Blogarchiv

Sonntag, 26. Mai 2013 - 11:17 Uhr

Raumfahrt - Im Focus von Cassini

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Goodbye to Rhea

On its fourth and final targeted flyby of Rhea, the Cassini spacecraft provided this stunning view of the ancient and heavily cratered surface. Billions of years of impacts have sculpted Rhea's surface into the form we see today.

With a diameter of 949 miles (1,528 kilometers) Rhea is Saturn's second-largest moon.

This view is centered on terrain at 33 degrees north latitude, 358 degrees west longitude. The image was taken in visible light with the Cassini spacecraft narrow-angle camera on March 9, 2013.

The view was acquired at a distance of approximately 2,280 miles (3,670 kilometers) from Rhea and at a Sun-Rhea-spacecraft, or phase, angle of 92 degrees. Image scale is 72 feet (22 meters) per pixel.

The Cassini-Huygens mission is a cooperative project of NASA, the European Space Agency and the Italian Space Agency. The Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the mission for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington, D.C. The Cassini orbiter and its two onboard cameras were designed, developed and assembled at JPL. The imaging operations center is based at the Space Science Institute in Boulder, Colo.

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Long Day's Journey into Night

Saturn's shadow cuts sharply across its rings as the orbits of ring particles carry them suddenly from day to night. With no atmosphere to scatter light, shadows in space are much darker than we're used to here on Earth.

This view looks toward the unilluminated side of the rings from about 47 degrees below the ringplane. The image was taken in visible light with the Cassini spacecraft wide-angle camera on March 5, 2013.

The view was obtained at a distance of approximately 891,000 miles (1.434 million kilometers) from Saturn and at a Sun-Saturn-spacecraft, or phase, angle of 85 degrees. Image scale is 51 miles (82 kilometers) per pixel.

The Cassini-Huygens mission is a cooperative project of NASA, the European Space Agency and the Italian Space Agency. The Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the mission for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington, D.C. The Cassini orbiter and its two onboard cameras were designed, developed and assembled at JPL. The imaging operations center is based at the Space Science Institute in Boulder, Colo.

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Summer is Coming!

Summer is slowly coming to Saturn's northern hemisphere. The north pole, which was in the midst of a seven-year-long winter when Cassini arrived in 2004, is now seen basking in the sunlight of mid-spring. Cassini is taking full advantage of the sunlight to capture these amazing views of the north polar hexagon and myriad storms, large and small, that comprise the weather systems in the polar region.

This view is centered on terrain at 75 degrees north latitude, 322 degrees west longitude. The image was taken with the Cassini spacecraft wide-angle camera on Feb. 26, 2013 using a spectral filter sensitive to wavelengths of near-infrared light centered at 752 nanometers.

The view was acquired at a distance of approximately 383,000 miles (616,000 kilometers) from Saturn and at a Sun-Saturn-spacecraft, or phase, angle of 48 degrees. Image scale is 21 miles (33 kilometers) per pixel.

The Cassini-Huygens mission is a cooperative project of NASA, the European Space Agency and the Italian Space Agency. The Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the mission for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington, D.C. The Cassini orbiter and its two onboard cameras were designed, developed and assembled at JPL. The imaging operations center is based at the Space Science Institute in Boulder, Colo.

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Enter the Vortex ... in Psychedelic Color

This spectacular, vertigo inducing, false-color image from NASA's Cassini mission highlights the storms at Saturn's north pole. The angry eye of a hurricane-like storm appears dark red while the fast-moving hexagonal jet stream framing it is a yellowish green. Low-lying clouds circling inside the hexagonal feature appear as muted orange color. A second, smaller vortex pops out in teal at the lower right of the image. The rings of Saturn appear in vivid blue at the top right.

The images were taken with Cassini's wide-angle camera using a combination of spectral filters sensitive to wavelengths of near-infrared light. The images filtered at 890 nanometers are projected as blue. The images filtered at 728 nanometers are projected as green, and images filtered at 752 nanometers are projected as red. At Saturn, this scheme means colors correlate to different altitudes in the planet's polar atmosphere: red indicates deep, while green shows clouds that are higher in altitude. High clouds are typically associated with locations of intense upwelling in a storm. These images help scientists learn the distribution and frequencies of such storms. The rings are bright blue in this color scheme because there is no methane gas between the ring particles and the camera.

The view was acquired at a distance of approximately 261,000 miles (419,000 kilometers) from Saturn and at a sun-Saturn-spacecraft, or phase, angle of 94 degrees. Image scale is 13 miles (22 kilometers) per pixel.

The Cassini-Huygens mission is a cooperative project of NASA, the European Space Agency and the Italian Space Agency. The Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the mission for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington, D.C. The Cassini orbiter and its two onboard cameras were designed, developed and assembled at JPL. The imaging operations center is based at the Space Science Institute in Boulder, Colo.

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Quelle: NASA


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Sonntag, 26. Mai 2013 - 11:00 Uhr

Astronomie - Chandra-Teleskop entdeckt eine Anzahl von exotischen Neutronensternen

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A Hidden Population of Exotic Neutron Stars

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Graphic shows a magnetar called SGR 0418+5729 (SGR 0418 for short), a type of neutron star that has a relatively slow spin rate and generates occasional large blasts of X-rays. (X-ray: NASA/CXC/CSIC-IEEC/N.Rea et al; Optical: Isaac Newton Group of Telescopes, La Palma/WHT; Infrared: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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This graphic shows an exotic object in our galaxy called SGR 0418+5729 (SGR 0418 for short). As described in our press release, SGR 0418 is a magnetar, a type of neutron star that has a relatively slow spin rate and generates occasional large blasts of X-rays.

