Blogarchiv

Sonntag, 12. Mai 2013 - 13:45 Uhr

Mars-Curiosity-Chroniken - Curiosity-News Sol 263-270

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This image was taken by Rear Hazcam: Left B (RHAZ_LEFT_B) onboard NASA's Mars rover Curiosity on Sol 263 (2013-05-03 05

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This image was taken by Mastcam: Right (MAST_RIGHT) onboard NASA's Mars rover Curiosity on Sol 267 (2013-05-07 12:06:30 UTC).

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This image was taken by Mastcam: Right (MAST_RIGHT) onboard NASA's Mars rover Curiosity on Sol 267 (2013-05-07 12:10:56 UTC).

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This image was taken by Navcam: Right B (NAV_RIGHT_B) onboard NASA's Mars rover Curiosity on Sol 268 (2013-05-08 16:56:54 UTC).

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This image was taken by Front Hazcam: Right B (FHAZ_RIGHT_B) onboard NASA's Mars rover Curiosity on Sol 268 (2013-05-08 13:33:59 UTC).

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This image was taken by Navcam: Right B (NAV_RIGHT_B) onboard NASA's Mars rover Curiosity on Sol 269 (2013-05-09 11:41:22 UTC).

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This image was taken by Navcam: Right B (NAV_RIGHT_B) onboard NASA's Mars rover Curiosity on Sol 269 (2013-05-09 11:43:05 UTC).

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This image was taken by Navcam: Right B (NAV_RIGHT_B) onboard NASA's Mars rover Curiosity on Sol 269 (2013-05-09 11:55:06 UTC).

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This image was taken by Navcam: Left B (NAV_LEFT_B) onboard NASA's Mars rover Curiosity on Sol 269 (2013-05-09 11:39:47 UTC).

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This image was taken by Navcam: Left B (NAV_LEFT_B) onboard NASA's Mars rover Curiosity on Sol 269 (2013-05-09 11:52:24 UTC).

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This image was taken by Navcam: Left B (NAV_LEFT_B) onboard NASA's Mars rover Curiosity on Sol 269 (2013-05-09 13:33:18 UTC).

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This image was taken by Navcam: Left B (NAV_LEFT_B) onboard NASA's Mars rover Curiosity on Sol 269 (2013-05-09 13:42:03 UTC).

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This image was taken by Front Hazcam: Right B (FHAZ_RIGHT_B) onboard NASA's Mars rover Curiosity on Sol 269 (2013-05-09 09:16:56 UTC).

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NASA's Mars rover Curiosity acquired this image using its Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI), located on the turret at the end of the rover's robotic arm, on May 10, 2013, Sol 270 of the Mars Science Laboratory Mission, at 13:02:32 UTC.

When this image was obtained, the focus motor count position was 13588. This number indicates the internal position of the MAHLI lens at the time the image was acquired. This count also tells whether the dust cover was open or closed. Values between 0 and 6000 mean the dust cover was closed; values between 12500 and 16000 occur when the cover is open. For close-up images, the motor count can in some cases be used to estimate the distance between the MAHLI lens and target. For example, in-focus images obtained with the dust cover open for which the lens was 2.5 cm from the target have a motor count near 15270. If the lens is 5 cm from the target, the motor count is near 14360; if 7 cm, 13980; 10 cm, 13635; 15 cm, 13325; 20 cm, 13155; 25 cm, 13050; 30 cm, 12970. These correspond to image scales, in micrometers per pixel, of about 16, 25, 32, 42, 60, 77, 95, and 113.

Most images acquired by MAHLI in daylight use the sun as an illumination source. However, in some cases, MAHLI's two groups of white light LEDs and one group of longwave ultraviolet (UV) LEDs might be used to illuminate targets. When Curiosity acquired this image, the group 1 white light LEDs were off, the group 2 white light LEDs were off, and the ultraviolet (UV) LEDS were off.

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NASA's Mars rover Curiosity acquired this image using its Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI), located on the turret at the end of the rover's robotic arm, on May 10, 2013, Sol 270 of the Mars Science Laboratory Mission, at 13:12:48 UTC.

When this image was obtained, the focus motor count position was 13747. This number indicates the internal position of the MAHLI lens at the time the image was acquired. This count also tells whether the dust cover was open or closed. Values between 0 and 6000 mean the dust cover was closed; values between 12500 and 16000 occur when the cover is open. For close-up images, the motor count can in some cases be used to estimate the distance between the MAHLI lens and target. For example, in-focus images obtained with the dust cover open for which the lens was 2.5 cm from the target have a motor count near 15270. If the lens is 5 cm from the target, the motor count is near 14360; if 7 cm, 13980; 10 cm, 13635; 15 cm, 13325; 20 cm, 13155; 25 cm, 13050; 30 cm, 12970. These correspond to image scales, in micrometers per pixel, of about 16, 25, 32, 42, 60, 77, 95, and 113.

Most images acquired by MAHLI in daylight use the sun as an illumination source. However, in some cases, MAHLI's two groups of white light LEDs and one group of longwave ultraviolet (UV) LEDs might be used to illuminate targets. When Curiosity acquired this image, the group 1 white light LEDs were off, the group 2 white light LEDs were off, and the ultraviolet (UV) LEDS were off.

