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Sonntag, 12. Oktober 2014 - 18:30 Uhr

UFO-Forschung - IFO-Universität: Re-Entrys von Weltraumschrott

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December 1996 Yukon UFO revisited
With the reincarnation of UFO Updates on Facebook, I noticed that one of the first comments had to do with the Yukon UFO case of 1996, which had been part of the first episode of a UFO series recently produced by Discovery channel Canada. Readers of SUNlite are aware that I announced that this case had been explained by Ted Molczan in SUNlite 4-4 (p. 36) as the re-entry of the rocket body that had launched Cosmos 2335. Robert Sheaffer had also presented the explanation on his blog in April of 2012. The principle investigator, Martin Jasek, and other Canadian UFOlogists were, as best as I could tell, very quiet about the news. Finally, in this facebook discussion, Chris Rutkowski decided to publicly comment on the case. Instead of congratulating Molczan and Harro Zimmer on their analysis, he rejected it because he accepted the subjective testimony of the witnesses over the evidence regarding the rocket body re-entry. Because Rutkowski finds this evidence so compelling, I felt it was important for me to review the case here.
Who is Ted Molczan?
In his commentary, Chris Rutkowski referred to Ted Molczan’s as an unnamed “satellite tracker”. 1 I found it a bit frustrating to refer to somebody who has a good reputation in the space and astronomical community for computing orbits of satellites and re- entering space debris as just a “satellite tracker”. It gives the impression that he really was not qualified to make an evaluation of the case. At least Rutkowski could have identified him by name.
It is too bad that the Discovery channel did not present the explanation for this case in a fair and balanced way. Ted Molczan lives in Toronto and could have been interviewed to present his case. Instead, he had to be a bystander while the program presented Rutkowski and Jasek’s one-sided version of events. Chris Rutkowski claims to have mentioned it in his interview but down played it with the claim that the witnesses precise observations eliminated any such explanation.
An instant classic
The principle investigator for this case is Martin Jasek, who collected all the reports from the witnesses over two years after the
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event had actually occurred. His conclusion was that they saw a huge mothership UFO. The case was so widely promoted, that
it was considered one of the top ten UFO cases by UFOlogists for Paul Kimball’s “Best evidence” film.
The event occurred on the night of December 11th of 1996 and was visible in the remote northwestern province of Canada called the Yukon Territory. Jasek’s witnesses were all located along the road running from Whitehorse to Pelly Crossing called the Klondike Highway. The straight line distance from the most southern location to the most northern location was something like 120 miles.
In an apparent effort to organize all the sightings, Jasek seperated them into three concentrations. There were seven witnesses at Pelly Crossing in the far north. In the mid-point of the highway, at Carmacks, there were nine witnesses. Finally, there were six wit- nesses on the southern end near Whitehorse at Fox Lake.
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The Pelly Crossing sightings
Pelly Crossing is a small village located on the Pelly River. The population is only a few hundred people and it is quite remote. Out of this small population, Martin Jasek was able to discover seven people, who saw the UFO. He identified them with the designation of PEL followed by a number since many did not want their names made public.
PEL1, identified as Don Trudeau, was located off the highway in the woods to the northeast of Pelly Crossing. He was tending a trap line and estimated that he saw the event between 8 and 9 PM.3 Mr. Trudeau reports seeing the object in the west and it appeared to react to his flashlight. It came towards him. After he covered his flashlight, the object moved slowly to his right. It emitted a beam as it moved. The duration of the sighting was estimated to be four minutes.
PEL2 and 3 were together in the same car and driving north on the highway. PEL2 referred to it as “whole big cluster of stars moving!”4 According to PEL3, they pulled off the road near a gravel pit and watched the UFO slowly fade away, “some lights started to go out beforetheothers”.5 PEL2confirmedthisbystatingthateachofthelightsextinguishedinrapidsuccession.Thetrajectorywasfrom West to East and PEL2 saw it pass below the big dipper. He even included a sketch of the UFO showing the direction of flight in relation to this well known star pattern. According to PEL2, he arrived home around 9:10 PM. Working backward, they determined the time of the sighting as 9:00PM.
PEL4, 5, 6, and 7 were taking a course at a local college and came out for their break about 8:30 PM.6 They noticed the formation of lights in the northwest and saw it traverse the sky towards the northeast. The object was at a low angular elevation according to PEL 5 and 6. However, PEL 7 thought the object was much higher and closer to a 45 degree angle of elevation. While PEL 5 and 6 stated the event lasted about 3 minutes, PEL 7 (who was with them) estimated it to be more like five or ten minutes. Witnesses PEL 5, 6 and 7 also heard that witnesses in Dawson (about 120 miles to the northwest) and Mayo (about 60 miles to the NNE) also saw the UFO.
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The Carmacks concentration
Alittle more than halfway between Fox Lake and Pelly crossing, is the village of Carmacks. The population for this town is not much greater than Pelly. Jasek discovered nine witnesses here but this large number is misleading. Four of the witnesses were all in the same vehicle. The other five involve a single family, where three of the witnesses were small children.
CRM1 through 4 were driving north along the highway when they saw the UFO appear.7 The driver (CRM2) stopped the car and they all got out to see the UFO move from the northwest to northeast. According to witness CRM1, the UFO, which was a dark shape behind the lights, then went to the east and headed south. The time of observation, according to him, was at 7:00 PM. CRM2 stated the lights were visible for around ten minutes and reported that they only moved from NW to NE. He estimated the angular size as being approximately 60 degrees. CRM2 also stated they went towards the airstrip to the northeast of town to see if the UFO had landed there. Witness CRM3 gave no time and did not say anything to Jasek but did talk to another investigator. Jasek could not interview witness CRM4.
The remaining five witnesses CRM5-9 were a family of five.8 The father had seen the lights through a northeast window moving left to right. It moved slowly and was low (near treetop level). It consisted of a row of lights that went out as it moved to the right. While CRM5 stated his sighting was initially between 9 and 10PM, he adjusted his sighting time to just after 7PM after talking to investigators and his brother, witness CRM2.
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Observations at Fox lake
The witnesses at Fox Lake were all in cars driving north. Their locations are based on what they remember and not what was recorded at the time.
FOX1 was driving north and, as he approached the southern end of the lake, he saw a bright light to the north-northwest.9 He drove the length of the lake but noticed nothing unusual about the light. On the northern side of Fox lake, after a car and a semi-trailer had passed by him going southbound, he suddenly noticed that the light was now three rows of lights moving eastward in front of him. They disappeared behind the hill to the right of the road and he lost of sight of them. No specific time was listed in Jasek’s description but he gave a time range of between 7:45 and 8:15 PM.
FOX2 and FOX3 were in two separate cars driving north along the lake.10 They were traveling together with FOX2 being a mile or so ahead of FOX3. FOX2 saw the UFO “hovering” over the lake. He stopped the car. FOX3 also stopped his car south of FOX2. FOX2 reported the UFO approached him, passed over his head, and then proceeded eastward over the hill. FOX3 reported seeing the UFO approach FOX2 and pass over him in an eastward direction. FOX3 noted the time as between 8:25 and 8:30 PM. While they stated that they had stopped their cars when inteviewed by Jasek, it is important to point out that FOX3 in his account written a month after the event stated he did not stop his car even though he wanted to do so. 11 FOX2 and 3 then drove up the road a short distance to a campground, where they discussed what they saw.
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Further to south were witnesses FOX 4 and 5. They saw the UFO as it passed over the lake. Like a majority of the other witnesses, they noted that the direction of travel from left (west/northwest) to the right (east/northeast). FOX 5 recalled looking at the car’s clock (one of the few witnesses, who seemed to think about noting the actual time) and remembered it as 8:23PM.12
The mothership conclusion
Based on what the witnesses told him, Martin Jasek drew the conclusion that a massive UFO was flying across the Klondike
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Highway that night at low altitude. Since the UFO was determined by his calculations to be very low in altitude, it would be
