Sonntag, 25. Januar 2015 - 15:45 Uhr

Mars-Chroniken - Analyse und Vergleich von "Cumberland" mit anderen Proben von Mars Rover Curiosity


Comparing 'Cumberland' With Other Samples Analyzed by Curiosity
This graphic offers comparisons between the amount of an organic chemical named chlorobenzene detected in the "Cumberland" rock sample and amounts of the same compound in samples from three other Martian surface targets analyzed by NASA's Curiosity Mars rover.
The amounts of chlorobenzene that Curiosity's Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) laboratory detected in samples from the "Rocknest" Martian soil target and the "John Klein" and "Confidence Hills" rock targets were at or below the background level in the instrument. The amount in Cumberland is much higher than all the others, as indicated in the green bars on a vertical scale of picomoles measured with SAM's gas chromatograph mass spectrometer system (GCMS). The lower portion of the graphic shows images from the scoop divot at Rocknest and drill holes at the rock targets. The inset graph shows how the mass spectrum of the chemical found by SAM in the Cumberland sample closely matches that of a chlorobenzene laboratory standard from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) database.
The chlorobenzene may have resulted from reaction of Martian organic chemicals with Martian perchlorate during the process of heating the sample in SAM, so the precursor identities of Martian organic molecules in the rock remain to be determined.
Analysis of the Cumberland sample by SAM yielded the first definitive detection of any Martian organic chemicals in material on the surface of Mars. Organic chemicals, which contain carbon and usually hydrogen, are molecular building blocks of life, although they can be made without life's presence. Martian organics could have been produced on Mars or delivered to Mars aboard meteorites.
NASA's Mars Science Laboratory Project is using Curiosity to assess ancient habitable environments and major changes in Martian environmental conditions. NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, built the rover and manages the project for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington. NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland, built and operates SAM.
Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
Curiosity Conducting Mini-Drill Test at 'Mojave'
This view from the wide-angle Hazard Avoidance Camera (Hazcam) on the front of NASA's Curiosity Mars Rover shows the rover's drill in position for a mini-drill test to assess whether a rock target called "Mojave" is appropriate for full-depth drilling to collect a sample.  It was taken on Jan. 13, 2015, during the 867th Martian day, or sol, of Curiosity's work on Mars.
The rover team selected Mojave as the mission's second drill-sampling candidate on Mount Sharp.  A higher portion of the mountain is visible on the horizon. A key appeal of this target is an abundance of crystal-shaped features evident when Curiosity used its dust-removal tool here in November 2014, as shown in PIA19077. The target is in the "Pink Hills" area near the lower edge of the "Pahrump Hills" outcrop in the basal layer of Mount Sharp.
NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, manages the Mars Science Laboratory Project for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington. JPL designed and built the project's Curiosity rover and the rover's Hazcams.
Results from Curiosity's Mini-Drill Test at 'Mojave'
This view from the Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) camera on the arm of NASA's Curiosity Mars rover shows some of the outcome from a shallow-depth, mini-drill test to assess whether a rock target called "Mojave" is appropriate for full-depth drilling to collect a sample. It was taken on Jan. 13, 2015, during the 867th Martian day, or sol, of Curiosity's work on Mars.
The drill cuts a hole about 0.63 inch (1.6 centimeters) in diameter. The hole from the shallow drilling test is near the top of this image. The test drilling cracked the target rock and dislodged pieces of it. A few hours after seeing the results of this test, the rover team is evaluating whether an alternate target location in this area would make an appropriate site for sample-collection drilling, and meanwhile planning close-up investigation of the resulting rock fragments with freshly exposed surfaces, particularly the grayish one on the right-hand side of the image. On Earth, field geologists carry rock hammers to crack rocks and expose fresh surfaces, but this is an unusual opportunity in a Mars rover mission.
NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, manages the Mars Science Laboratory Project for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington. JPL designed and built the project's Curiosity rover.
Quelle: NASA

Tags: Mars-Chroniken 


Sonntag, 25. Januar 2015 - 11:49 Uhr

Astronomie - Snap! Astronomen haben mit dem CSIRO 64-m-Radioteleskop in Parkes Ostaustralien zum ersten Mal einen schnellen Radio Ausbruch gesehen


