Blogarchiv

Sonntag, 27. Januar 2013 - 16:00 Uhr

Raumfahrt - Erfolgreicher Raketenabwehrsystem Test der USAF

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Raketenabwehrsystem Test ein Erfolg

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VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- A Ground-based Interceptor, an element of the overall Ground-based Midcourse Defense system, was launched from North Vandenberg Saturday at 2 p.m. by 30th Space Wing officials and the U.S. Missile Defense Agency. The launch was part of a test to improve and enhance the GMD element of the Ballistic Missile Defense System. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman Yvonne Morales)

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30th Space WIng Public Affairs

1/26/2013 - VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- A Ground-based Interceptor, an element of the overall Ground-based Midcourse Defense system, was launched from North Vandenberg Saturday at 2 p.m. by 30th Space Wing officials and the U.S. Missile Defense Agency.

Col. Nina Armagno, 30th Space Wing commander, was the launch decision authority.

"Both the 30th Space Wing and the Missile Defense Agency worked hard to complete this important test," said Armagno. "This was an amazing first launch for the new year."

The launch was part of a test to improve and enhance the GMD element of the Ballistic Missile Defense System.

The test involved the launch of a three-stage Ground-Based Interceptor missile. It did not involve an intercept, and no target missile was launched. MDA will use the test results to improve and enhance the GMD element of the Ballistic Missile Defense System, designed to defend the Nation, deployed forces, friends and allies from ballistic missile attacks, according to an MDA spokesperson.

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VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- A Ground-based Interceptor, an element of the overall Ground-based Midcourse Defense system, was launched from North Vandenberg Saturday at 2 p.m. by 30th Space Wing officials and the U.S. Missile Defense Agency. The launch was part of a test to improve and enhance the GMD element of the Ballistic Missile Defense System. (U.S. Air Force photo/Joe Davila)

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Quelle: USAF


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Sonntag, 27. Januar 2013 - 15:48 Uhr

Raumfahrt - Japan startet Aufklärungssatelliten mit H-2A Rakete

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Reconnaissance satellites launched by H-2A rocket

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Japan launched two spy satellites Sunday to collect sharp imagery for the government's defense and intelligence agencies, continuing a series of clandestine space missions devised to keep track of North Korean military activity.

The payloads lifted off on a Japanese H-2A rocket at 0440 GMT (11:40 p.m. EST) from the Tanegashima Space Center, Japan's primary launch site nestled on a picturesque island in the Pacific Ocean.

Liftoff occurred at 1:40 p.m. local time in Japan, and the rocket pitched southeast from Tanegashima before turning south for its ascent to orbit over the Pacific Ocean.

The 187-foot-tall launcher soared into an overcast sky on the power of its two solid rocket boosters and a hydrogen-fueled main engine, rapidly vanishing into clouds and leaving a billowing exhaust plume and booming noise in its wake.

The launch was streamed live online by amateur observers, but there was no official webcast provided by the Japanese government or Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, the H-2A rocket's commercial operator.

The H-2A rocket surpassed the speed of sound in less than a minute, and 1.6 million pounds of thrust pushed the orange and white launcher higher over the Pacific Ocean.

The solid-fueled boosters jettisoned about two minutes after liftoff, and the rocket's nose fairing released as the H-2A rocket reached the thin upper atmosphere.

The rocket's cryogenic upper stage took over next, igniting to put the mission's two secretive payloads into orbit.

The launch marked the 22nd flight of an H-2A rocket and the eighth launch dedicated to Japan's spy satellite program.

Japanese officials declared the launch a success about 20 minutes after liftoff.

Two payloads were aboard the H-2A rocket, the country's fourth radar reconnaissance satellite and a demonstration craft with an optical camera, according to the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, which owns the Tanegashima Space Center.

The Japanese government calls the spacecraft Information Gathering Satellites.

The radar-equipped satellite can take pictures of the ground day-and-night and in all weather conditions.

Japan has not disclosed the exact capabilities of the satellites, including their imaging resolution.

The most advanced Japanese reconnaissance satellites likely provide imagery with a resolution less than a meter. The optical demonstration craft launched Sunday may provide imagery with a resolution as high as 40 centimeters, or about 15 inches, better than U.S. commercial imaging satellites, according to the Kyodo news agency.

Japan established the space-based reconnaissance program in the wake of a North Korean missile test over Japanese territory in 1998. Although the program was initially aimed at monitoring North Korea, the satellites can take pictures of nearly any place on Earth each day.

The first Information Gathering Satellites were launched in 2003.

Japanese officials used imagery from the IGS program in the aftermath of the March 2011 earthquake that spawned a devastating tsunami and the following crisis at the Fukushima nuclear power plant.

