports Asian Lite News

Giving the deepest view of the Cosmos, the first full-colour images from the world’s most powerful space telescope were on display at Times Square Screens in New York City on Tuesday.

The images captured on the world’s most powerful space Telescope, James Webb Space Telescope were taken from its most powerful observatory ever placed in orbit, NASA revealed.

The first image unveiled earlier showed the galaxy cluster SMACS 0723.

Webb’s First Deep Field is a composite made from different images taken at different wavelengths. It was made using images taken with the Near-Infrared Camera (NIRCam). NASA then revealed images of the following targets: Carina Nebula, WASP-96 b (spectrum data), Southern Ring Nebula and Stephen’s Quintet.

Located 7,600 light-years away, the Carina Nebula is a stellar nursery, where stars are born. It is one of the largest and brightest nebulae in the sky and home to many stars much more massive than our sun, CNN reported.

The “Cosmic Cliffs” are seen in the stunning new image that reveals previously hidden baby stars, which provides “a rare peek into stars in their earliest, rapid stages of formation,” according to NASA.

This compact galaxy group, first discovered in 1787, is located 290 million light-years away in the constellation Pegasus. Four of the five galaxies in the group “are locked in a cosmic dance of repeated close encounters,” according to a NASA statement.

The Southern Ring Nebula, also called the “Eight-Burst,” is 2,000 light-years away from Earth. This large planetary nebula includes an expanding cloud of gas around a dying star.

The new observatory is a joint project of the US, European and Canadian space agencies.It has been specially tuned to see the sky in the infrared – that’s light at longer wavelengths than can be sensed by our eyes. (ANI)

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Business India News Science

Indian space sector eventful in the first half of 2022

The Russia’s military action in Ukraine has benefited ISRO and its commercial arm NewSpace India Ltd with OneWeb, a joint venture between India Bharti Global and the UK government deciding to use Indian rockets for launching their satellites…writes VENKATACHARI JAGANNATHAN

The first half of 2022 for the Indian space sector was eventful largely outside of the rocket launch pads like the selection of the HAL-L&T consortium to make PSLV rockets, inking the deal with OneWeb to orbit their small satellites and moving ahead in connection with India’s first human space mission.

With regard to satellite launches, the ISRO successfully put into orbit its latest ‘eye in the sky’ the radar imaging satellite EOS-04 formerly called RISAT-1A.

Later European Space Agency Arianespace’s Ariane 5 rocket orbited India’s communication satellite GSAT-24 while ISRO with its PSLV rocket is expected to orbit three foreign satellites on June 30.

These apart, Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) got S. Somanath as its new Chairman, the inauguration of the Indian National Space Promotion and Authorisation Centre (IN-SPACe) – the regulator for private sector space players-office in Gujarat, are the other notable events.

In the private sector, the rocket making startups tested their engines and also raised funds while satellite maker Syzygy Space Technologies Pvt Ltd, commonly known as Pixxel, launched its first satellite with Space X’s rocket.

However, the space sector reform measures like the finalisation of policies, the foreign direct investment (FDI) norms, space insurance and passing of the Space Activities Bill didn’t happen.

The Russia’s military action in Ukraine has benefited ISRO and its commercial arm NewSpace India Ltd with OneWeb, a joint venture between India Bharti Global and the UK government deciding to use Indian rockets for launching their satellites.

The first launch with New Space India is anticipated in 2022 from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SDSC) SHAR, Sriharikota.

“This is yet another historic day for collaboration in space, thanks to the shared ambition and vision of New Space India Ltd (NSIL) and OneWeb. This most recent agreement on launch plans adds considerable momentum to the development of OneWeb’s network, as we work together across the space industry towards our common goal of connecting communities globally,” Sunil Bharti Mittal, OneWeb Executive Chairman said.

Space sector experts had earlier told, the US and Europe’s economic sanctions against Russia for its war against Ukraine may throw up economic opportunities for the Indian space sector, instead of burdening it with economic cost.

They also said that to cash in on the opportunities, India should accelerate its satellite launch capabilities, and announce productivity-linked incentive (PLI) schemes for the aerospace sector.

In April, the NSIL said the Hindustan Aeronautics and L&T consortium had turned out to be the lowest bidder to make five PSLV-XL rockets.