impossible for the witnesses to all see the same UFO at the same time. If we accept Jasek’s conclusion as the correct one, then there were either multiple UFO motherships flying from west to east that night or there was just one such UFO making multiple passes from west to east. In the single mothership theory, one has to assume that the UFO was able to move back towards the west and not be seen by anybody on the highway so it could then put itself into position further south/north along the highway to repeat another west to east pass.
Jasek accepts the sighting data from the witnesses as being very accurate. He uses this subjective data to compute altitudes and object size that appears to match what the witnesses described. However, there are some issues that he chose not to mention or consider in his analysis.
How good are the eyewitness reports?
While Jasek presents a rather impressive array of witnesses, there are some important factors that need to be considered here regarding eyewitness testimony. One of the world’s top experts on such testimony is Elizabeth Loftus, who wrote the book, Eyewitness testimony, in 1979. Despite being over thirty years old, the book is still relevant. In her book, Loftus states:
When we experience an important event, we do not simply record that event in memory as a videotape recorder would. The situation is more complex. Nearly all of the theoretical analyses of the process divide it into three stages...First, there is the ACQUISITION stage--the perception of the original event-- in which information is encoded, laid down, or entered into a person’s memory system. Sec- ond, there is the RETENTION stage, the period of time that passes between the event and the eventual recollection of a particular piece of information. Third, there is the RETRIEVAL stage during which a person recalls stored information..This three-stage analysis is so central to the concept of the human memory that it is virtually accepted among psychologists.14 (emphasis mine)
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In the acquisition phase, the witness sees the event and interprets it based on their own knowledge/ beliefs. Elizabeth Loftus de- scribes this problem with “expectations” :
Some psychologists believe that expectations cause a real change in what a person perceives....other psychologists believe that our ex- pectations do not affect perception itself but rather they affect how we interpret what we have seen, or how we respond to what we have see. Whichever of these theories is correct (and there is some possibility that both may be true in part), one thing is clear and accepted by all. Expectations have an enormous impact on what a person claims to have seen. 15(emphasis mine)
Did any of the witnesses have preconceived notions about what a UFO should look like. Writing in the Condon report, Dr. William Hartmann noticed this problem when evaluating the reports written by witnesses regarding the observations of the Zond IV re- entry:
Reports of a “cigar-shape” apparently stem from a subjective tendency to connect the string of sources and from popularization of this concept in the UFO literature. This important phenomenon I will call the “airship effect;” it is demonstrably present even in reports as far back as 1913.....16 (emphasis mine)
In July of 1996, the movie “Independence day” made it into the theaters. The alien spaceships in this film were massive objects. Is it possible that knowl- edge about the film and its huge spaceships might have had an effect on how the witnesses interpreted what they saw?
In his MUFON journal article (February 2000), Jasek reports that they did not start interviewing witnesses until February 1999.17 This is over two years after the actual event and brings up another point raised by Loftus regarding eyewitness testimony. The retention stage can result in changes in what a witness remembers.
When a witness perceives a complex event, a number of factors, such as the exposure time, or the salience of the event, or the witness’s prior expectations, will affect the accuracy of what is perceived and stored in memory. But to compound the problem once the material has already been encoded, further changes can take place. The time between a complex experience and a witness’s recollections of that experience is a crucial period. Both the length of this retention interval and the events that take place during it affect a witness’s testimony. ..It is by now a well-established fact that people are less accurate and complete in their eyewitness accounts after a long retention interval than a short one.18 (emphasis mine)
Another factor not considered/mentioned by Jasek is that many of the witnesses were together at the time of the sighting. The were not independent of each other. Some of them were related and talked to each other afterwards. Loftus mentions the effects of such post event discussions:
Time alone does not cause the slippage of memory. It is caused in part by what goes on during that passage of time. Often after wit- nessing an important event, one is exposed to new information about it......Postevent information can not only enhance existing memories but also change a witness’s memory and even cause nonexistent details to become incorporated into a previously acquired memory.19 (emphasis mine)
Two of the principle witnesses presented by Jasek are the witnesses FOX2 and FOX3. They were used for a critical triangulation ef- fort to determine the size of the UFO. However, both FOX 2 and 3 discussed what they had seen immediately after the event. FOX 3 was sure that the UFO passed directly over FOX2 in the statement he had written a month later. How much of an effect did this have with FOX2’s description TWO YEARS later? The angle of elevation for his UFO could change from a low elevation to directly overhead.
It is important for those defending this case as an alien spaceship to understand the quality of the evidence they are presenting. What Elizabeth Loftus states in her book should be “required reading”:
During the time between an event and a witness’s recollection of that event -- a period often called the “retention interval” -- the bits and pieces of information that were acquired through perception do not passively reside in memory waiting to pulled out like fish from water. Rather, they are subject to numerous influences. External information provided from the outside can intrude into the witness’s memory, as can his own thoughts, and both can cause dramatic changes in his recollections.
People’s memories are fragile things. It is important to realize how easily information can be introduced into memory, to understand why this happens, and to avoid it when it is undersirable.20
Relying on eyewitness testimony as the sole evidence for drawing conclusions regarding this event is fraught with the possibility of mistakes.
The skeptical viewpoint
While Jasek interprets the eyewitness testimony as being rock solid, skeptics look at it as less reliable. They are not stating that the witnesses are lying but suggest that the testimony has potential errors that need to be considered when evaluating what was seen.
One of the problems with Jasek’s eyewitness testimony is the question of time. While some recalled a specific time, others seemed to not think of looking at the clock or their watch. The Pelly crossing witnesses give a time range of between 8 and 9 PM. Probably the best time frame is given by the witnesses who were in class and had just gone on break, which was scheduled for 8:30 PM. The Carmacks witnesses are tied to two different time frames. CRMS1 said the time was at 7PM but CRMS5 originally thought it was between 9 and 10 PM. All we can gather is that the time range probably encompassed between 7 and 10PM. The median time for this is 8:30PM. The Fox lake witness were consistent except for FOX 1, who gave a time frame of 7:45-8:15. If we assume a margin for error (remember this is based on two year old memories), we can assume that he probably saw the same event and it was the same 8:30PM time reported by the other Fox Lake witnesses.
The direction described by the witnesses is reasonably consistent with a few exceptions All mention the direction of travel being eastward and seeing the object to the north of them. Because a majority of the witnesses were driving north on a road, they had a ready reference point from which to determine direction. There were some witnesses that gave directions that were slightly differ- ent. My experience from examining fireball reports has shown that there are often reports that are not consistent with the others and are usually a result of an individual being confused about direction or having memories that are not quite accurate. Considering the fact that they were reported two years later, these kinds of errors are not that surprising. Ignoring these potential errors can result in improper calculations and inaccurate conclusions.
Jasek spends a great deal of time trying to calculate the size and altitude of the UFOs reported up and down the highway using these observations of direction. In the case of the Pelly crossing sighting, he relies heavily on the Don Trudeau observations to make the UFO appear close to the observers in his calculations. However, Mr. Trudeau was not on the road and was in the middle of the woods on a trail. He did not have the ready reference of where north was located. Add to this that he was telling his story years later under the influence of a UFO investigator and there is a potential for error. If his initial observation was actually to the northwest instead of due west, the true position of the UFO, based on all the observations, is much farther away from the observers than estimated. There is reason to suspect that this was the case when one examines all the observations (Carmacks/Pelly Crossing/ Fox lake) as an observation of the same event. They all could not see the same object close up at the same time over a distance of over a hundred miles.
