Sonntag, 3. August 2014 - 18:00 Uhr

Raumfahrt - Japan plant Raumüberwachung bis 2019


Japan plans to create a space MONITORING force within its Self-Defense Forces by around 2019, with the Defense Ministry having already informed the United States, a source close to Japan-U.S. relations said Saturday.
Initially, the force will be tasked with monitoring dangerous debris floating in Earth's ORBIT and protecting satellites from collisions with such debris, the source said.
The Defense Ministry has altered its strategy on the use of space to include the DEVELOPMENT of such an observatory force, following the 2008 enactment of a law revising the principles for Japan's non-military activities in space.
Japan will provide the U.S. military with information obtained in the envisaged operation and seek to strengthen bilateral cooperation in space, the so-called "fourth battlefield," the source said.
According to the source, the ministry plans to operate the force by using radar and TELESCOPE facilities in Okayama Prefecture acquired from Japan Space Forum, a Tokyo-based think-tank that coordinates aerospace-related activities among industry, government, and academia.
Japan Space Forum owns the Spaceguard Center radar facility in Kagamino and telescope facility in Ihara in the western Japan prefecture.
The Defense Ministry will acquire the radar and telescope facilities, jointly with the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency.
The Defense Ministry is currently considering putting the new force together with assigned units from the Air Self-Defense Force to work on the issues of space debris and SATELLITES.
According to the source, Japan and the United States have been PAYING close attention to the debris issue since 2007 when a missile launched from China destroyed one of its own satellites as a test.
Some 3,000 fragments of space debris are at risk of colliding with reconnaissance or communications satellites, which could threaten global security.
At space development cooperation talks held in Washington in May, the Japanese and U.S. governments pledged to enhance their cooperation on using satellites for debris monitoring and MARINE surveillance, and to swiftly reach an agreement on the foundations of the two countries' reciprocal space operations.
It was also agreed that JAXA should provide information to the U.S. Strategic Command.
Originally, the U.S. military had requested to use the ASDF's ground-based radar missile DETECTION and evasion radar system, "FPS5," currently operated in several places including Shimokoshiki Island in Kagoshima Prefecture and Yozadake in Okinawa Prefecture.
But the Defense Ministry had concerns that the FPS5 may not be able to offer full protection against BALLISTIC missiles if tied up in space monitoring, leading it to consider a different option.
Quelle: globalpost


Sonntag, 3. August 2014 - 17:45 Uhr

UFO-Forschung - Unzureichende Informationen in NICAP-Dokument als UFO-Beweis -TEIL 7


September 21, 1961
The UFO evidence summarizes the case as:
September 21, 1961--Pacific Ocean, nr. Wake Island. Airline pilots, ship, reported a bright white circular UFO. [X]1
Section X has a much longer description of the event:
For about 10 minutes at 7:00 a.m. (Honolulu time), September 21, 1961, two airliners and a U.S. ship at sea observed a UFO simultaneously. The object passed overhead, apparently at extremely high altitude, angling southeasterly above the North Pacific. (See map.)
Reports from the Federal Aviation Agency, and the U.S. Navy Oceanographic Office publication “Notice to Mariners,” establish the following facts.
At 1700 Greenwich Mean Time, the S.S. Iberville, north and east of Midway Island, noticed a white
object about 20 degrees above the NW horizon. Its apparent angular size was about I degree
(twice the apparent size of the full moon). For about 10 minutes, the UFO was observed passing
over the ship headed southeast. As it neared the ship’s meridian, it resembled a huge halo with a
bright object in the center. The apparent size in creased to over four times the size of the full moon. [See Notice to Mariners report, repro- duced below.]
At the same time, a British Overseas Airways Corporation (BOAC) airliner about 800 miles northeast of the ship saw the object overtake the plane. From a steep angle above the plane, the UFO continued southeasterly and disappeared over the horizon. Capt. H. F. Griffin described the UFO as “like a large smoke ring about 2 degrees in diameter [about 4 times the size of the full moon].” He said the center of the ring was clear sky, and once a star was visible through it. A ray of light seemed to project downward from the object.
A Pan American Airways plane, about 400 miles southeast of Capt. Griffin’s position, confirmed the report. The pilot reported a doughnut- shaped object moving easterly about l0 degrees above the horizon. 2
The description includes a map which shows the position of the ship and aircraft to be north and east of Midway island. There is also a reproduction of the Notice to Mariners report made by the second officer of the SS Iberville. It reads:
At 1700 G.M.T. on September 21, 1961, while in lat. 31° 30’ N., long. 175° 30’ E., a few minutes before morning twilight, a white opaque mass about twice the size of a full moon appeared in the northwest at an elevation of about 20°. It continued to climb toward the zenith and at about an elevation of 40°, the mass opened gradually to appear as a huge halo with a satellite in the center having very nearly the brightness of a first magnitude star. By the time it reached the zenith, it had more than doubled in size reaching its maximum at the zenith and then diminishing as it proceeded to the southeast. As it diminished it continued to decrease in size but did not appear to shrink into a corona as it had appeared but rather faded out completely at an elevation of approximately 20°. The entire mass was in view for approximately 8 to 10 minutes.3
NICAP would add the following comment about the case in their UFO evidence document:
The Soviet Union announced a few days later that they had successfully test fired a multi-stage carrier rocket over the Pacific (exact date not on record). However, the reported size of the UFO was far too large to be explained as a rocket payload.4
They would also write in their UFO Investigator, the following:
Based on first reports, these points seem evident:
1. The object was not an ICBM missile. Nor was it a satellite re-entering the atmosphere. These appear only as small balls of fire, briefly visible.
2. The reflected light was from the sun, which was an hour below the horizon. The UFO had to be very high to catch its rays.
3. At such a high altitude, the unknown device had to be extremely large (at least several hundred feet in diameter) for its edges and the hole to be so clearly seen by the BOAC crew. The size and description rule out all earth-made rockets, satellites, or Echo-type bal- loons.
The “doughnut” shape the jet crews reported is similar to the future space-base proposed by rocket expert Wernher von Braun--a huge doughnut-shaped ring containing compartments for crews and equipment and rotating to create gravity. At a distance, the connecting framework would be invisible, and from far below, the space-base would appear just as Capt. Griffin described the UFO.
More advanced space engineers, experimenting on another planet, could have evolved the same type of space-base. It is possible that what the jet crews saw was such a spacecraft from another world. 5(UFO Investigator October 1961 p. 1-2)
This is how NICAP presented its case. There seems to be a wealth of information and the object was seen over a wide area of ocean. This indicates the object was extremely high in the sky. My next stop would be the Blue Book files to check for any additional infor- mation.
Blue Book’s information and conclusion
The Blue Book file is limited and has two teletypes covering the sightings by the airplane crews. The Iberville is not listed in the case file. Some important highlights from these documents were:
1. The position of the BOAC plane was 38.0 North and 161.0 West at 2000Z, which was three hours later.6 Apparently, this is when they filed the report. This position was used by Blue Book and NICAP. No position was given for 1700Z. However, if we work backward based on the reported heading of 83 degrees magnetic and air speed of 550 knots, we discover the position of the plane was approximately 36.25 deg North 164.5 deg East. This is in agreement with the description by the pilot of the sky, which he described as pre-dawn. 1700Z is thirty minutes after sun rise for the 161 degree west position. From the 164.5 degree posi- tion, the sun rose about 1850Z.
2. The BOAC air crew reported the object was about 50 degrees elevation when first sighted and was headed towards an azimuth of about 100 degrees.7
3. The Pan Am plane was located at 34 deg 55 min North and 154 deg 40 min East.8
4. The Pan Am crew reported the object appeared about 10 degrees over the eastern horizon and was headed eastward.9
Blue Book wrote a brief conclusion regarding these sightings10:
Other (MISSILE ACTIVITY). Missile exercise in area at the time of the sighting.
There wasn’t much in regards to who fired the missile and its destination. Before we examine this possibility, we need to fix some mistakes in the UFO evidence document so we can properly evaluate the sighting.
Getting the positions correct
NICAP’s authors present the following map regarding the sightings11: 
NICAP really did not research this very well because they confused the longitudes of the aircraft and ship. The Pan Am aircraft and Iberville were at EAST longitude and not west longitude. Additionally, the position of the BOAC aircraft was three hours old! As a result the map above is completely inaccurate. This is how the actual positions and sighting lines appear using Google Earth:
Potential source
In 1961, the Russian’s were ahead in the space race. By September 1961, they had launched a probe to Venus, put the first man in orbit, and Titov had orbited the earth for a full day. Meanwhile, the Russians were testing a variety of ICBM rockets for deployment. Normally, the Soviet Union would launch their payloads to the Kura peninsula. However, in September of 1961, they launched several ICBM payloads towards the Pacific ocean to test the maximum range of their rockets. Unfortunately, the Soviet Union records of these tests is not that extensive. The astronautix web site chronology gives no time for this entry:
1961 September 21 - . Launch Site: Baikonur. Launch Complex: Baikonur LC31. Launch Pad: LC31?. LV Family: R-7. Launch Vehicle: R-7A. LV Configuration: R-7A E15003-03.
R-7A II-7 test - . Nation: USSR. Agency: RVSN. Apogee: 1,350 km (830 mi). Summary: R-7A readiness verification test..12
The date of 21 September is interesting. Baikonur is 6 hours ahead of UTC, which means a launch before 1700 GMT/UTC (the time of the sightings) would have been prior to 2300 Baikonur time on the 21st. So the date is correct. However, was it launched towards the Pacific and what part of the Pacific was targeted?
My search took me to the Newspaper archive, where I found several articles based on an announcement made by TASS about this rocket launch. While they did not state where the payload landed, the UPI drew the following conclusion:
Tass did not give an exact distance for the shot. But previous announcements said that in the two earlier tests the rockets traveled some 7,500 miles into a designated Pacific target area some 1,000 miles southwest of Hawaii. Today’s announcement said the multi-stage car- rier rocket was fired on Thursday (the 21st).13
I was somewhat surprised that the Soviet Union was able to launch an ICBM so near the United States. Wouldn’t such a test appear as an attack? The article answered this by stating that the Soviet Union had warned aircraft and mariners ahead of time about the test. I am sure that the United States was also informed.
I e-mailed Jonathan McDowell, among others, and he agreed that the launch was probably to the southwest of Hawaii. He stated that on page 201 of the book ‘Nezabivayemiy Baykonur’ , the ICBM had been launched at “maximum range”.14 The location of about 1000 miles to the southwest of Hawaii does put the distance traveled around 7500 miles as stated in the news reports.
Using Google earth, I traced the most direct route from Baikonur to this position. It is interesting to note that the trajectory takes it almost directly over the SS Iberville. The directions of observation by the BOAC and Pan Am crews were in the directions of the flight path of the ICBM.
Is it solved?
Unfortunately, we can’t solve this one conclusively because we don’t have a launch time. Maybe somebody can find it but I have had little luck in doing so even though I have contacted several experts on the subject. There are many characteristics in the reports that are what one would expect from this kind of missile test. The R-7A was a liquid fueled rocket and there probably would have been fuel remaining in the booster. As this vented off into space, it would have produced a cloud around the booster which would have been several degrees across and not simply a mere pinpoint of light as suggested in the NICAP documents. The de- scription of the UFO is what one would expect from a booster rocket venting fuel in space. If one couples the direction of travel and directions of observation in the report, it paints a pretty convincing picture that the ICBM test caused this report.
I found NICAP’s knowledge about rocket launches and ICBM tests limited and very biased. One can forgive NICAP in 1961 for mak- ing such comments. The space age was only a few years old and their experience with such sightings was extremely limited even though there was at least one NICAP member who was a missile expert (Retired Rear Admiral Delmer S. Fahrney). However, the promotion of the case a few years later in this document indicated they had yet to learn anything about such tests and how they appeared. NICAP seemed to have been more interested in promoting such cases as “unidentified” than actually pursuing potential explanations. Even more astounding is that many of these cases continue to be presented as “best evidence” on various UFO web sites across the internet. The lessons of the past appear to be ignored.
Unless somebody can produce a launch time that falsifies this potential explanation, I would consider it likely that the Soviet ICBM test produced these sightings. This case is NOT the “best evidence” that UFOs are alien spaceships and should be removed from the list.
Quelle: SUNlite 5/2013