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NASA's Mars rover Curiosity acquired this image using its Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI), located on the turret at the end of the rover's robotic arm, on May 10, 2013, Sol 270 of the Mars Science Laboratory Mission, at 13:33:45 UTC.

When this image was obtained, the focus motor count position was 13961. This number indicates the internal position of the MAHLI lens at the time the image was acquired. This count also tells whether the dust cover was open or closed. Values between 0 and 6000 mean the dust cover was closed; values between 12500 and 16000 occur when the cover is open. For close-up images, the motor count can in some cases be used to estimate the distance between the MAHLI lens and target. For example, in-focus images obtained with the dust cover open for which the lens was 2.5 cm from the target have a motor count near 15270. If the lens is 5 cm from the target, the motor count is near 14360; if 7 cm, 13980; 10 cm, 13635; 15 cm, 13325; 20 cm, 13155; 25 cm, 13050; 30 cm, 12970. These correspond to image scales, in micrometers per pixel, of about 16, 25, 32, 42, 60, 77, 95, and 113.

Most images acquired by MAHLI in daylight use the sun as an illumination source. However, in some cases, MAHLI's two groups of white light LEDs and one group of longwave ultraviolet (UV) LEDs might be used to illuminate targets. When Curiosity acquired this image, the group 1 white light LEDs were off, the group 2 white light LEDs were off, and the ultraviolet (UV) LEDS were off.

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This image was taken by Navcam: Right B (NAV_RIGHT_B) onboard NASA's Mars rover Curiosity on Sol 270 (2013-05-10 09:42:28 UTC).

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This image was taken by Front Hazcam: Right B (FHAZ_RIGHT_B) onboard NASA's Mars rover Curiosity on Sol 270 (2013-05-10 13:24:10 UTC).

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Fotos: NASA


2582 Views

Samstag, 11. Mai 2013 - 20:15 Uhr

Raumfahrt - Ammoniak-Tank-Leck an ISS + EVA-Reparatur

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8.45 MESZ

The International Space Station's port-six solar arrays and cooling radiator are highlighted in this graphic showing the worksite for an earlier leak bypass spacewalk. (Credit: NASA)

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Flight controllers are monitoring an ammonia coolant leak in the International Space Station's left-side power truss, NASA officials said late Thursday.

The leak, apparently located in the outboard port-six (P6) solar array truss segment, was reported by the station crew around 11:30 a.m. EDT (GMT-4). Downlinked video, sources said, showed a stream of white flakes dissipating in the vacuum of space.

NASA officials said the crew was not in any danger.
The leak is in the system used to cool electronics associated with solar array power channel 2B, one of eight fed by the station's huge solar panels. Ammonia flowing through a large radiator is used to carry away heat generated by the array's batteries and electrical systems.

The coolant system requires at least 40 pounds of ammonia to operate normally. Based on the observed leak rate, NASA said in a web update, the channel 2B coolant loop could drop below that level and shut down within 48 hours if nothing is done to resolve it.

In that case, the station's six-man crew would be forced to reconfigure the station's coolant loops, using a different loop to cool at least some of the channel 2B systems.

While the crew would lose redundancy in the cooling system, flight controllers do not believe any major systems would have to be shut down to reduce cooling requirements.

The station is equipped with spare parts for the coolant system and the U.S. astronauts are trained for possible spacewalk repair jobs. But as of this writing, it is not known whether a spacewalk might be required at some point or whether some other repair option might be implemented.

But a spacewalk would require two U.S. astronauts. At present, two U.S. astronauts, a Canadian flier and three Russians are aboard the outpost. But NASA astronaut Thomas Marshburn, Canadian space station commander Chris Hadfield and cosmonaut Roman Romanenko are scheduled to return to Earth late Monday U.S. time aboard a Russian Soyuz spacecraft.

"We don’t see anything technically that we can't overcome," astronaut Doug Wheelock radioed the crew from Houston. "But we are still getting our arms fully around that issue."

This is not the first time a leak has been observed in the channel 2B system.

A slight 1.5-pound-per-year leak in the channel 2B cooling system was first noticed in 2007. During a 2011 shuttle visit, two spacewalking astronauts added eight pounds of ammonia to the reservoir to boost it back up to a full 55 pounds. The plan at that time was to top off the system every four years or so to "feed the leak," replacing the lost ammonia as required.

But over the next few months, engineers saw the leak rate suddenly quadruple, either because something changed at the original leak site or, more likely, because another leak developed elsewhere in the system.

On the assumption that the leak was in the solar array 2B coolant radiator, astronauts Sunita Williams and Akihiko Hoshide staged a spacewalk Nov. 1, 2012, to reconfigure coolant lines and to deploy a spare radiator, isolating the section of the loop where the leak was suspected.

The system operated normally until Thursday when the crew reported the visible leak. Whether the latest problem is related to the earlier issue is not yet known.

The lion's share of the International Space Station's electrical power comes from four sets of dual-panel solar arrays, two on the right side of a 357-foot-long truss and two on the left side.

