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Sonntag, 11. Januar 2015 - 12:45 Uhr

Raumfahrt - Auswahl der 2015-2016 German-Swedish REXUS/BEXUS Programme.

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Christmas came early for eight student teams when SNSB and ESA selected their experiments to fly to the edge of space as part of the 2015-2016 German-Swedish REXUS/BEXUS programme.
The selected SNSB/ESA teams comprise members studying in eight different ESA Member States. They were announced a week after the selection workshop in which 68 students in 14 different teams, coming from 11 ESA's Member States participated.
The workshop took place at the European Space Research and Technology Centre (ESTEC) in Noordwijk, the Netherlands, from 2 to 4 December 2014.
The participants made presentations of their sounding rocket or stratospheric balloon project to a panel of experts from ESA, SNSB, SSC, ZARM and DLR. They also participated in technical lectures and visited the Erasmus User Centre for the International Space Station.

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Former REXUS students speaking about the programme's benefits

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The teams selected for the REXUS 19 and 20 rocket flights are:
BOILUS (Boiling management by means of ultrasounds in microgravity conditions),Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya, Spain;
CEMIOS (Electrophysiological study investigating cellular effects of weightlessness induced oocyte samples), Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts University of Bern, Switzerland;
PICARD (Prototype Inflatable Conical Antenna - REXUS Deployment), University of Strathclyde and University of Birmingham, United Kingdom;
SLED (System of free-falling units using LEDs to allow one to track the other), Royal Institute of Technology, Sweden.
The teams selected for the BEXUS 20 and 21 balloon flights are:
CPT-SCOPE (Cosmic Particle Telescope), Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Norway, Freie Universität, , Technische Universität, Beuth Hochschule für Technik, Germany;
FREDE 2015 (CFC Decay Experiment), Wroclaw University of Technology, University of Wroclaw, Poland;
HACORD (High Altitude Cosmic Ray Detector), University of Antwerp, Belgium;
SPADE (SPADE Smartphone Platform for Acquisition of Data Experiment), Universidad de Sevilla, Spain.
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REXUS 12 Suaineadh experiment
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“The REXUS/BEXUS Selection Workshop has been a great experience from which we have been able to benefit academically and personally. It was three intense days which provided us the opportunity to learn what other research is being developed by other students around Europe as well as get to know the students themselves. We also met the experts and listened to their comments. The lectures provided us a new perspective to analyse our project and improve our experiment,” said a member of the REXUS BOILUS team.
REXUS/BEXUS stands for Rocket / Balloon EXperiments for University Students. The German-Swedish student programme has been running for 7 years. In that time, more than 600 students have been involved, 12 rockets and 14 balloons have been launched with 92 experiments in total. Two additional REXUS rockets including 8 experiments will be launched in March 2015.
The newly chosen experiments will fly on BEXUS 20 and 21 balloons in autumn 2015, while the REXUS 19 and 20 sounding rockets are scheduled to launch in spring 2016. All flights will take place from the SSC Esrange Space Center in northern Sweden.
The REXUS/BEXUS programme incorporates a near space mission project life cycle, including preliminary, critical, integration and acceptance reviews, a thorough integration and testing campaign, launch and follow up activities. This provides invaluable experience for the students who may be contemplating a career in aerospace.
"Our team enjoyed the unique experience to present our project, CPT-SCOPE, in front of an international panel of experts and to meet like-minded students from all across Europe. Getting to know them was great and is important in view of a future network of space professionals,” said a member of  the BEXUS CTP-SCOPE team.
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Rexus / Bexus students at the selection workshop
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In addition to these SNSB/ESA teams, DLR Space Administration has also selected 6 German student experiments to be flown on the same launch vehicles. The fourteen selected student teams will be invited to DLR Oberpfaffenhofen from 9 to 13 February 2015 to participate to the Student Training Week.
This will include lectures on relevant scientific and engineering topics, detailed explanations of the launch vehicle systems, tours of the facilities and 'Ask an Expert' discussion sessions. During this event each team will also perform their preliminary design review.
"To reach your goal you will need to be open to learn and work hard but do not forget have fun too,” said the BOILUS team of the challenges that lay ahead.
A call for new experiment proposals will issued mid-June 2015, with a deadline of mid-October the same year.
Notes for editors:
The REXUS/BEXUS programme is realised under a bilateral Agency Agreement between the German Aerospace Center (DLR) and the Swedish National Space Board (SNSB). The Swedish share of the payload has been made available to students from other European countries through a collaboration with the European Space Agency (ESA). 
EuroLaunch, a cooperation between the Esrange Space Center of SSC and the Mobile Rocket Base (MORABA) of DLR, is responsible for the campaign management and operations of the launch vehicles. Experts from DLR, SSC, ZARM and ESA provide technical support to the student teams throughout the project.
Quelle: ESA-GB

Tags: Raumfahrt 

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Sonntag, 11. Januar 2015 - 12:00 Uhr

Astronomie - Karte von mysteriösen Moleküle in Galaxien wirft neues Licht auf jahrhundertealte Rätsel