Tags: UFO-Forschung 


Sonntag, 3. August 2014 - 15:30 Uhr

UFO-Forschung - Projekt Blue Book - Teil-8


701 club
CASE # 2045: September 6, 19521
Don Berlinner’s list summarizes the case as follows:
Sept. 6, 1952; Lake Charles AFB, Louisiana. 1:30 a.m. Witnesses: T/Sgt. J.E. Wilson and two enlisted men. One bright star-like light moved about the sky for 2 hours.2
Anytime I see a star-like object being in the sky for more than a few minutes, I begin to suspect there might be an astronomical explanation. Was this the case here?
Blue book investigation
Blue book did investigate to some extent but it seems that the individual performing the investigation did not put all the informa- tion together to solve the puzzle. Dr. Hynek, who probably would have solved this one, appears to have never seen this file or did not comment.
An interview with the witnesses was performed on 9 September but the interviews are not part of the file. The summary is missing a lot of key information that should have been obtained. That being angles of elevation and azimuth. Fortunately, there is also a flying object report message that provides additional details regarding the sighting. Based on these two documents, we can piece together most of the event.
Around 0130, one of the witnesses saw a UFO to the northeast. It was described as “glowing white” and “blinking”.3 While the speed was described as being approximately 1000 mph, the object did not really seem to stray very far from one position in the sky. Instead, these speeds seem to have been used to describe the random motion of the UFO as it performed maneuvers that were described as, “circular motion in one area then suddenly change to another area and repeat the motion. It would seem to change alti- tude at no particular time, but at anytime”.4 The air intelligence report described it as moving “around in a circle from a definite area. It appeared to rise and drop, it set (sic) still for an unknown length of time and then move very fast to the left or right not always in a straight line”.5 Two other airmen also saw the UFO that night. The primary witness watched this for an hour. After that, the witness seemed to have lost interest. He went to bed with the UFO still up there darting around.
An important point that was not mentioned in Berlinner’s or Spark’s description of the incident was that the same witness saw the same UFO (or one like it) the next night in the same area of the sky at 0230!6
The source of this UFO is not hard to determine. There were two excellent candidates in the sky that night (see Stellarium im- age above). The first was the star Capella. At 0130 on the 6th, it was an azimuth of 52 degrees and an angle of elevation of 32 degrees. By 0230, it had moved to 53 degrees azimuth and 42 degrees elevation. The other candidate was Jupiter. It was more towards the east at azimuth 98 degrees and an elevation of 47 degrees at 0130. By 0230, it had moved to 110 degrees azimuth and 60 degrees altitude. Both are very bright astronomical objects. In my opinion, Capella is the better match. It was in the northeast sky and, unlike Jupiter, would be more likely to scintillate wildly. The moving back and forth is best attributed to autokinesis effects as the witness stared at a point of light against a dark sky.
Why didn’t Blue Book solve this one?
It was 1952 and Blue Book was swamped with UFO reports. They did not have the time or the resources to investigate all these cases properly. There were thirty-four cases that occurred between 1 and 8 September. There were an additional forty-one cases between 9 and 16 September. This does not even include about 250 cases from August. To declare this case “unidentified” , even though it had a very likely astronomical solution, indicated that the AF simply spent very little time pursuing a solution.
There is no good reason to reject the astronomical explanation here. All of the characteristics of a classic misperception of a bright star/planet are there. The clincher has to be the witness seeing the same object around the same time in the same part of the sky on the following night. This one can be classified as “Probably Capella” and removed from the list of 701 unknowns.
Quelle: 5/2014

Tags: UFO-Forschung 


Sonntag, 3. August 2014 - 15:00 Uhr

UFO-Forschung - IFO-Universität: FOTO-Schwindel



The Trent UFO Photos / McMinnville, Oregon - May 11, 1950
A few months ago, Robert Sheaffer and I were exchanging e-mails about the Trent photographs. I had mentioned that I had taken some photographs with a digital SLR of an aluminum pie pan suspended by some fishing line. Some showed the thread but others did not. The sky was very clear and blue, which helped in providing contrast to expose the line. Robert suggested it would be an interesting test to see what color and size threads would show up under varying lighting conditions. As a result, I conducted a series of tests to see what exactly might be hidden under certain lighting conditions.
The test
Beside fishing line, I thought it might be best to test a variety of threads and lines under varying light conditions. I also decided to use four different cameras. This table identifies the different threads and cameras used:
The model was a simple Styrofoam bowl suspended underneath a pole. All photos were taken from an approximate distance of 14-15 feet and two photographs were taken of each setup. I used the widest angle lens setting on each camera and set the exposure time setting to automatic. In the case of the Digital SLRs, I took RAW images that would produced uncompressed images for greatest resolution.
Test results
My first attempt at this test was a shot of the evening sky with the bright western sky backlighting the model. The sky was mostly clear ,with some cirrus, and the sun was obscured by my house. I was somewhat disappointed as the only thread that escaped scrutiny in the images was the fishing line. All cameras were unable to resolve it. The invisible thread escaped visual detection half the time in all the cameras except the Nikon, which resolved it in both shots. I attempted to locate the fishing line with Photoshop
My third attempt involved a clear evening sky but I took the images looking eastward vice westward. This put the sun behind me the same way one might get from shooting west in the morning. The fishing line continued to do well but it failed when the FujiFinePix
camera caught the sun glinting off the line. This did not show up in any of the other camera photographs. The invisible thread lived up to its name for most of the shots. It was visible in one Nikon and one cell phone camera image. Like the fishing line,
Preliminary conclusions
What these initial tests demonstrate is that threads can avoid detection if the lighting allows it. It appears that sunlight coming from a right angle to the camera is the best condition for hiding these threads. If the sun is in the same general direction as the photograph or behind the photographer, it will allow many threads to become easier to detect.
While these tests used a variety of digital cameras, it does not replicate the kind of images one might get from a film camera. Next issue, I plan on performing similar tests using black and white film and my old 35mm/Holga cameras. Before I do that, I will have to clean off all the dust.
Quelle: SUNlite 3/2013
Fortsetzung: 30.07.2014
String theory part II
Last issue, I described my efforts on detecting model UFOs suspended by string using various digital cameras. This issue, I continued
the testing using film cameras. Unfortunately, my old 35mm camera failed to work properly and only one section of the film was exposed. However, I was able to use the 6X6 format Holga camera and obtained some interesting results.
The Holga camera
The Holga camera is not the best camera for high resolution work. It is a cheap camera with a plastic lens. However, it does use large format film, which is a plus. This image demonstrates the resolution/focus of the Holga compared to the 35mm camera.
Both images were taken using Tmax 400 film. The 35mm tended to perform just a tad better than the Holga. Most of this had to do with the lens, which was a 50mm glass lens compared to the 60 mm plastic lens of the Holga (which is equivalent to a 35mm wide angle lens using 35mm film). Additionally, the Holga’s design tends to create a softer focus the further one is from the center of the negative.
I performed the test during daylight around noon local time on a sunny day using the same models and strings as before. After the film was exposed and developed, I had the negatives scanned. I then examined the scanned negatives with a computer and the original negatives using an 8X loupe.
The results were about as I expected. The Holga was not quite as capable as the digital cameras in resolving the threads. The black thread was obvious even when examining the negative with the naked eye. However, all the other threads were nearly or completely
invisible. The bead wire did resolve itself with some adjustment of the levels in photoshop. The one 35mm photograph was of the bead wire (see below). It was not visible until I adjusted the levels on the scanned image. I was surprised that the white thread was not resolved by the Holga because in all the images taken with the digital cameras, under similar conditions, the thread could be seen. I can only assume this had something to do with the thread blending into the bright sky background.
In my opinion, the film cameras did not perform as well as the digital ones. Even the cell phone seemed to perform better. I was disappointed that the 35mm camera malfunctioned and did not get another chance to retest it before publishing this issue. To put the matter to rest, I intend to perform the test again with the 35mm in time for next issue.
Quelle: SUNlite 4/2013
Fortsetzung 3.08.2014
String theory part III
This is the final part of my tests involving strings and models. Last issue I tried to complete the tests using black and white TMax400 film (35mm format) but the 35mm camera had malfunctioned. I managed to perform most of the tests recently using the same film and lens (50mm) from a distance of about 16 feet. I ran out of film before I performed the tests on the fishing line and Invisible thread but these threads were difficult to detect using a digital SLR. I seriously doubt that the film camera would be able to resolve them based on the results I obtained with this latest round of tests.
The results were similar to the results I obtained with the Holga in the last article. The black and the white threads were easily visible. The bead wire was visible with some enhancement in Photoshop. However, the grey thread and the kite string were not visible in any of the images I had. I am sure microscopic examination of the negative or some special software might reveal the threads but, at first glance, some of these strings appear to be good enough to fool many people into think the negatives show a real flying saucer hovering in the air.
What I have learned from all of my tests is that the background and lighting conditions can affect on how easily a thread will be detected. While some threads (black and white) can readily be detected under most lighting conditions, others are more difficult. I found the fact that the grey thread and kite string were difficult to detect in film cameras interesting to say the least. It implies that, under the right conditions, one can produce a fake UFO photograph using some simple thread as long as it is the right color and dimension that allows it to escape detection. Iconic UFO images like the Trent and Heflin photographs could have been produced this way. They may have been hoaxes that eventually got out of hand. Once they became big news, it would be hard for the photographers to back out and reveal that they were just goofing around with their cameras to see if they could trick people.
Quelle: SUNlite 5/2013


Samstag, 2. August 2014 - 23:45 Uhr

Raumfahrt - NASA´s Merkur-Sonde MESSENGER: 10 Jahre im Weltraum


Ten years ago, on August 3, 2004, NASA’s MESSENGER (MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry, and Ranging) spacecraft blasted off from Cape Canaveral, Florida, for a risky mission that would take the small satellite dangerously close to Mercury’s surface, paving the way for an ambitious study of the planet closest to the Sun.
The spacecraft traveled 4.9 billion miles (7.9 billion kilometers) — a journey that included 15 trips around the Sun and flybys of Earth once, Venus twice, and Mercury three times — before it was inserted into orbit around its target planet in 2011.
“We have operated successfully in orbit for more than three Earth years and more than 14 Mercury years as we celebrate this amazing 10th anniversary milestone,” said MESSENGER Mission Operations Manager Andy Calloway, of the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL). “The MESSENGER spacecraft operates in one of the most challenging and demanding space environments in our Solar System, and we have met that challenge directly through innovation and hard work, as exemplified by the stunning discoveries and data return achievements. Our only regret is that we have insufficient propellant to operate another 10 years, but we look forward to the incredible science returns planned for the final eight months of the mission.”
MESSENGER captured the images in the flyover movie during this flight path over Mercury's north polar region.
Image Cred
MESSENGER is only the second spacecraft sent to Mercury. Mariner 10 flew past it three times in 1974 and 1975 and gathered detailed data on less than half the surface. MESSENGER took advantage of an ingenious trajectory design, lightweight materials, and miniaturization of electronics, all developed in the three decades since Mariner 10 flew past Mercury.
“It was quite challenging to design and execute a trajectory that could culminate in Mercury orbit,” said Mission and Spacecraft Systems Engineer Dan O’Shaughnessy, of APL. “Designing an attendant spacecraft that was light enough to carry the necessary propellant to execute such a trajectory with enough room left over for a payload capable of global characterization of the planet is an impressive accomplishment.”
Additionally, he said, “the team’s concept of operations that streamlines planning while optimizing the use of our payload — despite substantial thermal and power constraints — is an amazing feat.”
MESSENGER Deputy Principal Investigator Larry Nittler, of the Carnegie Institution of Washington, said that the mission has rewritten scientists’ understanding of the planet “and given us plenty of surprises.”
 “Geochemical measurements have revealed a surface poor in iron, but rich in moderately volatile elements such as sulfur and sodium,” said Nittler. “These results rule out some long-standing theories put forward to explain Mercury’s anomalously high density compared with the other planets in the inner solar system,” he explained. “Maps of elemental abundances show that the interior is highly chemically heterogeneous, providing important clues to the early geological history of the planet.”
“MESSENGER observations have also shown that Mercury’s surface was shaped by volcanic activity, identified unique landforms shaped by loss of volatile materials, and confirmed the presence of large amounts of water ice protected from the Sun’s heat within permanently shadowed impact craters near the planet’s poles,  said Nittler
A closeup view from the 50 meters per pixel strip of images MESSENGER took during it's flyover of Mercury's north polar region.
“We have found that the complex interplay of the interplanetary magnetic field with that of Mercury results in a remarkably dynamic electromagnetic environment surrounding the planet, including unexplained bursts of electrons and highly variable distributions of different elements in the thin exosphere,” Nittler added. “Over the next few months, MESSENGER will observe Mercury at lower altitudes and thus smaller spatial scales than ever before, and this is sure to result both in exciting scientific discoveries and new puzzles about our solar system’s enigmatic innermost planet.”
In celebration of the 10th anniversary of its launch, the MESSENGER team has released a movie acquired during an early stage of MESSENGER’s low-altitude campaign. The movie provides a bird’s-eye view of what the spacecraft sees as it flies over the planet at close range and was assembled from 214 images taken by the narrow-angle camera (NAC) on June 8, 2014. The NAC’s field of view looked toward the horizon along the direction of MESSENGER's motion as the probe crossed the terminator into night.
“This view is what a traveler on the MESSENGER spacecraft might see during low-altitude operations in the coming year,” noted MESSENGER Co-Investigator Scott Murchie of APL. “During the final phase of its mission, MESSENGER's science instruments will use low-altitude operations like this to explore the surface and subsurface of Mercury at unprecedented resolution.”
The image frames were taken once per second while MESSENGER was at altitudes ranging from 115 to 165 kilometers, traveling at a speed of 3.7 kilometers per second relative to the surface. The movie is sped up by a factor of six for ease of viewing.
The images have resolutions ranging from 21 to 45 meters/pixel. Higher-resolution images of Mercury’s surface are possible if the camera is pointed directly below the spacecraft rather than looking to the horizon, and such operations will be the routine approach for low-altitude imaging in the coming year. The movie starts in the far north, east of the large crater Gaudí, passes over two unnamed craters just north of the crater Yoshikawa, over the large impact basin Lismer, north of the crater Van Dijck, and ends in the plains between the craters Nizami and Jókai. Many craters in this polar region are believed to host water ice in their permanently shadowed interiors.  (See photo strip of flyover)
“Our spacecraft team is delighted to celebrate the 10th anniversary of MESSENGER’s launch,” adds MESSENGER Principal Investigator Sean Solomon, of Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory. “In the past decade, observations by our resilient probe have deepened our understanding of both rocky planets and the dynamics of the inner heliosphere. As the new video demonstrates, however, some of the most exciting observations from the mission are still to come. We can expect new surprises as we view the innermost planet and its environment from closer range than ever before achieved by spacecraft.”
Infographic with statistics on the MESSENGER mission.
Image Credit: NASA
Quelle: NASA


