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Sonntag, 26. Oktober 2014 - 19:58 Uhr

Astronomie - PSR B1509-58 im Focus von Chandra

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X-ray & Infrared Images of B1509
Pareidolia is the psychological phenomenon where people see recognizable shapes in CLOUDS, rock formations, or otherwise unrelated objects or data. When Chandra's image of PSR B1509-58, a spinning neutron star surrounded by a CLOUD of energetic particles, was released in 2009, it quickly gained attention because many saw a hand-like structure in the X-ray emission. In this new image of the system, X-rays from Chandra in gold are seen along with infrared data from NASA's Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) telescope in red, green, and blue. Pareidolia may strike again in this image as some people report seeing a shape of a face in WISE's infrared data. 
(CREDIT: X-ray: NASA/CXC/SAO; Infared: NASA/JPL-Caltech)
Quelle: NASA

Tags: Astronomie 

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Sonntag, 26. Oktober 2014 - 19:30 Uhr

Raumfahrt - Countdown auf Spaceport America/New Mexico

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17.10.2014

The Up Aerospace SpaceLoft 8 rocket launches at the vertical launch site of Spaceport America on a suborbital mission on November 12, 2013.

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LAS CRUCES — UP Aerospace is set for its next suborbital launch on Monday out of Spaceport America in southern New Mexico.
It will be UP’s first flight since last year, when it launched two rockets in summer and fall with more than a dozen payloads paid for by NASA under the agency’s Flight Opportunities Program. That initiative, launched in 2011, pays commercial aerospace companies for suborbital flights to test new technologies in space.
Monday’s flight will include four payloads that UP is now packaging and loading onto its rocket, company President and CEO Jerry Larson said Thursday.
“This is our third mission for NASA,” Larson said. “All the payloads are here. We’ve been putting the vehicle together at the spaceport this week in final preparation for Monday’s flight.”
This is UP’s 13th launch from the spaceport since 2006, and the 21st time a rocket has flown from the facility since it began hosting vertical launch activities eight years ago, said Spaceport America Executive Director Christine Anderson.
“UP is a key player in NASA’s Flight Opportunities Program,” Anderson told the Journal during the International Symposium for Personal and Commercial Spaceflight, an annual, two-day event that the New Mexico Space Grant Consortium is hosting in Las Cruces this week. “We’re thrilled to have them flying here.”
UP is one of seven companies chosen in 2011 by NASA to fly payloads for the agency, and it’s one of only four companies the agency selected to continue managing flights in a new round of selections NASA announced in September.
That reflects the success of UP flights and their contributions to NASA’s space research and development efforts, said Paul De Leon, NASA’s Flight Opportunities manager for suborbital launches.
In fact, at least one of the payloads that UP flew last year — and that will fly a second time on Monday — will soon be headed to the International Space Station. It’s a device built by the engineering firm Control Dynamics Inc. that can isolate experiments from vibrations and other interference on rocket flights. That can help further lower microgravity levels for some experiments in space.
“Even though the Space Station is in orbit, some vibrations still happen that can impact experiments there,” De Leon said. “This device will reduce that.”
In general, NASA says the Flight Opportunities Program, which it launched as part of a shift to using private companies to continue space exploration after the space shuttle stopped flying, has successfully provided the agency with low-cost launch alternatives that allow it to mature new technologies.
Apart from the vibration-isolation device, for example, a 3D printer will also soon be placed on the Space Station after it is tested in a high-altitude balloon by Near Space Corp. of Oregon.
“The program is an effective means to an end for us to develop technologies for further missions in space,” Laguduva Kubendran, NASA Flight Opportunities Program executive, said Thursday in a presentation at the symposium. “We have some 140 payloads now in the pipeline to fly on commercial launches. We want to get to where we’re flying payloads through commercial companies at least every quarter, and eventually get to monthly and even weekly flights.”
UP was chosen to continue in the program given the company’s reliability, De Leon said.
“The relation with UP is very good,” he said. “They’re very detail-oriented, very reliable and all their flights have been a success.”
The contract extension announced in September could mean a lot more launches by UP out of Spaceport America. Under the initial NASA contract from 2011, UP was eligible to fly up to eight rockets with NASA payloads. The new contract extends that for another five years, with potentially more than a dozen launches.
“Under the new contract, we could earn up to $10 million,” Larson said. “This award is a lot more open-ended than the last one. We could fly as many as 15 missions.”
After Monday’s launch, two more UP flights are scheduled for next year, including one in summer and another in fall.
“We plan to stay at Spaceport America for all our launches,” Larson said. “Our operations here are working well. We want to continue flying from here for many years to come.”
Quelle: Albuquerque Journal
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Update: 23.10.2014
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Delayed launch from Spaceport America set for Thursday

Technology: UP Aerospace preps for 13th launch from Spaceport America

Jerry Larson, UP Aerospace launch conductor, stands next to a SpaceLoft XL rocket that will be launched today at Spaceport America. The rocket's payload will consist of experiments from a private company, Montana State University, Barcelona Technical University and NASA.
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SPACEPORT AMERICA >> Despite a setback earlier this week because of weather, a 20-foot-long UP Aerospace rocket is prepped and ready for an early morning launch Thursday from Spaceport America.
The launch, carrying cremated human remains and some scientific experiments, will be the Denver-based company's 13th from the state-owned spaceport.
Storms on Sunday evening prompted the flight to be rescheduled from a Monday liftoff plan. But weather forecasts Wednesday left company officials optimistic it would happen Thursday instead. Wind conditions still could affect the schedule.
Typically, weather is good for launches from Spaceport America, officials said.
"This is the first time we've ever had to reset the launch day because of weather," said Jerry Larson, president of UP Aerospace and launch conductor for the mission.
The window of opportunity for the launch is between 7 a.m. and 8:15 a.m., company officials said.
The launch, UP Aerospace's third as part of a contract through NASA's Flight Opportunities Program, will carry four experiments to an altitude of about 75 miles, reaching suborbital space. Also, cremains of about 30 people will be carried on board as part of a memorial arranged by the company Celestis Inc.
Yet another payload is a batch of yeast being carried for Ninkasi Brewing Co. of Portland, Oregon.
After the rocket returns to earth, the brewery will use it to make "space beer," Larson said.
The flight is expected to last 15 minutes. The rocket, after experiencing about three or four minutes of microgravity, will float back to earth with a parachute. It will land on White Sands Missile Range, to the east of the spaceport, and will be ferried back to the launch site via helicopter, where payloads will be opened and flight data examined.
The experiments on board are meant to test developing technologies that could be used in other spaceflights activities, said Paul De León, aerospace systems engineer with NASA. The projects need to be exposed to microgravity conditions, he said.
"It's technology that needs to mature in order to be ready for missions like orbital missions or missions into deep space," said De León, who will attend the launch.
Wednesday, UP Aerospace prepped the 800-pound rocket, called a SpaceLoft XL, for the launch and ran through mission procedures. A handful of people from the company, NASA and Spaceport America will oversee the flight from the launch control center, a small trailer about a mile away from the launch pad.
The NASA program funding the flight is part of a shift by the agency toward relying on private companies to host launches, Larson said. The program also opens up access for universities to have access to spaceflights, something that hasn't been economically feasible for most institutions until now, he said.
"There are a lot of new ideas and clever ideas that come out of young minds at universities," Larson said. "That is really exciting."
The four experiments were designed by Montana State University, Barcelona Tech in Spain, NASA and a private company, according to UP Aerospace. New Mexico State University has had payloads on previous launches.
One of today's experiments will look at how bubbles move in space, De León said, which has implications for fluid systems operating in space.
UP Aerospace launched its first SpaceLoft mission at Spaceport America in 2006.
It will be the sixth UP Aerospace launch carrying cremains for Celestis, according to a news release from that company. Some family members of the people whose remains will be flown are going to watch the flight from the spaceport site or via a webcast.
"The experience of viewing a launch from Spaceport America is an unforgettable memory for the friends and family of all memorial spaceflight participants," said Celestis CEO Charles Chafer in the release.
Larson said his company was recently awarded another five-year contract from NASA to continue its work. More launches are planned from the spaceport in 2015, he said. Factors such as the facility's remoteness, nearby restricted airspace because of WSMR, reasonable launch fees and an "appropriate amount of red tape" all help to make the spaceport attractive as a location, he said.
De León said Spaceport America is the "right environment for these types of flights."
"We had a delay, but everything is looking really good for (Thursday)," he said. "We are pretty confident we'll have a great launch."
Spaceport America is a roughly $219 million taxpayer-built facility located just north of Doña Ana County.
Jim Hoffman, UP Aerospace launch pad supervisor, takes measurements Wednesday at Spaceport America. The SpaceLoft XL rocket, measuring 20 feet tall weighing about 800 pounds, will travel about 75 miles high.
Quelle: The Las Cruces Sun-News
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Update: 26.10.2014
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In One Place (Buzzwok)Scientists recently flight tested a new rocket design that includes a high-energy fuel and a motor design that also delivers a high degree of safety.
Rocket flight test at the Energetic Materials Research and Testing Center launch sitE near Socorro, NM.
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New rocket propellant and motor design offers high performance and safety
LOS ALAMOS, N.M., Oct. 23, 2014—Los Alamos National Laboratory scientists recently flight tested a new rocket design that includes a high-energy fuel and a motor design that also delivers a high degree of safety.
"What we're trying to do is break the performance versus sensitivity curve, and make a rocket that's both very high-energy, as well as very safe," said Bryce Tappan, an energetic materials chemist at the Laboratory. "Typically, when you look at a propellant that's high-performance, it's not as safe a material."
See the flight tests and hear how Tappan and his research partners at New Mexico Tech and Penn State accomplished a fully successful flight in a new video on the Laboratory's YouTube Channel.
 Los Alamos novel rocket design flight tested
2:52
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Conventional solid-fuel rocket motors work by combining a fuel and an oxidizer, a material usually rich in oxygen, to enhance the burning of the fuel. In higher-energy fuels this mixture can be somewhat unstable, and can contain sensitive high explosives that can detonate under high shock loads, high temperatures, or other conditions.
The new rocket fuel and motor design adds a higher degree of safety by separating the fuel from the oxidizer, both novel formulations that are, by themselves, not able to detonate.
"Because the fuel is physically separated from the oxidizer," said Tappan, "you can utilize higher-energy propellants."
After years of development and bench-top static tests, the new rocket design was recently flight tested at the Energetic Materials Research and Testing Center's Socorro launch site, part of New Mexico Tech.   The new rocket design was tested against conventional, high-energy commercial rockets to enable a comparison of data gathered on velocity, altitude, burn rate, and other parameters.
"You don't have to do much more than a few seconds of YouTube searching to find numerous failed rocket tests," said Tappan.  "So, I had that worry in the back of my mind.  But once we saw that successful launch go off, it was the culmination of a lot of years of research, it was very satisfying to see it fly."
Researchers will now work to scale-up the design, as well as explore miniaturization of the system, in order to exploit all potential applications that would require high-energy, high-velocity, and correspondingly high safety margins.
Quelle:Los Alamos National Laboratory

Tags: Raumfahrt 

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Sonntag, 26. Oktober 2014 - 19:15 Uhr

