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Sonntag, 13. Januar 2013 - 11:32 Uhr

CENAP in der türkischen Presse Hürriyet

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Aufklärungs- und Öffentlichkeitsarbeit für unsere türkischen Nachbarn in unserem Land.


3334 Views

Samstag, 12. Januar 2013 - 20:00 Uhr

Astronomie - James Webb Telescope - Update

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Caption: This image shows the four different types of mirrors on the Webb telescope. From left to right are:
a primary mirror segment, the secondary mirror, tertiary mirror and the fine steering mirror. The bottom right shows an artist's conception of the Webb telescope optics with its 18 primary mirror segments. On the bottom row are the three different mirror segments shown on the same scale and seen from the rear to illustrate the honeycomb structure that makes this mirrors both very light and mechanically stiff.

Credit: NASA/Ball Aerospace/Tinsley

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Caption: JWST completes the gold coating of it's telescope mirrors with segment C1. A microscopically thin layer of gold maximizes the reflectivity of these mirrors to infrared light. This image is also available with a

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Caption: A labeled image of a model of a primary mirror segment

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Caption: Taking COCOA Cryo

Testing of the James Webb Space Telescope's Center of Curvature Optical Assembly, or COCOA, recently was completed in the X-ray and Cryogenic Test Facility at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala. The optical assembly was operated in a vacuum at both room temperature and cryogenic -- or deep cold -- temperatures to certify its performance before it is used to test the performance of Webb's 21.3 foot primary mirror. COCOA's operation and performance must be verified alone before it can be used to test Webb under conditions that the observatory will experience in space.

The Webb telescope includes 18 six-sided mirror segments, which work together to form one large, 21.3-foot mirror.

COCOA was built by ITT Exelis of Rochester, N.Y., and its subcontractor Micro Instruments in Rochester, N.Y.

The James Webb Space Telescope is the world's next-generation space observatory and successor to the Hubble Space Telescope. The most powerful space telescope ever built, the Webb telescope will provide images of the first galaxies ever formed, and will explore planets around distant stars. It is a joint project of NASA, the European Space Agency and the Canadian Space Agency.

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Caption: The flight mirrors for the James Webb Space Telescope undergo cryogenic testing at NASA Marshall.

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Caption: NASA engineer Ernie Wright looks on as the first six flight ready James Webb Space Telescope's primary mirror segments are prepped to begin final cryogenic testing at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center.

This represents the first six of 18 segments that will form NASA's James Webb Space Telescope's primary mirror for space observations. Engineers began final round-the-clock cryogenic testing to confirm that the mirrors will respond as expected to the extreme temperatures of space prior to integration into the telescope's permanent housing structure.

Credit: NASA/MSFC/David Higginbotham

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Caption: The first six flight ready James Webb Space Telescope's primary mirror segments are prepped to begin final cryogenic testing at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala.

Credit: Chris Gunn

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Caption: Technicians and scientists check out one of the Webb telescope's first two flight mirrors in the clean room at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. Credit: NASA/Chris Gunn

Credit: NASA/Chris Gunn

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The man whose name NASA has chosen to bestow upon the successor to the Hubble Space Telescope is most commonly linked to the Apollo moon program, not to science.

Yet, many believe that James E. Webb, who ran the fledgling space agency from February 1961 to October 1968, did more for science than perhaps any other government official and that it is only fitting that the Next Generation Space Telescope would be named after him

A Balanced Program

Webb's record of support for space science would support those views. Although President John Kennedy had committed the nation to landing a man on the moon before the end of the decade, Webb believed that the space program was more than a political race. He believed that NASA had to strike a balance between human space flight and science because such a combination would serve as a catalyst for strengthening the nation's universities and aerospace industry.

As part of an oral history project sponsored by the LBJ Library in Austin, Texas, Webb recalled his conversations with Kennedy and Vice President Lyndon Johnson. He was quoted as saying in one transcript, "And so far as I'm concerned, I'm not going to run a program that's just a one-shot program. If you want me to be the administrator, it's going to be a balanced program that does the job for the country..."

Webb's vision of a balanced program resulted in a decade of space science research that remains unparalleled today. During his tenure, NASA invested in the development of robotic spacecraft, which explored the lunar environment so that astronauts could do so later, and it sent scientific probes to Mars and Venus, giving Americans their first-ever view of the strange landscape of outer space. As early as 1965, Webb also had written that a major space telescope, then known as the Large Space Telescope, should become a major NASA effort.

By the time Webb retired just a few months before the first moon landing in July 1969, NASA had launched more than 75 space science missions to study the stars and galaxies, our own Sun and the as-yet unknown environment of space above the Earth's atmosphere. Missions such as the Orbiting Solar Observatory and the Explorer series of astronomical satellites built the foundation for the most successful period of astronomical discovery in history, which continues today.

Webb supported science behind the scenes, as well. Shortly after assuming the job vacated by Keith Glennan, Webb chose to continue the same basic organization that his predecessor had adopted for the selection of science programs. However, he enhanced the role of scientists in key ways. He gave them greater control in the selection process of science missions and he created the NASA University Program, which established grants for space research, funded the construction of new laboratories at universities and provided fellowships for graduate students. The program also encouraged university presidents and vice presidents to actively participate in NASA's Space Science Program and to publicly support all of NASA's programs.