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The observations of FOX 2 and 3 appears to be the prize rebuttal being presented by Jasek/Rutkowski. They have selected the ob- servation by FOX 2, who stated the UFO passed overhead, to demonstrate the UFO was close and not far away. FOX2 gave sketches based on two-year old memories. In figures 7 and 8 he drew his location and where he thought the UFO was located relative to his position.
It is interesting to point out that, In Figure 7 (right)21, the car is located after the turn but in figure 8 (left)22 is before the turn. Does this imply that he did not stop his car as he claimed or can’t he remember where he was located? More importantly, looking at fig- ure 7 closely, we see that FOX2 drew the UFO not directly above him but that he was on the southern edge of the UFO body. The main body of the UFO was in front of him. This indicates the UFO was not directly overhead as he claimed but at a lower angle of elevation.
During the Condon study, the problem with angles of elevation estimates by witnesses was identified:
The angular elevation, or apparent location above the horizon, of objects is generally not estimated very accurately at all. The difference from 0° or from 90° of angles near the horizon or near the zenith tends to be substantially overestimated. Anything that is more than 45° or even 30° above the horizon is often reported as overhead.23
One can see this problem with the Pelly crossing witnesses. Three witnesses saw the same event. Two, PEL5 and 6, saw the object as low on the horizon. However, PEL 7 gave a much higher angle of elevation. This was in disagreement with all the other observations made by other witnesses in the area.
Based on the sketches, time span that had elapsed between the event and the report, the potential influence of FOX 3, and the potential for gross error in estimating the angle of elevation, it appears the FOX2/FOX3 triangulation argument is not a very reliable measurement that can be used to establish the true location and altitude of this UFO.
If we assume that all of the witnesses up and down the highway saw the same UFO over the same time period and in the same posi- tion in the sky, we come to the conclusion that what was visible was not very close at all. It would have to have been very high in actual altitude and quite a distance away from the observers.
The explanation
It was Ted Molczan and Harro Zimmer who broke open this case in 2012. They had identified that it was possible that the booster rocket that had launched Cosmos 2335, less than 24 hours earlier, might have re-entered over Alaska and Northwestern Canada. Using the last set of Two line elements for the rocket body and special software, a potential track was computed. It was a very good match for the path across the sky many of the witnesses reported. It started in the northwest for all the observation points and moved towards the northeast. The sketch made by witness PEL224 (below left) of the UFO and the big dipper was a very close ap- proximation as to the computed trajectory created by Molczan25 (below right).
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The rocket body re-entry also explains how all the witness- es saw something very similar from so many different loca- tions over a wide area. Most reported an easterly motion coming from the west or northwest low in the sky. Those witnesses who reported something slightly different (high angles of elevation, directions/trajectories indicating bi- zarre motion) could very well have been inaccurate due to mistaken perceptions created during the acquisition stage or altered memories created in the retention phase.
Re-entry events perceived as UFOs
Space debris re-entries have been a UFO report genera- tor since the early days of the space age. When Sput- nik 2 re-entered in April of 1958, it produced UFO reports. One of the most famous occurred on March 3rd, 1968. The debris from Zond IV had re-entered the Earth’s atmo- sphere over the eastern United States and produced many reports to project Blue Book. Several of the witnesses had
allowed their preconceptions of what a UFO looked like to produce a craft with windows, when all that was visible was points of light against a dark sky.
Several other cases have produced very similar UFO reports: December 31, 1978 - UK - cosmos 2068 rocket
November 5, 1990 - Western Europe - Gorizont 21 rocket body March 30-31, 1993 - UK - cosmos 2238 rocket
November 14, 1997 - Northwestern US - Proton K rocket September 1, 1999 - Northwestern US - Proton K rocket September 7, 1999 - Florida - Proton K rocket
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Many of these produced rather bizarre descriptions of massive objects with lights. The November 5, 1990 case is particularly inter- esting because the witnesses were subjected to a Rorschach test of sorts. Just about any shape imaginable was sketched by the witnesses.31
How re-entering space debris is reported has been recorded for many decades. Sometimes, the event is simply recorded as a bright fireball because it behaves like one. However, when the debris is large enough to break up and spread out over many degrees of sky, witnesses begin to perceive the lights as being connected to some dark object. When this occurs, UFO reports appear in large numbers.
The missing witnesses
An important characteristic of UFO sightings that Dr. Hartmann noticed about the Zond IV case was something he referred to as the “Excitedness effect”:
An effect important to the UFO problem is demonstrated by the records: the excited observers who thought they had witnessed a very strange phenomenon produced the most detailed, longest, and most misconceived reports, but those who by virtue of experience most nearly recognized the nature of the phenomenon became the least excited and produced the briefest reports. The “excitedness effect” has an important bearing on the UFO problem. It is a selection effect by which the least accurate reports are made more prominent (since the observer becomes highly motivated to make a report), while the most accurate reports may not be recorded. 32
If there were observers, who saw this as an alien spaceship, were there observers who saw this as a meteor or space debris re-entry? Since it was two years later, it is unlikely that Jasek would have encountered anybody who remembered this as an astronomical event unless they were an astronomer. These observers probably would be unable to recall the date even though it was quite the spectacular event. Despite the lack of any witnesses from Jasek, who thought it was a meteor, there are hints that some people identified this as a meteor or re-entry. In the film produced about the Yukon UFO with the title, “It came from the heavens”, a witness named Jean VanBibber said she talked to a Royal Canadian Mountain Police (RCMP) the next day. He apparently saw the event but had come to a different conclusion about what he had observed:
I went to the post office and...the next day and I saw the RCMP there and I told him, I said, well, I saw that big UFO that flew over yester- day... last night. And he said, that was no UFO, that was a meteor breaking up...33
Additionally, Jasek provides no newspaper reports from December 12 or 13, 1996. The media might have recorded the event during that time period as something like a meteor and not like an alien spaceship. Examining the newspaper archive, I found one report from Alaska that indicated the object was not an alien spaceship.33
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While the article mentions many meteors that night, it also mentions two balls of light, seen by many observers, that were moving from west to east in the northern sky at about 8PM. They wrongfully attributed this to the Geminid meteor display when it sounds more like the rocket body re-entry.
No explanation, other than an alien spaceship, is ever good enough
The UFOlogical response to the Molczan explanation is an example of “to the last man” defense often found in “classic” UFO case discussions. Instead of acknowledging the possibility that the explanation has merit or providing a valid counterargument dem- onstrating that the calculations by Zimmer/Molczan were inaccurate, Jasek retreats to the standard UFOlogical position of assuming theeyewitness“knewwhattheysaw”. Hehaschosentoignorewhatisknownabouthowsatelliteentriescanbemisinterpretedand the issues associated with eyewitness testimony. Instead, Jasek selectively chose subjective measurements based on two year-old memories to convince himself that it was not a re-entering rocket booster. This approach ignores the bulk of the testimony that suggests the object was much further away and higher in altitude. Most importantly, Jasek/Rutkowski ignore the fact that this re- entry did occur about the same time the witnesses (especially at Fox Lake and Pelly Crossing) reported seeing their massive UFO but failed to see the actual re-entry! Either it was an incredible coincidence that the UFO was passing through the sky the same way and at the same time the re-entry occurred OR they simply misinterpreted the re-entry as a UFO.
Quelle: SUNlite 2/2014