Snap! Astronomers using CSIRO’s 64-m Parkes radio telescope in eastern Australia have for the first time seen a ‘fast radio burst’ — a short, sharp flash of radio waves from an unknown source — happening live. 
This brings us a step closer to understanding the phenomenon, which astronomers worldwide are vying to explain. The finding is published today in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.
Lasting only milliseconds, the first such radio burst was discovered in 2007 by astronomers combing the Parkes data archive for unrelated objects.
Six more bursts, apparently from outside our Galaxy, have now been found with Parkes and a seventh with the Arecibo telescope in
Puerto Rico.
"These bursts were generally discovered weeks or months or even more than a decade after they happened! We’re the first to catch one in real time," said Emily Petroff, a CAASTRO PhD candidate co-supervised by CSIRO and by Swinburne University of Technology in Melbourne.
Banking that she’d spot a ‘live’ burst, Petroff had an international team poised to make rapid follow-up observations, at wavelengths from radio to X-rays. 
After Parkes saw the burst go off the team swung into action on twelve telescopes around the world — in Australia, California, the Canary Islands, Chile, Germany, Hawai’i, and India — and in space.
No optical, infrared, ultraviolet or X-ray counterpart showed up. "That in itself rules out some possible candidates, such as long gamma-ray bursts and nearby supernovae," said team member Dr Mansi Kasliwal of the Carnegie Institution in Pasadena, California.
But short or low-energy gamma-ray bursts and giant flares from distant magnetars (the most magnetic stars in the Universe) are still contenders, she added. So too are imploding neutron stars.
One of the big unknowns of fast radio bursts is their distances. The characteristics of the radio signal — how it is 'smeared out' in frequency from travelling through space — indicate that the source of the new burst was up to 5.5 billion light-years away.
"That means it could have given off as much energy in a few milliseconds as the Sun does in a day," said team member Dr Daniele Malesani of the University of Copenhagen.
The burst left another clue as to its identity, but a puzzling one. Parkes’s real-time detection system captured its polarisation — something that had not been recorded for previous bursts.
Polarisation can be thought of as the direction electromagnetic waves, such as light or radio waves, 'vibrate'. It can be linear or circular. The radio emission from the new fast radio burst was more than 20% circularly polarised—which hints that there are magnetic fields near the source.
Identifying the origin of the fast radio bursts is now only a matter of time.
"We’ve set the trap," said Petroff. "Now we just have to wait for another burst to fall into it."
CAASTRO is a collaboration between Curtin University, The University of Western Australia, the University of Sydney, the Australian National University, the University of Melbourne, Swinburne University of Technology and the University of Queensland. It is funded under the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence program and receives additional funding from the seven participating universities and the NSW State Government Science Leveraging Fund.

Tags: Astronomie 


Samstag, 24. Januar 2015 - 14:50 Uhr

UFO-Forschung - Ufologen in Beweisnot oder wie verzweifelt muss man sein...


Um immer wieder in kleinen Lichtflecken oder in Filmfehlern monströse Raumschiffe zu sehen um das eigene Glaubensbild "welches ja so unvoreingenommen ist" stützen zu können. Da hilft auch nicht über Jahre die gleichen Durchhalteparolen zu wiederholen, wenn einfach die Beweislage mehr als zu wünschen übrig lässt. Wo sind die Außerirdischen mit ihren Raumschiffen? Was blieb von den Millionen von Sichtungen wie es die Ufologen postulieren? Wo sind die tatsächlichen UFOs im engeren Sinne soweit sie nicht auf schlechten Untersuchungen und in jahrzehntenlangen Schutzprogrammen (wie bei GEP)  vor Neu-Untersuchungen bewahrt werden?  Es ist auch ätzend wenn man wie in Frankreich Drohnen-Flüge über den Kraftwerken "Außerirdischen Raumschiffen" zuschieben will, nur weil 99% der Beobachtungen auf ferngelenkte Drohnen und 1% als solche nicht erkannt werden konnten. Da wird die Beweiskraft in die Umkehr gebracht und der einen Aussage mehr kraft gegeben als der 99 anderen welche klar die Ursache erkannr haben. Und genau diese Ufologie dreht sich seit den tiefen 60iger im Kreise und kommt  aus dem "Lächerlichen" nicht heraus.

Nachfolgend Beispiele aus der derzeitigen Ufologie:


Verschwörungstheorie im NetzVersteckte die Nasa hier eine Ufo-Sichtung mit Klebeband?

Aufnahmen der Apollo-7-Mission zeigen ein UFO - oder doch nicht?


Beim Durchsuchen alter Nasa-Fotos hat ein Internetnutzer ein erstaunliche Entdeckung gemacht: Bei der Apollo-7-Mission gab es offenbar eine UFO-Sichtung – die die Astronauten umgehend mit Klebeband versteckten. Eine schöne Geschichte ...
Die Apollo-7-Mission der US-Weltraumbehörde war 1968 der erste bemannte Testflug vor der Mondlandemission. Erstmals war dabei auch eine Fernsehkamera für eine Live-Übertragung an Bord. Die Astronauten machten fleißig Fotos der Erde. Ein UFO-Fan durchsuchte fast 40 Jahre später eine Sammlung dieser Bilder auf der Webseite des „Lunar and Planetary Institute“ und machte eine erstaunliche Entdeckung: War da tatsächlich ein außerirdisches Flugobjekt zu sehen?
Auf einem der Fotos war ein merkwürdiges metallisches Objekt zu sehen, das offenbar in unmittelbarer Nähe der Raumkapsel flog. „Außerirdische, die einen Meilenstein der menschlichen Geschichte mitverfolgen“, urteilte der Hobbyforscher im Blog „UFO Sightings Daily“. Damit nicht genug: nach der UFO-Sichtung klebte auf den folgenden Fotos plötzlich Klebeband über der Linse. Offensichtlich wollten die Astronauten panisch vertuschen, was vorgefallen war.
Filmspulen und Bildkompressionen
Eine tolle Verschwörungstheorie, über die auch der britische „Mirror“ berichtete. Sogleich begannen aber Leser des UFO-Blogs, die Theorie zu zerpflücken: Ein Nutzer erklärte, das Klebeband sei einfach nur dazu da, um das Ende der Filmrolle an die Spule anzuheften. Viele Hersteller von Filmspulen hätten in den 70er-Jahren diese simple Methode verwendet.Doch der tatsächliche Fehler des UFO-Fans war, dass er sich die Fotos einfach in zu geringer Auflösung angesehen hatte. Mehrere Nutzer verlinkten schließlich auf die viel klareren Varianten, die man auf der Internetseite der Nasa abrufen kann. Siehe da: Das mysteriöse metallische Flugobjekt war einfach nur ein chemischer Fleck auf dem Foto. Oder ist etwa der Fleck die tatsächliche Vertuschungsaktion?
Die Aufnahmen der Apollo-7-Mission in höherer Auflösung
Quelle: Focus