A Notable Record

This record of accomplishment is perhaps more notable given Webb's initial reluctance to accept the job. An experienced manager, attorney and businessman, the North Carolina native had served as Director of the Bureau of the Budget and as Undersecretary of State in the Truman administration. Webb also served as president and vice president of several private firms and served on the board of directors of the McDonnell Aircraft Company. He was not, however, a scientist or engineer-something he noted when President Kennedy asked him to consider the job as NASA Administrator.

He told an interviewer that, "I felt that I had made the pattern of my life, and I was not really the best person for this anyway. It seemed to me someone who knew more about rocketry, about space, would be a better person." Kennedy did not see it that way. With his keen political savvy and exceptional managerial skills, Webb was perfect for the job, the President believed. He made it clear to Webb that the NASA Administrator's job was a policy job. He needed someone who could handle the large issues of national and international policies.

The scientific community was equally anxious about Webb. The scientists at NASA Headquarters had wanted someone with a keen interest in space science and a desire to bolster the involvement of universities in the space program. Within a few months, Webb proved where he stood.

A Fitting Honor

At the height of the Apollo program, NASA had 35,000 employees and more than 400,000 contractors in thousands of companies and universities across the U.S. Under Webb's direction, the agency undertook one of the most impressive projects in history-landing a man on the moon before the end of the decade.

As NASA Administrator Sean O'Keefe said when he announced the new name for the next generation space telescope, "It is fitting that Hubble's successor be named in honor of James Webb. Thanks to his efforts, we got our first glimpses at the dramatic landscape of outer space. He took our nation on its first voyages of exploration, turning our imagination into reality. Indeed, he laid the foundations at NASA for one of the most successful periods of astronomical discovery. As a result, we're rewriting the textbooks today with the help of the Hubble Space Telescope , the Chandra X-ray Observatory , and the James Webb Telescope."

Quelle: NASA


3486 Views

Samstag, 12. Januar 2013 - 19:18 Uhr

Raumfahrt - White House möchte keinen Death-Star im All bauen...

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The Death Star was a fearsome battle station in the Star Wars saga - but purely fictional.

White House: Thumbs down on Death Star, thumbs up on space

The White House says building a Death Star would be an out-of-this-galaxy waste of money — not only because it's against government policy to blow up planets, but also because the United States already has access to a space station as well as a laser-wielding space robot.

Today's official statement on the Death Star issue, titled "This Isn't the Petition Response You're Looking For," was written by Paul Shawcross, chief of the science and space branch at the White House Office of Management and Budget. It comes in response to a "We the People" petition that called on the federal government to start building a "Star Wars"-style Death Star battle station by 2016.

"By focusing our defense resources into a space-superiority platform and weapon system such as a Death Star, the government can spur job creation in the fields of construction, engineering, space exploration, and more, and strengthen our national defense," the petition read.

The petition garnered more than 25,000 online signatures within a month, partly due to a signing campaign that went viral on 4chan, Reddit and Twitter. Under the Obama administration's rules for the "We the People" program, that required the White House to come up with a reply.

Shawcross and his colleagues clearly rose to the challenge, with an essay that should satisfy the policy geeks as well as the "Star Wars" geeks. Here's the full text:

This Isn't the Petition Response You're Looking For
"The Administration shares your desire for job creation and a strong national defense, but a Death Star isn't on the horizon. Here are a few reasons:

  • The construction of the Death Star has been estimated to cost more than $850,000,000,000,000,000. We're working hard to reduce the deficit, not expand it.
  • The Administration does not support blowing up planets.
  • Why would we spend countless taxpayer dollars on a Death Star with a fundamental flaw that can be exploited by a one-man starship?

"However, look carefully (here's how) and you'll notice something already floating in the sky — that's no Moon, it's a Space Station! Yes, we already have a giant, football field-sized International Space Station in orbit around the Earth that's helping us learn how humans can live and thrive in space for long durations. The Space Station has six astronauts — American, Russian, and Canadian — living in it right now, conducting research, learning how to live and work in space over long periods of time, routinely welcoming visiting spacecraft and repairing onboard garbage mashers, etc. We've also got two robot science labs — one wielding a laser — roving around Mars, looking at whether life ever existed on the Red Planet.

"Keep in mind, space is no longer just government-only. Private American companies, through NASA's Commercial Crew and Cargo Program Office (C3PO), are ferrying cargo — and soon, crew — to space for NASA, and are pursuing human missions to the Moon this decade.

"Even though the United States doesn't have anything that can do the Kessel Run in less than 12 parsecs, we've got two spacecraft leaving the Solar System and we're building a probe that will fly to the exterior layers of the Sun. We are discovering hundreds of new planets in other star systems and building a much more powerful successor to the Hubble Space Telescope that will see back to the early days of the universe.

"We don't have a Death Star, but we do have floating robot assistants on the Space Station, a President who knows his way around a light saber and advanced (marshmallow) cannon, and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, which is supporting research on building Luke's arm, floating droids, and quadruped walkers.

"We are living in the future! Enjoy it. Or better yet, help build it by pursuing a career in a science, technology, engineering or math-related field. The President has held the first-ever White House science fairs and Astronomy Night on the South Lawn because he knows these domains are critical to our country's future, and to ensuring the United States continues leading the world in doing big things.

"If you do pursue a career in a science, technology, engineering or math-related field, the Force will be with us! Remember, the Death Star's power to destroy a planet, or even a whole star system, is insignificant next to the power of the Force."