According to an official, the remaining activities are expected to be completed in a couple of months’ time, if everything goes smoothly.

“The first PSLV-XL rocket is expected to be realised in 24 months from the date of award of the contract. Subsequently one rocket every six months has to be delivered to NSIL,” the official told IANS.

The NSIL will also issue an Expression of Interest (EOI) for making the ISRO’s small rocket – Small Satellite Launch Vehicle (SSLV)– which is under development.

Following that will be the EOI for making ISRO’s heavier rocket Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle Mk III (GSLV-MkIII), the official added.

The other notable happenings are:

-ISRO successfully conducted the qualification test of cryogenic engine for its ambitious Gaganyaan/human space programme.

-The Indian space agency also successfully fired the high thrust Vikas engine to power India’s first rocket that would carry humans, and also successfully tested the solid fuel motor of its small rocket under development.

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Business Science

GPS satellites to be more effective in detecting tsunamis

Though the waves are typically a few centimetres high, it nonetheless causes a disturbance in the Earth’s upper atmosphere by pushing up air and creating an acoustic wave that is amplified as it goes higher…reports Asian Lite News

GPS satellites orbiting the Earth may be more effective in detecting tsunamis, and much faster than the seismic sensors, finds a study.

The method could serve as an effective warning system for countries worldwide, said the researchers at the University College London, UK.

Tsunami waves are low in deep water but can travel at the speed of a jet, up to 800 kilometres an hour in a deep sea, and as they enter shallow waters, they slow down, growing in height.

Though the waves are typically a few centimetres high, it nonetheless causes a disturbance in the Earth’s upper atmosphere by pushing up air and creating an acoustic wave that is amplified as it goes higher.

This acoustic wave can reach 300 km high in the ionosphere, in about seven minutes, and the depression in electron density that occurs as a consequence could be detected via satellite signals in 10 to 15 minutes, the researchers found.

As the density of electrons in the area is reduced, it affects radio signals sent by GPS satellites to GPS receivers on the ground, delaying or speeding up different parts of the signal, or changing the signal’s direction, depending on frequency, the team explained in the paper published in Natural Hazards and Earth System Sciences.

While some tsunamis reach coasts in under 10 minutes, the researchers pointed out that the method could also be used to predict second or third waves, helping to determine whether a tsunami warning should be cancelled or maintained after the first wave.

“Our study demonstrates a new method of detecting tsunamis that is low-cost, as it relies on existing GPS networks, and could be implemented worldwide, complementing other ways of detecting tsunamis and improving the accuracy of warning systems,” said Professor Serge Guillas from UCL Statistical Science.

For the study, researchers from UCL and universities in Japan looked at GPS data at the time of the devastating 2011 Tohoku-Oki earthquake and tsunami.

They found that a tsunami warning could have been issued with confidence within 15 minutes of the earthquake occurring – that is, at least 10 minutes prior to the first tsunami hitting Japan’s east coast.

They also found that a warning could have been issued using data from only 5 per cent of Japan’s 1,200 GPS receivers – meaning that the method could be used in countries with a sparser GPS network than Japan’s.

The team said the next step in the research will be to investigate this further to see if the method could be used for more precise predictions of tsunami size and range.

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Business Science Tech Lite

HAL-L&T historic PSLV rocket mission to launch in 2024

ISRO officials used to say the PSLV-XL version would cost about Rs 190 crore and for five, it will be about Rs 950 crore…reports Venkatachari Jagannathan

The Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd and Larsen & Toubro Ltd (L&T) consortium has turned out to the lowest price bidder for making five Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) XL variant rocket out of the three who had bid, said a space sector official.

With this, the transfer of PSLV-XL production outside of Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) moves a step forward.

“The Hindustan Aeronautics and L&T consortium has turned out to be the lowest bidder to make five PSLV-XL rockets. Now other agreements have to be signed between NewSpace India Ltd (NSIL) and the winning consortium before awarding the contract,” an official, preferring anonymity, told IANS.

According to the official, the remaining activities are expected to be completed in a couple of months’ time, if everything goes smoothly.

“The first PSLV-XL rocket is expected to be realised in 24 months from the date of award of the contract. Subsequently one rocket every six months has to be delivered to NSIL,” the official added.