Each set of solar arrays features two 115-foot-long panels that extended in opposite directions. The Russian segment of the station taps into the U.S. power grid to supplement electricity generated by two relatively small solar panels on the Zvezda command module.

The two U.S. arrays at the far left end of the station's integrated power truss -- the port six, or P6 arrays -- feed power to electrical channels 2B and 4B. The P6 set of arrays, like its three counterparts, routes power from the solar panels directly into the station's electrical grid during daylight passes, at the same time charging dual sets of batteries that take over during orbital darkness.

Each power channel generates between 150 and 160 volts of direct current, but downstream equipment near the center of the power truss -- equipment that uses a separate cooling system -- steps that down to 125 volts DC for use by the station's internal systems.

To keep the power generation components cool, each of the four sets of arrays uses two independent coolant loops that circulate ammonia through cold plates to carry heat out to a single shared radiator that extends from each module. The photo-voltaic radiator weighs 1,650 pounds and is made up of seven panels measuring 6 feet by 11 feet.

The space station can operate without the full complement of cooling channels, but the total loss of a coolant loop would require a significant reconfiguration to prevent electrical systems on the affected loop from overheating.

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Quelle: NASA, CBS

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Update: 13.00 MESZ

The crew of the International Space Station (ISS) may soon take an unscheduled spacewalk to fix a coolant leak in its power system.

The ammonia coolant, which is currently leaking into space, is used to dissipate heat from the station's solar panels. Each of the four panels has an independent coolant system, which means the station will not be left without power if the problem persists.

NASA and its Russian counterpart Roscosmos are discussing a possible emergency spacewalk that the US crewmembers may have to take to fix the leak.

“They [NASA] have a serious problem, really serious. In situations like these we must make concessions as a partner,” Russia's ISS mission chief Vladimir Solovyev explained.

The problem does not pose a threat to the safety of the ISS crewmembers, NASA assured.

The ISS had a similar problem in November, which also required an emergency spacewalk to solve. The coolant was rerouted to a backup loop that had been in use in the early years of ISS development.

The loop affected this time is the same one that caused trouble last year, but it is not yet clear whether the location of the leak is the same.

The leak was discovered just days before the Expedition 35 crew is scheduled to return to Earth.

Quelle: Rusia Today

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Update: 22.30 MESZ

Crew Preparing for Possible Spacewalk Saturday

Following Thursday's identification of an ammonia coolant leak outside the International Space Station, the Expedition 35 crew Friday began preparing for a possible spacewalk Saturday. Mission managers are discussing the information that was gathered overnight about the leak on the far left-side of the station's truss structure, called the P6 with P standing for port. A final decision on whether to go forward with a spacewalk is not expected until late tonight.

The crew is not in danger, and the station continues to operate normally otherwise. Work is underway to reroute power channels to maintain full operation of the systems normally controlled by the solar array that is cooled by the suspect loop.

Expedition 35's Chris Cassidy and Tom Marshburn began preparing for the possible spacewalk to inspect the area it appears the leak is originating from, and potentially make repairs to the leaking ammonia cooling loop. Station managers are meeting this morning and will meet again tonight to discuss procedures and timeline work for a spacewalk, if approved.

Working in the Quest airlock, astronauts Cassidy and Marshburn checked out the U.S. spacesuits they would wear if a spacewalk is approved, and Expedition 35 Commander Chris Hadfield began preparing to asssist as the “intravehicular” crewmember, or spacewalk choreographer.

Cassidy and Marshburn have each conducted three spacewalks, all on the STS-127 mission to the ISS in 2009. They collaborated on two of those spacewalks.

Late Thursday morning, the Expedition 35 crew reported seeing small white flakes floating away from an area of the station’s P6 truss structure. The crew used handheld cameras and Mission Control used external television cameras to gain additional imagery in an attempt to narrow down the leak’s location. The crew’s reports, along with imagery and data received by flight controllers in Mission Control in Houston, confirmed that the rate of the ammonia leaking from this section of the cooling system increased.

Ammonia is used to cool the station’s power channels that provide electricity to station systems. Each solar array has its own independent cooling loop. This ammonia loop is the same one that spacewalkers attempted to troubleshoot a leak on during a spacewalk on Nov. 1, 2012. It is not yet known whether this increased ammonia flow is from the same leak, which at the time was not visible. It is anticipated that the 2B power channel, which is one of eight power channels to supply electricity for station systems, will be depleted of ammonia coolant by late this morning and will be shut down.
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Quelle: NASA

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Update: 11.05.2013

Expedition 35 crew members Chris Cassidy and Tom Marshburn will go outside the station at around 8:15 a.m. EDT Saturday to inspect and possibly replace a pump controller box suspected of leaking ammonia coolant. The device contains the mechanical systems that drive the cooling functions for the station's port truss.

Live spacewalk coverage begins at 7 a.m. EDT on NASA TV.

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Frams: NASA-TV-LIVE

 

Spacewalking astronauts successfully replaced a 260-pound pump controller box on one of the electrical power generating units of the International Space Station Saturday morning, but won't know for some time if that fixed a leak of ammonia coolant. That leak had caused ground controllers to shut down the power unit linked to the leaking cooling loop, but the station itself is in no danger. It has enough power to operate normally from seven other power units. 

