Sonntag, 15. März 2015 - 20:30 Uhr

Astronomie - Neue Hinweise aus der Morgendämmerung des Sonnensystems


This artist's impression shows a young sun-like star encircled by its planet-forming disk of gas and dust. (Image: NASA/JPL-Caltech)
Sulfide chondrules, a new type of building blocks discovered in meteorites left over from the solar system's infancy, provide evidence for a previously unknown region in the protoplanetary disk that gave rise to the planets including Earth.
Fragment of an R chondrite that fell to Earth together with the specimen used in this study. The two broke apart sometime during their fall, either in the atmosphere or when they hit the ground. (Photo: Kelly Miller)
A research group in the UA Lunar and Planetary Laboratory has found evidence in meteorites that hint at the discovery of a previously unknown region within the swirling disk of dust and gas known as the protoplanetary disk – which gave rise to the planets in our solar system.
Led by Kelly Miller, a doctoral student in the lab of Dante Lauretta, the principal investigator of NASA's OSIRIS-REx mission, the team has found evidence of minerals within meteorites that formed in an environment that was enhanced in oxygen and sulfur and date from a time before the particles stuck together, or "accreted," to form larger bodies such as asteroids and planets. 
Miller will present the data at the 46th Lunar and Planetary Science Conference, which is held March 16–20 in The Woodlands, Texas. The results are in preparation for publication in a journal, but have not been peer-reviewed yet. 
The elements that later went on to constitute the major ingredients in life on Earth – such as carbon, oxygen, nitrogen and hydrogen – originated as volatile gases in the protoplanetary disk when the solar system was less than 10 million years old, Miller said.
"If we want to understand how those elements contributed to life, we have to understand where they occurred at the time the solar system formed," she said
A thin section of the meteorite from this study seen in cross-polarized light. "Viewing it that way can help identify different minerals in the thin section – but it's also prettiest that way," Miller said. "The dark section on the left is the primitive clast we've been studying. The white arrow is pointing to a large silicate chondrule, and the yellow arrow is pointing to a sulfide chondrule, which is black in this view." (Photo courtesy of Kelly Miller)
"If we want to understand how those elements contributed to life, we have to understand where they occurred at the time the solar system formed," she said.
Miller and her team study meteorites called chondrites, which are thought to be the most primitive leftovers from the birth and infancy of the solar system about 4.6 billion years ago.  They derive their name from their main component – chondrules, which formed as molten droplets floating in space.
"We think that chondrites represent the earliest building blocks of rocky planets such as Earth, Mars or Venus," Miller said.
Specifically, Miller and her co-workers studied sections about half as thin as a human hair that were cut from R chondrites, a rare type of meteorite so named after the location where the type specimen fell: Rumuruti in Kenya. R chondrites are thought to have formed somewhere between Earth and Jupiter. In one specimen, found in Antarctica, they discovered a new type of building block called sulfide chondrules. The samples were obtained from the U.S. collection of Antarctic meteorites – a cooperative effort among NASA, the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the Smithsonian Institution.
In this image of a sample studied, different chemical elements appear in different colors. The round, mostly green object ringed by red is a silicate chondrule, whereas the large red object on the right is a sulfide chondrule. The sulfide chondrule was deformed during the collision with the silicate chondrule while it was still very hot. The scalebar is 100 microns long. (Photo courtesy of Kelly Miller)
"Generally, chondrules are made up of minerals rich in silicon, but the chondrules we found in this meteorite are completely different in that they are composed of sulfide minerals," she explained. "This suggests that they formed in a region that was rich in sulfur, and provides evidence for a previously unknown type of environment in the early solar system."
"Our discovery of the sulfide chondrules will help us put a quantifiable number on how much sulfide was enhanced in that region of the protoplanetary disk," Miller added.
Obtaining a better understanding of the distribution of gases in the early solar system has been identified by the Planetary Science Decadal Survey as a primary objective for the study of primitive bodies. Published by the National Research Council for NASA and other government agencies such as the National Science Foundation, the document identifies key questions in planetary science and outlines plans for space- and ground-based exploration ten years into the future.
"What is exciting about this sample is that it has not been heated to high temperatures and thereby altered in its composition," Miller said. "We know it's a fragment of a larger asteroid, and some of that asteroid heated up to higher temperatures, erasing the signature of the original building blocks of the asteroid, but our piece retains the original building blocks."
"These sulfide chondrules help us pin down when and where that sulfur enhancement occurred and help us better understand the process," she added.
To learn more about the early stages of the solar system including the origin of the building blocks of life and water, the UA-led OSIRIS-REx mission is getting ready to launch a robotic spacecraft to asteroid Bennu in 2016 and bring a sample of at least 60 grams of pristine material back to Earth for study. The mission will provide ample amounts of sample material and, most importantly, from a known context.
"Unlike with meteorites that came to us serendipitously and we're lacking the context of where the material formed, with OSIRIS-REx we will know exactly where that piece came from, and we will know the travel history of Bennu – where it has been in the past," Miller said.
Quelle: The University of Arizona Office of University Communications