Sunday's mission marked the first space launch of the year for Japan, which plans at least three more launches in 2013.

In July, Japan will launch its fourth robotic cargo craft to the International Space Station aboard the heavy-lift H-2B rocket. In the autumn, Japan plans the first flight of its smaller solid-fueled Epsilon satellite launcher from the Uchinoura Space Center on the south shore of Kyushu, the southernmost of Japan's main islands.

Before the end of 2013, another H-2A rocket will deploy JAXA's second Advanced Land Observing Satellite, which will collect environmental data for climate science and disaster response applications.

Quelle: JAXA


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Sonntag, 27. Januar 2013 - 12:00 Uhr

Raumfahrt - History - Apollo-1-Unglück

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Sonntag, 27. Januar 2013 - 10:30 Uhr

Raumfahrt - Sicherheitsdatenblatt fordert NASA als Aufsicht der zukünftigen privaten Testflüge

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CAPE CANAVERAL— NASA won’t ask private crews to fly commercial spacecraft on their first orbital test flights unless the agency takes more responsibility for their safety, an independent safety panel reported Friday at Kennedy Space Center.

The Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel, or ASAP, also said budget concerns could create delays and other problems for NASA’s commercial crew and human exploration programs.

“In the panel’s opinion, a consensus between the Congress and NASA will be required to resolve this conundrum,” said panel chair Joseph Dyer, a retired Navy vice admiral.

The nine-member panel, established after the launch pad fire that killed three Apollo 1 astronauts 46 years ago this Sunday, met Wednesday with managers from The Boeing Co. and United Launch Alliance and Thursday with NASA officials before holding a 90-minute public session Friday.

The panel previously had expressed concern about potential test flights of new commercial space taxis by company crews before NASA astronauts strap in for rides to the International Space Station.

NASA has committed up to $1.1 billion to three companies — Boeing, Sierra Nevada Corp. and SpaceX — to design private spacecraft under non-traditional contracts that limit NASA’s oversight, called Space Act Agreements.

The agreements include options for orbital test flights that the companies say could be flown as soon as 2015 or 2016.

The ASAP believed those options raised troubling questions about who would certify the flights’ safety, and whether different standards would apply to private and government astronauts.

“We’re concerned that separating the level of safety demanded in a system from the unique and hard-earned knowledge that NASA possesses has the potential to introduce new risk and unique challenges,” Dyer said.

But he later read a statement that allayed some of those concerns, in which NASA chief engineer Mike Ryschkewitsch confirmed the agency's intent not to exercise those options and not to fly people to orbit under the less restrictive Space Act Agreements, although no formal decision has been made.

More traditional contracts that may require more information sharing will be enforced during a two-phase certification process that began this week, something the panel considers a positive step.

But ASAP member John Frost, an independent safety consultant, said NASA still needed to develop a philosophical approach that better explained the process for certifying commercial astronaut flights — who does it and when?

“NASA and our nation are blazing a new trail of attempting to use an entirely different way of getting to space, and it’s a trail that’s not well marked,” he said.

The group also noted that Congress has given NASA’s commercial crew program roughly half the money it requested during the past two years.

The program in 2013 is expected to receive about $500 million, again well below the $830 million NASA requested.

“That drives a disconnect between planning and the funds to execute that plan,” Dyer said.

Meanwhile, NASA already has some concern about whether its new heavy-lift exploration rocket, called the Space Launch System, will be ready for a first, unmanned launch from KSC in late 2017, reported ASAP member Don McErlean, senior director for federal programs at L-3 communications.

Typically for such complex development projects, funding ramps up early on, peaks as a design matures and then drops off until production work begins.

But the SLS program has a flat budget of about $1.4 billion proposed annually through 2017.

The panel said a test flight of the Orion crew capsule remains on track for 2014. A Delta IV Heavy rocket will blast the test capsule into orbit from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.

Quelle: FloridaToday


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Samstag, 26. Januar 2013 - 10:15 Uhr

Mars-Chroniken - HIRISE sieht saisonale Veränderungen im nördlichen Polargebiet von Mars

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Samstag, 26. Januar 2013 - 10:00 Uhr

Raumfahrt - NASA`s RASSOR Mond-Bagger Entwicklung

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Engineers Building Hard-working Mining Robot

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Image above: The RASSOR robot climbs a hill during recent testing at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Photo credit: NASA

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After decades of designing and operating robots full of scientific gear to study other worlds, NASA is working on a prototype that leaves the delicate instruments at home in exchange for a sturdy pair of diggers and the reliability and strength to work all day, every day for years.