Raumfahrt-History - Gemini-6+7:Das erste Rendezvous im All -Fortsetzung

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Gemini VI crewmen Tom Stafford (left) and Wally Schirra are pictured during an emergency water egress exercise. Photo CREDIT: NASA
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Almost 50 years ago, the United States almost staged its first rendezvous mission between unpiloted and piloted vehicles in low-Earth ORBIT. An Atlas-Agena target craft was almost successfully launched, yet failed to achieve orbit, and two astronauts—Gemini VI crewmen Wally Schirra and Tom Stafford—almost followed it on a voyage which might have pushed America far ahead of the Soviet Union in the race to plant human bootprints on the Moon before the end of the decade.
Almost.
The loss of the Atlas-Agena, as described in yesterday’s AmericaSpace history article, was a potential show-stopper for Project Gemini, for the target vehicle would play a critical role in its ability to perform rendezvous, docking, station-keeping, and orbit-raising exercises. All of these objectives, as well as spacewalking and long-duration FLIGHT, needed to be perfected if the late President John F. Kennedy’s goal of reaching the Moon by the end of the decade was to be achieved.
A new Agena would not be ready until early 1966, but a perfect alternative lay on the horizon. Immediately after the Agena’s loss, Gemini VII crewman Frank Borman overheard a conversation between McDonnell officials Walter Burke and John Yardley: the former suggested launching Gemini VII as Schirra and Stafford’s “new” docking target. A study of sending Geminis up in quick succession had been done months earlier and seemed ideal, but for one thing. Burke sketched his idea onto the back of an ENVELOPE, but Borman doubted the practicality of installing an inflatable cone onto the end of Gemini VII to permit a physical docking. Several senior NASA managers, including George Mueller and Charles Mathews, dismissed the entire idea, since it would require the launch of both Geminis within an unacceptably tight two-week period.
Others thought it could be done. Joseph Verlander and Jack Albert proposed stacking a Titan II and placing it into storage until another had been assembled. The Titan’s engine CONTRACTOR, Aerojet-GENERAL, had stipulated that the vehicle must remain upright, but this could be achieved and the rocket kept on the Cape’s disused Pad 20. Immediately after the first Gemini’s launch from Pad 19, the second Titan could be moved into position and sent aloft within a week. The plan, however, held little appeal and received little enthusiasm, with most attention focused on swapping the lighter Gemini VI for the heavier Gemini VII, thereby making good of a bad situation by using the Titan II already on the pad to fly Borman and Jim Lovell’s 14-day mission.
Over the following days, as this was discussed in the higher echelons of NASA management, it became evident that if the two spacecraft were swapped, the earliest that Borman and Lovell could be launched would be 3 December 1965. However, if the Gemini VII spacecraft was too heavy for Gemini VI’s Titan, a delay until around 8 December would become necessary to erect the more powerful Gemini VII Titan. It was then envisaged to launch Schirra and Stafford on their rendezvous mission with another Agena sometime in February or early March 1966.
As these plans crystallized, Burke and Yardley formally suggested their joint-FLIGHT idea to senior NASA officials, who found few technical obstacles, with the exception that the Gemini tracking network might struggle to handle two missions simultaneously. At first, Flight Director Chris Kraft thought they were out of their minds, but after consulting his control team and Deke Slayton, head of Flight Crew Operations, relented. The prospects for Burke and Yardley’s plan steadily brightened when it became clear that the heavy Gemini VII—which, after all, was intended to support a mission seven times longer than Gemini VI—could not be lofted into orbit by Schirra and Stafford’s Titan: the booster lacked the necessary impulse. Yet the question of tracking two vehicles at the same time remained.
Then, another possibility was aired. Could the tracking network handle the joint mission if Gemini VII were regarded as a “passive” target for Gemini VI? Borman and Lovell would launch first and control of their flight would proceed normally as Gemini VI was prepared to fly. Then, as soon as controllers were sure that Gemini VII was operating satisfactorily, they would turn their attention to launching Gemini VI; in the meantime, Borman and Lovell’s flight would be treated like a Mercury mission, wrote Deke Slayton, “where the telemetry came to Mission Control by teletype, letting the active rendezvous craft have the real-time channels that were available.” This mode would continue until “Gemini VI-A”—renamed to distinguish it from the original Agena-based mission—had completed its tasks and returned to Earth. After Schirra and Stafford’s splashdown, Borman and Lovell would again become the focus of the tracking network.
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Gemini VI astronauts Tom Stafford and Wally Schirra head to Pad 19 before their ill-fated attempt to launch on 25 October 1965. Seven weeks later, they would succumb to a harrowing pad abort, before finally launching on 15 December. Photo CREDIT: NASA
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Before NASA Headquarters in Washington, D.C., had even come to a decision, the rumor mill had already informed the press, some of whom reported the possibility of a dual-Gemini spectacular. On 27 October, NASA Administrator Jim Webb and his senior staff discussed the idea and issued a proposal for the joint FLIGHT to the White House. He informed President Lyndon B. Johnson that, barring serious damage to Pad 19 after the Gemini VII launch, Schirra and Stafford’s Titan could be flown within days to rendezvous with Borman and Lovell. Johnson, residing at his ranch in Austin, Texas, approved the plan on 28 October, and his press secretary announced it would fly in January 1966. At NASA, however, December 1965 was considered more desirable.
As October turned to November, preparations gathered pace. Gemini VI-A’s Titan was destacked and placed in bonded storage under plastic covers, and the heavy-lift Titan for Gemini VII was erected in its place. Pad Leader Guenter Wendt’s first reaction when he saw the short, nine-day Gemini VI-A pad schedule was “Oh, man, you are crazy!” Although Schirra and Stafford’s mission would essentially not change, that of Borman and Lovell was slightly adjusted to circularize its ORBITand mimic the Agena’s flight path as closely as possible. Yet their own mission was fraught with great risk.
Since their assignment to Gemini VII, Borman and Lovell had been intensely focused on their primary objective: to spend 14 days (330 hours) in space, thereby demonstrating that astronauts could physically and psychologically withstand a maximum-length trip to the Moon and back. The results from the two previous long-duration flights, Gemini IV and Gemini V, had been mixed. Jim McDivitt and Ed White had returned fatigued after four days, while Gordo Cooper and Charles “Pete” Conrad had hardly enjoyed their eight days sitting in an area the size of the front seat of a VOLKSWAGEN BEETLE. Sleeping in shifts of four or five hours apiece had proven impractical, Borman and Lovell learned, so they resolved to sleep and work together. Moreover, they felt that their “work” time would not benefit from a rigid plan, opting instead for a broader outline which they could adapt in ORBIT.
At 2:30 p.m. EST on 4 December 1965, Gemini VII roared into orbit. “We’re on our way, Frank!” yelled Lovell as the Titan rolled and pitched in its ascent trajectory, achieving orbit five and a half minutes later. After a station-keeping exercise with the Titan, they settled down to eight days of experiments, ahead of the launch of Gemini VI-A and the rendezvous.
As the flight wore on, conditions became increasingly less comfortable, with both men complaining of stuffy noses and burning eyes. The cabin, Borman reported, was too warm. Removing their suits helped, yet even that had been a matter of some debate on the ground. Days earlier, on 29 November, Bob Gilruth had requested approval from NASA Headquarters for the astronauts to remove their suits after the second sleep period and only don them at critical junctures, such as rendezvous and re-entry. By the time Gemini VII launched, the plan had been amended slightly: one of them had to be suited at all times, but the other could remove his garment for up to 24 hours. Both men, however, had to be fully-suited for rendezvous and re-entry. Still, the intense discomfort was there and, as the mission wore on with no major issues, the rationale behind the one-suit-on/one-suit-off decision became unsupportable.
This fish-eye view of the interior of Gemini VII reveals the limited space available to Frank Borman and Jim Lovell during their 14-day mission. Within this cramped volume were not only the men themselves, but their food, experiments, cameras … and bags for their bodily wastes. Both astronauts likened it to living for two weeks in a men’s room. Photo CREDIT: NASA
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Even with his suit unzipped and gloves off Borman sweated heavily, while the unsuited Lovell remained dry. After 24 hours, Lovell asked to sleep unsuited, to which Borman agreed, despite his own discomfort. Lovell, the larger of the two, had more difficulty getting out of his suit in the confined cabin and, although he donned some lightweight FLIGHTcoveralls for a few minutes, he removed them just as quickly, due to the intense warmth.
After four days of this torment, Borman asked the flight controller on the Coastal Sentry Quebec tracking ship to ask Chris Kraft about the chances of both men taking off their suits. Capcom Gene Cernan discussed the request, firstly, with Deke Slayton, before approaching Kraft, but there was little option but to ask Lovell to put his suit back on so that Borman could remove his suit. Concern was mounting, however, about how alert the astronauts would be for the Gemini VI-A rendezvous if they were so hot and uncomfortable. Bob Gilruth, head of the Manned Spacecraft Center (MSC) in Houston, Texas, certainly favored both men having their suits off at the same time. Also, NASA flight surgeon Chuck Berry, looking at the BIOMEDICAL data, saw clear signs that blood pressures and pulse rates were closer to normal when Borman and Lovell were unsuited. Eventually, on 12 December—the very day that Schirra and Stafford were due to fly—NASA Headquarters finally agreed to allow the Gemini VII crew to remove their uncomfortable suits.
The astronauts’ patience was, however, tried on a number of occasions, most notably when a urine bag broke in Borman’s hands. “Before or after?” asked Chuck Berry. When Borman affirmed it was after, Berry replied “Sorry about that, chief.” After the flight, Lovell would describe their living and working conditions in a similar manner to Cooper and Conrad: like sitting in a men’s toilet for a fortnight without access to a shower. This did not bode well for the physicians. After splashdown, one of their tasks was to examine calcium loss in space, and they would be obliged to not only sift through Borman and Lovell’s liquid and solid waste, but also microscopically analyse the contents of their underwear. …
In the meantime, Wally Schirra and Tom Stafford’s Gemini VI-A Titan had been raised on Pad 19 on 5 December. A computer problem quashed hopes to launch on the 11th, but the PROSPECTS were bright for a second attempt the next day. Launch was scheduled for six seconds past 9:54 a.m., and the countdown clock ticked perfectly toward an on-time liftoff. Precisely on cue, the Titan’s first-stage engines ignited with a high-pitched whine.
Then, after less than 1.2 seconds, they shut down.
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Just 1.2 seconds after engine ignition on 12 December 1965, the Titan II suffered a premature shutdown. Instantly, Wally Schirra faced a life-or-death gamble: to hold his nerve or pull the ejection handle. He held his nerve and Gemini VI-A survived to fly another day. Photo CREDIT: NASA
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nstantly, Schirra, his hand clasping the D-handle to fire their ejection seats, faced a life-or-death decision. The mission clock on the instrument panel had started running—as it would in response to the vehicle LIFTING off—but he could feel no movement. If the Titan had climbed even a few inches, there was a very real risk that its full load of volatile propellants could explode in a holocaust. In his autobiography, We Have Capture, Stafford remembered vividly the moment that the behemoth came alive and, just as vividly, the instant at which its roar ceased. “The sound of the engines died even though the clock started and the computer light came on, both indications that we had lifted off,” he wrote. “But I could feel that we hadn’t moved. More important, there was no word from [Capcom] Al Bean confirming liftoff, which was critical.” In fact, it was the feeling of stillness that convinced Schirra not to risk ejecting.
Kenneth Hecht, head of the Gemini escape and RECOVERY office, was surprised that he did not eject, but in reality, neither Schirra nor Stafford had much confidence in the seats and instinctively desired to remain with their “bird” as long as possible. Stafford felt that the 20-G acceleration of an ejection would have left him with, at best, a cricked neck for months. Moreover, there was a very real risk of death.
Yet Schirra would not have put them in any undue danger. “If that booster was about to blow,” he said, “if we really had a liftoff and settled back on the pad, there was no choice. It’s death or the ejection seat.”
It was the latest near-disaster in a string of unfortunate events which befell Gemini VI-A. Three days later, on 15 December 1965, Schirra and Stafford rode perfectly into orbit and completed a highly successful rendezvous with Gemini VII and Borman and Lovell. Their triumph overcame a fundamental hurdle which lay on the road to the Moon and ENABLED the bolder steps of rendezvous, docking, and integrated spacewalking which followed. After so many “almosts,” Gemini VI-A had brought the first human bootprints on the lunar surface another step closer.
Quelle: AS

Tags: Raumfahrt 

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Sonntag, 26. Oktober 2014 - 18:00 Uhr

Raumfahrt-History - Gemini-6+7:Das erste Rendezvous im All

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Gemini VII, bearing astronauts Frank Borman and Jim Lovell on a record-breaking 14-day mission, is seen through the windows of Gemini VI-A, with fellow spacefarers Wally Schirra and Tom Stafford. This mission, in December 1965, marked the first ‘true’ rendezvous between two piloted vehicles in ORBIT. Photo CREDIT: NASA