Tags: Astronomie 


Sonntag, 15. März 2015 - 20:00 Uhr

Raumfahrt - NASA´s MORPHEUS Lander - Update-3


NASA dreams of future Morpheus project templates

NASA’s Morpheus team have completed a review of its operations, following the conclusion of its test program. This week’s overview – which also hinted at the possibility of a new lander vehicle – provided a glowing review of a project that conducted 63 test flights and only cost $14 million over four years, in turn creating a roadmap for future “lean” programs within NASA.
Project Morpheus:
The system was manufactured and assembled at the Johnson Space Center (JSC) in association with Armadillo Aerospace – with its heritage based on Armadillo’s Pixel system.
The project ran from its conception in the summer of 2010, through to its final test flight in December of 2014.
Morpheus was designed to be large enough to carry 1,100 pounds of cargo to the moon – ranging from a humanoid robot, a small rover, or a small laboratory to convert moon dust into oxygen – performing all propellant burns after the trans lunar injection.
In its early days, it was heavily associated with a project to send a version of the Robonaut – not unlike the one currently residing on the International Space Station (ISS) – to the Moon. This was known as Project M (documentation available in L2).
This notional mission would see the robot and lander launched from KSC on a commercial expendable launch vehicle and inserted into a trans-lunar trajectory.
Once at the moon, the spacecraft would be inserted into a low lunar orbit where it would orbit until ready to perform the entry, descent, and landing (EDL).
The project focused on vertical test bed demonstrations with green propellant propulsion systems and autonomous landing and hazard detection technology.
The development of Morpheus also allowed prototype lander engineers to integrate technologies for future spacecraft that could land on a variety of destinations in our solar system.
Per the project’s review on March 12 (full notes in L2), spin off and patents are now being worked on to build on the heritage of Morpheus testing.
The first vehicle, Morpheus 1.0, was strictly a non-free flight test vehicle that flew under a tether system attached to a crane at JSC in Houston.
Those tests evaluated the system’s LOX-Methane propulsion, which was utilized on both the 5,400 pound thrust main engine and the Reaction Control System/Roll Control thrusters.
The main engine – which was also tested at the Stennis Space Center – could throttle at a ratio of 4 to 1, ranging between 1,400 and 5,400 pounds thrust. All Morpheus engines were custom designed and built specifically for Morpheus and only cost $60,000 each.
The test program provided many interesting data points, from dealing with combustion stability – which was classed as a major issue during the engine development and Morpheus 1.0’s testing – through to using the main engine and the roll thrusters, supplied by propellants from the same fuel tankage – something that had never been done before with a LOX-Methane set up.
There were a total of 24 tests at JSC of both Morpheus 1.0 and the follow on 1.5A, before Morpheus 1.5A was shipped for testing at the Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in 2012.
Morpheus was staged at the Shuttle Landing Facility (SLF) at KSC, ahead of attempting its first free flight over a specially constructed hazard field of craters and rocks at the end of the runway.
However, the test – conducted in August of last year – did not go to plan, as the vehicle’s Thrust Vector Control (TVC) system suffer a major malfunction, sending it into a roll, prior to crashing into the ground.
“At T plus 0.6 seconds, Morpheus lost its guidance, the engine remained locked into its last commanded position, and the vehicle executed a half loop into the ground, quickly catching fire and was largely consumed in the resulting propellants feed fire,” added notes from the review.
Although SLF fire crews were on hand, the pressurized system could not be approached as it laid crippled on the site. Eventually, the fire breached the pressurized fuel tanks, resulting in it exploding. The review noted that remains will go on display at the Smithsonian this Summer.
The failure was attributed to a connector failure, caused by Vibro-Acoustic induced vibrations at engine ignition, the review notes added.
Morpheus 1.5A used commercial connectors, while the follow on Morpheus 1.5B strictly used Mil-Spec connectors for everything. The off the shelf commercial grade connectors were replaced with Mil-Spec Aerospace grade connectors.
As with a large amount of test programs, a failure was an expected and acceptable risk, as such as there was no formal Failure Review.
The Morpheus team, then combined with the Autonomous Landing Hazard Avoidance Technology (ALHAT) team members, were then directed to build the next Morpheus vehicle, ahead of a return to static hot fire and dynamic tethered flight tests at JSC in early 2013.
Morpheus 1.5B was quickly built as a replacement test vehicle with over 70 upgrades, while a flame trench was added – by the KSC Swamp Works – to the launch area to reduce the Vibro-Acoustic loads on the test vehicle at engine ignition.
During testing at JSC, the lander’s engine was successfully ignited six times in a row, with each burn lasting 600 milliseconds. This period of testing was classed as challenging, resulting in the test schedule for a return to KSC to be delayed several times.
The ALHAT guidance system was eventually installed on Morpheus ahead of its big tests at the SLF.
Its return to Florida was a huge success, with incremental increases in the challenges for the vehicle, resulting in numerous hops over the hazard field, prior to smooth touchdowns on the target pad.
The final test was conducted in December, with a 97 second flight resulting in the lander climbing to 800 feet, flying forward 1,300 feet – scanning its simulated lunar landscape below – before safely landing.
This marked the conclusion of testing for Morpheus.
Looking back on the program achievements, Project Manager Jon Olansen continued the March 21 overview by noting not just the successes enjoyed by the vehicle, but also the lessons learned from how the “lean project” was run.
The overview noted the entire program management and record keeping was conducted on line, with only six Formal Documents generated during the entire program’s life. This is a notable change from how NASA normally runs a program – which is usually “paper heavy” on the documentation side.
The total program cost was relatively cheap by NASA standards, costing only $14 million in Materials and Labor over its 4.5 years – with an average of just 40 people working the project at any one time.
The project was also run from a “fail forward” mindset, doing away with the risk adverse nature that is embedded into modern day aerospace programs.
The vehicle was completely “Single String Failure”, meaning it was built without backups or redundancy.
“You must be willing to take risks, and your management has to fully understand you are willing to take the risks,” as was outlined at the overview, with an “assume it will fail every time” approach taken and accepted as meeting the Range Safety requirements.
It was also added that the team was made to feel more involved with the vehicle, with individual team members taking ownership of his/her part of the vehicle, and had total authority over that part of the vehicle, without the “Mother may I?” approach.
Costs were kept low by utilizing the “MSC-Granger-Home Depot supply chain” when ever and where ever possible, with this “Beg and Borrow” approach classed as saving the project at least $50 million.
As to the future, the overview concluded by noting another Morpheus could be possible, if funding was appropriated.
For the meantime, the data from the testing is being fed into spin offs and patents.
(Images: Via NASA and L2)
Quelle: NASA