The first rocket is expected to be realised sometime during the second half of 2024 and the balance four rockets will be delivered during 2025 and 2026 at two rockets per year.

This is the first time in the ISRO’s history that an entire rocket, including the heatshield, is to be made outside of the space agency.

However, the official declined to comment whether the successful bid amount was around Rs 825 crore (about Rs 165 crore per rocket) excluding taxes.

According to a NSIL official, the selected industry player can use ISRO facilities for a fee, and it is the industry’s responsibility to deliver the rocket.

It will be interesting to see the net cost of the rocket for NSIL.

ISRO officials used to say the PSLV-XL version would cost about Rs 190 crore and for five, it will be about Rs 950 crore.

The other two bids for the project were made by Bharat Heavy Electrical Ltd (BHEL) and Bharat Electronics Ltd (BEL)-Adani Enterprises Ltd (AEL) and Bharat Earth Movers Ltd (BEML) consortium.

The PSLV-XL rocket, weighing about 320 ton, is a four stage rocket with each stage powered by solid and liquid fuel, alternatively.

According to the space sector official, the Hindustan Aeronautics-L&T combine will deliver all the stages, including the heat shield, at ISRO’s rocket port in Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh.

The rocket’s first stage will be assembled at the launch pad in Sriharikota.

The stacking of the rocket stages and the satellite will be done by ISRO.

The NSIL will market the rockets for commercial flights. The rockets will also be used for national space missions.

According to a NSIL official, the company will deal with Hindustan Aeronautics, the leader of the consortium, and it is not known how the two companies are structuring their set up for the project.

Though the two companies are supplying components for ISRO, it is not known as to the quantum of their supplies to make a PSLV-XL rocket.

The official also said after seeing the working of the model, the company may decide on transferring the entire PSLV production to industry players.

Then there will be another tender for the same as the dynamics would differ, NSIL official said.

The NSIL will also issue an Expression of Interest (EOI) for making the ISRO’s small rocket – Small Satellite Launch Vehicle (SSLV)– which is under development.

The selection process for SSLV will be simpler as NSIL has the experience in choosing the industry partner for making the PSLV rocket.

Further the SSLV is of simpler technology – it is powered by solid fuel motors.

Following that will be the EOI for making ISRO’s heavier rocket Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle Mk III (GSLV-MkIII), the official added.

Meanwhile NSIL has issued an ‘Interest Explanatory Note’ to transfer ISRO’s technology for making the small satellite – India Mini Satellite-1 (IMS-1) Bus.

It is learnt the company has received about 10-15 responses for the same.

ISRO’s UR Rao Satellite Centre (URSC) has developed a small satellite platform which would enable low cost access to space by providing a dedicated platform for payloads for earth imaging, ocean and atmospheric studies, microwave remote sensing and space science missions with a quick turnaround time.

The satellite will have a payload mass of 30kg and a life space of two years.

The NSIL has the mandate of building, and launching rockets and satellites through industry partners and also providing space-based services through remote sensing and communication satellites.

Last year, the company issued the Request for Proposal (RFP) from industries for making five PSLV rockets.

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Business Science

Axiom ready  to launch world’s first all-private astronaut mission

The research activity also includes a first-of-its-kind brain mapping activity on the ISS…reports Asian Lite News

American private space habitat company Axiom Space’s first-ever private mission to the International Space Station (ISS) is now slated for launch on April 8.

First scheduled to launch on February 21, the Axiom Mission 1 (Ax-1) – the world’s first all-private astronaut mission to ISS – has faced many delays. Now, the liftoff is scheduled for April 8 at 11.17 a.m. EDT from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, the company said in a statement.

The 4-member multinational crew will launch on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and will travel to and from the space station in a SpaceX-built Dragon spacecraft.

The Ax-1 crew members are Commander Michael Lopez-Alegria of Spain and the US, Pilot Larry Connor of the US, and Mission Specialists Eytan Stibbe of Israel and Mark Pathy of Canada.

During their 10-day mission, the crew will spend eight days on the ISS conducting scientific research, outreach, and commercial activities.

‘’Ax-1 is the first of several proposed Axiom missions to the orbiting laboratory and an important step toward Axiom’s goal of constructing a private space station, Axiom Station, in low-Earth orbit that can serve as a global academic and commercial hub,” Axiom said.