The only plausible source for the energy emitted in these outbursts is the magnetic energy stored in the star. Most magnetars have extremely high magnetic fields on their surface that are ten to a thousand times stronger than for the average neutron star. New data shows that SGR 0418 doesn’t fit that pattern. It has a surface magnetic field similar to that of mainstream neutron stars.

In the image on the left, data from NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory shows SGR 0418 as a pink source in the middle. Optical data from the William Herschel telescope in La Palma and infrared data from NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope are shown in red, green and blue.

On the right is an artist’s impression showing a close-up view of SGR 0418. This illustration highlights the weak surface magnetic field of the magnetar, and the relatively strong, wound-up magnetic field lurking in the hotter interior of the star. The X-ray emission seen with Chandra comes from a small hot spot, not shown in the illustration. At the end of the outburst this spot has a radius of only about 160 meters, compared with a radius for the whole star of about 12 km.

The researchers monitored SGR 0418 for over three years using Chandra, ESA's XMM-Newton as well as NASA's Swift and RXTE satellites. They were able to make an accurate estimate of the strength of the external magnetic field by measuring how its rotation speed changes during an X-ray outburst. These outbursts are likely caused by fractures in the crust of the neutron star precipitated by the buildup of stress in the stronger magnetic field lying below the surface.

By modeling the evolution of the cooling of the neutron star and its crust, as well as the gradual decay of its magnetic field, the researchers estimated that SGR 0418 is about 550,000 years old. This makes SGR 0418 older than most other magnetars, and this extended lifetime has probably allowed the surface magnetic field strength to decline over time. Because the crust weakened and the interior magnetic field is relatively strong, outbursts could still occur. SGR 0418 is located in the Milky Way galaxy at a distance of about 6,500 light years from Earth. These new results on SGR 0418 appear online and will be published in the June 10, 2013 issue of The Astrophysical Journal. NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., manages the Chandra program for NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington. The Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory controls Chandra's science and flight operations from Cambridge, Mass.

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Magnetars -- the dense remains of dead stars that erupt sporadically with bursts of high-energy radiation -- are some of the most extreme objects known in the Universe. A major campaign using NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory and several other satellites shows magnetars may be more diverse -- and common -- than previously thought.

When a massive star runs out of fuel, its core collapses to form a neutron star, an ultradense object about 10 to 15 miles wide. The gravitational energy released in this process blows the outer layers away in a supernova explosion and leaves the neutron star behind.

Most neutron stars are spinning rapidly -- a few times a second -- but a small fraction have a relatively low spin rate of once every few seconds, while generating occasional large blasts of X-rays. Because the only plausible source for the energy emitted in these outbursts is the magnetic energy stored in the star, these objects are called "magnetars."

Most magnetars have extremely high magnetic fields on their surface that are ten to a thousand times stronger than for the average neutron star. New observations show that the magnetar known as SGR 0418+5729 (SGR 0418 for short) doesn’t fit that pattern. It has a surface magnetic field similar to that of mainstream neutron stars.

"We have found that SGR 0418 has a much lower surface magnetic field than any other magnetar," said Nanda Rea of the Institute of Space Science in Barcelona, Spain. "This has important consequences for how we think neutron stars evolve in time, and for our understanding of supernova explosions."

The researchers monitored SGR 0418 for over three years using Chandra, ESA's XMM-Newton as well as NASA's Swift and RXTE satellites. They were able to make an accurate estimate of the strength of the external magnetic field by measuring how its rotation speed changes during an X-ray outburst. These outbursts are likely caused by fractures in the crust of the neutron star precipitated by the buildup of stress in a relatively strong, wound-up magnetic field lurking just beneath the surface.

"This low surface magnetic field makes this object an anomaly among anomalies," said co-author GianLuca Israel of the National Institute of Astrophysics in Rome. "A magnetar is different from typical neutron stars, but SGR 0418 is different from other magnetars as well."

By modeling the evolution of the cooling of the neutron star and its crust, as well as the gradual decay of its magnetic field, the researchers estimated that SGR 0418 is about 550,000 years old. This makes SGR 0418 older than most other magnetars, and this extended lifetime has probably allowed the surface magnetic field strength to decline over time. Because the crust weakened and the interior magnetic field is relatively strong, outbursts could still occur.

The case of SGR 0418 may mean that there are many more elderly magnetars with strong magnetic fields hidden under the surface, implying that their birth rate is five to ten times higher than previously thought.

"We think that about once a year in every galaxy a quiet neutron star should turn on with magnetar-like outbursts, according to our model for SGR 0418," said Josè Pons of the University of Alacant in Spain. “We hope to find many more of these objects."

Another implication of the model is that the surface magnetic field of SGR 0418 should have once been very strong at its birth a half million years ago. This, plus a possibly large population of similar objects, could mean that the massive progenitor stars already had strong magnetic fields, or these fields were created by rapidly rotating neutron stars in the core collapse that was part of the supernova event.

If large numbers of neutron stars are born with strong magnetic fields then a significant fraction of gamma-ray bursts might be caused by the formation of magnetars rather than black holes. Also, the contribution of magnetar births to gravitational wave signals -- ripples in space-time -- would be larger than previously thought.

The possibility of a relatively low surface magnetic field for SGR 0418 was first announced in 2010 by a team with some of the same members. However, the scientists at that time could only determine an upper limit for the magnetic field and not an actual estimate because not enough data had been collected.