Tags: Raumfahrt 


Sonntag, 15. März 2015 - 12:15 Uhr

Luftfahrt - Lockheed F-35 Lightning II durchläuft Klimaprüfung um unter allen Umständen fliegen zu können.


The F-35 Lightning II above is getting blasted at the U.S. Air Force 96th Test Wing’s McKinley Climatic Laboratory located at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida.
For four months the aircraft has been subjected to conditions ranging from searing heat to temperatures as low as minus 40 degrees Fahrenheit to make sure its systems continue to function in any kind of extreme weather it might encounter on a mission.
For the past four months, an F-35 Lightning II has endured extreme weather temperatures to certify the fleet to deploy to any corner of the world. 
An F-35B from the F-35 Patuxent River Integrated Test Force in Maryland has undergone rigorous climatic testing at the U.S. Air Force 96th Test Wing’s McKinley Climatic Laboratory located at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida.  The laboratory supports all-weather testing of weapon systems to ensure they function regardless of climatic conditions.
With 13 countries currently involved with the program, the F-35 must be tested in meteorological conditions representative of those locations from which it will operate, ranging from the heat of the Outback of Australia to the bitter cold of the Arctic Circle above Canada and Norway.
“We’ve designed an environment here at the chamber where we can simulate virtually any weather condition—all while flying the jet at full power in either conventional or vertical takeoff mode,” said Dwayne Bell, McKinley Climatic Laboratory technical chief.
The F-35B Lightning II was ferried to Eglin AFB in September 2014 to begin a six month assessment of the aircraft’s performance in wind, solar radiation, fog, humidity, rain intrusion/ingestion, freezing rain, icing cloud, icing build-up, vortex icing and snow.
“While we are testing in the world’s largest climatic testing chamber, we’re pushing the F-35 to its environmental limits —ranging from 120 degrees Fahrenheit to negative 40 degrees, and every possible weather condition in between,” said F-35 test pilot Billie Flynn, who performed extreme cold testing on the aircraft.
“To this point, the aircraft’s performance is meeting expectations”, Flynn said.  “It has flown in more than 100 degree heat while also flying in bitter subzero temperatures.  In its final days of testing, it will fly through ice and other conditions such as driving rain with hurricane force winds.”
“We are learning more and more about the aircraft every day,” Flynn said. “The future warfighters can be confident the F-35 will perform in any condition they find themselves in for the future.”
Quelle: Lockheed Martin

Tags: Luftfahrt 


Sonntag, 15. März 2015 - 11:00 Uhr

UFO-Forschung - Wenn LED-Leuchten zu UFO´s werden




Update: 15.03.2015


Nach dem wir die Zusage von Bild-Redakteur hatten auch den "Gedruckten Bericht der Bild-Düsseldorf" zu bekommen, können wir anschließend auch diesen hier aufführen, den wir heute erhielten:


Tags: UFO-Forschung 


Samstag, 14. März 2015 - 17:00 Uhr

Astronomie - Die Aussichten für die Lösung des Rätsels von Neutronensternen waren noch nie so gut.


It has not yet been possible to measure the gravitational waves predicted by Einstein's theory of general relativity. They are so weak that they get lost in the noise of the measurements. But thanks to the latest simulations of the merging of binary neutron star systems, the structure of the sought-after signals is now known.
As a team of German and Japanese theoretical astrophysicists reports in the Editor's choice of the current edition of the scientific journal "Physical Review D", gravitational waves have a characteristic spectrum that is similar to the spectral lines of atoms.
Gravitational waves are generated when masses accelerate. The first indirect evidence for their existence was detected in 1974 when the binary pulsar PSR B1913+16 was discovered in the constellation Aquila. The two rapidly rotating neutron stars are drifting towards each other in a spiral shape, which is why, the astrophysicists explain, they are losing energy and emitting gravitational waves.
Russell A. Hulse and Joseph H. Taylor received the 1993 Nobel Prize in Physics for this discovery. In the meantime, there are now several large-scale experiments for detecting gravitational waves: the American LIGO experiment, the European Virgo experiment, and the Japanese KAGRA detector. Experts estimate that signals of gravitational waves from merging binary neutron star systems will be detected within the next five years.
"These signals are not easy to detect, because they have an extremely small amplitude." But despite these difficult conditions, it is possible to find them, if you know what to look for in advance," explained Professor Luciano Rezzolla from the Institute for Theoretical Physics at Goethe University.
Together with a Japanese colleague from Osaka University, he has studied a number of binary neutron star systems with the help of the latest simulation techniques and has discovered that the merging of the stars generates characteristic gravitational wave spectra.
"These spectra correspond, at least logically, to the electromagnetic spectral lines emitted by atoms or molecules. From these we can derive information on the characteristics of the stars," explains Rezzolla.
As the astrophysicists show in two publications with related content in "Physical Review Letters" (published in November 2014) and in the current edition of "Physical Review D," the gravitational waves spectrum is like a fingerprint for the two stars. If scientists learn how to interpret these spectra, they will know what the neutron stars are made of and will be able to determine what is their equation of state, which is so far unknown.
Equations of state describe the thermodynamic properties of systems as a function of variables, such as pressure, temperature, volume, or particle number. To this Rezzolla adds: "This is a very exciting possibility, because then we would be able to solve a riddle that has remained unsolved for 40 years: What are neutron stars made of and what is their stellar structure?"
"If the signal is strong and thus the fingerprint is very clear, even a single measurement would be sufficient," Rezzolla predicts.
"The prospects of solving the riddle of neutron stars have never been this good. The gravitational waves that we hope to detect in a few years are already on their way from the farthest reaches of the universe."
Quelle: SD

