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Sonntag, 30. September 2012 - 17:47 Uhr

Astronomie - Hubble sieht NGC 4183.

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Hubble image of NGC 4183. ESA


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Sonntag, 30. September 2012 - 17:03 Uhr

Mars-Curiosity-Chroniken - Curiosity-News Sol 53

 

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This image was taken by Navcam: Right A (NAV_RIGHT_A) onboard NASA's Mars rover Curiosity on Sol 53 (2012-09-29 15:28:10 UTC) .

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This image was taken by Navcam: Right A (NAV_RIGHT_A) onboard NASA's Mars rover Curiosity on Sol 53 (2012-09-29 15:27:29 UTC) .

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This image was taken by Navcam: Right A (NAV_RIGHT_A) onboard NASA's Mars rover Curiosity on Sol 53 (2012-09-29 14:24:51 UTC)

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This image was taken by Navcam: Left A (NAV_LEFT_A) onboard NASA's Mars rover Curiosity on Sol 53 (2012-09-29 13:09:55 UTC) .

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This image was taken by Navcam: Left A (NAV_LEFT_A) onboard NASA's Mars rover Curiosity on Sol 53 (2012-09-29 14:24:51 UTC) .

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This image was taken by Navcam: Left A (NAV_LEFT_A) onboard NASA's Mars rover Curiosity on Sol 53 (2012-09-29 15:27:01 UTC) .

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This image was taken by Navcam: Left A (NAV_LEFT_A) onboard NASA's Mars rover Curiosity on Sol 53 (2012-09-29 15:28:10 UTC) .

Image Credit: NASA/JPL


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Samstag, 29. September 2012 - 18:00 Uhr

Raumfahrt - China startet erfolgreich Satelliten für Venezuela

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A rocket carrying Venezuelan satellite VRSS-1, a remote sensing satellite, lifts off at the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in Jiuquan, northwest China's Gansu Province, Sept. 29, 2012. (Xinhua/Nie Jianjiang)


China has sent a remote sensing satellite, the "VRSS-1," into space from northwest China's Gobi dessert for Venezuela, the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center said in a statement.

The launch, at noon Saturday, marks China's first in-orbit delivery of a remote sensing satellite to an international customer, it said.

According to the statement, VRSS-1 is Venezuela's first remote sensing satellite, and it will be mainly used for the country's land resources inspections, environmental protection, disaster detection and management, crop yield estimation and city plans.

China's Long March-2D carrier rocket, designed by China Aerospace and Technology Corporation, was used for the launch, the statement said.

The success of the launch will promote China's development in new fields, including remote sensing satellites, carrier rockets, image processing and other relevant industries, the statement said.

In 2008, China launched Venezuela's first satellite -- the Venesat-1, or "Simon Bolivar" -- to carry communications facilities.

Venesat-1, which was a jointly built telecommunication satellite, made Venezuela the fourth Latin American country to own a satellite after Mexico, Brazil and Argentina.


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Samstag, 29. September 2012 - 08:45 Uhr