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Two weeks before Christmas in 1965, a pair of Gemini spacecraft—sleek little black-and-white capsules, which John Young once dubbed “Gusmobiles”—serenely circled the Earth together and in close proximity. Aboard Gemini VII, astronauts Frank Borman and Jim Lovell were midway through a record-breaking 14-day mission to spend the equivalent of a long-duration lunar voyage in Earth orbit, whilst aboard Gemini VI-A fellow astronauts Wally Schirra and Tom Stafford had taken the lead in executing the world’s first rendezvous between a pair of piloted vehicles in space. It was a critical step toward achieving the late President Kennedy’s goal of human bootprints on the Moon before 1970. Although the Soviet Union had managed to bring two spacecraft close together during the Vostok era, they had not performed true rendezvous. Yet the Gemini success came at the end of two disappointing months which saw a rocket explode, a pair of manned missions combined into one, a vice president fall asleep in the simulator … and a hairy on-the-pad launch abort which could easily have spelled death for Schirra and Stafford.
Flying for longer periods in space, according to FLIGHT surgeon Chuck Berry, had “qualified man to go to the Moon.” In August 1965, astronauts Gordo Cooper and Pete Conrad returned in good physical shape after eight days in orbit. Next up, in late October, Schirra and Stafford would spend just two days aloft, but would actively bring their Gemini VI craft close to a Lockheed-built Agena-D target vehicle, launched atop an Atlas booster. The importance of the FLIGHT was such that both the prime crew and their BACKUPS, Gus Grissom and John Young, were highly experienced. Although it would be Tom Stafford’s first mission, he was already recognized as an expert in space rendezvous. Having said this, Grissom wanted command of the first Apollo mission and pursued it relentlessly. In his autobiography, We Have Capture, Stafford noted that although Young sat through simulations with them, Grissom was often absent, racing cars or boats. Following Gemini VI would come the 14-day Gemini VII, sometime early in 1966, with Borman and Lovell.
All that changed on 25 October 1965.
Although the so-called Gemini-Agena Target Vehicle (GATV) was a fundamental aid in demonstrating rendezvous, docking, and performing linked exercises in space, doubts about its reliability were prevalent within NASA. Some managers felt that it could not be trusted to execute maneuvers with a docked Gemini, although Wally Schirra lobbied for it to fly. He also wanted a firing of the Agena’s less powerful secondary propulsion system, although this was not initially incorporated into the Gemini VI flight plan.
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Wally Schirra, pictured during training for Gemini VI. On most occasions, he was joined by crewmate Tom Stafford in the pilot’s seat of the simulator … but on one unforgettable day he hosted Vice President Hubert Humphrey, with humorous consequences. Photo CREDIT: NASA
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First up would be the Agena, mounted atop its Atlas rocket, from Cape Canaveral’s Pad 14, boosted into a 200-mile (320-km) circular orbit. One hundred minutes later, Schirra and Stafford would follow aboard Gemini VI from Pad 19, their Titan II injecting them into a lower orbit. “Two hundred and seventy degrees behind the Agena,” wrote Stafford, “you’d make a series of maneuvers that would eventually raise the orbit of the Gemini to a circular one below the Agena. Then you’d glide up below the Agena on the fourth revolution. At that time the crew would make a series of maneuvers to an intercept trajectory, then break to station-keeping and docking.” This docking would occur over the Indian Ocean—some six hours into the mission—and after which Schirra and Stafford would remain linked for seven hours and return to Earth following their battery-restricted two-day flight. The astronauts wanted to relight the Agena’s engine whilst docked, but NASA managers vetoed it as too ambitious.
The rendezvous, Schirra explained years later, utilised the Hohmann Transfer: “the most efficient, quickest, and prettiest way to do a rendezvous. But it is also intolerant of error. If you blow the rendezvous, fuel and time constraints won’t permit another try.” During their training in the second half of 1965, the astronauts practiced manoeuvres again and again, plotting them on boards. In total, they did more than 50 practice runs and spent hours rehearsing the docking with the Agena in a Houston trainer. “Housed in a six-story building,” wrote Schirra in his memoir, Schirra’s Space, “it consisted of a full-scale Gemini cockpit and the docking adaptor of the Agena. They were two separate vehicles in an air-drive system that moved back and forth free of friction. We exerted control in the cockpit with small thrusters, identical to those on the spacecraft. We could go up and down, left and right, back and forth. The target could be maneuvered in those planes as well, though it was inert. It would move if we pushed against it, just as we assumed the Agena would do in space.”
On one occasion, Schirra hosted Vice President Hubert Humphrey in the pilot’s seat. Humphrey asked if their voices could be heard from outside the trainer. When Schirra replied that it was sound-proofed, Humphrey asked if Schirra minded him taking a nap. When Humphrey awoke, he asked Schirra to tell him what had happened so that he could tell the people outside. “I was a fan of Hubert Humphrey from that day on,” wrote Schirra.
Gemini VI was the last of the series to run solely on battery power, thus limiting the two astronauts to no more than 48 hours in space. Although by September 1965 NASA was pushing for just one day aloft, if all objectives were COMPLETED. “Secondary” experiments were kept to a barebones minimum. Schirra’s attitude was that rendezvous was a significant challenge and left no time to “play” with experiments.
Early on 25 October, out at Pad 14, a team from General Dynamics oversaw the final hours of the Atlas-Agena countdown. The Atlas booster, tipped with the thin, pencil-like Agena, was scheduled to fly at precisely 10:00 a.m. EST. Meanwhile, Schirra—who was struggling to give up smoking—lit up a Marlboro during the ride to Pad 19. He felt, wrote Stafford, that “he could survive a twenty-four-hour FLIGHT without getting the shakes.” At length, General Dynamics launch manager Thomas O’Malley pressed the firing button for the Atlas-Agena at 10:00 a.m., and the first half of the mission got underway.
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The Gemini VI spacecraft (right) and its Agena target vehicle undergo boresighting tests ahead of their separate launches. Photo CREDIT: NASA
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Or so it seemed.
There seemed little reason to doubt that the Agena would fly perfectly. The countdown had gone well. The Agena had a heritage of 140 previous FLIGHTS since 1959, and its reliability was very good. It would separate from the Atlas high above the Atlantic Ocean, then fire its engine over Ascension Island to boost itself into orbit. Finally, at 11:41 a.m., Schirra and Stafford would ride their Titan into space to initiate the rendezvous.
Almost immediately after the Atlas-Agena LIFTED off, things started to go catastrophically wrong. It would appear that the Agena separated properly from its carrier rocket, but seemed to “wobble” a little, despite the efforts of its attitude-control mechanism to steady it. Right on time, its engine flared to life … and nothing more was heard. It had reached an altitude of about 150 miles (240 km) and was 500 miles (800 km) downrange of the Cape. Fourteen minutes after liftoff, specialists at the Bermuda radar station expected to receive tracking. They saw nothing, save the signatures of five large fragments.
Out at Pad 19, Schirra and Stafford were listening to the updates and were puzzled. “Maybe it’s the tracking station,” Schirra speculated. “Let’s wait for Ascension Island.” Their countdown was held, but at length Ascension, too, saw nothing. Later, the Carnarvon station in Australia saw nothing, and the assumption had to be made that the target vehicle had been lost. Subsequent investigation revealed that the Agena had exploded, due to a pre-launch change in the oxidiser feed sequence protocol. If it represented a programmatic failure with the vehicle, the issue spelled trouble for Project Gemini, which depended upon the Agena as its primary rendezvous target. In the meantime, a disappointed Schirra and Stafford were extracted from Gemini VI and headed off into town with Chief Astronaut Al Shepard and BACKUP crewman John Young.
“Boys,” Shepard told them, “what we need is a good party!”
A new Agena would not be ready until early 1966, but a perfect alternative lay on the horizon. Immediately after the Agena’s loss, Frank Borman overheard a conversation between McDonnell officials Walter Burke and John Yardley: the former suggested launching Gemini VII as Schirra and Stafford’s “new” docking target. A study of sending Geminis up in quick succession had been done months earlier and seemed ideal, but for one thing. Burke sketched his idea onto the back of an ENVELOPE, but Borman doubted the practicality of installing an inflatable cone onto the end of Gemini VII to permit a physical docking. Several senior NASA managers, including George Mueller and Charles Mathews, dismissed the entire idea, since it would require the launch of both Geminis within an impossibly tight two-week period.
Others thought it could be done. Joseph Verlander and Jack Albert proposed stacking a Titan II and placing it into storage until another had been assembled. The Titan’s engine CONTRACTOR, Aerojet-General, had stipulated that the vehicle must remain upright, but this could be achieved and the rocket kept on the Cape’s disused Pad 20. Immediately after the first Gemini’s launch from Pad 19, the second Titan could be moved into position and sent aloft within a week. The plan, however, held little appeal and received little enthusiasm, with most attention focused on swapping the lighter Gemini VI for the heavier Gemini VII, thereby making good of a bad situation by using the Titan II already on the pad to fly Borman and Lovell’s 14-day mission.
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FLIGHT controllers—with FLIGHT Director Chris Kraft seated at center—watch their monitors in dismay after the loss of the Agena on 25 October 1965. The incident led to the development of a new plan to fly a rendezvous mission between two manned craft, Gemini VI-A and Gemini VII. Photo CREDIT: NASA
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Over the following days, as this was discussed in the higher echelons of NASA management, it became evident that if the two spacecraft were swapped, the earliest that Borman and Lovell could be launched would be 3 December 1965. However, if the Gemini VII spacecraft was too heavy for Gemini VI’s Titan, a delay until around 8 December would become necessary to erect the more powerful Gemini VII Titan. It was then envisaged to launch Schirra and Stafford on their rendezvous mission with another Agena sometime in February or early March 1966.
As these plans crystallized, Burke and Yardley posed their joint-flight idea to senior NASA officials, who found few technical obstacles, with the exception that the Gemini tracking network might struggle to handle two missions simultaneously. At first, Flight Director Chris Kraft thought they were out of their minds, but after consulting his control team and Deke Slayton, the head of Flight Crew Operations, relented. The prospects for Burke and Yardley’s plan steadily brightened when it became clear that the heavy Gemini VII—which, after all, was intended to support a mission seven times longer than Gemini VI—could not be lofted into orbit by Schirra and Stafford’s Titan: the booster lacked the necessary impulse. Yet the question of tracking two vehicles at the same time remained. Then, another possibility was aired. Could the tracking network handle the joint mission if Gemini VII were regarded as a “passive” target for Gemini VI? Borman and Lovell would launch first and control of their flight would proceed normally as Gemini VI was prepared to fly.
As soon as controllers were sure that Gemini VII was operating satisfactorily, they would turn their attention to launching Gemini VI; in the meantime, Borman and Lovell’s flight would be treated like a Mercury mission, wrote Deke Slayton, “where the telemetry came to Mission Control by teletype, letting the active rendezvous craft have the real-time channels that were available.” This mode would continue until “Gemini VI-A”—renamed to distinguish it from the original Agena-based mission—had COMPLETED its tasks and returned to Earth. After Schirra and Stafford’s splashdown, Borman and Lovell would again become the focus of the tracking network.
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Wally Schirra and Tom Stafford, shown here preparing to board Gemini VI for their ill-fated 25 October 1965 launch attempt, would eventually fly in mid-December, after a hair-raising abort of the Titan II’s rocket main engines. Photo CREDIT: NASA
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Before NASA Headquarters had even come to a decision, the rumor mill had already informed the press, some of whom reported the possibility of a dual-Gemini spectacular. On 27 October, Administrator Jim Webb and his senior staff discussed the idea and issued a proposal for the joint flight to the White House. He informed President Lyndon B. Johnson that, barring serious damage to Pad 19 after the Gemini VII launch, Schirra and Stafford’s Titan could be flown within days to rendezvous with Borman and Lovell. Johnson, residing at his ranch in Austin, Texas, approved the plan on 28 October, and his press secretary announced it would fly in January 1966. At NASA, however, December 1965 was considered more desirable.
As October turned to November, preparations gathered pace. Gemini VI-A’s Titan was destacked and placed in bonded storage under plastic covers, and the heavy-lift Titan for Gemini VII was erected in its place. Pad Leader Guenter Wendt’s first reaction when he saw the short, nine-day Gemini VI-A pad schedule was “Oh, man, you are crazy!” Although Schirra and Stafford’s mission would essentially not change, that of Borman and Lovell was slightly adjusted to circularize its ORBIT and mimic the Agena’s FLIGHT path as closely as possible. Yet their own mission was fraught with great risk.
Since their assignment to Gemini VII, Borman and Lovell had been intensely focused on their primary objective: to spend 14 days (330 hours) in space, thereby demonstrating that astronauts could physically and psychologically withstand a maximum-length trip to the Moon and back. The results from the two previous long-duration FLIGHTS, Gemini IV and Gemini V, had been mixed. Jim McDivitt and Ed White had returned fatigued after four days, while Gordo Cooper and Pete Conrad had hardly enjoyed their eight days sitting in an area the size of the front seat of a VOLKSWAGEN BEETLE. Sleeping in shifts of four or five hours apiece had proven impractical, Borman and Lovell learned, so they resolved to sleep and work together. Moreover, they felt that their “work” time would not benefit from a rigid plan, opting instead for a broader outline which they could adapt in orbit.
At 2:30 p.m. EST on 4 December 1965, Gemini VII roared into orbit. “We’re on our way, Frank!” yelled Lovell as the Titan rolled and pitched in its ascent trajectory, achieving orbit five and a half minutes later. After a station-keeping exercise with the Titan, they settled down to eight days of experiments, ahead of the launch of Gemini VI-A and the rendezvous. As the flight wore on, conditions became increasingly less comfortable, with both men complaining of stuffy noses and burning eyes. The cabin, Borman reported, was too warm. Removing their suits helped, yet even that had been a matter of some debate on the ground. Days earlier, on 29 November, Bob Gilruth had requested approval from NASA Headquarters for the astronauts to remove their suits after the second sleep period and only don them at critical junctures, such as rendezvous and re-entry. By the time Gemini VII launched, the plan had been amended slightly: one of them had to be suited at all times, but the other could remove his garment for up to 24 hours. Both men, however, had to be fully-suited for rendezvous and re-entry. Still, the intense discomfort was there and, as the mission wore on with no major issues, the rationale behind the one-suit-on/one-suit-off decision became unsupportable.
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This fish-eye view of the interior of Gemini VII reveals the limited space available to Frank Borman and Jim Lovell during their 14-day mission. Within this cramped volume were not only the men themselves, but their food, experiments, cameras … and bags for their bodily wastes. Both astronauts likened it to living for two weeks in a men’s room. Photo CREDIT: NASA
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Even with his suit unzipped and gloves off Borman sweated heavily, while the unsuited Lovell remained dry. After 24 hours, Lovell asked to sleep unsuited, to which Borman agreed, despite his own discomfort. Lovell, the larger of the two, had more difficulty getting out of his suit in the confined cabin and, although he donned some lightweight FLIGHT coveralls for a few minutes, he removed them just as quickly, due to the intense warmth.
After four days of this torment, Borman asked the FLIGHT controller on the Coastal Sentry Quebec tracking ship to ask Chris Kraft about the chances of both men taking off their suits. Capcom Gene Cernan discussed the request, firstly, with Deke Slayton, before approaching Kraft, but there was little option but to ask Lovell to put his suit back on so that Borman could remove his suit. Concern was mounting, however, about how alert the astronauts would be for the Gemini VI-A rendezvous if they were so hot and uncomfortable. Bob Gilruth certainly favoured both men having their suits off at the same time, and Chuck Berry, looking at the BIOMEDICAL data, saw clear signs that blood pressures and pulse rates were closer to normal when Borman and Lovell were unsuited. Eventually, on 12 December—the very day that Schirra and Stafford were due to fly—NASA Headquarters finally agreed to allow the Gemini VII crew to remove their uncomfortable suits.
The astronauts’ patience was, however, tried on a number of occasions—most notably when a urine bag broke in Borman’s hands. “Before or after?” asked Chuck Berry. When Borman affirmed it was after, Berry replied “Sorry about that, chief.” After the FLIGHT, Lovell would describe their living and working conditions in a similar manner to Cooper and Conrad: like sitting in a men’s toilet for a fortnight without access to a shower. This did not bode well for the physicians. After splashdown, one of their tasks was to examine calcium loss in space, and they would be obliged to not only sift through Borman and Lovell’s liquid and solid waste, but also microscopically analyse the contents of their underwear. …
In the meantime, Wally Schirra and Tom Stafford’s Gemini VI-A Titan had been raised on Pad 19 on 5 December. A COMPUTER problem quashed hopes to launch on the 11th, but the prospects were bright for a second attempt the next day. Launch was scheduled for six seconds past 9:54 a.m., and the countdown clock ticked perfectly toward an on-time liftoff. Precisely on cue, the Titan’s first-stage engines ignited with a high-pitched whine.
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CLOUDS of smoke hang ominously around Pad 19 as Gemini VI’s Titan sits motionless in the seconds after the abort. Note the absence of an escape tower atop the Titan; in an emergency, Schirra and Stafford would have used ejection seats. Many astronauts doubted the reliability and survivability of the seats, which factored into Schirra’s decision not to use them that day. Photo Credit: NASA
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Then, after less than 1.2 seconds, they shut down.
Instantly, Schirra, his hand clasping the D-handle to fire their ejection seats, faced a life-or-death decision. The mission clock on the instrument panel had started running—as it would in response to the vehicle lifting off—but he could feel no movement. If the Titan had climbed even a few inches, there was a very real risk that its full load of volatile propellants could explode in a holocaust. In his autobiography, Stafford remembered vividly the moment that the behemoth came alive and, just as vividly, the instant at which its roar ceased. “The sound of the engines died even though the clock started and the COMPUTER light came on, both indications that we had lifted off,” he wrote. “But I could feel that we hadn’t moved. More important, there was no word from [Capcom] Al Bean confirming liftoff, which was critical.” In fact, it was the feeling of stillness that convinced Schirra not to risk ejecting.
Kenneth Hecht, head of the Gemini escape and recovery office, was surprised that he did not eject, but in reality, neither Schirra nor Stafford had much confidence in the seats and instinctively desired to remain with their “bird” as long as possible. Stafford felt that the 20-G acceleration of an ejection would have left him with, at best, a cricked neck for months. Moreover, there was a very real risk of death.
Yet Schirra would not have put them in any undue danger. “If that booster was about to blow,” he said, “if we really had a liftoff and settled back on the pad, there was no choice. It’s death or the ejection seat.”
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...Fortsetzung