Flight Engineers Chris Cassidy and Tom Marshburn completed their spacewalk at 1:14 p.m. CDT Saturday, five-and-a-half hours after they left the station's airlock. The walk meant moving some 150 feet away from the airlock, and the entire event was televised live on NASA TV. A press briefing is scheduled at 3:30 p.m. CDT.

The leak was found Thursday on the cooling unit mounted to one of the trusses that extend from the station and hold its solar arrays. Astronauts observed white flakes of ammonia like snowflakes floating from the area. The pump controller was weightless at the 230 mile altitude of the station.


3112 Views

Samstag, 11. Mai 2013 - 11:49 Uhr

Mars-Curiosity-Chroniken - Curiosity vor zweiter Bohrung

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NASA's Mars rover Curiosity will perform its second-ever drilling operation soon, boring into a knobby section of bedrock dubbed "Cumberland," space agency officials announced Thursday (May 9).

Cumberland lies just 9 feet (2.75 meters) west of the rock called "John Klein," where Curiosity drilled a 2.5-inch-deep (6.4 centimeters) hole back in February. The rover's analysis of John Klein samples allowed mission scientists to conclude that Mars was capable of supporting microbial life billions of years ago.

The main purpose of drilling a second hole nearby is to confirm this big discovery, researchers said.

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This patch of bedrock, called "Cumberland," has been selected as the second target for drilling by NASA's Mars rover Curiosity. Image released May 9, 2013.
CREDIT: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

Quelle: NASA

 

2944 Views

Samstag, 11. Mai 2013 - 11:40 Uhr

Astronomie - 'Ring of fire' über Australien

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9-05.2013

An eclipse of the sun will occur on Thursday and you can watch it live online, right here.

Ideally you would go outside with a pair of very dark sun-gazing glasses, or a cardboard box with a pinhole in it, and see this event for yourself, but unless you live in Australia, Papau New Guinea, or the Solomon Islands, you are out of luck.

The path of this eclipse sweeps inconveniently through some of the most remote regions on Earth.

Luckily, the folks at Slooh Space Camera, a website that live streams celestial events, will have a telescope set up in Australia and will be streaming a live feed of the eclipse online.

The live video feed will begin at 2:30 PDT, and will be embedded in this post at that time.

Thursday's eclipse is a special one. The moon is near apogee--the point in its orbit when it is furthest from Earth. Because it is further away than usual, it also appears smaller in the sky than usual.

So Thursday afternoon, when the Earth, moon and sun line up so that the moon is directly between the Earth and  sun, the moon will actually appear too small to cover the sun entirely.

Instead, the moon will block out the center of the sun, leaving a round halo of sunlight called an annulus or "ring of fire." It is kind of like what happens when you put a penny on top of a nickel.

The Slooh feed should include video of the full "ring of fire" said Patrick Paolucci, president of Slooh, in an email to the Los Angeles Times. "It really depends on the weather and such, but we should," he wrote.

The eclipse as seen from Australia will last for just a few minutes, but it should be beautifull.

And for those of you wondering why this same part of the world got to see a full eclipse last November as well, it turns out it is just very unusual, highly unlikely, very good luck.

LIVE zu sehen hier: http://events.slooh.com/

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Sunrise Over the South Pacific Ocean

The sun is about to come up over the South Pacific Ocean in this colorful scene photographed by one of the Expedition 35 crew members aboard the Earth-orbiting International Space Station between 4 and 5 a.m. local time, May 5, 2013.

The space station was at a point above Earth located at 27.4 degrees south latitude and 110.1 degrees west longitude, a few hundred miles east of Easter Island.

Quelle: NASA

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Update: 10.05.2013

SoFi über Australien

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Update: 11.05.2013

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NASA's Terra satellite captured this shot of the moon's shadow darkening the region northeast of Australia, including the Solomon Islands, during the "ring of fire" solar eclipse on May 9, 2013.
CREDIT: NASA/Goddard/MODIS Rapid Response Team

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A NASA Earth-observing satellite has captured the moon's shadow darkening a patch of the Pacific Ocean during Thursday's stunning "ring of fire" solar eclipse.

Bright white clouds fade into darkness northeast of Australia in the solar eclipse image, which was taken by NASA's Terra spacecraft at 7:30 p.m. EDT (2330 GMT) Thursday (May 9), space agency officials said.

The first solar eclipse of 2013 turned the sun into a dazzling ring of fire Friday (May 10) for observers in northern Australia, eastern Papua New Guinea and other parts of the Pacific. Because this region is on the other side of the International Dateline, it was Thursday (May 9) in the U.S. during the eclipse. The moon passed directly in front of our star but didn't block it out completely, leaving a bright ring of light around the edges.


3202 Views

Samstag, 11. Mai 2013 - 11:30 Uhr

Raumfahrt - Buzz Aldrin: die Argumente für eine Mars-Mission

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Sixty-six years after the Wright Brothers made history at Kitty Hawk, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin stepped onto the surface of the moon. From that pivotal moment on, Aldrin has advocated for continued and expanded space exploration. Now, he argues that 66 years after the Eagle landed at Tranquility Base, Americans should establish a presence on Mars.