Quelle: NBC


3216 Views

Freitag, 11. Januar 2013 - 19:30 Uhr

Astronomie - Spiral-Galaxy IC 342 im Focus von NuSTAR

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Blazing Black Holes Spotted in Spiral Beauty
This new view of spiral galaxy IC 342, also known as Caldwell 5, includes data from NASA's Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array, or NuSTAR. High-energy X-ray data from NuSTAR have been translated to the color magenta, and superimposed on a visible-light view highlighting the galaxy and its star-studded arms. NuSTAR is the first orbiting telescope to take focused pictures of the cosmos in high-energy X-ray light; previous observations of this same galaxy taken at similar wavelengths blurred the entire object into one pixel. 
The two magenta spots are blazing black holes first detected at lower-energy X-ray wavelengths by NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory. With NuSTAR's complementary data, astronomers can start to home in on the black holes' mysterious properties. The black holes appear much brighter than typical stellar-mass black holes, such as thosethat pepper our own galaxy, yet they cannot be supermassive black holes or they would have sunk to the galaxy’s center. Instead, they may be intermediate in mass, or there may be something else going on to explain their extremely energetic state. NuSTAR will help solve this puzzle.
IC 342 lies 7 million light-years away in the Camelopardalis constellation. The outer edges of the galaxy cannot be seen in this view. 
This image shows NuSTAR X-ray data taken at 10 to 35 kiloelectron volts. 
The visible-light image is from the Digitized Sky Survey. 
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Quelle: NASA
 

3156 Views

Freitag, 11. Januar 2013 - 10:30 Uhr

Raumfahrt - Astronaut Chris Hadfield zeigt Kanada die schöne Erde

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Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield wasn’t exactly anonymous before he blasted off on a Soyuz capsule in December, en route to the International Space Station. After all, he was the first Canadian to walk in space and has extensive experience working with NASA and the Canadian Space Agency.  But it’s safe to say most Canadians are more familiar with their hometown hockey stars than they are with the space star currently orbiting over their heads.
All that has started to change on this most recent mission though. Hadfield has taken social media to the stars (well, our solar system anyway), actively tweeting and updating his G+ account to show off the many photos of Earth he’s been taking from the space station. This led to a well-publicized Twitter exchange between Hadfield and Captain Kirk, er, William Shatner, to the delight of sci-fi fans everywhere.
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A Noctilucent Cloud - a rare super high altitude cloud barely visible from Earth, is seen at dawn in the mesosphere from ISS, in a photo posted on Twitter on Jan. 6, 2013 by Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield.
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Cleveland and Toledo Ohio, Detroit Michigan, and Commander Chris Hadfield's birth place of Sarnia Ontario, is shown in a photo posted on Twitter on Jan. 5, 2013 by Hadfield.
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Kiev, Ukraine - an historic major crossing place of water, rail and road - is shown in a photo posted on Twitter on Jan. 4, 2013 by Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield.
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Halifax N.S. is pictured from space on a crystal clear day in a photo posted on Twitter on Jan. 5, 2013 by Canadian astronaut Chris hadfield.
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The very northern tip of Newfoundland is seen with clouds rolling in a photo posted on Twitter on Jan. 4, 2013 by Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield. Narrow strait and the Labrador coast are seen at top right.
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The Baie-des-Chaleurs, separating Quebec's Gaspe Peninsula (top right) and New Brunswick's Acadian Peninsula (centre), is shown in a photo posted on Twitter on Jan. 4, 2013 by Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield. "The name means 'bay of warmth', but the fingers of ice disagree," notes the Hadfield.
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The Greek Island of Corfu is shown in a photo posted on Twitter on Jan. 7, 2013 by Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield.
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Latakia, Syria is pictured in a photo posted on Twitter on Jan. 2, 2013 by Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield.
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Corn rows of sand, tightly sculpted by wind, heat and time is shown in Saudi Arabia in a photo posted on Twitter on Jan. 7, 2013 by Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield.
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Newfoundland and Labrador, shot without zoom, is shown in a photo posted on Twitter on Jan. 7, 2013 by Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield.
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Fotos: NASA

3269 Views

Freitag, 11. Januar 2013 - 10:00 Uhr

Astronomie - Spiral Galaxy NGC 6872

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NASA's Galex Reveals the Largest-Known Spiral Galaxy

 