Tags: Astronomie 


Samstag, 14. März 2015 - 16:15 Uhr

UFO-Forschung - Radarengel und Co: Radarsystem hält Kühe für feindliche Flugobjekte


Probleme bei der Schweizer Armee   /   Radarsystem hält Kühe für feindliche Flugobjekte
Ein für viele Millionen in Deutschland gekauftes Radarsystem bereitet der Schweizer Armee Ärger: Beim Einsatz in den Bergen halte das System an den Hängen umherlaufende Kühe für fliegende feindliche Objekte, sagte Verteidigungsminister Ueli Maurer laut der Boulevardzeitung "Blick".
Die eidgenössischen Streitkräfte wollten demnach das umgerechnet 279 Millionen Euro teure System ursprünglich Ende 2016 auf ihren Militärflughäfen in Betrieb nehmen. Durch die Probleme verzögere sich das Prozedere nun bis mindestens 2020, erklärte die für die Ausrüstung der Armee zuständige Bundesbehörde Armasuisse.
Der Vorsitzende der Sicherheitskommission, Thomas Urter, sagte der Zeitung "La Tribune de Genève", die derzeitigen Radarsysteme seien veraltet und müssten unbedingt ersetzt werden. Das in Deutschland bestellte System sei so neu, dass Nachbesserungen normal seien, sagte Urter weiter. Das sei ärgerlich, aber bislang noch keine Katastrophe.
Dem Bericht zufolge hat auch die Bundeswehr Probleme mit dem selben System, dessen Hersteller nicht genannt wird.
Quelle: t-online

Tags: UFO-Forschung 


Samstag, 14. März 2015 - 14:15 Uhr

Astronomie - Eine großartige Komposition von neuen Sternen


Diese dramatische Landschaft im südlichen Sternbild Ara (der Altar) ist ein Schatzkästchen von himmlischen Objekten: Sternhaufen, Emissionsnebel und aktive sternbildende Regionen sind nur einige der Reichtümer, die man in der Region beobachten kann, die ungefähr 4000 Lichtjahre von der Erde entfernt liegt. Dieses wunderschöne neue Bild ist die bisher detaillierteste Ansicht dieses Teils des Himmels und wurde vom VLT Survey Telescope am Paranal-Observatorium der ESO in Chile aufgenommen.
Im Zentrum des Bildes liegt der Offene Sternhaufen NGC 6193, der ungefähr dreißig helle Sterne enthält und das Herz der Sternansammlung Ara OB 1 bildet. Die beiden hellsten Sterne sind sehr heiße Riesensterne. Zusammen bilden sie die Hauptlichtquelle für den nahen Emissionsnebel NGC 6188, der im englischen Sprachraum wegen seines starken Kontrasts zwischen Hell und Dunkel auch als Rim-Nebel bezeichnet wird und den man rechts vom Sternhaufen sehen kann.
Eine Sternassoziation ist eine größere Gruppierung von lose gebundenen Sternen, die sich noch nicht vollständig von ihrem ursprünglichen Entstehungsort wegbewegt haben. OB-Assoziationen bestehen zum größten Teil aus sehr jungen blau-weißen Sternen, die ungefähr 100.000 mal heller als die Sonne und zwischen 10 und 50 mal massereicher sind.
Der Rim-Nebel ist die auffallend hevorstehende Wand zwischen dunklen und hellen Wolken, die die Grenze zwischen einer aktiven sternbildenden Region innerhalb der Molekül-Wolke mit dem Namen RCW 108 und dem Rest der Assoziation markiert [1]. Das Gebiet um RCW 108 besteht hauptsächlich aus Wasserstoff – der Hauptzutat der Sternbildung. Solche Gebiete werden auch als H II-Regionen bezeichnet.
Die ultraviolette Strahlung und intensive stellare Winde der Sterne von NGC 6193 scheinen die nächste Generation der Sternbildung in den umgebenden Wolken von Gas und Staub anzutreiben. Wenn Wolkenteile kollabieren, heizen sie sich auf und bilden schließlich neue Sterne.
Während die Wolke neue Sterne bildet, wird sie gleichzeitig von den Winden und der Strahlung, die von vorherigen Sternen ausgesendet wird, sowie durch heftige Supernova-Explosionen erodiert. Auf diese Art scheinen die sternbildenden H II-Regionen eine Lebenszeit von gerade einmal wenigen Millionen Jahren zu haben. Sternbildung ist ein sehr ineffizienter Prozess, bei dem nur ungefähr 10% des Materials zur Entstehung beitragen - der Rest wird in den Weltraum hinausgeblasen.
Der Rim-Nebel zeigt auch Anzeichen dafür, in einer frühen Phase von „Säulenbildung“ zu sein, was bedeutet, dass er in Zukunft damit enden könnte, ähnlich wie andere bekannte Sternbildungsregionen auszusehen, zum Beispiel wie der Adlernebel Messier 16, der die berühmten „Säulen der Schöpfung“ enthält, oder der Konusnebel, der Teil von NGC 2264 ist.
Dieses eindrucksvolle Bild wurde in Wirklichkeit aus mehr als 500 Einzelaufnahmen erstellt, die durch vier verschiedene Farbfilter mit dem VLT Survey Telescope aufgenommen wurden. Die Gesamtbelichtungszeit betrug mehr als 56 Stunden. Es ist die detailreichste Ansicht dieser Region, die man bisher gewinnen konnte.
[1] Außerdem hat dieser Nebel zusätzlich in bescheidenem Rahmen Bekanntheit unter Astronomen, weil ein früheres Bild als Cover der DVD der Softwaresammlung Scisoft verwendet wurde, die von der ESO zusammengestellt wurde und deren neueste Version vor wenigen Wochen herausgekommen ist. Er trägt deshalb auch den Namen Scisoft-Nebel.
Der offene Sternhaufen NGC 6193 befindet sich im Sternbild Ara (der Altar). In dieser Aufsuchkarte ist er mit einem roten Kreis markiert (rechts oberhalb der Bildmitte). Die meisten der ebenfalls eingezeichneten sterne sind mit bloßem Auge in einer dunklen, klaren Nacht sichtbar. der sternhaufen selber ist mit einem kleinen Teleskop eifach zu beobachten, die ihn umgebenden schwach leuchtenden Gaswolken dagegen sind viel schwächer und für visuelle Beobachtung eine Herausforderung.
Quelle: ESO