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Map of diffuse interstellar bands
IMAGE: T.W. LAN, G. ZASOWSKI, B. MÉNARD, SDSS AND 2MASS/UMASS/IPAC-CALTECH/NASA/NSF
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Johns Hopkins astronomers unveil findings at 225th meeting of the American Astronomical Society
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By analyzing the light of hundreds of thousands of celestial objects, Johns Hopkins astronomers from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey have created a unique map of enigmatic molecules in our galaxy that are responsible for puzzling features in the light from stars.
The map, which can be viewed online, was unveiled today at the 225th meeting of the American Astronomical Society in Seattle.
"Seeing where these mysterious molecules are located is fascinating," said Brice Ménard, a professor in the Department of Physics & Astronomy at Johns Hopkins University.
Added Gail Zasowski, another Johns Hopkins astronomer who played a key role in the project: "This new map required analyzing huge amounts of data and using the power of statistical analyses."
These puzzling features in the light from stars, which astronomers call diffuse interstellar bands, or DIBs, have been a mystery ever since they were discovered by astronomer Mary Lea Heger of Lick Observatory in 1922. While analyzing the light from stars, she found unexpected lines that were created by something existing in the interstellar space between the stars and the Earth.
Further research showed that these mysterious lines were caused by a variety of molecules. But exactly which of the many thousands of possible molecules are responsible for these features has remained a mystery for almost a century.
This new map, based on Sloan Digital Sky Survey data that reveals the location of these enigmatic molecules, was compiled from two parallel studies.
Zasowski, a postdoctoral fellow, led one team that focused on the densest parts of our galaxy. They used infrared observations that can cut through the dust clouds and reach previously obscured stars. Johns Hopkins graduate student Ting-Wen Lan led the other study, which used visible light to detect the mysterious molecules located above the plane of the galaxy, where their signatures are very weak and harder to measure.
"We do not have a full map yet, but we can already see a lot of interesting patterns," said Ménard, who worked on both teams.
Lan's team analyzed the light from more than half a million stars, galaxies, and quasars to detect the molecules' features in the regions well above and beyond the Milky Way's disk. In addition, the team was able to see the types of environments in which these molecules are more likely to be found. Some molecules like dense regions of gas and dust, while others prefer the lonelier spots far away from stars.
"These results will guide researchers toward the best observations and laboratory experiments to pin down the properties and nature of these enigmatic molecules," Lan said.
To look toward the galactic plane, hidden behind thick clouds of cosmic dust, Zasowski's team used data from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey's APOGEE survey. APOGEE observations, which make use of infrared light, can easily see through interstellar dust and measure the properties of stars all over the galaxy.
The team members detected some of the mysterious features in front of about 60,000 stars in a wide range of environments and were even able to measure the motion of these molecules.
"For the first time, we can see how these mysterious molecules are moving around the galaxy," Zasowski said. "This is extremely useful and brings in new connections between these molecules and the dynamics of the Milky Way."
All the recent findings concerning these mysterious features paint a picture of tough little molecules that can exist in a variety of environments all over the galaxy.
"Almost a hundred years after their discovery, the exact nature of these molecules still remains a mystery, but we are getting one step closer to understanding what they are made of," Ménard said. "The era of big data in astronomy allows us to look at the universe in new ways. There is so much to explore with these large datasets. This is just the beginning."
The researchers used data from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey. The work was supported by National Science Foundation funding.
Quelle: Johns Hopkins University

Tags: Astronomie 

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Sonntag, 11. Januar 2015 - 11:42 Uhr

Astronomie - Photonischen Booms können dazu beitragen Astronomische Geheimnisse zu beleuchten

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Hubble's Variable Nebula. Image: William Sparks (STScI), Sylvia Baggett (STScI) et al.,
& the Hubble Heritage Team (AURA/ STScI/ NASA)
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If you sweep a laser pointer across the Moon fast enough, you can create spots that actually move faster than light. Anyone can do it.
At a meeting of the American Astronomical Society in Seattle, Wash., today, Robert Nemiroff, a physics professor at Michigan Technological University, reported that this theoretical curiosity may turn out to be practically useful out in the cosmos. When a superluminal sweep occurs, it typically starts with a flash that may reveal previously unknown three-dimensional information about the scattering object.
Flashes, dubbed “photonic booms” because they are directly analogous to sonic booms, may be detectable on the Moon, on passing asteroids, on fast moving shadows cast on reflecting dust clouds near variable stars, and on objects illuminated by the rapidly rotating beam of a pulsar, said Nemiroff, author of a study accepted for publication by the Publications of the Astronomical Society of Australia, with a preliminary version available online, “And if detected, we could learn more about all of these objects,” said Nemiroff.
“The concept, although not proven in practice, is quite intriguing,” said Rosanne Di Stefano, a leading researcher at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics.
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Superluminal Spot Pair Events in Astronomical Settings: Sweeping Beams
Sweeping beams of light can cast spots moving with superluminal speeds across scattering surfaces. Such faster-than-light speeds are well-known phenomena that do not violate special relativity. It is shown here that under certain circumstances, superluminal spot pair creation and annihilation events can occur that provide unique information to observers. These spot pair events are {it not} particle pair events -- they are the sudden creation or annihilation of a pair of relatively illuminated spots on a scattering surface. Real spot pair illumination events occur unambiguously on the scattering surface when spot speeds diverge, while virtual spot pair events are observer dependent and perceived only when real spot radial speeds cross the speed of light. Specifically, a virtual spot pair creation event will be observed when a real spot's speed toward the observer drops below c, while a virtual spot pair annihilation event will be observed when a real spot's radial speed away from the observer rises above c. Superluminal spot pair events might be found angularly, photometrically, or polarimetrically, and might carry useful geometry or distance information. Two example scenarios are briefly considered. The first is a beam swept across a scattering spherical object, exemplified by spots of light moving across Earth's Moon and pulsar companions. The second is a beam swept across a scattering planar wall or linear filament, exemplified by spots of light moving across variable nebulae including Hubble's Variable Nebula. In local cases where the sweeping beam can be controlled and repeated, a three-dimensional map of a target object can be constructed. Used tomographically, this imaging technique is fundamentally different from lens photography, radar, and conventional lidar.
Link: http://arxiv.org/pdf/1412.7581v1.pdf
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To reveal the size and surface features of asteroids passing near the Earth, a laser beam might be swept across the rock’s surface thousands of times a second, with each sweep forcing a harmless but telling photonic boom. The flashes could be recorded with high-speed cameras attached to large telescopes, potentially mapping out major features on the asteroid.
Photonic booms could also be seen much farther out in the universe. An example occurs in Hubble's Variable Nebula in the constellation of Monoceros. There, shadows cast by clouds moving between the bright star "R Mon" and reflecting dust move so fast that they might create photonics booms visible even for days or weeks.
 The physics that creates the photonic boom is tied to the faster-than-light sweep speeds of the illuminating spots and cast shadows. Specifically, a flash is seen by an observer when the speed of the scattered spot toward the observer drops from above the speed of light to below the speed of light. The phenomenon is possible only because the spots contain no mass and so cannot only move faster than light, but decelerate past the speed of light without violating Einstein’s theory of special relativity.
Details of the effect hinge on the interplay between the time it takes for a sweeping light beam to cross an object, and the time it takes for the light beam to traverse the depth of the object. Therefore, measuring photonic booms gives information about the depth of the scatterer. Were the Moon just a flat disk on the sky, for example, no photonics boom would occur.
"Photonic booms happen around us quite frequently -- but they are always too brief to notice," says Nemiroff. “Out in the cosmos they last long enough to notice -- but nobody has thought to look for them!”
The light flash from a photonic boom is quite different from well-known Cherenkov radiation, light emitted when a charged object breaks the speed of light inside transparent matter, he notes.
Michigan Technological University (www.mtu.edu) is a leading public research university developing new technologies and preparing students to create the future for a prosperous and sustainable world. Michigan Tech offers more than 130 undergraduate and graduate degree programs in engineering; forest resources; computing; technology; business; economics; natural, physical and environmental sciences; arts; humanities; and social sciences.
Quelle: MichiganTech

