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Sonntag, 2. Juni 2013 - 13:45 Uhr

Raumfahrt - 10 Jahre ESA - Mars-Express-Sonde

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10 Jahre HRSC-Kamera an Bord von Mars Express

Damit hat damals wohl niemand gerechnet: Als am 2. Juni 2003 die ESA-Raumsonde Mars Express zur Erforschung unseres Nachbarplaneten startete, sollte ihre Mission gerade einmal ein Marsjahr dauern – das entspricht zwei Erdenjahren. Mittlerweile umkreist Mars Express schon das zehnte Jahr den Mars und ermöglicht uns immer noch wichtige Erkenntnisse über seine geologische Entwicklungsgeschichte.

Dies ist auch der Grund dafür, warum die Mission dreimal von der Europäischen Weltraumorganisation ESA verlängert wurde, zuletzt bis Ende 2014. Der wissenschaftliche Erfolg ist groß, und die Experimente an Bord funktionieren immer noch einwandfrei. Eines der sieben wissenschaftlichen Experimente ist die im DLR entwickelte und gemeinsam mit der deutschen Industrie gebaute Hochleistungskamera HRSC (High Resolution Stereo Camera). Sie ist das bisher umfangreichste deutsche Experiment der Planetenforschung. Die HRSC fotografiert den Mars global in hoher Auflösung, in Farbe und in 3D. Mehr als die Hälfte des Planeten wurde bereits in einer Detailgenauigkeit von 20 bis sogar nur zehn Meter pro Bildpunkt aufgenommen. Das Ziel ist die globale topographische Kartierung des Mars - nach zehn Jahren sind bereits mehr als zwei Drittel der Oberfläche des Planeten erfasst. Die Aufnahmen der Kamera bieten eine wertvolle Grundlage für die gegenwärtige und auch zukünftige Marsforschung.

Anlass genug für ein ganz besonderes Feature: Das DLR-Webspecial zum zehnjährigen Jubiläum der Mission nimmt Sie mit auf eine Reise zu unserem Nachbarplaneten. Sehen Sie atemberaubend schöne Bilder von seiner Oberfläche, erfahren Sie mehr über seine  Klimageschichte, Monde und über die Geschichte seiner Erforschung. DLR- Wissenschaftlerinnen und Wissenschaftler berichten in Interviews über aktuelle Forschungsergebnisse und die bisherigen, teils verblüffenden Erkenntnisse, die sie auch auf Grundlage der HRSC-Daten gewonnen haben.

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High Resolution Stereo Camera (HRSC): Der Rote Planet in drei Dimensionen

Die hochauflösende Stereokamera HRSC ist Deutschlands wichtigster Beitrag zur Mission Mars Express der Europäischen Weltraumorganisation ESA. Nach der Ankunft am Roten Planeten Ende des Jahres 2003 besteht das Hauptziel dieser Mission in der Suche nach Spuren von Wasser sowie Anzeichen von Leben auf dem Mars. Sieben Instrumente an Bord des Orbiters werden während der voraussichtlich vierjährigen Mission mit einer Reihe von Fernerkundungsexperimenten neue Erkenntnisse über die Zusammensetzung und Geologie der Oberfläche des Mars und die Bestandteile seiner Atmosphäre gewinnen. Die Orbiterinstrumente sind in ihrer Einheit speziell dafür ausgelegt, die Marsoberfläche in hoher Auflösung für photogeologische und mineralogische Untersuchungen zu kartieren und die Marsatmosphäre und ihre Wechselwirkungen mit dem interplanetaren Medium zu studieren.

Die am Institut für Planetenforschung des Deutschen Zentrums für Luft- und Raumfahrt (DLR) entwickelte High Resolution Stereo Camera (HRSC) auf der Mars Express-Mission der ESA ist ein bislang einmaliges Experiment: Zum ersten Mal auf einer Weltraummission bildet eine Spezialkamera eine Planetenoberfläche systematisch in der dritten Dimension und in Farbe ab. Die Ergebnisse sollen die Beantwortung fundamentaler Fragen zur geologischen und klimatischen Geschichte des Roten Planeten ermöglichen. Die räumliche Auflösung der Stereobilder übertrifft bisherige topographische Daten der Marsoberfläche bei weitem und erlaubt es den Geowissenschaftlern, Details mit einer Größe von 10 bis 30 Meter dreidimensional zu analysieren. Als besondere Spitzenleistung enthält die Kamera ein zusätzliches, ultrahochauflösendes Teleobjektiv. Mit diesem Super Resolution Channel (SRC) ist die Abbildung von zwei bis drei Meter großen Objekten - eingebettet in die farbigen Stereobilddaten der HRSC - möglich. Damit lassen sich beispielsweise Felsbrocken in der Größe einer Garage oder Schichtungen in Sedimentgesteinen identifizieren.

Die nur 20 Kilogramm schwere HRSC verfügt über zwei Kameraköpfe: den hochauflösenden Stereokopf, der aus 9 CCD-Zeilensensoren besteht, die hinter einem Linsenobjektiv parallel angeordnet sind, sowie den SRC-Kopf, der aus einem Spiegelteleobjektiv und einem CCD Flächensensor aufgebaut ist. Der hochauflösende Stereokopf funktioniert nach dem Scanner-Prinzip, d.h. durch die Anordnung seiner 9 Zeilensensoren quer zur Flugrichtung nimmt jeder dieser Sensoren aufgrund der Vorwärtsbewegung des Raumschiffs denselben Bildstreifen auf der Marsoberfläche nacheinander Zeile für Zeile auf. Dabei bildet jeder Sensor dasselbe Objekt auf der Oberfläche unter einem unterschiedlichen Blickwinkel ab. Am Boden werden dann aus 5 dieser Bildstreifen 3D-Bilder erzeugt. Die verbleibenden vier der neun Zeilensensoren sind mit speziellen Farbfiltern für die Aufnahme multispektraler Daten versehen.

Am marsnächsten Punkt der elliptischen Umlaufbahn (Perizentrum) beträgt der Abstand vom Raumschiff zum Mars 270 Kilometer. Bei dieser Höhe über dem Mars ist die Auflösung der 9 Bildstreifen 12 Meter für jeden der 5184 Pixel pro Zeilensensor. Die Bildstreifenbreite beträgt 52 Kilometer und die Mindeststreifenlänge 300 Kilometer. Letztere hängt ausschließlich von der Datenspeicher- und Übertragungskapazität des Raumschiffs ab. Der Super Resolution Channel (SRC) wird wie eine Lupe eingesetzt. Er liefert im Perizentrum 2,3 Kilometer x 2,3 Kilometer große Bilder in der Mitte der Bildstreifen, die Oberflächendetails mit einer Auflösung von 2,3 Meter pro Pixel abbilden. Diese SRC-Aufnahmen erhalten ihren besonderen Wert durch den geologischen Kontext der Umgebung, welcher durch die Bilder des hochauflösenden Stereokopfes geliefert wird.

Vor der Datenübertragung werden die Bilder in der HRSC Digital Unit komprimiert und im Raumschiff zwischengespeichert. Auf der Erde werden die Marsaufnahmen zunächst am DLR-Institut für Planetenforschung systematisch prozessiert und dann zur weiteren Verarbeitung und Analyse an das HRSC-Team aus 43 Wissenschaftlern in 9 Ländern verteilt.

