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Sonntag, 13. Oktober 2013 - 11:35 Uhr

Astronomie - Seltener, frei schwebenden Exoplaneten gefunden

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A rare, rogue exoplanet without a parent star drifts through space just 80 light-years from Earth, astronomers say. The object may be the lowest-mass free-floating planet found to date in the solar neighborhood.
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The exoplanet, called PSO J318.5-22, is roughly six times the mass of Jupiter and about 12 million years old, relatively young in cosmic age. It has a surface temperature of about 1,100 Kelvin and does not appear to have methane in its atmosphere, which makes it different from other free-floating objects astronomers have identified. Scientists describe the planet in a paper accepted for publication in Astrophysical Journal Letters.
The team discovered PSO J318.5-22 using the Pan-STARRS 1 telescope in Hawaii. Further analysis revealed that the object is similar to other directly imaged exoplanets, including HR 8799 b, c, d and e.
The observations reaffirmed that planets with similar ages and temperatures can have different amounts of metals and other chemical compounds in their atmospheres. Those differences could reveal whether a free-floater formed in a collapsing gas cloud by itself or formed with stars and other planets and then later ejected from the group.
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The newly discovered free-floating planet PSO J318.5-22 appears as the red dot in this image.
N. METCALFE/PAN-STARRS 1 SCIENCE CONSORTIUM
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Quelle: ScienceNews
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Update: 13.10.2013
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Wo die Unterschiede zwischen Sternen und Planeten verwischen:
Einsame Planeten helfen beim Verständnis der Sternentstehung

Eine Gruppe von Astronomen, zu der auch Niall Deacon vom Max-Planck-Institut für Astronomie (MPIA) gehört, hat ein Bild eines ungewöhnlichen frei im All treibenden Planeten aufgenommen. Ohne Heimatstern ist das Objekt ungleich einfacher zu untersuchen als ein normaler Planet und verspricht neue Erkenntnisse über die Eigenschaften von Planetenatmosphären. Zu der Frage, wie sich derart massearme Einzelobjekte bilden, liefern unabhängige Beobachtungen von Viki Joergens (MPIA) und Kollegen neue Daten: Die Astronomen fanden heraus, dass ein ganz ähnliches massearmes Objekt auf die gleiche Weise geboren wird wie ein junger Stern – eine wichtige Information für unser Verständnis der Sternentstehung.Früher war alles einfacher. Zum einen waren da Sterne: riesige, selbstleuchtende Gaskugeln. Dann gab es noch Planeten, mit sehr viel geringerer Masse, die das Licht ihres Heimatsterns jeweils nur reflektierten. Sterne entstehen aus dem Kollaps gigantischer Gaswolken; Planeten bilden sich in der Gas- und Staubscheibe rund um einen jungen Stern. Irgendwo dazwischen lagen, etwas weniger eindeutig, Braune Zwerge: Weniger massereich als ein Stern, so dass tief in ihrem Inneren keine Kernfusionsreaktionen einsetzen konnten, aber massereicher als Planeten.

Nun haben zwei neue Entdeckungen die Grenze zwischen diesen verschiedenen Objektsorten noch weiter verwischt: sie zeigen, dass auch frei im All treibende Objekte mit ähnlicher Masse wie die Planeten auf die gleiche Weise entstehen können wie Sterne.

Die erste Entdeckung gelang einem internationalen Astronomenteam unter der Leitung von Michael Liu von der Universität Hawaii. Die Astronomen entdeckten mit dem Pan-STARRS1 (PS1)-Teleskop auf Hawaii ein exotisches junges Himmelsobjekt mit gerade einmal dem sechsfachen der Jupitermasse, das für sich allein durch den Weltraum treibt – ganz ohne Heimatstern.

Das Objekt mit der Katalognummer PSO J318.5-22 befindet sich von der Erde aus gesehen in einem Abstand von nur 80 Lichtjahren im Sternbild Steinbock. Es hat ähnliche Eigenschaft wie die gigantischen Gasplaneten, die man in der Nähe einiger junger Sterne gefunden hat. Mit rund 12 Millionen Jahren ist das Objekt, gemessen an den Zeitskalen der Stern -und Planetenentstehung, noch recht jung.

Seit 1995 haben Astronomen rund tausend Exoplaneten entdeckt – allerdings fast immer nur auf indirektem Wege, über ein leichtes Schlingern oder eine leichte Verdunkelung des Heimatsterns, die sich auf einen Planeten zurückführen lassen. Nur von einer Handvoll von Exoplaneten gibt es Abbildungen – und zwar jeweils von Planeten mit jungen Heimatsternen (weniger als 200 Millionen Jahre alt). In Masse, Farbe und Energieausstoß hat PSO J318.5-22 große Ähnlichkeit mit den auf diesen Abbildungen sichtbaren Objekte.

Niall Deacon vom Max-Planck-Institut für Astronomie, einer der Koautoren des Fachartikels, welcher die Entdeckung beschreibt, erklärt, warum der Fund für die Astronomen ein Glücksfall ist: »Es ist ungemein schwierig, die bisherigen Planeten, von denen es Abbildungen gibt, eingehender zu untersuchen. Direkt neben dem Planeten leuchtet schließlich jeweils der sehr viel hellere Heimatstern. PSO J318.5-22 dagegen kreist nicht um einen Stern und wird sich daher ungleich einfacher untersuchen lassen. Davon erhoffen wir uns Erkenntnisse über die Eigenschaften und Strukturen von Gasriesen wie Jupiter in einer frühen Phase ihrer Entwicklung.«

Mit einer Masse von nur sechs Jupitermassen ist PSO J318.5-22 eines der masseärmsten frei im All treibenden Objekte, die außerhalb unseres Sonnensystems nachgewiesen werden konnten – womöglich sogar das masseärmste. Herkömmliche Planeten werden in Gas- und Staubscheiben rund um ihren in Entstehung befindlichen Heimatstern geboren. Aber wie ist es mit Einzelobjekten so geringer Masse? Können sich frei treibende Objekte, aber z. B. auch Braune Zwerge ganz allgemein, auf die gleiche Weise bilden wie herkömmliche Sterne? Eine umfangreiche Untersuchung, die zeitgleich von einer weiteren Gruppe von Astronomen unter der Leitung von Viki Joergens (MPIA) veröffentlicht wurde, legt das nahe.

Joergens und ihre Kollegen untersuchten ein Objekt mit der Katalognummer OTS44, das nur rund 2 Millionen Jahre alt ist – auf den Zeitskalen der Planeten- und Sternentstehung ein neugeborenes Baby. Das Objekt hat eine Masse von schätzungsweise 12 Jupitermassen (also etwas mehr als PSO J318.5-22). Es treibt ebenfalls alleine, ohne Heimatstern durch das All – allerdings in einem durchaus geselligen Gebiet: OTS44 ist Teil der Chamaeleon-Sternentstehungsregion im südlichen Sternbild Chamaeleon in einem Abstand von etwas mehr als 500 Lichtjahren von der Erde. Dort werden zahlreiche neue Sterne aus dem Kollaps von Gas- und Staubwolken geboren.

Genau wie ein junger Stern ist OTS44 von einer Scheibe aus Gas und Staub umgeben. Und, wie Joergens und ihre Kollegen zeigen konnten: Die Geburt ist noch gar nicht ganz abgeschlossen. Die Astronomen zerlegten das Licht von OTS44 mit Hilfe des SINFONI-Spektrografen am Very Large Telescope der ESO in Chile in seine Bestandteile. Dabei fanden sie Anzeichen dafür, dass OTS44 auch jetzt noch Materie aus der ihn umgebenden Scheibe auf sich zieht. Joergens sagt: »Unsere Beobachtungen zeigen, dass der Stern OTS44 auch jetzt noch Gas auf sich zieht und so seine Masse erhöht.«

Durch den Vergleich von Daten verschiedener Teleskope – unter anderem des Weltraumteleskops Herschel – mit einem sorgfältig rekonstruierten Modell des freifliegenden Planeten konnten Joergens und ihre Kollegen außerdem nachweisen, dass die Scheibe, die OTS44 umgibt, mindestens 30 Mal soviel Masse in sich vereint wie die Erde. Anzeichen für die Scheibe selbst waren bereits zuvor von anderen Astronomen nachgewiesen worden. Sowohl die beachtliche Scheibe und das einfallende Material (Akkretion) sind klare Hinweise auf Entstehungsprozesse, wie sie für die Sternentstehung typisch sind. Zumindest von der Entstehung her scheint es keinen grundlegenden Unterschied zwischen Objekten wie OTS44 und herkömmlichen Sternen zu geben. OTS44 hat dabei mit die niedrigste, vielleicht sogar die allerniedrigste Masse aller Objekte, bei denen je eine Scheibe und einfallendes Material nachgewiesen werden konnten.

Joergens fährt fort: »Wenn PSO J318.-22 ein junges Himmelsobjekt ist, dann ist OTS44 ein regelrechtes Neugeborenes – und wir sehen, dass es genau so geboren wird wie ein normaler Stern. Für die Forscher, die sich mit der Sternentstehung beschäftigen, ist das eine Schlüsselinformation: Von Sternen bis hinunter zu Einzelobjekten mit der Masse von Planeten laufen die gleichen Prozesse ab.«

Beide Objekte fügen sich nicht recht in die existierenden Kategorien ein. Einsamer Planet oder Brauner Zwerg mit extrem geringer Masse – wer auf Nummer sicher gehen möchte, der sollte allgemeiner von frei schwebenden Objekten mit planetaren Massen reden. Hubert Klahr (MPIA), ein Experte für die Simulation von Stern- und Planetenentstehung, der nicht an der hier beschriebenen Forschung beteiligt war, kommentiert: »Hier haben wir ein weiteres Zeichen dafür, dass unsere herkömmliche Einteilung von Planeten und Sternen, bei der man die Masse als Anhaltspunkt nimmt, uns nichts über die innere Struktur oder die Entstehungsgeschichte solcher Objekte sagt.«
Quelle: Max-Planck-Institut für Astronomie - Heidelberg

Tags: free-floating planet PSO J318.5-22 free-floating exoplanet found Rare 

3102 Views

Freitag, 11. Oktober 2013 - 23:56 Uhr

Astronomie - Meteor Flyby bei Jet-Video-Aufnahme in der USA

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Veröffentlicht am 10.10.2013

i'm into astronomy,the other night i was trying a new camcorder hoping eventually to take a movie of comet ison,so i went out to try it on the stars but there weren't any,there was only a plane that flew over my field of view,it didn't last long ,the whole thing maybe a half a minute,towards the end i remember saying to myself"whats that"? it looked like a meteorite that appears to just miss the plane,in reality it may have been way off ,or not.judge by yourself.

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Frams: YT-Video:

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Meteor mit Pfeil markiert, Jet in Bildmitte.