Tags: Astronomie 


Samstag, 14. März 2015 - 13:30 Uhr

Raumfahrt - An Atlas-Rakete montierte Kameras zeigen MMS-Orbit-Aufnahmen



Frams: NASA

Tags: Raumfahrt 


Freitag, 13. März 2015 - 11:30 Uhr

Mars-Chroniken - Mars Rover Curiosity Arm liefert Steinpulver Proben


This area at the base of Mount Sharp on Mars includes a pale outcrop, called "Pahrump Hills," that NASA's Curiosity Mars rover investigated from September 2014 to March 2015, and the "Artist's Drive" route toward higher layers of the mountain. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona


NASA's Curiosity Mars rover used its robotic arm Wednesday, March 11, to sieve and deliver a rock-powder sample to an onboard instrument. The sample was collected last month before the team temporarily suspended rover arm movement pending analysis of a short circuit.
The Chemistry and Mineralogy (CheMin) analytical instrument inside the rover received the sample powder. This sample comes from a rock target called "Telegraph Peak," the third target drilled during about six months of investigating the "Pahrump Hills" outcrop on Mount Sharp. With this delivery completed, the rover team plans to drive Curiosity away from Pahrump Hills in coming days.
"That precious Telegraph Peak sample had been sitting in the arm, so tantalizingly close, for two weeks. We are really excited to get it delivered for analysis," said Curiosity Project Scientist Ashwin Vasavada of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California.
The rover experienced a short circuit on Feb. 27 while using percussion action in its drill to shake sample powder from the drill into a sample-processing device on the arm. Subsequent testing at JPL and on Curiosity has identified the likely cause as a transient short in the motor for the drill's percussion action. During several tests on the rover in the past 10 days, the short was reproduced only one time -- on March 5. It lasted less than one one-hundredth of a second and did not stop the motor. Ongoing analysis will help the rover team develop guidelines for best use of the drill at future rock targets.
The rover's path toward higher layers of Mount Sharp will take it first through a valley called "Artist's Drive," heading southwestward from Pahrump Hills. The sample-processing device on the arm is carrying Telegraph Peak sample material at the start of the drive, for later delivery into the Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) suite of instruments. The delivery will occur after SAM prepares for receiving the sample.
Curiosity's drill has used a combination of rotary and percussion action to collect samples from six rock targets since the rover landed inside Gale Crater in 2012. The first sampled rock, "John Klein," in the Yellowknife Bay area near the landing site, provided evidence for meeting the mission's primary science goal. Analysis of that sample showed that early Mars offered environmental conditions favorable for microbial life, including the key elemental ingredients for life and a chemical energy source such as used by some microbes on Earth. In the layers of lower Mount Sharp, the mission is pursuing evidence about how early Mars environments evolved from wetter to drier conditions.
JPL, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the Mars Science Laboratory project for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington, and built the project's Curiosity rover.
Quelle: NASA