Seit 1997 wurden 2 Versionen der HRSC für den Flugzeugeinsatz modifiziert. Sie haben in verschiedenen Flugkampagnen schon jetzt den Nachweis für die Robustheit des HRSC-Designs und für den wissenschaftlichen Wert der HRSC Technologie erbracht.

Die HRSC wurde am DLR-Institut für Planetenforschung entwickelt. Das DLR-Institut für Planetenforschung ist auch für den Betrieb der Kamera während der gesamten Mission sowie für die Verarbeitung und Verteilung der Bilddaten verantwortlich. Die Prozessierung der Bilder erfolgt im Berliner DLR-Institut für Planetenforschung in Zusammenarbeit mit der Freien Universität Berlin. Geleitet wird das deutsche Kameraexperiment HRSC-SRC an Bord von Mars Express vom Principal Investigator (PI) Prof. Dr. Gerhard Neukum von der Freien Universität Berlin.

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Seit zehn Jahren kreist die Raumsonde um den Mars - DLR-Wissenschaftler vermessen den Planeten

Gräben, verzweigte Täler, Lavaflüsse oder auch den höchsten Berg im Universum - auf den Bildern der deutschen Stereokamera, die mit der europäischen Sonde Mars Express um den Roten Planeten fliegt, ist die Topographie des Mars so plastisch, dass man durch sie hindurchspazieren könnte. "Zum ersten Mal konnten wir den Mars räumlich - dreidimensional - sehen", sagt Prof. Ralf Jaumann, Projektleiter für die Mission im Deutschen Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt (DLR). Das war vor mittlerweile zehn Jahren. Am 2. Juni 2003 startete die Sonde mit der Kamera an Bord ins All, seitdem hat sie den Mars fast 12.000 Mal umkreist und den Wissenschaftlern ungewöhnliche Blicke auf den Planeten ermöglicht. Nach und nach entsteht so ein Bild des Mars in 3D - und die Planetenforscher lernen Neues und Überraschendes über KIima und Entwicklung des Roten Planeten.

Die Valles Marineris auf dem Mars
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Die Kamera - eines der wichtigsten Instrumenten auf der Raumsonde - wurde noch während des Flugs zum Mars zur Erde hin gedreht und lieferte den ersten Beweis, dass sie den Start vom Weltraumbahnhof in Baikonur gut überstanden hatte: Aus knapp acht Millionen Kilometer Entfernung schoss die Kamera am 3. Juli 2003 eine Test-Aufnahme von Erde und Mond. Am DLR-Institut für Planetenforschung, das die Kamera entwickelt hat und betreibt, war die Erleichterung groß. Als die Sonde dann nur noch 5,5 Millionen Kilometer vom Roten Planeten entfernt war, gelang dann die nächste Aufnahme. Als helle und dunkle Flächen waren die verschiedenen Strukturen zu erkennen, die Eiskappe am Südpol leuchtete weiß. Am 25. Dezember 2003 erreichte Mars Express dann ihr Ziel - und sorgte für den ersten Schreck. Die Stereokamera blickte erstmals dicht über dem Mars hinunter und lieferte ein fast weißes Bild. "Da haben alle erst einmal geschluckt", erinnert sich Experimentmanager Prof. Ralf Jaumann. Funktionierte die weltraumtaugliche Kamera nicht? Für die Wissenschaftler wäre der Ausfall des Instruments eine herbe Enttäuschung gewesen. Doch einer der neun verschiedenen Kanäle der Kamera - der Infrarotkanal - zeigte immerhin schwache Konturen der Marsoberfläche. Die Problemlösung war dann schnell gefunden: Die Sensitivität der Kamera war nahe am Mars viel größer als von den Forscher erwartet, und die erste Aufnahme war daher "überbelichtet". Zwei weitere Marsumkreisungen später wurde dann mit der richtigen Belichtungzeit aus 277 Kilometern Höhe am 10. Januar 2004 die erste von vielen erfolgreichen Aufnahmen gemacht. Detail für Detail zeigte sich ein Teil der südlichen Hochländer nahe der Isidis Planitia.

Mars Express: Die erste Aufnahme der Stereokamera
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Puzzle aus einzelnen Aufnahmen

Mittlerweile ist aus den zahlreichen Aufnahmen fast ein kompletter  "Globus" in 3 D des Roten Planeten entstanden. Wie ein Puzzle setzen die Wissenschaftler Stück für die Stück die Aufnahmen der Kamera zusammen und erstellen so eine globale Landkarte vom Mars. Von den 145 Millionen Quadratkilometern Marsfläche sind bereits 97 Millionen mit einer sehr guten Auflösung abgedeckt, bei der ein Pixel weniger als 20 Metern entspricht. Mit einer Genauigkeit von weniger als 100 Metern wurde mittlerweile fast die gesamte Marsoberfläche erfasst. Zum Teil machen atmosphärische Störungen wie Wolken, Dunst, Staubstürme oder die gefürchteten Staubteufel, die Wirbelwinde auf dem Mars, eine Aufnahme unbrauchbar - dann entsteht eine Lücke, die bei einem der nächsten Überflüge gefüllt wird. "Damit entsteht der umfangreichste Datensatz, der je mit einem deutschen Instrument zur Erkundung unseres Sonnensystems gewonnen wurde", sagt DLR-Planetenforscher Jaumann. Kombiniert werden diese Daten mit den Datensätzen anderer Missionen wie Mars Global Surveyor oder auch den Daten weiterer Instrumente auf der Mars Express-Sonde.

Junge Vulkane und bewegte Klimageschichte

Dass die Täler, Canyons und Lavaströme auch in 3D zu sehen sind, ermöglicht das ungewöhnliche Aufnahmeprinzip der Kamera: Nacheinander tasten neun lichtempfindliche Detektoren die Oberfläche unter neun verschiedenen Beobachtungswinkeln ab. Diese Daten wiederum werden von den DLR-Planetenforschern zu digitalen Geländemodellen und dreidimensionalen Bildern verarbeitet. "Wir können die gesamte Topographie beinahe so sehen, als würden wir vor Ort auf dem Mars stehen", betont Prof. Ralf Jaumann. Welche Neigung hat ein Hang? Wie dick ist die Lavaschicht? Mit den Aufnahmen der Mars-Express-Kamera konnten die Wissenschaftler beispielsweise feststellen, dass der Vulkanismus auf dem Mars noch relativ jung ist: Einige der Schildvulkane in der Marsprovinz Tharsis waren noch von wenigen Millionen Jahren aktiv - für Geologen liegt das noch in der nahen Vergangenheit des Planeten. Auch heute könnten die Vulkane durchaus noch einen Rest dieser ehemaligen Aktivität haben.