Samstag, 2. August 2014 - 14:30 Uhr

UFO-Forschung - UFO-Absturz bei Roswell 1947 ? Teil-24


Is the “new evidence” really a hoax?
One can not really say without seeing the photographs that, according to Rich Reynolds, may show an alien body. Meanwhile, the same Reynolds states that a major newspaper and a cable network chose not to promote the evidence because the evi- dence was coming from crash proponents! After all the Roswell programs that get hyped on the cable shows and news media outlets, are we really supposed to believe that because Don Schmitt (or some other Roswell promoter) approached them, they were going to question the evidence? Maybe they did not like the “evidence” for other reasons. Perhaps too much money was be- ing requested or it looked fake! This makes me wonder, which person on the dream team actually believes these photographs are authentic? Kevin Randle, based on his public statements about the dream team, seems to find this evidence not very compelling. If a news paper and cable program has turned their noses up at it, the photographs must be pretty lame evidence. I will reserve final judgement for when, or if, the evidence ever sees the light of day but it sure is beginning to look like a hoax of some kind.
Battelle documented that they had studied the Roswell metals!
At least that is what Rich Reynolds thinks that Anthony Bragalia has proven. The truth of the matter is all of Bragalia’s speculation about Nitinol and Roswell are not based on any established facts. Most of what he has written is a based on his interpretation of what he thinks these documents mean. I have addressed this many times in SUNlite (1-2, 1-3, 2-5). Mr. Reynolds puts far too much faith in Bragalia’s “research” and “integrity”. He is blinded by his trust in what Bragalia writes instead of looking at the information critically.
Roswell crash photographs
Anthony Bragalia wrote another one of his Roswell articles, where he makes quite a bit out of nothing much. He apparently talked to quite a few enlisted men attached to the photo unit at Roswell. They stated that they were not allowed or did not pho- tograph any of the debris (balloon or alien spaceship). They also stated others from outside the base were directed to photograph the recovery operations and debris. One witness mentioned was Fred Benthall, who had told his story in “Witness to Roswell”. I had commented about Mr. Benthall in my critique of the book on my web site.
A few years ago, I was contacted by a close friend of Fred Benthall, who knew him growing up. This gentlemen had some comments and documents that he thought might interest me. When Fred died, his wife allowed him to go through his military records since they were so close. I was given copies of some of those records and they paint a slightly different record than what was described in “Witness to Roswell”.
During the war, Benthall was a photographer/B-29 mechanic in the Pacific. He was transferred from Kirtland AFB to Anacostia in June of 1946 as a temporary duty assignment for Operation Crossroads. Benthall was assigned to be part of the Photographic Sci- ences Laboratory, which developed film taken during the test. He remained attached to Anacostia until June of 1947, when he was transferred to the Armed Forces Special Weapons (AFSW) project, Washington DC at Bolling AFB. There is no mention of any flight to Roswell or a trip to the Arctic/Antarctica. He did not even receive a formal security clearance for his work with the AFSW project until 21 July. The records indicate that he remained in Washington, D.C. from 1947 to 1948:
• He was promoted to “technician third grade” while being stationed at Bolling AFB in September of 1947
• In March of 1948, he received an award for being an “administrative leader” from the Academy of model aeronautics in Wash-
ington, D.C.. My source stated that Benthall was an avid model airplane enthusiast.
• His qualification card indicates he was stationed at Bolling AFB in October 1948.
There are no indications of temporary duty assignments elsewhere. It seems unlikely that he could have been in Antarctica or the Arctic for any significant period of time.
My source stated that these were all the records he could access but one note on the qualification card is important in regards to the transfer to the Arctic/Antarctica. It stated that he was not available for overseas assignment.
The gentlemen, who sent me the files, told me that he thinks Benthall made most of the story up because he was being pestered by Roswell investigators with phone calls. According to my connection, Fred’s wife told him Benthall got very angry every time he received one of these calls and he would slam the phone down in disgust. He also stated that Fred never told him anything about Roswell and they were quite close. One can say he kept this secret from his young friend but my informant indicated that he was pretty close and Fred probably would have told him. This is all anecdotal mind you but the records seem to indicate that Benthall never went to the Arctic/Antarctica. Is the Benthall story told in “Witness to Roswell” accurate? We don’t’ know for sure but the records seem to indicate parts of the story are not true, which supports my source’s interpretation that Benthall made this story up so Roswell investigators would finally leave him alone.
Crashology’s last stand
When Kevin Randle stated he was forming his dream team and making an effort to uncover new information about the Roswell incident, I thought it might be open to all ideas and present a fresh approach. Recent postings on Randle’s blog, A Different Perspective, has revealed that it is not an uncontaminated look but pretty much the same stale arguments. Since the team appar- ently can’t find any real evidence for their crashed alien vehicle, they have taken the path of trying to falsify the rival MOGUL hypoth- esis. In order to do this, they have basically dressed up their old arguments to make them more appealing to those individuals, who are not convinced that the Roswell event was caused by a crashed alien spacecraft. As a result, I decided to demonstrate how all of their arguments have alternate explanations that are reasonable and do not require vast conspiracies or alien spaceships.
A cluster of balloons, a sonobuoy, and absolutely, positively nothing else
It seems that Crary’s journal entry describing the balloon flight that was launched on June 4th, 1947 has become a point of focus for Kevin Randle’s negative publicity campaign towards the project MOGUL explanation. Randle has been repeating this argument for over a decade. In his 1997 book, Conspiracy of Silence, he wrote the following:
It is reasonable to believe, then, that the June 4 flight was nothing more than a cluster of balloons with a sonobuoy and no long array train. Crary noted that a “whole assembly” was flown on June 5, but mentioned only the sonobuoy of June 4. If there was no assembly, then there were no rawin targets to scatter the metallic debris. Had there been the whole assembly, it seems reasonable to conclude that Crary would have mentioned it, if only because it would have been the first flight of the whole assembly after the researchers arrived in New Mexico. 1
Back in 1997, he considered it “reasonable to believe”. Since then, he has changed this to the point that he considers it a proven fact:
The second notation for June 4, the date of the cancelled Flight No. 4, was that they had flown a cluster of balloons, with a sonobuoy in the afternoon. Crary only told us that they had good reception on the ground for the radio signal but not so good on the B-17 that was also used in their attempts to detect a signal. But he did tell us what that flight was and it did not have the rawin targets. It was just a cluster of balloons and a sonobuoy... The field notes and diary make it clear and I do
not understand why that clarity is being obscured nor do I understand why there are those who refuse to understand it... Mogul is a distraction that does not work. Each time someone proposes it, we should tell them the flight was cancelled and demand they provide evidence that it wasn’t. We should tell them that a cluster of balloons is not a Mogul flight and that the debris found on the Foster ranch was simply too wide spread to be that from Mogul let alone a cluster of balloons with a sonobuoy.2
I had addressed the issue of Crary’s journal entry long ago on my Roswell myths page:
Crary’s journal was not an official record and he was not even present at the launch of the balloon cluster (he was out on the range at the time). Several of his entries concerning these flights are vague and never list all the materials found in a flight so his journal can not be considered an accurate represen- tation of what was actually flown on the dates in question. His entry stated they flew a “cluster of balloons”, which is the common terminology used for one of the NYU flights. The technical reports talk about grouping balloons in clusters. Additionally, if one looks at the drawing for flight #2, it’s title reads “Train for cluster flight No. 2”. ML-307 radar targets were used on flight #2 and it appears they were probably used on subsequent flights but not flight #5. According to Professor Moore, the inability to track the balloon train with ra- dar was the major reason that the targets were removed for flight #5. It seems reasonable to assume that flight #4 could have had RAWIN targets attached just like flight #2. 3
I suspect that Mr. Randle is familiar with this argument although he choos- es not to address it. Instead, he apparently made a rather obscure refer- ence to my argument in another blog entry:
In fact, one skeptic denigrated the 50 year old diary. Let’s ignore the written word from the time if it does not conform to our world view.4
It appears that I might be the skeptic, who shall not be named, since I am unaware of any other skeptic publicly commenting about the journal. Note that Mr. Randle does not identify how I “denigrated” the diary. I was attempting to point out some facts that were not mentioned or ignored by him. In no way was I unfairly criticizing or defaming the journal. Maybe Kevin Randle has a different definition or maybe he feels it necessary to label the argument with such a word in order to paint the argument in a negative light for those, who have not read it.
A frequently used description
The New York University (NYU) records often refer to these flights as “cluster flights”. In the progress report covering the time pe- riod of June 1947, we read the following (my emphasis in bold):
Field tests were conducted at Alamogordo Army Air Base during the week of June 1, using clusters of meteorological balloon. The primary object of these tests was to perfect handling and launching techniques for large flights and to check the operation of the vari- ous altitude controlling devices developed for this project. At the same time, the tests afforded the opportunity to carry aloft payloads of Watson Laboratories equipment. In general, while the flights were successful in the sense of carrying Watson Laboratory gear aloft for an extended period of time, difficulties and material failures encountered served to emphasize the unsatisfactory characteristics of meteorological balloon clusters.5
Twice, the term “cluster” was used to describe the flights in early June. There are other instances of the NYU records using this same phrase to describe the early balloon flights. This indicates that any description of a flight as a “cluster of balloons” could have been a complete flight array or something similar to one. Simply describing a flight as a “cluster of balloons” does not mean that the flight was not a full flight.
Crary’s journal vs. the known record
Randle’s argument about how the flight was described and what it contained is based on only two entries in Crary’s journal. He ignores the rest of the journal in order to create a highly selective interpretation of the entry on June 4th. The truth of the matter is that the journal mentions the word “cluster” to describe three other flights. Two of these were complete flights.
The section from Crary’s journal found in the 1994 USAF Roswell report describes eight balloon operations by the NYU team while they were operating from Alamogordo. I decided to create a table, which contains the flight number, how Crary described them, and how the NYU records recorded them:
Note that flights 7 and 8 were essentially described as a “cluster of balloons”, just like the flight on June 4th. As one can see from the actual configuration, there was much more to those flights than a simple “cluster of balloons”. So when Randle stated, “We should tell them that a cluster of balloons is not a Mogul flight.”8, he is wrong because flights 7 and 8 were described as such by Crary. Either he did not read the entire journal and NYU reports or he is being duplicitous by not mentioning how the term “cluster of balloons” was used to describe other NYU flights.
I think it is also important to note that the June 4th entry by Crary does not state that the flight included “only” a sono buoy and cluster of balloons as Randle wants everyone to believe. His entry does not prove the absence or presence of radar reflectors or any other items that might have been attached. We don’t even know if Crary was actually present when the balloons were launched to see the actual configuration. He may have been too far away on the range getting ready to set off his charges. If this was the case, he would have only known they had used a balloon cluster and a microphone but would have had no idea if any other items were attached. Therefore, one can not positively conclude anything about this “cluster of balloons” from this entry. It falsifies nothing but it does indicate some sort of balloon configuration was launched on that date.
I think it’s clearing up
Much has been made about the weather and what Crary had stated in his journal. Professor Moore’s book on the subject gave his interpretation of what he think occurred. He believes the team was going to launch a balloon sometime around 0000 on June 4th because this was when Crary had gone out to set off charges. He had reason to suspect this might be the case because two days before, Crary mentioned in his journal that he was going to change his plans for shooting charges to coordinate with balloon flights. Unfortunately, clouds prevented them from launching the flight. Moore suggests that the weather cleared around 3:00 AM based on observations from other stations to the west and south of the launch site since Alamogordo did not record any observa- tions until after dawn. It has been the crashologists argument that conditions did not clear enough until much later.
It is unfortunate that there are no weather observations for Alamogordo prior to 0700. Weather Underground does give a 0500 reading of “clear”but this reading appears to be an error as the same entry appears in all of the days surrounding the fourth of June9. The National Climatic Data Center (NCDC) retained the observations from some of the stations in New Mexico on June 4th10:
Trying to figure out what transpired at Alamogordo after midnight is hard to say. Professor Moore stated that El Paso (NCDC does not have these observations) cleared after 0230. While these stations are indicative of what might have happened at Alamogordo, one must remember that these stations were separated from Alamogordo by the San Andres and Sacramento mountain ranges, which could influence the weather pattern. All we know is that, at some point before 0700, there were cloudy conditions and that the sky had changed to “scattered” conditions by 0700. Based on this information, one has to consider it possible that the cloudy conditions that had prevented the flight could have occurred around midnight and may have cleared sufficiently by 0300 or 0400 as Moore suggested.
This brings us to the argument that the conditions had to be clear skies to launch balloon. The New York subcommittee on air space dictated that sky conditions be clear for operations in the northeast. The NYU had protested these restrictions and desired permis- sion to launch their balloons as long as there was only thin layers of scattered clouds up to 20,000 feet. They lost this battle and, as a result, were very restricted when they could launch balloons. It seems possible that these rules may have changed when the team movedtoNewMexicobecauseoftheairtrafficwaslesscongestedthanthenortheasternUnitedStates. The21August1947meet- ing of the Fort Worth Subcommittee on air space implied that there were very few restrictions initially placed on the NYU team:
It was first thought that balloons would ascend and descend within the confines of the White Sands presently assigned danger area and that no further authorization would be required; however the Subcommittee was advised by the University that balloons have been descending outside of the area in the vicinity of Roswell, New Mexico. It, therefore, appeared that there was a certain amount of hazard to aircraft encountered in the descent of this equipment.11