SGR 0418 is located in the Milky Way galaxy at a distance of about 6,500 light years from Earth. These new results on SGR 0418 appear online and will be published in the June 10, 2013 issue of The Astrophysical Journal. NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., manages the Chandra program for NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington. The Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory controls Chandra's science and flight operations from Cambridge, Mass.

Quelle: NASA


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Samstag, 25. Mai 2013 - 20:00 Uhr

Luftfahrt - Messerschmitt-ME-262: Vor 70 Jahren ging das erste Düsenflugzeug in Serie

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Die amerikanischen Bomberpiloten wollten im Zweiten Weltkrieg ihren Augen nicht trauen, was da an ihnen vorbeisauste: Flugzeuge, locker 200 Kilometer in der Stunde schneller als ihre "Mustang"-Jäger - und das ohne Propeller. Was sie sahen, war eine deutsche Messerschmitt, kurz Me 262. Eine revolutionäre Konstruktion, loben Luftfahrthistoriker bis heute.

Vor 70 Jahren, am 25. Mai 1943, wurde in Deutschland die Serienproduktion des Flugzeugs beschlossen. Damit ist die Messerschmitt das erste in Serie gefertigte Düsenflugzeug der Luftfahrtgeschichte - und war Grundlage aller Düsenjäger bis heute.

Internationale Forschung nach dem Jet

An Flugzeugen mit Düsentriebwerken arbeiteten damals viele. Der Göttinger Hans Joachim Pabst von Ohain forschte privat an dem neuen Antrieb und ließ sich die Konstruktionen von seinem Automechaniker zusammenschrauben.

In England zerlegte zur selben Zeit Frank Whittle diverse Testtriebwerke, bevor er unabhängig und gleichzeitig wie der Deutsche einen Jet fertigte. Letztlich war es die Heinkel He 178, die als erstes Düsenflugzeug am 27. August 1939 in Rostock abhob. Das war ein Sonntag. Am Freitag darauf begann der Zweite Weltkrieg.

"Als ob ein Engel schiebt"

Die Begeisterung bei Fliegern aber war ungebrochen. Es sei "als ob ein Engel schiebt", beschrieb Adolf Galland, oberster Jägergeneral und selbst bei den Briten bewundert, die Messerschmitt.

"In meinen Augen war sie das bei weitem fortschrittlichste Militärflugzeug ihrer Zeit", schrieb später die englische Pilotenlegende Eric Brown. "Ein großer Wurf, der alles in den Schatten stellte, was wir damals auf alliierter Seite zur Verfügung hatten."

Grundlage für Düsenjäger weltweit

Der Ruf der Messerschmitt blieb dennoch legendär. Kein Wunder, dass nach dem Krieg Amerikaner, Briten und Russen jede Me 262 mitnahmen, die sie kriegen konnten. "Die frühen Düsenjäger praktisch jeden Landes gehen direkt auf die Messerschmitt zurück", sagt Seelinger. Und heute sind sie der Stolz in den Luftfahrtmuseen der Länder, gegen die sie einst flog.

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Nachbau von ME-262 / ILA 2006


Tags: ME-262 

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Samstag, 25. Mai 2013 - 17:48 Uhr

Astronomie - Erfassung sämtlichen Licht´s im Universum seit dem Urknall

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Published online May 24, 2013, in The Astrophysical Journal

How much light has been emitted by all galaxies since the cosmos began? After all, almost every photon (particle of light) from ultraviolet to far infrared wavelengths ever radiated by all galaxies that ever existed throughout cosmic history is still speeding through the Universe today. If we could carefully measure the number and energy (wavelength) of all those photons—not only at the present time, but also back in time—we might learn important secrets about the nature and evolution of the Universe, including how similar or different ancient galaxies were compared to the galaxies we see today.That bath of ancient and young photons suffusing the Universe today is called the extragalactic background light (EBL). An accurate measurement of the EBL is as fundamental to cosmology as measuring the heat radiation left over from the Big Bang (the cosmic microwave background) at radio wavelengths. A new paper, called “Detection of the Cosmic γ-Ray Horizon from Multiwavelength Observations of Blazars,” by Alberto Dominguez and six coauthors, just published today by the Astrophysical Journal—based on observations spanning wavelengths from radio waves to very energetic gamma rays, obtained from several NASA spacecraft and several ground-based telescopes—describes the best measurement yet of the evolution of the EBL over the past 5 billion years.

So, astrophysicists developed an ingenious work-around method: measuring the EBL indirectly through measuring the attenuation of—that is, the absorption of—very high energy gamma rays from distant blazars. Blazars are supermassive black holes in the centers of galaxies with brilliant jets directly pointed at us like a flashlight beam. Not all the high-energy gamma rays emitted by a blazar, however, make it all the way across billions of light-years to Earth; some strike a hapless EBL photon along the way. When a high-energy gamma ray photon from a blazar hits a much lower energy EBL photon, both are annihilated and produce two different particles: an electron and its antiparticle, a positron, which fly off into space and are never heard from again. Different energies of the highest-energy gamma rays are waylaid by different energies of EBL photons. Thus, measuring how much gamma rays of different energies are attenuated or weakened from blazars at different distances from Earth indirectly gives a measurement of how many EBL photons of different wavelengths exist along the line of sight from blazar to Earth over those different distances.

Observations of blazars by NASA’s Fermi Gamma Ray Telescope spacecraft for the first time detected that gamma rays from distant blazars are indeed attenuated more than gamma rays from nearby blazars, a result announced on November 30, 2012, in a paper published in Science, as theoretically predicted.

Now, the big news—announced in today’s Astrophysical Journal paper—is that the evolution of the EBL over the past 5 billion years has been measured for the first time. That’s because looking farther out into the Universe corresponds to looking back in time. Thus, the gamma ray attenuation spectrum from farther distant blazars reveals how the EBL looked at earlier eras.