Think of it as a blue collar robot.

Dubbed RASSOR, for Regolith Advanced Surface Systems Operations Robot and pronounced "razor," the autonomous machine is far from space-ready, but the earliest design has shown engineers the broad strokes of what their lunar soil excavator needs in order to operate reliably.

"We were surprised at what we could do with it," said Rachel Cox, a Kennedy Space Center engineer on the RASSOR team.

The primary challenge for any digging robot operating off Earth is that they have to be light and small enough to fly on a rocket, but heavy enough to operate in gravity lower than that of Earth.

"The lighter you make your robot, the more difficult it is to do this excavating," said A.J. Nick, an engineer on the RASSOR team.

RASSOR tackles this problem by using digging bucket drums at each end of the robot's body that rotate in opposite directions, giving enough traction on one end to let the opposite side dig into the soil.

The team built a weight off-loading harness that simulated working the rover in the moon's 1/6th gravity field.

"We proved that if you engage one bucket, it pulls itself but when you lower the other bucket and rotate it, once they both catch in, it starts digging," Nick said.

Another secret of the drum, inspired by a previous Lockheed Martin design, is the staggered shallow scoops that shave the soil a bit at a time rather than scoop large chunks of it all at once, the way bulldozers do on Earth.

A concept mission for RASSOR would have a 2000 pound payload in addition to the lander, which would be about the size of the Phoenix lander NASA sent to Mars. The RASSOR is expected to weigh about 100 pounds. The remaining payload would be used to process the lunar soil delivered by RASSOR.

The RASSOR looks like a small tank chassis with a drum at either end, each attached with arms. The drums are perhaps the robot's most innovative feature. Because they are mounted on moving arms, they can act almost as legs letting the robot step and climb over obstacles.

The team calls such moves "acrobatics." They point out that the robot can safely drive off the lander and right itself, flip itself over to get unstuck from fine soil and lift the whole body off the ground to let its treads run smoothly to remove built up soil. RASSOR is designed to easily make itself into a Z-shaped position to drop its soil collection into the hopper.

With the drums positioned above the main body of the robot, it stands about 2 1/2 feet tall.

The robot is designed to skim lunar soil and dump it into a device that would pull water and ice out of the dirt and turn their chemicals into rocket fuel or breathing air for astronauts working on the surface. The device would be part of the lander that carries the RASSOR to the moon's surface. So the robot would be the feeder for a lunar resource processing plant, a level of industry never before tried anywhere besides Earth.

Producing water and fuel from the lunar soil would save the tremendous expense of launching the supplies from Earth, since 90 percent of a rocket’s mass normally consists of propellant, which can be made on the moon.

"This has been kind of the dream, the mission they gear this around," Nick said.

The concept could work on Mars, too, since its soil also is suspected of holding large amounts of water ice.

"There are some areas at the poles where they think there's a lot of ice, so you'd be digging in ice," Nick said. "There's other areas where the water is actually 30 centimeters down so you actually have to dig down 30 centimeters and take off the top and that depth is really where you want to start collecting water ice."

But in order to provide enough material to the production platform to create usable amounts of resources, the RASSOR would need to operate about 16 hours a day for five years. It would drive five times faster than the Mars Curiosity rover's top speed of 4 centimeters per second, then shave the moon's surface with a pair of rotating drums and return to the resource processing plant with some 40 pounds of lunar soil for processing.

"Right now, we just want to make sure nothing in our design precludes it from doing that," said Jason Schuler, one of the engineers on the RASSOR project.

Devising a robot for such demands called for numerous innovations, and the team says it has at least one major decision to make before it begins construction of the second generation RASSOR prototype: keep going with tracks like those that tanks use, or switch to wheels.

The tracks showed some flaws in recent testing, mostly relating to the pebbles and sand particles clogging the gears and making the track slip off. The group tried out RASSOR on several surfaces at Kennedy, including the crushed river rock dug up from the crawlerway. The rock, even though pulverized by the gigantic crawlers, is not a great substitute for lunar soil, the engineers said, but as long as the robot handles that matter well, they say they know it will manage whatever the moon soil offers.

"The mobility was definitely a challenge," Schuler said. "You can't take for granted that it's going to work like it does on grass or concrete or even on sand."

Part of the problem, the engineers said, might be the rubber material the tracks are made of, but a lunar version of the robot would use a different material, possibly metallic. For example, the lunar rover the astronauts drove on the surface used wheels made of stainless steel springs rather than rubber.

"We are studying if we want to invest the time and make a more robust track system or if we want to go to wheels," Cox said.

A 25-foot-square area has been cleared in part of the engineers' workshop to make room for a large area of imitation lunar soil that will allow the robot to be tested in material close to what it will face on the moon.