This composite of the giant barred spiral galaxy NGC 6872 combines visible light images from the European Southern Observatory's Very Large Telescope with far-ultraviolet (1,528 angstroms) data from NASA's GALEX and 3.6-micron infrared data acquired by NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope. A previously unsuspected tidal dwarf galaxy candidate (circled) appears only in the ultraviolet, indicating the presence of many hot young stars. IC 4970, the small disk galaxy interacting with NGC 6872, is located above the spiral's central region. The spiral is 522,000 light-years across from the tip of one outstretched arm to the tip of the other, which makes it about five times the size of our home galaxy, the Milky Way. Images of lower resolution from the Digital Sky Survey were used to fill in marginal areas not covered by the other data.
The GALEX mission is led by the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, which is responsible for science operations and data analysis. NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, also in Pasadena, manages the mission and built the science instrument. GALEX was developed under NASA's Explorers Program managed by NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center. In May 2012, NASA loaned GALEX to Caltech, which continues spacecraft operations and data management using private funds.
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PASADENA, Calif. -- The spectacular barred spiral galaxy NGC 6872 has ranked among the biggest stellar systems for decades. Now a team of astronomers from the United States, Chile and Brazil has crowned it the largest known spiral, based on archival data from NASA's Galaxy Evolution Explorer (GALEX) mission, which has since been loaned to the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena. 
Measuring tip-to-tip across its two outsized spiral arms, NGC 6872 spans more than 522,000 light-years, making it more than five times the size of our Milky Way galaxy. 
"Without GALEX's ability to detect the ultraviolet light of the youngest, hottest stars, we would never have recognized the full extent of this intriguing system," said lead scientist Rafael Eufrasio, a research assistant at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., who is a doctoral student at Catholic University of America in Washington. He presented the findings Thursday at the American Astronomical Society meeting in Long Beach, Calif. 
The galaxy's unusual size and appearance stem from its interaction with a much smaller disk galaxy named IC 4970, which has only about one-fifth the mass of NGC 6872. The odd couple is located 212 million light-years from Earth in the southern constellation Pavo. 
Astronomers think large galaxies, including our own, grew through mergers and acquisitions -- assembling over billions of years by absorbing numerous smaller systems. 
Intriguingly, the gravitational interaction of NGC 6872 and IC 4970 may have done the opposite, spawning what may develop into a new small galaxy. 
"The northeastern arm of NGC 6872 is the most disturbed and is rippling with star formation, but at its far end, visible only in the ultraviolet, is an object that appears to be a tidal dwarf galaxy similar to those seen in other interacting systems," said team member Duilia de Mello, a professor of astronomy at Catholic University. 
The tidal dwarf candidate is brighter in ultraviolet than other regions of the galaxy, a sign it bears a rich supply of hot young stars less than 200 million years old. 
The researchers studied the galaxy across the spectrum using archival data from the European Southern Observatory's Very Large Telescope, the Two Micron All Sky Survey, and NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope, as well as GALEX. 
By analyzing the distribution of energy by wavelength, the team uncovered a distinct pattern of stellar age along the galaxy's two prominent spiral arms. The youngest stars appear in the far end of the northwestern arm, within the tidal dwarf candidate, and stellar ages skew progressively older toward the galaxy's center. 
The southwestern arm displays the same pattern, which is likely connected to waves of star formation triggered by the galactic encounter. 
A 2007 study by Cathy Horellou at Onsala Space Observatory in Sweden and Baerbel Koribalski of the Australia National Telescope Facility developed computer simulations of the collision that reproduced the overall appearance of the system as we see it today. According to the closest match, IC 4970 made its closest approach about 130 million years ago and followed a path that took it nearly along the plane of the spiral's disk in the same direction it rotates. The current study is consistent with this picture. 
As in all barred spirals, NGC 6872 contains a stellar bar component that transitions between the spiral arms and the galaxy's central regions. Measuring about 26,000 light-years in radius, or about twice the average length found in nearby barred spirals, it is a bar that befits a giant galaxy. 
The team found no sign of recent star formation along the bar, which indicates it formed at least a few billion years ago. Its aged stars provide a fossil record of the galaxy's stellar population before the encounter with IC 4970 stirred things up. 
"Understanding the structure and dynamics of nearby interacting systems like this one brings us a step closer to placing these events into their proper cosmological context, paving the way to decoding what we find in younger, more distant systems," said team member and Goddard astrophysicist Eli Dwek. 
The study also included Fernanda Urrutia-Viscarra and Claudia Mendes de Oliveira at the University of Sao Paulo in Brazil and Dimitri Gadotti at the European Southern Observatory in Santiago, Chile. 
The GALEX mission is led by the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, which is responsible for science operations and data analysis. NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, also in Pasadena, manages the mission and built the science instrument. GALEX was developed under NASA's Explorers Program managed by NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center. In May 2012, NASA loaned GALEX to Caltech, which continues spacecraft operations and data management using private funds. 
Computer simulations of the collision between NGC 6872 and IC 4970 reproduce the basic features of the galaxies as we see them today. Image credit: NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, after C. Horellou (Onsala Space Observatory) and B. Koribalski (ATNF)
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Quelle: NASA

3490 Views

Donnerstag, 10. Januar 2013 - 20:54 Uhr

Mars-Chroniken - Mars-Rover Opportunity Sol 009-019-Rückblick

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Microscopic Imager Non-linearized Full frame EDR acquired on Sol 9 of Opportunity's mission to Meridiani Planum at approximately at approximately 15:24:36 Mars local solar time, Microscopic Imager dust cover commanded to be OPEN. NASA/JPL/Cornell/USGS

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Left Panoramic Camera Non-linearized Full frame EDR acquired on Sol 9 of Opportunity's mission to Meridiani Planum at approximately 14:38:18 Mars local solar time, camera commanded to use Filter 7 (432 nm). NASA/JPL/Cornell

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Right Front Hazard Camera Non-linearized Downsampled EDR acquired on Sol 9 of Opportunity's mission to Meridiani Planum at approximately 15:23:50 Mars local solar time. NASA/JPL

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Microscopic Imager Non-linearized Full frame EDR acquired on Sol 10 of Opportunity's mission to Meridiani Planum at approximately at approximately 11:25:30 Mars local solar time, Microscopic Imager dust cover commanded to be OPEN. NASA/JPL/Cornell/USGS

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Right Panoramic Camera Non-linearized Full frame EDR acquired on Sol 10 of Opportunity's mission to Meridiani Planum at approximately 13:43:56 Mars local solar time, camera commanded to use Filter 3 (803 nm). NASA/JPL/Cornell