This was a multistep process. First, the coauthors compared the Fermi findings to intensity of X-rays from the same blazars measured by X-ray satellites Chandra, Swift, Rossi X-ray Timing Explorer, and XMM/Newton and lower-energy radiation measured by other spacecraft and ground-based observatories. From these measurements, Dominguez et al. were able to calculate the blazars’ original emitted, unattenuated gamma-ray brightnesses at different energies.

The coauthors then compared those calculations of unattenuated gamma-ray flux at different energies with direct measurements from special ground-based telescopes of the actual gamma-ray flux received at Earth from those same blazars. When a high-energy gamma ray from a blazar strikes air molecules in the upper regions of Earth’s atmosphere, it produces a cascade of charged subatomic particles. This cascade of particles travels faster than the speed of light in air (which is slower than the speed of light in a vacuum). This causes a visual analogue to a “sonic boom”: bursts of a special light called Čerenkov radiation. This Čerenkov radiation was detected by imaging atmospheric Čerenkov telescopes (IACTs), such as HESS (High Energy Stereoscopic System) in Namibia, MAGIC (Major Atmospheric Gamma Imaging Čerenkov) in the Canary Islands, and VERITAS (Very Energetic Radiation Imaging Telescope Array Systems) in Arizona.

Comparing the calculations of the unattenuated gamma rays to actual measurements of the attenuation of gamma rays and X-rays from blazars at different distances allowed Dominquez et al. to quantify the evolution of the EBL—that is, to measure how the EBL changed over time as the Universe aged—out to about 5 billion years ago (corresponding to a redshift of about z = 0.5). “Five billion years ago is the maximum distance we are able to probe with our current technology,” Domínguez said. “Sure, there are blazars farther away, but we are not able to detect them because the high-energy gamma rays they are emitting are too attenuated by EBL when they get to us—so weakened that our instruments are not sensitive enough to detect them.” This measurement is the first statistically significant detection of the so-called “Cosmic Gamma Ray Horizon” as a function of gamma-ray energy. The Cosmic Gamma Ray Horizon is defined as the distance at which roughly one-third (or, more precisely, 1/e – that is, 1/2.718 – where e is the base of the natural logarithms) of the gamma rays of a particular energy have been attenuated.

This latest result confirms that the kinds of galaxies observed today are responsible for most of the EBL over all time. Moreover, it sets limits on possible contributions from many galaxies too faint to have been included in the galaxy surveys, or on possible contributions from hypothetical additional sources (such as the decay of hypothetical unknown elementary particles).

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The attached figure illustrates how energetic gamma rays (dashed lines) from a distant blazar strike photons of extragalactic background light (wavy lines) and produce pairs of electrons and positrons. The energetic gamma rays that are not attenuated by this process strike the upper atmosphere, producing a cascade of charged particles which make a cone of Čerenkov light that is detected by the array of imaging atmospheric Čerenkov telescopes on the ground.

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Quelle: UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA


2883 Views

Samstag, 25. Mai 2013 - 17:30 Uhr

Raumfahrt - USAF startet erfolgreich Delta-IV-Rakete mit WGS-5 Satelliten

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Delta IV Engine Issue Forces 24-Hour Slip To WGS Launch

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The U.S. Air Force and United Launch Alliance (ULA) have discovered an anomaly in an RS-68 engine, prompting officials to delay for one day plans to launch a military wideband communications satellite.
“A unit recently experienced an anomaly in vibration testing and it was determined that this anomaly was caused by variability in how some wiring is installed within the Engine Control Unit,” says ULA spokeswoman Jessica Rye of Boeing’s fifth Wideband Global Satcom (WGS) spacecraft. ULA builds and operates the Delta IV vehicle family.
Launch aboard a Delta IV was slated for May 22. It has now been rescheduled for a 32-min. window starting at 8:28 EDT May 23, Rye says.
ULA is replacing the engine control unit on the Delta IV slated for the WGS-5 mission with one that has been “inspected and confirmed to not have the suspect condition that caused the recent anomaly in acceptance testing,” Rye says.
WGS-5 is the final satellite required to declare full operational capability for the constellation; this is likely early next year.
Once called the Wideband Gapfiller Satellite program, the project originally was only intended to plug a gap in capability. But the Air Force eventually decided to buy 10 of the spacecraft.
WGS-5 will be placed in geosynchronous orbit over the East Coast; the first four satellites were placed between the Eastern Atlantic Ocean and Western Pacific Ocean to service deployed forces.
Though WGS is replacing the legacy Defense Satellite Communications System constellation, some of those satellites are still operational.
WGS will service U.S. forces in addition to partners that have participated financially in the project. They are Australia, Canada, Denmark, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and New Zealand.
Quelle: USAF
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Update: 22.24 MESZ:

Delta IV rocket launch scrubbed for technical problem

A Delta IV rocket scheduled to lift off tonight was scrubbed after a technical issue forced engineers to reset the launch.
The launch window was supposed to open at 8:27 p.m. Thursday, however, there was an issue with the rocket on the launch pad. United Launch Alliance said they did not have enough time to troubleshoot the problem, and get the rocket fueled in time for the launch window.
The rocket is carrying a Wideband Global SATCOM satellite for the U.S. Air Force. According to the United Launch Alliance, the satellite was designed to enhance communication systems for troops in the field.
The launch will take place on Friday at 8:27 p.m. One upside to this is that weather will be better for launch -- weather forecasters are predicting 80 percent favorable weather.
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Quelle: CBS
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Update: 24.05.2013
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A Delta IV rocket is scheduled to blast off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station today after a one-day delay to troubleshoot a technical problem.