The team already is designing RASSOR 2, a prototype that would be much closer to what NASA could launch in the future. It's expected to begin testing in early 2014.

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Image above: With a pair of drums positioned on arms, the RASSOR can take on a number of different shapes to accomplish its work. Photo credit: NASA

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Image above: The RASSOR can climb over a large obstacle, such as a boulder on the moon. Engineers on Earth used a stepping stool to challenge the robot. Photo credit: NASA

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Quelle: NASA


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Samstag, 26. Januar 2013 - 09:58 Uhr

Astronomie - Gasförmiger Schleier von kosmischen Rätsel angehoben

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V838 Monocerotis experienced a well-documented outburst in 2002. Scientists say this was probably a so-called common envelope event. (NASA / ESA / Hubble Heritage Team)

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They've been a mystery ever since they burst onto the cosmic scene several years ago -- short-lived, red eruptions that burned brighter than novas, yet dimmer than supernovas.

Not only were astronomers hard pressed to explain what caused these newly observed events, they couldn't even agree on what to call them. They've been dubbed variously as supernova imposters, V838 Mon-like events, and intermediate-luminosity red transients, or ILRTs.

Now, scientists say they may have solved the mystery.

In a paper published Thursday in the journal Science, astrophysicists say the events bear the signature of two stars that temporarily orbit so close together that they share a "common envelope," or veil of gases.

In some instances, the close-orbiting stars will merge. But in other cases, scientists theorize, the stars will violently eject the superheated gas that surrounds them. The result, they say, is a "common envelope event."

Such events are believed to take anywhere from a dozen days to a few hundred years to complete, according to lead author Natalia Ivanova, an astrophysicist at the University of Alberta in Canada.

Until recently, common envelope events were theoretical. In the Science study, researchers created a model of what would occur during such an outburst, estimating the time scale, color, heat and speed of ejected matter.

When study authors compared their models with the various ILRTs that have been observed in the last few years, they found that they matched.

Whether such an event takes just days or centuries to play out, either time frame is considered extremely fast in a stellar context.

Because of this, study authors noted, it was surprising they were able to document the events in real time. "The short time scale for such events suggests that we would never directly observe them," authors wrote.

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Quelle: NASA


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Freitag, 25. Januar 2013 - 11:00 Uhr

