Samstag, 28. November 2015 - 23:30 Uhr

UFO-Forschung-History - 1969: Condon Report


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Tags: UFO-Forschung 


Samstag, 28. November 2015 - 20:30 Uhr

Raumfahrt-History - 1985: NASA´s greatest challenge: building the U.S. space base


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Samstag, 28. November 2015 - 20:10 Uhr

Raumfahrt - Startvorbereitung für ESA´s Vega Flight VV06 mit LISA-Pathfinder Mission-Update



Jede Weltraummission durchläuft vor ihrem Start ausführliche Tests, um sicherzustellen, das alle Elemente die immensen, beim Start wirkenden Kräfte überstehen und anschließend ihre Aufgaben im Weltraum erfüllen können. Die LISA Pathfinder-Mission hat auf diesem Wege jetzt ein wichtiges Ziel erreicht: Das Herzstück der Mission, ein in Hannover und Glasgow entwickeltes hochsensibles Präzisionsmesssystem, wird die beim Raketenstart auftretenden Kräfte von bis zu einem 35-fachen der Erdanziehungskraft (35 g) ohne Schaden aushalten und im Weltraum präzise arbeiten können. Das haben jetzt Tests am Institute for Gravitational Research der Universität Glasgow ergeben.

Klar zum Start
Herzstück der LISA Pathfinder Mission erfolgreich getestet


Die optische Bank von LISA Pathfinder

Untersuchung der optischen Bank auf Verunreinigungen

Erneute Überprüfung der exakten Ausrichtung der Spiegel und anderer optischer Elemente nach den letzten thermischen Tests der optischen Bank von LISA Pathfinder

Artist's impression of an eLISA satellite. C: AEI/Milde Marketing/Exozet

The eLISA/NGO mission



Gravitational waves are fundamentally different from electromagnetic waves.

Electromagnetic waves, created by the acceleration of electrical charges, propagate in the framework of space and time. Gravitational waves in contrast, created by the acceleration of large bulks of mass, are waves of the spacetime fabric itself. They cause a change in the quadrupol moment of the mass distribution or in other words, time-varying changes in distance between free macroscopic bodies. 

eLISA/NGO will observe passing gravitational waves directly by measuring the tiny changes of distance between freely falling proof masses inside spacecraft. Key features of eLISA/NGO are interferometric measurement of distances, long baselines of 2 x 106 km, drag free spacecraft based on inertial sensors, and the familiar “cartwheel”-orbits.

LISA Pathfinder - paving the way for eLISA/NGO


LISA Pathfinder is an ESA technology test mission for the eLISA/NGO mission to search for gravitational waves generated by massive objects such as black holes.

LISA Pathfinder will pave the way for eLISA/NGO. It will test new methods of spacecraft control and determine if laser interferometry is feasible at the level of accuracy required by eLISA/NGO.

LISA Pathfinder will place two test-masses in a nearly perfect gravitational free-fall, and of controlling and measuring their motion with unprecedented accuracy. This is achieved through state-of-the-art technology comprising inertial sensors, a laser metrology system, a drag-free control system and an ultra-precise micro-propulsion system.All these technologies are essential not only for eLISA/NGO - they also lie at the heart of any future space-based test of Einstein's General Relativity. LISA Pathfinder is scheduled for launch in 2015.

The science of eLISA / NGO

oday we can SEE the beauty of the Universe with modern telescopes in many wavelengths. Observing the Universe with gravitational waves - a wave type which can be related to the acoustic waves - will allow us for the first time to HEAR it.

According to Einstein´s general relativity, accelerated masses produce gravitational waves – perturbations of spacetime propagating at the speed of light through the universe, unhindered by intervening mass. A direct observation of gravitational waves will add a new sense to our perception of the Universe.

Hence we will for the first time LISTEN to the Universe

  • and survey compact stellar-mass binaries and study the structure of the Galaxy
  • trace the formation, growth, and merger history of massive black holes
  • explore stellar populations and dynamics in galactic nuclei
  • confront General Relativity with observations
  • probe new physics and cosmology with gravitational waves
  • and complement our picture of the Universe and its evolution.
  • eLISA/NGO will measure gravitational wave signals from a wide range of sources. Numerical simulation of two inspiralling black holes that merge to form a new black hole. Credits: Numerical simulation - C. Reisswig, L. Rezzolla (AEI); Scientific visualization - M. Koppitz (AEI & Zuse Institute Berlin)
  • Numerical simulation of two neutron stars merging in an instant. A strong magnetic field forms along the rotational axis during this process, creating a jet which may contain gamma ray bursts. Credit: L. Rezolla (AEI) & M. Koppitz (AEI & Zuse-Institut Berlin)
  • Quelle: MPI-Hannover, ESA 
  • .
  • Update: 28.02.2015
  • .

Final voyage before spacecraft's launch

  • An artist's impression of the LISA Pathfinder in space
    Photo: NASA
    The LISA Pathfinder Science Module is the first British-led Space project since the 70s. The scientists at Airbus Defence & Space in Stevenage say it will open a new pair of eyes for humanity. It will measure gravitational waves in Space. It will measure movements to one 100,000th of a hair's breadth.

Scientists at Airbus Defence & Space in Stevenage preparing the LISA Pathfinder Credit: ITV
The science module and its propulsion unit were lifted into place for transportation to Munich for the final testing and insulation before it's fired off from French Guiana in September. It has to travel 1,500,000,000 km from Earth. Here it should be free from disturbances from the Earth's gravity and magnetic field for the experiment to be effective.
Quelle: itv-news
Update: 4.03.2015

European Space Agency’s gravity probe leaves UK for final tests before launch

Pioneering UK-led gravity probe is designed to open a unique window on the universe but the technology can only be tested in space. Fingers crossed for LISA-Pathfinder
“This is the first of a new breed of spacecraft,” says Cesar Garcia, Esa Project manager for the LISA-Pathfinder mission, “It is exquisite.”
He is speaking to me in the giant cleanroom at Airbus Defence and Space in Stevenage. On Friday 27 February, LISA-Pathfinder was painstakingly lifted onto its propulsion module, and secured in place. Over the weekend, the whole assembly was packaged in a high-tech shipping crate and is now on its way to IABG (Industrieanlagen Betriebsgesellschaft), near Munich, Germany, for final work.
“We have tested everything that it is realistic to test on Earth,” says Garcia. For the rest, the engineers and scientists have relied on calculations and computer models. In September, it will be time to swap the virtual world of simulations for the reality of space.
LISA-Pathfinder marks a resurgence of the UK’s space science industry. It is the first UK-led Esa science mission since Giotto, which visited Halley’s comet in 1986. It will be launched from Europe’s spaceport at Kourou, French Guiana, and is designed to trace the gravitational field of a small region of the solar system.
Einstein envisioned a gravitational field as a landscape of invisible contours, called the spacetime continuum. LISA-Pathfinder will reveal these contours.
No one has built a spacecraft or an instrument like this before. Therefore its primary mission is simply to see if it works at all.
“If everything checks out as we hope, this will open the way for a wave of gravitational missions,” says David Southwood, who was the director of science at Esa between 2001-2011, when a large part of the mission’s development took place, “Everyone will start building them but, of course, it’s having the nerve to do it first.”
On that score, LISA-Pathfinder certainly has balls. Two of them. They are the test masses that will respond to the Solar System’s gravitational field. Each weighs 2kg and has been hewn from a €200,000 ingot of gold-platinum alloy. They will essentially float freely inside the spacecraft, moving only as gravity dictates.
“It’s rather similar to Galileo dropping objects from the leaning tower of Pisa,” says Southwood.
When LISA-Pathfinder was approved in 2000, launch was envisaged in 2006. The technology to reach the necessary accuracy, however, has proved so challenging that delays were inevitable.
To watch how the test masses are moving, the spacecraft will bounce a laser beam off them, detecting their motions down to 100,000th of the width of a human hair. It will then shift its own position to keep the test masses centred within it, using thrusters so fine that they could not even blow a piece of paper off a desk on Earth. Yet, in the frictionless environment of space, they can move the whole spacecraft, which will weigh 1900kg at launch.
As well as developing the technology, the engineers faced another unique challenge. “We have had to weigh every single nut and every single bolt to calculate the gravitational field of the spacecraft itself,” says Ian Honstvet, LISA-Pathfinder project manager for Airbus.
That’s because even the minuscule gravity created by a single unaccounted-for cable-tie would be enough to devastate the results. So, the engineers have built a precise computer model of the spacecraft’s components to allow their influence to be subtracted from the results.
Scientists and engineers expect that the primary mission will last between six and twelve months. After that, if there is fuel left, the spacecraft could be sent on a looping, year-long journey around the Earth to make one of the most exciting measurements in modern physics – and provide a much needed reality check on whether most of the matter is in a mysterious unknown form called dark matter.
Our whole view of the universe is built on the assumption that gravity behaves the same in the remotest regions of space as it does on Earth but this has never been tested. The trouble is that the galaxies in the universe all rotate faster than the visible matter contained within them allows.
Most astronomers think that this means swaths of dark matter, hypothetical subatomic particles, must be there to provide the extra gravity to spin the galaxies. But despite decades of efforts and billions spent on the search, no one has managed to convincingly detect a single piece of the stuff. As a result, a small but growing number of scientists are wondering whether the problem lies in our understanding of gravity.
LISA-Pathfinder could test these opposing views by passing through the point between the Earth and our sun where gravity cancels out. If it sees an unexpected gravitational signal here, it would be a landmark in physics; a Nobel prize-winning scientific revolution every bit as huge as those of Newton and Einstein. Our understanding of the whole universe would change direction overnight, and probably we could discount dark matter.
Conversely, if it sees nothing unusual, it will be a tremendous confidence boost that despite all the detection failures, we do need dark matter to explain the motion of galaxies. Either result is profoundly important. So is the technology that the mission will test first.
LISA-Pathfinder is our bridge to the future. In parallel with the gravitational wave observatories being built on Earth, it will open up a whole new way of studying the universe. Be excited.
Quelle: theguardian
Update: 16.06.2015