UFOs: Die Wahrheit online?

Ein Blogger und UFO-Fan hat fast 130.000 Aufnahmen mit nicht identifizierten Flugobjekten öffentlich zugänglich gemacht. Wir werfen einen Blick darauf und fragen uns: Kann das wirklich alles nur Einbildung sein?

Wenn Sie sich jemals gefragt haben, ob außerirdischs Leben existiert, können Sie hier der Wahrheit vielleicht einen Schritt näher kommen. Genauer: im Internet, unter The Black Vault. Der Blogger und UFO-Forscher John Greenewald hat hier fast 130.000 Seiten öffentlich in einer Datenbank zur Verfügung gestellt.
Bis dato stand die Sammlung nur im Nationalarchiv in Washington zur Verfügung - und einige Seiten waren gar nicht öffentlich zugänglich. Auf Anfrage erhielt Greenewald jedoch Zugang zu den Exemplaren.
Die Luftwaffe der USA, die US Air Force (USAF), hatte einst sogar ein spezielle Ermittlerteam, "Project Blue Book", damit beauftragt, Aufnahmen von nicht identifizierten Flugobjekten (UFOs) wissenschaftlich zu analysieren und festzustellen, ob sie eine Bedrohung für die nationale Sicherheit darstellen könnten.
Zwischen 1947 und 1969 wurden so mehr als 12.000 Augenzeugenberichte von UFOs analysiert, die Bürger und Piloten gemeldet hatten. Für die Mehrheit fand das Spezialteam am Ende eine rationale Erklärung, allerdings nicht für alle. Rund 700 der Vorfälle blieben ungeklärt. Trotzdem wurde das Projekt ohne endgültige Beweise für oder gegen außerirdisches Leben für beendet erklärt.
Mit der Veröffentlichung dieser Dokumente kann sich jetzt jeder sein eigenes Bild machen. Wir haben einige der mysteriösesten Bilder in der Datenbank ausfindig gemacht:
Quelle: DW
Seit Wochen werden diese Blue-Book-Daten als die Sensation verkauft, nur waren sie schon immer erhältlich gegen erstatten der Unkosten und so hatte CENAP schon kurz nach Freigabe diese in den 80igern schon im Archiiv. Wir versprachen uns damals auch mehr davon und waren schnell ernüchtert als wir die Bildmaterialien der Micro-Film-Rollen vorliegen hatten. So ist auf dem oben aufgeführten Bild kein Raumschiff mit Antriebsschweif zu sehen sondern nur ein Foto mit Entwicklerflüssigkeitsspur!
Wie wir schon in vorausgegangenem Beitrag aufgeführt haben, können Sie diese Bilder von BlueBook hier auf unserem Blog in den CENAP-Galerien finden. Nachfolgend ein paar Beispiele mit Identifizeirung:
Absturzstelle der USAF Mustang P-51  welche abstürzte bei Verfolgung eines UFOs...
Luftventil einer Untertasse...
Formationsflug von Untertassen tatsächlich Lampen-Spiegelung in Fensterscheibe
Gasherd-Regler im Tiefflug...
Quelle: CENAP-Archiv

Tags: UFO-Forschung 


Samstag, 24. Januar 2015 - 13:00 Uhr

Astronomie - Wenn unsere Atmosphäre grünen Blitz bei Planet Venus verursacht


A GREEN FLASH FROM VENUS: You've probably heard of the green flash--an emerald ray that briefly caps the sun as the solar disk sinks into the waves of a clear ocean horizon. Green flashes from the sun are so rare, they were once thought to be mythological. Now consider the following: a green flash from Venus. "I saw one," says photographer Kouji Ohnishi who sends this picture from Nagano, Japan:


"Venus was setting behind Mt.Hodaka (3190m) on Jan. 13th when the green flash appeared," he says.
Can it be real? "Yes, indeed," says atmospheric optics expert Les Cowley, who explains the phenomenon: "Venus flashes green as it touches the mountain -- but surely the mountain is above the normal horizon where flashes occur? We see these mountainside green flashes because the normal temperature gradients in the air are compressed and strengthened when wind blows across the mountain ridges. The strengthening can mimic conditions over the sea surface and sometimes be enough to produce mirages - the stuff of green flashes."
Astonishingly, Ohnishi also recorded a green flash from Mercury. "What a way to end the day!"
Quelle: Spaceweather