This photograph of the balloons from flight No. 9 demonstrates that the NYU team did not consider some clouds, which are visible in this image, a serious concern when launching their balloon flights. While this flight was “canceled”, the “cluser of balloons” was still released under conditions that violated the rules set by the CAA in the spring of 1947 for balloon flights in the northeast region (they wanted cloudless skies and the rules applied to all balloon releases). This evidence indicates that the rules were not being followed or that they had changed for balloon flights in New Mexico. (Photograph from the 1994 USAF report)
The highlighted statements indicate that the Fort Worth subcommittee had allowed the NYU team to dictate the conditions required for launching balloons. The NYU group had no experience in launching balloons in New Mexico and probably did not realize that their balloons would leave the White Sands area. If they had dictated their own conditions, they probably would have been willing to launch balloons under partly cloudy conditions, which could have occurred before dawn on the fourth.
In order to see if the team did launch balloons under such conditions, I compared the launching of the flights in July with the NCDC surface ob- servations from Alamogordo and other stations. Three flights appear to have been made under conditions that were not clear (Alamogordo had no weather observations for the fourth of July weekend so flight #10 could not be evaluated). Flight #8 was launched very early on the morning of the 3rd (0303 MST). The observations at 0700 listed the conditions as “scattered clouds”. To follow up with that, flight #9 had been planned that evening foraV-2launch. Conditionsat1600werealso“scattered”(theywere“scat- tered” all day) but that is not what canceled the flight. It was the cancella- tion of the V-2 launch that prevented this assembly of balloons from being used as a regular flight. Despite these less than desirable conditions, they still launched the balloons with no apparent regard for clouds (see photo- graph to the left)! Finally, flight #11 was launched at dawn on the 7th. The 0700 observations were “scattered clouds”.
The sky conditions for the various New Mexico stations around the launch time for flights 8 and 11 are12:
It is hard to say exactly how these weather observations relate to the actual weather in Alamogordo at the time the balloon flights were released but it appears to indicate the weather conditions were less than the perfectly clear skies crashologists claim were nec- essary. Since the weather was consistent over each location, one might infer that the 0700 observations reflected what the weather was in the area at the time of launching. If this is correct, then it demonstrates that the team did launch their balloons if they felt the clouds would not interfere with operations and tracking. These are the kinds of conditions they argued for in their 17 April 1947 letter to the NY subcommittee and brings into question the claim that, while in New Mexico, they only launched their balloon flights under absolutely clear sky conditions.
Always darkest before the dawn
Another item argued by Randle was that the NYU team had no permission to launch balloons at night. I agree that this would never have been allowed in the northeast as it seems to have been understood that the balloons would be launched during the day. As noted previously, when the team arrived in New Mexico there seemed to have been no (or very few) restrictions given to the NYU team about their flight operations. It appears possible that night launches were originally planned in early June based on Crary’s journal entries:
• Crary implies they had originally planned a night launch for the first flight in New Mexico. The June 3rd entry states he got up at 0230 but the flight did not occur because of clouds (NCDC data says it was “Broken” until 9AM MST ). On June 5th, he wrote that he got up at 4AM for the balloon flight, which was at 5AM. If this is any indication of his preflight routine, it infers a launch was planned on June 3rd for around 3:30 or 4AM.
• On the fourth of June, Crary was out at midnight to set off charges. As mentioned previously, this suggests that a flight could have been planned for sometime around midnight. The next line of the June 4th entry states there was no flight because of clouds. Since the weather was only scattered clouds by 0700, it seems that the clouds that had cancelled the initial launch plans were the ones that were present in the middle of the night, which points towards the possibility that it had been planned as a night launch.
While this is speculation, one can easily refute Kevin Randle’s claim that the NYU team was not allowed to perform night launches until months later by examining the official record. On July 3rd, flight #8 was launched at 0303 MST13, which was well before twilight. Interestingly, radar was employed to track the flight. Were they given special permission for this night flight? If so, isn’t possible they had similar permission in early June? Flight number eight’s launch time means that Randle’s “fact” about night launches is not a “fact” at all. It is his interpretation of a document that may not even have been applicable for the NYU group’s operations while in New Mexico.
Why they wanted to perform a night launch on June 3rd and 4th may have had a lot to do with how their meteorological balloons reacted to sunlight. One of the reasons that Flight #1 had failed was because balloons had burst. A launch of the balloons well before dawn would have minimized the chance of balloons bursting from sunlight exposure and increased the time the flight was airborne. The launching at night would have resulted in some changes by the NYU team for monitoring the flight. They would not be able to accurately track the flight with a theodolite, which meant they would have to track it some other way. Since Alamogordo had a working SCR-584 radar, it seemed to be the solution to this problem. All they would have to do is add a few ML-307s (like flight #2) and hope that the SCR-584 could do the rest of the work. This plan would have failed as soon as the balloons left the range of the radar or the radar lost contact. Assuming this is what occurred, one could easily suggest that the NYU team learned a valuable lesson from that flight and, on subsequent flights they had switched to dawn launches so they could visually track the balloons and went back to using the radiosonde for altitude data.
I confess that this is guesswork but it is, in my opinion, a valid interpretation of what might have occurred regarding why a night launch was attempted and why the ML-307s were possibly used. We have no records to state this actually happened other than Crary’s journal entry that a cluster of balloons had been launched at some point on the fourth of June. However, the argument that they never performed night operations in the summer of 1947 is a false one based on a belief and not a close examination of the records available.
It was canceled stupid!!!
The party line repeated over and over again by the “dream team” is that flight number four was canceled completely and the “clus- ter of balloons” was some sort of service flight that only contained a microphone and a few balloons. This is repeated as if it were a fact. We do know from Crary’s journal entry that the were no flights because of clouds but the next sentence states that a “cluster of balloons” was launched. Professor Charles Moore offers a different interpretation that the balloon flight that was originally planned had been delayed by the weather and was launched once the clouds had cleared enough. It is a case of how you construe the entry. Either interpretation is valid but one can not conclusively state that one is more correct than the other.
The claim that this June fourth flight was canceled but assigned a number should be examined. We do know that flight #3 had a failed “launch” on May 8th. That makes one wonder what was the number of the flight that was “abandoned”/canceled on the 3rd of June? Was it flight 3.5? The lack of a number for that flight implies that if the balloons were never launched, then the flight did not receive a number. As a result, if the morning flight of June 4th was “canceled” and never launched, it would also receive no number and the flight on June 5th would have been identified as flight #4 and not #5. If they were using numbers for every assembled flight (even if they were never flown), then flight #5 would have been identified as flight #6 since June 3rd would have been flight #4 and June 4th would have been flight #5. The logical conclusion seems to indicate that the “cluster of balloons” probably was flight num- ber four contrary to what the crashed space ship proponents want everyone to believe.
The other claim that the flight was canceled the instant clouds interfered has to be examined from the point of view of the NYU team in June 1947. They had spent the past few days preparing a full balloon flight and were ready to launch on the third of June. That flight was not launched because of cloud cover, which lasted well into the morning of the 3rd. Records indicate that sky conditions didnotclearenoughuntil9AM,whichwastoolateforlaunchingballoons. Theteamprobablymayhavebeenawarethatthecloud cover would not clear until late in the morning or stood by with the flight at the ready until it was too late. In either case, it post- poned the flight for 24 hours. Fast forward to the morning of June fourth and the same situation presented itself. The team, which was probably anxious about launching their flight, probably would have done as Moore suggested. Instead of cancelling the flight right away, they simply waited for better conditions. Once those were present, the flight was launched. While this is speculation, it is a potential scenario that has to be considered as a plausible and not dismissed without good evidence.
In order to make their interpretation appear more correct, the Roswell team has responded that the lack of any record indicates the flight was canceled. Charles Moore addressed this in the chapter of the book he coauthored. He stated that if no useful altitude data was obtained during the flight, it was not recorded. Even the earliest recorded flights, that were failures, had some altitude data, which is why they were in the record. According to Professor Moore, the team intended to use radar to track the flight and obtain altitude data instead of using a Radiosonde. This plan probably failed as the balloon flight rapidly left the range of the radar or if the radar was unable to track them. If there were a radiosonde attached there may have been reasons for why it did not provide the necessary data. Perhaps it failed or they had difficulty with the signal/receiver. The NYU reports describe limited radio range, problems with batteries, and other technical issues associated with this equipment. We don’t know for sure exactly what transpired but if there was no data, even if the flight performed better than flight #5, it appears that it would not have been recorded in the NYU records.
The mantra that flight #4 was canceled is nothing more than a rallying cry to convince everybody that any other interpretation is wrong. The truth of the matter is that Crary’s journal entry records some sort of flight being launched and, since we don’t know ex- actly what was contained on this “cluster of balloons”, it remains possible that this was the original flight configuration or a modified version of that flight, which could have contained radar reflectors.
Not enough debris
Randle briefly mentioned this in his diatribe about MOGUL, where he stated there was too much material at the Foster Ranch to be explained by a project MOGUL flight. This argument was started by Robert Galganski long ago where he tried to dem- onstrate, through mathematical calculations, how a full MOGUL flight could not create the debris field described by the various Roswell authors. As I pointed out long ago, the Galganski exercise is not a valid one because it makes a flawed assumption in order to arrive at his desired conclusion. Randle repeats that assumption. They assume a certain concentration of debris based on what they think the witnesses described.
The idea that one can quantify the concentration of material based on the descriptions given by Marcel and Brazel is something that can not be scientifically done. We have no photographs or maps of the debris field to base the description upon. In both cases, the witnessesreferredtothedebrisfieldas“scattered”.Thisisthesametypeof descriptiongivenbyBessieBrazelandSheridanCavitt. How does one quantify such a term? It is not like Marcel/Brazel stated there was debris every two feet. They simply described a bunch of debris spread out over the field. In Brazel’s description, this field was only over a few hundred yards. Marcel felt it was a larger area but he was basing this on his memory thirty years later.
As I have demonstrated with a scale model back in SUNlite 4-4, the amount of debris produced by the fragments of three reflectors and the debris from four or more balloons would probably have been adequate to create this ‘scattered” description. Just examine the photographs from Fort Worth. According to David Rudiak, that is only one reflector. Take those fragments, multiply it by three, and then spread them out onto a field. In my opinion, one could easily described that distribution of material as “scattered”. The debris field concentration argument made by Randle and company completely ignores the actual descriptions of the debris field by those that were known to be there in favor of the myth that they have created.
Because I said so!
Randle continued his efforts to tell everybody that flight #4 did not exist by producing an argument about Notices to Airmen (NOTAM) not documenting the flight. According to Kevin Randle (my emphasis in bold and underlined):
There was no Flight No. 4 to drop debris up on the Foster ranch, no Flight No. 4 that would have presented a threat to aerial navigation,
hence no NOTAM filed for the flight14
He also made a similar statement back in May of 2013 when answering Lance Moody (my emphasis in bold and underlined):
Here’s something I know for a fact. There was no flight no. 4. I know this because a NOTAM for the flights were required and there was no NOTAM for flight no. 4. What does that do to Mogul?15
Moody would respond to this comment asking Randle if he had NOTAMs from other flights. Randle never responded to this request. Randle implied by this statement that he had discovered that all other flights had NOTAMs while the June 4th flight did not. How- ever, this is completely in contradiction with what he stated previously on his blog a year before:
I called, wrote, emailed and communicated with a couple of dozen different agencies most of them within the FAA. I finally learned that no such archive exists. The rules said that the NOTAMs be held for a short period and then destroyed when no longer useful.16
This means that any record of a NOTAM would not exist today. However, Randle seemed to be implying that he did have records. By repeating this claim as if it were a fact, he got others into accepting this without evidence. Anthony Mugan seemed more than willing to accept Randle’s claim simply because it was stated as if it were a fact:
I would tend to agree with you. Crary’s diary plus the absence of a NOTAM as you say is all very suggestive...17
Lance Moody would repeat his request for Randle to, again, present evidence of these NOTAMs. Rather than admitting he did not
have such proof, Randle responded that he had drawn his conclusion based on the statements of Charles Moore:
Charles Moore told Steven Schiff in August 1995 that there was no NOTAM for the June 4 flight because they expected the ascent to re- main over restricted territory.18
Instead of having confirmation of his claim, Randle was simply giving his biased interpretation that Moore stated that all other flights but number four had NOTAMs. He did not provide the statement by Moore or the context under which it was written. When asked, he told everyone to find it for themselves. Kevin Randle once again misses the point of this kind of evidence. A statement made fifty years later is not actual proof of anything but how Moore remembers what transpired. He has not established a fact that there were no NOTAMs issued for flight number 4 and all other flights had NOTAMs. Therefore, he can not substantiate the claim he has been making regarding this issue.