Dem "Klang" unseres Universums lauschen: Hochempfindliches Kernstück von LISA Pathfinder fertiggestellt

Nach mehr als zehnjähriger intensiver Entwicklungsarbeit ist nun das Kernstück der hochempfindlichen Nutzlast der LISA Pathfinder-Mission bei der Firma Airbus Defence & Space in Friedrichshafen fertiggestellt worden - das LTP Core Assembly. LISA Pathfinder wird vom Deutschen Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt (DLR) im Wissenschaftsprogramm der Europäischen Weltraumorganisation ESA unterstützt. Die Mission soll nach ihrem Start voraussichtlich im Oktober diesen Jahres im Weltraum wichtige Technologien erproben, deren Funktions- und Leistungsfähigkeit am Erdboden nicht oder nur eingeschränkt getestet werden können. Damit ebnet die Mission den Weg für das Gravitationswellen-Observatorium eLISA (evolved Laser Interferometer Space Antenna), das nach seinem für 2034 geplanten Start den energiereichsten und heftigsten astrophysikalischen Ereignissen unseres Universums auf der Spur sein wird.
Dem "Klang" unseres Universums auf der Spur
Fällt ein Stein ins Wasser, so breiten sich von seinem Aufschlagspunkt Schwingungen in Form von Wellen über die Wasseroberfläche aus. Ähnlich wie der Stein auf dem Wasser erzeugen auch große Massen, die sich sehr schnell und ungleichförmig beschleunigt im Weltall bewegen, Wellen. Sie breiten sich im Raum aus und sollten sich als winzige Längenänderungen der Raum-Zeit bemerkbar machen. Diese Gravitationswellen - vom deutschen Physiker Albert Einstein bereits 1916 auf der Grundlage seiner allgemeinen Relativitätstheorie vorausgesagt - lassen uns den "Klang" des Universums "hören" und öffnen so ein neues und unmittelbares Beobachtungsfenster für exotische Himmelsobjekte.
 Dazu zählen zum Beispiel Supernovae, enge Doppelsternsysteme bestehend aus Weißen Zwergen, Kollisionen von Neutronensternen und Pulsaren und Zusammenstöße von Schwarzen Löchern mit einigen Sonnenmassen bis hin zu den zentralen Objekten in Galaxienkernen mit der milliardenfachen Masse der Sonne. Gravitationswellensignale aus der Zeit unmittelbar nach dem Urknall können uns mehr über die Entstehung unseres Universums verraten. Wegen der äußerst geringen Wirkung von Gravitationswellen zweifelte Einstein allerdings daran, dass sie jemals nachweisbar wären. Bisher ist es auch nicht gelungen, sie direkt zu messen. Heute - nahezu 100 Jahre nach Einsteins Vorhersage - stehen wir jedoch kurz davor, ihre "extrem leisen" Schwingungen "hörbar" zu machen. Ein Nachweis wird in den nächsten Jahren zunächst vom Erdboden, später aber auch mit eLISA aus dem All erwartet.
LISA Pathfinder ebnet den Weg für eLISA
Das Weltraumobservatorium eLISA wird aus drei Raumsonden bestehen. Sie werden ein gleichseitiges Dreieck mit ungefähr zwei Millionen Kilometern Seitenlänge aufspannen. Das gesamte Dreieck rotiert und wird der Erde auf ihrer Bahn in zehn bis 25 Millionen Kilometern Abstand in einem sogenannten Driftorbit folgen. Die einzelnen Sonden werden durch Laserstrahlen miteinander verbunden - Präzisionsarbeit auf höchstem Niveau. Durchläuft eine Gravitationswelle die Anordnung der Sonden, kann das Observatorium ihre Schwingungen im Frequenzbereich zwischen 0,1 MilliHertz bis 0,1 Hertz "hören". Da die Mission äußerst komplex ist und Komponenten eingesetzt werden, die am Erdboden nicht angemessen getestet werden können, muss die notwendige Technologie zunächst im Weltraum erprobt werden.
Diese Aufgabe wird LISA Pathfinder übernehmen. Die Bestandteile der wissenschaftlichen Nutzlast - des sogenannten LISA Technology Package (LTP) - wurden von mehreren europäischen Ländern entwickelt und von Airbus Defence & Space in Friedrichshafen zur Gesamtnutzlast zusammengesetzt. Das DLR hat im Rahmen des ESA-Wissenschaftsprogramms die Entwicklung der Nutzlast maßgeblich unterstützt. Der deutsche Beitrag wurde dabei wesentlich durch eine Zuwendung des DLR Raumfahrtmanagements an das Max-Planck-Institut für Gravitationsphysik (Albert-Einstein-Institut) in Hannover gefördert.
Hochempfindliches Messsystem
Nachdem bereits die Steuerelektronik des LTP in die LISA-Pathfinder-Sonde eingebaut und getestet worden ist, folgt nun als letzte und wichtigste Einheit der Nutzlast das sogenannte LTP Core Assembly. Deren Integration ist inzwischen abgeschlossen und die Einheit zur Montage in die Sonde und zu letzten Tests von Friedrichshafen an die Firma IABG in München ausgeliefert worden. Dort wurde inzwischen auch dessen Einbau in die Sonde erfolgreich beendet.
In den zwei separaten Vakuumtanks des LTP sollen während des Betriebs der Mission jeweils eine würfelförmige Testmasse von zwei Kilogramm nahezu frei von allen inneren und äußeren Störkräften schweben und so eine kräftefreie Bewegung im Raum demonstrieren. Eine spezielle Gold-Platin-Legierung sorgt dafür, dass auf die Massen keine magnetischen Kräfte wirken. Eine berührungslose Entladung mit Hilfe von UV-Strahlung verhindert eine elektrostatische Aufladung. Eine besondere Herausforderung ist dabei der sogenannte Caging-and-Venting-Mechanismus, der die Testmassen während der heftigen Vibrationen beim Start schützt, sie höchst kontrolliert freigibt und sie gegebenenfalls auch wieder einfängt. Mittels Laserinterferometrie werden die Positionen und die Ausrichtung der beiden Testmassen relativ zum Satelliten und zueinander mit einer sehr hohen Genauigkeit von etwa einem hundertmillionstel Millimeter gemessen. Darüber hinaus werden die Positionen über weitere Sensoren mit geringerer Genauigkeit erfasst. Die Messdaten sollen dann mit Hilfe eines "Drag-Free Attitude Control System (DFACS)" die Sonde so steuern, dass sie stets auf die Testmassen zentriert bleibt. Die Lage des Satelliten regeln Kaltgas Mikro-Newton-Triebwerke, die für die Astronomie-Mission Gaia entwickelt wurden und den Antriebschub extrem fein und gleichmäßig dosieren können.
Der Start der Mission ist nun für Oktober 2015 geplant. Diesem wird sich ein einjähriger Betrieb auf einer Bahn um den Lagrangepunkt L2, etwa 1,5 Millionen Kilometer in Gegenrichtung zur Sonne von der Erde entfernt, anschließen. Die nach Joseph-Louis Lagrange benannten Punkte sind Orte, in denen zwischen drei Himmelskörpern ein gravitativer Gleichgewichtszustand eintritt, so dass eine Raumsonde an diesen Stellen im Idealfall kräftefrei "verharren" kann.
Quelle: DLR



