It was a big week for the private industry in India’s space sector this week. Twitter remained in the news as its new CEO Elon Musk continued to ring in the changes. While the company remains in an uncertain phase of transition, users in India wondered if Twitter would shut overnight. In fact, that was the sentiment all across the world.
The future of Twitter seemed to hang in the balance on Friday after its offices were locked down and key employees announced their departures in defiance of an ultimatum from Musk, an AFP report said. Here’s a look at what else made news in the world of science and technology this week.
India’s first privately made rocket lifts off
India on Friday successfully placed three satellites into orbit on a rocket completely developed by a four-year-old startup, Skyroot Aerospace. This marked the entry of the private sector into space activities, currently dominated by the state-run Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro). The rocket, which launched from Sriharikota, achieved an altitude of 89.5 km and a range of 121.2 km, a report from the Press Trust of India (PTI) noted. Friday's mission is considered to be a significant milestone for Skyroot Aerospace as it would help test and validate the majority of the technologies in the Vikram series of orbital class space launch vehicles, the PTI report added.
Artemis 1, Space Launch System takes off after years of delay
In the US, space agency Nasa’s biggest Moon rocket finally took off on Wednesday after years of delay, bringing the US a big step closer to putting astronauts back on the lunar surface for the first time since the end of the Apollo program 50 years ago. According to an AP report, If all goes well during the three-week, make-or-break shakedown flight, the rocket will propel an empty crew capsule into a wide orbit around the moon, and then the capsule will return to Earth with a splashdown in the Pacific in December.
Snapdragon introduces new flagship chipset
At the annual Snapdragon Summit earlier this week, Qualcomm unveiled its latest premium flagship chipset – Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chipset that will power the likes of the next OnePlus, Xiaomi, Oppo and Samsung flagships launching over the next quarter, and set the tone of what one can expect from the big guns in the months ahead, a Lounge report from tech columnist and commentator Tushar Kanwar said. Qualcomm estimates that the first devices from partners (Redmagic, Honor, ZTE, Xiaomi, Meizu, Vivo, Sony, Redmi, OPPO, nubia, Motorola, OnePlus, Sharp, Asus, and iQOO) should land earliest by the end of 2022.
New James Webb Space Telescope observations turn heads
The James Webb Space Telescope, the most powerful space telescope ever made, brought forward to more interesting revelations this week. On Wednesday, the telescope unveiled its latest image of celestial majesty, an ethereal hourglass of orange and blue dust being shot out from a newly forming star at its centre. The colourful clouds are only visible in infrared light, so had never been seen before being captured by Webb's Near-Infrared Camera (NIRCam), NASA and the European Space Agency said in a statement. The very young star, known as protostar L1527, is hidden in darkness by the edge of a rotating disk of gas at the neck of the hourglass, an AFP report said.
Later in the week, according to new observations from the telescope, the first galaxies may have formed far earlier than previously thought. Researchers, using the powerful observatory, published papers in the journal Astrophysical Journal Letters, documenting two exceptionally bright, exceptionally distant galaxies, based on data gathered within the first few days of Webb going operational in July. These findings point towards two possibilities. One, that these galaxies are very massive, with lots of low-mass stars like galaxies today, and had to start forming 100 million years after the Big Bang which occurred 13.8 billion years ago. That is 100 million years earlier than the currently held end of the so-called cosmic dark age, when the universe contained only gas and dark matter, an AFP report adds.
A second possibility is that they are made up of "Population III" stars, which have never been observed but are theorized to have been made of only helium and hydrogen, before heavier elements existed, the report further explains.
Also read: James Webb observations point to a shorter cosmic dark age