Farbkodiertes Höhenmodell des Olympus Mons
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Die Bilder der Stereokamera HRSC (High Resolution Stereo Camera) zeigten den Planetenforschern aber noch mehr: Auch wenn der Mars heute keine Bedingungen für flüssiges Wasser bietet - in seiner Vergangenheit muss Wasser über seine Oberfläche geflossen sein, dass beispielsweise die vor drei bis vier Milliarden Jahren tiefe Täler ins Hochland schliff und riesige Ausflusstäler schuf. Mit dem ultrahochauflösenden Teleobjektiv der Kamera können so detailreiche Aufnahmen gemacht werden, dass gerade geologische Prozesse, an denen Wasser beteiligt war, beobachtet werden können. Möglich ist auch, dass es im Laufe der Geschichte immer wieder fließende und stehende Gewässer auf dem heute so trockenen, staubigen Planeten gab. Es müssen also in der Frühphase des Planeten andere klimatische Bedingungen geherrscht haben. Gut erkennbar ist dies auch auf den dreidimensionalen Bildern, die unweit des Äquators Strukturen zeigen, die von Gletschern stammen. Mit dem heutigen Klima auf dem Roten Planeten ist dies nicht vereinbar. Warum hat sich der Mars so entwickelt? Was hat dazu geführt, dass Mars und Erde so unterschiedlich sind? Und bot der Mars in seiner Vergangenheit Bedingungen, die Leben ermöglichten? Die Mars Express-Sonde und die HRSC-Kamera liefern kontinuierlich Daten, um diese Fragen zu beantworten.

"Dabei sollte die Mars Express-Mission schon nach einem Marsjahr - also zwei Erdjahren - enden", erinnert sich Prof. Ralf Jaumann. In den vergangenen zehn Jahren verlängerte die Europäische Weltraumorganisation ESA die Mission aber immer wieder. Nun soll die Sonde noch bis Ende 2014 um den Mars kreisen. "Das ist eigentlich das Fazit zu den vergangenen zehn Jahren: Alles funktioniert noch bestens, und wir bekommen aktuelle Daten, die für die Erforschung des Mars wichtig sind."

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Trockengefallener Flusslauf in der Hochlandregion Libya Montes

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Caldera des Olympus Mons

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Krater mit Wassereis

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Mars-Nordpol - Chasma Boreale

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Details der Phobos-Oberfläche

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Quelle: DLR


Tags: Mars-Express 

3029 Views

Sonntag, 2. Juni 2013 - 11:18 Uhr

Raumfahrt - ISRO startet Navigation-Satelliten am 12.Juni 2013

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29.05.2013

Employees from the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) work in the Indian Regional Navigational Satellite System (IRNSS) control room after the inauguration of the ISRO Navigation Centre at Indian Deep Space Network at Byalalu near Bengaluru-PTI

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V.Narayansami Inaugurates ISRO Navigation Centre near Bengaluru 
The ISRO Navigation Centre (INC), established at Indian Deep Space Network (IDSN) complex at Byalalu, about 40 km from Bangalore, was inaugurated yesterday (May 28, 2013) by Mr. V. Narayanasamy, Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office, Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions. INC is an important element of the Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System (IRNSS), an independent navigation satellite system being developed by India. 
Speaking on the occasion, Mr Narayanasamy appreciated the commitment and dedication of Indian space scientists in realising the objectives of the country’s space programme. The Minister also gave away various awards instituted by Astronautical Society of India (ASI) and ISRO. 
IRNSS will have a constellation of seven satellites and enables its users to determine their location and time accurately. These satellites will positioned in geostationary and inclined geosynchronous orbits 36,000 km above the earth’s surface. IRNSS coverage will extend over India and its neighborhood and the satellites are equipped with high precision atomic clocks and continuously transmit navigation signals to users. 
As the focal point of many critical operations of IRNSS, ISRO Navigation Centre is responsible for providing the time reference, generation of navigation messages and monitoring and control of ground facilities including ranging stations of IRNSS. It hosts several key technical facilities for supporting various navigation functions. 
Key to the navigation support is the time reference to which all ground systems and the satellite clocks are synchronised. This time reference is generated by the high precision timing facility located at INC. This timing facility is equipped with high stability, high precision atomic clocks to provide stable and continuous time reference to the navigation system. 
IRNSS will have a network of twenty one ranging stations geographically distributed primarily across India. They provide data for the orbit determination of IRNSS satellites and monitoring of the navigation signals. The data from the ranging/monitoring stations is sent to the data processing facility at INC where it is processed to generate the navigation messages. The navigation messages are then transmitted from INC to IRNSS satellites through the spacecraft control facility at Hassan/Bhopal. The state of the art data processing and storage facilities at INC enable swift processing of data and support its systematic storage. 
INC is connected to the ranging stations and to the satellite control facilities through two highly reliable dedicated communication networks consisting of satellite and terrestrial links. The hub for the satellite communication links is hosted at INC. 
Quelle: ISRO
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Update: 2.06.2013
Elektrik-Probleme verzögern Start von Indien ersten Navigation-Satelliten
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An electrical glitch in the rocket Saturday forced the Indian space agency to put off its first regional navigation satellite (IRNSS-1A) launch June 12 by two weeks from its spaceport at Sriharikota.

"During the checks of the polar launch satellite vehicle rocket (PSLV-C22), an anomaly was observed in one of the electro-hydraulic control actuators in the second stage," the state-run Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) said in a statement here.

As the replacement of the actuator will need two weeks of activity at the rocket's launch pad and the vehicle assembly area, the satellite launch has been delayed by a fortnight and will be rescheduled to June 26 from the spaceport, about 90 km from Chennai.

"Though the satellite has gone through all electrical checks after it was integrated with the rocket and was ready for propellant filling, the timely detection of the glitch has made us revisit the critical component," the statement added.

The 1,425 kg navigational satellite is intended to provide terrestrial, aerial and marine navigation services and help in disaster and fleet management across the region, after it is positioned in geostationary equatorial orbit about 36,000 km away from the earth.

"A constellation of the seven navigation satellites system will provide two types of services - standard positioning service for civilian use and restricted service, which is encrypted for authorised users (military and security)," a space official said.

In the run-up to the scheduled launch, the space agency opened May 28 a navigation centre in its Deep Space Network complex at Byalalu, about 40 km from this tech hub.

"The navigation centre will function as the main ground station for the regional navigation satellite system, as it is equipped with high precision atomic clocks and transmit navigation signals to multiple users round the clock," the official noted.

The navigation centre will also be responsible for the time reference, generation of navigation messages and monitoring and control of ground facilities, including ranging stations.

Key to the global positioning system (GPS)-based navigation support is the time reference to which all ground-based systems and satellite clocks are synchronised.

A network of 21 ranging stations located across the country will provide data for the orbit determination of the satellites and monitoring of the navigation signal.

The navigational satellites will provide an accurate real time position, navigation time (PNT) services to users in air, sea and land on a variety of platforms under all weather conditions.
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Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV-C22) flight delayed by a fortnight
 

IRNSS-1A, the first Indian Navigation Satellite, was scheduled for launch onboard PSLV-C22 on June 12, 2013 at 01:01 hrs. from Satish Dhawan Space Centre, Sriharikota. IRNSS-1A Satellite has gone through all electrical checks and is ready for propellant filling. The PSLV-C22 vehicle was fully integrated and was undergoing electrical checks.

During the electrical checks of the launch vehicle, an anomaly was observed in one of the electro-hydraulic control actuators in the second stage. It has been decided to replace this actuator.

The replacement of the control actuator needs two weeks of activity at the Launch Pad and the Vehicle Assembly Area. Accordingly, the launch of PSLV-C22/IRNSS-1A is delayed by a fortnight with respect to the original scheduled date of June 12, 2013.