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Sonntag, 26. Oktober 2014 - 14:45 Uhr

UFO-Forschung - MUFON´s Geschichtenerzählung in Hangar-1-TV-Serie

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According to MUFON’s new web site, they are scientifically studying UFOs “for the benefit of humanity”. One can argue about what they qualify as “scientific” but it is best to demonstrate how they want to “benefit humanity” by examining their latest production for television “Hanger 1”.
Hanger One
The program has a regular cast of characters and a few “guests” on each program. The main cast is an interesting group of indi- viduals, who can tell a good story but, after close examination, it is revealed that much of what they say is inaccurate. One can even make the case that they falsified data in order to promote their theories. Is this science?
One of the primary players in this charade is Richard Dolan, who is a prolific UFO writer with a style similar to Donald Keyhoe. Much of what he writes is exaggerated in order to promote his belief that there is an alien cover-up.
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The next superstar is Grant Cameron, who runs the web site “Presidential UFO”. He has promoted just about any conspiracy theory that connects UFOs to the president of the United States. This includes the MJ-12 documents. During the program, Cameron ap- pears to have been filmed in a hallway. Was he not allowed inside Hanger one’s offices?
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Jan Harzan is MUFON’s Executive Director and is the driving force of MUFON . He believes the following about their goal of “benefit- ing humanity”:
It is literally a beacon to keep us on track to achieve something great through the daily words and actions of each and every member of MUFON. The words “The Scientific Study of UFOs for the Benefit of Humanity” are not to be taken lightly.1
Based on Harzan’s behavior on this program, I would suggest he is taking this statement extremely lightly in order to promote himself and his beliefs. Belief and self-promotion do not make good science and do not “benefit humanity”.
The next UFO superstar is John Ventre, who is the lord of MUFON Pennsylvania’s fiefdom. Ventre had suggested that there would be an “end of times” in 2012. Even more disturbing was that, in April of 2010, he decided to make public, one day later, that his daugh- ter had an experience with “entities” in HIS home. Like all the other “talking heads” in this program, Ventre tends to exaggerate and sensationalize. He is a perfect “fit” for “Hanger one”.
Another UFO expert seen on the program is Jason McClellan, who is an Open Minds magazine UFO writer. I have commented on some of his stories before in the “Who’s blogging” section because they appeared to lack sufficient research.
An apparent newbie to this sort of thing was Jeremy Ray. He has the credentials as a MUFON STAR team member, claims to be a contactee , and is a member of the “international Starseed Network”, which is an organization that professes to be helping humanity evolve both physically and spiritually. I had thought the original idea was that STAR team members would be objective and well trained. His comments on the program and his claim to being a contactee indicates that the qualifications for being a STAR team member have been significantly lowered. Perhaps getting the STAR team badge is more about MUFON politics instead of qualifica- tions as a researcher/investigator.
A final entry into the fray was another newbie by the name of Dwight Equitz. He is an unknown “UFO researcher”, who’s only claim to UFO fame appears to be that he is an actor. Is he on the program for his acting ability or is he there because he has been study- ing UFOs for many years? As an actor, he will say or do just about anything as long as he gets paid. This became clear when he said things that made no sense or were just plain wrong. It seems, he was simply reading from a script put in front of him.
The source of these group’s research centers around “Hanger One”, where the nearly 70,000 MUFON files are supposedly kept. We are shown a warehouse with various researchers browsing through the case files. The size of the building implies something akin to a massive library or something like the warehouse in “Raiders of the lost ark”. It is interesting to note that MUFON reports that its headquarters is at 3822 Campus Drive in Newport Beach, California (see the google image at lower left). This looks nothing like the image seen in the television program.There is no description of any other location that MUFON uses on their web site. This indicates there probably is no real “Hanger One” and this building is just a prop.
In an amusing side note, there is one scene where “top secret” files are being transported down the hallways of “Hanger one”. The funnythingaboutthisisthatindividualisheadingforadoorwiththesign,“Assessor’sHumanResources”. Apparently,thisisacrafty move. Nobody would think to look in the Human Resources department for top secret documents.
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While MUFON can claim that the producers have a lot to do with what is presented on these programs, this is all endorsed by MUFON. They are the ones, who take credit for what is said and they must be held accountable for any inaccuracies they wish to promote.
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Eisenhower’s secret trip to Muroc/Edwards
The first program started with an incident involving President Eisenhower “disappearing” for a few hours when he was on vacation in Palm Springs, California. It is speculated that he went to Muroc AFB, where he could meet with aliens. This story can be traced back to the book, “The Roswell Incident” and is not based on anything that can be proven. The official story for his “disappearance” is that the president had knocked a cap off a tooth and had to go to a local dentist to get it repaired. There is no good reason to question this story but it does not take much to turn this into some sort of grand conspiracy.
According to John Ventre, nobody knew Eisenhower was even going to Palm Springs. This is not exactly true. Prior to February 14th, there were rumors he was going to Palm Springs2. By the 15th, it was announced he was going. 3
Actor, turned UFO researcher, Dwight Equitz, states that Eisenhower appeared 100 miles away the next morning in Los Angeles at a Church Service. One should research the script a lot closer before making such claims because the truth is that the church service was in Palm Springs (The Community Church of Palm Springs a few miles from where they were staying at the Smoke Tree Ranch according to the news media).4 If Equitz got his information from the MUFON files, it does not say much for the reliability of the information in those files. Adding to this conspiracy myth was John Ventre revealing that he had “witnesses” that state they knew Ike made a deal with the aliens! These unnamed witnesses may be the same sources used by William Moore in his book on Roswell. None of them are very credible.
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Mandate 0463
The show then decides to present something called Mandate 0463 (dated 3 March 1954), which states that the existence of aliens is to be denied by all DOD depart- ments/personnel. Does such a document really exist? The document states that it was created at the 2374th meeting of the DOD on March 1, 1954. The DOD was cre- ated September 18, 1947. There were 2356 days between these two dates. According to Jason Colavito’s blog, some of the wording comes from the MJ-12 SOM-1 manual Chapter 5. 5 This document looked fabricated and gives the impression that MUFON is promoting hoaxes. Where have I heard or seen this before? Is this the kind of research that benefits humanity?
JFK killed because of UFO secrets
For some reason, the MUFONites latched onto the launch of Cosmos 21, which was a failed Russian planetary probe that never made it out of its parking orbit due to an engine misfire. There was nothing really unusual about the satellite but Professor John Putman appeared on the program stating that “its true mission is unknown today”.6 This may be true simply because the old Soviet records are not very complete. There appears to be enough evidence to conclude that it was a deep space probe that was supposed to return to earth.7 Suggesting the probe was some sort of mysterious spacecraft is not good history and Putman’s misrepresenta- tion catered to what the producers desired. This failed satellite launch seemed to spark JFK into sending a memo to the CIA ordering them to share UFO information with the USSR. The document they are referring to has a questionable provenance (it does not exist in the CIA files or JFK library) and appeared on the UFO scene through some questionable sources.8 There is a handwritten note on the document where it refers to MJ-12, which increases the likelihood that it is a hoax. The narrator is quick to point out that ten days later, JFK was assassinated. Is MUFON really suggesting that JFK was assassinated because UFO secrecy?
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Jimmy Carter and George Bush
The rest of the episode about presidents and UFOs had to do with trying to make it appear that presidents, who wanted to discover the truth about UFOs, were stonewalled by some super secret group. Grant Cameron reports that when future President George H.W. Bush (who was the CIA director for one year) briefed the newly elected president Jimmy Carter, he told the president that he did not have a need to know the truth about UFOs! The funny thing about this story is that Carter had his own CIA director, Stansfield Turner, who replaced Bush in March of 1977. He could easily have told Carter what he wanted to know. Dolan then shares a story about his “friend” from the CIA, who saw Jimmy Carter very upset when he learned “the truth” about UFOs. If Dolan can’t reveal his source, then he should not even mention it He sounds like he simply made this up or his source did.
Promoting this kind of rubbish as factual is just not what one would expect from a professional writer. It is more on the level of myth making than actually writing about history.
The program produced a very questionable looking document from the CIA to Robert French (NASA administrator) from 16 July 1977 telling them not to respond to the president’s request about UFO studies. However, I don’t see the word UFO appear in the document at all. Instead, the document focuses on intelligence gathering and requests that NASA not become involved at this time. It seems that MUFON was misrepresenting the document in question again.
Various individuals on the program concluded that President George H. W. Bush was part of MJ-12 and probably knows more about UFOs than any other president. This is because he had “oil money” , political connections, and was director of the CIA. Ventre refers to him as the “gate keeper”. Dolan states it was likely that Bush had CIA connections prior to being director. Not one fact is pre- sented to support all these claims other than George Bush was the CIA director for just one year.
Antarctica UFO battle
In the second episode of the series, we discover, thanks to Grant Cameron, that the Nazis had an underground base in Antarctica. No proof is really offered but the program states that the US Navy’s “Operation High Jump’” in 1946 was sent to Antarctica to find this base. Michael Shratt, an “aerospace historian”, stated several aircraft carriers were involved. The real truth of the matter is only one carrier (the USS Philippine Sea) was sent and it carried a load of RD-4 transport aircraft. If this were a strike force as implied by MUFON, there would have been several carriers and they would not be loaded with transport aircraft. Instead, they would have been loaded with fighters and bombers.
While in the Antarctic, the fleet supposedly engaged in a naval battle with a UFO resulting in many casualties and a rapid retreat by the US Navy. Again, this is all an exaggeration based on questionable sources. The actual operation Highjump went to Antarctica to set up a American air base (which is what the RD-4s on the USS Philippine Sea were for) and to learn how to operate in polar waters. There never was any battle with a UFO and the only casualties involved an airplane crash during a white out and damage to the USS Merrick’s rudder when it got stuck in the ice. Because, the US Navy arrived late in the Antarctic summer and their ships were not really designed for this kind of environment, many of the ships had to leave with the onset of winter conditions. The only defeat the US navy experienced in the Antarctic had to do with the weather and not a UFO battle.
Admiral Byrd was in charge as mentioned by the program but what was not mentioned was that there were plenty of press along to report what happened. If there were a battle with a UFO, they would have been aware of it. The show also misquoted Admiral Byrd as describing craft that could attack the United States by going from pole to pole at incredible speed. The program had a recording of Byrd stating this but if one looks at the fine print it states “Statement attributed to Admiral Richard E. Byrd”. This is not a recording of Byrd’s voice but a manufactured recording! Like the documents in the first episode, this was a hoax perpetrated on the audience. According to Wiki leaks, this was not what Byrd had stated and the Chilean newspaper, used as a source, had been translated incorrectly. Byrd had actually stated that the United States should be defended from planes flying from polar regions. I found a San Antonio light paper of March 4th, 1947, where the same reporter, who wrote the article for the Chilean source, quoted Byrd as saying, “It is no scare phrase but bitter reality to state that conflict, should it ever come again, will lash at our nation over one or both poles”. 9 There is no mention of attacks being launched from pole to pole. Apparently, nobody both- ered to check their sources for accuracy. Is this a shock?
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Transistor technology
MUFON’s efforts to rewrite human history continued with the Cape Girardeau crash story, which supposedly happened in 1941. The source of this story comes from Len Stringfield, who received a letter from Charlotte Mann. She stated that her grandfather, reverend Willam Huffman, had seen the crash and gave the “last rites” to a dying alien body. The military, as always, was quick on the scene and scooped up ever artifact. One of these important items supposedly went to Purdue University for reverse engineering. According to MUFON, this led to the breakthrough invention of the transistor. 
The first transistor was developed in 1947 (left image) but does not even look like the modern transistor (right image)! The MU- FONites chose to ignore the fact that It was developed at Bell labs and not Purdue University. Those responsible for the invention, William Shockley, John Bardeen, and Walter Brattain, had no apparent associations with Purdue University as all had their degrees from other colleges. The failure to link Purdue University with the development of the transistor leaves a gapping hole in this reverse-engineering claim.
The transistor, while a modern device, is archaic compared to modern IC chips. One can’t even see the transistors on an IC chip because they are in the substrate. However, this is our modern technology, which is supposed to be hundreds of years behind the advanced spaceships that are flown by aliens. If one would find it difficult to create a transistor by looking at a modern IC chip, imagine the problems that would occur when trying to create a transistor from a piece of alien spaceship wreckage.
The idea that humankind acquired technology from aliens is one of those claims that implies that all the engineers and scientists that are credited with the development of that technology are frauds. Instead of “benefiting humanity”, MUFON is trying to rewrite history to indicate that humanity is nothing more than a bunch of idiots incapable of doing something on their own.
Alien popcorn