And not just for a single trip or a moment in history. In Mission to Mars: My Vision for Space Exploration, Aldrin calls for systematic investment to establish a cycle of transportation and sustained, permanent settlements on the Red Planet. The storied astronaut talks with NPR's Neal Conan about why a presence on Mars is worth the investment.

Interview Highlights

On why space exploration is important, despite a budget-conscious political environment

 

"I think we're talking ourselves into this gloomsday period. What we need is leadership willing to look out into the future, and not, 'What's in it for me right now?' There's just too much of this ... groveling around, trying to get political favors for a particular district and not looking 20, 30 years into the middle of the 21st century.

"We have great opportunities in front of us, and I think we haven't done all that well in the past. And because of that, not only am I putting forth my own plan for the future, but I'm forming a foundation that should look at the evolution of space policy. Since the very beginnings of rocket travel, we've had a policy of some sort coming out of the executive branch, and then the legislative branch decides maybe how to oversee that, diddle around with it a little here or there. And in the process, they bring home the bacon to whatever constituency they represent.

"Not that that isn't a good idea. You certainly elect someone, and you expect them to do good things for the people who elected them. But if it's carried to an extreme, we are sacrificing the long-range objectives of a nation just so that somebody can keep jobs going and working on the same thing instead of new, innovative ideas that help to make us true leaders in space in the 21st century.

"There's no doubt who was a leader in space after the Apollo Program. Nobody came close to us. And our education system, in science, technology, engineering and math, was at the top of the world. It's no longer there. We're descending rather rapidly."

Why American's space exploration endeavors should be multinational

"We should've asked China to be a portion of the space station. We should've worked out ways that we can ... just give away the technology that we have that puts things up into space, with cooperation up above the atmosphere that's needed to help each other.

"We have a lot of information, a lot of things we can do without great expenditures of funds to help the other nations in their quest for prestige by putting their people on the moon. That will ... enable us to practice on the big island of Hawaii how you put things together, then do it at the moon for the other nations. Then we now know how to do it on Mars, from the moon of Mars. And when we get that done, we have a permanent base and we send people [there] with cycling orbits for permanent occupancy.

"The leader of a nation that is able to make a commitment to do that is going to go down in history for hundreds of thousands of years."

On civilian demand for space tourism

"Some people seem to think [there's sufficient interest in it]. Sir Richard Branson does — $200,000 apiece. He's got a lot of people signed up. There are other people that have progressive ways [to] do the same thing. There's an organization called Golden Spike that is going to land people on the moon.

"Now, I was very skeptical when I heard about that. What are you going to use to get there? How are you going to get there? Well ... you're not going to find that many billionaires, but if I understand what they do, they're interested in the countries that do not have a space program. They would like to have a role model that that country can afford to send to the surface of the moon. ...

"You may run out of countries that want to finance their people to go, but it's not the first business plan that has been conceived that looks like it ought to work, and sometimes it does, sometimes it doesn't. I don't see the government wanting to do that. We already did that with big rockets and landers that landed people on the moon, and we ruled space at that time."

On how to power a Mars station


"Right now, we have an emphasis — maybe an overemphasis — on photovoltaic. There's a system of solar dynamic which reflects the incoming rays of the sun on a specific point that gets very hot. We circulate fluid through that point or focal point, and we use the coldness of ... reflectors that go in the opposite direction of the sun ...

"And if I could explain it, I'm not sure I or you would understand, but it does work to produce electricity. And I believe, from what I'm told and what people who are developing these things [have said], this will become much more efficient for supplying power as long as you're in a close vicinity of the sun.

"Now, certainly Mars is 1 1/2 times further away from the sun than the Earth is. It may turn out that nuclear energy is needed. The way to get these supplies to the base on Mars is to assemble them robotically from a position close by. Now, the reason I say that is ... over 10 years ago, we had two spacecraft, Spirit and Opportunity, on opposite sides of Mars. They were supposed to last 90 days. The first one kind of stopped moving after five years, and the other one is still operating.

"Now, the program manager, Steve Squyres, of these two programs has said, ... that what those two have done in five years ... could have been done in one week if we had human intelligence in orbit around Mars."

Astronaut Buzz Aldrin walks on the surface of the moon during the Apollo 11 extravehicular activity on July 20, 1969.