Tags: Astronomie 

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Sonntag, 11. Januar 2015 - 11:05 Uhr

Astronomie - NASA Kepler's Hall of Fame

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NASA Kepler's Hall of Fame: Of the more than 1,000 verified planets found by NASA's Kepler Space Telescope, eight are less than twice Earth-size and in their stars' habitable zone. All eight orbit stars cooler and smaller than our sun. The search continues for Earth-size habitable zone worlds around sun-like stars.
How many stars like our sun host planets like our Earth? NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope continuously monitored more than 150,000 stars beyond our solar system, and to date has offered scientists an assortment of more than 4,000 candidate planets for further study -- the 1,000th of which was recently verified.
Using Kepler data, scientists reached this millenary milestone after validating that eight more candidates spotted by the planet-hunting telescope are, in fact, planets. The Kepler team also has added another 554 candidates to the roll of potential planets, six of which are near-Earth-size and orbit in the habitable zone of stars similar to our sun.
Three of the newly-validated planets are located in their distant suns’ habitable zone, the range of distances from the host star where liquid water might exist on the surface of an orbiting planet. Of the three, two are likely made of rock, like Earth.
"Each result from the planet-hunting Kepler mission's treasure trove of data takes us another step closer to answering the question of whether we are alone in the Universe," said John Grunsfeld, associate administrator of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate at the agency’s headquarters in Washington. “The Kepler team and its science community continue to produce impressive results with the data from this venerable explorer."
To determine whether a planet is made of rock, water or gas, scientists must know its size and mass. When its mass can’t be directly determined, scientists can infer what the planet is made of based on its size.
Two of the newly validated planets, Kepler-438b and Kepler-442b, are less than 1.5 times the diameter of Earth. Kepler-438b, 475 light-years away, is 12 percent bigger than Earth and orbits its star once every 35.2 days. Kepler-442b, 1,100 light-years away, is 33 percent bigger than Earth and orbits its star once every 112 days.
Both Kepler-438b and Kepler-442b orbit stars smaller and cooler than our sun, making the habitable zone closer to their parent star, in the direction of the constellation Lyra. The research paper reporting this finding has been accepted for publication in The Astrophysical Journal.
"With each new discovery of these small, possibly rocky worlds, our confidence strengthens in the determination of the true frequency of planets like Earth," said co-author Doug Caldwell, SETI Institute Kepler scientist at NASA's Ames Research Center at Moffett Field, California. "The day is on the horizon when we’ll know how common temperate, rocky planets like Earth are.”
With the detection of 554 more planet candidates from Kepler observations conducted May 2009 to April 2013, the Kepler team has raised the candidate count to 4,175. Eight of these new candidates are between one to two times the size of Earth, and orbit in their sun's habitable zone. Of these eight, six orbit stars that are similar to our sun in size and temperature. All candidates require follow-up observations and analysis to verify they are actual planets.
“Kepler collected data for four years -- long enough that we can now tease out the Earth-size candidates in one Earth-year orbits”, said Fergal Mullally, SETI Institute Kepler scientist at Ames who led the analysis of a new candidate catalog. “We’re closer than we’ve ever been to finding Earth twins around other sun-like stars. These are the planets we’re looking for”.
These findings also have been submitted for publication in The Astrophysical Journal Supplement.
Work is underway to translate these recent discoveries into estimates of how often rocky planets appear in the habitable zones of stars like our sun, a key step toward NASA's goal of understanding our place in the universe.
Scientists also are working on the next catalog release of Kepler’s four-year data set. The analysis will include the final month of data collected by the mission and also will be conducted using sophisticated software that is more sensitive to the tiny telltale signatures of small Earth-size planets than software used in the past.
Ames is responsible for Kepler's mission operations, ground system development and science data analysis. NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, managed Kepler mission development. Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp. in Boulder, Colorado, developed the Kepler flight system and supports mission operations with the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics at the University of Colorado in Boulder. The Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore archives, hosts and distributes Kepler science data. Kepler is NASA's 10th Discovery Mission and was funded by the agency's Science Mission Directorate in Washington.
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Quelle: NASA

Tags: Astronomie 

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Samstag, 10. Januar 2015 - 17:00 Uhr