In the alien technology episode, the wild claims of Philip Corso, who many Roswell proponents consider to be a fraudulent witness, were presented as if they had been proven. UFO expert, Jeremy Ray, stated that IC chips, fiber optics, night vision/stealth technol- ogy, and even microwaves come from the Roswell UFO crash. Of all of these, perhaps the most ridiculous claim is that microwave technology came out of the blue in 1947. The existence of microwaves were well known well before the Roswell incident. During World War 2, the SCR-584 radar had been developed and it used frequencies in the microwave range. If Ray was suggesting that the use of microwaves to cook food was discovered because of the Roswell crash, he is incorrect there as well. Raytheon filed a patent for such a device back in 1945. They built the first “radar range” in 1947 and there was even such a device available at Grand Central Terminal in January 1947, where commuters could heat up hot dogs on the run. One would think that these UFOlogists would look at the real history before trying to rewrite it. Despite the obvious history for all of this technology, Richard Dolan clings to the be- lief that this all came from alien spaceships. He nonchalantly states, “This is a big piece of the puzzle that our official truth has sort of whitewashed out.”10 When these individuals simply make all of this up, how can one really trust anything they say?
Element 115
Because it likes to cling to the most ridiculous claims in UFOlogy, the producers of this show gave credence to Bob Lazar. Lazar states that there were nine alien spacecraft stationed at Groom Lake’s S-4 secret base and that aliens gave us the technology for anti-gravity. The key to this anti-gravity drive is element 115. John Ventre proclaimed, “So, now we finally discover element 115 in 2004. It has the exact properties that Bob Lazar said it had in 1989.”11 The actor turned UFOlogist, Dwight Equitz, would parrot this claim, “Everyone laughed when Lazar told us about element 115 and he turned out to be right about that. So, maybe we need to seriously consider his claim that the aliens actually gave us this element.” 12 Was this newly discovered element the key to spaceflight as Lazar, Ventre, and Equitz claimed?
At the time of Lazar’s claims, there was no element 115 on the periodic table. However, heavy elements were being synthesized for many years prior to Lazar presented his story and it was only a matter of time before element 115 would be created. Predicting its existence was not that great a stretch. What Lazar could not predict was the stability of the element. In his version, element 115 was a stable element because there was a predicted “island of stability” around element 115 at the time Lazar made his claims. However, he ignored the possibility that, like many of the recently discovered synthesized elements, element 115 would have a short half-life.
Contrary to what Equitz and Ventre state, element 115 does not have the characteristics that Lazar predicted. Ventre and Equitz did not even bother to look into the fact that Element 115 was discovered in 2003 and not 2004. Element 115’s most stable isotope (Uup 289), which was discovered in 2009, has a half-life of about 200msec. This means that within one second, Element 115 would essentially decay away to Element 113. It is not stable and nobody has made the report there seemed to be “levitation/anti-gravity” characteristics. Lazar’s claims were a hoax and, by promoting it, the MUFONites are complicate in this lie.
Ben Rich
Iwas not surprised to see that Lockheed’s Ben Rich was the focus of one of the segments. According to Jan Harzan, he wrote a letter, which stated that there are two kinds of UFOs.13 There are those of ET origin and those that we manufacture. Those of ET origin had an impact on our development of our UFOs. However, the letter that is presented on the program does not state this. According to Peter Merlin’s article in SUNlite 5-6, this was actually a letter to Testor Cor- poration model-kit designer John Andrews regarding the possibility of UFOs have an ET or man made source.14
What Harzan did not to mention was that Rich stated that there are far too many charlatans regarding UFOs and one had to be cautious. He also never stated that man-made UFOs came from Extra-Terrestri- al UFOs. Is Harzan describing a different letter or is he just not telling the truth?
Harzan is probably referring to another source for his claims and not the letter that was presented on the program. This source was WilliamMcDonald,whoapparentlyworkedwithJohnAndrewsatTestorcorporation. AccordingtoMcDonald,AndrewscontactedBen Rich for him and confirmed the idea that we were manufacturing aircraft based on alien technology. Of course, McDonald did not reveal any of this until John Andrews conveniently died, which makes it suspect. At best, it is hearsay information. At worst, it is a lie by McDonald. There is not one written letter, tape recording, or even an e-mail that can be traced to Ben Rich. Like the Lazar story about element 115, it is, very likely, a hoax perpetrated by another person wanting attention from the UFO community.
If this kind of hearsay was not enough, the program plays a recorded statement that is attributed to Ben Rich:
We already have the means to travel among the stars but these technologies are locked up in black projects and it would take an act of god to ever get them out for the benefit of humanity.15
There is no source given for this statement and it is not Rich’s voice. Supposedly, Jan Harzan heard Ben Rich say this after a speech he made in 1993 at UCLA. This makes it hearsay as well and not verifiable.
Jason McClellan would add his commentary and state, “According to Ben Rich we learned how to build our own UFOs by studying crash retrievals. Then he came right out an said that ETs have been in contact with out civilization and we have been pilfering their technology for more than 70 years.” 16 This appears to be sourced from Willam McDonald, which indicates that McClellan does not care if his  sources are reliable or not. He only cares about spreading rumors.
According to Peter Merlin, who has actually visited the Ben Rich archives to research all of this, Rich wanted to keep an open mind about all possibilities but never had any information about aliens being the source of UFO reports. He reflected about this in his speeches and letters. In the archives, there is no mention of any technology being pilfered from aliens or their crashed spaceships.
Iranian UFO crash
Another attempt to present evidence of alien technology being reverse engineered was MUFON’s explanation of how the coun- try of Iran was able to capture a highly sophisticated US drone aircraft in 2011. Jeremy Ray stated that it was captured by a UFO using anti-gravity technology and a tractor beam. His source is the mysterious scientist Dr. Mehran Keshe. Jeremy Ray goes on to imply that Keshe got this technology from a UFO crash that happened in 2004 in the mountain of Kerman.17
This UFO crash that was supposed to have occurred in 2004 actually occurred in January 2007 in the Barez mountains of Kerman (not the mountain of Kerman as Ray states) and probably was a meteor. There is no mention of a military presence in that report on January 10, 200718:
Eyewitnesses told the Fars News Agency (FNA) that a radiant UFO had crashed in the Barez Mounts of Kerman on Wednesday morning. Abulghassem Nasrollahi, the Deputy General of the Kerman province in Iran told the news agency that all the aircraft in the area had been accounted for, but did not rule out the possibility that the object could be a meteor. Another source also told the FNA that the ob- ject was on fire with thick smoke coming from it, and claimed that this implied the object was not a meteor. However, meteors appear as bright fireballs in the sky, as they are heated to high temperatures due largely to ram pressure as they fall at high speeds through the Earth’s atmosphere. Meteors often burn up completely before reaching the ground and some leave a smoke-like trail in their wake. Abul- ghassem noted that a few days earlier, in Rafsanjan, a similar incident was reported by witnesses.
This whole thing indicates that MUFON did not bother to get real information and created a myth from a news story they heard about. The Iranians claimed they used electronic jamming to exploit a weakness in the positioning technology to make the Drone think it was landing in Afghanistan and not Iran. They learned this by examining previous drones they had shot down. This seems much more plausible than the tractor beam theory. The United States said the Drone failed and “crash landed”. This seems less plausible based on the lack of damage but it still more likely than the tractor beam theory. Until Keshe/MUFON present evidence of this UFO actually existing, it is just another one of those UFO legends that MUFON and UFO proponents are so fond of repeating in order to make people think they are true.
Technology addiction
In the final segment of the Alien Technology episode, there is a discussion of how humans have become addicted to the technol- ogy we have acquired from the Aliens. Jeremy Ray goes so far as to state that we should not have such access and compares it to little kids being given a box of matches. Jason McClellan implied that we have become so dependent on this technology for everything, people probably could not navigate their way across town without it. Both are exaggerating their point. Humans are much more adaptable and could learn to live without technology if it were necessary.
The show attempts to inform us that UFOs were reported near three power plants in August of 2003. Because the UFOs were close to these power plants, it is implied they caused the power outage of the northeast that occurred on August 14, 2003. Equitz states it was “total chaos” during the power outage and added, “It’s easy to interpret these events as an act of aggression”.19
A check of the MUFON database reveals only six UFO reports between August 13 and 14, 2003. None of these mentioned the UFOs being near power plants. Additionally, there is a reasonable explanation for the power outage and it was far from “total chaos”. There was the loss of services and there were a few deaths (some unrelated to the outage) but there was no mass rioting or people suffering from mental anguish. Power was restored within a few days and the region quickly returned to normal.
To emphasize the point of our reliability on technology that the aliens might take away from us, the show quotes Carl Sagan:
We’ve arranged a society based on science and technology, in which nobody understands anything about science and technology. And this combustible mixture of ignorance and power, sooner or later, is going to blow up in our faces.20
MUFON is actually quoting Sagan out of context because Sagan was referring to ignorance of technology and science by politicians and leaders. The actual statement was in an interview with Charlie Rose on May 27, 1996:
We’ve arranged a society based on science and technology, in which nobody understands anything about science and technology. And this combustible mixture of ignorance and power, sooner or later, is going to blow up in our faces. Who is running the science and 
technology in a democracy if the people don’t know anything about it? 21
MUFON deliberately chose to leave out the last sentence and what he was describing. This is another attempt by MUFON to deceive
the viewer. History has taught us that deception does not benefit humanity.
An on-line hoax?
The UFO crashes episode opened with an apparent UFO crash that occurred on December 12, 2009 in Barstow California. The funny thing about the story is that there is no evidence that it ever happened. The source of all this information came from an internet forum, where one individual talked about this “crash” and described supposed witnesses to it.22 It does not exist in the MU- FON or NUFORC sightings databases. How can they really present a case without any evidence indicating that the events described actually happened?
A UFO crash that never existed
In a desperate attempt to promote just about any UFO crash, the MUFONites presented the April 17, 1897 Aurora, Texas as a factual event. The program pointed towards two witnesses, who were in their 80s and 90s when interviewed in the 1970s. They repeated the story about a crashing UFO and dead alien body that was buried in the local cemetery. That grave had a head stone with a UFO on it. When investigators tried to get permission to exhume the body, their request was rejected. However, shortly after this, the body and gravestone were mysteriously removed.
The truth is that this was all a hoax that was exposed long ago. Kevin Randle referred to it as the UFO crash story “that won’t die”.23 Nobody even has a photograph showing this mysterious gravestone with the UFO on it. The continued promotion of such a case indicates that MUFON is more interested in story telling than scientific evidence.
South of the border UFO crash
According to legend, US air defense radar detected a UFO passing over the Gulf of Mexico on August 25, 1974. Instead of heading towards the United States, it shifted its course and disappeared near Coyame, Mexico not far from the US/Mexico border. At the same time, a civilian aircraft was lost over the area.
The Mexican military rapidly responded to these events and found the crashed airplane as well as a UFO that had collided with it. The CIA, interested in what was transpiring, intercepted the radio communications between the ground force and their headquar- ters. Eventually, they sent their own recovery force, which arrived in the area to find a bizarre scene of dead Mexican soldiers around the alien spaceship. Because they did not know how to handle such a thing, the Mexican government allowed the CIA to take the UFO off their hands. The UFO was then transported to Whiteman AFB in Kansas over a thousand miles away.
According to the program, MUFON investigated in 1992 through an anonymous report discovered by Ruben Uriarte. Uriarte sup- posedly found flight, communication, and radar logs that confirm all of this. He even discovered the names of four soldiers, which is supposed to be the “biggest find”. The Mexican government denied these men ever existed.
The case, as presented, is really not accurate. I am unaware of any logs that confirmed the incident and MUFON presented no evi- dence other than the report, which was not discovered by Uriarte. It was actually given to Len Stringfield and Uriarte followed up on the case. A big question is why the alien spacecraft was unable to avoid a small civilian aircraft? A bigger question is how the US military was able to transport the UFO and alien bodies over public roads to Whiteman AFB, which is in Missouri (not Kansas as stated on the show)? Didn’t anybody notice this and report it in the media? Speaking of the US military, where did the soldiers originate from to so rapidly respond to this event? None of these questions are even addressed. The story is based on rumor and very few facts. According to Kevin Randle, Uriarte and Torres, the principal investigators for this case, admit this24 but MUFON pre- sented this case as if it had been proven without a shadow of doubt. MUFON got so many of the details wrong that Noe Torres had to publicly complain about it in the UFO Updates Facebook page.
Acorn hunting
The crowning part of the crashed UFOs episode came when they promoted the Kecksburg case, which was explained long ago
25 (See SUNlite 3-6). All the talking heads repeated the same mantra about the case :
Richard Dolan: What everyone in the town of Kecksburg knows is that an enormous number of people, military, different types of branches of the military, probably over a hundred outside people came in, combed the woods, sealed off the woods from the public and yet, what is interesting is that there is no official acknowledgement by the military services that they did this type of a thing. 
Dwight Equitz: Think about it...you see something happen with your own eyes. You know hundreds of military personnel swarmed this small town. Yet, this is outright denied by the government. When you get that kind of first hand look at how these cover-ups work, you are going to be hungry for the truth.