One can easily understand what Moore was talking about if one simply looks at the NYU records. He was, more than likely, making his statement based on his reading of the these documents. As previously mentioned, the Fort Worth Subcommittee on air space had originally stated that no further authorization was required to launch their balloons since it was thought they were stay inside the White Sands area. This implies that the NYU team probably did not have to follow any guidelines for issuing NOTAMs. It was only after the NYU team informed the CAA that their balloons were drifting out of the White Sands area did the CAA become concerned and directed the NYU team to inform airmen of their balloon operations:
That release of free balloons by the New York University within the confines of the White Sands Proving area be approved provided that: (a) Local coordination be effected to the satisfaction of the Department of Commerce Member and the Commanding Officer at Biggs Field to assure all precautions are taken to prevent collision of aircraft with this airborne equipment.19
This statement suggests that the NYU team was probably not filing NOTAMs for any of their flights prior to this and not just flight number 4 (or whatever you want to call the “cluster of balloons” flight) in the summer of 1947.
If the NYU group was filing NOTAMs, they would have used the set of guidelines when they were operating on the east coast. The New York Subcommittee informed the NYU team that they had to file at least two NOTAMs when releasing balloons. They were required to file a NOTAM twelve hours prior to the flight and one after any balloons were launched. If the NYU unit was following these rules when they went to New Mexico, they would have issued a NOTAM on June 3rd prior to launching and one after launch- ing the “cluster of balloons”. It would not matter if it were a full flight or a scaled down service flight. Both would present a hazard to air traffic and both would require the NOTAM. We do not know for sure if this was case without the actual NOTAM records, which do not exist. If they did exist and the team followed these guidelines, it probably would not have resolved much since there probably would have been a NOTAM filed for the planned launch and one filed for the launching of the “cluster of balloons”.
The NOTAM argument seems to fail at this point no matter which interpretation you make. I am sure Randle and his team can convince themselves that the believed (not substantiated) absence of a NOTAM proves there was no fight number four but imply- ing that it is a proven fact is simply wishful thinking. Pontificating is not the same thing as establishing facts with incontrovertible proof.
Operational security
In another attempt to falsify the project MOGUL explanation, Kevin Randle dusts off another one of his old arguments:
I’m not even going to bother with the argument that Mogul wasn’t all that secret... with pictures of it published in the newspapers on July 10, 1947, and the name being used in all sorts of non-classified publications which eliminates another of the legs for the Mogul ex- planation.20
He essentially stated the same thing back in 2008:
The point that the skeptics and debunkers refuse to understand is that the balloon launches in New Mexico, the equipment used and sci- ence being conducted there was not classified. Get it. There was nothing classified about what was going on in New Mexico. 21
Like so many of Randle’s arguments, he appears to be telling only half the story. As a military officer, he would know that any classi- fied operation has OPERATIONAL SECURITY (OPSEC). OPSEC is trying to prevent unclassified information from being used to piece together what the classified nature of a mission/program is. I experienced this several times when I was aboard Navy Submarines deploying for a classified mission. Deployment dates/underway times were considered classified as OPSEC and I remember being briefed about this. The best example I recall occurred when I reported aboard USS Providence. I had orders for another submarine but they were changed while I was on leave. I was called at my home and told I needed to report to USS Providence within a week. I was unable to obtain any more information than this even when I contacted the submarine. I spent a few hectic days trying to rearrange my travel plans in order to get to Connecticut in time. It was not until I reported aboard, did I know when and where the ship was deploying.
In the case of Project MOGUL, Randle is correct that there was absolutely nothing classified about the materials in the flights them- selves. The NYU team even described their efforts to develop constant altitude balloons in the August 1948 Journal of Meteorol- ogy. A close examination of that document reveals that there was no mention of the payload involved and the purpose of the flights. They could not do this because of the classification of that information. The purpose of MOGUL was to listen for the sounds of distant nuclear detonations in the Soviet Union by placing balloons at a constant altitude where the sounds could be heard a half world away. Mentioning that information would reveal that the United States knew that the Soviets were going to detonate a nuclear device and how they could detect them. Such an operation also would reveal that the United States went to such extremes because they did not know what was transpiring behind “the iron curtain”.
Several of the crashed spaceship proponents seem to try and associate the various stories told about security sweeps, military per- sonnel guarding the highway, and death threats as part of the security tied to project MOGUL. I am unaware of skeptics suggesting that all of these stories were part of the security designed to protect MOGUL. None of these stories can be positively proven and the sources of these stories are all anecdotal. The 1947 media accounts mentioned no significant security actions of this kind. Most skeptics simply dismiss them as part of the evolving myth that is Roswell.
However, there were stories told by Marcel and Dubose that seem to indicate there was a concern for security. Marcel stated he was not to talk about it any more and Dubose stated they needed to “get the press off their backs”. All of this can possibly be traced back to OPSEC regarding MOGUL. The goal of the OPSEC was to deflect attention by the press from the NYU team operations. This may have been done as part of a master plan, independently by different groups, or simply by accident based on other reasons (For example, a publicity campaign designed to put a positive spin on a simple mistake):
1. A demonstration for the press was staged by personnel at Alamogordo Army Air Field, which showed them launching balloons with ML-307 reflectors. The NYU team’s efforts were not mentioned and it was stated the flights were for training purposes. One could consider this OPSEC in action. They wanted to give a source for the flights. Otherwise, somebody in the press might have poked around and discovered that somebody else was launching these balloons and the purpose was not simply for training.
2. Jesse Marcel complained to interviewers that the press only saw a small portion of the debris. The photographs at Fort Worth reflect this statement. This may have been on purpose or by accident. Dubose stated they wanted to call it a weather balloon to get the press off the story. Had they presented a large quantity of debris (many balloons/reflectors, and other items), the press might have begun to ask more questions than Ramey desired and conclude it was not just a simple weather balloon. This could be considered a possible source of OPSEC to prevent reporters from trying to locate the true source and purpose of the debris.
3. There even may have even been a bit of OPSEC with Mack Brazel. The one item that might be unique regarding the flight was the sonobuoy. We don’t know if he recovered it or if it was ever found. However, had he located it and mentioned it, it might, once again, bring up some interest of the press. It is possible that Mack Brazel (and possibly Jesse Marcel) were told not to mention the sonobuoy as it might hint at the purpose of the flight. We don’t have any evidence that this occurred but it seems plausible it might have happened and later be misinterpreted as something more sinister.
In the MOGUL hypothesis, the only concern about security would be that the media might discover the true origin and purpose of the flight. The efforts to preserve OPSEC may have been the source of these stories of concerns about security told many years later.
It was impossible to get there
The current “end-all” argument is that the balloons could NEVER have made it to the Foster ranch debris field. Back in the mid- 1990s, Professor Charles Moore had presented a trajectory that indicated the flight could make it to the Foster Ranch. His work has been criticized heavily by the crashologists. In some cases, they have good reason to be critical. Some of the math is incorrect and the tables in the book for the flight do not make sense. When Dave Thomas talked to him, Professor Moore admitted that the data and his calculations were poorly presented. He also added that his trajectory was only a qualitative test and not a quantitative one. Moore was only trying to demonstrate how the balloons might have gotten to the Foster Ranch. It was not an effort to prove the balloon flight positively made it to the ranch.
Since then, many proponents have computed their own trajectories and have concluded that it was impossible/extremely unlikely for the balloons to reach the Foster Ranch for various reasons. Many of them involve the ascent rates of the balloons, the speeds/ directions of the winds, and the duration of the flight. I am not going to spend pages discussing in detail these specific arguments but it is important to note that all these values are variables that can not be defined to the point that an absolute conclusion can be drawn:
• Winds can vary in speed with time and distance. They can also shift direction by several degrees or more.
• The ascent/descent rates of these balloon trains can also vary as demonstrated by flight #5’s initial rapid ascent rate and rapid descent rate from the stratosphere. In the July 1947 progress report, the authors noted that altitude control squibs failed to work several times at high altitudes during these early June tests. These are probably the squibs used to release the lifter bal- loons. If these failed to work during the June 4th flight, then the balloons would have risen much faster than expected.
• The duration of the flight can be affected by how long the balloons were exposed to the sun.
Creating an accurate flight trajectory with so many variables would be difficult. There may even be other unknown variables. A potential wind shift or current may have been missed in the pilot balloon data (which was launched over 30 miles south of Alamog- ordo) used to compute the trajectory. The NYU team noted this when flight #11 did not perform as one might have expected:
Another striking feature of the flight is the disagreement between the actual flight path and the trajectory which might have been esti- mated from routine upper-wind reports. Reports from El Paso, Roswell, Albuquerque and White Sands were used for comparison with the observed trajectory. Except for White Sands, none of these stations reported any wind from the WSW at or near the floating level during the 12-hour period covered by the flight. At White Sands a very shallow current was detected moving in the direction indicated by the balloon flight. This clearly demonstrates the non-representativeness of the ordinary pilot balloon observations.22
We can also examine how well modern computer programs can predict the flight path of a balloon. The Saskatoon amateur radio club flies high altitude balloons frequently. Their web site recaps each flight. Many of their flights have predicted tracks based on computer programs that have the latest data available. One would think it would be very accurate but it isn’t. While the general ground tracks are reasonably close, some of the flights landed over 10 miles away from their predicted landing area. If one can not compute the precise flight path of a single balloon using local data and modern computer technology, what chance is there that one can compute a conclusive trajectory of a flight using dozens of balloons and limited information? The best one might hope to do is predict a very general landing area that would have a large margin for error!
Based on this information can one really conclusively state the balloons could not have made it to the Foster ranch? In order to falsify the MOGUL hypothesis, one needs to prove, without a shadow of a doubt, that the balloons could NEVER have made it to the Foster Ranch. Since the general direction of the tropospheric winds that morning were towards the NE/ENE and the Foster Ranch was NNE of Alamogordo AFB, it seems to indicate that a trajectory of some kind is possible. Without more data/information it is hard to say either way.
Connecting the dots
The important points that have been raised by the skeptics is that there are multiple reasons to suspect that this “cluster of bal- loons” may have made it to the Foster ranch site. All one has to do is examine how the recovered “disc” was described and re- corded in 1947:
1. Mack Brazel (confirmed by his daughter Bessie in 1993) described finding large quantities of rubber and remains of, what ap- pears to be, radar reflectors.
2. Jesse Marcel is quoted in 1947 news papers as finding debris that matches what we see in the photographs.
3. The photographs show balloon materials that had been left out in the sun for a long period of time (see SUNlite 4-4 and 4-5) as well as the types of radar reflectors known to be used by the NYU team.
4. The news wires, which are the very first news reports regarding the story, mentioned that the disc was made of tin foil and was only a few feet across.
5. The FBI teletype stated that the “disc” was supported by a very large balloon of twenty feet (this estimate may have been based on the amount of rubber found and not finding a single piece of rubber this size).
While the crashed space ship proponents consider all of these items part of the grand conspiracy to hide the truth, an equally com- pelling argument is that these were descriptions and photographs of the actual debris that was recovered. This argument does not have to assume a vast conspiracy for which there is no evidence. There is also no evidence, other than stories told decades later, that it is not the debris that was recovered.
The NYU team was the only group flying balloon clusters in New Mexico during this time period and it makes them the likely source. The only flights not recovered from these May/June operations were the “cluster of balloons” launched on June 4th and a test bal- loon flight on the 29th of May. We are not positive what each flight contained but the recovery of debris similar to the type used by the NYU on these flights implies that one of these balloon clusters may have made it to the ranch on some form of trajectory.
A different perspective
It is no surprise that Kevin Randle can convince himself, and others that do not need convincing, that these arguments seal the fate of the project MO- GUL explanation. However, when viewing his “facts” from “a different per- spective”, we discover that they don’t appear so compelling. In some cases, there is evidence that indicates that they are not facts but biased interpreta- tion of documentation or opinion. Dismissing other possibilities without good evidence is the same close-minded approach that skeptics are accused of taking when accepting the MOGUL explanation and rejecting the crashed spaceship scenario.
The whole idea of the MOGUL theory offered by the USAF/Todd/Pflock/ Moore is that it is the most likely source for the debris described and pho- tographed in 1947. The NYU team used the same types of materials in their balloon flights prior to July of 1947. It does not mean MOGUL is the only pos- sible source of the debris but, based on what we know, it is the most probable source. If some evidence were unearthed that either produces a more reasonable solution or conclusively falsifies the MOGUL hypothesis, skeptics would be more than willing to accept it. However, that evidence has to be verifiable and not based on specula- tion, biased interpretation, opinions, or guesswork. As Lance Moody pointed out, there is a difference between supposition and fact.
The ball remains in the dream team’s court to provide more conclusive evidence to falsify the project MOGUL scenario or support the crashed spaceship solution. Until that occurs, the best working hypothesis for the debris recovered at the Foster ranch remains
to be project MOGUL.
Quelle: SUNlite 5/2013