Tags: Astronomie 


Samstag, 24. Januar 2015 - 11:47 Uhr

Mars-Chroniken - Drohnen Invasion: Ein neuer Weg den Mars zu erkunden


Drones are taking over Earth — will they soon invade Mars? If a new NASA project gains momentum, remote-controlled drone exploration of the red planet could soon become a thing.
Currently, the robotic exploration of Mars is pretty much one-dimensional. We have rovers that rove, landers that land and orbiters that, well, orbit. What if we had a lander or rover that could also launch its own mini-helicopter drone to better survey its surroundings? With this capability we could possibly accelerate Mars science and also safeguard invaluable assets on the Martian surface.
To this end, NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory scientists are testing the “Mars Helicopter” that will be designed to buzz over the Martian regolith as the ‘eye in the sky’ for its roving counterpart. The small, boxy automated chopper will overcome the Martian thin atmosphere and soar over obstacles to help the rover seek out optimized routes and features of scientific interest.
To gain traction in an atmosphere that is 100 times thinner than Earth’s, the Mars Helicopter will be designed to spin its rotor much faster to provide substantial lift. It will be solar powered and, currently, NASA engineers see it operating for a “few minutes a day”, vastly improving the scope of future surface missions.
Currently, NASA uses its Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter to image the surroundings of its roving assets — Opportunity and Curiosity — so places of scientific interest can be scoped and tricky terrain identified. But to have a low-flying scout that can take preliminary imagery ahead of a future roving mission would be a wonderful asset.
Taking this idea one step further, a ‘swarm’ of these cheap, automated drones could be scattered across Mars, gathering rudimentary geological and meteorological data over a wide region. Should a few get damaged or lost, their role can be taken over by another member of the robotic swarm. Swarm technology and artificial intelligence in robotics are advancing fast, so it’s not a stretch to think that, in a decade or so, such a mission would be possible.
Quelle: D-News

Tags: Mars-Chroniken 


Freitag, 23. Januar 2015 - 21:00 Uhr

Raumfahrt - NASA startet neue Ära der Geowissenschaften auf ISS mit CATS-Project



he launch of a NASA ocean winds sensor to the International Space Station (ISS) this month inaugurates a new era of Earth observation that will leverage the space station's unique vantage point in space. Before the end of the decade, six NASA Earth science instruments will be mounted to the station to help scientists study our changing planet.
The first NASA Earth-observing instrument to be mounted on the exterior of the space station will launch from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida, on the next SpaceX Commercial Resupply Services flight, currently targeted for no earlier than Sept. 19. ISS-RapidScat will monitor ocean winds for climate research, weather predictions and hurricane monitoring from the space station.
The second instrument is the Cloud-Aerosol Transport System (CATS), a laser instrument that will measure clouds and the location and distribution of airborne particles such as pollution, mineral dust, smoke, and other particulates in the atmosphere. CATS will follow ISS-RapidScat on the fifth SpaceX space station resupply flight, targeted for December.
"We're seeing the space station come into its own as an Earth-observing platform," said Julie Robinson, chief scientist for the International Space Station Program at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston. "It has a different orbit than other Earth remote sensing platforms. It’s closer to Earth, and it sees Earth at different times of day with a different schedule. That offers opportunities that complement other Earth-sensing instruments in orbit today."
The space station-based instruments join a fleet of 17 NASA Earth-observing missions currently providing data on the dynamic and complex Earth system. ISS-RapidScat and CATS follow the February launch of the Global Precipitation Measurement Core Observatory, a joint mission with the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, and the July launch of the Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2, making 2014 one of the busiest periods for new NASA Earth science missions in more than a decade.
Most of the agency’s free-flying, Earth-observing satellites orbit the planet over the poles at altitudes higher than 400 miles in order to gather data from all parts of the planet. Although the space station does not pass over Earth’s polar regions, its 240-mile high orbit does offer logistical and scientific advantages.
"With the space station we don't have to build a spacecraft to gather new data -- it's already there,” said Stephen Volz, associate director of flight programs in the Earth Science Division at NASA Headquarters in Washington. “The orbit enables rare, cross-disciplinary observations when the station flies under another sensor on a satellite. Designing instruments for the space station also gives us a chance to do high-risk, high-return instruments in a relatively economical way."
The data provided by ISS-RapidScat will support weather and marine forecasting, including tracking storms and hurricanes. The station's orbit will allow the instrument to make repeated, regular observations over the same locations at different times of day, providing the first near-global measurements of how winds change throughout the day. ISS-RapidScat was built by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California.
CATS is a laser remote-sensing instrument, or lidar, that measures clouds and tiny aerosol particles in the atmosphere. These atmospheric components play a critical part in understanding how human activities such as pollution and fossil fuel burning contribute to climate change. CATS was built by NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.
Two additional NASA Earth science instruments are scheduled to launch to the station in 2016. The Stratospheric Aerosol and Gas Experiment III (SAGE III), will measure aerosols, ozone, water vapor and other gases in the upper atmosphere to help scientists assess how the ozone layer is recovering and better understand global climate change. SAGE III was developed by NASA's Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia, and built by Ball Aerospace of Boulder, Colorado.
The Lightning Imaging Sensor (LIS) will detect and locate lightning over tropical and mid-latitude regions of the globe. The first LIS was launched in 1997 as part of NASA’s Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission. The sensor will monitor lightning for Earth science studies and provide cross-sensor calibration and validation with other space-borne instruments and ground-based lightning networks. LIS was developed by NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama.
In July, NASA selected proposals for two new instruments that will observe changes in global vegetation from the space station, giving scientists new ways to observe how forests and ecosystems are affected by changes in climate and land use change. Both sensors will be completed before the end of the decade.
The Global Ecosystem Dynamics Investigation (GEDI) will use a laser-based system to study forest canopy structure in a range of ecosystems, from the tropics to the high northern latitudes. The observations will help scientists better understand the changes in carbon storage within forests from both human activities and natural climate variations. GEDI is managed by scientists at the University of Maryland, College Park.
The ECOsystem Spaceborne Thermal Radiometer Experiment on Space Station (ECOSTRESS) is a high-resolution multiple wavelength thermal imaging spectrometer that will study water use and water stress in vegetation. Measurements of the loss of water from growing leaves and evaporation from the soil will help reveal how ecosystems change with climate and provide a critical link between the water cycle and plant health in both natural and agricultural ecosystems. ECOSTRESS is managed by JPL.
The space station provides several capabilities useful to both instruments. The space station orbit provides more observation time of forests and vegetation over temperate land masses than possible with the polar orbit commonly used for other types of Earth observations. The GEDI laser requires significant power resources, which the space station can provide.
Quelle: NASA
Update: 5.01.2015