Mars-Curiosity-Chroniken - Curiosity-News Sol 51+52

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NASA's Curiosity rover mission has found evidence a stream once ran vigorously across the area on Mars where the rover is driving. There is earlier evidence for the presence of water on Mars, but this evidence -- images of rocks containing ancient streambed gravels -- is the first of its kind.
Scientists are studying the images of stones cemented into a layer of conglomerate rock. The sizes and shapes of stones offer clues to the speed and distance of a long-ago stream's flow.
"From the size of gravels it carried, we can interpret the water was moving about 3 feet per second, with a depth somewhere between ankle and hip deep," said Curiosity science co-investigator William Dietrich of the University of California, Berkeley. "Plenty of papers have been written about channels on Mars with many different hypotheses about the flows in them. This is the first time we're actually seeing water-transported gravel on Mars. This is a transition from speculation about the size of streambed material to direct observation of it."
The finding site lies between the north rim of Gale Crater and the base of Mount Sharp, a mountain inside the crater. Earlier imaging of the region from Mars orbit allows for additional interpretation of the gravel-bearing conglomerate. The imagery shows an alluvial fan of material washed down from the rim, streaked by many apparent channels, sitting uphill of the new finds.
The rounded shape of some stones in the conglomerate indicates long-distance transport from above the rim, where a channel named Peace Vallis feeds into the alluvial fan. The abundance of channels in the fan between the rim and conglomerate suggests flows continued or repeated over a long time, not just once or for a few years.
The discovery comes from examining two outcrops, called "Hottah" and "Link," with the telephoto capability of Curiosity's mast camera during the first 40 days after landing. Those observations followed up on earlier hints from another outcrop, which was exposed by thruster exhaust as Curiosity, the Mars Science Laboratory Project's rover, touched down.
"Hottah looks like someone jack-hammered up a slab of city sidewalk, but it's really a tilted block of an ancient streambed," said Mars Science Laboratory Project Scientist John Grotzinger of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena.
The gravels in conglomerates at both outcrops range in size from a grain of sand to a golf ball. Some are angular, but many are rounded.
"The shapes tell you they were transported and the sizes tell you they couldn't be transported by wind. They were transported by water flow," said Curiosity science co-investigator Rebecca Williams of the Planetary Science Institute in Tucson, Ariz.
The science team may use Curiosity to learn the elemental composition of the material, which holds the conglomerate together, revealing more characteristics of the wet environment that formed these deposits. The stones in the conglomerate provide a sampling from above the crater rim, so the team may also examine several of them to learn about broader regional geology.
The slope of Mount Sharp in Gale Crater remains the rover's main destination. Clay and sulfate minerals detected there from orbit can be good preservers of carbon-based organic chemicals that are potential ingredients for life.
"A long-flowing stream can be a habitable environment," said Grotzinger. "It is not our top choice as an environment for preservation of organics, though. We're still going to Mount Sharp, but this is insurance that we have already found our first potentially habitable environment."
During the two-year prime mission of the Mars Science Laboratory, researchers will use Curiosity's 10 instruments to investigate whether areas in Gale Crater have ever offered environmental conditions favorable for microbial life.
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Curiosity's Roadside Discoveries
This map shows the path on Mars of NASA's Curiosity rover toward Glenelg, an area where three terrains of scientific interest converge. Arrows mark geological features encountered so far that led to the discovery of what appears to be an ancient Martian streambed. The first site, dubbed Goulburn, is an area where the thrusters from the rover's descent stage blasted away a layer of loose material, exposing bedrock underneath. Goulburn gave scientists a hint that water might have transported the pebbly sandstone material making up the outcrop. The second feature, a naturally exposed rock outcrop named Link, stood out to the science team for its embedded, rounded gravel pieces. Such rounded shapes are strong evidence of water transport. The final feature, another naturally exposed rock outcrop named Hottah, offered the most compelling evidence yet of an ancient stream, as it contains abundant rounded pebbles. The grain sizes are also an important part of the evidence for water: the rounded pebbles, which are up to 1.6 inches (4 centimeters) in size, are too large to have been transported by wind. 
The image used for the map is from an observation of the landing site by the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) instrument on NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. 
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This image was taken by Mastcam: Left (MAST_LEFT) onboard NASA's Mars rover Curiosity on Sol 51 (2012-09-27 08:48:22 UTC) . 
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This image was taken by Mastcam: Left (MAST_LEFT) onboard NASA's Mars rover Curiosity on Sol 51 (2012-09-27 08:50:33 UTC) . 
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This image was taken by Mastcam: Left (MAST_LEFT) onboard NASA's Mars rover Curiosity on Sol 51 (2012-09-27 08:49:27 UTC) . 
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This image was taken by Navcam: Right A (NAV_RIGHT_A) onboard NASA's Mars rover Curiosity on Sol 51 (2012-09-27 16:09:18 UTC) . 
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This image was taken by Navcam: Left A (NAV_LEFT_A) onboard NASA's Mars rover Curiosity on Sol 51 (2012-09-27 15:59:07 UTC) . 
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This image was taken by Navcam: Right A (NAV_RIGHT_A) onboard NASA's Mars rover Curiosity on Sol 52 (2012-09-28 15:11:44 UTC) . 
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This image was taken by Navcam: Left A (NAV_LEFT_A) onboard NASA's Mars rover Curiosity on Sol 52 (2012-09-28 15:22:51 UTC) . 
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This image was taken by Front Hazcam: Right A (FHAZ_RIGHT_A) onboard NASA's Mars rover Curiosity on Sol 52 (2012-09-28 15:10:20 UTC) . 
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Fotos: NASA

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Freitag, 28. September 2012 - 23:50 Uhr

Raumfahrt - ATV-3 vor Abdocken und Re-Entry

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The undocking of ATV-3 from the International Space Station late last night was postponed due to an incorrect command. During operations ATV-3 performed perfectly in line with its pre-defined measures.
 