Tags: Mars-Chroniken 


Freitag, 13. März 2015 - 11:10 Uhr

Raumfahrt - Start von NASA Magnetospheric Multiscale (MMS)-Mission



In March of 2015, an unprecedented NASA mission will launch to study a process so mysterious that no one has ever directly measured in space. To create the first-ever 3-dimensional maps of this process, a process called magnetic reconnection, which occurs all over the universe, the Magnetospheric Multiscale, or MMS, mission uses four separate spacecraft equipped with ultra high speed instruments.
Launching four satellites into space simultaneously is a complicated process. In addition, each spacecraft has several booms that will unfold and extend in space once on orbit. A launch and deployment with so many moving parts is meticulously planned. 
Watch the video to get a sneak preview of how MMS will make this journey: The four spacecraft are housed in a single rocket on their trip into space. One by one, each ejects out, before moving into a giant pyramid-shaped configuration. Next each spacecraft deploys its booms.
Once in orbit, MMS will fly through regions near Earth where this little-understood process of magnetic reconnection occurs. Magnetic reconnection happens in thin layers just miles thick, but can tap into enough power at times to create gigantic explosions many times the size of Earth.
Reconnection happens when magnetic field lines explosively realign and release massive bursts of energy, while hurling particles out at nearly the speed of light in all directions. Magnetic reconnection powers eruptions on the sun and – closer to home – it triggers the flow of material and energy from interplanetary space into near-Earth space. The MMS orbit will carry the four spacecraft through reconnection regions near Earth, using this nearby natural laboratory to better understand how reconnection occurs everywhere in space.
The MMS engineering team at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., begin bagging the first two Magnetospheric Multiscale, or MMS, observatories with protective wrapping in preparation for shipment to Astrotech Space Operations, NASA’s pre-launch processing facility in Florida.
Image Credit: NASA
In the coming months, engineers at Astrotech will conduct extensive final testing, fueling, remove protective covers from the 100 sensors and stack all four spacecraft prior to placing them inside the nose cone of the launch vehicle. The spacecraft stack will be transported to the Atlas launch complex about 10 days before liftoff.
MMS is scheduled for launch on March 12, 2015 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida, on an Atlas V 421 launch vehicle.
MMS will help solve the mystery of how magnetic fields around Earth connect and disconnect, explosively releasing energy via a process called magnetic reconnection. This mission will provide the first three-dimensional views of this fundamental process that occurs throughout our universe.
During its two-year prime mission, key sensors on each of the four MMS spacecraft will take measurements of the space environment 100 times faster than any previous mission, providing much needed data about how magnetic reconnection works in near-Earth space.
MMS is the fourth mission in NASA’s Solar Terrestrial Probes, or STP, program.
Quelle: NASA
Update: 8.02.2015
MMS Solar Array Illumination Test