Tags: UFO-Forschung 

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Samstag, 11. Oktober 2014 - 23:15 Uhr

Astronomie - Im Focus von Cassini : Welliger Polar Jet auf Saturn

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Nature is often more complex and wonderful than it first appears. For example, although it looks like a simple hexagon, this feature surrounding Saturn's north pole is really a manifestation of a meandering polar jet stream. Scientists are still working to understand more about its origin and behavior.
This view looks toward the sunlit side of the rings from about 33 degrees above the ringplane. The image was taken in red light with the Cassini spacecraft wide-angle camera on July 24, 2013.
The view was acquired at a distance of approximately 605,000 miles (973,000 kilometers) from Saturn and at a Sun-Saturn-spacecraft, or phase, angle of 19  degrees. Image scale is 36 miles (58 kilometers) per pixel.

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The hexagon was hidden in darkness during the winter of Saturn's long year, a year that is equal to about 29 Earth years. But as the planet approached its August 2009 equinox and signaled the start of northern spring, the hexagon was revealed to Cassini's cameras. This is the first time the whole hexagonal shape has been mapped out in visible light by Cassini, and these images show unprecedented details of Saturn's high northern latitudes. The hexagon was originally discovered in images taken by Voyager spacecraft in the early 1980s. Since 2006, the Cassini Visual and Infrared Mapping Spectrometer (VIMS) instrument has been observing the hexagon at infrared wavelengths, but at lower spatial resolution than these visible light images.
Three large mosaics were used to create this three-frame movie. The mosaics used dozens of images and the constituent images were projected into polar projections to provide a complete view of the hexagon. The mosaics used in this movie do not show the region directly around the north pole because it had not yet fully emerged from the polar winter night. Seams between the images are visible in the third frame of the movie because the observation geometry in those images made removal of the seams difficult.
The six-sided shape remains a mystery. Scientists think the hexagon is a meandering jet stream at 77 degrees north latitude, but they don't know what controls the path the stream takes. These images also show new phenomena for scientists to decipher, such as waves that can now be seen radiating from the corners of the hexagon where the jet takes its hardest turns. These images confirm the presence of a multi-walled structure in each of the hexagon's six sides, and the structure now can be seen extending to the top of Saturn's cloud layer. The images show that the inside of the hexagon is darker than the outside. The new images also show a large spot inside the hexagon that could be related to a dark spot seen inside the hexagon in 2006 in an image taken by Cassini's VIMS instrument. An earlier Voyager mosaic showed a large spot outside the hexagon. That spot existed at least until 1991 before disappearing into the long winter polar night.
Images from Voyager and from ground-based telescopes suffered from poor viewing perspectives. In late 2006, Cassini's VIMS camera imaged the region in the thermal infrared wavelength, showing the hexagon in false color (see PIA09188). Multiple images acquired by the VIMS instrument over a 12-day period showed that the feature is nearly stationary and is likely an unusually strong pole-encircling planetary wave that extends deep into the atmosphere. Scientists had speculated that a large vortex seen outside the hexagon during the Voyager observations exerted forces on the jet stream making it adopt a hexagonal pattern in a manner similar to how jet streams on Earth divert around high-pressure systems. However, in these new images, the vortex is notably absent while the hexagon persists almost 30 years after it was first seen.
The images were taken in visible light with the Cassini spacecraft wide-angle camera on Jan. 3, 2009. The images were obtained at a distance of approximately 764,000 kilometers (475,000 miles) from Saturn. The smallest resolved features at the latitude of the hexagon have a horizontal scale of approximately 100 kilometers.
The Cassini-Huygens mission is a cooperative project of NASA, the European Space Agency and the Italian Space Agency. The Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the mission for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington, D.C. The Cassini orbiter and its two onboard cameras were designed, developed and assembled at JPL. The imaging operations center is based at the Space Science Institute in Boulder, Colo.
Quelle: NASA

Tags: Astronomie 

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Samstag, 11. Oktober 2014 - 14:00 Uhr

Raumfahrt - Spacehab innerhalb Museum Space Shuttle Endeavour zur Darstellung installiert