Update: 4.07.2015
Airbus Defence and Space has now delivered the LISA Technology Package for the next ESA scientific mission.
Complicated inner workings for a complicated proof: with the LISA Technology Package (LTP), Airbus Defence and Space has now delivered the heart of the LISA Pathfinder scientific space probe. LISA Pathfinder will enable the test of advanced technology with which the gravitational waves described by Einstein can be observed from space. Gravitational radiation will allow astronomers to study our universe in a new way and future telescope systems will be able to observe exotic sources, such as colliding super-massive black holes or neutron stars, as never before.
The LTP has been installed into the satellite also built by Airbus Defence and Space. Both the LTP and the satellite itself must now prove their operational suitability in a comprehensive series of tests at IABG in Ottobrunn, near Munich.
LISA Pathfinder is paving the way for a future large space observatory that ultimately will directly observe and precisely measure gravitational waves. These minute distortions in space-time require very sensitive and highly precise measuring technology, the performance of which can only be tested in a space environment.
The LTP, which weighs around 150 kilograms, consists of a laser interferometer measuring changes in the distance between two precision-engineered gold/platinum test masses, each weighing 1.96 kilograms. Once in orbit, the two test masses will be released from a locking mechanism and then held in position with a weak electrostatic field that can be very precisely controlled. The laser interferometer and electrostatic sensors track the motion of the test masses inside the spacecraft, ensuring that the test masses remain undisturbed. The  interferometer can measure the relative position and orientation of the test masses – which are around 40 centimetres from each other – with a high degree of precision (< 0.01 nanometres, which is less than one millionth of the width of a human hair).
The launch of the LISA Pathfinder is scheduled for autumn 2015. Once in orbit, a dedicated propulsion module will take LISA Pathfinder to around 1.5 million kilometres towards the Sun, away from any interference from the Earth.
Airbus Defence and Space in the UK was chosen by the European Space Agency (ESA) to build the LISA Pathfinder and is responsible for delivering the integrated turnkey satellite. Airbus Defence and Space in Germany has been commissioned by the ESA and the German Aerospace Center as the systems leader for the LTP, which was developed with contributions from European research institutes.
Quelle: Airbus Defence and Space
Update: 19.07.2015
LISA im Test-Modus für Vega Flight VV06
LISA Pathfinder continues to make steady progress in preparation for launch later this year. The most recent tests have focussed on preparing for launch on a Vega rocket.
LISA Pathfinder will be launched from Europe's spaceport in French Guiana on Vega flight VV06 later this year. For launch, the spacecraft will be secured to the Vega launcher by a launch vehicle adapter (LVA).
At the IABG test centre in Ottobrunn, Germany, tests have been carried out with the LISA Pathfinder launch composite – the science and propulsion modules – and the LVA to verify the mechanical and electrical interface between the spacecraft and the launcher.
The launch composite, measuring 3 m in height and 2 m in diameter, is mounted on the LVA with a clamp band interface. The clamp band is a metallic belt that holds two metal rings, one on the LISA Pathfinder launch composite and one on the LVA. The LVA in turn will be bolted on top of the launcher upper stage, called the AVUM – Attitude and Vernier Upper Module.
After launch, when the AVUM together with the LVA and the spacecraft reach the required low Earth orbit, with an apogee of about 1540 km, the spacecraft will be separated from the LVA. This is achieved by firing pyrotechnic devices to release the clamp band and compressed springs which provide a positive separation force.
The launch composite will then use the propulsion module to perform a series of manoeuvres to raise the orbit apogee. Just prior to entry in the operational orbit, a 500 000 km × 800 000 km Lissajous orbit around L1, the propulsion module will be separated from the science module, by firing the pyrotechnic devices of the clamp band which mated the two modules together since launch. This separation is to reduce the disturbance effect of the propulsion module and its residual propellant, enabling drag-free operation of the science module.
With the successful LVA tests completed, the LISA Pathfinder team at IABG prepared for the next Vega-related test. For this, they verified that the LISA Pathfinder launch composite can withstand the intense noise generated by the launcher rocket engines in the first few seconds after ignition. The tests were carried out in the IABG Acoustic Noise Test Facility, in early July 2015.
The acoustic noise tests were the last in a series of environmental tests that ensure the spacecraft can cope with the different conditions it will experience from launch to operation in space. The LISA Pathfinder team at IABG are now preparing for the final activities prior to shipping to the launch site.
LISA Pathfinder is a European Space Agency mission to test the technology required to detect gravitational waves in the range of 0.1mHz to 1Hz. The mission will demonstrate critical technologies for future gravitational wave observatories, in a space environment. These technologies include: inertial sensing, drag-free attitude control, and interferometry with free-falling mirrors.
An industrial team led by the prime contractor, Airbus Defence and Space - Stevenage, is building LISA Pathfinder. Airbus Defence and Space – Friedrichshafen is the payload architect for the LISA Technology Package (LTP).
Quelle: ESA
Update: 2.08.2015
Vega Flight VV06
Elements have arrived in French Guiana for the next Vega launcher, which is scheduled for a November mission from the Spaceport to deploy Europe’s LISA Pathfinder – a pioneering scientific spacecraft that will set the stage for observing the Universe in a completely new way.  
The Zefiro 23 and Zefiro 9 stages for Arianespace’s lightweight launcher were delivered to French Guiana this month aboard the MN Toucan, one of two ships regularly utilized for transporting Arianespace launcher components from Europe to the company’s South American operations base.  They were part of the MN Toucan’s cargo that also included components for an Ariane 5 to be used on a September mission with two telecommunications satellites.
Zefiro 23 and Zefiro 9 are the solid propellant second and third stages, respectively, for the four-stage Vega launcher, which is produced by industrial prime contractor ELV – a jointly owned company of Avio and the Italian Space Agency.
LISA Pathfinder: the first detection of gravitational waves in space
Most existing knowledge about the Universe is based upon the observation of electromagnetic waves – such as visible light, infrared, ultraviolet, radio, X-rays and gamma rays.  The European Space Agency’s LISA Pathfinder will pave the way for astrophysicists to address some of the most fundamental questions about the Universe and possibly address new ones through a new observation method.
For the first time, LISA Pathfinder will help test and validate the technology in space needed for detecting low-frequency gravitational waves, which are ripples in space-time predicted by Albert Einstein’s theory of general relativity.
While operating in a 500,000 km.-by-800,000 km. halo orbit around the first Sun-Earth Lagrange point  (located 1.5 million km. from Earth), the spacecraft will put two test masses in a near-perfect gravitational free-fall controlled by electrostatic fields. LISA Pathfinder’s inertial sensors, a laser metrology system, a drag-free control system and an ultra-precise micro-propulsion system will be used to control and measure the masses’ motion with unprecedented accuracy.
Scientists predict that gravitational waves should still be “echoing” from the Universe’s formation, and the detection of these waves by LISA Pathfinder would be the most fundamental discovery of its mission.  The Airbus Defence and Space-built spacecraft also will measure gravitational waves generated by objects such as collapsing binary star systems and massive black holes.
Sustaining the pace of Arianespace’s operations in 2015
The mission to loft LISA Pathfinder is designated Flight VV06 in Arianespace’s launcher family numbering system, and will be the sixth Vega launch from the Spaceport since its introduction, as well as the lightweight vehicle’s third this year. It follows June’s Flight VV05 to deploy Sentinel-2A and the February suborbital mission with the Intermediate eXperimental Vehicle (IXV) spaceplane on Flight VV04.
Activity for Vega’s late November mission is part of ongoing launcher and payload preparations to support four upcoming Arianespace launch campaigns in French Guiana, along with: Ariane 5 Flight VA225 on August 20; September 10’s Soyuz Flight VS12; and a September mission with Ariane 5, which is designated Flight VA226.
To date, Arianespace has performed six launches in 2015 from French Guiana, comprising three flights with the heavy-lift Ariane 5, two Vega missions and one medium-lift Soyuz launch. 
Quelle: arianespace
Update: 8.09.2015
LISAPathfinder is on the road to Kourou, her shown leaving IABG
Preparing the technology to test gravitational-wave detection in space
Name The ‘LISA’ in the mission's name stands for Laser Interferometer Space Antenna, an earlier concept for a spaceborne observatory for gravitational waves, and now used to describe a class of missions based on the original LISA concept. LISA Pathfinder will test key technology for future LISA-like space missions to study the gravitational Universe.
Description LISA Pathfinder will test the technologies needed for future space mission aiming at improving our knowledge of the universe by detecting gravitational waves, a phenomenon predicted by Einstein’s theory of general relativity in 1915. In doing this, LISA Pathfinder will make key measurements of the fabric of spacetime, which will be a crucial component for future fundamental missions as well.
The mission will fly a European payload, the LISA Technology Package (LTP), developed by the European scientific community using national funding from seven Member States (Italy, France, Germany, Spain, United Kingdom, the Netherlands and Switzerland) and from ESA. An American instrument will be hosted on board, the Disturbance Reduction System (DRS), developed for NASA by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.
Launch The launch is scheduled to take place in late 2015.
Status Airbus Defence & Space Stevenage was prime contractor, and Airbus Defence & Space Friedrichshafen led the consortium for the European payload. After completion of the Mission Preliminary Design Review in February 2006, the mission entered the development phase.
Journey LISA Pathfinder will travel from Earth to one of the ‘Lagrangian points’. In these five special places the balance between the gravitational pull from the Sun and Earth allows an object to be stationary in the Sun–Earth system. A spacecraft near one of these points can stay there for long periods of time without the need for major manoeuvres.
LISA Pathfinder will orbit the L1 point, located some 1.5 million kilometres from Earth in the direction of the Sun. The operational phase will last six months but could be extended up to one year.
Notes LISA Pathfinder will use extremely sophisticated technologies in gravitational sensors, electric propulsion, and laser ranging. The purpose of the mission is to validate the technologies required to detect extremely small movements, a science known as ‘precision metrology’.
LISA Pathfinder will prove the techniques and equipment to detect the relative movement of two solid blocks that are freely floating in space to an accuracy of 10 picometres (1 picometre is equal to one millionth of a millionth of a metre).
Quelle: ESA
Update: 27.09.2015