CATS Project mit CRS-5 zur ISS

NASA’s Cloud-Aerosol Transport System, or CATS, is a lidar remote-sensing instrument that will extend profile measurements of atmospheric aerosols and clouds from the International Space Station (ISS). The CATS payload will improve our understanding of aerosol and cloud properties and interactions, as well as improve climate change models. CATS is specifically intended to demonstrate a low-cost, streamlined approach to developing ISS science payloads.
Quelle: NASA
Update: 23.01.2015 
NASA’s CATS Installed on ISS by Robotic Handoff
On Jan. 22, 2015, robotic flight controllers successfully installed NASA’s Cloud Aerosol Transport System (CATS) aboard the International Space Station through a robotic handoff — the first time one robotic arm on station has worked in concert with a second robotic arm. CATS will collect data about clouds, volcanic ash plumes and tiny airborne particles that can help improve our understanding of aerosol and cloud interactions and improve the accuracy of climate change models.
CATS had been mounted inside the SpaceX Dragon cargo craft’s unpressurized trunk since it docked at the station on Jan. 12. Ground controllers at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston used one of the space station’s robotic arms, called the Special Purpose Dexterous Manipulator, to extract the instrument from the capsule. The NASA-controlled arm passed the instrument to a second robotic arm — like passing a baton in a relay race. This second arm, called the Japanese Experiment Module Remote Manipulator System, is controlled by the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency. The Japanese-controlled arm installed the instrument to the Space Station’s Japanese Experiment Module, making CATS the first NASA-developed payload to fly on the Japanese module.
After installation, CATS was powered on and is currently sending health and status data back to NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, where the instrument’s data will be analyzed, as the team begins their checkout procedures. 
CATS is a lidar remote-sensing instrument designed to last from six months to three years. It is specifically intended to demonstrate a low-cost, streamlined approach to developing science payloads on the space station. CATS launched aboard the SpaceX Dragon spacecraft on Jan. 10 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.
This video frame shows a robotic arm on the space station, called the Japanese Experiment Module Remote Manipulator System, successfully installing NASA's Cloud-Aerosol Transport System (CATS) to the Space Station’s Japanese Experiment Module on Jan. 22, 2015.
Image Credit: NASA
Quelle: NASA

Tags: Raumfahrt 


Freitag, 23. Januar 2015 - 19:00 Uhr

Raumfahrt - Erster Booster bereit für NASA´s neue Rakete,Space Launch System für Bodentest von Mars-Version