3240 Views

Freitag, 11. Oktober 2013 - 10:30 Uhr

Astronomie - Zukünftige Suche nach anderen Erden mit TESS

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The search for other Earths
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Scientist leads effort for satellite telescope to probe Milky Way
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Scientists at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA) are among those drafting the target list for NASA’s next planet-finding telescope, the orbiting Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite, or TESS, which will search the Earth’s galactic neighborhood for planets that might support life.
TESS cleared a major hurdle in April, gaining NASA approval for final design and implementation. Pending a series of reviews, TESS is expected to launch sometime in early 2018 and focus on Earth’s stellar neighbors, 500,000 of the nearest and brightest stars. Their proximity will raise the chances for follow-up observations of systems that show the telltale dimming in starlight that indicates a planet is crossing the star’s face.
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Harvard-Smithsonian astronomer David Latham, the project’s science director, said the CfA’s work eventually will involve as many as 36 scientists, fellows, and students, as well as possibly hundreds more from around the world who will pore over data, which will be released publicly within months of being collected.
“These are the nearest and best and brightest examples of transiting planets we’ll ever have, at least from the Earth,” Latham said.
The Center for Astrophysics is one of several partners on the project. The effort’s principal investigator is George Ricker of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and his colleagues there will play a leading role in designing and building the instruments. Other key partners include NASA, which will manage the project and provide the launch vehicle, as well as the private contractors Orbital Sciences Corp., and Space Telescope Science Institute.
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The spotlight on TESS grew brighter in recent months after a balky wheel caused a malfunction aboard the Kepler space telescope, a hugely successful orbiting telescope launched in 2009 that was dedicated to finding planets around other stars.
Kepler identified hundreds of such extrasolar planets, or exoplanets, as well as thousands of planet candidates. Though Kepler has stopped gathering data, confirming the planet candidates will take astronomers years to work through.
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Some scientists consider TESS a natural follow-up to Kepler, whose mission was to focus on a small, distant patch of sky to determine just how numerous extrasolar planets are in the Milky Way. Now that Kepler has shown that such small planets are common, TESS will conduct an all-sky survey of the nearest, brightest stars to identify those close to Earth, with an emphasis on small, rocky planets that might harbor life.
“TESS is a powerful follow-up,” Latham said. “Now we want to cover the whole sky to find the nearest, the brightest, and the best for generations of follow-up.”
Such planets are difficult to detect because of their small size, compared with the gas giants, such as Jupiter, whose transit across a star’s face blocks much more of the light generated. Scientist believe that life is likelier to be found on rocky planets like Earth as well as larger, rocky “super Earths,” ranging up to two times the size of this world.
To harbor life, such a planet would have to be orbiting in its star’s habitable zone, close enough to its star that water on its surface would be liquid but not so close that the star’s heat would boil the water off into space.
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Latham said he and Ricker have been working on the idea for TESS for more than seven years and had proposed two earlier versions.
He said the failure of those projects may ultimately have been a good thing, since the approved TESS has the benefit of recent technological advances and new knowledge about exoplanets, as well as a larger budget — $200 million — that comes via NASA’s Explorer program.
“This one I’m very excited about, this version of TESS,” Latham said. “The science is so compelling. We learned from Kepler there are lots of planets the size of Neptune or smaller. You have to go to space if you want to characterize transiting planets that small.”
The satellite will work its way around the sky using four cameras to stare at successive fields of view for a month each. The craft will follow an unusual orbit that will take it close to the Earth and out to the moon’s orbit every 13.7 days. It will spend the first year of the two-year mission scanning the northern sky, then change orientation and for the second year scan the southern sky.
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The result, Latham said, should be many candidate planets that require follow-up through other instruments. The planned James Webb Space Telescope, which may launch as soon as 2018, will conduct some of that work, as will ground-based facilities such as the Giant Magellan Telescope being developed for a mountaintop in Chile and two HARPS instruments — it stands for High Accuracy Radial velocity Planet Searcher — one each in the northern and southern hemispheres.
In addition to finding possible planets, the follow-up will examine closely a handful of the candidates most likely to harbor life, Latham said. An analysis released in February by doctoral student Courtney Dressing and Astronomy Professor David Charbonneau predicted that the closest planet capable of sustaining life should be within 13 light-years, a relative “stroll across the park.”
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For the likeliest candidates, follow-up will include atmospheric analysis using spectrographs. Scientists can analyze the starlight passing through a planet’s atmosphere and, because different molecules absorb different wavelengths of light, determine major atmospheric constituents. Chemicals that result from biological activity on Earth, such as methane and oxygen, should create an atmospheric signature that provides evidence of life on that planet.
“The things we hope to detect are biosignatures, molecules likely to be produced by life,” Latham said. “In a sense, life has polluted the atmosphere of the Earth with oxygen. It started as mostly carbon dioxide and nitrogen.”
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Quelle: Harvard Gazette

Tags: TESS-Telescope 2018 

3213 Views

Freitag, 11. Oktober 2013 - 10:00 Uhr

Astronomie - Hubble-Teleskop findet Sauerstoff Signatur von Wasser in Ring von Schutt um toten Stern

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Watery asteroid that orbited distant star boosts chances of life outside Solar System
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Hubble telescope finds oxygen signature of water in ring of debris around dead star.
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The likely remains of a water-rich asteroid have been discovered orbiting a dead star 50 parsecs (150 light years) from Earth. The finding suggests that from cradle to grave, a wide range of stars might harbor rocky material rich in water — key ingredients for building a habitable planet.
Jay Farihi at the University of Cambridge, UK and his colleagues had been looking for several years at signs of rocky planets or their chemical building blocks around white dwarfs — the remains of stars between one and eight times the mass of the Sun crammed into a volume no bigger than Earth. White dwarfs are natural laboratories for studying the composition of exoplanets (planets outside the Solar System), as their strong gravitational pull shreds nearby asteroids and minor planets and pulls in their debris, Farihi notes. The remnants are relatively easy to detect because they pollute a white dwarf’s pristine atmosphere of hydrogen or helium with heavy elements.
The team focused on the white dwarf GD 61, the compact core of a star about three times heavier than the Sun. Previous observations had revealed a disk of rocky debris orbiting GD 61 and an abundance of oxygen in its atmosphere, a clue that water might be present.
Oxygen count
Using an ultraviolet spectrometer aboard the Hubble Space Telescope, the team took a more precise inventory of the oxygen content. Using the abundances of other elements measured by the Keck Observatory atop Hawaii’s Mauna Kea, the team determined how much oxygen should be present if it were all bound up in rock. The actual oxygen abundance revealed by Hubble was much greater, indicating that the additional oxygen was carried by either water or by carbonaceous material.
The white dwarf, however, contains very little carbon, leaving water as the only possible source of the oxygen abundance, Farihi says. The team calculates that if the debris disk surrounding GD 61 is the remains of a single object, then that would probably have been about the size of the Solar System asteroid Vesta, which has a diameter of around 500 kilometres, and would have possessed abundant water (26% by mass). That would make it similar to the asteroid Ceres, the type of asteroid thought to have ferried water to the young Earth. Farihi and his team report their results today in Science1.
“This is the first convincing case” that an object pulverized by a white dwarf was both rocky and water-rich, says astronomer Ben Zuckerman of the University of California, Los Angeles, who was not involved in the study.
Recent destruction
The putative asteroid must have broken up relatively recently, because debris disks around white dwarfs last only for about a million years and material polluting their atmosphere sinks to the core in about 20,000 years or less, says Farihi.
The gravitational nudge of an unseen exoplanet is the most likely explanation for why the water-rich asteroid came too close to the white dwarf to survive, he says. Hubble’s successor, the James Webb Space Telescope, set for launch in late 2018, has a chance of imaging the culprit planet.
The observations suggest that if planets do orbit GD 61, “then there’s a way to deliver water to them,” says John Debes at the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, Maryland.
Quelle: nature


Tags: GD-61 

3769 Views

Freitag, 11. Oktober 2013 - 09:00 Uhr

Raumfahrt - Mercury-Astronaut Scott Carpenter (88) verstorben

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Scott Carpenter, one of the original members of the Mercury 7 - Nasa's first group of astronauts - has died aged 88, his family has announced.

In 1962 Mr Carpenter became the second American to orbit the earth, piloting the Aurora 7 spacecraft through three revolutions of the earth.
After retiring in 1969 he took up oceanographic activities.
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John Glenn, who flew the first orbital mission, is the last surviving member of the Mercury team.
Scott Carpenter's wife, Patty Barrett, said her husband had suffered complications following a stroke in September and died in a Denver hospice.
He lived in Vail, Colorado.
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Mr Carpenter, who was born in Boulder, Colorado, was commissioned in the US Navy in 1949 and served as a pilot during the Korean War.
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Overshot landing
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In April 1959 he was selected as one of the original seven Mercury astronauts and underwent training with Nasa, specialising in communication and navigation.
He was the backup pilot for John Glenn during preparation for the first US manned orbital space flight in February 1962, and gave the historic send-off to his teammate: "Godspeed, John Glenn.''
During his own flight, Scott Carpenter's capsule landed 288 miles away from where it was meant to, leaving Nasa and the nation waiting anxiously to see if he had survived.
The Navy recovered him from the Caribbean, floating in his life-raft with his feet propped up.
In a joint lecture with John Glenn 49 years later at the Smithsonian Institution, Mr Carpenter recalled his feelings from that time.
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"You're looking out at a totally black sky, seeing an altimeter reading of 90,000ft and realise you are going straight up. And the thought crossed my mind: What am I doing?''
Scott Carpenter did not go back into space but later joined the US Navy's SeaLab II programme and in 1965 spent 30 days under the ocean off the coast of California.
After retirement he founded his company Sea Sciences, working closely with diver and researcher Jacques Cousteau.
Quelle: BBC
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Quelle: NASA
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Godspeed: Mercury astronaut Scott Carpenter dies at age 88

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Quelle: NBC
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Mercury 7 astronaut and Colorado native Scott Carpenter dies at 88