Astronomie - Saturn in Exquisiter Genauigkeit

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Researchers have determined the location of the Saturn system's center of mass to within just a couple of miles (or kilometers), a factor of 50 improvement over previous knowledge
Image Credit: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute
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Scientists have paired NASA's Cassini spacecraft with the National Science Foundation's Very Long Baseline Array (VLBA) radio-telescope system to pinpoint the position of Saturn and its family of moons to within about 2 miles (4 kilometers). The measurement is some 50 times more precise than those provided by ground-based optical telescopes. The feat improves astronomers' knowledge of Saturn's orbit and benefits spacecraft navigation and basic physics research.
The team of researchers used the VLBA -- a giant array of radio-telescope antennas spread from Hawaii to the Virgin Islands -- to pinpoint the position of Cassini as it orbited Saturn over the past decade by receiving the signal from the spacecraft's radio transmitter. They combined this data with information about Cassini's orbit from NASA's Deep Space Network. The combined observations allowed the scientists to make the most accurate determinations yet of the position of the center of mass, or barycenter, of Saturn and its numerous moons.
The study team included researchers from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, and the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) in Socorro, New Mexico. The scientists are presenting the results of their work today at the American Astronomical Society's meeting in Seattle.
The new measurement was made possible by two factors: Cassini's long-term presence in the Saturn system and the VLBA's ability to discern extremely fine detail. The result is a greatly improved table of predicted positions of objects in the Saturn system, known as an ephemeris. An ephemeris is one of the basic tools of astronomy.
"This work is a great step toward tying together our understanding of the orbits of the outer planets of our solar system and those of the inner planets," said Dayton Jones of JPL, who led the study.
The improved positional information will help enhance precise navigation of interplanetary spacecraft and help refine measurements of the masses of solar system objects. It will also improve predictions of when Saturn or its rings will pass in front of background stars -- events that provide a variety of research opportunities for astronomers.
VLBA measurements of Cassini's position have even helped scientists who seek to make ever-more-stringent tests of Albert Einstein's theory of general relativity by observing small changes in the apparent positions of actively feeding black holes, or quasars, as Saturn appears to pass in front of them on the sky.
Cassini's navigation team, charged with plotting the spacecraft's course around Saturn, began using new positional information provided by the ongoing study in 2013. The new ephemeris has enabled them to design better maneuvers for the spacecraft, leading to mission-enhancing savings in propellant. Previously, the navigators performed their own estimates of the positions of Saturn and its satellites using data gleaned by tracking Cassini's radio signal during its communications with Earth. The new calculations, enhanced by VLBA data, are about 20 times more accurate.
Jones and colleagues plan to continue the joint observations with Cassini and the VLBA through the end of Cassini's mission in late 2017. The team plans to use similar techniques to observe the motion of NASA's Juno spacecraft when it reaches Jupiter in mid-2016. They hope to improve the orbital knowledge of that giant planet as well.
JPL, a division of the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, manages the Cassini and Juno missions and the Deep Space Network for NASA. The National Radio Astronomy Observatory is a facility of the National Science Foundation, operated under cooperative agreement by Associated Universities, Inc.
Quelle: NASA

Tags: Astronomie 

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Samstag, 10. Januar 2015 - 16:30 Uhr