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Microscopic Imager Non-linearized Full frame EDR acquired on Sol 12 of Opportunity's mission to Meridiani Planum at approximately at approximately 11:17:57 Mars local solar time, Microscopic Imager dust cover commanded to be OPEN. NASA/JPL/Cornell/USGS

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Left Panoramic Camera Non-linearized Sub-frame EDR acquired on Sol 12 of Opportunity's mission to Meridiani Planum at approximately 10:12:59 Mars local solar time, camera commanded to use Filter 5 (535 nm). NASA/JPL/Cornell 
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Right Navigation Camera Non-linearized Full frame EDR acquired on Sol 12 of Opportunity's mission to Meridiani Planum at approximately 13:24:05 Mars local solar time. NASA/JPL 
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Left Rear Hazard Camera Non-linearized Full frame EDR acquired on Sol 12 of Opportunity's mission to Meridiani Planum at approximately 13:22:34 Mars local solar time. NASA/JPL 
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Left Rear Hazard Camera Non-linearized Full frame EDR acquired on Sol 12 of Opportunity's mission to Meridiani Planum at approximately 12:57:25 Mars local solar time. NASA/JPL
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Right Front Hazard Camera Non-linearized Downsampled EDR acquired on Sol 12 of Opportunity's mission to Meridiani Planum at approximately 11:16:13 Mars local solar time. NASA/JPL 
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Left Panoramic Camera Non-linearized Full frame EDR acquired on Sol 13 of Opportunity's mission to Meridiani Planum at approximately 13:03:46 Mars local solar time, camera commanded to use Filter 7 (432 nm). NASA/JPL/Cornell 
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Left Panoramic Camera Non-linearized Full frame EDR acquired on Sol 13 of Opportunity's mission to Meridiani Planum at approximately 12:36:20 Mars local solar time, camera commanded to use Filter 2 (753 nm). NASA/JPL/Cornell 
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Left Navigation Camera Non-linearized Full frame EDR acquired on Sol 13 of Opportunity's mission to Meridiani Planum at approximately 11:46:36 Mars local solar time. NASA/JPL 
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Microscopic Imager Non-linearized Full frame EDR acquired on Sol 14 of Opportunity's mission to Meridiani Planum at approximately at approximately 12:34:17 Mars local solar time, Microscopic Imager dust cover commanded to be CLOSED. NASA/JPL/Cornell/USGS 
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Right Front Hazard Camera Non-linearized Downsampled EDR acquired on Sol 14 of Opportunity's mission to Meridiani Planum at approximately 11:44:21 Mars local solar time. NASA/JPL 
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Left Front Hazard Camera Non-linearized Full frame EDR acquired on Sol 14 of Opportunity's mission to Meridiani Planum at approximately 12:47:18 Mars local solar time. NASA/JPL
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Right Panoramic Camera Non-linearized Full frame EDR acquired on Sol 16 of Opportunity's mission to Meridiani Planum at approximately 15:15:15 Mars local solar time, camera commanded to use Filter 1 (436 nm). NASA/JPL/Cornell
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Left Panoramic Camera Non-linearized Full frame EDR acquired on Sol 16 of Opportunity's mission to Meridiani Planum at approximately 11:00:12 Mars local solar time, camera commanded to use Filter 7 (432 nm). NASA/JPL/Cornell
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Right Navigation Camera Non-linearized Full frame EDR acquired on Sol 16 of Opportunity's mission to Meridiani Planum at approximately 11:47:20 Mars local solar time. NASA/JPL 
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Right Rear Hazard Camera Non-linearized Full frame EDR acquired on Sol 16 of Opportunity's mission to Meridiani Planum at approximately 11:44:55 Mars local solar time. NASA/JPL
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Left Front Hazard Camera Non-linearized Downsampled EDR acquired on Sol 16 of Opportunity's mission to Meridiani Planum at approximately 11:32:26 Mars local solar time. NASA/JPL 
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Left Navigation Camera Non-linearized Full frame EDR acquired on Sol 18 of Opportunity's mission to Meridiani Planum at approximately 12:21:28 Mars local solar time. NASA/JPL 
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Right Rear Hazard Camera Non-linearized Sub-frame EDR acquired on Sol 18 of Opportunity's mission to Meridiani Planum at approximately 12:20:28 Mars local solar time. NASA/JPL
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Microscopic Imager Non-linearized Full frame EDR acquired on Sol 19 of Opportunity's mission to Meridiani Planum at approximately at approximately 11:23:10 Mars local solar time, Microscopic Imager dust cover commanded to be OPEN. NASA/JPL/Cornell/USGS 
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Right Panoramic Camera Non-linearized Full frame EDR acquired on Sol 19 of Opportunity's mission to Meridiani Planum at approximately 11:52:22 Mars local solar time, camera commanded to use Filter 1 (436 nm). NASA/JPL/Cornell
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Left Panoramic Camera Non-linearized Full frame EDR acquired on Sol 19 of Opportunity's mission to Meridiani Planum at approximately 11:20:45 Mars local solar time, camera commanded to use Filter 7 (432 nm). NASA/JPL/Cornell 
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Left Navigation Camera Non-linearized Full frame EDR acquired on Sol 19 of Opportunity's mission to Meridiani Planum at approximately 13:36:30 Mars local solar time. NASA/JPL 
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Right Navigation Camera Non-linearized Full frame EDR acquired on Sol 19 of Opportunity's mission to Meridiani Planum at approximately 13:34:47 Mars local solar time. NASA/JPL
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Right Front Hazard Camera Non-linearized Full frame EDR acquired on Sol 19 of Opportunity's mission to Meridiani Planum at approximately 13:08:50 Mars local solar time. NASA/JPL
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Fotos: NASA