Quelle: ISRO


3133 Views

Samstag, 1. Juni 2013 - 17:13 Uhr

Raumfahrt - Zukünftige Raumschiffe brauchen besseren Strahlenschutz

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Radiation Measured by NASA's Curiosity on Voyage to Mars has Implications for Future Human Missions

 
 

WASHINGTON -- Measurements taken by NASA's Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) mission as it delivered the Curiosity rover to Mars in 2012 are providing NASA the information it needs to design systems to protect human explorers from radiation exposure on deep-space expeditions in the future.

MSL's Radiation Assessment Detector (RAD) is the first instrument to measure the radiation environment during a Mars cruise mission from inside a spacecraft that is similar to potential human exploration spacecraft. The findings will reduce uncertainty about the effectiveness of radiation shielding and provide vital information to space mission designers who will need to build in protection for spacecraft occupants in the future.

"As this nation strives to reach an asteroid and Mars in our lifetimes, we're working to solve every puzzle nature poses to keep astronauts safe so they can explore the unknown and return home," said William Gerstenmaier, NASA's associate administrator for human exploration and operations in Washington. "We learn more about the human body's ability to adapt to space every day aboard the International Space Station. As we build the Orion spacecraft and Space Launch System rocket to carry and shelter us in deep space, we'll continue to make the advances we need in life sciences to reduce risks for our explorers. Curiosity's RAD instrument is giving us critical data we need so that we humans, like the rover, can dare mighty things to reach the Red Planet."

The findings, which are published in the May 31 edition of the journal Science, indicate radiation exposure for human explorers could exceed NASA's career limit for astronauts if current propulsion systems are used.

Two forms of radiation pose potential health risks to astronauts in deep space. One is galactic cosmic rays (GCRs), particles caused by supernova explosions and other high-energy events outside the solar system. The other is solar energetic particles (SEPs) associated with solar flares and coronal mass ejections from the sun.

Radiation exposure is measured in units of Sievert (Sv) or milliSievert (one one-thousandth Sv). Long-term population studies have shown exposure to radiation increases a person's lifetime cancer risk. Exposure to a dose of 1 Sv, accumulated over time, is associated with a 5 percent increase in risk for developing fatal cancer.

NASA has established a 3 percent increased risk of fatal cancer as an acceptable career limit for its astronauts currently operating in low-Earth orbit. The RAD data showed the Curiosity rover was exposed to an average of 1.8 milliSieverts of GCR per day on its journey to Mars. Only about 5 percent of the radiation dose was associated with solar particles because of a relatively quiet solar cycle and the shielding provided by the spacecraft.

The RAD data will help inform current discussions in the United States medical community, which is working to establish exposure limits for deep-space explorers in the future.

"In terms of accumulated dose, it's like getting a whole-body CT scan once every five or six days," said Cary Zeitlin, a principal scientist at the Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) in San Antonio and lead author of the paper on the findings. "Understanding the radiation environment inside a spacecraft carrying humans to Mars or other deep space destinations is critical for planning future crewed missions."

Current spacecraft shield much more effectively against SEPs than GCRs. To protect against the comparatively low energy of typical SEPs, astronauts might need to move into havens with extra shielding on a spacecraft or on the Martian surface, or employ other countermeasures. GCRs tend to be highly energetic, highly penetrating particles that are not stopped by the modest shielding provided by a typical spacecraft.

"Scientists need to validate theories and models with actual measurements, which RAD is now providing," said Donald M. Hassler, a program director at SwRI and principal investigator of the RAD investigation. "These measurements will be used to better understand how radiation travels through deep space and how it is affected and changed by the spacecraft structure itself. The spacecraft protects somewhat against lower energy particles, but others can propagate through the structure unchanged or break down into secondary particles."

After Curiosity landed on Mars in August, the RAD instrument continued operating, measuring the radiation environment on the planet's surface. RAD data collected during Curiosity's science mission will continue to inform plans to protect astronauts as NASA designs future missions to Mars in the coming decades.

SwRI, together with Christian Albrechts University in Kiel, Germany, built RAD with funding from NASA's Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate and Germany's national aerospace research center, Deutsches Zentrum fur Luft- und Raumfahrt.

NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, Calif., manages the Mars Science Laboratory Project. The NASA Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington manages the Mars Exploration Program.

Quelle: NASA


3248 Views

Samstag, 1. Juni 2013 - 16:22 Uhr

Astronomie - Cassini findet Hinweise auf Aktivität bei Saturn Mond Dione

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The Cassini spacecraft looks down, almost directly at the north pole of Dione. The feature just left of the terminator at bottom is Janiculum Dorsa, a long, roughly north-south trending ridge. Image credit: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute

Cassini Finds Hints of Activity at Saturn Moon Dione

From a distance, most of the Saturnian moon Dione resembles a bland cueball. Thanks to close-up images of a 500-mile-long (800-kilometer-long) mountain on the moon from NASA's Cassini spacecraft, scientists have found more evidence for the idea that Dione was likely active in the past. It could still be active now.

"A picture is emerging that suggests Dione could be a fossil of the wondrous activity Cassini discovered spraying from Saturn's geyser moon Enceladus or perhaps a weaker copycat Enceladus," said Bonnie Buratti of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., who leads the Cassini science team that studies icy satellites. "There may turn out to be many more active worlds with water out there than we previously thought."

Other bodies in the solar system thought to have a subsurface ocean - including Saturn's moons Enceladus and Titan and Jupiter's moon Europa - are among the most geologically active worlds in our solar system. They have been intriguing targets for geologists and scientists looking for the building blocks of life elsewhere in the solar system. The presence of a subsurface ocean at Dione would boost the astrobiological potential of this once-boring iceball.

Hints of Dione's activity have recently come from Cassini, which has been exploring the Saturn system since 2004. The spacecraft's magnetometer has detected a faint particle stream coming from the moon, and images showed evidence for a possible liquid or slushy layer under its rock-hard ice crust. Other Cassini images have also revealed ancient, inactive fractures at Dione similar to those seen at Enceladus that currently spray water ice and organic particles.

The mountain examined in the latest paper -- published in March in the journal Icarus -- is called Janiculum Dorsa and ranges in height from about 0.6 to 1.2 miles (1 to 2 kilometers). The moon's crust appears to pucker under this mountain as much as about 0.3 mile (0.5 kilometer).

"The bending of the crust under Janiculum Dorsa suggests the icy crust was warm, and the best way to get that heat is if Dione had a subsurface ocean when the ridge formed," said Noah Hammond, the paper's lead author, who is based at Brown University, Providence, R.I.

Dione gets heated up by being stretched and squeezed as it gets closer to and farther from Saturn in its orbit. With an icy crust that can slide around independently of the moon's core, the gravitational pulls of Saturn get exaggerated and create 10 times more heat, Hammond explained. Other possible explanations, such as a local hotspot or a wild orbit, seemed unlikely.

Scientists are still trying to figure out why Enceladus became so active while Dione just seems to have sputtered along. Perhaps the tidal forces were stronger on Enceladus, or maybe the larger fraction of rock in the core of Enceladus provided more radioactive heating from heavy elements. In any case, liquid subsurface oceans seem to be common on these once-boring icy satellites, fueling the hope that other icy worlds soon to be explored - like the dwarf planets Ceres and Pluto - could have oceans underneath their crusts. NASA's Dawn and New Horizons missions reach those dwarf planets in 2015.