UFO-Forschung - Allheilmittel der Ufologie: UFO Report Datenbanken

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When discussing the efforts of the Canadian UFO survey over the past twenty-five years, Chris Rutkowski wrote:
Regardless of one’s belief in the “reality” of UFOs (however that may be construed), studies such as ours affirm that there is a persis- tent phenomenon that deserves further scientific study. If UFOs are not “real,” then why are tens of thousands of Canadians (and others worldwide) seeing unusual objects in the sky? Is there a need for better education of the masses? If there is a residual percentage of truly unexplained cases, what do these represent? Alien visitation? Clandestine military exercises? A hitherto unrecognized natural atmo- spheric phenomenon?1
In my opinion, Rutkowski’s claim that these objects are “unusual” is another instance of UFOlogists not understanding the fact that these are reports made by witnesses who are reporting what they perceived and may not be a true reflection of what they actually saw. It is the witness who often introduces the “unusual” part of the UFO report which can turn an Identified Flying Object (IFO) into an Unidentified Flying Object (UFO) that can not be explained.
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Is 94% good enough?
Chris Rutkowski recently published an article describing how he examined Ted Molczan’s database for re-entries that were vis- ible from Canada and compared them to the twenty-five year history of the Canadian UFO survey. His results seem to confirm that UFOlogists, in Canada, were right in identifying the possible source of the sighting (many of them appeared to be classified as a fireball but that is splitting hairs) a significant majority of the time. While I am impressed by this success, I think it is important to examine the 6% of the cases that the survey did not identify as reports of re-entering space debris.
The first report occurred during the Cosmos 2096 re-entry, which was visible from the northern tier of states in the central United States. Apparently, it was also visible in the lower provinces of Canada. The unidentified report was from Portage la Prairie, Mani- toba about sixty miles north of the US border. The source of this report was from the UFO database of Manitoba and was listed as follows2:
Rutkowski then describes why it was listed as “unidentified”:
It was classified as Unknown because the witness was a reliable observer. However, the witness only reported “lights,” so no structured object was described.3
Rutkowski gives no other reason to explain why this was listed as “unidentified”. The time of observation and re-entry match. The description even appears to match. He saw lights flying in a parallel course. This sounds like a description of a re-entry that broke up. In my opinion, justifying the classification because the observer was “reliable” is a mistake often used by UFOlogists. The history of UFO reports has shown that there is no such thing as “a reliable observer” based on occupation. It appears that the classifier got this report wrong.
The next report was associated with the Russian Astra satellite re-entry on April 14, 1996. Again, the re-entry was visible from the northern tier of the mid-western United States. It also appeared to be visible from Quebec because at the same time the re- entry occurred there were four reports from Quebec. Rutkowski lists two entries that were listed as “unidentified” and “insufficient information”:4
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Rutkowski explains the classifications:
The report listed as “Unknown” is curious because it has descriptors unlike a re-entry. The sighting at 0315 hours local was noted as a “Close Encounter,” yet in time and location matches the re-entry.’5
Both of these observations seem to match the time of the re-entry. One has to consider the possibility that they may have been observations that were distorted by the witnesses.
The Insufficient information report involved the witness saying it stopped over the road and then took off. They also gave an al- titude of 100 feet. This is similar to some observation errors often seen in fireball and re-entry reports. Witnesses often misjudge the distances involved and interpret the object to be relatively close when it was really very far away. I agree that it is “insufficient information” since the report does not include enough data to draw an adequate conclusion but there is the possibility that this might have been a re-entry.
The “unidentified” sighting from this field is the one I found most interesting. It is the classic description of a re-entry straight from the Zond IV incident. A “yellow cigar” with “four large lights”, which was “big as a trailer”. The airship/excitedness effects appear to have taken hold in this description. Despite these apparent clues, Rutkowski states that it has a description that is “unlike a re-entry”. Like the Yukon case, he appears to ignore the lessons from the past regarding how some re-entries can be reported as UFOs.
The last “unidentified” is a case from 2004, where the witnesses reported seeing three lights going west five minutes after seeing a bright fireball. 6
This appears to indicate that their “three lights” going west had nothing to do with the re-entry. One wonders if the witness might have gotten their directions and times wrong. Maybe there was a bright meteor prior to the re-entry. We don’t know for sure. One could easily classify this as “insufficient information” .
It is admirable that the Canadian UFO survey got a score of 94 % for identifying the cases in the re-entry database. Yet, in 6% of the observations, the UFOlogists were unable to identify the likely stimulus because of preconceived notions about how these events should be reported and the “reliability” of the witness. Did this inability to properly identify the source 100% of the time indicate that there are other cases in the database classified as “unidentified” , which can be explained?
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Unidentified ≠ Unexplainable
Back in SUNlite, I pointed out how the 2012 survey got some of their classifications wrong. In one instance, it ap- pears that ten reports were not identified as a venting booster rocket used to launch NROL-25 from Vandenberg AFB. Six of these were classified as “unidentified” and four were listed as “insufficient information”. One would think the cluster of sightings might have caused the classifier to make a check if there might be a known source. Like the recent Trident missile launch off the California coast, UFOlogists dropped the ball and performed no investigation/check to see if there might have been a source that produced these reports.
If one thinks this is an isolated incident, I took a look at some of the different survey’s over the last few years and could point to other “unidentifieds” in these lists that probably have explanations. It is not unusual for UFO databases to contain IFOs masquerading as UFOs. It is also not unusual for some of these databases to contain a certain percentage of cases that do not appear credible but are listed anyway.
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Mythomanes?
In the 2013 survey, I noticed four “unidentifieds” that involved some rather bizarre descriptions. One witness, on February 3rd, mentioned seeing a 3-foot high alien in the hospital:
I saw tranparen entity at a hospital. This being clearly had a cloaking device of some sort as it could not allways hide it’s eyes. One it no- ticed it’s eyes could been seen slightly it would quickly hide them . This being was about 3ft tall. It was there to study so a science collector of sorts. I am not the only that saw this.7
Another case involved an individual, who woke up in the middle of the night on July 16, to see an orb in his room.8 The witness states he is now so scared he sleeps in his car. A third case, on June 9th, involved a rather disturbing account of an alien abduc- tion claim.9 The fourth case, on June 5th, comes from a database that is not public.10 These reports, by themselves, seem difficult to believe without any supporting evidence. In my opinion, putting them into the “unidentified” category gives them credibility they do not deserve. At best, these should be considered “insufficient information”. At worst, the possibility exists that these might be reports made by people with mental problems or are hoaxes.
This makes me wonder how many reports in the survey(s) are made by individuals wanting attention or having possible psychologi- cal issues. I am sure it is a small percentage but there seems to be the possibility that some of these reports might originate from such sources. What effort, if any, is expended to quarantine such reports from the rest of the survey? If there is none, then one begins to wonder if the database might contain more suspect reports being classified as “unidentifieds”.
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Lather, rinse, repeat....
Anybody can collect UFO reports the way kids collect baseball cards or comic books. One can even produce statistics about these reports that appear to demonstrate that there is something unique about the “unidentifieds”. However, UFOlogists have been collecting these reports for many decades and appear to still have problems filtering out the IFOs and poor quality reports.
The ultimate goal of a UFO database should be to weed out all the IFOs so one can focus only on the “true” UFOs. I found it interest- ing that the 6% failure rate in the re-entry cases is in the ballpark range of the 10% often cited as percentage of unknowns found in many UFO databases (the Canadian survey quotes an average value of 13% of 25 years). It is not that big of a stretch to suggest that one of the major reasons that UFOlogists/skeptics can’t identify every case is because the witnesses tend to distort the observations to the point an identification can not be made. This human element makes the effort of collecting and evaluating reports a flawed exercise.
The repetition of this program over the decades demonstrates that UFOlogists are not really learning anything new. UFOlogists need to divorce themselves from the idea that presenting a listing of enigmas as an argument is not the same thing as producing verifiable evidence that can not be refuted. Instead of grabbing headlines, UFOlogists should be attempting new ways to grab the evidence that can be analyzed without the potential for human error.
Quelle: SUNlite 6/2014