Quelle: npr


3277 Views

Freitag, 10. Mai 2013 - 15:54 Uhr

Astronomie - Meteorit schlägt bei Outapi / Namibia ein

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Nacht wird taghell: Meteorit schlägt bei Outapi ein

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In der Nähe von Outapi ist in der Nacht zum Donnerstag offenbar ein Meteorit eingeschlagen. Diese Meldung auf Hitradio Namibia wurde gestern auf AZ-Nachfrage von Olaff Marais von der Farm Epaka bestätigt, der sich vor Ort befand. Seinen Angaben zufolge ist der Meteorit etwa zehn Kilometer südwestlich von Outapi (Omusati-Region) eingeschlagen. Einer seiner Farmarbeiter habe das Schauspiel beobachtet, als gegen 4 Uhr der Nachthimmel taghell wurde sowie ein lautes Dröhnen und danach ein Knall zu hören waren. Die Einschlagstelle – die sich ca. 100 Meter von einer Siedlung befinde – sei schnell gefunden worden, denn „das ist der einzige Stein im Umfeld von vielen Meilen“, so Marais zur AZ. Seinen Angaben zufolge habe der Meteorit die Größe eines Tennisballs. Die Polizei war laut Marais mit rund 20 Beamten vor Ort und hat die Einschlagstelle abgesperrt, um die Schaulustigen auf Distanz zu halten. Fotos: Olaff Marais

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Quelle: Allgemeine Zeitung Namibia


3358 Views

Freitag, 10. Mai 2013 - 10:30 Uhr

Luftfahrt - Ufo-Effekt bei Nachtflug von Solar-Impulse über Phoenix/Arizona

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Frams: Video Solar Impulse


3414 Views

Freitag, 10. Mai 2013 - 08:24 Uhr

Astronomie - Chemische Fingerabdrücke von Mondgestein beweisen beide das Erde und Mond bereits ihr Wasser bei Entstehung hatten.

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Analyses of rocks brought back by the Apollo programme show that the Moon's water (appearing in blue in this infrared lunar map) shares a common origin with water on Earth.

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Measurements of the chemical composition of Moon rocks suggest that Earth was born with its water already present, rather than having the precious liquid delivered several hundred million years later by comets or asteroids. And in finding a common origin for the water on Earth and the Moon, the results highlight a puzzle over the leading theory for the formation of Earth's satellite.

Geochemist Alberto Saal of Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island, and his colleagues built on recent studies, including their own, that have revealed a substantial amount of water in the Moon’s interior. To find the source of the water, the team relied on a chemical fingerprint — the relative amounts of hydrogen and deuterium, a hydrogen isotope that has one extra neutron in its atomic nucleus.

In investigating primitive lunar samples carried to Earth by the Apollo 15 and 17 missions, the team found a deuterium-to-hydrogen ratio that matched the isotopic ratio in carbonaceous chondrites, which include some of the most primitive meteorites known. The ratio is also similar to that found in water on Earth. The findings “suggest a common source of water for both objects” and provide “a very important new constraint for models of Earth and Moon origin”, says planetary scientist Robin Canup of the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colorado, who was not part of the study.

According to the leading theory of how the Moon formed, a Mars-sized body struck Earth some 4.5 billion years ago, generating a disk of debris that coalesced into the Moon. The simplest explanation for the latest findings, the team says, is that Earth already contained water before the collision. The water could not have been delivered after this because the Moon quickly built up a solid, impenetrable shell — the lithosphere — before meteorites could have delivered enough water to account for the supply in the lunar interior, the researchers argue. Their results are reported today in Science1.

 

That still leaves a potential gap in the Moon-forming model. Some planetary scientists had reasoned that the heat generated by the collision would have boiled away any water that Earth might have transferred to the coalescing Moon. The findings “are screaming that there’s something about the Moon's formation that we’re not quite grasping”, says study co-author Erik Hauri of the Carnegie Institution for Science in Washington DC.

Theorists have already suggested several ways out of the apparent dilemma. Moreover, the combination of Earth’s surface gravity and the rapid coalescing of the Moon, which occurred within only about 100 years, would have made it difficult for most of the water to vaporize, Canup contends.

Apart from focusing attention on the Moon’s formation, the isotopic match between Earth and lunar water and carbonaceous chondrites supports a startling theory about the evolution of the inner Solar System, Saal says. According to this theory2, known as the 'grand tack' model, the youthful planet Jupiter temporarely migrated into the inner Solar System, destabilizing the orbits of water-rich carbonaceous chondrites, which originally resided farther out than the birthplace of Jupiter and Saturn. As a result, some of the bodies could have fallen inwards and become part of the raw material for making Earth and its neighbours.

The isotopic measurements “add strong support” to the idea that those asteroids were the source of Earth's water, says Sean Raymond of the Astrophysical Laboratory in Bordeaux, France, a co-author of the grand tack model. The results also add credence to models of planet formation around other stars in which carbonaceous chondrites are the source of water, he adds.

Quelle: Nature


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Donnerstag, 9. Mai 2013 - 17:17 Uhr

Raumfahrt - Space Exploration Technologies Corporation, oder SpaceX, hat einen Drei-Jahres-Miet-Vertrag für Land und Anlagen am Spaceport America

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Governor Susana Martinez today announced that Space Exploration Technologies Corporation, or SpaceX, has signed a three-year agreement to lease land and facilities at Spaceport America to conduct the next phase of flight testing for its reusable rocket program. The company will be a new tenant at Spaceport America, the state-owned commercial launch site located in southern New Mexico.

“I am thrilled that SpaceX has chosen to make New Mexico its home, bringing their revolutionary “Grasshopper” rocket and new jobs with them,” Governor Martinez said today. “We’ve done a lot of work to level the playing field so we can compete in the space industry. This is just the first step in broadening the base out at the Spaceport and securing even more tenants. I’m proud to welcome SpaceX to New Mexico.”