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

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Quelle: NASA


3173 Views

Donnerstag, 30. Mai 2013 - 11:24 Uhr

Astronomie - Eisen in ägyptischen Reliquien kam aus dem Weltall

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Meteorite impacts thousands of years ago may have helped to inspire ancient religion.

Nickel-rich areas are colored blue on a virtual model (bottom) of the Gerzeh bead.

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The 5,000-year-old iron bead might not look like much, but it hides a spectacular past: researchers have found that the ancient Egyptian trinket is made from a meteorite.

The result, published on 20 May in the journal Meteoritics & Planetary Science1, explains how ancient Egyptians obtained iron millennia before the earliest evidence of iron smelting in the region, solving an enduring mystery. It also hints that the ancient Egyptians regarded meteorites highly as they began to develop their religion.

“The sky was very important to the ancient Egyptians,” says Joyce Tyldesley, an Egyptologist at the University of Manchester, UK, and a co-author on the paper. “Something that falls from the sky is going to be considered as a gift from the gods.”

An early study found that the iron in the beads had a high nickel content — a signature of iron meteorites — and led to the suggestion that it was of celestial origin2. But scholars argued in the 1980s that accidental early smelting efforts could have led to nickel-enriched iron3, while a more recent analysis of oxidised material on the surface of the beads showed low nickel content4.

To settle the argument, Diane Johnson, a meteorite scientist at the Open University in Milton Keynes, UK, and her colleagues used scanning electron microscopy and computed tomography to analyze one of the beads on loan from the Manchester Museum, UK.

The researchers weren't able to cut the precious artefact open, but they found areas where the weathered material on the surface of the bead had fallen away, providing what Johnson describes as "little windows" to the preserved metal beneath.

The nickel content of this original metal was high — 30% — suggesting that it did indeed come from a meteorite. To confirm the result, the team observed a distinctive crystallographic structure called a Widmanstätten pattern. It is only found in iron meteorites, which cooled extremely slowly inside their parent asteroids as the Solar System was forming.

The tomography analysis also revealed that the ancient Egyptians hammered a fragment of iron from the meteorite into a thin plate before they bent it into a tube.

Gifts from the gods

Researchers have discovered only a handful of ancient Egyptian iron artefacts made before the sixth century BC, when the first evidence for iron smelting in ancient Egypt appears in the archaeological record. All come from high status graves such as that of King Tutankhamun. "Iron was very strongly associated with royalty and power," says Johnson.

Objects made of such divine material were believed to guarantee their deceased owner priority passage into the afterlife.

Campbell Price, a curator of Egypt and Sudan at the Manchester Museum who was not a member of the study team, emphasizes that nothing is known for certain about the Egyptians’ religious beliefs before the advent of writing. But he points out that later on, during the time of the Pharaohs, the gods were believed to have bones made of iron.

Perhaps meteorites originally inspired this belief, he speculates, with these celestial rocks interpreted as the physical remains of gods falling to Earth.

Johnson says she would love to check whether other early Egyptian iron artefacts are of meteoritic origin too — if she can get permission to study them.

Quelle: Nature


2969 Views

Donnerstag, 30. Mai 2013 - 11:10 Uhr

Astronomie - NASA SWIFT entdeckt neues Phänomen in einem Neutronenstern

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Astronomers using NASA's Swift X-ray Telescope have observed a spinning neutron star suddenly slowing down, yielding clues they can use to understand these extremely dense objects.

A neutron star is the crushed core of a massive star that ran out of fuel, collapsed under its own weight, and exploded as a supernova. A neutron star can spin as fast as 43,000 times per minute and boast a magnetic field a trillion times stronger than Earth's. Matter within a neutron star is so dense a teaspoonful would weigh about a billion tons on Earth.

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An artist's rendering of an outburst on an ultra-magnetic neutron star, also called a magnetar.
Credit: NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center

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This neutron star, 1E 2259+586, is located about 10,000 light-years away toward the constellation Cassiopeia. It is one of about two dozen neutron stars called magnetars, which have very powerful magnetic fields and occasionally produce high-energy explosions or pulses.

Observations of X-ray pulses from 1E 2259+586 from July 2011 through mid-April 2012 indicated the magnetar's rotation was gradually slowing from once every seven seconds, or about eight revolutions per minute. On April 28, 2012, data showed the spin rate had decreased abruptly, by 2.2 millionths of a second, and the magnetar was spinning down at a faster rate.

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The magnetar 1E 2259+586 shines a brilliant blue-white in this false-color X-ray image of the CTB 109 supernova remnant, which lies about 10,000 light-years away toward the constellation Cassiopeia. CTB 109 is only one of three supernova remnants in our galaxy known to harbor a magnetar. X-rays at low, medium and high energies are respectively shown in red, green, and blue in this image created from observations acquired by the European Space Agency's XMM-Newton satellite in 2002.
Credit: ESA/XMM-Newton/M. Sasaki et al.

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"Astronomers have witnessed hundreds of events, called glitches, associated with sudden increases in the spin of neutron stars, but this sudden spin-down caught us off guard," said Victoria Kaspi, a professor of physics at McGill University in Montreal. She leads a team that uses Swift to monitor magnetars routinely.

Astronomers dubbed the event an "anti-glitch," said co-author Neil Gehrels, principal investigator of the Swift mission at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. "It affected the magnetar in exactly the opposite manner of every other clearly identified glitch seen in neutron stars."

The discovery has important implications for understanding the extreme physical conditions present within neutron stars, where matter becomes squeezed to densities several times greater than an atomic nucleus. No laboratory on Earth can duplicate these conditions.

A report on the findings appears in the May 30 edition of the journal Nature.

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A neutron star is the densest object astronomers can observe directly, crushing half a million times Earth's mass into a sphere about 12 miles across, or similar in size to Manhattan Island, as shown in this illustration.
Credit: NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center

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The internal structure of neutron stars is a long-standing puzzle. Current theory maintains a neutron star has a crust made up of electrons and ions; an interior containing oddities that include a neutron superfluid, which is a bizarre state of matter without friction; and a surface that accelerates streams of high-energy particles through the star's intense magnetic field.

The streaming particles drain energy from the crust. The crust spins down, but the fluid interior resists being slowed. The crust fractures under the strain. When this happens, a glitch occurs. There is an X-ray outburst and the star gets a speedup kick from the faster-spinning interior.

Processes that lead to a sudden rotational slowdown constitute a new theoretical challenge.

On April 21, 2012, just a week before Swift observed the anti-glitch, 1E 2259+586 produced a brief, but intense X-ray burst detected by the Gamma-ray Burst Monitor aboard NASA's Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope. The scientists think this 36-millisecond eruption of high-energy light likely signaled the changes that drove the magnetar's slowdown.

"What is really remarkable about this event is the combination of the magnetar's abrupt slowdown, the X-ray outburst, and the fact we now observe the star spinning down at a faster rate than before," said lead author Robert Archibald, a graduate student at McGill.

Goddard manages Swift, which was launched in November 2004. The telescope is operated in collaboration with Pennsylvania State University in University Park, Pa., the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico and Orbital Sciences Corp. in Dulles, Va. International collaborators are in the United Kingdom and Italy, and the mission includes contributions from Germany and Japan.