The research activity also includes a first-of-its-kind brain mapping activity on the ISS.

The experiment will be conducted using an EEG-enabled ‘headset’ developed by an Israeli startup brain.space.

The headset and all related hardware are planned to be soft-stowed and launched with the AX-1 ascent vehicle – a SpaceX Dragon rocket.

“During its operation on the ISS, the headset will record and analyse neurological activity of crewmembers in order to determine whether results obtained in microgravity are different from those achieved on the ground,” brain.space stated on its website.

The experiment will also return to Earth with the Ax-1 crew.

The “information can be vital in assessing day-to-day plastic changes in the brain and predicting how the brain will adapt to long-term space travel”, the company said.

The experiment is being conducted as there is “currently no high-quality longitudinal data regarding the neural changes in prolonged space missions”, while data is being collected for various physiological measurements, such as heart rate, galvanic skin resistance, and muscle mass.

Axiom, founded in 2016 by Mike Suffredini, the former ISS programme manager at NASA, has the ultimate goal of building private space stations that various customers can visit to do research.

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Science

Scientists develop new combo treatment for head, neck cancer

In traditional clinical treatment, Trametinib has not shown efficiency in inhibiting the targetted hyper-active pathway of cancer cells, said the research…reports Asian Lite News

An Israeli-led research team has developed a potential new treatment for head and neck cancer (HNC), using a targeted drug and immunotherapy, Ben Gurion University (BGU) in southern Israel has announced.

The findings, co-authored by Israeli, Chinese, French, German and US researchers, were published in the Journal for ImmunoTherapy of Cancer on Sunday, Xinhua news agency reported.

Through pre-clinical study, the researchers found a new treatment combination of Trametinib, a cancer drug that brings a type of killer white blood cells to the cancer site, and Anti-PD-1, an immunotherapy that not kills cancer cells directly but blocks a pathway on immune cells to make them more engaged in fighting tumors.

In traditional clinical treatment, Trametinib has not shown efficiency in inhibiting the targetted hyper-active pathway of cancer cells, said the research.

Researchers then analysed tumor-host interaction that facilitates immune escape in tumor-bearing mice, and found that using a short Trametinib treatment can make resistant tumors more sensitive to anti-PD-1 immunotherapy.

“We sincerely hope that oncologists will test this treatment combination in HNC patients, as improving immunotherapy efficacy is crucial for prolonging the survival of cancer patients,” the study’s correspondent author Moshe Elkabets was quoted by the BGU statement as saying.

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India News Science Tech Lite

India’s earth observation satellite functions well

ISRO said all the satellites are healthy and performing satisfactorily…reports Asian Lite News

Indian space agency said the country’s radar imaging satellite named earth observation satellite -04 (EOS-04) launched this February is functioning well and is healthy.

According to Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), the EOS-04 previously named as RISAT-1A’s first payload imaging was successfully completed on February 25, 2022.

The space agency said detailed in-orbit tests are underway. Radiometry, Geometric evaluation, Interferometric calibration, etc. are being carried out.

On February 14, 2022 morning India’s Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle C52 (PSLV-C52) successfully placed into orbit its radar imaging satellite and two other small satellites- INS-2TD and INSPIRESat-1.

ISRO said all the satellites are healthy and performing satisfactorily.

India’s radar imaging satellite EOS-04 is designed to provide high quality images under all weather conditions for applications such as agriculture, forestry & plantations, soil moisture & hydrology and flood mapping.

The EOS-04 with a mission life of 10 years is a repeat of RISAT-1 launched in 2012 and is configured to ensure continuity of synthetic aperture radar (SAR) in C-Band providing microwave data to the user community for operational services.

The satellite will play a strategic role in the nation’s defence with its capability to operate in day, night and in all weather conditions.

The satellite has high data handling systems and high storage devices among other things.A

The INSPIREsat-1 is a student satellite from Indian Institute of Space Science & Technology (IIST) in association with Laboratory of Atmospheric & Space Physics at University of Colorado, USA. The other contributors are NTU, Singapore and NCU, Taiwan.

The satellite carries two scientific payloads to improve the understanding of ionosphere dynamics and the sun’s coronal heating process.

The technology demonstrator satellite (INS-2TD) from ISRO, which is a precursor to India-Bhutan Joint Satellite (INS-2B) carries a thermal imaging camera to assess land/water surface temperature of wetlands/lakes, delineation of vegetation (crops/forests) and day/night thermal inertia.