SpaceX has completed its first series of successful, low-altitude tests of the “Grasshopper” vehicle in McGregor, Texas and is proceeding to the next phase of development that includes testing in New Mexico. With Grasshopper, SpaceX engineers are creating technology that will enable a rocket to return to the launch pad intact for a vertical landing, rather than burning up upon reentry in the Earth’s atmosphere.

SpaceX President and COO Gwynne Shotwell said, “Spaceport America offers us the physical and regulatory landscape needed to complete the next phase of Grasshopper testing. We are pleased to expand our reusable rocket development infrastructure to New Mexico.”

The New Mexico Spaceport Authority has been readying the world’s first purpose-built, commercial spaceport specifically for leading-edge programs like Grasshopper.

Christine Anderson, the NMSA Executive Director, said, “We are excited that SpaceX is coming to Spaceport America, where our first-class service will empower them to focus their full attention on their mission.”

 

SpaceX manufactures, and launches the world’s most advanced rockets and spacecraft. The company was founded in 2002 by Elon Musk to revolutionize space transportation, with the ultimate goal of enabling people to live on other planets. Today, SpaceX is advancing the boundaries of space technology through its Falcon launch vehicles and Dragon spacecraft. SpaceX is a private company owned by management and employees, with minority investments from Founders Fund, Draper Fisher Jurvetson, and Valor Equity Partners. The company has more than 3,000 employees in California, Texas, Washington D.C., and Florida.


Spaceport America is the first purpose-built, commercial spaceport in the world. The launch complex has been providing commercial vertical launch services since 2006, and is situated on 18,000 acres adjacent to the U.S. Army White Sands Missile Range in southern New Mexico. Virgin Galactic is the spaceport's anchor tenant.

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Donnerstag, 9. Mai 2013 - 17:00 Uhr

Raumfahrt - Northrop Grumman schließt Golden Spike Lunar Lander Studie ab

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An early conceptual design for a lunar landing craft, envisaged by the Golden Spike Company. With Northrop Grumman’s involvement, the start-up company can boast a partnership with the only organization ever to successfully develop and fly a piloted lunar landing vehicle. Image Credit: Golden Spike Company

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More than four decades since its last human-piloted craft touched down on the Moon, Northrop Grumman has concluded a feasibility study of a new commercial landing vehicle for the Golden Spike Company. It includes a novel, low-mass ascent stage concept, dubbed “Pumpkin”, and centers on the need to be packaged within a 5-meter payload fairing envelope, as well as offering insights into the kind of propellants necessary to accomplish Golden Spike’s goal of bootprints on the lunar surface by 2020.

Unveiled to the world last December, after several months of excited speculation, Golden Spike was founded by Alan Stern, associate administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in 2007-2008 and principal investigator for the agency’s New Horizons voyage to Pluto, and includes former Apollo flight director Gerry Griffin as chair of the board. It seeks to develop a capability to send astronauts from U.S. and foreign space agencies, corporations, governments and even private individuals on two-person expeditions to the Moon, at a cost of $1.5 billion. Within weeks, in January 2013, Golden Spike announced that it had contracted with Northrop Grumman to begin lunar lander design studies.

It was a notable move, for the Falls Church, Va.-based aerospace and defense contractor is the only organization in the world to have successfully developed and flown a piloted craft to the surface of the Moon. Its Apollo lunar module ferried six pairs of astronauts to the dusty surface of our closest celestial neighbor between July 1969 and December 1972. The four-month study for Golden Spike, announced earlier this week, included a novel, low-mass ascent stage concept – dubbed “Pumpkin” – and was designed around the need to fit within a 5-meter-diameter payload fairing envelope. It also revealed “many more options for all cryogenic propellants, compared with storable propellants”, but noted that whilst cryogens have higher performance, they are “more difficult to contain for the mission durations intended by Golden Spike”.

Writing earlier this year, NewSpace Watch explained that Northrop Grumman’s contracted tasks included “reviewing requirements and synthesizing a set of study ground rules and assumptions emphasizing system reliability, automated/ground command operability and affordability, establishing velocity budgets from and to low lunar orbit for pragmatic lunar landing sites,” as well as “exploring a wide variety of Lunar Lander concept options.” The last task will involve the reusability and autonomy of the landing system’s architecture, together with requirements for staging, propellants, and rocket engine design. Northrop Grumman’s work is expected to provide the technical foundations necessary for a fully-fledged industry contract competition to actually build the landing craft itself, said Golden Spike’s Lunar Lander Systems Study Engineering Chief James R. French.

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This Northrop Grumman figure shows a preliminary sketch of the minimalist ascent pod with surface habitat concept packaged in a 5-meter payload fairing. The pressurized compartments and propellant tanks easily fit in the available space. Ascent thrusters are mounted on outriggers that are folded up to fit in the payload fairing and the landing gear is folded inward. Also shown are initial side and top views of the ascent pod “Pumpkin” and the surface habitat with crew members in pressure suits. Image Credit: Northrop Grumman

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“This concept has significant operability advantages for surface exploration, since the surface habitat can be segmented to isolate lunar dust and provides more space for living and for selecting the most valuable lunar return samples,” said Martin McLaughlin, Northrop Grumman’s study lead. “We affectionately call the minimalist ascent pod “Pumpkin”, because of its spherical shape and because it returns the crew to orbit after the surface-exploration party.” Golden Spike President and CEO Alan Stern noted that Northrop Grumman’s results were “very exciting and will help enable a new wave of human lunar exploration that Golden Spike plans”.