DENVER - The second American to orbit the Earth and one of the last surviving original Mercury 7 astronauts has died.
Astronaut Scott Carpenter was 88 and made his home in Vail.
His wife, Patty Barrett, said Carpenter died of complications from a stroke in a Denver hospice.
As an astronaut and aquanaut who lived underwater for the U.S. Navy, Carpenter was the first man to explore both the heights of space and the depths of the ocean.
Born in Boulder on May 1, 1925, Carpenter and graduated from Boulder High School in 1943. He then entered the Navy’s V12a flight training program at Colorado College in Colorado Springs.  He spent the next year training in California and Iowa, returning to Boulder in 1945 to study at CU-Boulder.
"In his two-decades long career as a Naval aviator, astronaut and aquanaut, Scott Carpenter brought honor and distinction to CU-Boulder while embodying the adventurous spirit of our nation,: said CU-Boulder Chancellor Philip P. DiStefano. "Our space program, and all space and ocean researchers everywhere, owe him a debt of gratitude. He will be sorely missed."
In 1965 Carpenter took a leave of absence from NASA to participate in the Navy’s Man-in-the Sea Project as an aquanaut in the SEALAB II project off the coast of La Jolla, Calif. where he spent 30 days living and working on the ocean floor at a depth of more than 200 feet.  Because of his groundbreaking deep-sea diving experiences with the Navy, Carpenter is hailed by many to be the first person to conquer both outer and inner space.
"My colleagues and I are deeply saddened by the passing of Astronaut Scott Carpenter," said CU-Boulder aerospace engineering sciences Chair Penina Axelrad.  "He has long been a member of the CU family and a tremendous inspiration for our aerospace faculty and students.”
In a 2012 interview with CU’s alumni magazine, the Coloradan, Carpenter spoke about his historic space journey. “I still remember what a thrill it was being up there -- I liked the feeling of weightlessness, and the view I had of Earth."
Carpenter and the other Mercury 7 astronauts created the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation in 1984. The foundation now involves more than 80 astronauts, awards 28 $10,000 scholarships annually and has dispersed more than $3 million to promising students in science and engineering since 1986.
Carpenter s remembered for his radio call "God speed, John Glenn," when Friendship 7 lifted off and Glenn became the first American to orbit Earth on Feb. 20, 1962. Carpenter was Glenn's backup pilot for that flight.
Three months later, Carpenter became the second American in orbit, carrying out scientific experiments during a three-orbit flight that lasted almost five hours. He lost contact with NASA during the off-target landing but was found safely floating in his life raft 288 miles away from his intended splashdown point in the Atlantic Ocean northeast of the Virgin Islands.  An air rescue aircraft didn't reach his location for 39 minutes.
Scott Carpenter Park at 30th Street and Arapahoe Avenue, in Boulder, was rededicated last September to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Carpenter's flight.
His grandparents also lived in Boulder on the corner of Aurora Avenue and Seventh Street and their home was the basis of the name he picked for his Mercury capsule: Aurora 7.
-- The Aurora 7 Mission --
Altitude: 166.8 by 99.9 statute miles
Orbits: 3
Period: 88min 32 secs
Duration: 0 Days, 4 hours, 56 min, 5 seconds
Distance: 76,021 statute miles
Velocity: 17,549 mph
Max Q: 967
Max G: 7.8
Launch:
May 24, 1962. 7:45:16 EST. The launch countdown proceeded almost perfectly. The launch vehicle used to accelerate Carpenter and the Aurora 7 spacecraft was an Atlas D.
The performance of the launch vehicle was exceptionally good with the countdown, launch and insertion conforming very closely to planned conditions. At sustainer engine cut off (SECO) at T+5min10sec, all spacecraft and launch vehicle systems were go and only one anomaly occurred during launch. Another transducer in the sustainer control circuit indicated that pressure had remained at proper levels so the switch did not actuate until the normal time after SECO.
Landing:
May 24, 1962. 12:41 p.m. EST.  19deg 29min North 64deg 05min West.
Spacecraft overshot intended target area by 250 nautical miles. After landing, Carpenter reported a severe list angle on the order of 60 degrees from vertical and post flight photographs of the spacecraft taken after egress indicated approximately a 45 degree list angle. An Air Rescue Service SA-16 amphibian aircraft established visual contact with the spacecraft 39 minutes after landing (1:20pm) and the USS Farragut, located about 90 nautical miles southwest of the calculated landing position was first to reach the capsule.
Carpenter was picked up by HSS-2 helicopters dispatched from the aircraft carrier USS Intrepid (CVS-11) while the destroyer USS Farragut (DLG-6) watched the Aurora 7 capsule until it could be retrieved with special equipment aboard the USS John R. Pierce about 6 hours later.
Mission Highlights:
Total time weightless 4 hours 39min 32sec. The performance of the Mercury spacecraft and Atlas launch vehicle was excellent in nearly every respect. All primary mission objectives were achieved. The single mission critical malfunction which occurred involved a failure in the spacecraft pitch horizon scanner, a component of the automatic control system. This anomaly was adequately compensated for by the pilot in subsequent in-flight operations so that the success of the mission was not compromised. Cabin and pressure-suit temperatures were high but not intolerable. Some uncertainties in the data telemetered from the bioinstrumentation prevailed at times during the flight; however, associated information was available which  indicated continued well-being of the astronaut. Equipment was included in the spacecraft which provided valuable scientific information; notably that regarding liquid behavior in a weightless state, identification of the airglow layer observed by Astronaut Glenn, and photography of terrestrial features and meteorological phenomena. An experiment which was to provide atmospheric drag and color visibility data in space through deployment of an inflatable sphere was partially successful. The flight further qualified the Mercury spacecraft systems for manned orbital operations and provided evidence for progressing into missions of extended duration and consequently more demanding systems requirements.
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Quelle: abc7News

Tags: Merkury-Aurora-7 

2936 Views

Donnerstag, 10. Oktober 2013 - 22:41 Uhr

Astronomie - Eine Rose aus Galaxien

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This image of a pair of interacting galaxies called Arp 273 was released to celebrate the 21st anniversary of the launch of the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope.
The distorted shape of the larger of the two galaxies shows signs of tidal interactions with the smaller of the two. It is thought that the smaller galaxy has actually passed through the larger one.
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In celebration of the 21st anniversary of the Hubble Space Telescope’s deployment into space, astronomers pointed Hubble at an especially photogenic group of interacting galaxies called Arp 273.
This image, taken by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope, shows a group of interacting galaxies called Arp 273. The larger of the spiral galaxies, known as UGC 1810, has a disc that is tidally distorted into a rose-like shape by the gravitational pull of the companion galaxy below it, known as UGC 1813. The swathe of blue jewels across the top is the combined light from clusters of intensely bright and hot young blue stars. These massive stars glow fiercely in ultraviolet light.
The smaller, nearly edge-on companion shows distinct signs of intense star formation at its nucleus, perhaps triggered by the encounter with the companion galaxy.
A series of uncommon spiral patterns in the large galaxy are a telltale sign of interaction. The large, outer arm appears partially as a ring, a feature that is seen when interacting galaxies actually pass through one another. This suggests that the smaller companion actually dived deeply, but off-centre, through UGC 1810. The inner set of spiral arms is highly warped out of the plane, with one of the arms going behind the bulge and coming back out the other side. How these two spiral patterns connect is still not precisely known.
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A possible mini-spiral may be visible in the spiral arms of UGC 1810 to the upper right. It is noticeable how the outermost spiral arm changes character as it passes this third galaxy, from smooth with lots of old stars (reddish in colour) on one side, to clumpy and extremely blue on the other. The fairly regular spacing of the blue star-forming knots fits with what is seen in the spiral arms of other galaxies and can be predicted from the known instabilities in the gas contained within the arm.
The larger galaxy in the UGC 1810–UGC 1813 pair has a mass that is about five times that of the smaller galaxy. In unequal pairs such as this, the relatively rapid passage of a companion galaxy produces the lopsided or asymmetric structure in the main spiral. Also in such encounters, the starburst activity typically begins earlier in the minor galaxy than in the major galaxy. These effects could be due to the fact that the smaller galaxies have consumed less of the gas present in their nucleus, from which new stars are born.
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Arp 273 lies in the constellation Andromeda and is roughly 300 million light-years away from Earth. The image shows a tenuous tidal bridge of material between the two galaxies that are separated by tens of thousands of light-years from each other.
The interaction was imaged on 17 December 2010, with Hubble’s Wide Field Camera 3 (WFC3).
This Hubble image is a composite of data taken with three separate filters on WFC3 that allow a broad range of wavelengths covering the ultraviolet, blue, and red portions of the spectrum.
Quelle: ESA

2920 Views

Donnerstag, 10. Oktober 2013 - 22:22 Uhr

Astronomie - Softshells und seltsamer Sternhaufen (Galaxy PGC 6240)

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The beautiful, petal-like shells of galaxy PGC 6240 are captured here in intricate detail by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope, set against a sky full of distant background galaxies. This cosmic bloom is of great interest to astronomers due to both its uneven structure, and the unusual clusters of stars that orbit around it — two strong indications of a galactic merger in the recent past.
PGC 6240 is an elliptical galaxy that resembles a pale rose in the sky, with hazy shells of stars encircling a very bright centre. Some of these shells are packed close to the centre of the galaxy, while others are flung further out into space. Several wisps of material have been thrown so far that they appear to be almost detached from the galaxy altogether.
Astronomers have studied PGC 6240 in detail due to this structure, and also because of its surrounding globular clusters — dense, tightly packed groups of gravitationally bound stars that orbit galaxies. Over 150 of these clusters orbit our own galaxy, the Milky Way, all composed of old stars.
All the globular clusters around a certain galaxy form at approximately the same time, giving them all the same age. This is echoed within the clusters — all the stars within a single cluster form at around the same time, too. Because of this, most galaxies have cluster populations of pretty similar ages, both in terms of overall cluster, and individual stars. However, PGC 6240 is unusual in that its clusters are varied — while some do contain old stars, as expected, others contain younger stars which formed more recently.
The most likely explanation for both the galaxy’s stacked shell structure and the unexpectedly young star clusters is that PGC 6240 merged with another galaxy at some point in the recent past. Such a merger would send ripples through the galaxy and disrupt its structure, forming the concentric shells of material seen here. It would also ignite a strong burst of star formation in the galaxy, which would then trigger similar activity in nearby space — leading to the creation of new, younger globular clusters around PGC 6240.
PGC 6240 is an elliptical galaxy in the southern constellation of Hydrus (The Water Snake). Also visible in this region are numerous background galaxies, speckled across the sky behind PGC 6240. Even though these bodies are at such vast distances from us, it is possible to make out the structure of many of the galaxies, especially the small spirals that stand out colourfully against the dark sky.
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The beautiful, petal-like shells of galaxy PGC 6240 are captured here in intricate detail by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope, set against a sky full of distant background galaxies. PGC 6240 is an elliptical galaxy approximately 350 000 000 light years away in the southern constellation of Hydrus (The Water Snake). It is orbited by a number of globular clusters that contain both young and old stars — thought to be a result of a galactic merger in the recent past. 
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Wide field image of PGC 6240 (ground-based image).This image from the Digitized Sky Survey (DSS) shows elliptical galaxy PGC 6240 and its surroundings.
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Quelle: ESA

Tags: The beautiful 

2742 Views

Donnerstag, 10. Oktober 2013 - 22:10 Uhr

Raumfahrt - Erfolgreiches Falcon-9 Debüt auf Vandenberg AFB

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30.09.2013

The highly anticipated Falcon 9 rocket’s West Coast debut is planned for Sunday morning from Vandenberg Air Force Base, where it could become the third blastoff in eight days.
Air Force officials confirmed the Falcon 9 rocket, developed by Space Exploration Technologies, is scheduled to launch during a window opening at 9 a.m. Sunday.
Other sources have said the launch window will remain open until noon.
The base kicked off the week with a Minuteman 3 test Sunday and a second Minuteman 3 test was scheduled for early today.
Along with being the first liftoff from the rebuilt launch pad, this is a demonstration mission for the vehicle which has undergone significant
upgrades since its last launch from Cape Canaveral, Fla. The rocket will carry a small payload into orbit for the Canadian Space Agency.
“Our mission is to provide unique capabilities for assured access to and from space for our nation,” said Col. Keith Balts, 30th Space Wing commander. “This is a huge stepping stone for Vandenberg and our SpaceX mission partners and I am impressed with the amount of innovation, dedication and professionalism that was put into making this historic event happen.”
The 30th Space Wing’s 1st Air and Space Test Squadron is the lead for all launch site certification activities at Vandenberg for SpaceX, which hopes to be added to the government’s Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle program. Currently only Atlas 5 and Delta 4 rockets can bid for EELV missions.
Under the authority of the Space and Missile Systems Center, the squadron is evaluating SpaceX’s flight and ground systems, processes and procedures for this inaugural space launch campaign for the upgraded Falcon 9 rocket.
“This is a historic event for Vandenberg AFB and we are excited to be a part of it,” said Lt. Col. Joseph Imwalle, 1ASTS commander. “The squadron is committed to making the new process of EELV certification successful and to achieving the vision of more affordable operational spacelift capabilities for the Department of Defense without compromising reliability.”
Quelle: Lompoc
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Minuteman III test missile launches from Vandenberg
VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- An Air Force Global Strike Command Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile with a simulated re-entry vehicle was launched during an operational test at 3:01 a.m. on Sunday, Sept. 22, from Launch Facility 10 on North Vandenberg. Col. Keith Balts, 30th Space Wing commander, was the launch decision authority. "Our mission partners in the 576th Flight Test Squadron have a big footprint here at Vandenberg," said Balts. "We support several of their test launches each year as they help keep our Nation's critical system ready to support national security." (U.S. Air Force Photo/Michael Peterson)
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Update: 28.09.2013
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SpaceX to Launch Space Weather Satellite for Canada Sunday

Artist's concept of the Cascade Smallsat and Ionospheric Polar Explorer (CASSIOPE) satellite.
Credit: MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates Ltd.