Leslie Kean: “So.. the fact that all these people witnessed a physical object come down. Some saw it in the woods on the ground. Others saw it on the flatbed truck being taken away....means that there is a huge evidential thing that the US government has somewhere....So you have this very black and white contradiction between what the official line was and what actually happened....”
All three individuals seem to be unaware of the key details regarding the case. The truth is there were very few witnesses, who actually saw the UFO come down in the woods or actually saw the UFO on the flatbed. Most of these witnesses are dubious and did not come forward until after the main theme of the story had been established in the late 1980s thanks to Kecksburg UFO promoter Stan Gordon. For some reason, Kean, Dolan, Equitz, and the rest of MUFON crowd seem to be unaware of other witnesses (includ- ing the fire chief in 1965), who state much of the story being told is “made up”. MUFON appears to have decided to ignore the real facts in favor of a fantasy.
At the end of the Kecksburg segment, the sad demise of John Murphy was pre- sented. He had reported about the Kecksburg event on the radio. According to Kecksburg legend, Murphy gathered all the evidence from that evening and prepared to present the truth about the event on the radio. However, the night before he planned to expose everything, mysterious visitors show up to his of- fice and had him alter the program he would later air. Where this information comes from is not stated and one must assume it is second hand, third hand, or assumption. Bob Young, who has heard the broadcast, pointed out that Murphy publicly stated on the program that he had not been influenced by any outside authorities and had received the cooperation of the state police and military.26 One would think that Murphy would have retained a diary, journal, or some sort of file with all this important information. Instead, all we got to see was a “letter” that was supposedly written by Murphy, which stated that he was interested in reopening his investigation of the incident. According to MUFON, John Murphy was killed by an unknown hit-and-run driver a few days after this letter was writ- ten.
It is really convenient the program has the date, the addressee, and the au- thor’s name blacked out. I wonder why the actual date or the author’s name was blacked out. Is it possible that this letter was not written around the time of Murphy’s death? Is it even written by Murphy? Based on MUFON’s track record, I would not be surprised if the letter was written by somebody else.
Since Murphy was apparently killed for his knowledge about Kecksburg, John Ventre states that there is a connection between UFO investigators dying and the UFO cover-up.
“There has been a long list of UFO investigators that have died under mysterious circumstances.....James E. McDonald....John Mack..... John Murphy.... it goes on and on......”27
This is the worst kind of speculation. Poor Dr. McDonald committed suicide and there is no mystery to what transpired. Using his tragic death as a tool to promote wild conspiracy theories can be considered repugnant.
When stars become UFOs
The episode concerning UFO hotspots, started with a UFO event that happened in Blue Springs, Missouri. According to the pro- gram’s presentation, Margie Kay, of Missouri MUFON, visited Blue Springs with a news team one night and they watched these “blue orbs” appear, hover, and jet away at incredible speeds and then come back. Jeremy Ray added an addition to this story:
In fact, the camera operator of a TV station refused to go back to work to do more filming because she was terrified.....28
The actual events were reported by KCTV-5 on May 24, 2012 and their story seemed to be at odds with what was portrayed by the program. The article mentioned reports they had received about UFOs that had been seen by witnesses. This prompted Margie Kay to respond along with the news reporters. They held a sky watch and began to observe these orbs when the sky got dark. The one thing missing from their sky watch was an experienced astronomer (amateur or professional). This became clear when Margie Kay had problems figuring out if she was looking at the star Vega or not:
I am 90 percent sure we are looking at Vega in this instance, and there are some other planets out right now29
When I read this, I had to wonder why she was only 90% sure and not 100%? A star chart is an elementary thing and one should be able to positively identify a star with no trouble if one knows how to use it. Apparently, MUFON does not even bother with a begin- ners astronomy class in their investigator’s training. Her method of trying to identify it was typical of most UFOlogists. She decided to call a local MUFON “expert”, who told her Vega is pure white. Because he said this, she rejected the idea that she was looking at Vega because:
That is not what we are seeing. We’re seeing colors in this. I see green in this one and in the other I see red, green and blue....I don’t think it’s a planet at this point. I don’t know what it is. It’s unidentified. 30
Again, any amateur astronomer can explain to her that she was probably observing a star (probably Vega) that was scintillating. At least she could have taken a time exposure photograph of their UFO to see if it had diurnal motion. That would prove, beyond the shadow of doubt, that it was not a star.
In the KCTV-5 article, there was no mention of any camera operators being scared of what they saw or the reporter seeing some- thing exotic. The events they saw were pretty mundane and probably were just stars scintillating. Missouri MUFON’s inept investiga- tion of this event was fuel for the producers of the program to make up details about what was seen. It would be no surprise that Jeremy Ray probably made up the story about the camera operator, who was so scared that she refused to go back to work.
Nuclear attraction
MUFON determined that the Hudson Valley, which suffered from a UFO “wave” from 1982 to 1987, was a very important UFO hotspot even though the UFOs have not returned in large numbers to this area in over twenty years. The “UFO wave” began on December 31, 1982, when a witness reported seeing a bunch of pulsating lights move across the sky that were, apparently, at- tached to a large craft that he could not see. Missing from this commentary was a film he shot of the UFO. According to the book, “Night Siege”, this video showed something not quite so extraordinary. 31 Only three main lights were visible with some fainter ones. Alone, this sighting is not that very compelling a case. However, there was a more widely seen event on March 24, 1983. This was reported by one observer as a gigantic “floating city” and was documented in “Night Siege”. It is interesting that several of the witnesses described the lights shifting in formation, indicating that they were not attached to a single object. The November 1984 issue of Discover magazine offered a plausible explanation for this and it involved a formation of Cessnas flying out of nearby Stomville airport.32 This was never mentioned by the program’s producers.
The purpose of mentioning the Hudson Valley flap was made clear when they discussed the July 14, 1984 Indian point Nuclear power plant sighting. On that night, security guards saw a huge craft hovering over the plant. Supposedly, the security cameras recorded the event. Guards “afraid” that the UFO might damage the reactor tried to point their guns at it. At that instant, alarms in the plant went off, which produced massive panic. The UFO only disappeared when the military arrived to investigate.33
The program, as always, had problems with the facts and their reporting of what happened. According to “Night Siege”, the date was actually July 24th. That book’s authors interviewed the security guards a few months later but they made no mention of alarms going off or the UFO reacting to them pulling their weapons. They did mention that the security systems at the plant had shut- down but that is not quite the same thing as described by MUFON’s finest. The episode was also misleading in that they showed the security guards dressed up like soldiers and carrying automatic weapons. These were private security guards and probably only carried sidearms. While there was a report of a UFO being seen, there is no evidence that it caused any significant disruption at the plant.34
With the interference of a nuclear power plant established with this incident, Harzan goes on to report that many nuclear power plants in the United States experienced similar events. Jason McClellan went on to add that the energy from these plants might act as a “beacon” into space. Even stranger, was the comment by John Ventre who drew the ridiculous conclusion that the UFOs were monitoring the reactors or sucking energy from them.35
While this kind of speculation might fool those who are not educated about nuclear power plants, the truth of the matter is that it is a bunch of nonsense. Nuclear reactors produce the same kind of electricity as conventional power plants. The only difference is they use a nuclear reactor to generate the heat that produces the steam to drive the turbines generating the electricity. The reactor is in a shielded facility that cuts down the neutron and gamma radiation emitted to near background levels. The further one goes from this location, the lower the strength of the radiation. To say they are emitting beacons of radiation into space indicates that McCleallan never bothered to research this. Ventre’s idea that they are sucking nuclear energy is also dim-witted rubbish for the same reason. Finally, Harzan’s claim ignores all the land based prototypes, nuclear submarines and surface vessels operated by the United States Navy. I don’t ever recall hearing my fellow nuclear sailors and submariners stating they had experienced a UFO suck- ing power from them or interfering with their operations. Do UFOs ignore the military’s nuclear reactors in favor of civilian ones?
Nukes without UFOs
If UFOs and nuclear power plants wasn’t enough, the program also mentioned the 2010 Warren AFB missile shutdowns. Accord- ing to MUFON, they received reports from on duty personnel, who saw a huge cigar shaped object over the base. According to Harzan, we lost control of 50 missiles. Jeremy Ray would add, “If we don’t have control of those missiles, who does?”36
In SUNlite 2-6, I reported about this incident and knew that MUFON or Robert Hastings would make something out of the shut- down (which was caused by an electrical/computer fault). Shortly after the event, I conducted a search of the MUFON database and discovered that there were no UFO reports from that region even though there were some fourteen reports made on that date in other parts of the country. The same can be said for the NUFORC database, which, even today, has no reports listed from the area. If the UFO was so easily seen, it would have been seen by people outside the military base and in the countryside where all the missile silos were located. MUFON’s source of these reports are nothing more than the usual rumors collected by Robert Hastings and not based on anything tangible.
If Harzan and Ray wonder who was in control of these nuclear weapons, the answer is simple. They were in control of the USAF but could not be launched. The implication that the UFOs could launch them is just more absurdity being perpetuated by uninformed “experts” from MUFON.
Buggy videos
In addition to presenting the idea that nuclear energy/weapons attract UFOs, MUFON also had determined that fault lines fascinate the alien invaders. To emphasize this point, John Ventre highlighted a November 2012 video showing a UFO moving about the Denver skyline:
His video seemed to show that a UFO was launching and landing somewhere in the city. It was displaying such astronomical movements that it defied gravity and physics.37
What was not reported by Ventre was this case was closed long ago. However, it was not closed the way MUFON closes a case by leaving it unexplained. Instead skeptics closed this case by actually going to the site and recording the same types of UFOs. They were just bugs.38 Ventre chose to ignore this explanation in favor of the more spectacular alien spaceship that nobody, except this cameraman, in the city of Denver saw land or take off despite it being a perfectly clear day.
Red Bull predicts earthquakes
Since MUFON was promoting the idea that fault lines attract UFOs prior to earthquakes, they moved to the most likely earthquake site in California. MUFON went so far as to suggest that a massive earthquake was going to occur in the region soon. Their evi- dence for this theory was the December 2010 Santa Monica fireball UFOs. At the time, it was referred to as “the silver surfer” UFOs and was recorded by multiple people over the area. Because of these widespread recordings, the source was quickly identified and the case was explained. The “silver surfers” were actually red bull parachutists, who were jumping at night with flares attached to their legs.39 For some reason, these MUFON representatives still considered this an unsolved case. Either they are completely unin- formed about this event, are not willing to admit they might be wrong, or are lying to the audience.
Shooting down a meteor?
In the sixth episode, MUFON decided to promote the idea that the Chelyabinsk fireball was shot down by some sort of space weapon. Jeremy Ray elaborated on this theory using a video that was played while he spoke:
Why did this asteroid suddenly break up fifteen miles above the Earth’s surface? When you look closely at this footage it does seem like something collides with the asteroid. It goes through it from the left and comes out through the right. To me this is an indication that this might be a space-based weapon.40
It is no surprise that Ray did not do any homework on this. Large meteors break up during their entry into the Earth’s atmosphere all the time and it is not as unusual as he seems to imply. Additionally, the program presented an altered video instead of the real one. The actual video shows the car making a gradual turn to the right on the road, which is an indicator as to why there appeared to be something moving across the field of view. The camera was inside the car imaging through the window, which means any reflections on the window would also appear to move towards the right. Somebody performed an analysis of the video and demonstrated it was a reflection on the windshield.41 With all of MUFON’s scientific advisors, one would expect them to reach that conclusion as well or, 
at least, address this issue on the program. Either their scientists concluded that it was a missile or Ray ignored the conclusion that it was a reflection in order to perpetuate a mystery. If this is an example of MUFON’s finest, then MUFON has a long way to go before it begins to “benefit humanity” in any way.
MUFON’s legacy
After the first six episodes, I tired of watching the show’s misleading and inaccurate reporting. The UFOlogical “experts” on the show, which includes Jan Harzan, seem to be either uninformed or deliberately misleading the audience. It does not portray MUFON as a scientific organization at all. I am sure there are some MUFON members/UFOlogists that find this show an embarrass- ment but MUFON is not listening to them.
In 2013, certified STAR team member, Antonio Paris told Jack Brewer what Harzan could do to fix MUFON:
After two years at MUFON, I quickly realized several problems that can be easily fixed by Mr. Harzan. The first and most important mis- sion for Mr. Harzan is to ensure MUFON recalibrate its compass. After attending dozens of MUFON conferences nationally, for example, it is clear that MUFON has been inundated with topics that have nothing to do with Ufology – it is intoxicated with conspiracy theories, hoaxes, junk science, new age claptrap and a level of sensationalism that would make The National Enquirer envious. His first goal, there- fore, should be to drain the swamp of all this garbage and bring the science back to the subject.42
It is clear that Harzan has ignored such sage advice and has chosen to hitch MUFON’s wagon to the philosophy of sensationalist headlines that intoxicates the audience but proves nothing. MUFON’s motto is not researching UFOs to benefit humanity. Instead, it should be to conceal or alter evidence to benefit themselves.
Quelle: SUNlite 3/2014