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A flown-in-space Spacehab module is lowered into space shuttle Endeavour's payload bay at the California Science Center, Oct. 9 in Los Angeles. (California Science Center/Dennis Jenkins)
A large piece of space equipment was installed in a space shuttle's cargo bay on Thursday (Oct. 9) for what was very likely the last time in history.
In an event titled "Go for Payload," the California Science Center (CSC) in Los Angeles hoisted a Spacehab module into the open hold of the retired space shuttle Endeavour. The logistics module's addition, together with several other real and replica parts, marked a major milestone towards the center's plans to display the NASA winged orbiter in a vertical, launch-ready configuration.
"No flown orbiter has had its payload bay doors configured in this way other than when inside one of [NASA's] orbiter facilities, so Endeavour continues to make historic firsts," Ken Phillips, Endeavour's curator at the California Science Center, said.
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NASA equipment was needed to open and support the opening of space shuttle Endeavour's cargo bay doors. (CSC/Dennis Jenkins)
Since October 2012, the CSC has displayed Endeavour in a temporary pavilion erected for the orbiter. Beginning in late 2017, the center plans to attach Endeavour to a set of real solid rocket boosters and a replica external tank and then raise the entire stack to stand inside its new Samuel Oschin Air and Space Center. In that display, Endeavour will have one of its 60-foot-long (18-meter) payload doors open, showcasing the Spacehab inside.
"Having the [Spacehab] module in there will give people a feel for the work that went on," educator-astronaut Barbara Morgan, who flew onboard space shuttle Endeavour on its 20th spaceflight, said.
Go for Payload
Phillips and the CSC's team chose Morgan's flight, STS-118, as the model for outfitting Endeavour's payload bay. Over the course of 13 days in August 2007, Morgan and her crewmates helped to further assemble and stock the International Space Station, while also performing science demonstrations that were recorded for use in classrooms back on Earth.
"We think that is appropriate because she is an educator and that is what we do here," Phillips told collectSPACE. "Of course, Endeavour replaced the [fallen] space shuttle Challenger and Barbara was BACKUP for [teacher-in-space] Christa McAuliffe, so we think that is a very nice tie-in."
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The same Spacehab DISPLAYED by the California Science Center is seen inside Endeavour's payload bay during STS-118. (NASA)
The CSC exhibits the Spacehab module that Morgan flew with on Endeavour, but it is remaining on display next to the orbiter so visitors can look inside. The module placed in Endeavour's cargo bay on Thursday also flew in space on eight shuttle missions, although always connected with another Spacehab to form a double module. The CSC has configured the unit with a replica front piece to represent the SINGLE module flown on STS-118.
To complete the payload bay's configuration, the CSC had several replica parts produced to the same specifications as the authentic hardware that flew in space.
"We have had replicated an external airlock, a Canadarm [robotic arm], and also some connecting tunnels go from the orbiter's mid-deck entry down to the flown Spacehab," Phillips described.
Opening the bay doors and installing the payloads took a month of advance planning, and required equipment from both NASA and the Smithsonian.
"In an extremely unusual move, the Smithsonian allowed us to remove several parts from [shuttle] Discovery at the National Air and Space Museum to support our payload installation," Dennis Jenkins, the CSC's project director for Endeavour's future display, said. "We are very grateful to the Smithsonian for allowing us to acquire them and their continuing support."
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Specialists work to install a replica external airlock inside space shuttle Endeavour's payload bay. (CSC/Dennis Jenkins)
Jenkins, who worked for 20 years on the shuttle program, CONSULTED with and recruited several of his former orbiter colleagues to carry out the cargo installation. Even though Endeavour will not go vertical for several more years, the CSC decided to do it now, in part because of Jenkins' and his team's availability.
"We are doing this now because it is a relatively relaxed period of time," Phillips said. "The people who are capable of doing it are around. It is a major operation."
Go for Stack 
Endeavour's payload bay will remain open until about Oct. 25 as the work is completed to configure its newly-added cargo. Throughout the entire process, visitors to the CSC have had continued access to view Endeavour.
"We are trying to keep the orbiter on public display for as long as we can," Phillips said, "because once we [begin mating Endeavour with its boosters and tank], it will be off public display for probably about a year between the time we shut the doors on the existing pavilion and then move it over to the new Samuel Oschin Air and Space Center."
When Endeavour was flying, it was attached to its launch hardware by being hoisted high into the air in the Vehicle Assembly Building at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. For its final mating in late 2017 or 2018, a similar vertical integration is probably not going to be possible.
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This model reveals the planned design for the Samuel Oschin Air and Space Center, Endeavour's vertical exhibit.
"It's unlikely we will try to do a vertical mating because we would have to lift Endeavour probably 300 to 400 feet into the air," Phillips told collectSPACE. "You've got wings on it and even though it was jokingly called the 'flying brick,' any breeze is going to cause roll-axis rotation and we can't have that."
"It was difficult enough for NASA to do it in the Vehicle Assembly Building where they had bridge cranes, precise control and could take their time," he continued. "So we decided, not being NASA, that we would have to keep low center of gravity as much as we could for as long as we can in the process as we go vertical."
The plan, at least as of now, is to move Endeavour to the site of the Samuel Oschin Air and Space Center, which is still to be erected on the east end of the existing science center, and mate the orbiter while its boosters and tank are horizontal on the ground.
After Endeavour is attached to the launch stack, it will be carefully positioned, then raised to vertical inside the new building using special TRANSPORTERS and one of the world's largest crawler cranes.
Go for Launch
When Endeavour reopens to the public in 2018 its exhibit will be unique; no other retired space shuttle is shown as they were positioned on the launch pad. The Smithsonian exhibits Discovery on its wheels; Kennedy Space Center has Atlantis mounted as if it was back flying in orbit; and the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum in New York City shows the prototype shuttle Enterprise as if it was landing.
Further, Endeavour will join Atlantis as the only two space shuttle orbiters with an open payload bay.
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Space shuttle Endeavour's payload bay doors will be closed on or about Oct. 25 to await the next phase of orbiter's DISPLAY. In late 2017, Endeavour will be "Go for Stack." (CSC/Dennis Jenkins)
"This [Spacehab module] installation will provide guests the opportunity to see the inside of the payload bay when it's on display in the launch position in the Samuel Oschin Air and Space Center," Jeffrey Rudolph, president of the California Science Center, said. "Being able to see inside the shuttle is essential for Endeavour's enduring mission of advancing science learning."
That mission, dubbed "Mission 26" by the science center, may spotlight STS-118 as a result of its new payload but it is about much more, Morgan said.
"Endeavour did so many, many, many wonderful missions and lots of great work with lots of great crews, so I don't see it necessarily focusing only on STS-118," Morgan told collectSPACE. "I am thrilled that people will get to learn about STS-118, but really, what I am most thrilled about is that people will get to learn about the many missions that Endeavour flew."
Quelle: SC
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Endeavour STS-118 Mission

Tags: Raumfahrt 

2181 Views

Samstag, 11. Oktober 2014 - 12:03 Uhr

Raumfahrt - China´s Change3-Mond-Rover - Update 5

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China's ailing moon rover weakening: designer
China's ailing moon rover Yutu has entered its 11th dormancy as the lunar night falls, with its functions degrading gracefully, its designer said Friday.
The rover is currently in good condition and works normally, but its CONTROL problem persists, said Yu Dengyun, deputy chief designer of China's lunar probe mission.
"Yutu has gone through freezing lunar nights under abnormal status, and its functions are gradually degrading," Yu told Xinhua at an exclusive interview.
He said that the moon rover and the lander of the Chang'e-3 lunar mission have completed their tasks very well. The rover's designed LIFETIME is just three months, but it has survived for over nine.
Chang'e-3 mission was the second phase of China's lunar exploration program, which includes orbiting, landing and returning to the Earth. The program is scheduled to end around 2020.
The Chang'e-3 probe was launched on Dec. 2 last year and landed on the moon on Dec. 14..
The rover, Yutu, named after the pet rabbit of the lunar goddess Chang'e in Chinese mythology, separated from the lander and touched down on the moon's surface on Dec. 15.
Yutu's radar started working on Dec. 15 when the lander and rover took photos of each other and beamed them back to Earth.
The rover, as its name implies, was intended to roam the lunar surface, surveying the GEOLOGICAL structure and substrate while looking for natural resources, but control problems emerged before the second lunar night fell on Jan. 25.
The lunar program authorities said the problem was probably caused by the "complicated lunar surface," including stones and dust, but this has not been confirmed.
"We hoped the moon rover would go farther, and we really want to find the true reason why it didn't," Yu said, adding that they can only try to deduce the cause via ground-based simulation.
Yu said the Chang'e-4 mission is under further analysis.
As the BACKUP probe of Chang'e-3, Chang'e-4 will verify technology for Chang'e-5. The more sophisticated Chang'e-5/6 missions are aimed for tasks including unmanned sampling and returning to Earth.
China plans to launch an experimental recoverable moon orbiter before the end of this year to TEST technology vital for the success of Chang'e-5.
Quelle: Xinhua