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Science USA

NASA finds 5,000 exoplanets outside solar system

There are “super-Earths,” which are possible rocky worlds bigger than our own, and “mini-Neptunes, a smaller versions of our system’s Neptune…reports Asian Lite News

US space agency NASA has confirmed that more than 5,000 exoplanets, or planets that orbit a star outside the solar system, exist beyond our solar system.

The planetary odometer turned on March 21, with the latest batch of 65 exoplanets – planets outside our immediate solar family – added to the NASA Exoplanet Archive.

The archive records exoplanet discoveries that appear in peer-reviewed, scientific papers, and that have been confirmed using multiple detection methods or by analytical techniques.

The 5,000-plus planets found so far include small, rocky worlds like Earth, gas giants many times larger than Jupiter, and “hot Jupiters” in scorchingly close orbits around their stars.

There are “super-Earths,” which are possible rocky worlds bigger than our own, and “mini-Neptunes,a smaller versions of our system’s Neptune.

“It’s not just a number,” said Jessie Christiansen, science lead for the archive and a research scientist with the NASA Exoplanet Science Institute at Caltech in Pasadena, in a statement.

“Each one of them is a new world, a brand-new planet. I get excited about everyone because we don’t know anything about them,” she added.

The discovery of exoplanets, which began in 1992 is opening an era of discovery that will go beyond simply adding new planets to the list, the scientists said.

The Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS), launched in 2018, continues to make new exoplanet discoveries. But soon powerful next-generation telescopes and their highly sensitive instruments, starting with the recently launched James Webb Space Telescope, will capture light from the atmospheres of exoplanets, reading which gases are present to potentially identify tell-tale signs of habitable conditions.

The Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope, expected to launch in 2027, will make new exoplanet discoveries using a variety of methods. The ESA (European Space Agency) mission ARIEL, launching in 2029, will observe exoplanet atmospheres, and a piece of NASA technology aboard, called CASE, will help zero in on exoplanet clouds and hazes.

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Science

Planet Nine still missing in solar system

According to estimates, the speculative “Planet 9,” would be about 5-10 Earth-masses in size and orbit about 400-800 au from the Sun…reports Asian Lite News

A team of astronomers who scammed about 87 per cent of the southern sky have found no trace of Planet Nine in our solar system yet.

Pluto, discovered in January 1930, was earlier known as the Planet Nine. However in 2006, astronomers reclassified Pluto as a dwarf planet.

While astronomers continue to suspect that there might be a previously unknown Planet 9 in the distant solar system, the new search at millimeter wavelengths has failed to find any convincing candidate.

Led by Sigurd Naess of the Institute of Theoretical Astrophysics at the University of Oslo, astronomers traced the planet using data from a 6 metre Atacama Cosmology Telescope (ACT) in Chile.

Although ACT was designed to study the cosmic microwave background radiation, its relatively high angular resolution and sensitivity makes it suitable for this type of search.

The astronomers scanned about 87 per cent of the sky accessible from the southern hemisphere over a six year period, and then processed the millimeter images with a variety of techniques including binning and stacking methods that might uncover faint sources but at the expense of losing positional information.

“The search found many tentative candidate sources (about 3,500 of them) but none could be confirmed, and there were no statistically significant detections,” the team said in a statement.

“The scientists, however, were able to exclude with 95 per cent confidence a Planet 9 with the above-estimated properties within the surveyed area, results that are generally consistent with other null searches for Planet 9,” it added.

Astronomers are also of the view that a ninth planet previously undiscovered must be lurking in the outer reaches of the solar system, perhaps in the giant Oort cloud of objects that begins hundreds of astronomical units (au) from the Sun and extends outward.

According to estimates, the speculative “Planet 9,” would be about 5-10 Earth-masses in size and orbit about 400-800 au from the Sun.

But, “a planet at this distance would be extremely difficult to spot in normal optical sky searches because of its faintness, even to telescopes like PanSTARRS and LSST”, the team noted.

While the new results cover only about 10-20 per cent of the possibilities, other sensitive millimeter facilities are coming online and should be able to complete this search for Planet 9 as hypothesised, the astronomers noted.

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