Tags: UFO-Forschung 


Samstag, 2. August 2014 - 13:15 Uhr

Raumfahrt - Re-Entry von alten sowjetische Kosmos-903 Satelliten am 2. August


Cosmos-903, an old Soviet satellite, is to go off ORBIT and be burnt in the upper atmosphere on August 2, a spokesman for Russia’s aerospace defence forces told Itar-Tass on Friday.
“Specialists of the aerospace defence forces are constantly monitoring changes in parameters of orbiting fragments of the spacecraft Cosmos-903. As of August 1, it was on orbit with the following parameters: orbit time - 155 minutes, inclination - 62 degrees, apogee altitude - 6,322 kilometres, perigee altitude - 92 kilometres,” said Colonel Alexei Zolotukhin.


Samstag, 2. August 2014 - 08:45 Uhr

Raumfahrt - Erfolgreicher Start von Atlas V mit GPS IIF-7-Satelliten



An Atlas V four-meter diameter payload fairing, with the Air Force's seventh Global Positioning System IIF (GPS IIF-7) satellite encapsulated inside is mated to its Atlas V booster at the Vertical Integration Facility (VIF) at Launch Complex-41.
(Photo: USAF Kenny Allen)
Following a readiness review today, United Launch Alliance and the Air Force are "go" to proceed toward an 11:23 p.m. Friday launch of an Atlas V rocket and Global Positioning System satellite.
The 189-foot Atlas V is scheduled to roll from a processing tower to its Launch Complex 41 pad on Thursday morning.
Friday's forecast looks fine, with a 70 percent chance of favorable weather during an 18-minute window at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.
The GPS IIF-7 mission seeks to deploy the seventh in a series of 12 next-generation GPS satellites, and the third of four scheduled to launch this year.
The launch comes just four days after ULA's successful Monday evening flight of a Delta IV rocket and military surveillance satellites on that mission's fifth launch attempt, after stormy weather scrubbed several countdowns.
Quelle: Florida Today
Quelle: USAF
Update: 1.08.2014

Atlas V, Falcon 9 rockets on the move at Cape

A United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket rolled to its Launch Complex 41 pad this morning for an 11:23 p.m. Friday liftoff with a Global Positioning System satellite.
The 19-story rocket began rolling from its processing tower, called the Vertical Integration Facility, or VIF, around 8 a.m. and completed the move in just under an hour.
The latest forecast has improved to an 80 percent chance of favorable weather during the mission's 18-minute window at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.
Meanwhile, at neighboring Launch Complex 40 to the south, a SpaceX Falcon 9 will roll from a hangar to its pad today for a practice countdown, fueling and brief engine test-firing culminating at 8 p.m. today.
That's all preparation for SpaceX's launch next week of the AsiaSat 8 commercial communications satellite, which is now planned early Tuesday, a day later than previously scheduled.
The change gives the Atlas V two launch attempts Friday and Saturday, if necessary, before turning the Eastern Range over to SpaceX.
The Falcon 9 launch is targeted for 1:25 a.m. Tuesday, the opening of a two-hour window. It's the first of two launches SpaceX plans this month for Hong Kong-based AsiaSat.
Quelle: Florida Today
Update: 13.55 MESZ

Update: 2.08.2014 
Launch of GPS IIF-7 on a Atlas V 401 rocket from Cape Canaveral AFB, FL launch complex LC-41
Launch scheduled for 2 Aug 14 3:23:00 GMT
Local Time : 1 Aug 14 23:23:00 EDT
A United Launch Alliance Atlas V booster will launch the seventh of the new GPS system Block 2F for the USAF. The rocket will fly in the 401 vehicle configuration with a four-meter fairing, no solid rocket boosters and a single-engine Centaur upper stage. This will be the second GPS IIF satellite to be launched on the Atlas V platform, the previous satellites have been mostly deployed via Delta IV boosters. 
GPS IIF-7 is one of the next generation GPS satellites, incorporating various improvements to provide greater accuracy, increased signals, and enhanced performance for users. 
Quelle: AS
Quelle: ulalaunch


Freitag, 1. August 2014 - 09:15 Uhr

Raumfahrt - ESA-Sonde Rosetta auf Kurs zu Komet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko - Update1



Rosetta’s first sighting of its target in 2014 – narrow angle view


ESA’s Rosetta spacecraft has caught a first glimpse of its destination comet since waking up from deep-space hibernation on 20 January.
These two ‘first light’ images were taken on 20 and 21 March by the OSIRIS wide-angle camera and narrow-angle camera, as part of six weeks of activities dedicated to preparing the spacecraft’s science instruments for close-up study of comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko.
OSIRIS, the Optical, Spectroscopic and Infrared Remote Imaging System, developed under the leadership of the Max-Planck-Institut für Sonnensystemforschung in Göttingen, Germany, has two cameras for imaging the comet. One covers a wide angle, while the narrow-angle camera covers a smaller field at higher resolution.
Comet 67P/Churymov-Gerasimenko in the constellation of Ophiuchus. This image was taken with the OSIRIS Wide Angle Camera on 20 March and shows a wide field 25 times larger than the diameter of the full moon. The colour composite shows a background of hydrogen gas and dust clouds in the constellation Ophiuchus. The white box indicates the position of the close-up taken with the Narrow Angle Camera, with the comet appearing towards the top of this box, close to the bright globular star cluster M107. The image was taken from a distance of about 5 million kilometres to the comet.
OSIRIS is one of a suite of 11 science instruments on the Rosetta orbiter that together will provide details on the comet’s surface geology, its gravity, mass, shape and internal structure, its gaseous, dust-laden atmosphere and its plasma environment.
Rosetta has been travelling through the Solar System for 10 years, and will finally arrive at the comet in August this year. It first imaged the comet in a long exposure ­of over 13 hours from a distance of 163 million kilometres, three years ago, before entering deep-space hibernation.
Rosetta is currently around 5 million kilometres from the comet, and at this distance it is still too far away to resolve – its light is seen in less than a pixel and required a series of 60–300 second exposures taken with the wide-angle and narrow-angle camera. The data then travelled 37 minutes through space to reach Earth, with the download taking about an hour per image.
“Finally seeing our target after a 10 year journey through space is an incredible feeling,” says OSIRIS Principal Investigator Holger Sierks from the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research in Germany. “These first images taken from such a huge distance show us that OSIRIS is ready for the upcoming adventure.”
“This is a great start to our instrument commissioning period and we are looking forward to having all 11 instruments plus lander Philae back online and ready for arriving at the comet in just a few month’s time,” says Matt Taylor, ESA’s Rosetta project scientist.
OSIRIS and the spacecraft’s dedicated navigation cameras will regularly acquire images over the coming weeks to help refine Rosetta’s trajectory in order to bring it steadily in line with the comet ahead of the rendezvous.
Currently, Rosetta is on a trajectory that would, if unchanged, take it past the comet at a distance of approximately 50 000 km and at a relative speed of 800 m/s. A critical series of manoeuvres beginning in May will gradually reduce Rosetta’s velocity relative to the comet to just 1 m/s and bring it to within 100 km by the first week of August.
Between May and August the 4 km-wide comet will gradually ‘grow’ in Rosetta’s field of view from appearing to have a diameter of less than one camera pixel to well over 2000 pixels – equivalent to a resolution of around 2 m per pixel – allowing the first surface features to be resolved.
These early observations will allow the rotation rate and the shape of the nucleus to be better understood, crucial for planning manoeuvres around the comet. An initial assessment of the comet’s activity will also be possible.
With OSIRIS re-activated in the first week of instrument commissioning, Rosetta’s 10 other science experiments, along with lander Philae, will provide the focus for the next months’ activities.
Quelle: ESA
Update: 15.05.2014
The target of ESA’s Rosetta mission has started to reveal its true personality as a comet, its dusty veil clearly developing over the last six weeks.
The sequence of images presented here of comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko were taken between 27 March and 4 May, as the gap between craft and comet closed from around 5 million km to 2 million km.
By the end of the sequence, the comet’s dusty veil – the ‘coma’ – extends some 1300 km into space. By comparison, the nucleus is roughly only 4 km across, and cannot yet be ‘resolved’. 
The coma has developed as a result of the comet moving progressively closer to the Sun along its 6.5 year orbit. Even though it is still more than 600 million km from the Sun – more than four times the distance between Earth and Sun – its surface has already started to warm, causing its surface ices to sublimate and gas to escape from its rock–ice nucleus. 
Comet on 30 April
As the gas escapes, it also carries a cloud of tiny dust particles out into space, which slowly expands to create the coma.
As the comet continues to move closer to the Sun, the warming continues and activity rises, and pressure from the solar wind will eventually cause some of the material to stream out into a long tail.
Rosetta and the comet will be closest to the Sun in August 2015, between the orbits of Earth and Mars.
The onset of activity now offers scientists the opportunity to study dust production and structures within the coma before getting much closer.
“It’s beginning to look like a real comet,” says Holger Sierks, principal investigator for OSIRIS, the Optical, Spectroscopic and Infrared Remote Imaging System, at the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research, Germany.
“It’s hard to believe that only a few months from now, Rosetta will be deep inside this cloud of dust and en route to the origin of the comet’s activity.”
In addition, tracking the periodic changes in brightness reveals the nucleus is rotating every 12.4 hours – about 20 minutes shorter than previously thought.
“These early observations are helping us to develop models of the comet that will be essential to help us navigate around it once we get closer,” says Sylvain Lodiot, ESA Rosetta spacecraft operations manager.
OSIRIS and the spacecraft’s dedicated navigation cameras have been regularly acquiring images to help determine Rosetta’s exact trajectory relative to the comet. Using this information, the spacecraft has already started a series of manoeuvres that will slowly bring it in line with the comet before making its rendezvous in the first week of August.
Detailed scientific observations will then help to find the best location on the comet for the Philae lander’s descent to the surface in November. 
Quelle: ESA
Update: 16.05.2014

It’s Alive! Rosetta’s Comet Flares As It Approaches The Sun

A close-up of comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko taken from 1.24 million miles (2 million km) away. The image was obtained by the Rosetta spacecraft in April 2014 as it approached the comet for a close-up view. Credit: ESA/Rosetta/MPS for OSIRIS Team MPS/UPD/LAM/IAA/SSO/INTA/UPM/DASP/IDA
Wow! This image shows the target comet for the Rosetta mission starting to develop a tail. This bodes well for the European Space Agency spacecraft, which is on its way to study Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko later this year to learn more about the origins of the solar system.
“It’s beginning to look like a real comet,” stated Holger Sierks, principal investigator for OSIRIS (Optical, Spectroscopic and Infrared Remote Imaging System.)
“It’s hard to believe that only a few months from now, Rosetta will be deep inside this cloud of dust and en route to the origin of the comet’s activity,” added Sierks, who is with the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research in Germany.
The picture was one of a series taken over six weeks, between March 27 and May 4, as the spacecraft zoomed to within 1.24 million miles (two million kilometers) of the target. You can see the full animation by clicking on the image below.
The comet is now about four times as far from the Sun as the Earth is. Even from afar, the Sun’s heat is warming the comet’s ice, causing dust and vapor to carry out into space — forming the coma. The coma will develop into a long tail when the comet gets even closer to the sun.
Rosetta will be the comet’s companion as it draws closer to the sun; its closest approach will be in August 2015, when it is between the orbits of Earth and Mars. So far, the spacecraft’s 11 instruments appear to be in excellent health, ESA stated, although the agency is remaining cautious as the rendezvous date approaches. The spacecraft will begin orbital insertion activities later this month, and send out its Philae lander in November.
“We have a challenging three months ahead of us as we navigate closer to the comet, but after a 10-year journey it’s great to be able to say that our spacecraft is ready to conduct unique science at comet 67P/C-G,” stated Fred Jansen, ESA’s Rosetta mission manager.
Quelle: UT
Update: 22.05.2014

Rosetta comet-chaser completes 'big burn'

Rosetta will fly around the comet, edging ever closer before dropping off its landing probe