The AVUM upper stage arrives in French Guiana for Arianespace’s November Vega launch with LISA Pathfinder

The AVUM for Arianespace’s Vega mission with Europe’s LISA Pathfinder scientific spacecraft is unloaded from the MN Toucan roll-on/roll-off sea-going cargo ship after docking at the Port of Pariacabo in French Guiana.
Vega Flight VV06
The liquid upper stage for a November flight utilizing Arianespace’s lightweight Vega vehicle has been delivered to French Guiana, supporting the company’s sustained mission pace in 2015 with its complete launcher family at the Spaceport.
This upper stage – known as the Attitude and Vernier Upper Module (AVUM) – arrived aboard the MN Toucan, a roll-on/roll-off sea-going cargo ship utilized by Arianespace for transporting launcher components from Europe to South America.
The AVUM will help place Europe’s LISA Pathfinder scientific spacecraft on its way to a 500,000 km.-by-800,000 km. halo orbit around the first Sun-Earth Lagrange point (located 1.5 million km. from Earth).  Developed by Italy’s Avio, the AVUM is the only liquid propellant system on the four-stage lightweight launcher, and is stacked atop Vega’s solid propellant first, second and third stages.
LISA Pathfinder’s goal is to help test and validate the technology in space needed for detecting low-frequency gravitational waves, which are ripples in space-time predicted by Albert Einstein’s theory of general relativity. Test masses carried by the spacecraft will be put in a near-perfect gravitational free-fall, controlled by electrostatic fields. LISA Pathfinder’s onboard sensors and systems will control and measure the masses’ motion with unprecedented accuracy.
Vega is the smallest vehicle in Arianespace’s launcher family, which is in operation from French Guiana along with the medium-lift Soyuz and heavy-lift Ariane 5.  Production of Vega is the responsibility of industrial prime contractor ELV – a company jointly owned by Avio and the Italian Space Agency.
Update: 3.10.2015
Vega build-up is underway for Arianespace Flight VV06 with LISA Pathfinder
Vega Flight VV06
Assembly of a light-lift Vega has begun for the sixth flight of this smallest vehicle in Arianespace’s launch vehicle family, which is scheduled for November and will send Europe’s LISA Pathfinder on its way for a pioneering space science mission.
The build-up process commenced when Vega’s P80 solid propellant first stage was moved to the Spaceport’s ZLV facility and positioned on the launch pad.
This will be followed by stacking of the launcher’s solid propellant second and third stages, as well as integration of the Attitude and Vernier Upper Module (AVUM) liquid bipropellant upper stage – and then the “topping off” with its passenger: LISA Pathfinder.
Vega has previously been launched five times from French Guiana – deploying a full range of satellite payloads since its introduction at the Spaceport in 2012. Arianespace’s lightweight launcher is produced under the responsibility of industrial prime contractor ELV, a company jointly owned by Avio and the Italian Space Agency.
For the November mission, identified as Flight VV06, Vega will place the European Space Agency’s LISA Pathfinder in a slightly elliptical parking orbit. The spacecraft subsequently will use its own propulsion module to reach the final operational orbit: a 500,000-km.-by-800,000-km. halo orbit around the first Sun-Earth Lagrange point, 1.5 million km. from Earth.
Once operational, LISA Pathfinder will help test and validate the technology in space needed for detecting low-frequency gravitational waves, which are ripples in space-time predicted by Albert Einstein’s theory of general relativity. Test masses carried by the spacecraft will be put in a near-perfect gravitational free-fall, controlled by electrostatic fields. LISA Pathfinder’s onboard sensors and systems will control and measure the masses’ motion with unprecedented accuracy. 
Quelle: arianespace
Update: 9.10.2015
LISAPathfinder in French Guiana eingetroffen
The 1.9-tonne probe leaves Stevenage for Stansted Airport and its Antonov flight to French Guiana
Europe's fundamental physics space mission, Lisa Pathfinder, has arrived in French Guiana to prepare for its December Launch.
The probe, whose construction has been led from the UK, will test the technology needed to detect the warping of space-time.
LPF left its Airbus factory in Stevenage on Wednesday to catch an Antonov heavy-lift transporter.
The giant plane touched down in South America early on Thursday.
Pathfinder's next journey will be on top of a Vega rocket, which will hurl it 1.5 million km from Earth to begin its experiments.
That is likely to be on 2 December, depending on the flow of other missions going through the Kourou spaceport.
LPF is the first big European Space Agency venture to be primed industrially in Britain since Giotto, the mission that flew past Halley's comet in 1986.
Pathfinder contains just the single instrument, which is designed to measure and maintain a 38cm separation between two small metal blocks.
These "test masses" will be allowed to free-fall inside the spacecraft, and a laser system will then try to track their behaviour, following deviations down to the level of just a few picometres.
A picometre is a fraction of the width of an atom.
To put it another way, the sensitivity being demanded of the instrument is like measuring the distance from London to New York to well less than the width of a human hair.
And while this precision performance is relatively routine in Earth labs, it is very exacting to try to demonstrate it in space.
But if LPF can prove the technology, it will pave the way for an even bigger mission in the 2030s that will aim to study gravitational waves.
These are incredibly subtle ripples in space-time generated by cataclysmic events such as the merger of monster black holes.
Pathfinder has experienced an extremely tough development path.
The original industrial contract was signed with Airbus Defence and Space (under its old name, Astrium) in 2004, with a launch envisaged for 2008.
However, the immense technical challenge has seen its schedule slip by seven years. Indeed, the problems - to do with probe's delicate thrusters and the caging mechanism to hold the metal blocks - very nearly resulted in the mission being cancelled.
But such is the interest in gravitational waves that Esa member states have pushed forward with the project, and have all but approved the follow-on mission even before Pathfinder has formally demonstrated the detection techniques.
What are gravitational waves?
Gravitational waves are ripples in the fabric of space-time generated by cosmic cataclysms such as the merger of black holes and explosion of huge stars
Extremely sensitive measurement technology is being developed to detect them, using both Earth-based laboratories and satellite systems in orbit
Just like light (electromagnetic radiation), gravitational waves have a spectrum, and it is the lower frequencies that space-borne observations would seek
Targets would include the truly colossal phenomena in the Universe, such as the super-massive black holes that spiral into each other when galaxies merge
Gravitational wave detectors would enable astronomers to open a window on this "dark" activity, potentially revealing physics beyond Einstein
Quelle: BBC
Update: 17.10.2015
Vega Flight VV06
The LISA Pathfinder demonstrator for space-based observations of gravitational waves is undergoing checkout at the Spaceport, preparing it for a December 2 launch on Arianespace’s sixth flight of the Vega light-lift launcher from French Guiana.
This activity is being performed in the S5C hall of the Spaceport’s S5 payload processing facility, with the work being led by teams from LISA Pathfinder prime contractor Airbus Defence and Space.
LISA Pathfinder is a mission organized by the European Space Agency (ESA). The probe is designed to test critical concepts and technologies related to the detection of gravitational waves – the ripples in space-time predicted by Albert Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity.
LISA Pathfinder will be placed by Vega in an elliptical Earth orbit
After being lofted by Vega on Arianespace Flight VV06, the spacecraft will enter an elliptical Earth orbit, then use its own propulsion module to reach the operational orbit for six months of scientific and technical operations around the first Sun-Earth Lagrange point (L1), located approximately 1.5 million kilometers from Earth.
LISA Pathfinder is unusual in design. Conceived to be the “quietest” spacecraft ever launched, it does not possess a typical payload structure – since the spacecraft as a whole is part of the experiment. At its core are two individual freely-falling test masses: cubes of gold-platinum alloy whose distance apart will be monitored by a complex laser system.
The satellite’s technology package was developed by European companies, research institutes and ESA; while a disturbance reduction system was provided by the U.S. NASA space agency.
Vega’s integration continues for Flight VV06
LISA Pathfinder will have an estimated liftoff mass of 1,910 kg. and will be lofted from French Guiana atop the four-stage Vega – which currently is being integrated at the Spaceport’s ZLV launch facility. 
In the latest step of its build-up, Vega’s Zefiro 23 solid propellant second stage was mated this week to the P80 first stage – which is positioned on the launch pad inside a protective mobile gantry.
Vega began operation in 2012 and is designed to carry the growing number of small scientific spacecraft and other lighter-weight payloads under development worldwide.  As the smallest member of Arianespace’s launcher family – which also includes the medium-lift Soyuz and heavyweight Ariane 5 – Vega is produced under the responsibility of industrial prime contractor ELV, a company jointly owned by Avio and the Italian Space Agency.
Quelle: arianespace
Update: 31.10.2015
Vega Flight VV06
The sixth Vega to be launched from French Guiana has completed its basic assembly at the Spaceport, readying this light-lift vehicle to receive Europe’s LISA Pathfinder scientific spacecraft for an Arianespace mission in December.
Vega’s build-up was performed on the Spaceport’s ZLV launch pad, with the vehicle protected by a mobile gantry. The initial assembly was accomplished when Vega’s AVUM (Attitude and Vernier Upper Module) upper stage was integrated atop the launcher’s three lower solid-propellant stages. The AVUM uses liquid bi-propellant for primary maneuvering, along with cold gas for attitude control.
With this assembly activity achieved, Vega is now ready to receive its LISA Pathfinder payload for the December 2 launch, which is designated Flight VV06 in Arianespace’s launcher family numbering system. The probe was developed in a European Space Agency (ESA) program and is designed to test critical concepts and technologies related to the detection of gravitational waves – the ripples in space-time predicted by Albert Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity.
Vega to place LISA Pathfinder on its way to the L1 Lagrange point
Built under the responsibility of prime contractor Airbus Defence and Space, LISA Pathfinder is to be placed by Vega in an initial elliptical Earth orbit. The spacecraft’s own propulsion module will be used to reach the operational orbit around the first Sun-Earth Lagrange point (L1) – located approximately 1.5 million kilometers from Earth.
The Vega launch vehicle entered service in February 2012, and its five missions conducted to date from French Guiana have orbited a full range of payloads – from Earth imaging satellites and climate change observation platforms to technology demonstrators and an experimental spaceplane.
Vega is tailored to accommodate scientific, institutional, governmental and commercial satellites, joining Arianespace’s medium-lift Soyuz and heavy-lift Ariane 5 launchers in side-by-side operations from the Spaceport.  The development of Vega was performed in a multinationally-financed European Space Agency program, with launcher’s design authority and prime contractor role performed by Italy’s ELV company – a joint venture of Avio and the Italian Space Agency.
Quelle: arianespace
Update: 14.11.2015
LISA Pathfinder is “topped off” for its Arianespace Vega launch to test the General Theory of Relativity
Vega Flight VV06
The LISA Pathfinder scientific space probe to be launched by Arianespace’s next Vega flight has received its propellant load for a mission to study the ripples in space-time predicted by Albert Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity.
LISA Pathfinder is filled with its propellant load in preparation for the spacecraft’s launch on Arianespace Flight VV06.
LISA Pathfinder was “topped off” in the Spaceport’s S5 payload preparation facility, taking it one step closer to a December 2 launch from French Guiana on Arianespace Flight VV06 – the light-lift Vega’s sixth launch since entering service in 2012.
The European Space Agency space probe was built under the responsibility of prime contractor Airbus Defence and Space, and will be placed by Vega in an initial elliptical Earth orbit. The spacecraft’s own propulsion module will be utilized to reach the operational orbit around the first Sun-Earth Lagrange point (L1) – located approximately 1.5 million kilometers from Earth.
To evaluate the concept of low-frequency gravitational wave detection, LISA Pathfinder will put two test masses in a near-perfect gravitational free fall, controlling and measuring their motion with unprecedented accuracy.  The test masses will be suspended inside their own vacuum containers, with LISA Pathfinder designed as the quietest spacecraft ever launched – allowing for extremely small distance measurements with the masses to be performed by an onboard interferometer.
Vega is the smallest member of Arianespace’s launcher family, tailored to accommodate scientific, institutional, governmental and commercial satellites. It operates along with the medium-lift Soyuz and heavy-lift Ariane 5 at the Spaceport. 
The development of Vega was carried out in a multinationally-financed European Space Agency program, with the launcher’s design authority and prime contractor role performed by Italy’s ELV company – a joint venture of Avio and the Italian Space Agency.
Quelle: ESA
Update: 18.11.2015