Quelle: NASA


Tags: NASA SWIFT 

2929 Views

Mittwoch, 29. Mai 2013 - 12:20 Uhr

Raumfahrt - Das Staunen von Astronaut Chris Hadfield. Er sah, Raum und Erde, als wären sie brandneu und gab seine Erfahrungen an Bord der ISS an Millionen weiter.

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On May 13, as the Toronto Maple Leafs faced off against the Boston Bruins in Game 7 of their Stanley Cup playoff series, the Russian Soyuz spacecraft was undocking from the International Space Station (ISS). Crammed inside like sardines were Chris Hadfield and his crewmates, American Tom Marshburn and Russian Roman Romanenko, returning home after five months in space. Underneath his spacesuit, Hadfield was wearing a Leafs T-shirt to support his favourite team. The Soyuz sliced down into the atmosphere and began to slow, subjecting the astronauts to a punishing 4 Gs—four times Earth’s gravity—and making their limbs feel leaden, their breathing laboured: a harsh reintroduction to gravity after the weightlessness of space. As the Soyuz dropped to its landing site on a Kazakhstan plain, search-and-rescue helicopters were circling.
The capsule hit the ground with the force of a car crash, tipping over onto its side. “I was hanging from the ceiling,” Hadfield says. “Roman was in the middle, and Tom was lying on the floor.” Marshburn looked out the window, and saw “dirt and grass where space had been just moments before.” The search-and-rescue team pried open the hatch and Hadfield and his crew were greeted by the scent of springtime, mixed with the burnt smell of their charred spaceship.
Dr. Raffi Kuyumjian, Hadfield’s flight surgeon, was one of three Canadian Space Agency (CSA) people in Kazakhstan. (Hadfield’s wife, Helene, was watching from mission control in Houston.) After the astronauts had been lifted from the spacecraft and were seated, draped in blankets, Kuyumjian said, “The first thing I did was dial Helene on my cell and give it to Chris.” He and Helene assured each other they were fine, then Hadfield asked: “How’d the Leafs do?” She broke the news that his team had lost in overtime. With that, Canada’s first space commander was truly brought back to Earth.
Since blasting off to the ISS on Dec. 19, Hadfield has become the most celebrated astronaut alive, one destined for a spot alongside his hero, Neil Armstrong, whose 1969 moon landing inspired his own career. But while half a billion people watched Armstrong climb out of the lunar lander and set foot on the moon, this is a more cynical time—one less impressed by technological achievement. People have lived and worked aboard the ISS continuously since 2000, and visiting low-Earth orbit isn’t as exotic as walking on the moon, let alone Mars or beyond. It’s a wonder that a Canadian astronaut like Hadfield could catch anyone’s attention, let alone captivate millions around the world. Yet, however improbably, that’s what he did.
An astronaut for the Internet age, Hadfield has harnessed social media to open up space in an entirely new way. His YouTube videos, showing how to make a sandwich in space, or how to brush your teeth, have been viewed by millions. His Twitter followers have ballooned from around 20,000 at the time of the launch to almost a million. The songs he recorded from space, and the photos he snapped of Earth, have inspired people. Hadfield said he’d make this “Canada’s mission,” and he’s fulfilled that promise; but really, it’s a mission that was shared and followed by people around the world.
With his crash-landing in a Kazakhstan field, he was home, and if his return to Earth cost him certain powers—the ability to do playful flips in microgravity, to strum his Larrivée parlour guitar as he floated in mid-air, to move a refrigerator with his fingertips—his power to communicate with millions instantly, around the globe, remains. Hadfield returns to a planet changed by his mission, maybe more than he realizes. For a multitude of reasons—his unabashed enthusiasm, his willingness to be silly, or the feeling we were all up there with him—he made Canadians proud.
Moments after landing, the 53-year-old Hadfield bore little resemblance to the larger-than-life spaceship commander he’d become. He took slow, tentative steps, leaning on Kuyumjian’s arm. Under the dazzling sunlight, he looked pale and wan. Gravity was exerting its pull on him once again, compressing his spine, causing his back and neck to ache, the soles of his underused feet to hurt, even his lips and mouth to feel unfamiliar. “I’d learned how to talk with a weightless tongue,” he explains. Once able to fly around the ISS, Hadfield had to learn to walk and talk again.
The astronauts were brought by helicopter to a nearby site for a welcome ceremony; then Romanenko boarded a Russia-bound plane, and Marshburn and Hadfield got on a NASA jet for Houston. It would take another 20 hours, with two stopovers, to get home. “On the helicopter, he just slept,” Kuyumjian says. “He’d been awake at least 16 hours, if not more, by the time they landed.” Arriving at almost midnight local time, he found “there were already scientists waiting to run tests on him.” Hadfield left the ISS on Monday evening and didn’t get to bed until nearly 2:30 on Wednesday morning. After a few short hours of sleep, he was back for more testing.
At NASA’s Johnson Space Center, where the astronaut corps is based, Hadfield’s days since his return have been given over to scientists prodding him to learn how the human body adapts to space. One of the first he saw was Richard Hughson of the University of Waterloo, who studies how the cardiovascular system changes in microgravity. “Chris wanted to do the Canadian experiments, so we, fortunately, were high-priority,” Hughson said, adding that he’s trying to find out why as many as one-third of astronauts feel dizzy and faint when they return to Earth.
There have been plenty of debriefings for Hadfield, too, and painstaking hours of physical rehabilitation to regain the strength, flexibility and balance lost after months in space. Having so many people clamouring for his time was a change after months aboard the ISS, with only a few other astronauts for physical company. “It’s kind of odd to have 50 people around me, making noise,” Hadfield told Maclean’s not long after returning to Houston. “A lot of people want to talk to me right now.”
That wasn’t the only adjustment. Hadfield shuffled his feet when he walked and was prone to bump into corners when turning in a hallway. His manual dexterity was off. Helene had to drive him around the Johnson campus. (Because of dizziness and other symptoms, astronauts are advised not to drive for the first few weeks they’re home.) “The physical stuff is pretty overwhelming right now,” he said. Microgravity affects virtually every system in the body, causing muscle atrophy and bone loss; on the ISS, astronauts exercise two hours each day to ward off its effects. If they didn’t, six months in space would be comparable to 50 years of aging.
Jeremy Hansen, who, along with David Saint-Jacques, was selected as a Canadian astronaut in 2009, admits that Hadfield’s condition caught him off-guard. “It’s tougher than I realized, coming back to gravity,” said Hansen, 37, who hasn’t yet been to space. “This was the first time I saw the whole process.” After a few weeks, Kuyumjian expects Hadfield will appear nearly back to normal, and Hadfield himself says he’s seeing daily improvements in his condition, but recovering the bone density he’s lost could take about a year. Researchers have studied whether drugs could help prevent bone loss; astronauts take vitamin D in space, but not calcium, says former Canadian astronaut Robert Thirsk, now a vice-president at the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. In space, “calcium is leaching out of the bones,” and reaches high levels in the bloodstream, Thirsk explained. This puts astronauts at greater risk of kidney stones, a serious danger when they’re so far from medical help.
When Thirsk returned from his six-month stint on the ISS in 2009, the first Canadian to complete a long-duration mission, he spoke frankly about the physical problems he endured, including a far-sightedness that persists today. (Only some astronauts experience vision problems, for reasons that aren’t yet understood; Hadfield and other space travellers are having their eyes examined to help find out why.) Astronauts haven’t always been forthcoming when it comes to discussing their health. “They may be concerned to report things that might be considered weaknesses,” says Laurence Harris of York University, who researches the sensory effects of space travel. “They may play down issues like feeling sick or dizzy, because when they come down, they can’t wait to go up again.”
Like Thirsk, Hadfield has spoken publicly about his physical condition. “I have dizziness,” he said in his first post-mission press conference, just three days after leaving the ISS. “I haven’t held my head up for five months, so my neck is sore and my back is sore.” Under his clothing, he explained, he was wearing a G-suit to push blood into his upper body, since his cardiovascular system hadn’t yet readjusted to counteract gravity’s downward pull. As reporters asked whether he’d consider a move into politics, or a role as the CSA’s new president, Hadfield waved them off. “I’m just trying to learn how to walk again,” he said. “It’s like asking an infant if they’re ready for their Ph.D.”
Hadfield’s openness is unusual. Astronauts are typically reserved, selected for a capacity for solitude and self-reliance—important qualities for anyone who’ll be living in near-isolation for months on end, far from friends and family. If tragedy strikes, they can’t come rushing home. (While Hadfield and his crew were on orbit, Marshburn’s mother died.) The Canadian commander is a natural communicator. His video demonstrating that it’s impossible to cry in zero gravity—the simulated tears pool over his eyes in a giant glassy blob instead of falling—has more than 2.4 million views. If he hadn’t become a military pilot and then an astronaut, it’s possible to imagine him as an affable first-grade teacher.