Space Launch System Booster Aimed and Ready to Fire
A full-scale version of the booster for NASA's new rocket, the Space Launch System, is ready to fire for a major ground test and is paving the way on NASA’s journey to Mars.
he first qualification motor for NASA's Space Launch System's booster is installed in ATK's test stand in Utah and is ready for a March 11 static-fire test.
Image Credit: ATK
When completed, two five-segment boosters and four RS-25 engines will power the SLS to orbit and enable astronauts to explore destinations in deep space, including an asteroid and the Red Planet.
The two-minute, full-duration static test -- scheduled for March 11 at booster prime contractor ATK's test facility in Promontory, Utah -- is a huge milestone for the program and will qualify the booster design for high temperature conditions. This type of test typically only comes after multiple years of development and signifies major progress being made on the rocket. Once this test and a second, low-temperature test planned for early 2016 are complete, the hardware is qualified and ready for the first flight of SLS.
"With RS-25 engine testing underway, and this qualification booster firing coming up, we are taking big steps toward building this rocket and fulfilling NASA's mission of Mars and beyond," said SLS Program Manager Todd May. "This is the most advanced propulsion system ever built and will power this rocket to places we've never reached in the history of human spaceflight."
Some 103 design objectives will be measured through more than 534 instrumentation channels on the booster. It will be heated to 90 degrees Fahrenheit to measure solid rocket booster performance at high temperatures, as well as to demonstrate that it meets applicable structural and ballistic requirements.
Other objectives include data gathering on vital motor upgrades, such as the new insulation and booster case liner and the redesigned nozzle, which increases the robustness of the design. The improvements we've made to the SLS boosters, like new insulation materials, will make them more environmentally friendly, safe and affordable," said Bruce Tiller, deputy manager of the SLS Boosters Office at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. Marshall manages the SLS Program for the agency.
So, What's a Booster?
Solid rocket boosters operate in parallel with the main engines for the first two minutes of flight to provide the thrust needed for the launch vehicle to escape the gravitational pull of the Earth.
The SLS boosters will be used for the first two, 70-metric-ton flights of the SLS. One SLS booster is approximately 177 feet long, 12 feet in diameter and weighs 801 tons. Each booster produces 3.6 million pounds of thrust.
The boosters also will have an avionics system that is made up of hardware, software and operating systems that will communicate with the SLS avionics system and ground operations. The avionics also will control booster operations, like motor firing and nozzle steering. 
Proven hardware from the space shuttle era will be used for the SLS boosters, but modified for SLS requirements. While the shuttle used two, four-segment boosters, SLS will be powered by two, five-segment boosters. The added booster segment contains more solid propellant that allows SLS to lift more weight and reach a higher altitude before the boosters separate from the core stage. The core stage, towering more than 200 feet tall with a diameter of 27.6 feet, will store cryogenic liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen that will feed the vehicle’s RS-25 engines.
Booster hardware and software is developed, built and tested by prime contractor ATK. NASA and ATK have successfully completed three, full-scale development test firings of the five-segment booster ahead of the upcoming qualification test.
"What's impressive about this test is when ignited, the booster will be operating at about 3.6 million pounds of thrust, or 22 million horsepower," said Alex Priskos, manager of the SLS Boosters Office at Marshall. "This test firing is critical to enable validation of our design."
The first flight test of the SLS will feature a configuration for a 70-metric-ton (77-ton) lift capacity and carry an uncrewed Orion spacecraft beyond low-Earth orbit to test the performance of the integrated system. As the SLS evolves, it will provide an unprecedented lift capability of 130 metric tons (143 tons) to enable missions even farther into our solar system.
Quelle: NASA

Tags: Raumfahrt 


Freitag, 23. Januar 2015 - 18:45 Uhr

Mars-Chroniken - Microsoft entwickelt HoloLens für Bildbearbeitung von Mars Rover Curiosity-Daten


New NASA software called OnSight will use holographic computing to overlay visual information and data from the agency's Mars Curiosity Rover into the user's field of view. Holographic computing blends a view of the physical world with computer-generated imagery to create a hybrid of real and virtual.
Image Credit: NASA
NASA and Microsoft have teamed up to develop software called OnSight, a new technology that will enable scientists to work virtually on Mars using wearable technology called Microsoft HoloLens.
Developed by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California, OnSight will give scientists a means to plan and, along with the Mars Curiosity rover, conduct science operations on the Red Planet.
“OnSight gives our rover scientists the ability to walk around and explore Mars right from their offices,” said Dave Lavery, program executive for the Mars Science Laboratory mission at NASA Headquarters in Washington. “It fundamentally changes our perception of Mars, and how we understand the Mars environment surrounding the rover.”
OnSight will use real rover data and extend the Curiosity mission’s existing planning tools by creating a 3-D simulation of the Martian environment where scientists around the world can meet. Program scientists will be able to examine the rover’s worksite from a first-person perspective, plan new activities and preview the results of their work firsthand.
“We believe OnSight will enhance the ways in which we explore Mars and share that journey of exploration with the world,” said Jeff Norris, JPL’s OnSight project manager.
Until now, rover operations required scientists to examine Mars imagery on a computer screen, and make inferences about what they are seeing. But images, even 3-D stereo views, lack a natural sense of depth that human vision employs to understand spatial relationships.
The OnSight system uses holographic computing to overlay visual information and rover data into the user's field of view. Holographic computing blends a view of the physical world with computer-generated imagery to create a hybrid of real and virtual.
To view this holographic realm, members of the Curiosity mission team don a Microsoft HoloLens device, which surrounds them with images from the rover's Martian field site. They then can stroll around the rocky surface or crouch down to examine rocky outcrops from different angles. The tool provides access to scientists and engineers looking to interact with Mars in a more natural, human way.
"Previously, our Mars explorers have been stuck on one side of a computer screen. This tool gives them the ability to explore the rover's surroundings much as an Earth geologist would do field work here on our planet," said Norris.
The OnSight tool also will be useful for planning rover operations. For example, scientists can program activities for many of the rover's science instruments by looking at a target and using gestures to select menu commands.
The joint effort to develop OnSight with Microsoft grew from an ongoing partnership to investigate advances in human-robot interaction.  The JPL team responsible for OnSight specializes in systems to control robots and spacecraft. The tool will assist researchers in better understanding the environment and workspace of robotic spacecraft -- something that can be quite challenging with their traditional suite of tools.
JPL plans to begin testing OnSight in Curiosity mission operations later this year. Future applications may include Mars 2020 rover mission operations, and other applications in support of NASA's journey to Mars.
JPL manages the Mars Science Laboratory Project for NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington, and built the project's Curiosity rover.
Quelle: NASA