3204 Views

Donnerstag, 10. Januar 2013 - 15:45 Uhr

Raumfahrt - US Raumschiff Projekte planen Testpiloten 2015 in den Orbit zu senden

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Americans could be flying into orbit on U.S.-built spaceships again as early as 2015 — but the first fliers won't be NASA astronauts or millionaire space tourists. Instead, they'll be commercial test pilots, employed by the Boeing Co., Sierra Nevada Corp., SpaceX or maybe even a dark-horse company like Blue Origin, the venture funded by Amazon.com billionaire Jeff Bezos.
Those four companies provided updates on their efforts to build new spaceships capable of carrying astronauts to and from the International Space Station during a Wednesday news briefing at NASA's Kennedy Space Center. One of the companies, Blue Origin, is wrapping up its work for NASA and is no longer receiving money through the Commercial Crew Program, or CCP. But SpaceX, Boeing and Sierra Nevada are splitting more than $1 billion that's to be paid out through 2014.
NASA's manager for the Commercial Crew Program, Ed Mango, said the agency and its commercial partners are already talking about "Phase 2" for the program. The certification requirements and timetable for Phase 2 are expected to be set this year, with contracts awarded by May 2014, Mango said. "We believe that there’ll be more than one, probably two, three, maybe others, that will be ready to compete for Phase 2," he said.That phase would move the program forward to 2017, by which time NASA expects to be flying its astronauts on U.S. launch vehicles for the first time since the shuttle fleet was retired in 2011. In the meantime, NASA will be paying the Russians more than $60 million per seat for round trips to the space station."Our target was to repatriate that industry back to the United States, and that's what we're doing," said Mark Sirangelo, chairman of SNC Space Systems at Sierra Nevada.Here's how the companies' plans are shaping up:SpaceX: Former NASA astronaut Garrett Reisman, SpaceX's commercial crew project manager, said his company is working toward a launch pad abort test by the end of the year at Kennedy Space Center. An in-flight test that would demonstrate the ability to abort a launch safely during ascent, "at the worst possible moment," is planned for April 2014, he said. If SpaceX sticks to its schedule, it would use its Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon capsule for a manned test flight in mid-2015, and would send test pilots to the space station by the end of 2015. "We're not selling tickets. Don't call our toll-free number," Reisman joked.Sierra Nevada Corp.: Sirangelo said his company was planning to drop its Dream Chaser mini-shuttle from a carrier airplane for its first autonomous, free-flying glide test in the first quarter of this year. That would be followed by a series of autonomous and crewed aerodynamic test flights, similar to the tests conducted by NASA using the prototype shuttle Enterprise in the late 1970s. Then Sierra Nevada's team would launch the Dream Chaser into space — first on suborbital test flights, and eventually into orbit. Last year, the company said manned orbital flights could begin in 2016.The Boeing Co.: John Mulholland, vice president and program manager for Boeing's commercial crew program, said his company proposed conducting a three-day orbital spaceflight with a Boeing crew in 2016. The head of Boeing's flight test program is former NASA astronaut Chris Ferguson, who commanded Atlantis' crew during the final flight of the shuttle program. "He is defining crew requirements," Mulholland said. Before the test pilots fly, Boeing will conduct an unmanned orbital trial of its CST-100 space capsule, plus an altitude abort test.
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Blue Origin: The company that Bezos founded in 2000 is not receiving NASA funding during the current phase of the agency's spaceship development program — but Blue Origin's president and program manager, Rob Meyerson, said he's still doing business with the space agency. "We're working with NASA to extend our Space Act Agreement in an unfunded manner," Meyerson said. The company is continuing to test its BE-3 rocket engine and work on its next prototype propulsion vehicle. Eventually, Blue Origin aims to launch crews on suborbital as well as orbital spaceflights.
The plans for future flights are dependent on continued NASA support — and Phil McAlister, NASA's commercial spaceflight development director, acknowledged that "the budget is going to be an extremely challenging topic."
If NASA's funding is reduced, Reisman said his company would continue to move toward manned flights, but at a slower pace. "Human spaceflight is our reason for being. We are in this for the long haul," Reisman said. "There will be impacts to cost and schedule, should funding dry up. But we're going to get there eventually."
Quelle: NASA

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Donnerstag, 10. Januar 2013 - 12:45 Uhr

Astronomie - Nächste Generation von adaptive Optik sorgt für bemerkenswerte Details in stellarer Kinderstube