Lindsay Rous, 29, is a Grade 9 science teacher at Bert Church High School in Airdrie, Alta. As part of a project organized by Let’s Talk Science (a Canadian non-profit science-outreach group) and the CSA, her class got a bubble detector, a clear plastic tube filled with polymer gel that detects neutron radiation. Each time a neutron hits a droplet in the gel, it vapourizes and turns into a bubble. More bubbles means more radiation. Hadfield was using these same detectors, made by Bubble Technology Industries in Chalk River, Ont., to measure neutron radiation on the ISS, just as 7,700 Canadian high school students did their own neutron exposure testing and compared their results to his. “We looked at it every day,” Rous says. “Chris had hundreds of times more radiation than we did, which the students were pleased about,” she adds.
In March, Let’s Talk Science hosted a live downlink with Hadfield from Rous’s school; close to 1,000 students were there. “They were excited for weeks ahead of time,” Rous said, and peppered Hadfield with questions, asking about the food he ate in space and what it was like to use the Canadarm. “They all follow him on Twitter,” she said. “One of them got re-tweeted by him, and it was the coolest thing ever.” Asked why Hadfield generates such excitement, Rous said, “because they’re not reading it in textbooks. They’re participating. They all feel like they know him.”
The first live tweet from space came in 2010; since then, the ISS Internet connection has only improved. Social media broke down the walls between Hadfield and his fans and bridged the distance between the ISS and Earth. It allowed Hadfield to chat with the likes of William Shatner, who tweeted on Jan. 3, “Are you tweeting from space?” Hadfield’s reply: “Yes, standard orbit, Captain. And we’re detecting signs of life on the surface.” While Hadfield has emphasized Canadian science, music and culture throughout his mission, social media ensured him a global following. In February, he posted a photo of Dublin with the message “Tá Éire fíorálainn,” or “Ireland is beautiful,” earning new Irish fans. (Daughter Kristin, one of the Hadfields’ three adult children, is a Ph.D. psychology student living in Dublin.)
While other astronauts, like Hansen and Marshburn, use Twitter, none is as prolific as Hadfield. From the ISS, he posted between eight and 15 tweets per day, according to his son Evan, who was kept busy full-time managing his dad’s many social media accounts—Facebook, Tumblr, YouTube, SoundCloud and others—from his home near Frankfurt, Germany. On Twitter, Hadfield might describe what he’d eaten for breakfast, or post one of his stunning photos of a city or landscape on Earth, often with a poetic description. (Budapest, May 8: “The surrounding hills newly alive with the green of spring.”) People tweeted at Hadfield, too, asking questions, offering encouragement or gratitude: “Thank you for inspiring my daughters’ interest in space,” said one Melbourne woman on May 19. “Three new potential female astronauts.” “You are a true Canadian hero, and you have made space cool again,” from another. “I’m a seventh-grade teacher and you have been a frequent visitor to my classroom.” And: “He made us proud to be Canadian.”
With Evan’s help, Hadfield organized an “Ask Me Anything” on Reddit in February, holing himself up with a laptop to answer questions from the ISS. All this social media outreach wasn’t an official duty, and even made his CSA bosses a bit nervous at first, although CSA’s own Twitter feed was soon enthusiastically retweeting Hadfield and his followers. They’d initially worried his days were packed full enough. There’s rarely free time, with duties ranging from maintenance and upkeep of the ship, to the two hours of daily exercise, to scheduled public appearances (such as the downlink at Rous’s school), to the roughly 130 science experiments taking place on board. These range from studying how the human heart adapts in space, to how colloids (particles suspended in a medium) behave, to hunting for dark matter, the invisible stuff that knits together the universe.
In the week of Jan. 28, for example, the crew managed to complete 71 hours of science, setting a new record for the station. Hadfield fired off a photo or a tweet whenever he had a moment. Even after he officially assumed command, on March 13, his pace didn’t slow. Describing his urgency to make the absolute most of his mission, Hadfield quotes a poem from Rudyard Kipling: “It’s months of filling the unforgiving minute.”
Gwen Walter, Helene’s mother, who lives in Victoria, runs Expedition35.com, which sells mission memorabilia such as water bottles, T-shirts and baseball caps with the expedition logo. “I’ve been producing souvenirs since Chris’s first mission in 1995,” Walter says. (She also runs Kalamari Enterprises, which sells promotional products, from travel mugs to tote bags.) Fielding orders, Walter sometimes lets it drop that Hadfield is her son-in-law. “I’m not bragging,” she says, “I just know [the clients] would like that.”
“Good Lord Gwen, you must be seriously proud!” emailed Richard Daly, an Irish schoolteacher. “I’m actually a bit star-struck here, emailing Chris Hadfield’s mother-in-law.” Daly teaches a class of 11-year-olds, and every day, “we did mathematics with Chris. He’d be on the large interactive screen going on about his daily work on board and we’d have the live ISS TV feed on in the background.” Hadfield inspired these students “like I’ve never seen a scientist or anyone else do before. I’m happy that his mother-in-law, or maybe even Chris, some day, will know that 30 Irish children will leave my class to go on with their lives, knowing that there are no boundaries to achievement.”
On May 9, just a few days before Hadfield, Marshburn and Romanenko were scheduled to leave the ISS, a troubling leak of ammonia coolant was spotted outside the station. Late the next day, NASA and its partners approved plans for an emergency spacewalk. Marshburn and another American, Chris Cassidy, were assigned to do the repair. (Six astronauts were on the ISS at the time.)
Hadfield was the first Canadian ever to leave a spacecraft and float in space, back in 2001. Before the launch, he’d said he would welcome the opportunity to do a spacewalk, although none was scheduled for him. In this spacewalk, he served as choreographer, helping suit up the astronauts and coordinating the process from inside the ship. “The logic [to not using Hadfield] was that Chris was flying the capsule home on Monday,” says Tim Braithwaite, the CSA’s liaison manager in Houston. (A Russian traditionally commands the Soyuz, in this case, Romanenko; Hadfield was co-pilot.) In the 5½ hours Marshburn and Cassidy spent outside the ship, they appear to have fixed the leak. Hadfield says he’s not disappointed he didn’t get to do the spacewalk. “I have no regrets, none,” he says. “Naysayers could have said, ‘You were doing so many things, there’s no way you could have responded [to an emergency].’ ” And yet, with one day’s notice, they did.
One of Hadfield’s last dispatches from space was a cover of David Bowie’s Space Oddity, the 1969 song about fame and alienation. (It now has more than 14 million views.) Floating with his guitar and gazing down at Earth, Hadfield seems reflective, but the altered lyrics suggest he’s ready to return home: Instead of melancholic Major Tom, who felt there was nothing he could do, Hadfield sings there’s “nothing left to do.”
“I set myself main objectives years ago,” Hadfield told Maclean’s: to bring home a healthy crew; to leave the ISS in better shape; and to do a lot of science in space. As for his massive public outreach campaign, Hadfield—who’d flown twice before this mission—already had a notion of how much could be shared from low-Earth orbit. The technology that let him do it (and the high-tech camera he used to capture Earth from the sky) had reached the point where it was possible. With the support of others, such as his tech-savvy son, Evan, Hadfield arrived on the ISS with a plan to “make this a shared experience.” He’s fond of saying that space is “way too good to keep to yourself.”
Over the coming days and weeks, as Hadfield emerges from the NASA bubble he’s been in, the scope of his new-found fame could well catch him off-guard. Right now, deep in his debriefings and physical therapy sessions, “I’m almost completely insulated from it,” he says. Hadfield is scheduled to be parade marshal at the Calgary Stampede in July and in Ottawa for Canada Day. He’s getting reacquainted with life on Earth. “We were eating breakfast yesterday, and Chris was like, ‘Man, look at the trees out the window,’ ” Hansen says. “He was just taken aback.”
When Hadfield was nine years old and saw Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walk on the moon, there was no Canadian space program. “It wasn’t just hard, but impossible, to be an astronaut,” he says. That’s what he set out to become, and spent the rest of his life working toward that goal. Having achieved it, Hadfield squeezed every last drop out of his command, taking millions along for the ride. He used his photos and tweets to show that space, like Earth, is familiar yet strange, and staggeringly beautiful. Five months later, the planet feels a bit more connected than it did before. “I’d say thank you to Chris Hadfield,” says Rous, the high school teacher in Alberta, “because he changed us.”
Quelle: MACLEANS
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Tags: Chris Hadfield 