Luftfahrt - Background zu UAS-Systeme der deutschen Luftwaffe

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Euro-Hawk der Luftwaffe

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Mit dem Non-Stop-Überführungsflug des Euro Hawks wird der Bundeswehr ein Waffensystem in Aussicht gestellt, das nicht nur neue militärische Fähigkeiten ermöglicht, sondern gleich mehrfach für Aufsehen sorgt: Das erste UAS in Deutschland, im deutschen Luftraum. Am 20. Juli gegen Mittag auf der Edwards Air Force Base in Kalifornien gestartet, ist der Euro Hawk am 21.07.2011 gegen 10:08 Uhr morgens in Manching sicher gelandet.
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Wenn gleich mehrere Anlässe für eine Berichterstattung anliegen, so ist es nur konsequent, dass - betreffend der unbemannten fliegenden Systeme (UAS) und ihrer außergewöhnlichen Fähigkeiten - im mehrdeutigen Sinne „Aufklärungsbedarf“ besteht.
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Bodensegmente des UAS Euro Hawk (Quelle: Kompetenzzentrum UAV)
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UAV, UAS und RPA – der Versuch einer Annäherung
Die Luftwaffe benutzt mittlerweile den Begriff „UAV“ immer weniger, da er in einer Bandbreite zwischen Drohne und Satellitenaufklärung auch für Fesselballone wie bewaffnete unbemannte Luftfahrzeuge (Lfz) steht, welche die Luftwaffe selbst nicht unterhält. Die Bezeichnung UAV definiert auch nicht, dass es sich bei den betreffenden Luftfahrzeugen in der Regel um ein Gesamtsystem handelt: Luftfahrzeug und Bodengeräte werden aber häufig „als ein Paket“, ein Ganzes aus Technik, Organisation sowie Kräfteansatz für Personal angeboten. Genau das umschreibt das Gesamt-System mit dem Kürzel UAS, weswegen sich die Luftwaffe entschieden hat, das Kürzel UAV möglichst nicht zu verwenden, sondern UAS für das Gesamtsystem (Unmanned Aircraft System) oder RPA (Remotly Piloted Aircraft), wenn nur das unbemannte, ferngesteuerte Luftfahrzeug gemeint ist. Im Focus steht hier der Einsatz des RPA Heron 1 und des RPA Euro Hawk bei der Luftwaffe.
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Techniker bereiten in Afghanistan den Einsatz einer Heron-I-Beobachtungsdrohne vor. Bald könnten sie auch der Seenotrettung an deutschen Küsten dienen
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Route des Überführungsfluges (Quelle: Euro Hawk GmbH)
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Allein unterwegs – wirklich allein?
Das RPA ist zwar kein bemanntes Luftfahrzeug, aber dennoch wird es von einem Piloten gesteuert, der dazu eigens eine Militärluftfahrzeugführerberechtigung erwerben muss. Nur sitzt dieser Luftfahrzeugführer nicht im Cockpit, sondern unter Umständen hundert bis tausende Kilometer entfernt an einer Steuerkonsole, mit welcher er das Lfz genauso sicher führen kann wie der Pilot im Cockpit eines Kampfflugzeuges oder einer zivilen Passagiermaschine: Technik und Möglichkeiten sind im Prinzip die gleichen, da der Pilot des RPA über eine nicht störbare Internetverbindung die gleichen Instrumentendaten vor sich hat wie der Pilot im Cockpit eines Jets. Die Überführung und der erfolgreiche Einsatz der Zwischenlösung Heron 1 über Afghanistan zeigen, dass eigentlich kein Grund zur Besorgnis besteht: Absprachen müssen zuvor getroffen werden, so dass die jeweilige regionale Flugsicherung immer im Bilde ist, dass das neue Luftfahrzeug auf ihrem Monitor nicht bemannt ist. Und wenn diesbezügliche Vereinbarungen der Flugsicherheit auch beim US-amerikanischen „Global Hawk“ oder „Predator“ funktionieren, dann sollte dies auch für die deutschen UAS im Luftraum über Europa und nach/über Afghanistan keine Außergewöhnlichkeit, sondern lediglich ein Novum darstellen. Die Luftwaffe hat zur Feststellung der Auswirkungen der Integration des Euro Hawks in die bestehende Luftraumstruktur und in Zusammenarbeit mit der Deutschen Flugsicherung, den zuständigen Ministerien sowie der Industrie eine DIN- und EU- verordnungskonforme Sicherheitsbewertung erstellt: Die Nutzung des Euro Hawk im deutschen wie europäischen Luftraum ist insbesondere durch die genaue Risikoanalyse und die erarbeitete Sicherheitskonzeption genauso sicher wie bei einem bemannten Luftfahrzeug.
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Einsatzräume verschiedener Aufklärungssysteme (Quelle: Bundeswehr Journal)
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HALE und MALE
Räumlich zwischen Satelliten einerseits und Drohnen andererseits liegen die „echten“ UAS, die HALE und MALE. Zur Abgrenzung und im Gegensatz zur Drohne benötigen diese eine reguläre Start- und Landebahn, da es sich hier tatsächlich um „Luft-Fahrzeuge“ handelt, die eine gewisse Distanz benötigen, um mit Hilfe ihres mechanischen Antriebs die Schwerkraft zu überwinden. Hinzu kommt, dass der Einsatz von Drohnen zeitlich und räumlich deutlich begrenzter ist als derjenige eines UAS. Das Akronym MALE steht für "Medium Altitude, Long-Endurance" und bezeichnet eine bestimmte Klasse von UAS, die in mittlerer Flughöhe operieren und dabei etwa 24 Stunden kontinuierliche Flugdauer (teilweise auch mehr) erreichen, während die nächst größere Klasse der HALE UAS („High Altitude, Long-Endurance") in einer deutlich größeren Flughöhe (16 bis 20 Kilometer und mehr) ihren Dienst verrichten und dabei eine noch größere Reichweite vorweisen können – sogar länger fliegen, als alle zivilen Luftfahrzeuge, wenn es zum Vergleich kommt. Wenn man den Herstellerangaben der Firma Northrop Grumman Glauben schenken darf, dann hat bereits der Erprobungsträger (Full Scale Demonstrator / FSK) des Euro Hawks Einsätze mit über 30 Stunden Flugdauer geleistet – wohlgemerkt bereits im Erprobungsstadium!