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A new image released today reveals how Gemini Observatory's most advanced adaptive optics (AO) system will help astronomers study the universe with an unprecedented level of clarity and detail by removing distortions due to the Earth’s atmosphere. The photo, featuring an area on the outskirts of the famous Orion Nebula, illustrates the instrument's significant advancements over previous-generation AO systems.
"The combination of a constellation of five laser guide stars with multiple deformable mirrors allows us to expand significantly on what has previously been possible using adaptive optics in astronomy," said Benoit Neichel, who currently leads this adaptive optics program for Gemini. "For years our team has focused on developing this system, and to see this magnificent image, just hinting at its scientific potential, made our nights on the mountain - while most folks were celebrating the New Year’s holiday - the best celebration ever!"
The new system, called GeMS, is installed on the Gemini South telescope in Chile and is the first of its kind to use laser guide stars and a technology called Multi-Conjugate Adaptive Optics (MCAO) to image the sky. Motivated by MCAO's potential to produce a significantly larger field-of-view and more uniform corrections than previous AO systems, former Gemini scientist François Rigaut (now at the Australian National University), first suggested the system's development at Gemini over 10 years ago. According to Rigaut, "It's a great feeling to see this system on the sky and doing cutting-edge science. When it's all theoretical you dream of what it will someday do to improve our vision of the cosmos. An image like this makes it so real - it's worth all the mental sweat!"
"Adaptive optics allows ground-based telescopes to take full advantage of their large mirrors,” notes Dr. Gary Schmidt, Gemini program director for the U.S. National Science Foundation. “Gemini's development of MCAO leads the world, and its fidelity even surpasses that of current – and far more expensive – orbiting observatories for imaging the sky."
This milestone also bodes well for future generations of large ground-based telescopes. "As telescopes get larger they look through more and more of the Earth's atmosphere and this is a problem,” said Gary Sanders, Project Manager of the 30-Meter Telescope (TMT) Project. Sanders emphasizes that it is imperative that we find new and innovative ways to solve this problem by removing the distortions caused by the turbulent air overhead. “MCAO is a key technology that makes the next generation of large telescopes, like the TMT, justifiable. It allows us to use the light we collect more efficiently and see the universe more sharply than ever before in human history," said Sanders.
About five years ago, when GeMS was under development, and still just a vision for Rigaut and the team, Gemini Observatory released an image of a smaller section of this area of the Orion Nebula known as the "Orion Bullets." That image demonstrated the power of Gemini's AO system called Altair - which is still actively used at the Gemini North telescope. Gemini’s instrument scientist for Altair, Chad Trujillo, points out that in one shot GeMS covers a significantly larger field-of-view than Altair and, he adds, “The uniformity and performance across the image is amazing! In this new image, the pixels are 2.5 times finer and there are about 16 times more of them. Both the correction quality and the field-of-view are considerably better than the previous generation of AO systems.”
THE MCAO ADVANTAGE
The technology behind MCAO involves the use of multiple laser guide stars (five in the GeMS system) and several deformable mirrors (three in all) to sample atmospheric distortions and cancel them out in real-time as imaging data is collected. Using algorithms similar to those developed for medical tomographic imaging the GeMS MCAO system creates a three-dimensional snapshot of atmospheric turbulence about 500 to 1000 times per second. The result is about a 16-fold increase in the patch of sky observed, while providing uniform corrections over the entire field. "This is huge when it's time for astronomers to reduce their data," said Adam Ginsburg a graduate student working with John Bally at the University of Colorado who originally proposed that the GeMS system revisit the Orion bullets. "If the corrections are not uniform across the entire field it is difficult, and sometimes impossible, for researchers to compare one part of a dataset with another and errors proliferate,” said Ginsburg. Bally adds that MCAO should make this problem a non-issue.
GeMS, in conjunction with the Gemini South Adaptive Optics Imager (GSAOI), is undergoing commissioning and has obtained some early System Verification data. About 80 hours have been offered for the first semester of 2013, and more will be available in the second semester, for astronomers in the international partnership through the standard Gemini proposal process.
THE ORION BULLETS
Discovered in 1983, the Orion Bullets are clumps of gas ejected from deep within the Orion Nebula - located some 1500 light-years from our Solar System. The violence causing this is likely related to the recent formation of a cluster of massive stars with strong winds that can expel gas at supersonic speeds. The bullets (seen as distinctive blue features in the new Gemini image) are actually quite large, about 10 times the size of Pluto’s orbit around the Sun.
As the bullets speed outward, they leave behind distinctive tubular and cone-shaped wakes, which shine like tracers due to the bullets heating of the molecular hydrogen gas in the Orion Nebula. The wakes span much greater distances than the bullets, measuring as much as a fifth of a light-year in length. As Gemini first observed with Altair, the fingerlike wakes also resolve into filaments which are clearly resolved in the new Gemini GeMS image.
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This image, obtained during the late commissioning phase of the GeMS adaptive optics system, with the Gemini South AO Imager (GSAOI) on the night of December 28, 2012, reveals exquisite details in the outskirts of the Orion Nebula. The large adaptive optics field-of-view (85 arcseconds across) demonstrates the system's extreme resolution and uniform correction across the entire field. The three filters used for this composite color image include [Fe II], H2, and, K(short)-continuum (2.093 microns) for blue, orange, and white layers respectively. The natural seeing while these data were taken ranged from about 0.8 to 1.1 arcseconds, with AO corrected images ranging from 0.084 to 0.103 arcsecond. Each filter had a total integration (exposure) of 600 seconds. In this image, the blue spots are clouds of gaseous iron "bullets" being propelled at supersonic speeds from a region of massive star formation outside, and below, this image's field-of-view. As these "bullets" pass through neutral hydrogen gas it heats up the hydrogen and produces the pillars that trace the passage of the iron clouds. 
Principal Investigator(s): John Bally and Adam Ginsberg, University of Colorado and the GeMS/GSAOI commissioning team; Data processing/reduction: Rodrigo Carrasco, Gemini Observatory; Color image composite: Travis Rector, University of Alaska Anchorage. 
Image Credit: Gemini Observatory/AURA 
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This animation compares the images obtained with Altair in 2007 with the new GeMS version obtained in December 2012. As the bullets (the blue dots at the end of the orange pillar) are moving at supersonic speeds, the comparison with the 2007 image illustrates this motion. In the new image, each single bullet has moved away from the star forming region located below the image's field-of-view and thanks to the high-resolution of AO correction these motions are easily detectable. Moreover, as the new GeMS/GSAOI instrument combination covers a larger field, more of these bullets can be monitored at once. 
Image Credit: Gemini Observatory/AURA 
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Detailed views of the Orion Bullet region. In each image pair, left is the Altair 2007 image and right is the new 2012 GeMS image. This close-up view emphasizes the gain realized by MCAO and GeMS compared to normal AO (Altair). With the multiple lasers and deformable mirrors, MCAO allows for compensation of the elongations of star images seen in the Altair images. These elongations are due to atmospheric turbulence located at high altitudes that cannot be corrected using normal AO. MCAO is able to make these corrections and offers a unique and uniform correction across the entire field. The GeMS image also has a significantly larger field-of-view covering three times the area of sky compared to Altair. Moreover, the pixels are smaller by a factor of 2.5 in the MCAO image, realizing the potential to capture more details in the image. Combining the smaller pixels and bigger field-of-view, GeMS is dramatically more efficient than other existing AO systems. In effect, with Altair, one would need 5 to 20 times (depending on conditions) more telescope time to accomplish the same science compared to GeMS. 
Image Credit: Gemini Observatory/AURA 
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Propagation of the Gemini South Laser. Gemini Images by Manuel Paredes. 
Image Credit: Gemini Observatory/AURA 
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Quelle: 
Gemini Observatory
Southern Operations Center
c/o AURA,La Serena, Chile