Tags: UFO-Forschung 

2037 Views

Samstag, 10. Januar 2015 - 15:30 Uhr

UFO-Forschung - UFO-Absturz bei Roswell 1947 ? Teil-29

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The Roswell Corner / Slip-sliding away
Iwas disappointed that the Roswell festival did not feature the release of the much talked out alien body slides the Roswell re- search team had been hinting about for some time. Rich Reynolds’ July 10 posting about how the slides might have run into legal issues, gave us more information from the commenter by the name of “Larry”, who claims to have seen the slides. Larry would then post his description on the UFO chronicles blog.
I had originally suggested it might be an aircraft crash victim but this description, if the height mentioned by “Larry” is correct, ap- pears to rule this out. The photographs seem to have been taken under low light conditions and the focus was apparently soft. “Larry” also added that there was no connection visible that stated there was any association with Roswell. It does not sound im- pressive and there can be a great many things this could be. If the placard (which was apparently describing what the body was) is any indication, it was on display for various people and not just the photographer. Is it possible that this was a public display for a museum, or freak show? If it is a “freak show” display, it could have been some sort of wax figure depicting some “freak of nature”. Perhaps the placard reads, “Half-boy, half-monkey - the missing link”. It would be appropriate that the “Roswell research team” would fall for this kind of thing.
As usual, Anthony Bragalia seems confident it has something to do with the Roswell crash. He would respond in a blog posting with the title, “Roswell, the slides and the truth”. Despite his proclamations in this piece, he only provides his word as evidence. I really have trouble with that based on his track record as I have demonstrated so many times in past issues of SUNlite. If the evidence that “The slides depict something that is bi-pedal and not known to Earth” is as solid as he proclaims, this evidence would have been presented to the public long ago. However, it would probably be scoffed at just like the “alien autopsy” film. The reason that the slides have not been revealed is that the “research team” fears one thing above anything else. They worry that the source of these slides may actually be identified as something other than an alien body. The internet is full of sleuths with access to all sorts of information that can reveal a great deal. If somebody were to identify this “body”, it would be an incredible failure on the “team’s” part. Therefore, I doubt the slides will ever be presented. UFOlogists always want skeptics/debunkers to “put up or shut up”. It is time for Bragalia, his cohorts, and the “owner” of the slides to come clean.
Quelle: SUNlite 5/2014
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The Roswell Corner
Neoprene in the desert
Irecently read David Rudiak criticizing my neoprene tests that I published in SUNlite 4-4 and 4-5. When I published my first results in SUNlite 4-4, I recall that Mr. Rudiak’s main objection was that New Hampshire had too little sunlight and was too low an altitude to replicate the New Mexican desert. However, I did have James Carlson, who was in New Mexico, duplicate the test with very simi- lar results. Lance Moody’s results from Ohio also agreed.
Now Mr. Rudiak is complaining that I gave the balloon material TOO MUCH (not too little) sunlight by propping it up so it was con- stantly exposed to sunlight. He fails to recognize that my tests were NOT designed to duplicate the conditions that a balloon would receive on the Foster ranch. My goal was to see how neoprene reacted to sunlight and compare the results to the claims made by Roswell proponents, like Mr. Rudiak. I stated the two major claims I examined were:
1. The balloon would turn to ash after a few weeks or so in the desert.
2. The balloon material visible in the photographs were from a balloon that was quickly exposed to the sun and shredded to make
it appear like it had been left in the desert for several weeks.
In both cases, my tests (and the tests of Moody and Carlson) revealed that, even with maximum possible exposure, the neoprene materials did not do either. The material took about a week to darken like the material in the photographs and, even after 30 days of exposure to direct sunlight, the material did not turn to ash. This indicate that the two major claims made by Roswell crashologists about neoprene balloons are not supported by these tests.
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Eeny, Meeny, Jelly Beanie, the Roswell secrets are about to be revealed!

Anthony Bragalia has once again done his best to promote Roswell. Now he is stating an avenue to pursue is to use “Remote viewing” to uncover the secrets of this controversial event. He recounts numerous attempts to identify where the debris and documentation is located. These sources are dubious and do not shed any light
on the matter. However, Bragalia points out that there must be something to re- mote viewing because the US government had attempted to employ this in the past. What he does not seem to understand is that the intelligence agencies use of remote viewing stopped because they determined that it was no better than guess- work.
Bragalia’s argument is not very convincing but it demonstrates how desperate the Roswell crashologists are becoming. Unable to find evidence that is convincing, Bragalia has determined that this kind of “hocus pocus” might uncover the precious proof. In my opinion, he could accomplish the same results using a deck of Tarot cards, an Ouiga board, horoscopes, or palm reading.
The “Roswell slides” slowly fading away into obscurity
Rich Reynolds, who has changed his blogs name from UFO Iconoclast(s) to UFO conjecture(s), is reporting that the Roswell in- vestigating team have lost control of the infamous slides. Apparently, the owner has chosen to go the route of having the slides shown on television. If this is true, expect the slides to appear with much fanfare. I wonder who the lucky network will be? I doubt it will appear on “NOVA”.
MUFON sparks USAF interest in saucer crash?
At least that is what Jan Harzan wants everyone to believe. According to the story, MUFON setup a crashed saucer model near Wickenburg, Arizona, for their investigators to train upon. A plane had spotted the model on the ground and, twenty minutes later, two F-16s from Luke AFB buzzed the site at low altitude. This was followed by a police helicopter, which also was interested in the UFO. Harzan then proclaimed the USAF does investigate UFOs and this is proof.
There could be another interpretation. The USAF could have been on a standard training flight that day and happened to fly near the site. Wickenburg is sandwiched between the Gladden Military Operating Area and the Alert area for student training (Luke is a pilot training facility). From the report, it seems they made a single high speed pass at low altitude. At high speed, the pilots probably wouldn’t have seen much more than a blur on the ground. They appear to be more interested in reaching a destination than observation of ground targets. I also find it interesting that Luke AFB would took twenty minutes to “scramble” two aircraft to a location only 40 miles away (about 5 minutes or less from Luke AFB). Meanwhile, the police helicopter may have been curious about what they saw on the ground while on routine patrol. MUFON/Harzan’s conclusions, like just about everything MUFON states publicly, is not based on facts but speculation based on a will to believe.
Quelle: SUNlite 6/2014

Tags: UFO-Forschung 

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Samstag, 10. Januar 2015 - 13:33 Uhr