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A new space-weather satellite could help better protect Earth's infrastructure from damaging solar storms, officials from the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) say.

The CSA's Cascade Smallsat and Ionospheric Polar Explorer (CASSIOPE for short) will keep an eye on the effects of solar particles when they hit the Earth's atmosphere. If all goes well, the CASSIOPE space weather mission should bring a wealth of scientific data, the mission's backers say.

"The science team on CASSIOPE is very knowledgeable, experienced and reputable in this domain of science," Guennadi Kroupnik, the CSA's director of space utilization development, told SPACE.com. "However, experience with this space mission, we believe, will help to position the team and scientists even further in [the] international context." [The Sun's Wrath: Worst Solar Storms in History]

CASSIOPE is expected to launch to a low-Earth orbit Sept. 29 riding atop the first flight of the private spaceflight company SpaceX's next-generation Falcon 9 rocket. The rocket will launch from SpaceX's launch pad at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, with the launch window opening at 12 p.m. EDT (1600 GMT). The satellite has a primary mission of 18 months; however, investigators hope to get five years of research completed before the satellite falls back through Earth's atmosphere.

Science instruments

On a satellite that is only a bit larger than an office desk — 4 feet by 6 feet (1.2 meters by 1.8 meters) — CASSIOPE carries eight scientific instruments. These tools will investigate what happens after particles and plasma from the solar wind interact with the Earth's atmosphere. The instrument suite is called ePOP, for Enhanced Polar Outflow Probe, and is led by the University of Calgary.

An instrument called the fast auroral imager will use two cameras (in the visual and near infrared) to examine the fine structure of auroras. An imaging and rapid-scanning spectrometer will simultaneously observe what kinds of charged particles, or ions, are in the atmosphere. Meanwhile, a superthermal electron imager will show how fast the electrons are moving and where they're going.

"It's a picture of what the plasma is doing around the spacecraft," Greg Enno, a technical manager for the scientific suite at the University of Calgary, told SPACE.com. Studying the small auroral structures — only a few dozen feet in size — will give an idea of how energy transfer takes place within the shimmering lights.

Other Canadian instruments on board include a radio receiver used to watch plasma waves and a flux gate magnetometer to study the magnetic field. A GPS experiment will accurately clock the time in which events occur as well as the orientation of the spacecraft. It will also measure electron content by watching other GPS satellites rise or set behind Earth. Then it will determine how the signals change as they skim through the atmosphere before being blocked by Earth itself.

CASSIOPE will also carry two international payloads. The Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) has a neutral mass spectrometer that will examine how neutral particles behave relative to the surrounding ions and electrons. The U.S. Navy also provided a transmitter that will interact with several ground-based receivers, again to measure electron content in the atmosphere.

Space-based courier

CASSIOPE is also a pioneer in another sense. On board will be Cascade, a technology demonstration communications payload that will showcase a "space-based digital courier service," according to information from Canadian company MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates (MDA).

Cascade Data Services (a subsidiary of MDA) will use the communications payload to pick up large digital packets of information, anywhere from 50 to 500 gigabytes at once. Then Cascade will beam the data down to interested customers when the satellite passes over a receiving station.

As part of a reimbursable contribution agreement between the space agency and MDA, the CSA will receive a percentage of Cascade's commercial revenues, as royalties, to repay the agency's contribution. It's the first time CSA has ever used such a government contribution mechanism, Kroupnik said.

"This does not mean we will replace contracts with contributions. It depends on the particular situation," said Kroupnik, adding that this mechanism would most likely be used in the future if "the government of Canada is not a direct beneficiary and user of the data and services."

The agency could use a similar contract arrangement for data services associated with the RadarSat Constellation Mission, a trio of satellites set to launch in 2018. The satellites will be used for matters such as surveillance and weather monitoring.

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SpaceX's first upgraded Falcon 9 rocket, a Falcon 9 v1.1, rolls out to its launch pad at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California for a September 2013 launch debut.
Credit: SpaceX/Elon Musk

Quelle: Space

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Update: 29.09.2013

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Update: 17.45 MESZ  SpaceX-LIVE

 
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Quelle: SpaxeX

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SpaceX Falcon 9 lifts off at Vandenberg AFB

With anticipation and anxiety high, the Falcon 9 rocket blasted off this morning from Vandenberg Air Force Base for its West Coast debut.

The Space Exploration Technologies rocket, which stands about 22 stories high, blasted off about 9 a.m. from Space Launch Complex-4 on South Base.

The results of the launch were not immediately available and were still being assessed.

The rocket was designed and built by entrepreneur Elon Musk’s Hawthorne-based firm. Musk also founded PayPal and more recently the Tesla electric car company.

Although the mission was to prove the rocket’s capabilities, Falcon’s cargo was the Cascade Smallsat and Ionospheric Polar Explorer, or CASSIOPE, built by MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates Ltd (MDA) of Canada.

Officials say CASSIOPE’s mission is to prove a new design for a Canadian satellite frame that carries a scientific experiment and a technology demonstration.

Quelle: Santa Ynez Valley News

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Canadian satellite blasts off on weather mission

 
MONTREAL - The Aurora Borealis, those beams of light that dance across the northern sky may look pretty, but a Canadian satellite is about to study a nasty side lurking behind that beauty.

The small hybrid satellite, with a multi-purpose mission, blasted off on Sunday from Vandenberg in California on board a Falcon 9 rocket developed by SpaceX, a commercial space company.

The Canadian Space Agency became one of SpaceX's first customers when the agency decided years ago to use the private U.S. rocket to deliver the satellite at a reduced cost of $10 million.

It cost the space agency $63 million to develop the satellite.

Its scientific payload will take a closer look at the Earth's upper atmosphere and allow scientists to collect new data on space storms.

Greg Enno, of the University of Calgary, says the CASSIOPE (Cascade SmallSat and Ionospheric Polar Explorer) satellite will focus on the interaction between the sun and the ionosphere (the upper atmosphere).

More specifically, it will study the effect of solar storms on radio communications, satellite navigation and other ground-based technologies.

Why is that important?

"Because the sun sends out big plumes of energy from its surface and they wallop our atmosphere and its magnetic field and affect GPS users — especially aircraft,'' Enno explained in an interview.

"It actually changes their position. And that's one of the reasons why we can't use GPS to land aircraft.

When plasma and particles from the sun enter the upper atmosphere they usually cause the stunning northern lights, but they also affect things like hydroelectricity systems and GPS users.

In 1989, it caused a blackout in Quebec for several days.

Enno said data collected by CASSIOPE during its two-year mission should make it a lot easier to predict the impact of solar storms on Earth.

"The biggest winners from our sets of data is the GPS industry because their measurements may be accurate enough so they can use it for all sorts of stuff like landing aircraft, but also Hydro people because they don't want to be surprised and have a network go down," Enno said.

CASSIOPE's science mission, which was developed by 10 Canadian universities, will also study the workings of the atmosphere, which has been losing mostly hydrogen and helium gases — and oxygen.

But Enno stressed that we shouldn't worry.

"The Earth's plants have not reached equilibrium yet," he said. "They're still putting more oxygen in the air than we're losing."

Enno said scientists who study the Earth's atmosphere want to get a better idea of what it will look like down the road.

"If you look at the Martian atmosphere and looking ahead in time, is that what the Earth's atmosphere will look like eventually, or will we have something else entirely?"

The 450-kilogram satellite also carries the Cascade technology demonstrator, which is described as a courier system in the sky for very large data files.

Dave Cady, an executive vice-president at MDA, the satellite's prime contractor, said Cascade will help to deliver data from ships at sea that are involved in oil and gas exploration.

"You have ships out on the ocean and they tend to be working in fairly inhospitable places where there's not a lot of Internet infrastructure."

Normally, Cady said, ships put large data files on software that is sent by helicopter to places like Houston and London for geophysical analysis.

"So, instead of having a helicopter courier, the ship would have a small antenna which would track CASSIOPE and the data would be uplinked as the satellite flies overhead," he said in a recent interview.

"Then it would be stored and downlinked when the satellite flies over Houston or London."

Quelle: Mississauga News

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Update: 30.09.2013

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Fotos von Start /SpaceX

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Update: 10.10.2013 

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Wow! Photographer Captures SpaceX Falcon 9 Rocket Launch Like Never Before.

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Photographer David A. Kodama took this composite image capturing the unmanned, next-generation Falcon 9 rocket launch trajectory as it blasted off from the SpaceX launch pad at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif. at 12 p.m. EDT (1600 GMT) on Sept. 29.

 

A photographer's road trip to see SpaceX's first Falcon 9 rocket launch from California last month led to this striking composite photo recently released to SPACE.com.
In the image, photographer David A. Kodama captures the SpaceX rocket launch in stages, from liftoff through its ascent into orbit.
SpaceX launched the first of its upgraded unmanned Falcon 9 rockets on Sept. 29 from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. The rocket launched the CASSIOPE space weather tracking satellite into orbit for the Canadian Space Agency.