Tags: Raumfahrt 

1974 Views

Samstag, 11. Oktober 2014 - 09:23 Uhr

Raumfahrt - SpaceShipTwo in Antrieb-Testphase

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Final Powered Tests Beckon For SpaceShipTwo

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A late SWITCH to a new rocket fuel earlier this year may have slowed Virgin Galactic’s bid to establish the world’s first suborbital spaceline service, but the operator’s plans have not stalled, nor has it been standing still.
Eager to show progress with engine TESTS and new spaceship construction, Virgin’s efforts partly temper the evident frustration expressed by many who gathered here to mark the 10th anniversary of the X-Prize FLIGHTS of SpaceShipOne in 2004. The FLIGHTS won the $10 million Ansari X-Prize for Mojave Aerospace Ventures, a joint venture of Scaled Composites and Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, and led directly to the establishment of Virgin Galactic and the development of the much larger SpaceShipTwo (SS2). The achievement ushered in the beginnings of what is still hoped to be a new era of affordable private suborbital space travel, but these goals remain unfulfilled a decade later. 
While officials at Virgin Galactic are among the first to admit that the opening up of this new frontier has taken perhaps much longer than anyone expected in 2004, the company insists it is finally on the verge of full-duration powered test flights and the start of commercial suborbital flights in 2015. Providing a rare glimpse of progress on a second spacecraft under assembly at sister organization, The Spaceship Co., Virgin Galactic Vice President of Operations Mike Moses says, “we are ready for space.” A former NASA launch integration manager for the space shuttle, Moses adds that SS2 “has been in modification, getting retrofitted ready to resume powered flights.” He notes that “those are going to start imminently—literally very imminently.”
Commenting on the extensive gap between now and the last rocket flight in January, Moses says, “It might seem a long time since our last powered flight-TESTING and that maybe nothing has been happening, but [ground testing] has been happening.” Tests have largely focused on ground-firings of a HYBRID rocket motor fueled with polyamide-based plastic in place of the hydroxyl-terminated polybutadiene, a form of rubber used for the first SERIES of powered tests. Although this fuel had been used successfully in SpaceShipOne, the vehicle developer Scaled Composites and Virgin Galactic encountered fuel-burn stability and power issues as they tried to scale the Sierra Nevada Corp.-provided hybrid motor up to the size required by the larger SS2.
Virgin announced the switch to the new fuel in May, and CEO George T. Whitesides says tests have been positive, with firings now focused on demonstrating repeatable, predictable ignition and steady fuel burn. Trials have been conducted on two stands here, one of which is a vertical TEST unit with a large oxidizer tank and the other a portable device that replicates the flight tank, hardware and plumbing of the SS2. “We are doing a series of qualification firings versus development firings . . . and we have one more formal qualification in the program for the plastic [fuel],” Whitesides says. If this goes WELLand replicates performance in recent tests, the rocket will be cleared to restart powered flight tests.
In the run-up to the final series of powered tests, Scaled conducted another glide flight of the SS2 on Oct. 7 that included an activation of the tail feathering mechanism. The official transfer of the SS2 from Scaled to Virgin will take place upon completion of key contractual milestones, Whitesides says. Although the main intention remains to demonstrate a fully powered suborbital flight with an apogee beyond the 100-km (62-mi.) “Von Karman” altitude limit that defines the boundary between the atmosphere and space, Virgin will be satisfied with two main criteria: “We’d like at a minimum for [Sealed] to demonstrate supersonic reentry and peak heating, if we can,” Whitesides says.
“What we are trying to do is balance two things,” he adds. “Scaled Composites’ contractual responsibility is to demonstrate the spaceship can achieve the requirements we set out at the beginning of the program. At the same time, we want to get into commercial service as quickly as we can, and the best way to do that is to basically do as much of it as we can as quickly as we can.” The company therefore plans over the next few TEST FLIGHTS to “evaluate a few things,” Whitesides says.
These will include the readiness of Virgin Galactic’s operator’s license from the FAA, the technical progress of the actual TEST flights and the readiness of the spaceline’s own crews. “We think we’re in really good shape in that area now. We did a 4.5-hr. flight of the carrier aircraft this week and had no squawks at all,” he adds, referring to the high standard to which the Virgin Galactic team now operates the formerly Scaled-flown WhiteKnightTwo (WK2) carrier aircraft. “We are less tied up in the number of flights and more [involved] in Scaled demonstrating those technical milestones. Then we will be at a point where [Scaled President] Kevin Mickey and I will discuss when to make that switchover,” Whitesides notes.
Gaining the operator’s license is largely a question of timing, according to Whitesides. “We made our original application in the summer of 2013 and the clock started once we hit the ‘sufficiently complete’ milestone in August 2013,” he says. “That’s the point at which the FAA’s 180-day [review period] started.” As it became clear that more test and development work was required, Virgin requested a voluntary toll “a short number of days before the 180 days expired,” he adds. 
TESTING meanwhile continues under Scaled’s experimental permit until Scaled and Virgin are ready to transition operations. “So what will happen is when Scaled and we, and frankly the FAA, feel like we are ready for this big transfer, we will request the toll be removed. Then the FAA will make a determination within the timeline, which is now less than a month.”
Following the latest glide flights, SS2 is expected to be fitted with the modified rocket MOTOR and flown for a series of final test flights to complete the development effort. “We are close to taking the spaceship from Scaled, which will mark the close of the development program. Then we will be off to the races,” Whitesides says. Virgin Galactic may conduct “one or two more test flights here [at Mojave] and then one or two in New Mexico [at Spaceport America, near Las Cruces], or maybe more,” he adds. “We will see what is required and then go into commercial service.” While the company declines to forecast when this may be, Virgin founder Richard Branson said in a recent televised interview that commercial flights could start next February or March.
Production of the second SS2 is well advanced inside the Mohave assembly facility operated by wholly owned Virgin subsidiary The Spaceship Company (TSC). The MANUFACTURING arm is a sister company to the Virgin Galactic operations group and was set up to make production versions of the SS2 and WK2 vehicles. “Today VIRTUALLY the whole outside shape of the vehicle and most of the internal structure is done. We have landing gear hanging underneath it,” says TSC President Doug Shane. The 68,000-sq-ft. final assembly integration and test hangar (Faith) building houses lay-up production jigs for the one-piece composite spars and wing skins for WK2 and SS2, as well as tools for producing fuselages.
“The plan is to have the second SS2 on its wheels by end of the year,” says TSC Operations Vice President Enrico Palermo. “It is an aggressive goal, but we are pushing the team toward that. We are taking it to FLIGHT tests next year and will then deliver it to Virgin Galactic in 2016. To have a spaceline, you need a fleet of spaceships, and that’s where TSC comes in.”
Compared to the first spacecraft, Serial No. 2 will have “the same outer mold line but incremental improvements,” Palermo adds. “We have taken lessons learned from when Scaled built the first vehicle and used those to optimize the structure and systems.” Shane notes that TSC is “doing a better job of controlling all the things you can control in a manufacturing operation to tighten tolerances and keep the weight down—we are taking advantage of the smart stuff.”
TSC will resume assembly of the second WK2 in 2015 once the second SS2 starts FLIGHT tests. As with the spaceship, the carrier aircraft will benefit from the experience gained during development of the initial WK2. The second aircraft will, however, be capable of greater payloads to handle the Launcher One air-launched orbital liquid-fueled rocket Virgin is developing. “Satellite launch is a very important part of the program and the second WhiteKnight will be able to lift a bit more weight,” says Branson. The current WK2 has a maximum take-off weight of 65,000 lb. and design payload is around 35,000 lb. The first wing skins and ribs for the 141-ft. span aircraft have been built and “we are starting to work on the spars,” adds Palermo.
Quelle: Aviation Week