Raumfahrt - Raumschiff ORION Update-4

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10.01.2015

The Orion spacecraft inside the Launch Abort System Facility at Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Credit: NASA/Cory Huston
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Lockheed Martin begins taking apart first flown Orion capsule
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NASA’s Orion spacecraft achieved all but two of 87 demo objectives on its first orbital flight last month, but details on the capsule’s performance will require dismantling the spaceship’s outer skin in a careful procedure designed to keep most of the Orion prototype intact for future testing.
Orion’s engineering and production teams are back at work this week at Kennedy Space Center after the spaceport’s annual holiday shutdown. Engineers from Lockheed Martin, Orion’s prime contractor, will collect data recorded during the craft’s Dec. 5 test flight and submit a final post-mission report to NASA by March 5, according to Jules Schneider, Lockheed Martin’s Orion operations manager at KSC.
Their first tasks will be draining the capsule of hazardous hydrazine propellant and ammonia coolant left over from the four-and-a-half hour test flight.
After launching from Cape Canaveral aboard a United Launch Alliance Delta 4-Heavy rocket, the spacecraft reached a peak altitude of 3,600 miles and flew twice around the world before splashing down in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Baja California.
The test flight was designed to prove the performance of Orion’s heat shield, computers, separation events and other systems.
A team of U.S. Navy divers stationed on the USS Anchorage amphibious transport ship recovered the capsule from the Pacific for return to port at San Diego. Technicians packed the spacecraft in a shipping container for an eight-day road trip back to Kennedy Space Center, where it arrived Dec. 18.
Officials plan to move the Orion spacecraft between several KSC facilities in the next few months. It spent the holiday break inside the Launch Abort System Facility at KSC and will next move to the Payload Hazardous Servicing Facility, where workers in hazmat suits will decontaminate the capsule after emptying its reservoirs of hydrazine and ammonia, Schneider said.
In the coming weeks, Lockheed Martin’s Orion team will remove panels covered in black ceramic tiles from the capsule’s backshell, exposing the spaceship’s olive-green aluminum- lithium metal structure, underlying wiring and plumbing, and avionics boxes for inspection.
The spacecraft’s blackened ablative 16.5-foot diameter heat shield is also slated for removal and analysis, Schneider said.
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The Orion spacecraft at Naval Base San Diego before its shipment back to Florida. Credit: NASA/Cory Huston
Engineers are wary of taking apart the innards of the capsule beyond the disassembly of the craft’s cocooning outer shell, Schneider told reporters in a briefing Dec. 19.
“There is a lot of debate right now as to how much of the vehicle we’re going to take apart,” Schneider said. “Because the vehicle performed so well, there are some people re-thinking how much we want to disassemble — and how much do they want to keep assembled — so we can use it going forward on the ground doing testing, etc.”
The Orion spacecraft that flew Dec. 5 is not expected to fly on another space mission, but NASA and Lockheed Martin plan to use the vehicle for an ascent abort test in 2018. The capsule will launch on a modified rocket motor from a Peacekeeper missile before initiating an abort sequence to validate Orion’s ability to escape from a failed launch.
The only technical failures on the Dec. 5 test flight were with the spacecraft’s inflatable airbags, which would flip the capsule upright if it splashed down upside down.
Four of the spaceship’s five airbags pressurized, but two of the bags quickly lost air, leaving two of the orange spheres inflated.
“Those were the only objectives on the entire flight that were not met,” Schneider said.
“Everybody is incredibly pleased with the performance of the vehicle,” Schneider said. “I think you can tell it came through the trial by fire pretty well.”
Schneider said the metallic skeleton of the next space-rated Orion spacecraft is due to arrive at KSC from a welding facility in New Orleans in November 2015. It will be outfitted with computers, a European-built propulsion and power module and other gear ahead of its launch scheduled for 2018.
Like Orion’s Dec. 5 flight test, the 2018 mission will not carry astronauts but will blast off aboard NASA’s new heavy-lifting Space Launch System mega-rocket on a flight around the moon. A crewed Orion mission will follow around 2021.
While observers often focus on when the Orion spacecraft and Space Launch System will be ready for the next flight, managers in charge of preparing ground systems at KSC say they are also racing the clock.
“The long road ahead is kind of a two-edged sword,” said Phil Weber, senior technical integration manager for KSC’s Ground Systems Development and Operations program, which oversees KSC’s upgrades to support SLS and Orion missions.
“We got the baseline configuration of what SLS and Orion are going to look like in 2011, so about three years ago,” Weber said. “We’ve got about three more years to go until EM-1 (Exploration Mission-1 in 2018) … We’re at hump day right now.”
Major work to be completed before the 2018 launch includes modifications to the mobile launch platform originally built for the canceled Ares 1 rocket. NASA and contractor teams are also upgrading cranes inside the huge Vehicle Assembly Building and installing new platforms inside the high bay where the SLS and Orion will be stacked for launch.
“We have a tremendous amount to complete in the next three years, so although we want to do the launch as soon as we possibly can, we’ve got to get all of the ground systems put in, validated, ready to receive the flight hardware and then do the processing for the launch,” Weber said. “You can look at it both ways. We want to launch soon, but we’ve got to have the time to get it ready.
“It’s scary to me that we’ve got three years to do all this work,” Weber said.
Quelle: SN