The 217-foot-tall United Launch Alliance rocket now is scheduled to launch at 8:27 p.m. today at Launch Complex 37. A 30-minute window will extend through 8:57 p.m.

Meteorologists expect good weather. Forecasters say there is an 80 percent chance conditions will be acceptable for flight.

An initial attempt was called off Thursday when a leak from a gaseous helium line could not be pinpointed and fixed in time for a launch during the 30-minute window. Gaseous helium is used to purge rocket propulsion systems and keep them properly conditioned for flight.

“We need that hose and this system functioning properly and providing purge at liftoff,” an engineer told launch managers before the attempt Thursday was scrubbed.

The Delta IV will propel a $342 million U.S. military communications satellite into orbit.

The Boeing-built Wideband Global SATCOM spacecraft is the fifth in a series of new-generation satellites that provide U.S. and allied military forces with high-capacity broadband communications capability. A single Wideband Global SATCOM spacecraft provides as much bandwidth as an entire constellation of prior-generation Defense Satellite Communications System (DSCS) spacecraft.
Frams: ULA-LIVESTREAM
2058 GMT (4:58 p.m. EDT)
Chilldown of the upper stage liquid oxygen system is complete for loading the rocket's tank with 4,500 gallons. This is the last of the rocket's four cryogenic supplies to be filled in today's countdown to launch.
 
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In the second launch in just nine days for the U.S. Air Force, United Launch Alliance (ULA) successfully launched a Delta IV rocket carrying the fifth Wideband Global SATCOM (WGS-5) satellite from Space Launch Complex-37. Wideband Global SATCOM provides anytime, anywhere communication for the warfighter through broadcast, multicast, and point to point connections.
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Fotos: ULA
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Frams: ULA-Start-Video
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Tags: Delta-IV WGS-5 

3074 Views

Freitag, 24. Mai 2013 - 17:48 Uhr

Raumfahrt - Verloren geglaubter Apollo 11 Mondstaub in Lager gefunden

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Sample of moon rocks from the Apollo 11 mission were found at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.
CREDIT: Berkeley Lab - Roy Kaltschmidt

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Vials of moon dust brought back to Earth by the first men on the moon have been found inside a lab warehouse in California after sitting in storage unnoticed for more than 40 years.

The samples — collected by Apollo 11 astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin — were rediscovered last month by an archivist who was going over artifacts tucked away at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

"We don't know how or when they ended up in storage," Karen Nelson, who made the surprising discovery, said in a statement from the lab.


2942 Views

Freitag, 24. Mai 2013 - 10:20 Uhr

UFO-Forschung - Himmelszeichen über Mannheim

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Anlässlich des mehrere Tage stattfindenten Sportfestes in Mannheim, wurden zur Illumination auch zwei grüne Skybeamer eingesetzt, welche erst aufwärts und nachfolgend im 45° Grad-Winkel über die Festmaile leuchteten (und darüber hinaus, wie die nachfolgenden Aufnahmen zeigen, welche in ca. 7 km Entfernung aufgenommen wurden).

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Fotos: ©-hjkc

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Update: 24.05.2013 - Durch höhere Luftfeuchtigkeit bildeten sich die grünen Skybeamer am Nachthimmel deutlicher aus:

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Tags: Skybeamer 

3550 Views

Donnerstag, 23. Mai 2013 - 13:24 Uhr

Astronomie - Gewaltiger M5-CME Ausbruch der Sonne

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M5-CLASS EXPLOSION: The ongoing radiation storm got started on May 22nd when the magnetic canopy of sunspot AR1745 exploded. The blast produced anM5-class solar flare and hurled a magnificent CME over the sun's western limb:

Quelle: NASA


2927 Views

Donnerstag, 23. Mai 2013 - 12:34 Uhr

Astronomie - ESA eröffnet Asteroiden-Erfassungs-Center

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Asteroid 2012DA14

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ESA today inaugurated a new hub that will strengthen Europe’s contribution to the global hunt for asteroids and other hazardous natural objects that may strike Earth.
Near-Earth Objects, or NEOs, are asteroids or comets with sizes ranging from metres to tens of kilometres that orbit the Sun and whose orbits come close to that of Earth. There are over 600 000 asteroids known in our Solar System, and almost 10 000 of them are NEOs.
Dramatic proof that some of these could strike Earth came on 15 February, when an unknown object thought to be 17–20 m in diameter exploded high above Chelyabinsk, Russia, with 20–30 times the energy of the Hiroshima atomic bomb. The resulting shock wave caused widespread damage and injuries, making it the largest known natural object to have entered the atmosphere since the 1908 Tunguska event.
The NEO Coordination Centre will serve as the central access point to a network of European NEO data sources and information providers being established under ESA’s Space Situational Awareness (SSA) Programme.
This is the second centre to be opened under SSA leadership after the Space Weather Coordination Centre that opened in Brussels last month.
 
Located at ESRIN, ESA’s centre for Earth observation, the centre was formally inaugurated today by Thomas Reiter, ESA Director of Human Spaceflight and Operations, together with Augusto Cramarossa, Italian Delegate to the ESA Council, and Claudio Portelli, Italian Delegate to the SSA Programme, both of ASI, the Italian space agency.
The event was hosted by Volker Liebig, ESA Director of Earth Observation Programmes and Head of the ESRIN Establishment.
Europe’s first operational NEO centre
The new centre will support experts in the field by federating new and existing European assets, systems and sensors into a future NEO system. It will support the integration and initial operation of ESA’s NEO information distribution network.
 