Yet the aspirations of this start-up company remain a source of excitement and scepticism, particularly since one of its earliest moves was to initiate a crowd-sourcing campaign and raise monies to the value of $240,000 – or one dollar for each mile in the journey to the Moon. Praised by some as a shrewd move to kick-start this audacious venture, it was criticized by others as an indicator that Golden Spike is already struggling to build its early financial base.

However, a perusal of Golden Spike’s website makes it difficult not to see a trace of the frustration felt by many space enthusiasts, engineers and visionaries over government reluctance to commit the dollars and political will to return humans to our closest celestial neighbor in over four decades. Mount a Lunar Expedition with Us…It’s the 21st Century, the website proclaims, but such pledges will remain hollow if insufficient markets exist to support Golden Spike’s plans. The company believes that upwards of 15-20 countries, foreign space agencies, corporations, and private individuals would be willing to sign up to two-person lunar surface missions for exploration or adventure between 2020-2030. Costs are expected to be kept down by utilizing current launch vehicles and hardware built by U.S. companies, leaving Golden Spike with the task of constructing the lunar lander, surface experiments, and the suits required for lengthy stays on the surface. By avoiding the desire to design everything from scratch, the company expects to run its operation through what it describes as a “maximally pragmatic” strategy.

Named in honor of the original Golden Spike, driven by Leland Stanford at Promontory Summit, Utah, in May 1869, to join the rails of the First Transcontinental Railroad across the United States, the company provoked a flurry of comment, even in the months preceding its formal announcement of plans at the National Press Club on 6 December last year. Speculation of a “privately circulated proposal” had been highlighted by Florida Today as early as May 2012, following a conference in Hawaii, which noted that one of Golden Spike’s fundamental goals was the establishment of “a reliable Cislunar Superhighway.” Scientific American, writing about the company in early June, described its goal with a single word: “Audacious.”

At present, the Obama administration and NASA have formally distanced themselves from a human return to the lunar surface. The first piloted voyage of the Orion spacecraft – known as “Exploration Mission-2” (EM-2) – was until recently slated to perform an Apollo 8-type circumlunar jaunt, but has now been retasked to support NASA’s ambitious asteroid-capture mission. Launch is officially targeted for late 2021. Further downstream are a series of nebulous “Design Reference Missions,” whose objectives vary from the emplacement of an Exploration Gateway at one of the two Earth-Moon Libration (EML) points to low lunar orbit and surface expeditions. None of these goals are realistically expected until the mid-2020s at the earliest.

Although Golden Spike at present seems to have a relatively modest financial backing, its strategy for what it describes as “monetizing these expeditions” is very much based on the anticipated consumer demand for lunar surface access. This includes not only the sales of the expeditions themselves, but also public participation and membership, media rights, advertising and brand licensing, mission naming rights and merchandising, sale of flown items and returned lunar samples, and the release of related entertainment products.

The company’s list of associated staff members is impressive in its scope: as well as Stern and Griffin, the board includes space business leaders and entrepreneurs such as Cindy Conrad and Esther Dyson, aerospace attorney Doug Griffith, spacecraft systems engineer David Lackner, orbital mechanics and mission design expert Michel Loucks, life-support systems expert Taber MacCallum, and former SpaceX Dragon Development Program Manager Max Vozoff. Affiliated with the company are former Speaker of the House of Representatives Newt Gingrich, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Bobby Block, former Shuttle commander Jeff Ashby, former Space Shuttle Program Manager Wayne Hale, and renowned planetary scientist Bill McKinnon.

The total cost of the effort to plant the first boots on the Moon in almost 50 years is anticipated to be around $7-8 billion, and although Golden Spike has yet to settle on a launch vehicle of choice, the website NASASpaceflight.com noted that SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy and United Launch Alliance’s Atlas V may be strong contenders. Certainly, ULA was one of the nine partners listed by Golden Spike at their 6 December unveiling conference.

“Our vision,” explained Griffin last December, “is to create a reliable and affordable U.S.-based commercial human lunar transportation system that enables the exploration of the Moon by humans from virtually any nation, corporation, or individual wishing to accomplish objectives on the Moon—including activities based around science, around business, around national prestige, and personal accomplishment.”

Golden Spike’s website is currently sparse in terms of detail, other than a handful of videos and infographics, but it appears that the company aims to stage as many as three unmanned test flights to the lunar surface, possibly as early as 2017, before the first piloted landing. Each mission will feature a two-launch architecture—the first pre-positioning the lander in lunar orbit and the second despatching a two-member crew to meet it. Destinations were described by Alan Stern as “customer-driven,” which lends credence to the suggestion that Golden Spike may cater to organizations keen to exploit the Moon’s mineralogical wealth, as well as for science.


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