Tags: Raumfahrt 

2497 Views

Samstag, 10. Januar 2015 - 13:18 Uhr

Astronomie - Ein spektakulärer Spiral-Arm könnte die Milchstraße umgeben

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ARM AROUND THE GALAXY: Scutum–Centaurus may be the galaxy's longest spiral arm, wrapping around the entire Milky Way. The arm begins at one end of the galactic bar and spirals outward in a counterclockwise direction; the 2011 extension of this arm is marked by the turquoise blue symbols at lower right whereas the new extension is marked by the turquoise blue symbols at upper right. The sun is the red dot in the Local (or Orion) Spur. CREDIT: Modified from "A Possible Extension of the Scutum-Centaurus Arm into the Outer Second Quadrant" by Yan Sun et al., in The Astrophysical Journal Letters, Vol. 798, January 2015; Robert Hurt. NASA/JPL-Caltech/SSC (background spiral).
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One of our galaxy’s arms may do a full 360, upping the chances that our galactic home is a rare cosmic beauty
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Mapping a galaxy isn't easy when you live inside it. It took astronomers a century after the discovery of the first celestial spiral to prove that the Milky Way itself looks like a giant spiral. Its spiral arms squeeze interstellar gas and dust, causing gas clouds to grow dense, collapse and create new stars; the brightest newborn stars illuminate the arms so gloriously that spiral galaxies resemble glowing cosmic hurricanes. The Milky Way has several of these arms. Now astronomers in China have discovered that one of them may wrap around the entire galaxy, putting our galactic home in an elite group among its spiral neighbors.
The spiral arm is named Scutum–Centaurus, after two of the constellations seen from Earth through which it threads. Even before the new discovery many astronomers regarded Scutum–Centaurus as one of the greatest spiral arms in the Milky Way. It emerges from the near end of the Milky Way's bar, a long cigar-shaped structure at the galaxy's center. The arm winds outward in a counterclockwise direction, passing between us and the galactic center before stretching all the way to the other side of the Milky Way. In 2011 astronomers discovered that this arm reaches across the galaxy's far side and begins to approach our side of the galaxy again.
Now astronomer Yan Sun of the Purple Mountain Observatory in Nanjing, China, and colleagues suggest the Scutum–Centaurus Arm may extend even farther. Using a large radio telescope with a dish 13.7 meters across the astronomers sought the dense interstellar gas clouds that mark spiral arms. Such gas is made mostly of molecular hydrogen, which is difficult to detect. Instead, Sun's team searched for radio waves from the next most abundant interstellar molecule, carbon monoxide gas.
The astronomers detected 48 new molecular clouds as well as 24 others that earlier observers had seen in the outer galaxy. The clouds are about twice as far from the center of the galaxy as our solar system is: Whereas the sun is located about 27,000 light-years from the galactic center the new clouds are 46,000 to 67,000 light-years out. As the astronomers report in the January 10, 2015, issue of The Astrophysical Journal Letters, the 72 clouds line up along a previously unknown spiral-arm segment that is around 30,000 light-years long.
What is most remarkable, the astronomers say, is that the segment may extend from the outermost part of Scutum–Centaurus, making this arm even longer. If so, the arm actually makes a full 360-degree turn around the galaxy. "That's amazing," says Robert Benjamin of the University of Wisconsin–Whitewater, an astronomer who was not involved with the discovery. "It's rare," notes Thomas Dame, an astronomer at the Harvard–Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. "I bet that you would have to look through dozens of face-on spiral galaxy images to find one where you could convince yourself you could track one arm 360 degrees around." Dame helped discover the 2011 extension of the Scutum–Centaurus Arm. "My impression was that we had found the end of it," he says. "So I was very surprised to see this."
There is a problem, however: a 40,000-light-year-long gap between the end of the segment astronomers discovered in 2011 and the start of the new one. So although Benjamin and Dame say the clouds almost certainly represent the discovery of a new spiral-arm segment, it may not truly be part of the Scutum–Centaurus Arm. Fortunately, scientists know how to test the new claim: Look for molecular clouds in the gap. "It should be easy in the next few years to confirm or refute their hypothesis," Benjamin says.
If the proposal holds up, our galaxy viewed from afar may be more striking than previously thought. Most spirals are modest, but a prestigious few galaxies, known as grand-design spirals, flaunt their beauty. The prototype is the incredible Whirlpool Galaxy, one of the most beautiful galaxies in the universe. “I don't think we're as spectacular as the Whirlpool Galaxy," Benjamin says. The Whirlpool probably owes its stunning looks to an orbiting galaxy that stirs up its disk and intensifies its spiral. In our galaxy the rotating bar may play a similar role, and the tentative discovery of a 360-degree spiral arm, Benjamin says, certainly strengthens the case that we, too, live in a grand-design spiral—a galaxy so attractive that it may be the envy of its spiral neighbors for many millions of light-years around.
Quelle: SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN
 

Tags: Astronomie 

2001 Views

Samstag, 10. Januar 2015 - 13:00 Uhr

Astronomie - Weltweit leistungsfähigste Digital-Kamera erhält Finanzierungszusage

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Rendering of the LSST camera. SLAC is leading the construction of the 3,200-megapixel camera, which will be the size of a small car and weigh more than 3 tons. The digital camera will be the largest ever built, allowing LSST to create an unprecedented archive of astronomical data that will help researchers study the formation of galaxies, track potentially hazardous asteroids, observe exploding stars and better understand mysterious dark matter and dark energy, which make up 95 percent of the universe. (SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory)

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World’s Most Powerful Camera Receives Funding Approval
Large Synoptic Survey Telescope Passes Major Milestone
January 9, 2015
Menlo Park, Calif. — Plans for the construction of the world’s largest digital camera at the Department of Energy's SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory have reached a major milestone. The 3,200-megapixel centerpiece of the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST), which will provide unprecedented details of the universe and help address some of its biggest mysteries, has received key “Critical Decision 2” approval from the DOE.
“This important decision endorses the camera fabrication budget that we proposed,” said LSST Director Steven Kahn. “Together with the construction funding we received from the National Science Foundation in August, it is now clear that LSST will have the support it needs to be completed on schedule.”
Science operations are scheduled to begin in 2022 with LSST taking digital images of the entire visible southern sky every few nights from atop a mountain called Cerro Pachón in Chile. It will produce the widest, deepest and fastest views of the night sky ever observed. Over a 10-year time frame, the observatory will detect tens of billions of objects—the first time a telescope will catalog more objects in the universe than there are people on Earth—and will create movies of the sky with details that have never been seen before.
LSST will generate a vast public archive of data—approximately 6 million gigabytes per year—that will help researchers study the formation of galaxies, track potentially hazardous asteroids, observe exploding stars and better understand dark matter and dark energy, which make up 95 percent of the universe but whose nature remains unknown.
“The telescope is a key part of the long-term strategy to study dark energy and other scientific topics in the United States and elsewhere,” said David MacFarlane, SLAC’s director of particle physics and astrophysics. “SLAC places high priority on the successful development and construction of the LSST camera, and is very pleased that the project has achieved this major approval milestone.”
The LSST team can now move forward with the development of the camera and prepare for the “Critical Decision 3” review process next summer, the last requirement before actual fabrication of the camera can begin. Components of the camera, which will be the size of a small car and weigh more than 3 tons, will be built by an international collaboration of labs and universities, including DOE’s Brookhaven National Laboratory, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and SLAC, where the camera will be assembled and tested.
“Many excellent, hard-working people have been developing LSST for a long time and it is gratifying to see the quality of their efforts being recognized by the DOE approval,” said Steve Ritz of the University of California, Santa Cruz, the lead scientist of the camera project. “We are all excited about the amount of great science that LSST will enable.”
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Rendering of the LSST observatory (foreground) atop Cerro Pachón in Chile. When LSST starts taking images of the entire visible southern sky in 2022, it will produce the widest, deepest and fastest views of the night sky ever observed. Over a 10-year time frame, LSST will image several tens of billions of objects and create movies of the sky with unprecedented detail. (Large Synoptic Survey Telescope Project Office)
Quelle: SLAC

Tags: Astronomie 

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