Title Encapsulation begins
Released 17/11/2015 4:22 pm
Copyright ESA–Manuel Pedoussaut, 2015
LISA Pathfinder being encapsulated within the half-shells of the Vega rocket fairing on 16 November 2015, at the Centre Spatial Guyanais in Kourou, French Guiana.
LISA Pathfinder will test the fundamental technologies and instrumentation needed for such an observatory, demonstrating them for the first time in space. LISA Pathfinder is currently scheduled for launch with Arianespace flight VV06 – the sixth launch of Europe's small Vega launcher – on 2 December at 04:15:00 UTC.
Quelle: ESA
Update: 25.11.2015
Next Arianespace Flight VV06: Vega to orbit LISA Pathfinder for the European Space Agency (ESA)
Kourou, November 25, 2015
For the 11th launch of 2015 from the Guiana Space Center, the Vega light launcher on its overall sixth mission, this time on behalf of ESA, will orbit the LISA Pathfinder technology demonstrator, into an elliptical low earth orbit for a mission to the L1 Lagrange point.
With this seventh launch of the year overall for European Governments, this time focusing on space research and science, Arianespace, once again, reflects the company's assigned mission of ensuring independent access to space for Europe.
The launch will be carried out from the Vega launch complex (SLV) in Kourou, French Guiana.
Targeted orbit:  Elliptic low earth orbit for a mission to the L1 Lagrange point (at 1.5 million km from Earth) 
Perigee: 207 km 
Apogee: 1,540 km 
Inclination: 5.96 degrees.
Liftoff is scheduled for Wednesday, December 2, 2015, at exactly: 
• 01:15:00 a.m. (local time in French Guiana), 
• 11:15:00 p.m. (Washington, DC), on December 1st 
• 04:15:00 a.m. (UTC), 
• 05:15:00 a.m. (Paris).
The mission, from liftoff to release of the satellite, will last 1 hour, 45 minutes and 33 seconds.
The launcher will carry a total payload of 1,986 kg, including 1,906 kg for the LISA Pathfinder satellite, which will be injected into its targeted orbit.
The Launch Readiness Review (LRR) will take place on Monday, November 30, 2015 in Kourou, to authorize the start of operations for the final countdown.
LISA Pathfinder
Developed by ESA, the LISA Pathfinder technology demonstrator will pave the way for future spaceborne gravitational-wave observatories that will ultimately observe and precisely measure gravitational waves, "ripples in the fabric of space-time" predicted by Albert Einstein’s general theory of relativity.
LISA Pathfinder is the first step toward observing Einstein’s gravitational waves from space. Its mission objective is to test the innovative technologies needed to directly detect these distortions. 
To watch a live, high-speed transmission of the launch, go to on December 2, 2015 (including local commentary in French or English), starting 20 minutes before liftoff. You can also follow the launch live on your iPhone or iPad (the app is free).
For further information, download the launch press kit here:
About Arianespace
Arianespace is the world’s leading satellite launch company. Founded in 1980, Arianespace deploys a family of three launchers, Ariane, Soyuz and Vega, to meet the needs of both commercial and government customers, and has performed 270 launches to date. Backed by its 20 shareholders and the European Space Agency, Arianespace is the only company in the world capable of launching all types of payloads into all orbits, from the Guiana Space Center in French Guiana. As of November 25, 2015, Arianespace had carried out 227 Ariane launches, 38 Soyuz launches (12 at the Guiana Space Center and 26 from the Baikonur Cosmodrome, via Starsem) and five Vega launches. Arianespace is headquartered in Evry, near Paris, and has a facility at the Guiana Space Center, plus local offices in Washington D.C., Tokyo and Singapore.
Update: 28.11.2015
Title Vega VV06 fully assembled in its mobile gantry
Released 20/11/2015 9:22 am
Copyright ESA–Manuel Pedoussaut, 2015
Vega VV06, carrying LISA Pathfinder, is fully assembled in its mobile gantry, in the launcher assembly area, at Europe's Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana, on 19 November 2015.
LISA Pathfinder will test the fundamental technologies and instrumentation needed for future gravitational-wave observatories in space. LISA Pathfinder is currently scheduled for launch with Arianespace flight VV06 – the sixth launch of Europe's small Vega launcher – on 2 December at 04:15:00 UTC.
Quelle: ESA