 

 


3557 Views

Donnerstag, 10. Oktober 2013 - 11:41 Uhr

Mars-Chroniken - Die Mars-Narben im Focus von Mars-Express

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Hebes Chasma

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Ripped apart by tectonic forces, Hebes Chasma and its neighbouring network of canyons bear the scars of the Red Planet’s early history.
ESA’s Mars Express has flown over this region of Mars on numerous occasions, but this new eight-image mosaic reveals Hebes Chasma in full and in greater detail than ever.
Hebes Chasma is an enclosed, almost 8 km-deep trough stretching 315 km in an east–west direction and 125 km from north to south at its widest point. It sits about 300 km north of the vast Valles Marineris canyon complex.
The origin of Hebes Chasma and neighbouring canyons is associated with the nearby volcanic Tharsis Region, home to the largest volcano in the Solar System, Olympus Mons.
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Hebes Chasma in context
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As the Tharsis bulge swelled with magma during the planet’s first billion years, the surrounding crust was stretched, eventually ripping apart and collapsing into gigantic troughs, including Hebes Chasma. Intricate fault patterns can be seen all around the deep depression – they are especially evident in the main colour and 3D images.
In the centre of Hebes Chasma, there is a flat-topped ‘mesa’ that rises to level similar to that of the surrounding plains. It is shown from different angles in the two perspective images below.
No other canyon on Mars has a similar feature and its origin is not entirely clear. Its layers include volcanic materials – just like in the main canyon walls – but also wind-blow dust and lake sediments that were laid down over time.
A horseshoe-shaped chunk has been taken out of one side of the mesa, seen below, where material has slumped down onto the valley floor below.
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Hebes Chasma topography
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Hebes Chasma in 3D
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A landslide may also be responsible for the dark patch in this image, which appears to pool like spilt ink across the debris. It is most likely loose dust that has slid down the walls, perhaps helped along where melting ice or ground-water weakened the rocks to create a flow-like feature. A similar feature is visible at the opposite end of the mound, as seen in the full-colour image.
Other landslide deposits are seen all over the floor of Hebes Chasma, many coming from the main canyon walls. Numerous grooves are etched into both the canyon walls and the mesa, suggesting the material is weak and easily eroded.
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Landslides and rock layers inside Hebes Chasma
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In the second perspective view above, a thin band of darker material is seen between two layers of light material. One idea is that the material was blown or slid from the top of the mound and collected on the slopes below. Dark material is also seen around the base of the mesa, which either eroded away from the younger sediment layers located higher up in the mesa, or were deposited separately by wind or water.
Other layers revealed in the sides of the mesa may also have been deposited by water. Data from both Mars Express and NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter reveal that some parts of Hebes Chasma are laced with minerals that can form only in the presence of water, suggesting that at some point in the Red Planet’s history the canyon might have been filled with a lake.
However, it is apparent from the chaotic debris that fills the canyon floor that enormous landslides have also played a key role in shaping and widening this deep scar since its formation.
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Hebes Chasma in 3D
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Quelle: ESA

Tags: Mars-Express 

2844 Views

Donnerstag, 10. Oktober 2013 - 09:40 Uhr

Raumfahrt - Start von LADEE Mondsonde auf dem NASA Wallops Startplatz in Virginia

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15.07.2013

he LADEE spacecraft awaits spin balance testing, conducted to ensure stability during flight, at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. LADEE is slated to liftoff from Wallops on Sept. 6, 2013. Credit: NASA/Patrick Black
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NASA’s Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE) Observatory has arrived at the launch site on the Eastern Shore of Virginia at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility on Wallops Island and is now in the midst of weeks of performance testing to ensure it is ready for liftoff in early September.
The LADEE lunar orbiting probe will be the first planetary science mission ever launched from NASA Wallops and the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport (MARS). It will soar to space atop a solid fueled Minotaur V rocket on its maiden flight.
LADEE will blaze a brilliant trail to the Moon during a spectacular nighttime blastoff slated for Sept. 6, 2013 at 11:27 PM from Launch Pad 0B.
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LADEE is equipped with three science instruments to gather detailed information about the lunar atmosphere, conditions near the surface and environmental influences on lunar dust.
“LADEE will investigate the moons tenuous exosphere, trace outgases like the sodium halo and lofted dust at the terminator,” said Jim Green, Planetary Science Division Director at NASA HQ, in an exclusive interview with Universe Today.
“The spacecraft has a mass spectrometer to identify the gases, a physical dust detector and an imager to look at scattered light from the dust. These processes also occur at asteroids.”
“And it will also test a laser communications system that is a technology demonstrator for future planetary science missions. It communicates at 650 megabits per second,” Green explained to me.
The couch sized 844 pound (383 kg) robotic explorer was assembled at NASA’s Ames Research Center, Moffett Field Calif., and is a cooperative project with NASA Goddard Spaceflight Center in Maryland.
The spacecraft was then shipped cross country by a dedicated truck inside a specially-designed shipping container – blanketed with protective nitrogen – which insulated the spacecraft from temperature, moisture, bumps in the road and more than a few crazy drivers.
The first leg of LADEE’s trip to the Moon took 5 days. The trans lunar leg will take 30 days.
It’s standard practice that whenever space probes are moved by ground transportation that they are accompanied by a caravan that includes a lead scout vehicle to ensure safe road conditions and followed by engineers monitoring the health and environmental storage conditions.
Technicians are now engaged in a lengthy series of performance tests to confirm that LADEE was not damaged during the road trip and that all spacecraft systems are functioning properly.
“One important preparation about to begin is spin-balancing LADEE,” says Butler Hine, LADEE Project Manager. “During this procedure, the spacecraft is mounted to a spin table and rotated at a high-speed to make sure it is perfectly balanced for launch.”
After all spacecraft systems pass the performance tests, LADEE will be fueled, encapsulated and moved to the Wallops Island launch pad later this summer for mating with the five stage Minotaur V booster stack.
“I’m excited about the night launch because people up and down the Atlantic seacoast will be able to see it,” Green told me.
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Looking up the Flame Trench -
LADEE Launch Pad 0B at NASA Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia.
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Aerial view of NASA Wallops launch site on Virginia shore shows launch pads for both suborbital and orbital rockets. The Antares rocket Pad 0A for missions to the ISS is in the foreground. Suborbital rockets blast off just behind the Pad 0A water tower. This photo was snapped from on top of Pad 0B that will soon launch NASA‘s LADEE orbiter to the Moon.
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Quelle: NASA
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WALLOPS — An Antares rocket carrying cargo to the International Space Station will launch from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport at Wallops Island in mid-September, according to the latest update from Orbital Sciences.­
Orbital teams preparing the rocket and the Cygnus cargo spacecraft for the demonstration mission to the International Space Station are “well along in preparations,” the release said.
The mission is the last milestone in the Commercial Orbital Transportation Services agreement between Orbital Sciences and NASA.
If successful, it will clear the way for Orbital to begin regular cargo resupply missions to the space station. The company has a contract with NASA for eight such missions under the Commercial Resupply Services program.
The two stages of the Antares rocket have been joined and the rocket is in the final stages of integration and testing, the release said.
Additionally, the Cygnus spacecraft has already been loaded with some 1,300 pounds of cargo. About 250 pounds more is expected to be added before the launch.
The rocket and spacecraft should be ready for launch by late August, but the date is being pushed back because NASA Wallops Flight Facility is also supporting NASA’s Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Experiment Explorer mission, set to launch Sept. 6.
Priority has been given to the LADEE mission, which will be launched on a Minotaur V rocket, also built by Orbital.
The target date for the Antares launch is Sept. 14, with a launch window of Sept. 14 to 19. The Cygnus carrying its cargo is scheduled to dock with the International Space Station on Sept. 22.
Orbital teams will continue work to get the Antares and Cygnus ready for launch as early as the end of August in case the LADEE mission is unexpectedly delayed, “giving NASA additional options to maximize the launch manifest from Wallops,” the release said.
Quelle: delmarvanow
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Update: 30.07.2013
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ESA-Observatorium in Spanien wird per Laser im Spätjahr mit NASA Mond-Orbiter LADEE kommunizieren.
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An advanced laser system offering vastly faster data speeds is now ready for linking with spacecraft beyond our planet following a series of crucial ground tests. Later this year, ESA’s observatory in Spain will use the laser to communicate with a NASA Moon orbiter.
The laboratory testing paves the way for a live space demonstration in October, once NASA’s Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer – LADEE – begins orbiting the Moon.
LADEE carries a terminal that can transmit and receive pulses of laser light. ESA’s Optical Ground Station on Tenerife will be upgraded with a complementary unit and, together with two US ground terminals, will relay data at unprecedented rates using infrared light beams at a wavelength similar to that used in fiber-optic cables on Earth.
“The testing went as planned, and while we identified a number of issues, we’ll be ready for LADEE’s mid-September launch,” says Zoran Sodnik, manager for ESA’s Lunar Optical Communication Link project.
“Our ground station will join two NASA stations communicating with the LADEE Moon mission, and we aim to demonstrate the readiness of optical communication for future missions to Mars or anywhere else in the Solar System.”
Testing new European technology
The testing took place in July at a Zurich, Switzerland, facility owned by ESA’s industrial partner RUAG and made use of a new detector and decoding system, a ranging system and a transmitter.
A NASA team, supported by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Lincoln Laboratory and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, brought over their laser terminal simulator, while ESA together with RUAG and Axcon of Denmark set up the European equipment to test compatibility between the two sets of hardware.
“This interagency optical compatibility test was the first of its kind, and it established the uplink, downlink and the ranging measurement,” says ESA’s Klaus-Juergen Schulz, responsible for ground station systems at the European Space Operations Centre, Darmstadt. 
The first laser link-up with LADEE is expected to be attempted four weeks after launch, around mid-October.
Laser pathways to future space communication
Laser communications at near-infrared wavelengths may be the way of the future when it comes to downloading massive amounts of data from spacecraft orbiting Earth, Mars or even more distant planets.
These units are lighter, smaller and need less power than today’s radio systems, promising to cut mission costs and provide opportunities for new science payloads.
In addition, DLR, the German Aerospace Center, has developed satellite-to-satellite laser communication terminals embarked as technological demonstration payload on the Alphasat mission. ESA plans to use the optical communication terminal developed by Germany as the main operational payload for its European Data Relay System missions.
Quelle: ESA
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Update: 21.08.2013
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 LADEE soll Schmutziges Mond-Geheimnis lösen
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It's filthy work, but somebody has to do it...(NASA/Apollo)
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There may be something funny going on with the stuff covering the Moon, and a new NASA mission launching next month is aiming to solve the mystery.

Gaze up at a brilliant Moon in the night sky and it’s hard to imagine that our companion world, Earth’s last high wilderness, is actually a rather dark and grimy place. The lunar albedo (fractional reflectivity) is only about 0.12 – in other words, over the visible spectrum, it reflects a mere 12% of the light hitting it, absorbing the rest.

By comparison the Earth has an average albedo of about 0.33, Venus – with its high and reflective clouds – is 0.76, and icy smooth Enceladus reflects almost all visible light with an astonishing near 1.0 albedo. In fact, out of all the major bodies in our solar system, only Mercury beats the Moon in terms of darkness, with a 0.11 reflectivity.

Despite its light absorbancy the Moon looks so bright to Earthlings because of its proximity to us, and because of our overall proximity to the Sun. But why is it so non-reflective? As with many phenomena, the answer is not entirely straightforward. The low average lunar albedo seems to be due to a variety of things, from the specifics of rock and ‘soil’ chemistry in a fairly intense radiation environment, to the physical texture of the surface.

Apollo 17 astronaut Gene Cernan looking a little smudgy (NASA/Apollo)

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One of the key characteristics of the Moon is that it’s covered in dust. This isn’t household fluff either, it’s extremely abrasive, smells of gunpowder (probably from being implanted with solar wind ions), and sticks like crazy – as the Apollo astronauts discovered.

Without a thick protective atmosphere, the lunar surface has been pummeled by meteorites and micrometeorites for over 4 billion years, breaking rocks into finer and finer particles. These are raggedy things, with no wet weathering to smooth them, and their abrasive forms stick like crazy to spacesuits, humans, human nasal passages, and can even dig through Kevlar.