Jan. 12, 2015. – A solar array illumination test is performed on the upper stack of the Magnetospheric Multiscale spacecraft, or MMS, in the Astrotech payload processing facility in Titusville, Florida, near Kennedy Space Center. Illumination testing of the lower instrumentation payload stack was completed in December. MMS is a Solar Terrestrial Probes mission comprising four identically instrumented spacecraft that will use Earth’s magnetosphere as a laboratory to study the microphysics of three fundamental plasma processes: magnetic reconnection, energetic particle acceleration and turbulence.
Atlas V Arrives for MMS
Dec. 18, 2014 – Trucks transport the Atlas V rocket and Centaur upper stage from the United Launch Alliance Delta Mariner to the Atlas V Spaceflight Operations Center at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. The rocket will be used to launch NASA's Magnetospheric Multiscale mission.
NASA's Magnetospheric Multiscale, or MMS, observatories in their four-stack configuration inside the cleanroom at Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.
Image Credit: NASA
Quelle: NASA
Atlas V to Launch NASA’s Magnetospheric Multiscale (MMS) Mission
Rocket/Payload: A United Launch Alliance Atlas V 421 will launch the Magnetospheric Multiscale (MMS) mission for NASA.
Date/Site/Launch Time: Thursday, March 12, 2015, from Space Launch Complex-41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida.
Mission Description: The Magnetospheric Multiscale, or MMS, mission studies the mystery of how magnetic fields around Earth connect and disconnect, explosively releasing energy via a process known as magnetic reconnection. MMS consists of four identical spacecraft that work together to provide the first three-dimensional view of this fundamental process, which occurs throughout the universe.
Launch Notes: MMS will be United Launch Alliance’s 94th launch since the company was founded in December 2006. It will mark the third of 13 planned ULA missions in 2015.
Quelle: ULA
Update: 19.02.2015
NASA magnetic field mission nears March launch
The MMS Solar Terrestrial Space Probes mission will fly four observatories through the earth's magnetosphere, collecting data for two years. The four observatories were on display for the media in the encapsulation room in building 9 at Astrotech in Titusville. Mission is scheduled for March 12th. Posing in front of the fairing for the observatories are Brent Robertson, deputy project manager, Jim Burch, principal investigator and Craig Tooley, project manager.
NASA's next major science mission has a focus that sounds fitting for Valentine's season: magnetic reconnection.
In fact, the $1.1 billion Magnetospheric Multiscale mission, or MMS, launching from Cape Canaveral in about three weeks, is concerned with fundamental physics.
The process called magnetic reconnection produces explosions of energy as magnetic fields collide, break up and re-form. It is seen throughout the universe, from solar flare eruptions to planet formation to fusion reactors on Earth.
"It's a process that releases a tremendous amount of energy, and scientists just don't understand how that happens, why that happens," said Brent Robertson, the mission's deputy project manager at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland. "With this mission we will understand how that happens."
Four identical spacecraft will observe the phenomenon for at least two years, flying in a pyramid formation as far as halfway out to the moon.
Stacked like pancakes one on top of another, the spacecraft are set to be enclosed in a rocket's protective payload fairing on Monday at Astrotech Space Operations in Titusville, before being moved to Cape Canaveral Air Force Station next Wednesday.
Liftoff atop a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket is targeted for 10:44 p.m. March 12.
Quelle: Florida Today
Update: 25.02.2015
NASA Hosts a Pre-Launch Briefing for the Magnetospheric Multiscale Mission
A giant magnetic bubble, called the magnetosphere, surrounds Earth. NASA's Magnetospheric Multiscale, or MMS, mission, studies how a phenomenon called magnetic reconnection allows energy and particles from the sun to funnel inside the magnetosphere in to near Earth space.
After a decade of planning and engineering, NASA is in its last weeks of preparation to launch the Magnetospheric Multiscale, or MMS, mission. MMS is scheduled to fly into orbit on board a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket at 10:44 pm on March 12, 2015.
On Feb. 25, 2015, at a pre-launch press-briefing at NASA Headquarters in Washington, DC, scientists and engineers will discuss the mission's past and future, including the challenges of building such a complex mission consisting of four identical spacecraft and the science expected of it.
MMS will study a little-understood magnetic phenomenon that happens rarely on Earth, but is thought to be the catalyst for some of the most powerful events in the universe. Magnetic reconnection, as it is called, occurs when magnetic fields throughout the universe – as can be found surrounding Earth, at the sun, near black holes, and at the borders of the heliosphere where NASA's Voyager 1 spacecraft currently resides – come together in a mismatched alignment. The magnetic fields explosively realign with bursts of energy – sometimes on the order of billions of megatons of TNT – that can send particles surging through space near the speed of light.
Magnetic reconnection also can have an impact on humans. Magnetic reconnection is what allows energy and material from the sun to break through the boundaries of Earth's protective magnetic bubble, the magnetosphere, into near-Earth space. That energy and solar material can lead to a whole host of space weather effects, which can disrupt radio communications, interfere with satellite electronics or even affect utility power grids on the ground.
The first speaker at the press briefing will be Jeff Newmark, the interim director for the Heliophysics Division at NASA Headquarters. Heliophysics is the study of the sun, and its interactions with Earth and the solar system, including space weather. Newmark will discuss how the MMS mission fits into the Heliophysics System Observatory fleet, which currently consists of 18 missions that use 29 spacecraft. Together, these missions can track events near the sun, such as massive solar eruptions called solar flares and coronal mass ejections, or CMEs, as well as how such emissions spread out, whether toward Earth or to the farthest reaches of the heliosphere. MMS adds critical observational power to this fleet, helping scientists understand the physics of how magnetic fields around Earth connect and disconnect with unprecedented detail.
Jim Burch, the principal investigator for the MMS instrument suite science team at the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio, Texas, will speak second about the science of magnetic reconnection. Reconnection is still a relatively young field and it was controversial when first hypothesized as an event in the magnetically intense and complex areas on the sun called sunspots. Over time, however, magnetic reconnection has become more and more accepted as something that happens not only on the sun, but in other stars and as the catalyst for such things as giant jets emitted from supernovas. Magnetic reconnection is also now known to interfere with attempts to create clean power via nuclear fusion.
Burch will discuss how now is the perfect time for this mission -- MMS is a crucial next step in advancing the science of magnetic reconnection. Studying magnetic reconnection near Earth will unlock the ability to understand how this process works throughout the entire universe.
The third speaker is Craig Tooley, MMS Project Manager at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. Tooley will discuss the challenges of building the MMS mission, which consist of four identical spacecraft. Tooley led the engineering team that built the observatories simultaneously over the course of five years -- an engineering triumph and a first for Goddard. In addition to the complexities of building four observatories, each MMS observatory contains 25 sensors, including eight extended booms.
The fourth speaker will be Paul Cassak, a plasma physicist at West Virginia University in Morgantown, West Virginia. Cassak will discuss the excitement the science community has about the launch of MMS. While a few previous missions have offered tantalizing suggestions about the details of magnetic reconnection, no mission has ever been dedicated to its study – and no mission has ever observed it with the resolution of MMS. With four spacecraft flying in a tight formation, MMS will be able to track a magnetic reconnection event traveling through space in a way never before possible. In addition, its sensors are the fastest ever flown, with some being 100 times faster than any previous investigation.  
This kind of improved observation capability is like exploring a new continent previously seen only by satellite pictures. The depth and detail of our knowledge is going to grow by leaps and bounds, in ways that no one can yet predict. The scope is expected to be vast, with applications to the science of black holes, neutron stars, the sun, and, of course, space weather effects near Earth.
Quelle: NASA
Update: 8.03.2015
Quelle: NASA
Update: 9.03.2015

Weather looking acceptable for Atlas launch

CAPE CANAVERAL — The preliminary weather outlook for Thursday night’s Atlas 5 rocket launch from Cape Canaveral is cloudy but optimistic that the vehicle will fly as scheduled.
A weather front in North Florida and a developing low pressure system in the Central Gulf of Mexico will be influencing the weather along the Space Coast, forecasters say. Moisture over Central Florida in the mid and upper levels will increase, plus easterly winds deepen and bring a coastal shower threat.
The primary concerns for launch are cumulus clouds and the thick cloud rule.
The forecast for the 10:44 p.m. EDT launch time predicts scattered clouds at 3,000 feet and a broken deck at 20,000 feet, isolated showers, good visibility, southeasterly winds 16 gusting to 20 knots and a temperature of 74 degrees.
Overall, there is a 70 percent chance of weather cooperating with the launch rules.
Quelle: SN
Update: 12.03.2015