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Euro Hawk über den Wolken (Quelle: Northrop Grumman/Luftwaffe)
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Der Euro Hawk
Der Euro Hawk - in seiner Funktion als HALE UAS für die Luftwaffe - hat dabei einen strategischen, weiträumig angelegten Einsatzzweck: Er ist der Träger des sogenannten „Systems der Signalerfassenden Luftgestützten Weiträumigen Überwachung und Aufklärung - kurz: „SLWÜA“ - und damit eine Plattform aller elektromagnetisch erfassbaren Daten in einem zugewiesenen Aufklärungsraum. Plakativ ausgedrückt: Der Euro Hawk ist das „Ohr der Truppe“, weil er sich auf jede, noch so kleine Funk-Nachricht entlang seiner programmierten Flugroute aufschalten kann. Der Pilot/Operateur kann aber auch jederzeit die Flugroute ändern, sollte das aufgenommene Signal aus dem Bereich Fernmelde- und Elektronischer Aufklärung von militärischem Interesse sein. Falls der Kontakt zum HALE abbrechen sollte, kehrt das Luftfahrzeug entlang einer vorprogrammierten Flugroute automatisch zurück. Da der Euro Hawk mit Hinblick auf seine Ausmaße die Größe einer Boeing 737 erreicht, ist es auch schon aus Gründen der Flugsicherheit geboten, eine diesbezügliche Sicherung eingebaut zu haben: Immerhin hat die fliegende Aufklärungsplattform betankt fast 8 Tonnen Treibstoff an Bord – die sie auch braucht, um einen Aufklärungsauftrag mit einer Reichweite von fast 23.000 Kilometern auszuführen.
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Der Heron 1 über Afghanistan (Quelle: Luftwaffe)
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SLWÜA und SAATEG
Ein MALE UAS wie die Zwischenlösung Heron 1 dagegen dient aufgrund der nicht ganz so hohen Flughöhe und der nicht strategisch ausgelegten Reichweite in erster Linie als taktische Plattform, die in der Nähe eines vorgegebenen Einsatzraumes aufsteigt, um Stunden lang über diesem seine Kreise zu ziehen. Das RPA erfüllt damit eine sehr wichtige Aufgabe für die Truppe: So hat der Heron 1 schon über 27 Stunden am Stück feindliche Truppenbewegungen über dem Einsatzkorridor bildlich verfolgen können, ist quasi das „Auge der Truppe im Einsatz“. Das UAS besteht in diesem Fall aus drei Luftfahrzeugen nebst Bodensegmenten und hat im Einsatzland bereits knapp 5000 Flugstunden erfolgreich absolviert. Die bezeichnete Leistung dieses Einsatzverfahren unter der Abkürzung „SAATEG“ (System zur abbildenden Aufklärung in der Tiefe des Einsatzgebietes) kommt direkt dem Schutz unserer Soldaten in Afghanistan zu Gute und hat daher zur Zeit auch hohe Priorität. Allerdings könnte diese abbildende Aufklärung auch beispielsweise der US-amerikanische Global Hawk leisten, der in seiner technischen Ausführung Pate für den Euro Hawk (SLWÜA) stand. Im Rahmen einer „nationalen Beistellung“ wird die Luftwaffe langfristig noch vier weitere UAS für die abbildende Aufklärung im Rahmen der internationalen AGS Core für die NATO beschaffen – derzeitiger Planungsstand.
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Drei Waffensysteme, ein Auftrag (Quelle:Luftwaffe)
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Diversifizierter Nachrichtengewinn – heute wie morgen
Während der Euro Hawk langfristig von der Luftwaffe übernommen wird - neben den bewährten Aufklärungstornados -, ist eine Entscheidung zur Übernahme eines MALE-Systems noch offen. Zwar ist der Heron 1 bereits im Einsatz, doch konkret wurde er von der Firma Rheinmetall Defence von Israel nur ausgeliehen (daher „Zwischenlösung“), um einen Sofortbedarf zum Schutz der Soldaten im Einsatz schnellstmöglich zu decken. Die Videos des RPA Heron 1, das in mehreren Kilometern Höhe nahezu lautlos seine Kreise zieht, werden von Soldaten aus dem Aufklärungsgeschwader 51 „Immelmann“ (AG 51 „I“) ausgewertet. Die Ära Euro Hawk ist derweil auch längst angelaufen: Sowohl Techniker, als auch Bediener des Euro Hawks, Piloten wie Payloadoperateure, sind seitens AG 51 „I“ ausgebildet. Wenn die Erprobung des Euro Hawks in der WTD 61 in Manching abgeschlossen wird, findet der Euro Hawk ab Frühsommer 2012 beim AG 51 „I“ in Jagel sein bereits „fertiges Nest vor“, da die entsprechenden Hallen für das Aufklärungssystem schon aufgezogen wurden.
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Zukunft in der unbemannten Aufklärung: Der Euro Hawk (Quelle: Northrop Grumman/Luftwaffe)
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Fazit
Mit der Beschaffung der HALE- und MALE-Systeme hat sich die Luftwaffe gut für die Zukunft aufgestellt. Das daraus resultierende Fähigkeitsspektrum erweitert sich auf neue operative Möglichkeiten im Einsatz: Der weitgehende Schutz der Soldaten durch flächendeckende und zeitnahe Information ermöglicht es, neue Strategien im Kampf zu erproben. Auch die strategisch ausgerichtete Nachrichtengewinnung der Bundeswehr wird von den neuen Möglichkeiten der Fernmelde- und elektronischen Aufklärung profitieren. Als Dienstleister für die gesamte Bundeswehr kann die Luftwaffe dann für den jeweiligen Bedarf in der Aufklärung und Nachrichtengewinnung auf verschiedenartige Aufklärungssysteme zurückgreifen, deren Leistungsfähigkeit bereits nach wenigen Monaten in der Erprobung (Euro Hawk auf der Edwards Air Force Base), respektive im Einsatz (Heron 1, US Global Hawk) offenkundig ist.
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Quelle: Luftwaffe