A new attempt to undock will likely be made on Thursday, pending approval by the board of the Station management team this afternoon. Meanwhile, ATV Edoardo Amaldi is safe and in a dormant mode.
The issue was discovered by the Space Station crew shortly before undocking, when they attempted to send a command from a control panel to ATV-3. Receipt of the command was not confirmed by ATV-3, so the undocking was suspended.
Experts from ESA, NASA and Roscosmos have determined that the problem was caused by commands being sent using the wrong spacecraft identification number.  
Power and data links had already been disconnected between ATV-3 and the Station to prepare for the departure. Afterwards, they were re-established by controllers at ESA’s ATV Control Centre in Toulouse, France.
“The joint ESA/CNES mission operations team reacted professionally and skilfully to this unexpected delay,” said Massimo Cislaghi, ESA’s ATV-3 Mission Manager.
“Engineers immediately set to work to reschedule the undocking and reconfigure ATV-3 into safe mode while we and our international partners were troubleshooting the issue.”
 
 
ATV Edoardo Amaldi performed perfectly during the undocking procedure and is standing by for the next attempt.
Operational considerations will now postpone ATV-3 reentry to at least 2 October.
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Ariane Flight VA213
Initial checkout has begun at the Spaceport for Europe’s fourth Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV), which is to be launched from French Guiana by Arianespace on a servicing mission to the International Space Station next year.
The activity underway includes verifications of the ATV’s Service Module in the Spaceport’s S5 payload preparation building, where it has been joined by the resupply spacecraft’s other major spacecraft element – the Integrated Cargo Carrier.
Incorporated in the Service Module are the ATV’s propulsion systems, electrical power, computers, communications and most of its avionics; while the Integrated Cargo Carrier is dedicated to carrying the resupply payload to the International Space Station – with a maximum upload capacity of 6.6 metric tons.
This no. 4 ATV has been named after Albert Einstein, and it is scheduled for a liftoff in the spring of 2013 on Arianespace’s workhorse heavy-lift Ariane 5.
Arianespace is responsible for launching the ATVs for Europe, lofting the first in March 2008, followed by the two other in February 2011 and March 2012.  The most recently-launched ATV remains at the International Space Station, with its undocking scheduled next week for an atmospheric reentry to complete another successful multi-month resupply mission.
Managed by the European Space Agency, the ATV program is part of Europe’s contribution to the International Space Station’s creation and operation.  The Astrium division of EADS is the ATV’s prime contractor, leading a European industry team.
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Update 28.09.2012           ATV-3 hat von ISS abgedockt und ist auf Re-Entry-Kurs in die Erdatmosphäre  Frams: NASA-TV 
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Freitag, 28. September 2012 - 23:36 Uhr

Raumfahrt - Erfolgreicher Start von Ariane-5-V-209

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Frams vom Start: arianespace-Launch-TV-LIVE

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Freitag, 28. September 2012 - 10:00 Uhr

Raumfahrt - Space-Shuttle Endeavour´s Road-Trip ins Museum

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September 22, 2012 — Space shuttle Endeavour, now a permanent resident of the state of California, has traded its winged chariot for a set of custom wheels.

Early on Saturday (Sept. 22), the shuttle was hoisted by cranes off the modified Boeing 747 jumbo jet that flew it to a landing at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) the day before. Endeavour's touchdown, which was preceded by a flyover tour of the state to the delight of millions of spectators, was the final airborne leg of the orbiter's delivery to the California Science Center (CSC) for display.

Next up: a road trip.

To prepare Endeavour for its 12-mile (19-kilometer) parade through the city streets of Inglewood and Los Angeles next month, NASA's team first had to remove the orbiter from the back of the Shuttle Carrier Aircraft (SCA) and then load it onto a modified overland transporter.

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Quelle: NASA

-Update 28.09.2012

 EDWARDS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. (AFNS) -- For the Edwards community who has been actively involved in NASA's Space Shuttle program since flight testing began in the 1970's, it was a bittersweet day when Space Shuttle Endeavour arrived one last time Sept. 20, piggy-backed on NASA's Boeing 747 Shuttle Carrier Aircraft.

When the SCA departed the following morning to deliver Space Shuttle Endeavour to the California Science Center in Los Angeles, Calif., it was an appropriate ending to an epic chapter in American and aviation history that happens to be very personal for so many at Edwards.

While Team Edwards gathered around the base to watch the historic arrival and takeoff, unaccompanied Airmen living in the dorms and family members of deployed spouses had the rare opportunity to get up close to the SCA and Space Shuttle Endeavour. 