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Mittwoch, 29. Mai 2013 - 11:40 Uhr

Raumfahrt - Andocken von Soyuz TMA-09M und Ankunft von ISS-Crew 36/37

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Frams: NASA-TV

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Hatch opening

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Quelle: NASA


Tags: Soyuz TMA-09M 

3024 Views

Dienstag, 28. Mai 2013 - 23:21 Uhr

Astronomie - Sonnenfleck-1756

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3213 Views

Dienstag, 28. Mai 2013 - 22:55 Uhr

Raumfahrt - Start von Crew 36/37 und Flug in Rekordzeit zur ISS

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25.05.2013

NASA TV Coverage Set for Next Soyuz Space Station Crew Launch

 
 

WASHINGTON -- NASA Television will provide extensive coverage of the launch and docking of the next crew members who will fly to the International Space Station on Tuesday, May 28.

Expedition 36/37 Flight Engineer Karen Nyberg of NASA, Soyuz Commander Fyodor Yurchikhin of the Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos) and Flight Engineer Luca Parmitano of the European Space Agency are scheduled to launch at 4:31 p.m. EDT (2:31 a.m. Kazakh time May 29), from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

They will dock their Soyuz capsule to the Earth-facing Rassvet module of the space station at 10:17 p.m. following an expedited four-orbit rendezvous.

NASA TV coverage will begin at 3:30 p.m., and include video of all pre-launch activities that day leading to the crew boarding its spacecraft. Docking coverage begins at 9:30 p.m.

At 11:55 p.m., hatches between the Soyuz and space station will open and Nyberg, Yurchikhin and Parmitano will be greeted by Expedition 36 Commander Pavel Vinogradov and Flight engineer Alexander Misurkin of Roscosmos and Flight Engineer Chris Cassidy of NASA. That trio has been aboard the station since late March. Hatch opening coverage begins at 11:30 p.m.

Nyberg, Yurchikhin and Parmitano will remain aboard the station until mid-November. Cassidy, Vinogradov and Misurkin will return to Earth in mid-September, leaving Yurchikhin as the Expedition 37 commander.

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Pictured on the front row are Expedition 36 Commander Pavel Vinogradov (left) and Flight Engineer Fyodor Yurchikhin. Pictured from the left (back row) are Flight Engineers Alexander Misurkin, Chris Cassidy, Luca Parmitano and Karen Nyberg. Photo credit: NASA

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ESA astronaut Luca Parmitano left for Baikonur, Kazakhstan today, his last stop before heading to the International Space Station on 28 May.

His launch on a Soyuz rocket will be the culmination of more than two years of preparation that has seen Luca training in Russia, Canada, Japan, Europe and the US at facilities of the Station partners.

 
Luca and his crewmates, cosmonaut commander Fyodor Yurchikhin and NASA astronaut Karen Nyberg, spent the last few weeks in Moscow, Russia passing their final exams for flying the Soyuz spacecraft. They received their official tickets to the Space Station on 10 May when the Soyuz examination board declared them qualified to fly.

The trip from Moscow to Baikonur is more than 2000 km, roughly five times the distance to their next home in space. Luca’s Soyuz will arrive at the orbital outpost in under seven hours – only two hours longer than today’s plane journey to the launch site.

The crew will stay at the traditional Cosmonaut Hotel for the last days before launch. Luca, Fyodor and Karen will be quarantined to make sure they do not take any unwanted bacteria or viruses to the Space Station. Family and support personnel such as flight surgeons will be the only people allowed to stay with them.

Cosmonauts Pavel Vinogradov, Alexander Misurkin and NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy are already on the Station and will welcome the new Expedition when the Soyuz docks on 29 May.

Luca’s Volare mission is provided through an agreement with Italy’s ASI space agency. His busy schedule of science and maintenance involves two spacewalks to install new equipment and retrieve experiments.

Watch the launch live on 28 May from 20:00 GMT (22:00 CEST) and follow the Volare blog for updates from the mission directors and Luca himself.

Quelle: ESA

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Update: 25.05.3013

At the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, the Expedition 36/37 prime and backup crews pose for pictures in the Korolev Museum May 24 following the final "fit check" dress rehearsal before launch. From left to right are backup Flight Engineer Koichi Wakata of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, backup Soyuz Commander Fyodor Yurchikhin of Russia and backup Flight Engineer Rick Mastracchio of NASA, prime Flight Engineer Karen Nyberg of NASA, prime Soyuz Commander Fyodor Yurchikhin of Russia and prime Flight Engineer Luca Parmitano of the European Space Agency. Nyberg, Yurchikhin and Parmitano are preparing for launch May 29, Kazakh time, in the Soyuz TMA-09M spacecraft to begin a 5 ½ month mission on the International Space Station. Photo credit: NASA/Victor Zelentsov

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