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Freitag, 25. Januar 2013 - 09:40 Uhr

Astronomie - NASA Super-Tiger Ballon 46 Tage-Flug-Rekord

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Flying high over Antarctica, a NASA long duration balloon has broken the record for longest flight by a balloon of its size. 
The record-breaking balloon, carrying the Super Trans-Iron Galactic Element Recorder (Super-TIGER) experiment, has been afloat for 46 days and is on its third orbit around the South Pole. 
"This is an outstanding achievement for NASA's Astrophysics balloon team," said John Grunsfeld, associate administrator for the Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington. "Keeping these huge balloons aloft for such long periods lets us do forefront science that would be difficult to do otherwise." 
Super-TIGER is flying a new instrument for measuring the rare heavy elements among the flux of high-energy cosmic rays bombarding the Earth from elsewhere in our Milky Way Galaxy. The information retrieved from this mission will be used to develop an understanding where these energetic atomic nuclei are produced and how they achieve their very high energies.
Super-TIGER launched Dec. 8, 2012, from the long duration balloon site near McMurdo Station, Antarctica. The massive 39-million cubic foot scientific balloon carries the 6,000 pound Super-TIGER payload -- equivalent to a large sports utility vehicle -- at a float altitude of 127,000 feet, more than four times the altitude of most commercial airliners. Size-wise, more than 200 blimps could fit inside the balloon. 
The Super-TIGER flight shattered the previous record of 41 days and 22 hours, previously set in 2005. The Super-TIGER team plans to fly for another 8-10 days to have it fly closer to McMurdo Station before terminating the flight and recovering the experiment. 
"It has taken eight years, but we are so excited about breaking the long duration balloon record. In addition, it looks like the Super-Tiger flight, which is still collecting science data, will raise the bar by a week or two," said Debora Fairbrother, chief of the Scientific Balloon Program Office at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. 
The long duration balloon site at Willy Field, McMurdo Station, takes advantage of the stratospheric anti-cyclonic wind pattern circulating from east to west around the South Pole. The stratospheric wind circulation combined with the sparsely populated continent of Antarctica allows for long duration balloon flights at altitudes above 100,000 feet. 
The National Science Foundation Office of Polar Programs manages the U.S. Antarctic Program and provides logistic support for all U.S. scientific operations in Antarctica. The NSF Antarctic Support Contractor provides material support to the NASA Balloon Program, including support of launch and recovery operations throughout the Antarctic Campaign.
The principal investigator of the Super-TIGER mission is Dr. Walter Binns of Washington University, St. Louis, Mo.
NASA’s Columbia Scientific Balloon Facility in Palestine, Texas, is responsible for launch operations and command and control of the balloon during flight. 
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Balloon Array for RBSP Relativistic Electron Losses
Scientific Objectives
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The proposed investigation will address the RBSP goal of, "differentiating among competing processes affecting precipitation and loss of radiation particles" by directly measuring precipitation during the RBSP mission. BARREL (Balloon Array for RBSP Relativistic Electron Losses) will simultaneously measure precipitation over 8-10 hours of magnetic local time, and observe precipitation in conjunction with the RBSP spacecraft. We will combine the measurements of precipitation with the RBSP spacecraft measurements of waves and energetic particles, achieving the following specific science objectives during the RBSP mission:
Determine the total electron loss rate during RBSP relativistic electron events by simultaneously measuring the precipitating flux of relativistic electrons over a wide range of local times. The loss rate will be compared with changes in the trapped flux for specific relativistic electron events to help quantify relativistic electron acceleration, and determine whether pitch-angle scattering is occurring in the strong-diffusion limit.
Directly test models of wave-particle interactions in order to differentiate among different loss processes by combining precipitation measurements with simultaneous RBSP in situ wave and energetic particle measurements. We will quantitatively test whether EMIC waves and chorus are responsible for duskside MeV events and microburst precipitation respectively. This will be crucial for validating the models that will be used to calculate losses based only on in-situ RBSP measurements, for example during times when global precipitation measurements are not available.
Determine the relative importance of duskside MeV events and microburst precipitation and their associated precipitation mechanisms for different magnetic activity levels. This will be achieved by comparing the precipitation loss rates due to both types of precipitation. BARREL will detect 120 duskside MeV events, allowing us to produce the first magnetic local time/L-value distribution of these events, which can then be compared to the distribution for microbursts measured by SAMPEX.
Characterize the spatial extent and spatial structure of precipitation, which has been addressed previously only in a statistical sense. The region over which waves scatter electrons is a critical parameter for modeling electron loss timescales. This is particularly important when direct precipitation measurements are not available. BARREL will simultaneously measure precipitation at 5-8 different locations in correlation with wave measurements made by RBSP.
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Quelle: NASA / Dartmouth Balloon Group