"I enjoyed being a part of something bigger than me, to look up at something that was actually in space and realize the countless hours and effort that went into putting that in motion. That's what really moved me," said Airman Michael Day, 412th Communications Squadron. "It was cool to see such an iconic piece of history."

For the young Airman, the opportunity to see Space Shuttle Endeavour up close reminded Day of how he was inspired as a child watching the space shuttle with his family. 

"I remember growing up and watching various shuttle take offs and landings with my grandma and wanting to do that. She always told me to do my best and I can be whatever it is I wanted to be; even an astronaut," said Day.

Just as Airman Day continues to be captivated by the shuttle program, people from all over the world have marveled at the country's space program from 1981 to 2011. 

While the world looked on in amazement, the Edwards community continued working with NASA to flight test the space shuttle and subsequently functioned as a critical support system when Edwards was picked as the primary alternate landing site.

Programs throughout the 1960's and 1970's such as the North American X-15, Northrop HL-10, X-24A and X-24B, tested hypersonic flight; lifting body designs and aerodynamic characteristics; manned atmospheric re-entry and the ability to land a piloted aircraft with no power on a conventional runway.

The first major milestone for the shuttle program at Edwards occurred Aug. 12, 1977 when the Space Shuttle Enterprise successfully launched from the back of the Boeing 747 SCA and landed on Rogers Dry Lake. After four more tests, Edwards personnel had successfully demonstrated the reliability of the shuttle for routine approach and landings.

"Testing was done at Edwards that proved the concept that a space shuttle orbiter could return to Earth, manned and land on a conventional runway," said Dr. Joseph Mason, Air Force Test Center chief historian. "That testing was done at Edwards and it was largely done in cooperation between NASA and the Air Force".

According to Dr. Mason, the first four missions flown by the orbiter were flight test missions with landings at Edwards. Although the Enterprise was the first full-scale shuttle, it never went into orbit.

It landed on the dry lakebed and then the runway. After that, the first four or so shuttle missions with Columbia were essentially flight test missions for the program and it demonstrated the systems would work.

April 14, 1981, the Space Shuttle Columbia successfully completed its first orbital mission and touched down on Rogers Dry Lake. It was the first time in history that an orbital vehicle returned to Earth on wings.

One of the early test missions was flown by Joe Engle, who had flown earlier missions in the X-15, earning his astronaut wings for reaching altitudes in excess of 50 miles. 

When flight test concluded, Edwards then stepped up to function as an alternate landing site. When the program finally wrapped up in 2011, 54 shuttle landings occurred at Edwards.

"Joe Engle flew one of those early test missions of the shuttle to Edwards, flying it manually. After the concept had been demonstrated, most landings occurred at Kennedy Space Center and Edwards then served as an alternate location when the weather was bad," said Mason.

"Not only were the shuttles assembled in the Antelope Valley at Air Force Plant 42 by Rockwell Collins, Edwards was significant in terms of test and development, proving the shuttle's capability. We were key to both development and operations," he continued.

As Space Shuttle Endeavour passed over the latest Air Force programs, such as the F-22 Raptor and F-35 Lightning II, it offered the community time to reflect on their achievements and instrumental role in the program, but more than that, it provided an opportunity to look towards the future.

"I think it's significant that personnel at NASA and Edwards who were a key part of this program can see this shuttle on the way to its final resting place," said Mason.

It may have been bittersweet for the Edwards community to watch the shuttle depart the base for one last time Sept. 21, but it's only a matter of time before the testing begins on the next generation of the nation's space program. It's a time for ingenuity and creativity to create a new program that meets today's challenges.

"This was such a great experience to see the Space Shuttle Endeavour, but I am really excited to see the innovation of the next generation as we continue moving forward and into the future," said Day.

 


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Freitag, 28. September 2012 - 09:50 Uhr

Mars-Curiosity-Chroniken - Marsgestein zeigen, dass Curiosity durch ausgetrocknetes Flussbett fährt