Europe's comet-chaser Rosetta has taken a big step towards making its historic rendezvous with a 4km-wide ball of ice and rock in early August.
Controllers confirm the spacecraft conducted a major orbit manoeuvre on Wednesday without incident.
The near-eight-hour thruster burn was designed to slow the satellite's speed relative to Comet 67P/C-G.
More adjustments are required, but the operation was a significant event in ensuring Rosetta meets its target.
The pair are roughly 500 million km from Earth and separated by about a million km, and closing.
Wednesday's big burn was initiated at 15:23 GMT (16:23 BST; 17:23 CEST). It was intended to take out a big chunk (almost 300m/s) of the velocity Rosetta had (755m/s) with respect to 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko.
Engineers at the European Space Agency's (Esa) "mission control" in Darmstadt, Germany, will have to examine in detail the telemetry they received from the satellite but confirmed on Thursday that the manoeuvre was "completed nominally".
"The thrusters and propulsion system overall performed very well, and we had a nominal completion of the burn at 22:39 UTC (00:39 CEST Thursday)," said Rosetta Spacecraft Operations Manager Sylvain Lodiot.
"It will take a few days for the flight dynamics team to analyse data and determine the final actual change in speed, but it won't be too far from what we planned," he told the mission blog.
There had been some concern prior to the burn that a leak in the system used to pressurise the propellant tanks might result in uneven combustion, but Paolo Ferri, who heads up the European Spacecraft Operations Centre (Esoc), described Rosetta as having "very stable performance".
Comet 67P/C-G is travelling around the Sun on a big loop that takes it out beyond the orbit of Jupiter and then back in to just inside the orbit of Mars.
Rosetta is attempting to target its rendezvous at the start of the inward curve, before our star can warm the icy object to trigger large jets of gas and dust from its surface.
The mission goal is to orbit the comet, starting on 6 August, and then follow the body in its orbit.
In November, an attempt will be made to put a small lander, called Philae, on 67P's surface.
If all goes well, the mission should return some remarkable insights on the behaviour and chemical make-up of its icy quarry.
Eight further burns are required to get Rosetta into position. The next two, on 4 June and 18 June, are somewhat smaller than Wednesday's manoeuvre.
Quelle: BBC
Update: 11.06.2014
NASA Instruments Begin Science on European Spacecraft Set to Land on Comet
Three NASA science instruments aboard the European Space Agency's (ESA) Rosetta spacecraft, which is set to become the first to orbit a comet and land a probe on its nucleus, are beginning observations and  sending science data back to Earth.
Launched in March 2004, Rosetta was reactivated January 2014 after a record 957 days in hibernation. Composed of an orbiter and lander, Rosetta’s objective is to arrive at comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko in August to study the celestial object up close in unprecedented detail and prepare for landing a probe on the comet's nucleus in November.
Rosetta’s lander will obtain the first images taken from a comet’s surface and will provide the first analysis of a comet's composition by drilling into the surface. Rosetta also will be the first spacecraft to witness at close proximity how a comet changes as it is subjected to the increasing intensity of the sun's radiation. Observations will help scientists learn more about the origin and evolution of our solar system and the role comets may have played in seeding Earth with water, and perhaps even life.
"We are happy to be seeing some real zeroes and ones coming down from our instruments, and cannot wait to figure out what they are telling us," said Claudia Alexander, Rosetta's U.S. project scientist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California. "Never before has a spacecraft pulled up and parked next to a comet. That is what Rosetta will do, and we are delighted to play a part in such a historic mission of exploration."
Rosetta currently is approaching the main asteroid belt located between Jupiter and Mars,. The spacecraft is still about 300,000 miles (500,000 kilometers) from the comet, but in August the instruments will begin to map its surface.
The three U.S. instruments aboard the spacecraft are the Microwave Instrument for Rosetta Orbiter (MIRO), an ultraviolet spectrometer called Alice, and the Ion and Electron Sensor (IES). They are part of a suite of 11 science instruments aboard the Rosetta orbiter.
MIRO is designed to provide data on how gas and dust leave the surface of the nucleus to form the coma and tail that gives comets their intrinsic beauty. Studying the surface temperature and evolution of the coma and tail provides information on how the comet evolves as it approaches and leaves the vicinity of the sun.
Alice will analyze gases in the comet's coma, which is the bright envelope of gas around the nucleus of the comet developed as a comet approaches the sun. Alice also will measure the rate at which the comet produces water, carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide. These measurements will provide valuable information about the surface composition of the nucleus.
The instrument also will measure the amount of argon present, an important clue about the temperature of the solar system at the time the comet's nucleus originally formed more than 4.6 billion years ago.
IES is part of a suite of five instruments to analyze the plasma environment of the comet, particularly the coma. The instrument will measure the charged particles in the sun's outer atmosphere, or solar wind, as they interact with the gas flowing out from the comet while Rosetta is drawing nearer to the comet's nucleus.
NASA also provided part of the electronics package for the Double Focusing Mass Spectrometer, which is part of the Swiss-built Rosetta Orbiter Spectrometer for Ion and Neutral Analysis (ROSINA) instrument. ROSINA will be the first instrument in space with sufficient resolution to be able to distinguish between molecular nitrogen and carbon monoxide, two molecules with approximately the same mass. Clear identification of nitrogen will help scientists understand conditions at the time the solar system was formed.
U.S. scientists are partnering on several non-U.S. instruments and are involved in seven of the mission's 21 instrument collaborations. NASA's Deep Space Network (DSN) is supporting ESA's Ground Station Network for spacecraft tracking and navigation.
Rosetta is an ESA mission with contributions from its member states and NASA. Rosetta's Philae lander is provided by a consortium led by the German Aerospace Center, Cologne; Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research, Göttingen; French National Space Agency, Paris; and the Italian Space Agency, Rome.  JPL manages the U.S. contribution of the Rosetta mission for NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington. JPL also built the MIRO and hosts its principal investigator, Samuel Gulkis. The Southwest Research Institute (San Antonio and Boulder), developed the Rosetta orbiter's IES and Alice instruments, and hosts their principal investigators, James Burch (IES) and Alan Stern (Alice).
Quelle: NASA
Update: 12.06.2014
Die Kometensonde Rosetta ist auf dem richtigen Weg: Gestern um 16:21 MESZ erfolgte das zweite große Bremsmanöver, das den Anflug der Sonde auf ihren Zielkometen 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko verlangsamte. Wie geplant schlug die Temperaturkurve der Triebwerke am Mittwochabend nach oben aus. Aus der Anzeige am Bildschirm kann Rosetta-Flugingenieur Jakub Urbanek im Satellitenkontrollzentrum der ESA in Darmstadt erkennen, dass die Triebwerke erfolgreich gezündet haben und Rosetta dadurch abgebremst werden konnte.
Die Zündung am Mittwoch war die dritte in einer ganzen Reihe von Kurskorrekturmanövern. Bahn- und Geschwindigkeitsangleichungen der Rosetta-Sonde sind nötig, damit sie am entscheidenden Tag nicht einfach am Kometen vorbeifliegt. Im August wird Rosetta den Kometen erreichen und in eine Umlaufbahn mit ihm einschwenken, im November wird dann das Landegerät Philae auf der Kometenoberfläche aufsetzen.
Seit zehn Jahren ist Rosetta bereits im Weltall unterwegs. Am 2. März 2004 wurde sie mit einer Ariane 5-Rakete vom europäischen Weltraumhafen in Kourou (Französisch-Guayana) aus gestartet. Die Mission soll Antworten auf die Frage geben, ob Kometen Bausteine des Lebens auf die Erde gebracht haben.
Quelle: ESA
Update: 20.06.2014
An image snapped earlier this month by ESA’s Rosetta spacecraft shows its target comet has quietened, demonstrating the unpredictable nature of these enigmatic objects.
The picture was captured on 4 June by Rosetta’s scientific camera, and is the most recent full-resolution image from the narrow-angle sensor. It has been used to help fine-tune Rosetta’s navigation towards comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko, which was 430 000 km away at the time.
Strikingly, there is no longer any sign of the extended dust cloud that was seen developing around nucleus at the end of April and into May, as shown in our last image release. Indeed, monitoring of the comet has shown a significant drop in its brightness since then.
“The comet is now almost within our reach – and teaching us to expect the unexpected,” says the camera’s Principal Investigator Holger Sierks from the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research in Germany.
“After its onset of activity at the end April, our images are currently showing a comet back at rest.”
While it is not uncommon for comets to display varying levels of activity, it is the first time that scientists have witnessed changes in dust production from such a close distance.
A comet’s ‘coma’ develops as it moves along its orbit progressively closer to the Sun, the increasing warmth causing surface ices to sublimate and gas to escape from its rock–ice nucleus. 
As the gas flows away from the nucleus, it also carries a cloud of tiny dust particles out into space, which slowly expands to create the coma.
The warming continues and activity rises as the comet moves ever closer to the Sun. Eventually, pressure from the solar wind causes some of the material to stream out into a long tail.
As comets are non-spherical and lumpy, this process is often unpredictable, with activity waxing and waning as they warm. The observations made over the six weeks from the end of April to early June show just how quickly the conditions at a comet can change.
Since Rosetta’s instruments were reactivated earlier this year after a long hibernation, the scientific and navigation cameras have been regularly acquiring images to help define Rosetta’s trajectory to the comet.
Using this information, the spacecraft has been making a series of manoeuvres that will slowly bring it in line with the comet before their rendezvous in the first week of August.
Four manoeuvres have been completed already – the most recent was yesterday – with six more to go. The last in the sequence is planned for 6 August, when Rosetta will be 100 km from the comet and will embark on a series of complex manoeuvres to bring it closer still.
Quelle: ESA
Update: 30.06.2014
ROSETTA´S Komet kommt ins schwitzen...
First detection of water vapour
ESA’s Rosetta spacecraft has found that comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko is releasing the equivalent of two small glasses of water into space every second, even at a cold 583 million kilometres from the Sun.
The first observations of water vapour streaming from the comet were made by the Microwave Instrument for Rosetta Orbiter, or MIRO, on 6 June, when the spacecraft was about 350 000 kilometres from the comet.
Since the initial detection, water vapour has been found every time MIRO has been pointed towards the comet. 
“We always knew we would see water vapour outgassing from the comet, but we were surprised at how early we detected it,” says Sam Gulkis, the instrument’s principal investigator at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, USA.
“At this rate, the comet would fill an Olympic-size swimming pool in about 100 days. But, as it gets closer to the Sun, the gas production rate will increase significantly. With Rosetta, we have an amazing vantage point to observe these changes up close and learn more about exactly why they happen.”
Water is a major volatile component of comets, along with carbon monoxide, methanol and ammonia. MIRO is designed to help determine the abundance of each of these ingredients, in order to understand the nature of the comet’s nucleus, the process of outgassing and where they originate on the surface.
These gases stream away from the nucleus carrying dust, forming the comet’s surrounding ‘coma’. As the comet moves closer to the Sun, its coma will expand and, eventually, pressure from the solar wind will cause some of the material to stream out into a long tail.
Rosetta will be there to watch these developments up close. The comet – and Rosetta – will make its nearest approach to the Sun in August 2015, between the orbits of Earth and Mars.
Determining the changes in production rate of water vapour and other gases as the icy object moves around the Sun is important for comet science. But it is also vital for mission planning, because once Rosetta is closer to the comet, the outflow of gases may alter the craft’s trajectory.
“Our comet is coming out of its deep-space slumber and beginning to put on a show for Rosetta’s science instruments,” says Matt Taylor, ESA’s Rosetta project scientist.
“Rosetta’s engineers will also be using MIRO’s observations to help them plan for future mission events when we are operating close to the comet’s nucleus.”
Today, the spacecraft is within 72 000 km of its destination. Six out of a total of ten rendezvous manoeuvres still need to be carried out to ensure that Rosetta arrives at a distance of just 100 km from the nucleus on 6 August.
Quelle: ESA
Update: 3.07.2014
Der Komet nimmt Form an: ROSETTA sendet neue Aufnahmen ihres Ziels
Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko, seen in Rosetta's OSIRIS narrow-angle camera on 28 June 2014, from a distance of about 86 000 km. The comet covers about four pixels in this image and appears, as expected, rather fuzzy from this distance.
Am 6. August wird die ESA-Sonde Rosetta nach einer zehnjährigen Reise durch unser Sonnensystem ihr Ziel erreichen – den Kometen Churyumov–Gerasimenko. OSIRIS, das Kamerasystem an Bord der Sonde, lieferte jetzt mit seiner NAC-Kamera (Narrow Angle Camera) dieses Bild des Kometen. Die ESA wird von nun an wöchentlich neue Bilder veröffentlichen, die den Kometen von Mal zu Mal größer abbilden und somit neue Hinweise auf dessen Form geben.
Noch befindet sich Rosetta, die vom ESA-Satellitenkontrollzentrum (ESOC) in Darmstadt aus gesteuert wird, im Anflug auf den Kometen. Dieses Foto wurde am 28. Juni aufgenommen, als die Sonde 86 000 Kilometer von ihm entfernt war. Der Komet ist auf dieser Aufnahme rund vier Pixel groß. Die Animation dazu besteht aus 36 Einzelbildern, die am 27. und 28. Juni aufgenommen wurden. Sie zeigt, wie sich der Kometenkern mit einer Rotationszeit von 12,4 Stunden um sich selbst dreht.  
Der rotierende Zielkomet Churyumov–Gerasimenko
Wie erwartet erscheint der Komet aus dieser großen Distanz noch etwas unscharf. Dies ist aber nicht etwa auf eine Koma des Kometen zurückzuführen, sondern vielmehr auf die Art und Weise, wie das Licht innerhalb des Kamerasystems gestreut wird. Dieser Effekt wird nicht mehr bemerkbar sein, wenn Rosetta näher an den Kometen vorrücken und die sehnlichst erwarteten hochauflösenden Bilder schicken wird. Das wissenschaftliche Kamerasystem OSIRIS wurde von einem Konsortium unter Leitung des Max-Planck-Instituts für Sonnensystemforschung (MPS) gebaut. Wissenschaftlicher Leiter des OSIRIS-Teams ist Dr. Holger Sierks in Göttingen.
Lange wird es nicht mehr dauern, bis wir mehr vom Kometen zu sehen bekommen: Innerhalb der nächsten zwei Wochen wird Rosetta Aufnahmen liefern, auf denen der Komet bereits einen Bereich von 20 x 20 Pixeln einnehmen wird.
Rosetta ist weniger als 50000 Kilometer von ihrem Zielkometen entfernt
Heute, am 3. Juli, ist Rosetta noch rund 43 000 Kilometer von ihrem Zielkometen entfernt. Ende dieser Woche werden es nur noch weniger als 36 000 Kilometer sein. Zum Vergleich: Geostationäre Satelliten umkreisen die Erde in etwa dieser Höhe.
Gesteuert wird die Rosetta-Sonde vom Europäischen Satellitenkontrollzentrum in Darmstadt. Als erster Raumflugkörper soll sie im August in eine Umlaufbahn mit dem Kometen einschwenken, im November das vom Deutschen Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt (DLR) geführte Landegerät Philae auf seiner Oberfläche absetzen und den Kometen anschließend weiter bei seinem Flug um die Sonne begleiten. Die Mission soll zur Beantwortung der Frage beitragen, ob Kometen einst die Bausteine des Lebens auf die Erde gebracht haben.
Quelle: ESA
Update: 11.07.2014
Rosetta kommt Kometen immer näher
Comet on 4 July 2014
Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, taken by the narrow angle camera of Rosetta’s scientific imaging system, OSIRIS, on 4 July 2014, at a distance of 37 000 km. The three images are separated by 4 hours, and are shown in order from left to right. The comet has a rotation period of about 12.4 hours. It covers an area of about 30 pixels, and although individual features are not yet resolved, the image is beginning to reveal the comet’s irregular shape.
Quelle: ESA
Update: 16.07.2014
Rosetta-Ziel ist ein "doppelter" Komet
What is the history of Comet 67P? How did it come to take this form?
Europe's Rosetta probe has acquired some sensational new images of the comet it is chasing through space.
The pictures show that 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko appears to be not one but two objects joined together. It is what scientists call a "contact binary".
How the comet came to take this form is unknown.
It is possible that 67P suffered a major fracture at some point in its past; it is also possible the two parts have totally different origins.
What is clear is that the European Space Agency (Esa) mission team now has additional and unexpected considerations as it plans how to land on the comet later this year - not least, which part of the comet should be chosen for a touchdown?
The images in the sequence of nine were acquired last Friday.
They are an interpolation. That is, the "real" pictures are much more pixelated because of the thousands of km that still separate the probe and the comet. The outlines that you see have therefore been "smoothed" to make the scene easier to understand.
Rosetta's Osiris Narrow Angle Camera has a whole series of images that can be run together as a movie. This is expected to be released later this week.
With hindsight, there were indications in last week's official image release that something unusual might be about to unfold. But the idea that 67P could be a contact binary is a major surprise.
Rosetta is still refining its rendezvous with the comet, firing its thrusters weekly to bring itself into orbit on 6 August.
By that stage, the Esa probe should be no more than 70km from the surface of the 4.5km-wide ball of ice.
Once scientists understand better the gravitational field of 67P, the orbit will be lowered to about 30km.
It is that point that mapping can begin to select a touchdown zone for Philae - the small landing robot currently riding piggyback on Rosetta.
This historic touchdown is currently scheduled for 11 November.
Quelle: BBC
Update: 19.07.2014
This week’s images of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko reveal an extraordinarily irregular shape. We had hints of that in last week’s images and in the unscheduled previews that were seen a few days ago, and in that short time it has become clear that this is no ordinary comet. Like its name, it seems that comet 67P/C-G is in two parts.
What the spacecraft is actually seeing is the pixelated image shown at right, which was taken by Rosetta’s OSIRIS narrow angle camera on 14 July from a distance of 12 000 km.
A second image and a movie show the comet after the image has been processed. The technique used, called “sub-sampling by interpolation”, only acts to remove the pixelisation and make a smoother image, and it is important to note that the comet’s surface features won’t be as smooth as the processing implies. The surface texture has yet to be resolved simply because we are still too far away; any apparent brighter or darker regions may turn out to be false interpretations at this early stage.
But the movie, which uses a sequence of 36 interpolated images each separated by 20 minutes, certainly provides a truly stunning 360-degree preview of the overall complex shape of the comet. Regardless of surface texture, we can certainly see an irregular shaped world shining through. Indeed, some people have already likened the shape to a duck, with a distinct body and head.
Although less obvious in the ‘real’ image, the movie of interpolated images supports the presence of two definite components. One segment seems to be rather elongated, while the other appears more bulbous.
Dual objects like this – known as ‘contact binaries’ in comet and asteroid terminology – are not uncommon.
Indeed, comet 8P/Tuttle is thought to be such a contact binary; radio imaging by the ground-based Arecibo telescope in Puerto Rico in 2008 suggested that it comprises two sphere-like objects. Meanwhile, the bone-shaped comet 103P/Hartley 2, imaged during NASA’s EPOXI flyby in 2011, revealed a comet with two distinct halves separated by a smooth region. In addition, observations of asteroid 25143 Itokawa by JAXA’s Hayabusa mission, combined with ground-based data, suggest an asteroid comprising two sections of highly contrasting densities.
Is Rosetta en-route to rendezvous with a similar breed of comet? The scientific rewards of studying such a comet would be high, as a number of possibilities exist as to how they form.
One popular theory is that such an object could arise when two comets – even two compositionally distinct comets – melded together under a low velocity collision during the Solar System’s formation billions of years ago, when small building blocks of rocky and icy debris coalesced to eventually create planets. Perhaps comet 67P/C-G will provide a unique record of the physical processes of accretion.
Or maybe it is the other way around – that is, a single comet could be tugged into a curious shape by the strong gravitational pull of a large object like Jupiter or the Sun; after all, comets are rubble piles with weak internal strength as directly witnessed in the fragmentation of comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 and the subsequent impacts into Jupiter, 20 years ago this week. Perhaps the two parts of comet 67P/C-G will one day separate completely.
Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko was imaged on 14 July 2014 by OSIRIS, Rosetta’s scientific imaging system, from a distance of approximately 12 000 km. This image has been processed using ‘sub-sampling by interpolation’, a technique that removes the pixelisation and makes a smoother image. It does not, however, reveal hidden detail and it is therefore important to note that the comet’s surface is not very likely to be as smooth as the processing implies. The image suggests that the comet may consist of two parts: one segment seems to be rather elongated, while the other appears more bulbous.
On the other hand, perhaps comet 67P/C-G may have once been a much rounder object that became highly asymmetric thanks to ice evaporation. This could have happened when the comet first entered the Solar System from the Kuiper Belt, or on subsequent orbits around the Sun.
One could also speculate that the striking dichotomy of the comet’s morphology is the result of a near catastrophic impact event that ripped out one side of the comet. Similarly, it is not unreasonable to think that a large outburst event may have weakened one side of the comet so much that it simply gave away, crumbling into space.
But, while the interpolated images are certainly brilliant, we need to be closer still to see a better three-dimensional view – not to mention to perform a spectroscopic analysis to determine the comet’s composition – in order to draw robust scientific conclusions about this exciting comet.
Rosetta Mission Manager Fred Jansen comments: “We currently see images that suggest a rather complex cometary shape, but there is still a lot that we need to learn before jumping to conclusions. Not only in terms of what this means for comet science in general, but also regarding our planning for science observations, and the operational aspects of the mission such as orbiting and landing.
“We will need to perform detailed analyses and modelling of the shape of the comet to determine how best we can fly around such a uniquely shaped body, taking into account flight control and astrodynamics, the science requirements of the mission, and the landing-related elements like landing site analysis and lander-to-orbiter visibility. But, with fewer than 10 000 km to go before the 6 August rendezvous, our open questions will soon be answered.”
Quelle: ESA
Update: 24.07.2014