Tags: ESA Mission eLISA/NGO LISA-Pathfinder 


Samstag, 28. November 2015 - 20:00 Uhr



Animations that compress 25 years of satellite images into just one second reveal the complex behaviour and flow of glaciers in the Karakoram mountain range in Asia.
Frank Paul, a glaciologist at the University of Zurich in Switzerland, used images from 1990 to 2015 captured by three different Landsat satellites to create timelapse sequences of four regions in the central Karakoram: Baltoro, Panmah, Skamri–Sarpo Laggo and Shaksgam.
This mountain range is home to some of the highest peaks in the world, including the famous K2.
While timelapse films using daily photographs from cameras stationed at glacier fronts are available for some glaciers, they show only changes over a few days to a few years and only for a small part of a glacier.
Since global change is having a direct effect on the environment and society at large, it is more important than ever to understand exactly what is happening to our planet so that informed decisions can be made – as will be highlighted even more at the upcoming COP21 conference on climate change. 
Satellites are the only realistic means of observing changes systematically over a long period of time, particularly in remote regions such as this mountain range.
The study was carried out through ESA’s Climate Change Initiative which treats glaciers as an ‘essential climate variable’. The initiative has assembled comprehensive datasets going back decades for scientists to understand exactly how these sensitive components of our environment are changing.
Published today in The Cryosphere journal, these new animations provide a novel look at glacier dynamics, revealing changes over a much longer time and at a much larger scale than ever before.
Baltore Glacier
Since 25 years of satellite coverage is compressed into one second, speeding up glacier movement by some 800 million times.
Dr Paul said, “The most interesting insight is to really see how the glaciers flow and how the individual parts of the glaciers such as the tributary streams interact.”
The animations show that they are not actually retreating, but are advancing or surging and flowing into each other.
“From a scientific point of view, the key motivation for this research was to understand the highly variable behaviour of the glaciers in the Karakoram.
“We have known about this for over 50 years, but still have a very limited scientific understanding of what is going on there. The animations are a very practical way to get a better overview and follow the changes through time,” added Dr Paul.
The timelapse view makes it easier for the human eye to follow glacier flow and detect changes. The Baltoro animation, for example, highlights how fast and steadily the glacier is flowing without changing the position of its front, while the Panmah image sequence shows several surging glaciers flowing into each other.
These changes would be hard to observe by other methods, such as by comparing side-by-side images of a glacier taken at different times.
“The side-by-side comparison is a very tedious thing as the brain cannot freeze-frame and virtually overlay the images,” Dr Paul explains.
As detailed in The Cryosphere, Dr Paul created the animations in simple gif format using satellite images freely available from the US Geological Survey. For each animated gif, he used 7–15 false-colour satellite images, with glaciers shown in light blue to cyan, clouds in white, water in dark blue, vegetation in green and bare terrain in pink to brown.
“I like the idea of applying an ‘old-school’ and very simple file format, along with freely available software, to do something that is difficult to achieve with other formats or commercial software.”
He believes that animated satellite images could also find use as educational tools, helping the wider public understand glacier dynamics.
“But most importantly, anybody can create these animations. Everything required to do it – both images and software – is freely available, so I recommend trying this at home.”
Quelle: ESA

Tags: Planet Erde 


Samstag, 28. November 2015 - 16:30 Uhr

Raumfahrt - Ingenieure von ISRO wollen eigenes Scramjet-Triebwerk entwickeln


Having tasted success with the indigenous development of a cryogenic engine for launch vehicles, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) is now turning its attention to another key technology for space travel.
Engineers at ISRO are gearing up to test the scramjet engine developed in-house to power the Reusable Launch Vehicle (RLV) due to undergo the first experimental flight shortly.
The scramjet engine which uses air breathing propulsion technology for hypersonic flight is scheduled to be test flown in January or February, VSSC Director K. Sivan said here on Friday. Talking to the media on the sidelines of the National Aerospace Manufacturing Seminar (NAMS- 2015) organised by the Society of Aerospace Manufacturing Engineers, he said the scramjet engine would be strapped to a two-stage Rohini sounding rocket for the experimental flight lasting seven seconds. It will be released at a height of 70 km and ignited during the coasting phase.
Smaller launch vehicles
Space research organisations across the world are involved in the development of scramjet technology because it contributes to smaller launch vehicles with more payload capacity and promises cheaper access to outer space. While conventional rocket engines need to carry both fuel and oxidiser on board for combustion to produce thrust, scramjets obtain oxygen from the atmosphere by compressing the incoming air before combustion at supersonic speed.
Almost 80 per cent of the lift-off mass of a launch vehicle is due to the oxidiser, explains Dr.Sivan. “By obviating the need to carry oxygen, the lift-off mass is considerably reduced, thereby enhancing the payload capacity. The scramjet engine can also liquefy the oxygen and store it on board.”
However, maintaining combustion in supersonic conditions poses technical challenges because the fuel has to be ignited within milliseconds.
Dr. Sivan said the scramjet engine would be married to the indigenously developed RLV at a later stage.
Meanwhile, ISRO is preparing for the first experimental flight of the RLV-TD (Technology Demonstrator). The vehicle is undergoing flight integration at the VSSC before being moved to Bengaluru for acoustic testing and later to Sriharikotta for the launch expected to take place in January.
Quelle: The Hindu

Tags: Raumfahrt 


Samstag, 28. November 2015 - 16:00 Uhr

Mars-Chroniken - Drohnen auf dem Mars? Kleiner 'Helicopter-Like' Scout für Mars 2020 Rover Mission


Artist’s conception of the helicopter-like drone which could accompany the Mars 2020 Rover. Image Credit: NASA
Over the past few years, numerous orbiters, landers and rovers have been sent to Mars, revealing the world as never before. There is, however, something else which hasn’t been done yet – a helicopter, airplane or balloon. An airborne probe could provide stunning views of the Martian surface between those of a lander/rover and an orbiter at much higher altitude. The concept has been considered and tested to some degree, and now it may be moving closer to becoming a reality. The latest studies involve the possibility of sending a small helicopter-like drone along with the Mars 2020 Mission rover.
Nothing has been confirmed yet, but the idea was mentioned again by JPL Director Charles Elahchi, on Nov. 19, 2015.
“It’s not approved for that mission yet, but we are doing the technology which will enable us to actually have a drone which will fly around the rover, survey the area in front of it and enable the rover to basically drive more efficiently,” Elahchi said. “So you’ll have a drone taking the survey and sending the data to the rover and having the rover avoid hazards.” He made the comments after a luncheon speech on Capitol Hill hosted by the Space Transportation Association.
A video posted by NASA last January gives an overview of the mission concept. The drone would act as a scout for the rover, flying ahead to check out various possible points of interest and also help engineers to plan the best driving route. It could even help the rover to travel farther each day than is possible with current rovers now, perhaps even tripling the distance. It would also help the rover find places to take and cache samples of rock and soil. As currently envisioned, the drone would be solar powered, weigh 2.2 pounds (1 kilogram) and measure 3.6 feet (1.1 meters) across from the tip of one blade to the other; it would resemble a medium-size cubic tissue box. The drone would probably fly for just two or three minutes per day. A proof-of-concept technology demonstration has already been done at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, where a scale model of the helicopter was flown in a Mars atmosphere chamber.
Any drone destined for Mars however would need to be specially designed to stay aloft in the thin atmosphere. But while challenging, it is certainly possible. If it does go ahead, this would be the first time such a concept aircraft would be included on any Mars mission.
“By March of next year – we’re actually building a full-scale helicopter, 1 kilogram size – we’re going to put it in a chamber and simulate, exactly, the Mars atmosphere,” Elachi said. “We have done some tests and we’re confident it will [fly].”
“[W]e’re going to put it in a chamber and simulate, exactly, the Mars atmosphere,” Elahchi said in a statement to SpaceNews. “We have done some tests and we’re confident it will [fly].”
As Guy Webster at JPL also told AmericaSpace:
“JPL is conducting proof-of-concept testing for the helicopter in a simulated environment, developing concepts for how it might be accommodated and deployed by a Mars rover, and exploring potential sources of funds.”
The Mars Gas Hopper is another previous prototype for an aerial vehicle which could fly in Mars’ atmosphere. Photo Credit: Robert Zubrin/Pioneer Astronautics
The concept for a Mars helicopter isn’t brand new however. Another larger version was being tested way back in 1994, by Robert Zubrin, an aerospace engineer who developed the well known “Mars Direct” blueprint for human missions and founded The Mars Society. As he told AmericaSpace, “I was looking at a larger helicopter design, with a mass of about 50 kg. It was meant to be an independent robotic vehicle, capable of flying about 10 km at a time. Each time it would land, it would take several days to recharge its batteries and then fly again to a new place.”
That project never materialized into an actual mission though, as noted by Zubrin:
“We didn’t do anything with it. We decided to go with a proposal for a Mars Aerial Platform (balloon) mission instead, because it could keep flying for months and span the globe.”
Mars Aerial Platform (MAP) was designed to be a low-cost Discovery class mission which would “generate tens of thousands of very high-resolution (20 cm/pixel) pictures of the Martian surface, map the global circulation of the Martian atmosphere, and examine the surface and sub-surface with ground penetrating radar, infrared spectroscopy, neutron spectroscopy, and other remote sensing techniques.” The balloons would fly at a nominal altitude of about 7 km above the surface. Thanks to new technology, the balloons could last for hundreds or even thousands of days. MAP would work together with the Mars Environmental Survey (MESUR) surface network science mission. Even though that mission also never happened, the technology involved could still be used for a future balloon mission to Mars.
Later, in 20102, Zubrin later went on to develop yet another aerial prototype called the Mars Gas Hopper.
“Later, at Pioneer Astronautics, I developed an alternative concept, called a Mars Gas Hopper, which used hot CO2 acquired from the Mars atmosphere for rocketplane or VTOL propulsion.”
MGH would be a novel “flight and surface exploration vehicle that utilizes indigenous CO2 propellant to enable greatly enhanced mobility.” As explained in the published paper:
“The gas hopper will first retrieve CO2 gas from the Martian environment to store it in liquid form at a pressure of about 10 bar. When enough CO2 is stored to make a substantial flight to another Mars site, a hot pellet bed is heated to ~1000 K and the CO2 propellant is warmed to ~300 K to pressurize the tank to ~65 bar. A valve is then opened, allowing the liquid CO2 to pass through the hot pellet bed that heats and gasifies the CO2 for propulsion. Both ballistic hopper and winged gas hopper airplanes are possible, with the former offering greater simplicity and the latter longer range. In the case of winged gas hoppers, the hot gas would be piped to a set of thrusters beneath the aircraft, allowing vertical takeoff, after which the gas is shunted off to a primary rearward pointing thruster to generate forward flight speed. The hot gas system is also used for attitude control and main propulsion during landing.”
As to the new drone concept currently being considered, Zubrin posted on Twitter, “An excellent idea. I analyzed an electric Mars helicopter at Lockheed Martin in 1994. It’s feasible.”
Another way to explore Mars by air would be with balloons. This concept balloon is from Global Aerospace Corporation in 2004, from a presentation entitled Mars Exploration with Directed Aerial Robot Explorers. Image Credit: Global Aerospace Corporation
As previously reported in AmericaSpace, NASA is also planning to develop an airplane prototype which could fly in the thin Martian atmosphere. The concept, called the Preliminary Research Aerodynamic Design to Land on Mars (Prandtl-m), is basically a flying wing. The first major test is planned for later this year, where a prototype will be released from a high-altitude balloon at about 10,000 feet altitude, where conditions are similar to the atmosphere on Mars. Other Mars airplane concepts include the Aerial Regional-scale Environmental Survey (ARES).
“The aircraft would be part of the ballast that would be ejected from the aeroshell that takes the Mars rover to the planet,” said Al Bowers, NASA Armstrong chief scientist and Prandtl-m program manager. “It would be able to deploy and fly in the Martian atmosphere and glide down and land. The Prandtl-m could overfly some of the proposed landing sites for a future astronaut mission and send back to Earth very detailed high-resolution photographic map images that could tell scientists about the suitability of those landing sites.”
“The actual aircraft’s wingspan when it is deployed would measure 24 inches and weigh less than a pound. With Mars gravity 38 percent of what it is on Earth, that actually allows us up to 2.6 pounds and the vehicle will still weigh only 1 pound on Mars. It will be made of composite material, either fiberglass or carbon fiber. We believe this particular design could best recover from the unusual conditions of an ejection,” Bowers added.
Artist’s conception of the Prandtl-m airplane flying above the surface of Mars. Image Credit: NASA Illustration/Dennis Calaba
The amount of time the aircraft would be in the air would be quite short however.
“It would have a flight time of right around 10 minutes. The aircraft would be gliding for the last 2,000 feet to the surface of Mars and have a range of about 20 miles,” Bowers said.
Whether using drones, balloons or airplanes, it would seem that the future exploration of Mars will almost certainly use airborne probes of some sort, filling in a gap between surface rovers/landers and orbiting spacecraft. Along with unique, scenic views, they will provide new opportunities for data gathering as well, helping scientists to better understand Mars’ environment and potential for life, both past and present.
Quelle: AS