The Centre is also the focus point for scientific studies needed to improve NEO warning services and provide near-realtime data to European and international customers, including scientific bodies, international organisations and decision-makers.
Quelle: ESA

2967 Views

Donnerstag, 23. Mai 2013 - 10:00 Uhr

Raumfahrt - Russland startet Bion-1M-Satelliten (Arche Noha) und erfolgreicher Re-Entry

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20.04.2013

Russia orbited the world's only returnable satellite dedicated to biological research in space on Friday, helping to pave the way for future interplanetary flights, Federal Space Agency Roscosmos said.
“The Bion-1M satellite has separated from the Soyuz carrier rocket and entered an elliptic orbit at 575 kilometers (357 miles) above the Earth,” a Roscosmos spokesman told RIA Novosti.
Bion-M1 is carrying 45 mice, eight Mongolian gerbils, 15 geckos, snails, and containers with various microorganisms and plants.
During its 30-day flight, more than 70 physiological, morphological, genetic and molecular-biological experiments will be conducted in support of long-duration interplanetary flights including Mars missions.
In addition, Bion-1M carries a number of Russian and foreign microsatellites that will gradually detach from the spacecraft in the next two days and go on their individual missions.
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An intrepid critter crew of geckos, mice and gerbils and other animals launched into orbit Friday (April 19) to begin a month-long Russian experiment to study how space travel affects living creatures. The space mission, scientists assure, will return the animals to Earth alive.
The new animal astronauts launched into orbit at 6 a.m. EDT (1000 GMT) atop a Russian-built Soyuz 2 rocket that lifted off from Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan, in Central Asia.
The rocket carried the Bion-M1 space capsule, which is filled with enclosures for 45 mice, eight Mongolian gerbils, 15 geckos and numerous other species. They are expected to spend a month in orbit, flying 357 miles (575 kilometers) above Earth while scientists on the ground monitor the health of the capsule's passengers. 
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Quelle:RIANOVOSTI / 
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Russia launched a space capsule into orbit Friday packed with mice, geckos, gerbils, snails and fish to observe how the animals fare in a one-month, roundtrip voyage into the final frontier.
The animals will spend the 30-day mission inside enclosures and cages, and scientists devised feeding procedures to ensure the critters survive the journey.
The Bion M1 spacecraft lifted off on a Soyuz rocket at 1000 GMT (6 a.m. EDT) from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, less than 20 hours after the booster rolled to the launch pad on rails.
Soyuz rockets typically arrive at the launch pad three days before liftoff, but Russian engineers waited as long as possible to finish loading experiments, animals and supplies into the pressurized capsule.
The Bion M1 capsule was injected into orbit about nine minutes after liftoff. The 15,000-pound spacecraft was launched by a modernized Soyuz 2-1a rocket, which features a digital flight control system to guide itself into space.
Russia installed animal habitats into the Bion M1 capsule with 45 mice, 15 geckos, eight gerbils and a number of snails, plus other investigations involving microorganisms and plants. The craft also carries an aquarium with German experiments on fish and aquatic plants.
The mission's 45 mice passengers, living three animals per cage, will be fed with a paste-like, vitamin-enriched diet of cereals and water six times per day, according to the Institute of Biomedical Problems, a top Russian research organization based in Moscow.
Researchers will monitor the status of the animals with video and medical telemetry as they fly 575 kilometers, or 357 miles, above Earth.
The pressurized compartment of the Bion M1 spacecraft will be kept at a comfortable temperature and relative humidity for the month-long flight. The mission is also designed with day and night cycles to maintain the animals' circadian rhythm.
Scientists will use the mice to study how the animals respond to weightlessness, investigate how cells in tissues and organs change after a long-duration spaceflight, observe their susceptibility to cosmic radiation, and learn how the animals readapt to gravity after landing, according to the website of the Institute of Biomedical Problems.
The mission includes eight Mongolian gerbils, which are more resistant to harsh environmental conditions. Scientists want to observe how the gerbils react to microgravity and compare the findings with the response of mice.
The animals were chosen based on both their physical and social characteristics.
"They go through selection stages no less stringent than the astronauts," said Pavel Soldatov, a leading researcher at the Institute of Biomedical Problems. "They live in nature as families and groups. They cannot exist in isolation."
The Bion M1 mission is managed by Roscosmos, the Russian Federal Space Agency, but scientists from the United States, Germany, Canada, Poland, the Netherlands and other countries are participating in the experiments.
NASA selected nine U.S. scientists to collaborate with Russian researchers in cooperative experiments.
"We are participating in a biospecimen sharing program and utilizing hardware developed by our Russian partners that has flown successfully for many missions over the last 30 years," said Nicole Rayl, manager of the space biology division at NASA's Ames Research Center. "This way we can leverage off existing capabilities while still meeting NASA's scientific goals."
The NASA-sponsored research is focused on Bion M1's rodents, Rayl wrote in an email to Spaceflight Now.
"They will study the effects of space travel on multiple tissues, such as blood vessels, spine, knee and elbow joints and the gravity-sensing structures of the inner ear," Rayl said.
Bion M1 is Russia's first Bion mission since 1997, and it is the longest flight in the history of Russia's animal-in-space research program. Scientists are hopeful the 30-day flight duration will yield more useful data on how organisms respond to spaceflight.
The Bion M1 spacecraft is an upgraded version of the Bion modified with solar panels and a new engine to support longer missions.
The first Bion mission launched in 1973 with rats, reptiles, insects, plants and other biological specimens. Russia flew 11 Bion missions through 1997.
The Bion M1 spacecraft carried six piggyback satellites into orbit. The capsule will deploy the secondary payloads over the first two days of the mission.
At the end of the month-long flight, the Bion M1 capsule will re-enter Earth's atmosphere and parachute back to Earth, where a recovery team will meet the landing module and retrieve the animals.
Landing is set for May 18, Rayl said.
The animals will be euthanized for scientists to finish conducting their research, which could provide insights helpful for future human expeditions to Mars and other deep space destinations, according to Roscosmos.
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Update: 19.05.2013
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The returnable capsule of a biological research satellite has landed in the Russian Orenburg Region near the border with Kazakhstan, bringing mice, Mongolian gerbils, geckos and various microorganisms and plants back to Earth after their month-long flight, Mission Control said on Sunday.