Tags: Mars-Chroniken 


Freitag, 23. Januar 2015 - 18:15 Uhr

Raumfahrt - Merkur-Sonde MESSENGER führte erste Orbit-Korrekturmanöver erfolgreich aus



MESSENGER successfully completed the first orbit-correction maneuver of its Second Extended Mission this morning to raise its minimum altitude above Mercury from 113.9 kilometers (70.8 miles) to 155.1 kilometers (96.4 miles). This maneuver is the first of four designed to modify the spacecraft's orbit around Mercury so as to delay the spacecraft's inevitable impact onto Mercury's surface and allow scientists to continue to gather novel information about the innermost planet.
During the primary phase of the MESSENGER mission, the spacecraft's orbit around Mercury was highly eccentric, drifting between 200 and 500 kilometers (124 to 311 miles) above Mercury's surface at closest approach, and between 15,200 and 14,900 kilometers (9,445 to 9,258 miles) above the surface at its farthest point, and completing an orbit every 12 hours. Spacecraft operators at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) in Laurel, Maryland, conducted several spacecraft maneuvers to counter the perturbing forces that caused MESSENGER's lowest orbital altitude to drift upward, away from its preferred observing geometry, and early in MESSENGER's First Extended Mission conducted a pair of maneuvers to reduce the orbital period to eight hours.
"In this final phase of the mission, the opposite effect is happening," explained the mission trajectory lead Jim McAdams of APL. "To extend the mission, we need to raise the minimum altitude by increasing the Mercury-relative speed of the spacecraft when it is farthest from Mercury."
For this latest orbit adjustment, MESSENGER was 82.9 million kilometers (51.5 million miles) from Earth and 69.8 million kilometers (43.3 million miles) from the Sun. The 3.2-minute-long maneuver -- which used two of the four largest monopropellant thrusters, with a small contribution from four of the 12 smallest monopropellant thrusters -- began at about 10:53 a.m., EDT. APL mission controllers verified the start of the maneuver 4.6 minutes later, when the first signals indicating spacecraft thruster activity reached MESSENGER's Mission Operations Center via NASA's Deep Space Network tracking station outside of Madrid, Spain. 
"MESSENGER's results to date have revolutionized our knowledge of Mercury's global geology, the nature of volcanism across the surface, the cratering record, and the history of the planet's contraction, and they have also revealed unexpected discoveries, such as hollows," said APL's Nancy Chabot, who chairs MESSENGER's Geology Discipline Group. During the remainder of MESSENGER's mission, the focus of geological observations will narrow from a global perspective to views of selected areas in unprecedented detail, she explained.
"With the low-altitude imaging campaign, MESSENGER will acquire the highest-resolution images ever obtained of Mercury, enabling us to search for volcanic flow fronts, small-scale tectonic features, layering in crater walls, locations of impact melt, and new aspects of hollows. Those detailed views will provide a new understanding of Mercury's geological evolution," she said.
The measurement resolution of Mercury's gravity and internal magnetic fields improves markedly as the altitude of the MESSENGER spacecraft decreases. "This improvement means that smaller-scale and weaker-amplitude features can be mapped, and in the case of magnetic measurements, the external and internal fields can be separated with greater fidelity," said Roger Phillips of the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colorado.
"MESSENGER will continue its downward march, interrupted by the final three orbit-correction maneuvers, but also achieving altitudes lower than 50 kilometers for the first time," said Phillips, who chairs MESSENGER's Geophysics Discipline Group. "For the magnetic field, the question of whether the crust has retained an ancient, frozen-in (remanent) magnetic field, as have Mars and Earth, can be answered, and a higher-resolution picture of the field generated by Mercury's liquid outer core can be obtained. For the gravity field, the signatures of large fold-and-thrust belts and of impact craters will shed light on the structure of the crust and the early history of Mercury."
MESSENGER's geochemical measurements obtained during the upcoming months will provide measurements with vastly improved spatial resolution, according to APL's Patrick Peplowski, the instrument scientist for the Gamma-Ray and Neutron Spectrometer. "Not only will the low-altitude campaign help our overall efforts to map Mercury's surface composition with the best possible spatial resolution, we will now be able to obtain spatially resolved measurements of features that were previously too small to resolve with the geochemical instruments," he said. "For example, we have opportunities to study the chemical composition of pyroclastic deposits and the mysterious low-reflectance material. We are also hoping to spatially resolve individual ice-hosting craters for the first time."
Even with today's maneuver, the spacecraft's altitude at closest approach will continue to decrease until raised by additional maneuvers in September and October of this year and January 2015. At that point, MESSENGER will have spent its accessible propellant, and additional altitude-changing maneuvers will not be possible. In March 2015, the spacecraft will impact the surface of Mercury, having successfully completed four years in orbit about Mercury.
Quelle: NASA
Update: 23.01.2015
Maneuver Successfully Delays MESSENGER's Impact, Extends Orbital Operations
MESSENGER mission controllers at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) in Laurel, Md., successfully conducted a maneuver today designed to raise the spacecraft's minimum altitude sufficiently to extend orbital operations and delay the probe's inevitable impact onto Mercury's surface until early next spring.
The immediately previous maneuver, completed on October 24, 2014, raised MESSENGER to an altitude at closest approach from 25.4 kilometers (15.8 miles) to 184.4 kilometers (114.6 miles) above the planet's surface. Because of progressive changes to the orbit over time, the spacecraft's minimum altitude continued to decrease. 
At the time of this most recent maneuver, MESSENGER was in an orbit with a closest approach of 25.7 kilometers (16.0 miles) above the surface of Mercury. With a velocity change of 9.67 meters per second (21.62 miles per hour), the spacecraft's four largest monopropellant thrusters (with a small contribution from four of the 12 smallest monopropellant thrusters) nudged the spacecraft to an orbit with a closest approach altitude of 105.1 km (65.3 miles). 
This maneuver also increased the spacecraft's speed relative to Mercury at the maximum distance from Mercury, adding about 3.7 minutes to the spacecraft's eight-hour, 12.9-minute orbit period. This maneuver was the first during the mission to intentionally use both fuel and gaseous helium pressurant to impart the desired velocity change. The propellant was drawn from a small auxiliary fuel tank, and the gaseous helium was drawn from the main fuel tanks.
"This maneuver has demonstrated the safety of this concept and will allow us to characterize system performance during the use of cold gas propellant," said MESSENGER Mission Systems Engineer Dan O'Shaughnessy, of APL. "Such characterization will be necessary to forecast accurately the timing of the spacecraft's surface impact and to plan low-altitude maneuvers for the remainder of the mission." 
This view shows MESSENGER's orientation soon after the start of the maneuver. The spacecraft was 118.9 million kilometers (73.9 million miles) from Earth when the 1-minute, 49-second maneuver began at 1:27 p.m. EDT. Mission controllers at APL verified the start of the maneuver 6.6 minutes later, after the first signals indicating spacecraft thruster activity reached NASA's Deep Space Network tracking station in Goldstone, California.
The next maneuver, on March 18, will again raise the spacecraft's minimum altitude, allowing scientists to continue to collect images and data from MESSENGER's instruments.
Quelle: NASA