Atlas V rocket on pad for Thursday night launch

An 20-story Atlas V rocket is on its Cape Canaveral pad in preparation for a 10:44 p.m. Thursday blastoff with a quartet of NASA science satellites.
A transporter carrying the United Launch Alliance rocket emerged from a processing tower at Launch Complex 41 around 10 a.m. and rolled about one-third of a mile to the pad.
Four identical observatories comprising NASA's $1.1 billion Magnetospheric Multiscale mission were stacked on top of the rocket.
The mission will spend two years studying "magnetic reconnection," a process in which magnetic fields interact, break apart and reform, releasing bursts of energy.
ULA today will load the Atlas V booster with rocket-grade kerosene, and complete the fueling process Thursday evening.
The latest weather forecast continues to show a 70 percent chance of favorable weather during the 30-minute launch window.
Visit at 8 p.m. Thursday for live countdown updates and streaming of NASA TV's coverage of the launch.
Quelle: Florida Today
Update: 21.55 MEZ
Update: 13.03.2015
NASA Spacecraft in Earth’s Orbit, Preparing to Study Magnetic Reconnection
As an Atlas V rocket lifts off from Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in the background, the launch can also be seen on the countdown clock at the Kennedy Space Center's Press Site. The rocket is carrying NASA's Magnetospheric Multiscale, or MMS, spacecraft.
Image Credit: NASA/Frankie Martin
The United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket with NASA’s Magnetospheric Multiscale (MMS) spacecraft onboard launches from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station Space Launch Complex 41, Thursday, March 12, 2015, Florida.
Image Credit: NASA
Following a successful launch at 10:44 p.m. EDT Thursday, NASA’s four Magnetospheric Multiscale (MMS) spacecraft are positioned in Earth’s orbit to begin the first space mission dedicated to the study of a phenomenon called magnetic reconnection. This process is thought to be the catalyst for some of the most powerful explosions in our solar system.
The spacecraft, positioned one on top of the other on a United Launch Alliance Atlas V 421 rocket, launched from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida. After reaching orbit, each spacecraft deployed from the rocket’s upper stage sequentially, in five-minute increments, beginning at 12:16 a.m. Friday, with the last separation occurring at 12:31 a.m. NASA scientists and engineers were able to confirm the health of all separated spacecraft at 12:40 a.m.
"I am speaking for the entire MMS team when I say we’re thrilled to see all four of our spacecraft have deployed and data indicates we have a healthy fleet,” said Craig Tooley, project manager at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.
Over the next several weeks, NASA scientists and engineers will deploy booms and antennas on the spacecraft, and test all instruments. The observatories will later be placed into a pyramid formation in preparation for science observations, which are expected to begin in early September.
“After a decade of planning and engineering, the science team is ready to go to work,” said Jim Burch, principal investigator for the MMS instrument suite science team at the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio (SwRI). “We’ve never had this type of opportunity to study this fundamental process in such detail.”
The mission will provide the first three-dimensional views of reconnection occurring in Earth's protective magnetic space environment, the magnetosphere. Magnetic reconnection occurs when magnetic fields connect, disconnect, and reconfigure explosively, releasing bursts of energy that can reach the order of billions of megatons of trinitrotoluene (commonly known as TNT). These explosions can send particles surging through space near the speed of light.
Scientists expect the mission will not only help them better understand magnetic reconnection, but also will provide insight into these powerful events, which can disrupt modern technological systems such as communications networks, GPS navigation, and electrical power grids.
By studying reconnection in this local, natural laboratory, scientists can understand the process elsewhere, such as in the atmosphere of the sun and other stars, in the vicinity of black holes and neutron stars, and at the boundary between our solar system's heliosphere and interstellar space.
The spacecraft will fly in a tight formation through regions of reconnection activity. Using sensors designed to measure the space environment at rates100 times faster than any previous mission.
“MMS is a crucial next step in advancing the science of magnetic reconnection – and no mission has ever observed this fundamental process with such detail,” said Jeff Newmark, interim director for NASA’s Heliophysics Division at the agency’s Headquarters in Washington. “The depth and detail of our knowledge is going to grow by leaps and bounds, in ways that no one can yet predict.”
MMS is the fourth mission in the NASA Solar Terrestrial Probes Program. Goddard built, integrated and tested the four MMS spacecraft and is responsible for overall mission management and operations. The principal investigator for the MMS instrument suite science team is based at the SwRI. Science operations planning and instrument commanding are performed at the MMS Science Operations Center at the University of Colorado Boulder’s Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics. 

NASA's MMS Spacecraft Launches on an Atlas V Rocket
The United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket with NASA’s Magnetospheric Multiscale (MMS) spacecraft onboard launches from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station Space Launch Complex 41, Thursday, March 12, 2015, Florida. NASA’s MMS mission studies the mystery of how magnetic fields around Earth connect and disconnect, explosively releasing energy via a process known as magnetic reconnection. MMS consists of four identical spacecraft that work together to provide the first three-dimensional view of this fundamental process, which occurs throughout the universe.
Frams: NASA-TV

Quelle: NASA

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