Tags: Mars-Chroniken 


Samstag, 28. November 2015 - 08:51 Uhr

Raumfahrt - Atlas V-Booster landet in Vandenberg


An Antonov AH-124-100 delivers rocket equipment upon its arrival at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., Sept. 9, 2014. A similar aircraft -- the Antonov AN-124, one of the largest cargo aircraft in the world, made its way from a production facility in Huntsville, Ala., to deliver an Atlas V booster here Nov. 20. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Shane Phipps)


VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. (AFNS) -- One of the world’s largest cargo aircraft recently delivered an Atlas V booster to Vandenberg Air Force Base.
The Antonov AN-124 made its way from a production facility in Decatur, Alabama, to deliver the booster Nov. 20.
"The Antonov flew from Zurich, Switzerland, to Mansfield, Ohio, and then to Huntsville, Alabama," said 1st Lt. Hammad Ghazali, the 4th Space Launch Squadron mission manager. "From there, the Atlas booster was loaded onto the aircraft and flown directly to Vandenberg."
Due to the large size of rocket components, transportation can pose unique challenges. The vehicles with the transportation muscle to accomplish this task include the Antonov; the Delta Mariner, a large cargo vessel used to transport rocket components by sea; and air ride tractor trailers, which are made to handle large, fragile shipments.
The Delta IV rocket is delivered by the Delta Mariner due to its massive size inhibiting other forms of travel.
"The Atlas V and Delta IV boosters can be transported via the Delta Mariner," Ghazali said. "This large ship is capable of carrying up to three boosters from the production site in Alabama to either Cape Canaveral Air Force Station or Vandenberg."
Various personnel were on hand to carefully orchestrate and coordinate the successful arrival and unique transportation of the rocket booster.
"An operation of this magnitude requires extensive training, coordination and teamwork," said Lt. Col. Eric Zarybnisky, the 4th SLS commander. "Members across Team Vandenberg, along with United Launch Alliance and other mission partners, helped make it all happen.”
Despite arriving via flight to Vandenberg, the booster's original transportation method involved another option.
"The Atlas booster was originally built in Denver, Colorado, before production moved to Decatur, Alabama," Ghazali said. "Getting the first stage from Denver to Vandenberg wasn't feasible via truck so the booster was designed to be flown to the launch location. Flying the booster to the launch location minimizes the transport time and avoids hazards that the booster structure would be exposed to over land."
Consisting of a multitude of features, the Atlas booster is a pivotal piece of the space mission.
"The Atlas V booster provides space lift for critical spacecraft, including defense satellites, NASA scientific missions, and commercial satellites," Zarybnisky said. "The boosters carry the bulk of the fuel required to produce the thrust necessary to launch these satellites into the desired orbits. The orbits we launch to, from Vandenberg, are unique and provide our launch customers the ability to perform missions they could not accomplish if they launched from Cape Canaveral."
With the booster's successful arrival, day-to-day launch operations remain intact -- ensuring mission success at Vandenberg.
"Launch vehicle processing has very tight timelines," Zarybnisky said. "Delays in a single operation can have large ripple effects across the process. By ensuring a smooth delivery, we can prevent schedule compression that induces additional risk into launch vehicle processing."
Quelle: USAF