Tags: UFO-Forschung 

2134 Views

Samstag, 25. Oktober 2014 - 23:45 Uhr

Astronomie - 3 Beträchtliche Sonneneruptionen innerhalb 2 Tagen

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23.10.2014

Update, 11:42 a.m. EDT: The sun erupted with another significant flare today, peaking at 10:28 a.m. EDT on Oct. 22, 2014. NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory captured images of the event, which occurred in the lower half of the sun. This flare is classified as an X1.6 class flare. X-class flares denote the most extreme flares. This is the third substantial flare from the same region of the sun since Oct. 19.

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An X1.6 class flare erupted from the lower half of the sun, as seen in the bright flash of light in this image from NASA's SDO. This image shows extreme ultraviolet light with a wavelength of 131 Angstroms, which highlights the intense heat of a solar flare and which is typically colorized in teal.
Image Credit: NASA/SDO
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To see how this event may affect Earth, please visit NOAA's Space Weather Prediction Center at http://spaceweather.gov, the U.S. government's official source for space weather forecasts, alerts, watches and warnings.
 
Second Substantial Flare in Two Days - First Update: Oct. 22, 2014, 9:45 a.m. EDT
The sun emitted a mid-level solar flare, peaking at 9:59 p.m. EDT on Oct. 21, 2014. NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory, which is always observing the sun, captured an image of the event. The same active region previously emitted an X1.1 solar flare on Oct. 19. Solar flares are powerful bursts of radiation. Harmful radiation from a flare cannot pass through Earth's atmosphere to physically affect humans on the ground, however -- when intense enough -- they can disturb the atmosphere in the layer where GPS and communications signals travel.
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An active region on the sun erupted with a mid-level flare, an M8.7 class, on Oct. 21, 2014, as seen in the bright light of this image captured by NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory. This image shows extreme ultraviolet light that highlights the hot solar material in the sun's atmosphere.
Image Credit: NASA/SDO
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To see how this event may affect Earth, please visit NOAA's Space Weather Prediction Center at http://spaceweather.gov, the U.S. government's official source for space weather forecasts, alerts, watches and warnings.
This flare is classified as an M 8.7-class flare.
M-class denotes flares that are a tenth as strong as X-class flares, which are the most intense flares. The number provides more information about its strength. An M2 is twice as intense as an M1, an M3 is three times as intense, etc.
Updates will be provided as needed.
Quelle: NASA
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Update: 25.10.2014
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One Giant Sunspot, 5 Substantial Flares
October 25, 2014
On Oct. 25, 2014, the sun emitted its fifth substantial flare since Oct.19. This flare was classified as an X1-class flare and it peaked at 1:08 p.m. EDT.
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An X-class flare erupted from the sun on Oct. 25, 2014, as seen as a bright flash of light in this image from NASA's SDO. The image shows extreme ultraviolet light in the 131-angstrom wavelength, which highlights the intensely hot material in a flare and which is typically colorized in teal.
Image Credit: NASA/SDO
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To see how this event may affect Earth, please visit NOAA's Space Weather Prediction Center at http://spaceweather.gov, the U.S. government's official source for space weather forecasts, alerts, watches and warnings.
 