Tags: Raumfahrt 

2135 Views

Freitag, 10. Oktober 2014 - 09:20 Uhr

Astronomie - NASA Hubble Aufzeichnung der Temperatur und Wasserdampf von Extreme Exoplanet WASP 43b

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This is a temperature map of the "hot Jupiter" class exoplanet WASP 43b. The white-colored region on the daytime side is 2,800 degrees Fahrenheit. The nighttime side temperatures drop to under 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit.

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A team of scientists using NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope has made the most detailed global map yet of the glow from a turbulent planet outside our solar system, revealing its secrets of air temperatures and water vapor.
Hubble observations show the exoplanet, called WASP-43b, is no place to call home. It is a world of extremes, where seething winds howl at the speed of sound from a 3,000-degree-Fahrenheit “day” side, hot enough to melt steel, to a pitch-black “night” side with plunging temperatures below 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit.
Astronomers have mapped the temperatures at different layers of the planet's atmosphere and traced the amount and distribution of water vapor. The findings have ramifications for the understanding of atmospheric dynamics and how giant planets like Jupiter are formed.
“These measurements have opened the door for a new kinds of ways to compare the properties of different types of planets,” said team leader Jacob Bean of the University of Chicago.
First discovered in 2011, WASP-43b is located 260 light-years away. The planet is too distant to be photographed, but because its orbit is observed edge-on to Earth, astronomers detected it by observing regular dips in the light of its parent star as the planet passes in front of it.
“Our observations are the first of their kind in terms of providing a two-dimensional map on the longitude and altitude of the planet’s thermal structure that can be used to constrain atmospheric circulation and dynamical models for hot exoplanets,” said team member Kevin Stevenson of the University of Chicago.
As a hot ball of predominantly hydrogen gas, there are no surface features on the planet, such as oceans or continents that can be used to track its rotation. Only the severe temperature difference between the day and night sides can be used by a remote observer to mark the passage of a day on this world.
The planet is about the same size as Jupiter, but is nearly twice as dense. The planet is so close to its orange dwarf host star that it completes an orbit in just 19 hours. The planet also is gravitationally locked so that it keeps one hemisphere facing the star, just as our moon keeps one face toward Earth.
This was the first time astronomers were able to observe three complete rotations of any planet, which occurred during a span of four days. Scientists combined two previous methods of analyzing exoplanets in an unprecedented technique to study the atmosphere of WASP-43b. They used spectroscopy, dividing the planet’s light into its component colors, to determine the amount of water and the temperatures of the atmosphere. By observing the planet’s rotation, the astronomers also were able to precisely measure how the water is distributed at different longitudes.
Because there is no planet with these tortured conditions in our solar system, characterizing the atmosphere of such a bizarre world provides a unique laboratory for better understanding planet formation and planetary physics.
“The planet is so hot that all the water in its atmosphere is vaporized, rather than condensed into icy clouds like on Jupiter,” said team member Laura Kreidberg of the University of Chicago.
The amount of water in the giant planets of our solar system is poorly known because water that has precipitated out of the upper atmospheres of cool gas giant planets like Jupiter is locked away as ice. But so-called “hot Jupiters,” gas giants that have high surface temperatures because they orbit very close to their stars, water is in a vapor that can be readily traced.
“Water is thought to play an important role in the formation of giant planets, since comet-like bodies bombard young planets, delivering most of the water and other molecules that we can observe,” said Jonathan Fortney, a member of the team from the University of California, Santa Cruz.
In order to understand how giant planets form astronomers want to know how enriched they are in different elements. The team found that WASP-43b has about the same amount of water as we would expect for an object with the same chemical composition as our sun, shedding light on the fundamentals about how the planet formed. The team next aims to make water-abundance measurements for different planets.
The results are presented in two new papers, one published online in Science Express Thursday and the other published in The Astrophysical Journal Letters on Sept. 12.
Quelle: NASA

Tags: Astronomie 

2077 Views

Donnerstag, 9. Oktober 2014 - 23:00 Uhr

UFO-Forschung - IFO-Universität: Drohnen-Rennen im Wald von Airgonay, Frankreich

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Drone Racing Through French Woods
A group of French multi-copter racing fans took to the woods in Airgonay, France for a trial run of ‘Drone Racing’. The goal is to organize a larger drone racing event in the future.The video is in French, so you’ll have to eenable the”subtitles” button to get an idea of what they’re saying, but once you do, you’ll hear the drone enthusiasts discuss what they call a “new discipline,” which involves FPV (first person view) remote-controlled quadcopter racing through a mile-long forest circuit. The pilots compete in groups of four and can only see the course through video glasses. The camera-mounted drones, which are custom-built to smaller sizes to maximize effectiveness, relay the live racing footage back to the user.
“Shaped for the race, these racing drones offer the best trade-off between speed and maneuverability,” the video states. “And the main difference is in the pilot’s vision which, unlike in the traditional use where they never lose sight of the drone, the pilot doesn’t see his drone, but only what the camera of his drone is revealing.”
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Video davon gibt es hier: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZwL0t5kPf6E
Quelle: UAS Vision