Tags: Raumfahrt 


Freitag, 27. November 2015 - 22:40 Uhr

Astronomie - Geheimnis des Gewichtsverlusts eines alternden Sterns enthüllt


Astronomen ist mit dem Very Large Telescope (VLT) der ESO die bisher detailreichste Aufnahme des Hyperriesensterns VY Canis Majoris gelungen. Die Beobachtungen zeigen, wie unerwartet große Staubteilchen, die den Stern umgeben, es ihm ermöglichen, eine gewaltige Menge an Masse zu verlieren, sobald er zu sterben beginnt. Dieser Prozess, der damit jetzt endlich verstanden wurde, ist für solch gewaltige Sterne notwendig, um sie auf ihren explosiven Untergang als Supernovae vorzubereiten.
VY Canis Majoris ist ein stellarer Goliath, ein roter Hyperriese, einer der größten bekannten Sterne in der Milchstraße. Er besitzt die 30- bis 40-fache Masse der Sonne und ist 300.000 Mal leuchtkräftiger. In seinem derzeitigen Zustand würde der Stern die Umlaufbahn von Jupiter umfassen, da er sich in den letzten Phasen seines Lebens enorm ausgedehnt hat.
Die neuen Beobachtungen dieses Sterns wurden mit dem SPHERE-Instrument am VLT durchgeführt. Das System  Adaptiver Optik des Instruments korrigiert Bilder deutlich besser als frühere Adaptive Optiksysteme. Das ermöglicht es, Strukturen, die sehr nah an der hellen Lichtquelle liegen, detailliert beobachten zu können [1]. SPHERE zeigte deutlich, wie das hellleuchtende Licht von VY Canis Majoris Materiewolken aufleuchten lässt, die ihn umgeben.
Mit dem ZIMPOL-Modus von SPHERE konnten die Astronomen nicht nur tiefer in das Zentrum der Wolke aus Gas und Staub um den Stern hineinspähen, sondern konnten auch beobachten, wie das Sternenlicht durch die umgebende Materie gestreut und polarisiert wurde. Diese Messungen waren für die schwierige Bestimmung der Eigenschaften der Staubteilchen entscheidend.
Gründliche Auswertungen der Polarisationsmessergebnisse ergaben, dass diese Staubkörner mit einem Durchmesser von 0,5 Mikrometern vergleichsweise großen Partikeln entsprechen, was zwar winzig erscheinen mag, allerdings sind Körner dieser Größe etwa 50 Mal größer als die Staubteilchen, die sonst im interstellaren Raum gefunden wurden.
Während sie sich ausdehnen, verlieren massereiche Sterne große Mengen an Materie – jedes Jahr stößt VY Canis Majoris das 30-fache der Erdmasse von seiner Oberfläche in Form von Staub und Gas aus. Diese Materiewolke wird weiter nach außen gedrückt, bevor der Stern schließlich explodiert und ein Teil des Staubs vernichtet wird, während der Rest in den interstellaren Raum geschleudert wird. Diese Materie kann dann zusammen mit schwereren Elementen, die während der Supernovaexplosion entstanden sind, von der nächsten Generation an Sternen für die Entstehung von Planeten genutzt werden.
Wie die Materie in der oberen Atmosphäre in den Weltraum gestoßen wird, bevor der Stern explodiert, blieb lange ein Geheimnis – bis jetzt. Am ehesten schien als mögliche Erklärung der Strahlungsdruck in Frage zu kommen, also die Kraft, die vom Sternenlicht ausgeübt wird. Da dieser Druck sehr schwach ist, sind die großen Staubkörner für diesen Prozess unerlässlich, da sonst die Oberfläche nicht ausreicht, um einen nennenswerten Effekt herbeizuführen [2].
„Massereiche Sterne leben ein kurzes Leben”, erläutert Peter Scicluna vom Academia Sinica Institute for Astronomy and Astrophysics in Taiwan, der Erstautor des Fachartikels. „Wenn ihre letzten Tage gekommen sind, verlieren sie viel Masse. In der Vergangenheit konnten wir nur Vermutungen darüber aufstellen, wie das genau geschieht. Mit den neuen SPHERE-Daten haben wir jetzt aber große Staubkörner um den Hyperriesen gefunden. Sie sind groß genug, um vom starken Strahlungsdruck des Sterns weggestoßen zu werden, was den schnellen Massenverlust des Sterns erklärt.“
Das Vorhandensein solch großer Staubkörner, die so nah am Stern beobachtet werden konnten, bedeutet, dass die Wolke tatsächlich das sichtbare Licht des Sterns streuen und durch den Strahlungsdruck vom Stern weggestoßen werden kann. Durch die Größe der Staubkörner dürfte ein Teil davon die Strahlung, die durch den dramatischen Tod von Canis Majoris als Supernova entsteht, wahrscheinlich überleben [3]. Der Staub vermischt sich dann mit der interstellaren Materie in der Umgebung, was die Entstehung zukünftiger Generationen an Sternen fördert, und animiert diese Sterne dazu, Planeten zu bilden.
[1] SPHERE/ZIMPOL verwendet fortschrittlichste Adaptive Optik, um beugungsbegrenzte Abbildungen zu erstellen, die der theoretischen Grenze der Teleskope, die man nur erreichen könnte, wenn die Erdatmosphäre nicht vorhanden wäre, deutlich näher kommt als frühere Instrumente mit Adaptiver Optik. Diese Art der Adaptiven Optik ermöglicht es auch, deutlich lichtschwächere Objekte zu beobachten, die sich sehr nah an einem hellen Stern befinden.
Die Bilder dieser neuen Studie wurden zudem im sichtbaren Licht aufgenommen – also bei kürzeren Wellenlängen als im Nahinfrarotbereich, in dem frühere Bildgebungen mit Adaptiver Optik meistens durchgeführt wurden. Diese zwei Faktoren führen zu deutlich schärferen Bildern als frühere VLT-Bilder. Eine höhere räumliche Auflösung konnte mit dem VLTI erreicht werden, allerdings können mit dem Interferometer Bilder nicht direkt aufgenommen werden.
[2] Die Staubteilchen müssen groß genug sein, damit das Sternlicht sie wegstoßen kann, allerdings dürfen sie nicht so groß sein, dass sie einfach auf den Stern zurücksinken. Wenn sie zu klein sind, würde das Sternlicht gewissermaßen durch den Staub hindurchgehen; wenn sie zu groß sind, wäre der Staub zu schwer, um ihn wegzustoßen. Der Staub, den die Astronomen um VY Canis Majoris beobachtet haben, hat genau die richtige Größe, um vom Sternlicht am effektivsten nach außen getrieben zu werden.
[3] In astronomischen Maßstäben betrachtet, wird die Explosion schon sehr bald stattfinden, allerdings gibt es keinen Grund zur Sorge, da dieses dramatische Ereignis in den nächsten Hunderttausenden von Jahren nicht wahrscheinlich ist. Von der Erde aus betrachtet wird es sich um ein beeindruckendes Ereignis handeln – möglicherweise so hell wie der Mond – wird aber keine Bedrohung für das Leben hier darstellen.
Diese Übersichtsaufnahme zeigt die Himmelsregion um den sehr hellen Hyperriesensterns VY Canis Majoris, einer der größten Sterne, die in der Milchstraße bekannt sind. Der Stern selbst erscheint in der Mitte des Bildes, das auch Wolken aus leuchtendem roten Wasserstoffgas, Staubwolken und den hellen Sternhaufen um den hellen Stern Tau Canis Majoris weiter rechts oben enthält. Das Bild wurde aus Aufnahmen des Digitized Sky Survey 2 erstellt.
Quelle: ESO

Tags: Astronomie 


Freitag, 27. November 2015 - 20:15 Uhr

Astronomie - ARGENTINIEN: Polizei beschlagnahmte 2,5 Tonnen Meteoriten


In Europa werden hohe Summen für die Gesteinsbrocken aus dem Weltall bezahlt. Für 20 Kilogramm Meteorit werden bis zu 5.000 Euro hingelegt.
Die argentinische Polizei hat Meteoriten mit einem Gesamtgewicht von 2,5 Tonnen beschlagnahmt. Die in Beuteln abgepackten Gesteinsbrocken seien über ein Haus in der nördlichen Provinz Santiago del Estero verteilt gewesen, teilte die Polizei am Donnerstag mit.
Die Behörden gingen davon aus, dass die Meteoriten für den europäischen Markt bestimmt waren. Dort zahlen Sammler nach Angaben von Experten für 20 Kilogramm Meteoriten bis zu 5.000 Dollar (4.711,65 Euro). Der Fundort befindet sich unweit des sogenannten Campo del Cielo (Feld des Himmels) in der benachbarten Provinz Chaco, wo es vor rund 4.000 Jahren einen Meteorschauer gab.
In dem Gebiet sammeln immer wieder Plünderer im Schutz der Dunkelheit Meteoriten ein, wie der Bürgermeister der angrenzenden Gemeinde Gancedo, Alberto Korovaichuk, laut Medienberichten sagte. "Die Leute kommen nachts mit Schaufeln und Metalldetektoren." Im Mai hatte die argentinische Polizei bei einer Routinekontrolle 1,5 Tonnen Meteoriten auf einem Lastwagen in Chaco entdeckt.
Quelle: Kleine Zeitung

Tags: Astronomie 5 Tonnen Meteoriten 


Freitag, 27. November 2015 - 17:00 Uhr

Raumfahrt - Roscosmos gibt 11.Dezember für letzte russisch-ukrainischen Rakete Zenit bekannt


Russia’s Federal Space Agency Roscosmos has named the date of liftoff of what appears to be the last Russian-Ukrainian launch vehicle in the Zenit family of launch systems.
"The liftoff of the Zenit-2SB launch vehicle has been scheduled for 16:45:33 Moscow Standard Time (13:45:33 GMT) on December 11, 2015," a report TASS received from the agency’s press service said.
The launch will take place at the Baikonur space center located on the territory of Kazkhastan.
Fuel ingredients have been loaded into The Fregat-SB booster block, which is expected to take Elektro-L No. 2 space probe into a designated orbit. The block has now been delivered to the assembly and testing depot.
"Launch teams of the aerospace industry have gotten down to the conclusive operations preceding the assembly of the space nose cone, which includes the Fregat SB booster block
and the Electro-L No.2 space probe," Roscosmos said.
The Electro-L No. 2, which is a meteorological probe, has been designed for remote sounding of the Earth’s crust. It will ensure a multi-spectrum filming the whole disk of the Earth in the visible and infrared ranges of the spectrum.
Earlier reports said this may be the last space start of a launch vehicle in the Zenit family in history of Russian-Ukrainian space projects and products. One more launch-ready vehicle in the Zenit family is stored at Baikonur but its warranty expired this summer.
Suggestions have been made to use the latter rocket for launching a Spektr-RG research probe.
Quelle: TASS

Tags: Raumfahrt 


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