What exactly is this mysterious glow? Image taken by Clementine mission (BMDO/NASA)

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But on a global scale lunar dust may exhibit some even more peculiar characteristics.

The Apollo astronauts were the first to witness a strange twilight phenomenon, a mysterious spread of light above and across the horizon. These remarkable displays were in stark contrast to the otherwise black skies, and a subject of considerable speculation.

The twilight horizon seen by Apollo 17 astronauts, from T-6 minutes to T-5 seconds before sunrise (NASA/Apollo)

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They weren’t simple in structure, as seen in this page of sketches from Apollo 17 made during sunrise. In the span of a few minutes the glow above the horizon went from a centrally peaked luminosity to a set of ‘linear structures’ radiating outwards.

ut what could be reflecting and scattering sunlight in the lunar vacuum? It could be something like the tenuous glow of irradiated sodium ions, but it could also be the glinting of lunar dust – levitated from the surface by powerful electrostatic charges generated by interplanetary radiation swirling across the landscape.

In fact, electrical charges might even produce dust ‘fountains’. As the rising Sun’s light and radiation sweeps across the lunar surface it could generate large positive charges, enough to kick dust particles a mile high, until they drop back, only to get kicked up again like a pulsing fountain.

Except we still don’t know whether this is really what’s happening, and the whole subject of the so-called lunar ‘exosphere’ (an incredibly tenuous atmosphere, a mere 1/100,000th the density of the Earth’s at sea level) is still relatively little understood.

This may all change after September 6th 2013, when NASA launches the Lunar Atmospheric and Dust Environment Explorer, or LADEE (Scotty would be proud, no doubt).

After a 30 day approach, and 30 days of checkout, LADEE will spend about 100 days orbiting the Moon and examining any dust that makes it to high altitude (it will carry a dust collector and analyzer) and the chemical contents of the atmosphere. It’s a modest enough set of goals, but they could help solve this long-standing mystery and help us better understand our rather filthy, but seemingly brilliant, nearest cosmic neighbor – an object that is very much a part of our own planetary history.

Quelle:Scientific American

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Update: 23.08.2013

NASA-Mond-Sonde  LADEE vor Nachtstart am 6.September - Sichtbare für Millionen...

LADEE Minotaur V Launch – Maximum Elevation Map
The LADEE nighttime launch will be visible to millions of spectators across a wide area of the Eastern US -weather permitting. This map shows the maximum elevation (degrees above the horizon) that the Minotaur V rocket will reach during the Sep. 6, 2013 launch depending on your location along the US east coast. Credit: Orbital Sciences

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A spectacular nighttime blastoff blazing a historic trail to the Moon is set to soar in two weeks time when NASA’s LADEE spacecraft lifts off from the Eastern Shore of Virginia at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility on Wallops Island – from America’s newest spaceport.

NASA’s Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE) Observatory will thunder to space at 11:27 p.m. Friday, Sept. 6, from the commercial Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport (MARS) launch complex 0B at NASA’s Wallops Island facility atop the maiden flight of the new, solid fueled Minotaur V rocket developed by Orbital Sciences Corp.

LADEE’s late night launch will be absolutely spectacular and visible to tens of millions of spectators up and down the US East coast and interior areas stretching into the Midwest- weather permitting.

“I love this mission,” said John Grunsfeld, NASA Associate Administrator for Science at NASA Headquarters, at a media briefing today, Aug. 22.

“With NASA’s prior LRO and GRAIL spacecraft we studied the Moon’s surface and interior. Now with LADEE we study the atmosphere and dust,” said John Grunsfeld.

The purpose of LADEE is to collect data that will inform scientists in unprecedented detail about the ultra thin lunar atmosphere, environmental influences on lunar dust and conditions near the surface. In turn this will lead to a better understanding of other planetary bodies in our solar system and beyond.

The small car sized LADEE lunar orbiter mission will be historic in many ways. It’s the first probe of any kind ever launched to beyond Earth orbit from NASA Wallops, as well as being the first planetary science mission from Wallops.

It also marks the first launch of a five stage rocket and the first launch of a decommissioned Peacekeeper missile from Wallops.

The first three stages of the Minotaur V are based on the nuclear armed Peacekeeper ICBM intercontinental ballistic missile built during the Cold War – now retired and refurbished by Orbital for peaceful uses. Its literally beating sword into ploughshares.

The 5th stage is a new addition and what makes this Minotaur a new rocket class. The added thrust is precisely what enables shooting for the Moon.

Recently, I had an exclusive tour and photoshoot up close and personal with the upper stages of LADEE’s Minotaur V rocket at Wallops prior to integration at the commercial launch pad – 0B – and will be reporting on that here and in upcoming stories.

“LADEE is equipped with three science instruments to study the atmosphere and dust and a lunar laser technology demonstration,” said Joan Salute, LADEE program executive, NASA Headquarters.

These include an ultraviolet and visible light spectrometer that will gather detailed information about the composition of the tenuous lunar atmosphere; a neutral mass spectrometer to measure variations in the lunar atmosphere over time; a laser dust experiment that will collect and analyze dust particle samples; and a laser communications experiment that will test the use of lasers in place of radio waves for high speed dad communications with Earth.

“The lunar atmosphere is so thin that the molecules never collide,’ said Sarah Noble, LADEE program scientist, NASA Headquarters.

“It’s a ‘Surface Boundary Exosphere’ which is actually the most common type of atmosphere in our Solar System.”

Scientists also hope to solve a mystery dating back nearly five decades to the Apollo moon landing era, by determining if electrically charged lunar dust is responsible for the pre-sunrise horizon glow seen by the Apollo astronauts and also by the unmanned Surveyor 7 lander, according to Noble.

“This is the first NASA mission with a dedicated laser communications experiment,” said Don Cornwell, mission manager for the Lunar Laser Communications Demonstration, NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.
I asked when we could see laser communications implemented on future NASA spacecraft?

“A new laser communications system could possibly be used on the 2020 Mars rover from the surface of Mars,” Grunsfeld told Universe Today.

The couch sized 844 pound (383 kg) robotic explorer was assembled at NASA’s Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif., and is a cooperative project with NASA Goddard Spaceflight Center in Maryland.

The spacecraft is a first of its kind vehicle built from a NASA Ames-developed Modular Common Spacecraft Bus architecture that can be applied to other missions. The mission cost is approximately $280 million.

The Minotaur V will boost LADEE into a highly elliptical orbit. Then over the next 23 days, as LADEE orbits Earth 3.5 times, the Moon’s gravitational field will increase the perigee of its orbit. The spacecraft will fire its on-board braking thrusters to achieve lunar orbit.

The mission will fly in a very low science orbit of about 50 kilometers altitude above the moon. The science mission duration is approximately 100 days.

“It’s limited by the amount of onboard fuel required to maintain orbit,” Doug Voss, launch manager, Wallops, told Universe Today.

“I’m excited about the night launch because people up and down the Atlantic seacoast will be able to see it,” Jim Green, Planetary Science Division Director at NASA HQ, told me.

And don’t forget that NASA has a 2nd really big launch from Wallops slated for Sep. 17 – with blastoff of the Orbital Sciences Antares rocket and Cygnus cargo carrier on their historic 1st mission to the International Space Station (ISS).

Quelle:UT

 

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Update: 28.08.2013
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Space Laser To Prove Increased Broadband Possible

When NASA’s Lunar Laser Communication Demonstration (LLCD) begins operation aboard the Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE) mission managed by NASA’s Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif., it will attempt to show two-way laser communication beyond Earth is possible, expanding the possibility of transmitting huge amounts of data. This new ability could one day allow for 3-D High Definition video transmissions in deep space to become routine.

“The goal of the LLCD experiment is to validate and build confidence in this technology so that future missions will consider using it,” said Don Cornwell, LLCD manager. “This unique ability developed by MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology Lincoln Laboratory), has incredible application possibilities and we are very excited to get this instrument off the ground.”

Since NASA first ventured into space, through the moon landings, shuttle program, and unmanned exploration missions, radio frequency communication also known as RF, has been the communications platform used. But RF is reaching its limit just as demand for more data capacity continues to increase. The development of laser communications will give NASA the ability to extend communication applications such as increased image resolution and even 3-D video transmission into deep space.

LLCD is NASA’s first dedicated system for two-way communication using laser instead of radio waves. “LLCD is designed to send six times more data from the moon using a smaller transmitter with 25 percent less power as compared to the equivalent state-of-the-art radio (RF) system,” said Cornwell. “Lasers are also more secure and less susceptible to interference and jamming.”

The LLCD experiment is hosted aboard NASA’s LADEE: a 100-day robotic mission designed, built, integrated, tested and will be operated by Ames. LADEE will attempt to confirm whether dust caused a mysterious glow on the lunar horizon astronauts observed during several Apollo missions and explore the moon’s tenuous, exotic atmosphere. Launch of the LADEE spacecraft is set for September aboard a U.S. Air Force Minotaur V rocket, an excess ballistic missile converted into a space launch vehicle and operated by Orbital Sciences Corp. of Dulles, Va., from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility on Wallops Island, Va.  

The LADEE spacecraft will take 30 days to reach the moon because of its flight path. LLCD will begin operations shortly after arrival into lunar orbit and continue for 30 days afterward. 

LLCD’s main mission objective is to transmit hundreds of millions of bits of data per second from the moon to Earth. This is equivalent to transmitting more than 100 HD television channels simultaneously. LLCD receiving capability will also be tested as tens of millions of bits per second are sent from Earth to the spacecraft. These demonstrations will prove the technology for increased bandwidth for future missions is possible.

There is a primary ground terminal at NASA’s White Sands Complex in New Mexico, to receive and transmit LLCD signals. The team at MIT designed, built, and tested the terminal. They also will be responsible for LLCD’s operation at that site. 

There are two alternate sites, one located at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California, which is for receiving only. The other is being provided by the European Space Agency on the Spanish island of Tenerife, off the coast of Africa. It will have two-way communication capability with LLCD. “Having several sites gives us alternatives which greatly reduces the possibility of interference from clouds,” said Cornwell.  

LLCD is a short duration experiment and the precursor to NASA’s long duration demonstration, the Laser Communications Relay Demonstration (LCRD). It also is a part of the agency’s Technology Demonstration Missions Program, which is working to develop crosscutting technology capable of operating in the rigors of space. LCRD is scheduled to launch in 2017.

NASA engineers believe this technology becomes even more advantageous for communications beyond Earth’s orbit.  In the past, NASA has experimented with sending low amounts of individual pulses to cameras on far-away space probes near Jupiter, Mars, and Mercury.

Recently, an image of Leonardo da Vinci’s painting, the Mona Lisa, was transmitted to NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) spacecraft orbiting the moon. “But this was done at only hundreds of data bits per second,” said Cornwell. “LLCD will be the first dedicated optical communication system and will send data millions of times faster.”

The European Space Agency already has successfully demonstrated laser communication between satellites in Earth orbit. Recently they launched Alphasat to demonstrate laser transmission between a low-earth orbit satellite and a satellite in geostationary Earth orbit. LLCD’s laser link from the moon will be ten times farther away. 