“The descent vehicle separated from the equipment module of the Bion-M spacecraft at 6:32 a.m. Moscow time [02:32 GMT]. After successfully passing through the dense layers of the Earth’s atmosphere, the capsule landed at 07:12 Moscow time at the designated area, about 100 km [62 miles] northeast of Orenburg,” Mission Control said.

Specialists of the Progress Space Research and Production Space Center and the Institute of Medical and Biological Studies arrived at the site of the capsule landing and started to open the hatches to bring the animals out of the capsule, one of the specialists told RIA Novosti.

Russia launched the Bion-1M satellite, its first biological research satellite since 2007, on April 19 to conduct fundamental and applied research in space biology, physiology and biotechnology while in orbit and help pave the way for future interplanetary flights, according to the Federal Space Agency Roscosmos.

Bion-M1 carried eight Mongolian gerbils, 45 mice, 15 geckos, snails and containers with various microorganisms and plants.

During its 30-day flight, more than 70 physiological, morphological, genetic and molecular-biological experiments were conducted in support of long-duration interplanetary flights including Mars missions.

The research program included experiments with rodents to study the organism’s systemic reactions to microgravitation, as well as the impact of radiation and microgravitation on the organism.

Quelle: RIANOVOSTI

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Update: 20.05.2013

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MOSCOW:  A number of mice and eight gerbils sent into space in a Russian capsule destined to find out how well organisms can withstand extended flights perished during their journey, scientists said as the month-long mission touched back down on Earth.

Most of the 45 mice sent into orbit – along with the gerbils and 15 newts – died on the mission, which nevertheless returned with data that scientists hope will pave the way for a manned flight to Mars.

The animals on board the Bion-M craft died because of equipment failure or due to the stresses of space, scientists said.

The craft itself landed softly early on Sunday with the help of a special parachute system in the Orenburg region about 1,200 kilometres (750 miles) southeast of Moscow. It was also carrying snails, some plants and microflora.

“This is the first time that animals have been put in space on their own for so long,” Vladimir Sychov of the Russian Academy of Sciences announced upon the peculiar crew’s return to Earth.

But at the end of the experiment, “less than half of the mice made it – but that was to be expected,” Sychov told Russian news agencies. “Unfortunately, because of equipment failure, we lost all the gerbils.”

The TsSKB-Progress space research centre’s department head, Valery Abrashkin, said on the day the mission took off in April that the study was aimed at determining how bodies adapt to weightlessness “so that our organisms survive extended flights”.

The space adventure has been widely praised by Russian state media as a unique experiment that no other country has yet pulled off. Russia last sent mice into space in 2007 for a much shorter duration of 12 days.

France’s Centre National d’Etudes Spatiales (CNES) space centre said 15 of the 45 mice came from a French research lab that is cooperating with the study.

CNES life science department head Guillemette Gauquelin-Koch said the project took “a further decisive step in human adaptation to weightlessness”.

Scientists from both countries said the animals were used as it was impossible to conduct the experiment on the humans who are currently operating the International Space Station (ISS).

They added that the mice would have posed a health risk if simply placed on board the ISS for a month.

The experiment’s designers said the tests primarily focused on how microgravity impacts the skeletal and nervous systems as well as organisms’ muscles and hearts.

The animals were stored inside five special containers that automatically opened after reaching orbit and closed once it was time to return.

Also on board were over two dozen measuring devices and other scientific objects that measured everything from heart rates and blood pressure to radiation levels.

The capsule spun 575 kilometres (357 miles) above Earth.

Officials at France’s CNES said a new mission with microorganisms may be launched by Russia next year.

Russia has long set its sights on Mars and is now targeting 2030 as the year in which it could begin creating a base on the Moon for flights to the Red Planet.

But recent problems with its once-vaunted space programme – including the embarrassing failure of a research satellite that Moscow tried sending up to one of Mars’s moons last year – have threatened Russia’s future exploration efforts.

Russia’s trials and tribulations are watched closely by other space-faring nations because the Soyuz rocket on which the animals went up represents the world’s only manned link to the constantly staffed ISS.