Erste Eindrücke der Oberfläche von Rosettas Zielkomet

Modell der Kometenform, basierend auf den Aufnahmen vom 14. Juli 2014.
Die neuen Bilder des Kometen 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko lassen bereits Strukturen seiner Oberfläche erkennen. Sie wurden mit der OSIRIS-Kamera an Bord von Rosetta aus 5.500 Kilometern Entfernung gemacht, ihre Auflösung beträgt 100 Meter pro Bildpunkt (Pixel) und trotzdem ist darauf zu erkennen, dass die Region an der sich der Komet verengt, deutlich heller ist als die beiden anderen Teile.
Der Komet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, aufgenommen am 20. Juli 2014 von der OSIRIS-Kamera an Bord der Rosetta-Raumsonde.
Die zuletzt veröffentlichten Bilder haben gezeigt, dass der Komet aus zwei miteinander verbundenen Teilen besteht: einem kleineren "Kopf" und einem größeren "Körper". Dieses Verbindungsstück, der "Hals", zeigt sich auf den neuen Bildern jetzt schon als besonders interessant für die Wissenschaftler. Denn diese Region ist heller als der Rest des Kometen. Mögliche Gründe hierfür könnten Unterschiede in der Zusammensetzung oder Struktur des Oberflächenmaterials sein.
Die ESA-Raumsonde Rosetta wird den Kometen am 6. August 2014 erreichen, das Landegerät Philae soll im November auf der Kometenoberfläche aufsetzen.
Quelle: DLR
Images of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko taken on July 14, 2014, by the OSIRIS imaging system aboard the European Space Agency's Rosetta spacecraft have allowed scientists to create this three-dimensional shape model of the nucleus.
Update: 30.07.2014
Rosetta navigation camera (NAVCAM) image taken on 28 July 2014. 
Full frame 1024 x 1024 pixel NAVCAM image taken on 28 July from a distance of about 2237 km from comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. Credits: ESA/Rosetta/NAVCAM
Crop from the 28 July processed image of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, to focus on the comet nucleus. Credits: ESA/Rosetta/NAVCAM
Last week we shared a shape model of comet 67P/C-G based on the previous week’s images. Now the OSIRIS team have used images taken from 14-24 July to create a revised, more detailed model. This model is a formal product delivered to the Orbiter and Lander Teams to aid with their preparations for orbiting around and, eventually, landing Philae on the comet.
Grab a pair of red-green/blue glasses to enjoy the anaglyph version, too!
Comet 67P/C-G shape model based on OSIRIS images 14-24 July. Credits: ESA/Rosetta/MPS for OSIRIS Team MPS/UPD/LAM/IAA/SSO/INTA/UPM/DASP/IDA
The ultimate goal of the landing site selection process is to identify a safe and scientifically interesting site for Rosetta’s lander, Philae. A meaningful selection can only be made once the spacecraft is close enough to be able to characterise the comet surface and its environment, but preparations can start to advance now that the comet’s approximate shape and rotation properties are known.
Flight dynamics teams will need to plan the trajectories that are needed to safely navigate around the comet and to determine the best flight paths for delivering the lander to the surface.
But the landing site itself must also meet certain criteria. It must provide suitable illumination – an important factor for recharging the lander’s battery via on-board solar panels, and offer good visibility to the orbiter, as Philae relays information to Earth through mothership Rosetta. It must also be free from hazards such as large boulders or crevasses, features that can only be identified once Rosetta is much closer to the comet.
Next week, on 6 August, Rosetta arrives at the comet at a distance of about 100 km, moving down to about 50 km towards the end of the month. At the same time, five candidate landing sites will be selected for further detailed investigation.
Then, as Rosetta moves to a distance of just 30 km from the comet’s surface, more details of its surface will be revealed, allowing higher resolution imaging of the candidate sites. At an altitude of 30 km, the Narrow Angle Camera of OSIRIS will provide a surface resolution of 55 cm per pixel.
One primary landing site will be identified in mid-September, with a detailed analysis of possible flight paths then carried out, before a final decision is made to go ahead and prepare for landing, currently planned for 11 November.
Use red-green/blue '3D' glasses to enjoy this version of the latest shape model.
Quelle: ESA


Freitag, 1. August 2014 - 08:55 Uhr

Astronomie - NASA-Weltraumteleskop Fermi zeigt neue Quelle von Gamma-Strahlen


These images show Fermi data centered on each of the four gamma-ray novae observed by the LAT. Colors indicate the number of detected gamma rays with energies greater than 100 million electron volts (blue indicates lowest, yellow highest).
Image Credit: NASA/DOE/Fermi LAT Collaboration
Observations by NASA's Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope of several stellar eruptions, called novae, firmly establish these relatively common outbursts almost always produce gamma rays, the most energetic form of light.
"There's a saying that one is a fluke, two is a coincidence, and three is a class, and we're now at four novae and counting with Fermi," said Teddy Cheung, an astrophysicist at the Naval Research Laboratory in Washington, and the lead author of a paper reporting the findings in the Aug. 1 edition of the journal Science.
A nova is a sudden, short-lived brightening of an otherwise inconspicuous star caused by a thermonuclear explosion on the surface of a white dwarf, a compact star not much larger than Earth. Each nova explosion releases up to 100,000 times the annual energy output of our sun. Prior to Fermi, no one suspected these outbursts were capable of producing high-energy gamma rays, emission with energy levels millions of times greater than visible light and usually associated with far more powerful cosmic blasts.
Fermi's Large Area Telescope (LAT) scored its first nova detection, dubbed V407 Cygni, in March 2010. The outburst came from a rare type of star system in which a white dwarf interacts with a red giant, a star more than a hundred times the size of our sun. Other members of the same unusual class of stellar system have been observed "going nova" every few decades.
The white dwarf star in V407 Cygni, shown here in an artist's concept, went nova in 2010. Scientists think the outburst primarily emitted gamma rays (magenta) as the blast wave plowed through the gas-rich environment near the system's red giant star.
Image Credit: NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center/S. Wiessinger
In 2012 and 2013, the LAT detected three so-called classical novae which occur in more common binaries where a white dwarf and a sun-like star orbit each other every few hours.
"We initially thought of V407 Cygni as a special case because the red giant's atmosphere is essentially leaking into space, producing a gaseous environment that interacts with the explosion's blast wave," said co-author Steven Shore, a professor of astrophysics at the University of Pisa in Italy. "But this can't explain more recent Fermi detections because none of those systems possess red giants."
Fermi detected the classical novae V339 Delphini in August 2013 and V1324 Scorpii in June 2012, following their discovery in visible light. In addition, on June 22, 2012, the LAT discovered a transient gamma-ray source about 20 degrees from the sun. More than a month later, when the sun had moved farther away, astronomers looking in visible light discovered a fading nova from V959 Monocerotis at the same position.
Astronomers estimate that between 20 and 50 novae occur each year in our galaxy. Most go undetected, their visible light obscured by intervening dust and their gamma rays dimmed by distance. All of the gamma-ray novae found so far lie between 9,000 and 15,000 light-years away, relatively nearby given the size of our galaxy.
Novae occur because a stream of gas flowing from the companion star piles up into a layer on the white dwarf's surface. Over time -- tens of thousands of years, in the case of classical novae, and several decades for a system like V407 Cygni -- this deepening layer reaches a flash point. Its hydrogen begins to undergo nuclear fusion, triggering a runaway reaction that detonates the accumulated gas. The white dwarf itself remains intact.
One explanation for the gamma-ray emission is that the blast creates multiple shock waves that expand into space at slightly different speeds. Faster shocks could interact with slower ones, accelerating particles to near the speed of light. These particles ultimately could produce gamma rays.
"This colliding-shock process must also have been at work in V407 Cygni, but there is no clear evidence for it," said co-author Pierre Jean, a professor of astrophysics at the University of Toulouse in France. This is likely because gamma rays emitted through this process were overwhelmed by those produced as the shock wave interacted with the red giant and its surroundings, the scientists conclude.
NASA's Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope is an astrophysics and particle physics partnership managed by the agency's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. It was developed in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Energy, with contributions from academic institutions and partners in France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Sweden and the United States.
Novae typically originate in binary systems containing sun-like stars, as shown in this artist's rendering. A nova in a system like this likely produces gamma rays (magenta) through collisions among multiple shock waves in the rapidly expanding shell of debris.
Image Credit: NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center/S. Wiessinger
Quelle: NASA


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