NASA is looking upon laser communication as the next paradigm shift in future space communication, especially deep space.  “We can even envision such a laser-based system enabling a robotic mission to an asteroid,” said Cornwell. “It could have 3-D, high-definition video signals transmitted to Earth providing essentially ‘telepresence’ to a human controller on the ground.”

Quelle: NASA

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Update: 30.08.2013
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In an attempt to answer prevailing questions about our moon, NASA is making final preparations to launch a probe at 11:27 p.m. EDT Friday, Sept. 6, from NASA's Wallops Flight Facility on Wallops Island, Va.

The small car-sized Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE) is a robotic mission that will orbit the moon to gather detailed information about the structure and composition of the thin lunar atmosphere and determine whether dust is being lofted into the lunar sky. A thorough understanding of these characteristics of our nearest celestial neighbor will help researchers understand other bodies in the solar system, such as large asteroids, Mercury, and the moons of outer planets.

"The moon's tenuous atmosphere may be more common in the solar system than we thought," said John Grunsfeld, NASA's associate administrator for science in Washington. "Further understanding of the moon's atmosphere may also help us better understand our diverse solar system and its evolution."

The mission has many firsts, including the first flight of the Minotaur V rocket, testing of a high-data-rate laser communication system, and the first launch beyond Earth orbit from the agency's Virginia Space Coast launch facility.

LADEE also is the first spacecraft designed, developed, built, integrated and tested at NASA's Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif. The probe will launch on a U.S. Air Force Minotaur V rocket, an excess ballistic missile converted into a space launch vehicle and operated by Orbital Sciences Corp. of Dulles, Va.

LADEE was built using an Ames-developed Modular Common Spacecraft Bus architecture, a general purpose spacecraft design that allows NASA to develop, assemble and test multiple modules at the same time. The LADEE bus structure is made of a lightweight carbon composite with a mass of 547.2 pounds -- 844.4 pounds when fully fueled.

"This mission will put the common bus design to the test," said Ames Director S. Pete Worden. "This same common bus can be used on future missions to explore other destinations, including voyages to orbit and land on the moon, low-Earth orbit, and near-Earth objects."

Butler Hine, LADEE project manager at Ames, said the innovative common bus concept brings NASA a step closer to multi-use designs and assembly line production and away from custom design. "The LADEE mission demonstrates how it is possible to build a first class spacecraft at a reduced cost while using a more efficient manufacturing and assembly process," Hine said.

Approximately one month after launch, LADEE will begin its 40-day commissioning phase, the first 30 days of which the spacecraft will be performing activities high above the moon's surface. These activities include testing a high-data-rate laser communication system that will enable higher rates of satellite communications similar in capability to high-speed fiber optic networks on Earth.

After commissioning, LADEE will begin a 100-day science phase to collect data using three instruments to determine the composition of the thin lunar atmosphere and remotely sense lofted dust, measure variations in the chemical composition of the atmosphere, and collect and analyze samples of any lunar dust particles in the atmosphere. Using this set of instruments, scientists hope to address a long-standing question: Was lunar dust, electrically charged by sunlight, responsible for the pre-sunrise glow above the lunar horizon detected during several Apollo missions?

After launch, Ames will serve as a base for mission operations and real-time control of the probe. NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., will catalogue and distribute data to a science team located across the country.

NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington funds the LADEE mission. Ames manages the overall mission. Goddard manages the science instruments and technology demonstration payload, the science operations center and provides overall mission support. Wallops is responsible for launch vehicle integration, launch services and operations. NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., manages LADEE within the Lunar Quest Program Office.

The LADEE spacecraft in the nose-cone at the top of the full Minotaur V launch vehicle stack. LADEE is the first spacecraft designed, developed, built, integrated and tested at NASA's Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif.

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NASA's Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE) spacecraft sits in the nose-cone at the top of the full Minotaur V launch vehicle stack.


Quelle: NASA

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Update: 2.09.2013
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$6 million CU-Boulder instrument to fly on Sept. 6 NASA mission to moon 
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A $6 million instrument built by the University of Colorado will fly to the moon this Friday with NASA’s Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer, a mission designed to better understand dust patterns within its tenuous atmosphere.
The $280 million mission will take about a month to reach the moon and another month to enter the proper elliptical orbit and begin collecting data from the instruments.
CU physics professor Mihaly Horanyi of the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics is the principal investigator for the Lunar Dust Experiment, which is able to chart the existence, size and individual velocities of tiny dust particles as small as 0.6 microns in diameter.  For comparison, a standard sheet of paper is about 100 microns thick.
“We are ready and excited for the launch,” Horanyi said in a CU press release. “What we see on the moon may well apply to Mercury, Phobos, Deimos or asteroids, which all have very tenuous atmospheres.”
The Lunar Dust Experiment, as well as many previous LASP instruments launched into space since the 1970s, will carry a laser engraving of the CU mascot, Ralphie, as well as the names of all those who participated in the project.
Quelle: CU Independent 
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Update: 3.09.2013
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A wide-angle view of an inert Minotaur V launch vehicle is erected on the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport's pad 0B at NASA's Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia during a pathfinder exercise for NASA's Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE) Mission.
Image Credit: NASA Wallops/Jackie Adkins
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LADEE's launch in 2013 will mark several firsts. It will be the first payload to launch on a U.S. Air Force Minotaur V rocket integrated by Orbital Sciences Corp., and the first deep space mission to launch from NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center's Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia.
The Minotaur V is a five-stage version of the Minotaur IV. It is designed to provide launches for small missions requiring geosynchronous transfer or translunar orbits.
Wallops, located on Virginia's eastern shore, was established in 1945 by the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics. The oldest continuous rocket launch range in the United States, Wallops is a national resource for aerospace-based science and technology research using suborbital and orbital vehicles.
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NASA Administrator Bolden and LADEE Team 
Date: 24 May 2013
NASA Administrator Charles Bolden (center) poses with the LADEE team on a recent visit to the Ames Research Center, Moffet Field, CA. LADEE (which stands for Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer) is the first spacecraft designed and built at Ames and is scheduled to launch from Wallops Flight Facility, VA.
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Quelle: NASA
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Quelle: Orbital
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Update: 5.09.2013
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LADEE Mission Overview
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NASA's Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE, pronounced like "laddie") is a robotic mission that will orbit the moon to gather detailed information about the lunar atmosphere, conditions near the surface and environmental influences on lunar dust. A thorough understanding of these characteristics will address long-standing unknowns, and help scientists understand other planetary bodies as well.
NASA Wallops Flight Facility Launch Manager Doug Voss, right, and NASA Goddard Space Flight Center Mission Manager for the Lunar Laser Communications Demonstration Don Cornwell talk during a LADEE mission briefing at NASA Headquarters, Thursday, August 22, 2013 in Washington. Data from NASA's LADEE mission will provide unprecedented information about the environment around the moon and give scientists a better understanding of other planetary bodies in our solar system and beyond. The LADEE mission is scheduled to launch at 11:27 p.m. Friday, Sept. 6, from NASA's Wallops Flight Facility on Wallops Island, Va. Photo Credit: (NASA/Bill Ingalls)
NASA Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE) Program Scientist Sarah Noble talks during a NASA Social about the LADEE mission at NASA Wallops Flight Facility, Thursday, Sept. 5, 2013 on Wallops Island, VA. Fifty of NASA's social media followers are attending a two-day event in support of the LADEE launch. Data from LADEE will provide unprecedented information about the environment around the moon and give scientists a better understanding of other planetary bodies in our solar system and beyond. LADEE is scheduled to launch at 11:27 p.m. Friday, Sept. 6, from NASA's Wallops Flight Facility. Photo Credit: (NASA/Carla Cioffi)
Quelle: NASA
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Update: 6.09.2013
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Quelle: NASA
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Update: 15.05 MESZ
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Wallops' 1st moon mission launch a 'go'
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WALLOPS ISLAND — Thousands of space fans and invited guests have come to northern Accomack County to view the liftoff tonight of the first moon mission launched from Virginia.
The island resort town of Chincoteague near NASA Wallops Flight Facility is ground central for local viewing of the launch of NASA’s Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer, which will be carried aloft by a five-stage Minotaur V rocket from a launch pad at the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport on Wallops Island.
The launch is scheduled for 11:27 p.m.
There is a four-minute window for tonight’s launch, with alternate dates and times running through Sept. 10.
East Coast residents from the Carolinas to Maine and as far west as western Pennsylvania should be able to see the rocket in the sky, NASA Wallops spokesman Keith Kohler said.
In addition, live television coverage from Wallops begins at 9:30 p.m. on NASA TV.
Live coverage of the launch also will be broadcast on the huge screen in New York’s Times Square from 10:30 p.m. to 1 a.m.
The weather forecast is calling for a 95 percent chance of good weather at launch time, “so all systems are go,” said Sarah Daugherty, NASA Wallops Flight Facility test director.
Chincoteague, the site of the popular annual Pony Penning held each year in July, is not unused to handling crowds.
The town’s preparations for the lunar launch were “a mixture of what we do for Pony Penning and what we do for Fourth of July,” said Town Manager Robert Ritter.
Chincoteague is where the majority of visitors coming to the area for the launch are staying, including some 1,400 VIP guests who will board 33 coach buses at the Chincoteague Community Center this evening to travel to NASA Wallops Flight Facility for the launch.
The town also is where the two officially designated areas for launch viewing are: along Maddox Boulevard and Beach Road east of the traffic circle, and in Robert Reed Waterfront Park downtown.
Other nearby areas the public typically views launches from, including the beach at Assateague Island National Seashore, are off-limits this time because the lunar mission’s trajectory puts them within a hazard zone.
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The beach will close 7 p.m. on launch day.
Parking along the causeway leading from the mainland to Chincoteague Island is not allowed and could be dangerous; the road runs through the marsh and in most places has no shoulders.
John Grunsfeld, associate administrator for the Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington, D.C., on Thursday called Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer “a mission to help unravel the mysteries of the universe.
Grunsfeld and four other NASA officials spoke to some 70 journalists and 50 social media representatives at a prelaunch briefing Thursday afternoon.
He predicted the mission will give scientists “whole new vistas” on the moon.
NASA Wallops Flight Facility Director Bill Wrobel praised the teamwork evident among the entities involved in the mission, including NASA Ames Research Center in California, where the compact car-sized LADEE spacecraft was designed and built.
“I’m confident we are going to have a good showing here tomorrow evening,” said Wrobel.
The is a mission of many firsts. In addition to being the first lunar mission launched from Virginia and the first moon mission flown by Dulles, Va.-based Orbital Sciences Corp., it is the first mission to use Orbital’s Minotaur V rocket, a five-stage, 78-foot-tall rocket that weighs about the same as 40 minivans.
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Quelle: delmarva
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Update: 22.00 MESZ

It’s a go for liftoff tonight at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility for the first moon mission to be launched from Virginia.

NASA’s Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environmental Explorer will be carried aloft by a five-stage Minotaur V rocket.

At 11:27 p.m. there will be a four minute launch window with alternate dates running through September 10th.

NASA Wallops Flight Facility officials say there is a 95 percent chance for good weather.

14-hundred VIP guests are expected to be in Chincoteague to view the launch.

Wallops officials say that residents from the Carolinas to Maine should be able to view the rocket rise up into the night sky.

New Yorkers will be able to see the live launch on the huge screen that overlooks Times Square beginning at 10:30 p.m.