Quelle: COSMOS

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Update: 21.05.2013

A crew of Mongolian gerbils may have gone where no Mongolian gerbil has gone before, but they did not come back alive. A Russian spacecraft filled with mice, lizards and other animals has returned to Earth -- but with the majority of its furred passengers apparently dead.
The Bion-M experiment, launched from Baikonur, Kazakhstan, on April 19, carried 45 mice, 15 geckos, 18 Mongolian gerbils, 20 snails and a number of different plants, seeds and microorganisms, according to a Russian state news site. 
About half of the mice died, but the lizards reportedly survived. The Mongolian gerbils all expired, apparently due to an equipment failure, said Vladimir Sychev of the Russian Academy of Sciences, according to AFP.
The satellite was sent into a near-Earth orbit some 357 miles above Earth, far higher than the International Space station. Lasting 30 days, the mission represented the longest time that Russian animal astronauts had been sent into space. A previous mission in 2007 lasted 12 days and only went up to about 174 miles in altitude.
Perhaps ironically, the ill-fated Mongolian gerbils were thought to have an advantage in space, since the rodents live in harsh environments and can survive without water for relatively long periods, according to an agency release weeks before the launch. Half the mice were expected to die during the journey, according to Sychev.
Although many of the animals died, they will still provide the researchers with valuable science: Each animal was numbered and implanted with a tiny microchip that would contain the "entire biography of the animal," according to an agency Web page.
Quelle: Los Angeles Times  

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Update: 23.05.2013

Omegahab: Mini-Ökosystem wieder zurück auf der Erde

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Nach 30 Tagen im All ist am 19. Mai 2013 um 9:12 Uhr Ortszeit (12:12 Uhr MESZ) die unbemannte russische BION-M1-Rückkehrkapsel mitten in einem Sonnenblumenfeld in Südrussland gelandet. Damit ging für die deutschen Wissenschaftler das vom Deutschen Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt (DLR) geförderte Mini-Ökosystem-Projekt "Omegahab" mit einem lachenden und einem weinenden Auge zu Ende: Noch nie haben Tiere eine längere Zeitspanne alleine in einem höheren Orbit verbracht. Doch in 575 Kilometern Höhe gab es allerdings auch Verluste: Einige Bewohner des Mini-Aquariums haben die Weltraum-Reise leider nicht überlebt.
Lichtausfall im Mini-Aquarium
Nicht größer und schwerer als ein Getränkekasten: Im Mini-Ökosystem des "Omegahab"-Projekts wurden einzellige Algen Euglena gracilis, auch Augentierchen genannt, die Wasserpflanze Hornblatt (Ceratophyllum demersum), 55 Buntbarsch-Larven (Oreochromis mossambicus), mexikanische Bachflohkrebse (Hyalella azteca) und einige Posthornschnecken (Biomphalaria glabrata) auf ihre Reise ins All geschickt. Biologen und Zoologen der Universitäten Erlangen und Hohenheim haben das aus zwei Kammern bestehende, künstliche Mini-Ökosystem mit eigenem Nährstoff- und Gasaustausch entwickelt. In  Schwerelosigkeit sollte dies als bioregeneratives Lebenserhaltungssystem funktionieren. Die Algen und das Hornblatt produzierten dabei den Sauerstoff für die Fische, Krebse und Schnecken. Das von den Tieren freigesetzte Kohlendioxid wiederum haben die Pflanzen in ihrer Photosynthese verwertet - ein geschlossener Kreislauf des Lebens in 575 Kilometern über der Erde. "Damit dieser Kreislauf funktioniert, brauchen die Pflanzen Licht. Das gesamte System scheint bis zum zehnten Tag gut funktioniert zu haben. Dann fiel allerdings die LED-Beleuchtung aus. Dadurch gab es kein Licht im Aquarium mehr und somit auch keinen Sauerstoff für die Buntbarsche, Krebse und Schnecken", erklärt Markus Braun, Omegahab-Projektleiter im DLR Raumfahrtmanagement.
Leben und Sterben im natürlichen Kreislauf
Vom Tod der tierischen "Omegahab"-Bewohner haben die Algen im Mini-Ökosystem profitiert. Nach dem Ausfall der tierischen Lebensformen haben sich die Euglenen stark vermehrt und ihre Lebensweise umgestellt. Sie haben von photoautotroph auf heterotroph umgeschaltet: Als das Ökosystem noch gut funktioniert hat, haben sich die Algen selbst ernährt. Sie haben ihre Biomasse unter Ausnutzung des Lichtes ausschließlich aus anorganischen Stoffen aufgebaut. Nach dem Ausfall der Beleuchtung dienten dann die von den verendeten Fischlarven freigesetzten Nährstoffe den Algen als Nahrungsgrundlage. "Das sind spannende Ergebnisse für die deutschen Forscher. Außerdem stehen uns Videos von den Fischen und Algen zur Auswertung der Bewegungsmuster in Schwerelosigkeit zur Verfügung. Deswegen werten wir Omegahab nicht als Misserfolg. 30 Tage Weltraumaufenthalt für ein solch komplexes Mini-Ökosystem ist nun einmal eine sportliche Herausforderung. Immerhin haben wir für mindestens zehn Tage eine sehr gute Leistung der Anlage dokumentiert. Dass danach eine LED-Platine ausfällt, ist einfach Pech", berichtet Markus Braun.
Probenentnahme erstmals am Landeort möglich
Die Forscher haben direkt nach der Landung der Raumkapsel ihre Proben für die physiologischen und molekularen Auswertungen entnommen. Das für die BION-Missionen zuständige Institut für Biomedizinische Probleme (IBMP) der Russischen Akademie der Wissenschaften in Moskau hat zum ersten Mal bei einer solchen Mission ein Zelt am Landeort aufgebaut, in dem die Wissenschaftler die Proben vor Ort entnehmen konnten. Bereits um 10.35 Uhr Ortszeit hatten die deutschen Forscher "Omegahab" wieder zurück. Insgesamt verlief die BION-M1-Mission durchaus positiv: Die überwiegende Mehrzahl der Experimente ist erfolgreich verlaufen. Wegen seiner Sonnensegel, die die internen Batterien wieder aufluden, kann der auf biologische Experimente in Schwerelosigkeit spezialisierte Satellit länger und in einer größeren Höhe im Orbit bleiben als seine BION-Vorgänger, die zwischen 1973 und 1996 als Forschungsplattformen im All dienten.
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