3776 Views

Donnerstag, 10. Januar 2013 - 12:30 Uhr

Astronomie - Asteroid Apophis im Focus von Herschel

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ESA’s Herschel space observatory made new observations of asteroid Apophis as it approached Earth this weekend. The data shows the asteroid to be bigger than first estimated, and less reflective.
Catalogued as asteroid (99942) Apophis (previously 2004 MN4), it is often nicknamed ‘the doomsday asteroid’ in popular media, after initial observations made after its discovery in 2004 gave it a 2.7% chance of striking Earth in April 2029.
With additional data, however, an impact in 2029 was soon ruled out, although the asteroid will pass within 36 000 km of Earth’s surface, closer even than the orbits of geostationary satellites.
The asteroid will return to Earth’s neighbourhood again in 2036, but quite how close it will come then is uncertain, as the 2029 approach is predicted to alter its orbit substantially. Obtaining improved physical parameters for Apophis and its orbit is thus of great importance in being able to make better predictions of its future trajectory.
Herschel had a good opportunity at the weekend, observing the asteroid for about two hours on its approach to Earth, ahead of today’s closest encounter at a little less than one tenth of the distance from Earth to the Sun: about 14.5 million km. The observations were made as part of Herschel’s Guaranteed Time Programme MACH‑11.
“As well as the data being scientifically important in their own right, understanding key properties of asteroids will provide vital details for missions that might eventually visit potentially hazardous objects,” says Laurence O'Rourke, Principal Investigator of the MACH-11 observing programme, from the European Space Astronomy Centre (ESAC), near Madrid, Spain.
“Apophis is only the second near-Earth asteroid observed by Herschel, and these were the fastest tracked observations by the space telescope – the asteroid moved at a rate of 205 arcseconds per hour as seen from Herschel’s viewpoint.”
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Apophis temperature model
Herschel provided the first thermal infrared observations of Apophis at different wavelengths, which together with optical measurements helped refine estimates of the asteroid’s properties. Previous estimates bracketed the asteroid’s average diameter at 270 ± 60 m; the new Herschel observations returned a more precise diameter of 325 ± 15 m.
“The 20% increase in diameter, from 270 to 325 m, translates into a 75% increase in our estimates of the asteroid’s volume or mass,” says Thomas Müller of the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics in Garching, Germany, who is leading the analysis of the new data. 
By analysing the heat emitted by Apophis, Herschel also provided a new estimate of the asteroid’s albedo – a measure of its reflectivity – of 0.23. This value means that 23% of the sunlight falling onto the asteroid is reflected; the rest is absorbed and heats up the asteroid. The previous albedo estimate for Apophis was 0.33.
Knowing the thermal properties of an asteroid indicates how its orbit might be altered due to subtle heating by the Sun. Known as the Yarkovsky effect, the heating and cooling cycle of a small body as it rotates and as its distance from the Sun changes can instigate long-term changes to the asteroid’s orbit.
“These numbers are first estimates based on the Herschel measurements alone, and other ongoing ground-based campaigns might produce additional pieces of information which will allow us to improve our results,” adds Müller.
“Although Apophis initially caught public interest as a possible Earth impactor, which is now considered highly improbable for the foreseeable future, it is of considerable interest in its own right, and as an example of the class of Near Earth Objects,” says Göran Pilbratt, ESA’s Herschel Project Scientist.
“Our unique Herschel measurements play a key role for the physical characterisation of Apophis, and will improve the long-term prediction of its orbit.”
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Quelle: ESA

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