First Update: Oct. 24, 2014, 8:46 p.m. EDT
The sun emitted a significant solar flare, peaking at 5:41 p.m. EDT on Oct. 24, 2014. NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory, which watches the sun constantly, captured images of the event. Solar flares are powerful bursts of radiation. Harmful radiation from a flare cannot pass through Earth's atmosphere to physically affect humans on the ground, however -- when intense enough -- they can disturb the atmosphere in the layer where GPS and communications signals travel.
To see how this event may affect Earth, please visit NOAA's Space Weather Prediction Center at http://spaceweather.gov, the U.S. government's official source for space weather forecasts, alerts, watches and warnings.
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An X3.1-class flare erupted from the lower half of the sun on Oct. 24, 2014. This image of the flare was captured by NASA's SDO and it shows extreme ultraviolet light at wavelengths of 171 and 304 angstroms.
Image Credit: NASA/SDO
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This flare is classified as an X3.1-class flare.
X-class denotes the most intense flares, while the number provides more information about its strength. An X2 is twice as intense as an X1, an X3 is three times as intense, etc.
The flare erupted from a particularly large active region -- labeled AR 12192 -- on the sun that is the largest in 24 years. This is the fourth substantial flare from this active region since Oct. 19.
Quelle: NASA

Tags: Astronomie 

1949 Views

Samstag, 25. Oktober 2014 - 17:20 Uhr

Raumfahrt - One-way trip to Mars? Lass es uns tun, sagt Buzz Aldrin

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One-way trip to Mars? Let's do it, says Buzz Aldrin: Apollo 11 astronaut says bringing people back isn't worth the money
Buzz Aldrin says the first Mars crews should remain on the red planet 
He says for the cost of going to Mars they should not come back at first
Instead they should set up a colony and people should only start returning when a colony of about 100 is settled
Dr Aldrin was talking at MIT’s AeroAstro Centennial Symposium in Cambridge, Massachusetts
However Nasa has been keen to distance itself from one-way trip proposals 
They want to send astronauts to Mars - and back - in the 2030s
And Dr Aldrin's fellow panelists also said we should bring Mars crews home
'At the very least, I think that people need a fighting chance to return,’ said former astronaut Vance Brand 
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Earlier this month Nasa chief Charles Bolden said the first humans set to Mars in the 2030s should be brought back after they’ve completed their mission on the red planet.
But in a talk this week former Apollo 11 astronaut Buzz Aldrin disagreed - he says the first Martian explorers should be tasked with setting up a colony.
For the cost of getting there, Dr Aldrin says it makes more sense to actually stay on Mars and only bring people back when the colony is settled.
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Buzz Aldrin (shown) says the first Mars crews should remain on the red planet. He says for the cost of going to Mars they should not come back at first. Instead they should set up a colony and people should only start returning when a colony of about 100 is settled
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'It [will] cost the world - and the US - billions and billions of dollars to put these people there, and you're going to bring them back?' Dr Aldrin said, reports space.com.
What are you going to do when you bring them back here that can possibly compare [to] the value that they would be if they stayed there and Mars wasn't empty?
‘And then, they helped to work with the next group and it builds up a cadre of people.
‘When we've got 100 - or whatever it is - then we start bringing people back.’
Dr Aldrin’s words will likely strike a chord with Nasa, who have been keen to distance themselves from ventures that intend to send people to Mars on one-way trips.
One such venture is Mars One, an ambitious proposal to send a crew to Mars by 2025 with no prospect of bringing them back to Earth.
The mission would see crews and supplies steadily sent over many years, setting up a colony on the red planet and televising the event to RAISE MONEY.
It has been widely condemned by critics, however, with many pointing out the Dutch company has none of the infrastructure required for such a mission, such as a suitable spacecraft or rockets.
In addition, a recent study from MIT found that the Mars One plan was not feasible, and the first crewmember would die in 68 days owing to a lack of supplies.
SpaceX CEO Elon Musk, meanwhile, has often said that he personally wants to ‘die on Mars - just not on impact.’
His quote has often been misconstrued, however - what he meant is that he wants to live out his days in a colony on Mars.
Nasa, though, is adamant that its first mission to Mars will not be to set up a colony, but rather a scientific mission akin to the moon landings to land and return on the planet.
‘[Elon Musk] wants to die there,’ Nasa chief Charles Bolden said in a talk in London earlier this month. ‘He doesn’t talk about coming back. But he and I disagree on that.
‘If someone wants to come back, I want them to be able to come back.’
Some of Dr Aldrin’s fellow panellists also disagreed with the prospect of a one-way trip to Mars.
‘At the very least, I think that people need a fighting chance to return,’ said former astronaut Vance Brand, who flew on the Space Shuttle and also the first US-Soviet joint spaceflight in 1975.
The MIT AeroAstro Centennial Symposium is continuing with a discussion by Elon Musk later today. 
Quelle:mo

2145 Views

Samstag, 25. Oktober 2014 - 07:33 Uhr

Raumfahrt - SpaceX Falcon 9 Booster versucht Landung auf schwimmenden Plattform im Dezember

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s soon as December, SpaceX will attempt to land a Falcon 9 rocket booster on a floating ocean platform the size of a football field, CEO Elon Musk said today.
The landing platform is being built at a Louisiana shipyard and measures 300 feet by 170 feet, Musk said during a talk at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, which was streamed online.
The new infrastructure is SpaceX's next step in trying to recover a Falcon 9 booster so it can be flown again, a breakthrough Musk believes is critical to lowering launch costs.
So far, the company has twice flown boosters as tall as 14-story buildings back from space and hypersonic speeds to soft landings in the Atlantic Ocean, where they broke up.
"Unfortunately, it sort of sat there for several seconds, then tipped over and exploded," said Musk. "When a 14-story building falls over, it's quite a belly flop."
The new platform aims to give the boosters something more solid to touch down upon with landing legs that span 60 feet.
It will be positioned miles out in the Atlantic Ocean, unanchored but equipped with engines and GPS sensors that will try to keep it stable.
SpaceX must show it can repeatedly perform precise landings over water before trying to fly a rocket back to land, where a miss could have more serious consequences.
Despite the platform's "huge-ish" dimensions, Musk noted that the target "looks very tiny from space."
He estimated no better than a 50-50 chance of a successful platform landing on the first attempt. But during one of the dozen launches planned over the next year, he gave as high as 90 percent odds of a landing that would enable a rocket to reused.
"So I think we're quite close," he said.
SpaceX's next launch of International Space Station cargo from Cape Canaveral is tentatively planned no earlier than Dec. 9. Musk hopes to use the landing platform then if it is ready.
SpaceX had previously disclosed plans to land on a "floating launch pad" or "solid surface," but no details about how it would work.
Quelle: Florida Today

Tags: Raumfahrt 

1885 Views

Freitag, 24. Oktober 2014 - 22:15 Uhr

Astronomie - NASA Identifiziert Eis Wolken über dem Saturn-Mond Titan

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NASA Identifies Ice Cloud Above Cruising Altitude on Titan
NASA scientists have identified an unexpected high-altitude methane ice cloud on Saturn's moon Titan that is similar to exotic clouds found far above Earth's poles.
This lofty cloud, imaged by NASA's Cassini spacecraft, was part of the winter cap of condensation over Titan's north pole. Now, eight years after spotting this mysterious bit of atmospheric fluff, researchers have determined that it contains methane ice, which produces a much denser cloud than the ethane ice previously identified there.
"The idea that methane clouds could form this high on Titan is completely new," said Carrie Anderson, a Cassini participating scientist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, and lead author of the study. "Nobody considered that possible before."
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This cloud in the stratosphere over Titan’s north pole (left) is similar to Earth’s polar stratospheric clouds (right). NASA scientists found that Titan’s cloud contains methane ice, which was not previously thought to form in that part of the atmosphere. Cassini first spotted the cloud in 2006.
Image Credit: L. NASA/JPL/U. of Ariz./LPGNantes; R. NASA/GSFC/M. Schoeberl
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Methane clouds were already known to exist in Titan's troposphere, the lowest layer of the atmosphere. Like rain and snow clouds on Earth, those clouds form through a cycle of evaporation and condensation, with vapor rising from the surface, encountering cooler and cooler temperatures and falling back down as precipitation. On Titan, however, the vapor at work is methane instead of water.
The newly identified cloud instead developed in the stratosphere, the layer above the troposphere. Earth has its own polar stratospheric clouds, which typically form above the North Pole and South Pole between 49,000 and 82,000 feet (15 to 25 kilometers) -- well above cruising altitude for airplanes. These rare clouds don't form until the temperature drops to minus 108 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 78 degrees Celsius).
Other stratospheric clouds had been identified on Titan already, including a very thin, diffuse cloud of ethane, a chemical formed after methane breaks down. Delicate clouds made from cyanoacetylene and hydrogen cyanide, which form from reactions of methane byproducts with nitrogen molecules, also have been found there.
But methane clouds were thought unlikely in Titan's stratosphere. Because the troposphere traps most of the moisture, stratospheric clouds require extreme cold. Even the stratosphere temperature of minus 333 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 203 degrees Celsius), observed by Cassini just south of the equator, was not frigid enough to allow the scant methane in this region of the atmosphere to condense into ice.
What Anderson and her Goddard co-author, Robert Samuelson, noted is that temperatures in Titan's lower stratosphere are not the same at all latitudes. Data from Cassini's Composite Infrared Spectrometer and the spacecraft's radio science instrument showed that the high-altitude temperature near the north pole was much colder than that just south of the equator.
It turns out that this temperature difference -- as much as 11 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 12 degrees Celsius) -- is more than enough to yield methane ice.
Other factors support the methane identification. Initial observations of the cloud system were consistent with small particles composed of ethane ice. Later observations revealed some regions to be clumpier and denser, suggesting that more than one ice could be present. The team confirmed that the larger particles are the right size for methane ice and that the expected amount of methane -- one-and-a-half percent, which is enough to form ice particles -- is present in the lower polar stratosphere.
The mechanism for forming these high-altitude clouds appears to be different from what happens in the troposphere. Titan has a global circulation pattern in which warm air in the summer hemisphere wells up from the surface and enters the stratosphere, slowly making its way to the winter pole. There, the air mass sinks back down, cooling as it descends, which allows the stratospheric methane clouds to form.
"Cassini has been steadily gathering evidence of this global circulation pattern, and the identification of this new methane cloud is another strong indicator that the process works the way we think it does," said Michael Flasar, Goddard scientist and principal investigator for Cassini's Composite Infrared Spectrometer (CIRS).
Like Earth's stratospheric clouds, this methane cloud was located near the winter pole, above 65 degrees north latitude. Anderson and Samuelson estimate that this type of cloud system -- which they call subsidence-induced methane clouds, or SIMCs for short -- could develop between 98,000 to 164,000 feet (30 to 50 kilometers) in altitude above Titan's surface.
"Titan continues to amaze with natural processes similar to those on the Earth, yet involving materials different from our familiar water," said Scott Edgington, Cassini deputy project scientist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California. "As we approach southern winter solstice on Titan, we will further explore how these cloud formation processes might vary with season."
The results of this study are available online in the journal Icarus.
The Cassini-Huygens mission is a cooperative project of NASA, the European Space Agency and the Italian Space Agency. JPL, a division of the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, manages the mission for NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington. The CIRS team is based at Goddard. The radio science team is based at JPL.
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Quelle: NASA

Tags: Astronomie 

2026 Views

Freitag, 24. Oktober 2014 - 10:32 Uhr

Astronomie - Die ersten Fotos von Partielle Sonnenfinsternis Okt. 23

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Skywatcher Brad Whitsitt of Indianapolis, Indiana captured this view of the Oct. 23 partial solar eclipse seen through wispy clouds at 6:15 p.m. ET using a Canon 5D camera and 700mm lens equipped with - most importantly - a protective solar filter. A giant sunspot group can clearly be seen on the surface of the sun. Credit: Brad Whitsitt.
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The partial solar eclipse of Oct. 23, 2014, approaches its conclusion at the Arizona location of the Mt. Lemmon SkyCenter.
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The moon continued to pass in front of the sun on Oct. 23, 2014, as shown in this live webcast image provided by the Mt. Lemmon SkyCenter, Arizona.
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This NASA graphic shows the region of visibility for the partial solar eclipse of Oct. 23. NASA eclipse expert Fred Espenak created this view, which shows the track of the eclipse as the moon's shadow moves across the Earth's surface. Credit: NASA.
Quelle:SC

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