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Freitag, 25. Januar 2013 - 09:15 Uhr

Astronomie - Mistkäfer orientieren sich nach Milchstraße

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Even the humble dung beetle, its life spent barely an inch above the ground, pushing balls of waste, steers by starlight.
This unsuspected navigational mechanism, described Jan. 24 in Current Biology, is likely not limited to the Scarabaeus satyrus examined by the researchers.
Peering through compound eyes into the darkness of night, insects around the world may be guided by stars.
'It's just another example of how wonderful the animal kingdom is.'“It’s just another example of how wonderful the animal kingdom is, how the most amazing things have evolved,” said biologist Eric Warrant of Sweden’s Lund University, a co-author on the study.
Warrant has studied insect vision for nearly three decades, specializing in the systems used by dung beetles, that taxonomic superfamily of more than 5,000 species, found on every continent but Antarctica and quietly responsible for processing much of the animal world’s waste.
During the daytime, dung beetles use the sun’s position as a point of reference. At night, they variously orient themselves by the moon’s bright light or, if the disk is obscured by clouds, by patterns of polarized light in faint moonbeams.
Sometimes the moon is not visible at all, however, and dung beetles don’t use landmarks to orient themselves, raising the question of how they steer in these situations.
Warrant and study leader Marie Dacke, also a Lund University biologist, suspected that they used starlight — an obvious cue, but not one often considered relevant to insect navigation. Indeed, only birds, seals and humans have been proven to steer with stars, with humpback whales and southern cricket frogs as other likely candidates.
To test the notion, Dacke and Warrant analyzed the paths of S. satyrus rolling dung balls inside a circular, high-walled arena on a moonless, starry night.
When the arena was uncovered, the beetles moved in straight lines, as is their instinctive wont. When the arena was covered, however, hiding the stars that were their only possible point of reference, the beetles wandered back and forth in circuitous, seemingly confused routes.
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Paths taken by dung beetles able to see the starry sky (left) and with their view of the sky blocked (right). Image: Dacke et al./Current Biology
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“They always roll straight. If they don’t roll straight, something is wrong,” said Warrant. “They have to get away from the dung pile as fast as possible, or the balls they roll will be stolen by other beetles.”
The researchers then repeated the experiment inside the Johannesburg planetarium, with the night sky’s constellations projected upon its domed ceiling. Once again, the beetles aimed true if they could see the stars, and wandered in confusion without them.
Dung beetle eyes are not strong enough to discern individual stars, “but they can see the bright streak of light that the Milky Way forms in the sky,” said Dacke.
Warrant speculates that many other insects, especially those that travel long distances at night, also steer by starlight, an ability that would likely have been favored by natural selection over evolutionary time.
Asked why he studies such an esoteric subject, Warrant noted that the insights gained from dung beetles could have utilitarian benefits — he owns a startup company that uses algorithms derived from nocturnal insect sight to process low-light images — though the simple beauty of fact is a justification in itself.
“It seems fantastic to us,” he said of the dung beetles’ astronomical ability. “It’s nothing we take for granted. It’s something we take for amazing every day we work with them.”
Warrant is also studying a how a certain species of Panamanian bee flies hundreds of feet in pitch-darkness through nighttime jungle, never once bumping into so much as a leaf, finding their hollowed-out stick homes without fail.
“How they do this is still a mystery,” he said.
Quelle:  “Dung Beetles Use the Milky Way for Orientation.” By Marie Dacke, Emily Baird, Marcus Byrne, Clarke H. Scholtz, Eric J. Warrant. Current Biology, 24 January 2013.

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