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A close look at pebble-filled layers of rock has convinced scientists that NASA's Curiosity rover is driving through a dried-up stream bed on Mars where water flowed vigorously billions of years ago. They say it's the kind of place that just might have supported life when the planet was young.
"This is a rock that was formed in the presence of water," Caltech's John Grotzinger, project scientist for the $2.5 billion Mars Science Laboratory mission, said today during a televised news conference at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif.
The evidence is in the shape, size and composition of the rocks that Curiosity came across at multiple sites during its landing on Aug. 5. Conglomerate rocks, consisting of pebbles cemented together within layers of sediment, were seen at three sites:
Goulburn, a bedrock formation that was exposed by the blast from Curiosity's descent.
Link, a rock outcrop that was seen once Curiosity headed out from the landing site.
Hottah, an uplifted slab of craggy rock that was given a visual inspection two weeks ago.
Hottah in particular showed clear evidence of rounded pebbles that were too big to be smoothed by the action of the wind. Some of the rocks are as big as golf balls. The best explanation for the gravelly pebbles was that they were eroded by the vigorous flow of water, said Curiosity science team member Rebecca Williams, a senior scientist at the Arizona-based Planetary Science Institute.
The Hottah slab, which measures 4 to 6 inches (10 to 15 centimeters) thick, looks as if "somebody came along the surface of Mars with a jackhammer and lifted up a sidewalk that you might see in downtown LA, sort of like in a construction site," Grotzinger said.
A closeup view of the "Hottah" rock outcrop shows the characteristic pebbly rock that is associated with the action of a flowing stream. Broken surfaces of the outcrop have rounded, gravel clasts, such as the one circled in white, which is about 1.2 inches (3 centimeters) across. The rock formation was named after Hottah Lake in Canada's Northwest Territories.
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This set of images compares the Link outcrop of rocks on Mars (left) with similar rocks seen on Earth (right). The image of Link, obtained by NASA's Curiosity rover, shows rounded gravel fragments, or clasts, up to a couple of inches (few centimeters) wide, within the rock outcrop. In accordance with the Mars mission's tradition, Link takes its name from a rock formation in Canada's Northwest Territories.
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The evidence from the ground meshes well with the evidence from orbit indicating that Curiosity is near an 11-mile-wide (18-kilometer-wide) fan of material that may have washed down a channel in ancient times, when Mars was warmer and wetter, according to William Dietrich, a planetary scientist at the University of California at Berkeley.
"These stones ... are very, very revealing to us about the process," Dietrich said. Some previous research has suggested that water flowed on Mars only for brief periods, separated by long, cold, dry spells. That scenario might not have provided enough time for life to get a foothold on the Red Planet in ancient times. But Dietrich said the patterning of the channels within the fan suggested that water streamed through the area for well beyond a thousand-year time scale.
"We can step away from the idea that there was a single burst of water ... that built it all in a day," he told reporters.
Based on the size of the gravel seen by Curiosity, Dietrich estimated that the water moved at a speed of about 3 feet (1 meter) per second, at a depth somewhere between ankle and hip deep.
"Plenty of papers have been written about channels on Mars with many different hypotheses about the flows in them," Dietrich said in a NASA news release. "This is the first time we're actually seeing water-transported gravel on Mars. This is a transition from speculation about the size of streambed material to direct observation of it."
So far, the scientists' conclusions are based exclusively on visual observations by Curiosity's high-resolution Mastcam imager. Further imagery, along with chemical readings from other instruments on the rover, will likely be used to fill out the story of the ancient stream bed, Grotzinger said.
The main goal of Curiosity's two-year primary mission is to assess how habitable Mars was in ancient times. That's why mission managers chose 96-mile-wide (154-kilometer-wide) Gale Crater as Curiosity's landing site. It has that alluvial fan, which appears to issue forth from a channel that has now officially been designated Peace Vallis. It also has a 3-mile-high (5-kilometer-high) mountain, known as Aeolis Mons or Mount Sharp, which could preserve billions of years' worth of Mars' geological record.
Grotzinger noted that the three requirements for habitability typically listed by astrobiologists are the presence of liquid water, the availability of an energy source (such as sunlight) and the presence of carbon-based compounds that can be used as the building blocks of life. 
"Now we've got a hall pass for the water examination," Grotzinger joked.
Theoretically, a long-flowing stream could be a habitable environment. "It is not our top choice as an environment for preservation of organics, though," Grotzinger said in NASA's news release. "We're still going to Mount Sharp, but this is insurance that we have already found our first potentially habitable environment."
Even if the rover's instruments detect the right kinds of carbon compounds, that would not serve as confirmation of ancient life on Mars. That would "have to wait for another mission," Grotzinger said.
Quelle: NASA 

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Freitag, 28. September 2012 - 09:40 Uhr