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Update: 7.09.2013 / 4.05 MESZ - LIVE NASA-TV

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Frams: NASA-TV

START von LADEE - 5.30 MESZ


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Update: 2.10.2013
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NASA's New Moon Probe Begins Final Leg of Lunar Trek

NASA's newest lunar probe is gearing up to begin the final phase of its month-long trek to the moon.
The space agency's LADEE moon dust spacecraft is in its third and final orbit around Earth before moving to the moon, and everything is looking good. The lunar probe launched into space on Sept. 6 to begin its circuitous route to the moon.
LADEE's second burn, designed to take it into a high elliptical orbit, was so "perfect" that the third maneuver planned to take the probe into an even higher orbit will not be necessary, NASA officials wrote in a mission update on Sept. 27. The loveseat-sized probe will make its final close flyby of Earth Tuesday (Oct. 1).

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Update: 6.10.2013
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LADEE set to enter lunar orbit after transit from Earth
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One month after a dazzling late-night launch from Virginia sent NASA's LADEE mission into orbit, ground controllers in California are readying the lunar probe for a make-or-break rocket burn Sunday to put the modest spacecraft into orbit around the moon.  The four-minute engine firing is scheduled to begin at 1057 GMT (6:57 a.m. EDT), changing the craft's velocity by 737 mph and allowing the moon's gravity to capture LADEE in a retrograde equatorial lunar orbit.

The $280 million Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer launched Sept. 6 aboard a Minotaur 5 rocket from Wallops Island, Va., putting on a Friday night pyrotechnic sky show for observers along the U.S. East Coast.

The five-stage launcher put LADEE in a high-altitude transfer orbit, and the bullet-shaped spacecraft completed three loops around Earth over the last month, using its rocket thrusters to nudge itself higher to set up for an intercept with the moon's orbit Sunday.

"On the third pass, we're hanging out there in space right around where the moon is going to come by," said Butler Hine, LADEE's project manager at NASA's Ames Research Center, in a prelaunch press conference. "It swings by, whips us around behind it, and then once we come out from behind the moon, we do a big braking burn with our main engine. That braking burn is what captures us around the moon."

LADEE's main engine, built by Space Systems/Loral, fired several times in September to change the probe's trajectory on the way to the moon. Sunday's lunar orbit insertion maneuver is the longest planned engine firing in LADEE's mission.

The mission's arrival at the moon is not impacted by the partial shutdown of the federal government, which furloughed 97 percent of NASA's civil servant workforce because Congress failed to pass a budget for the new fiscal year.

LADEE's operations are not affected by the shutdown because the mission is in a critical phase, said Rachel Hoover, a spokesperson at NASA's Ames Research Center, before the shutdown.

Sources said NASA had no plans to communicate the outcome of LADEE's insertion burn to the media or the public because the agency's public affairs staff is not at work.

Two more rocket firings are planned for Oct. 9 and Oct. 12 to lower LADEE's lunar orbit to an altitude of 155 miles. The spacecraft will initially be in an elliptical 24-hour orbit after Sunday's insertion maneuver.

During the mission's 30-day commissioning phase, due to begin in mid-October, ground teams will activate the spacecraft's research payload and deploy covers on LADEE's three science instruments. The sensors all appeared healthy during aliveness checks after LADEE's launch.

The spacecraft, which stands 7.7 feet tall and stretches about 4.7 feet in diameter, also hosts a laser communications package to demonstrate next-generation high-speed data links between Earth-based antennas and deep space probes.

The laser communications demo is scheduled to kick off later this month, and LADEE's laser payload - built by MIT Lincoln Laboratory - will connect the spacecraft with ground terminals in New Mexico, California and the Canary Islands.

LADEE will try to send and receive data packets transmitted through a laser beam connecting the spacecraft and the ground terminals at a range of about 250,000 miles.

Officials say laser communications on future missions could enable 3D videos and high-resolution imagery to be beamed from Mars to Earth at fiber-optic speeds, limited only by the one-way light time, the time it takes for a signal to travel from distant destinations back to Earth.

Then LADEE will begin its 100-day science mission, dipping as low as 12 miles above the moon's surface.

"LADEE has two main science goals: To understand the lunar atmosphere as well as the dust environment around the moon," said Sarah Noble, LADEE's program scientist.

The orbiter's three instruments - a lunar dust experiment, neutral mass spectrometer and ultraviolet spectrometer - will scoop up dust particles and analyze the composition and variability of the moon's tenuous atmosphere.

Quelle: SN

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LADEE in Lunar Orbit

The LADEE spacecraft is now in Lunar orbit.  Tracking data will later confirm the precise parameters of the orbit, but based on telemetry of thruster performance and accelerations, the LOI-1 burn appears to be close to nominal.

The planned Lunar orbit has an orbit period of 23.1 hrs.  The next planned maneuver (Lunar Aposelene Maneuver 1, or LAM1) is scheduled for the 2nd aposelene, which would occur roughly 1.5 days from now.  For LOI-1 results close to nominal, this maneuver can be waived.

LOI-2 is nominally scheduled for 3 revs after LOI-1.

LADEE trajectory update 10-4-13

LADEE is rapidly approaching the Moon.  Depending on who you talk to, you can consider the spacecraft to be within the “Sphere of Influence” of the Moon somewhere near 66,000 km (on LADEE we switch central bodies on our numerical integrators at 50,000 km, but that’s not a magic number).  So we’re not quite Moon-Centered yet, but that doesn’t stop us from giving you pictures in a Moon centered frame.

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Update: 7.10.2013
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LADEE in Lunar Orbit
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The LADEE spacecraft is now in Lunar orbit.  Tracking data will later confirm the precise parameters of the orbit, but based on telemetry of thruster performance and accelerations, the LOI-1 burn appears to be close to nominal.
The planned Lunar orbit has an orbit period of 23.1 hrs.  The next planned maneuver (Lunar Aposelene Maneuver 1, or LAM1) is scheduled for the 2nd aposelene, which would occur roughly 1.5 days from now.  For LOI-1 results close to nominal, this maneuver can be waived.
LOI-2 is nominally scheduled for 3 revs after LOI-1.
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Quelle:astrogators guide

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LADEE arrives at the moon for lunar science mission
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NASA's LADEE spacecraft slipped into orbit around the moon Sunday, beginning a feverish four-month campaign to demonstrate a next-generation laser communications system and answer long-standing questions about the nature and origin of the tenuous lunar atmosphere.
The modest Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer spacecraft, measuring about 7.7 feet tall and 4.7 feet in diameter, fired its liquid-fueled engine at 1057 GMT (6:57 a.m. EDT) for four minutes, allowing the moon's gravity to capture it into a high-altitude orbit over the equator.
Controllers based at NASA's Ames Research Center in California - kept operating despite the partial shutdown of the federal government - oversaw the critical maneuver.
NASA's public affairs personnel are furloughed by the budget impasse in Congress, but mission officials confirmed the orbit insertion maneuver occurred as planned.
Radio ranging data will determine the orbit's exact parameters, but officials said LADEE's main engine fired for the expected duration, so the spacecraft should be in its planned orbit.
Mission plans called for LADEE to enter a highly elliptical retrograde orbit taking the spacecraft around the moon approximately every 24 hours. Two major orbit adjust burns are planned Oct. 9 and Oct. 12 to lower the altitude of LADEE's orbit, ultimately reaching a near-circular orbit about 155 miles over the moon's equator.
"The orbit around the moon is retrograde, meaning opposite the lunar rotation, and also around the equator," said Greg Delroy, LADEE's deputy project scientist at Ames. "A lot of the lunar science missions have done a polar orbit, but because of the kind of science we're after, we very much want to be around the equator."
Sunday's arrival at the moon came after a one-month transit from Earth following LADEE's launch from Wallops Island, Va., aboard a Minotaur 5 rocket. LADEE completed three loops around Earth over the past month, aiming to arrive in the vicinity of the moon Sunday for the make-or-break orbit insertion burn.
Once LADEE reaches the 155-mile-high orbit Oct. 12, ground teams will begin commissioning the probe's three science instruments, deploy aperture covers from the sensors, and activate the spacecraft's laser communications package for a 30-day demonstration of high-speed optical communications.
The Lunar Laser Communications Demonstration aboard LADEE will link up with ground stations in New Mexico, California and the Canary Islands, exchanging data packets at speeds unattainable with radio communications systems.
"Once the two systems are locked and acquired, then we can send tens of megabits of data per second from the Earth up to the moon, and similarly we can send hundreds of megabits per second from the moon on LADEE down to the Earth," said Don Cornwell, the laser communication demonstration mission manager from NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md.
Built by MIT Lincoln Laboratory, the communications payload will help build confidence for future missions to use laser data links from deep space, including NASA's manned asteroid mission and future rovers on the surface of Mars.
"NASA has a need for faster download speeds for data from space," Cornwell said. "We'd like to be able to send high-resolution images, movies in 3D even, from satellites that not only orbit the Earth but also from probes that will go to the moon and beyond."
Another benefit of laser communications is it requires fewer components and smaller terminals, both on the ground and in space.
"Light waves are shorter in wavelength than radio waves, so we can use smaller transmitters and receivers," Cornwell said.
After LADEE's one-month commissioning and laser demo phase, controllers will put the probe in an orbit closer to the moon for a 100-day research mission exploring the dust environment just above the lunar surface and measuring the composition of the moon's ultra-thin atmosphere.
The moon's atmosphere, or exosphere, is so thin its atoms never collide, according to Sarah Noble, LADEE's program scientist.
Quelle: SN
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Update: 8.10.2013
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LADEE Update 10-07-13: Safe in Lunar Orbit after LOI-1

The LADEE Spacecraft successfully performed Lunar Orbit Insertion maneuver 1 (LOI-1) on Oct. 6, 2013 3:57 PDT.   The LOI-1 maneuver captured LADEE into a 24 hr orbit.  After 3 days (and 3 revs) in the capture orbit, the spacecraft will perform LOI-2 on Oct. 9 at 3:37 PDT.  The second of 3 Lunar Orbit Insertion maneuvers, LOI-2 will reduce LADEE’s orbit down to a 4 hr orbit.

Finally, LOI-3 will be performed Oct. 12 at 8:00 PM PDT to circularize the spacecraft in a 235 km orbit.  LADEE will spend a month in this “commissioning” orbit, while the spacecraft is checked out before full-time lunar science begins, and the Laser-Communications experiment will be tested.

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At this time (7 Oct. 2013 7:53) LADEE is past its first aposelene, and is headed for its first periselene after capture.

 

Quelle: astrogators guide

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Update: 10.10.2013 

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LADEE Trajectory Update 10-9-13: 4 hrs to LOI-2
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Lunar Orbit Insertion Maneuver 2 (LOI-2) is upon us, scheduled for 09 Oct 2013 10:38 UTC.  This maneuver will lower our periselene altitude from 15700 km down to 2220 km and change our orbit period from 24 hrs to 4 hrs.
The maneuver will last for 220.8 seconds, and will impart a delta-V (change in velocity) of 293 m/sec.
Right now LADEE sees this view:
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And the orbit from above would look like this:
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From Earth, if you could see the orbit, you’d see this:
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Tags: LADEE LIVE-Launch Wallops 

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