Tags: Raumfahrt 


Freitag, 23. Januar 2015 - 12:26 Uhr

Planet Erde - Zweifel an globalen Feuersturm als Ursache bei Dino-Aussterben durch Asteroiden


Doubt cast on global firestorm generated by dino-killing asteroid
Pioneering new research has debunked the theory that the asteroid that is thought to have led to the extinction of dinosaurs also caused vast global firestorms that ravaged planet Earth.
A team of researchers from the University of Exeter, University of Edinburgh and Imperial College London recreated the immense energy released from an extra-terrestrial collision with Earth that occurred around the time that dinosaurs became extinct. They found that the intense but short-lived heat near the impact site could not have ignited live plants, challenging the idea that the impact led to global firestorms.
These firestorms have previously been considered a major contender in the puzzle to find out what caused the mass extinction of life on Earth 65 million years ago.
The researchers found that close to the impact site, a 200 km wide crater in Mexico, the heat pulse - that would have lasted for less than a minute - was too short to ignite live plant material. However they discovered that the effects of the impact would have been felt as far away as New Zealand where the heat would have been less intense but longer lasting - heating the ground for about seven minutes - long enough to ignite live plant matter.
The experiments were carried out in the laboratory and showed that dry plant matter could ignite, but live plants including green pine branches, typically do not.
Dr Claire Belcher from the Earth System Science group in Geography at the University of Exeter said: “By combining computer simulations of the impact with methods from engineering we have been able to recreate the enormous heat of the impact in the laboratory. This has shown us that the heat was more likely to severely affect ecosystems a long distance away, such that forests in New Zealand would have had more chance of suffering major wildfires than forests in North America that were close to the impact.  This flips our understanding of the effects of the impact on its head and means that palaeontologists may need to look for new clues from fossils found a long way from the impact to better understand the mass extinction event.”   
Plants and animals are generally resistant to localised fire events - animals can hide or hibernate and plants can re-colonise from other areas, implying that wildfires are unlikely to be directly capable of leading to the extinctions. If however some animal communities, particularly large animals, were unable to shelter from the heat, they may have suffered serious losses. It is unclear whether these would have been sufficient to lead to the extinction of species.
Dr Rory Hadden from the University of Edinburgh said: “This is a truly exciting piece of inter-disciplinary research. By working together engineers and geoscientists have tackled a complex, long-standing problem in a novel way. This has allowed a step forward in the debate surrounding the end Cretaceous impact and will help geoscientists interpret the fossil record and evaluate potential future impacts. In addition, the methods we developed in the laboratory for this research have driven new developments in our current understanding of how materials behave in fires particularly at the wildland-urban-interface, meaning that we have been able to answer questions relating to both ancient mass extinctions at the same time as developing understanding of the impact of wildfires in urban areas today.”
The results of the study are published in the Journal of the Geological Society.
The research was supported by a European Research Council Starter Grant, a Marie Curie Career Integration Grant, the Leverhulme Trust, the EPSRC and the Austrian Science Fund.
Quelle: University of Exeter

Tags: Planet Erde 


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