Raumfahrt - ESA entwickelt Re-Entry-Kapsel EXPERT

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TOURS, France — The European Space Agency remains on the hunt for an alternate method of launching the Experimental Re-Entry Testbed (Expert) following the withdrawal of Russia, which was due to launch the vehicle from a submarine earlier this year.
Expert is a ballistic flight re-entry demonstrator that, along with a follow-on Intermediate Experimental Vehicle (IXV), is designed to pave the way for a European reusable space plane. The 450-kg (1,000-lb.) Expert was originally due to be launched in late 2010 on a modified Volna ICBM from a Russian submarine in the eastern Pacific.
The missile would have reached an apogee of 100 km (60 mi.) to 120 km, giving the vehicle a re-entry velocity of 5 km/sec., which was sufficient to help ESA acquire aerothermodynamics data for the validation of models and codes. The payload was due to be recovered by a parachute landing in the Kamchatka peninsula of eastern Russia.
Disclosing news of the continuing search at the AIAA and French AAAF Space Planes and Hypersonics conference here, Laurent Serre of the French national research agency Onera says “the Expert capsule is ready for flight. Russia was supposed to launch it but announced it would be canceled. So ESA is looking for alternative to launch and the Expert is stored.”
The European atmospheric-re-entry capsule has been in development for 10 years as part of a €50 million ($64 million) research effort. The 1.6-meter long vehicle is configured with 150 different sensors, as well as test materials for the unmanned, lifting-body IXV. This vehicle is scheduled for launch in 2014 from Kourou, French Guiana, aboard ESA’s new Vega small-satellite launcher.
Expert had already been delayed several times and appeared to be on track for a launch in mid-2012 when the Russian defense ministry withdrew its offer to provide launch services. The original launch contract between ESA and Russia’s Makeyev State Rocket Center was valued at around €2 million when announced in December 2009.
Work on the IXV, meanwhile, continues toward a planned preflight review scheduled for mid-2014 for both the ground segment and flight vehicle. The IXV, also being developed by a program led by Thales Alenia Space as prime contractor, is due to be launched around the third quarter of 2014.
The IXV will be used to validate large cross-range and precision landing capabilities from low Earth orbit and is due to be recovered by parachute for a water landing in the mid-Pacific.
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Bilder: ESA

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Freitag, 28. September 2012 - 09:00 Uhr

Raumfahrt - Ariane-V-209-Start am 28.09.2012

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The ASTRA 2F satellite to be orbited on Arianespace’s next Ariane 5 mission is now undergoing...

...pre-flight checkout, joining its GSAT-10 co-passenger at the Spaceport launch site in French Guiana. Built by the Astrium division of EADS for Luxembourg-based SES, ASTRA 2F was removed from its shipping container in the Spaceport’s S1B clean room, where the relay platform arrived after being delivered to French Guiana yesterday by a chartered cargo jetliner.

ASTRA 2F is a six metric ton-class platform that carries Ku- and Ka-band payloads for the relay of high performance DTH and next-generation broadband services in Europe, the Middle East and Africa. It will be lofted by Arianespace’s Ariane 5 mission on September 21 along with GSAT-10, which continues its own preparation activity at the Spaceport. GSAT-10 was produced by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) using the I-3K satellite bus, and has an estimated liftoff mass of 3,400kg. This upcoming mission will be the 65th flight of an Ariane 5 from French Guiana, and the fifth so far in 2012 for the workhorse Arianespace heavy-lift launcher.

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The launch of Indian communication satellite GSAT-10 has been put off after the European space consortium Arianespace which was to orbit it, found a snag in the Ariane V rocket in the spaceport of Kourou in French Guiana, ISRO Chairman K Radhakrishnan said today.

 

Arianespace was scheduled to launch GSAT-10 along with ASTRA 2F spacecraft, built by the Astrium division of EADS for Luxembourg-based SES, in the early hours of September 22.

But on September 15, Arianespace found a "small snag" ("small damage") (leakage) on the upper side of the Ariane rocket and the commercial launch services provider is now  checking if one gram of dust particles that was not accounted for, has stuck to critical moving parts.

"One gram of dust particles could have probably gone inside (the rocket). So, the idea is to find out whether it's sticking to a critical moving part", Radhakrishnan told reporters here.

Since GSAT-10 is placed in "bottom enclosure" of the rocket, "we are in a safer situation", added Radhakrishnan, also Department of Space Secretary and Space Commission Chairman.

Arianespace is expected to announce the new launch date on Wednesday evening. If everything is all right, the earliest possible launch would be on September 29. Otherwise, it will take a few more days, he said.

GSAT-10 is a Rs 750 crore mission for Indian Space Research Organisation, including satellite, launch services and insurance, officials said.

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Update: 26.09.2012

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