Tags: UFO-Forschung Frankreich 

2568 Views

Donnerstag, 9. Oktober 2014 - 17:45 Uhr

Astronomie - NASA-Teleskop NuSTAR entdeckt schockierend leuchtend toten Stern

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A rare and mighty pulsar (pink) can be seen at the center of the galaxy Messier 82 in this new multi-wavelength portrait. NASA's NuSTAR mission discovered the "pulse" of the pulsar — a type of dead star — using is high-energy X-ray vision.
Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
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Astronomers have found a pulsating, dead star beaming with the energy of about 10 million suns. This is the brightest pulsar – a dense stellar remnant left over from a supernova explosion – ever recorded. The discovery was made with NASA's Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array, or NuSTAR.
"You might think of this pulsar as the 'Mighty Mouse' of stellar remnants," said Fiona Harrison, the NuSTAR principal investigator at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, California. "It has all the power of a black hole, but with much less mass."
The discovery appears in a new report in the Thursday Oct. 9 issue of the journal Nature.
The surprising find is helping astronomers better understand mysterious sources of blinding X-rays, called ultraluminous X-ray sources (ULXs). Until now, all ULXs were thought to be black holes. The new data from NuSTAR show at least one ULX, about 12 million light-years away in the galaxy Messier 82 (M82), is actually a pulsar.
"The pulsar appears to be eating the equivalent of a black hole diet," said Harrison. "This result will help us understand how black holes gorge and grow so quickly, which is an important event in the formation of galaxies and structures in the universe."
ULXs are generally thought to be black holes feeding off companion stars -- a process called accretion. They also are suspected to be the long-sought after "medium-size" black holes – missing links between smaller, stellar-size black holes and the gargantuan ones that dominate the hearts of most galaxies. But research into the true nature of ULXs continues toward more definitive answers.
NuSTAR did not initially set out to study the two ULXs in M82. Astronomers had been observing a recent supernova in the galaxy when they serendipitously noticed pulses of bright X-rays coming from the ULX known as M82 X-2. Black holes do not pulse, but pulsars do.
Pulsars belong to a class of stars called neutron stars. Like black holes, neutron stars are the burnt-out cores of exploded stars, but puny in mass by comparison. Pulsars send out beams of radiation ranging from radio waves to ultra-high-energy gamma rays. As the star spins, these beams intercept Earth like lighthouse beacons, producing a pulsed signal.
"We took it for granted that the powerful ULXs must be massive black holes," said lead study author Matteo Bachetti, of the University of Toulouse in France. "When we first saw the pulsations in the data, we thought they must be from another source."
NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory and Swift satellite also have monitored M82 to study the same supernova, and confirmed the intense X-rays of M82 X-2 were coming from a pulsar.
"Having a diverse array of telescopes in space means that they can help each other out," said Paul Hertz, director of NASA's astrophysics division in Washington. "When one telescope makes a discovery, others with complementary capabilities can be called in to investigate it at different wavelengths."
The key to NuSTAR's discovery was its sensitivity to high-energy X-rays, as well as its ability to precisely measure the timing of the signals, which allowed astronomers to measure a pulse rate of 1.37 seconds. They also measured its energy output at the equivalent of 10 million suns, or 10 times more than that observed from other X-ray pulsars. This is a big punch for something about the mass of our sun and the size of Pasadena.
How is this puny, dead star radiating so fiercely? Astronomers are not sure, but they say it is likely due to a lavish feast of the cosmic kind. As is the case with black holes, the gravity of a neutron star can pull matter off companion stars. As the matter is dragged onto the neutron star, it heats up and glows with X-rays. If the pulsar is indeed feeding off surrounding matter, it is doing so at such an extreme rate to have theorists scratching their heads.
Astronomers are planning follow-up observations with NASA's NuSTAR, Swift and Chandra spacecraft to find an explanation for the pulsar’s bizarre behavior. The NuSTAR team also will look at more ULXs, meaning they could turn up more pulsars. At this point, it is not clear whether M82 X-2 is an oddball or if more ULXs beat with the pulse of dead stars. NuSTAR, a relatively small telescope, has thrown a big loop into the mystery of black holes.
“In the news recently, we have seen that another source of unusually bright X-rays in the M82 galaxy seems to be a medium-sized black hole," said astronomer Jeanette Gladstone of the University of Alberta, Canada, who is not affiliated with the study. "Now, we find that the second source of bright X-rays in M82 isn’t a black hole at all. This is going to challenge theorists and pave the way for a new understanding of the diversity of these fascinating objects."
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The brightest pulsar detected to date is shown in this animation that flips back and forth between images captured by NASA's Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array, or NuSTAR.
Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
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This image shows the core of galaxy Messier 82 (M82), where two ultraluminous X-ray sources, or ULXs, reside (X-1 and X-2). ULXs are regions that shine intensely with X-rays.
Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SAO
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This image shows the core of galaxy Messier 82 (M82), where two ultraluminous X-ray sources, or ULXs, reside (X-1 and X-2). ULXs are regions that shine intensely with X-rays.
Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SAO
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The galaxy Messier 82 (M82) is seen here in two different lights. A visible-light view from NASA's Hubble Space Telescope is at left, and an X-ray view from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory is at right.
Image Credit: NASA/STScI/SAO
Quelle: NASA

Tags: Astronomie 

2153 Views

Donnerstag, 9. Oktober 2014 - 17:35 Uhr

Raumfahrt - USAF-Mini-Shuttle X-37B nutzt NASA´s Shuttle Hangars

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NASA today confirmed long-known plans for a secretive military space plane program to take over the use of two former shuttle hangars at Kennedy Space Center.
The Air Force's X-37B program will occupy Orbiter Processing Facilities 1 and 2, which are connected to each other, near the Vehicle Assembly Building.
The partnership "ensures the facilities will again be used for their originally-intended purpose — processing spacecraft," NASA said in a press release. Terms of the agreement were not disclosed.
An Air Force spokesman was unavailable for comment this afternoon.
The Boeing Co., which operates two reusable, unmanned X-37B space planes, in January announced plans for the program to use OPF-1.
The Air Force did not comment then but had previously confirmed it was studying potential savings from consolidating X-37B operations, housed at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, near their Cape Canaveral launch site. The program's budget is classified.
KSC unofficially acknowledged that OPF-2 was also part of the deal.
NASA on Wednesday said renovations of the two hangars are expected to be completed by the end of the year.
Painted blue doors on OPF-1 already tout it as "Home of the X-37B," marketing visible to passing tour buses.
NASA said the program had also completed testing to confirm the space planes one-fourth the size of a shuttle orbiter — measuring 29 feet long with with wingspans of nearly 15 feet, with small payload bays — could land on KSC's former shuttle runway.
Two different X-37B Orbital Test Vehicles have launched and landed since 2010. The first vehicle launched on its second mission nearly two years ago and remains in orbit.
The X-37B's mission is unknown. Speculation has envisioned it serving as everything from a sensor platform to a satellite deployer or repair vehicle to a system for attacking satellites or ground targets.
The Air Force describes it simply as a demonstration program for testing resuable space vehicle technologies.
The state is renovating KSC's third shuttle hangar, OPF-3, before its planned lease to Boeing as an assembly facility for the company's CST-100 commercial crew capsule.
Quelle: Florida Today

Tags: Raumfahrt 

2072 Views

Mittwoch, 8. Oktober 2014 - 22:01 Uhr

UFO-Forschung - IFO-Universität: Helikopter + Flugzeuge Teil-2

Aus dem CENAP-Archiv:

Quelle: CNEGU


Tags: UFO-Forschung 

2143 Views


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