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Sonntag, 22. Mai 2016 - 21:30 Uhr

Astronomie - Mars Spechteln über Odenwald

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Sternkarte und nachfolgend Aufnahmen vom Südost-Himmel

Fotos: ©-hjkc

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Quelle: CENAP-Archiv


Tags: Astronomie 

1562 Views

Sonntag, 22. Mai 2016 - 20:00 Uhr

Raumfahrt - Space Shuttle Endeavour bekommt externen Tank für LA Ausstellung

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28.05.2015

NASA's last space shuttle external tank, ET-94, seen here at the Michoud Assembly Facility in 2012, will be given to the California Science Center to go on display with Endeavour. (NASA/MAF)
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It's a sight no one thought possible again: a complete NASA space shuttle – the winged orbiter, twin rocket boosters and a massive external tank, all authentic hardware – standing vertical as if the vehicle was about to blast off for space.
But come 2018, that's exactly what the California Science Center will be able to display, thanks to a newly-revealed agreement by NASA to donate its last remaining fuel tank built to launch the space shuttle.
"The ability to preserve an entire stack of flight hardware will make the [center's new] Samuel Oschin Air and Space Center an even more compelling educational experience," said Jeffrey Rudolph, president and CEO of the California Science Center, in an interview with collectSPACE. "It will allow future generations to experience and understand the science and engineering of the space shuttle."
The orange-brown tank, which will be transported by barge from New Orleans to California via the Panama Canal and then moved overland through the streets of Los Angeles, will be stacked with NASA's retired orbiter Endeavour and a pair of boosters that were obtained earlier. The California Science Center had planned to construct a replica of the tank until NASA agreed to donate the historic hardware for the unprecedented exhibit.
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Space shuttle Endeavour, as currently exhibited by the California Science Center, will go vertical in 2018.
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NASA awarded Endeavour to the science center in April 2011, a month before it lifted off on its 25th and final flight. After being made safe for display and flown to L.A. atop a modified 747 jetliner, the iconic spacecraft embarked on a three day, 12-mile (19-km) road trip to the center's Oschin pavilion, where it has been on exhibit since October 2012.
Number 94
The external tank served as the structural backbone of the space shuttle and fed liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen to the three main engines mounted to the aft of the orbiter.
The tank was the shuttle's only major component that was not recovered and reused after launch. When Endeavour reached orbit on its final flight on May 16, 2011, its spent tank was jettisoned to be destroyed when it fell back into the Earth's atmosphere, just like every other external tank that launched before and after it.
Over the course of the 135-mission, 30-year program, 136 flight-qualified external tanks were constructed at NASA's Michoud Assembly Facility in Louisiana. Just one of those tanks, no. 94 (ET-94), was never launched and so it exists today.
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External tank no. 94 (ET-94) seen outside the Michoud Assembly Facility in Louisiana. (California Science Center/Dennis Jenkins)
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ET-94, a so-called "lightweight tank," was built at a time when NASA was transitioning to using even lighter "super lightweight tanks" to be able to launch the heavier parts needed to assemble the International Space Station. ET-94 would have likely flown on a science-dedicated mission were it not for the loss of orbiter Columbia in 2003.
"Since all of the missions after the accident were to the International Space Station – with the exception of the one high-altitude mission to service the Hubble [Telescope] – there was never an opportunity to use the tank," explained Dennis Jenkins, project director for Endeavour's display at the California Science Center.
Instead, ET-94 became a test article, used to validate the modifications made to the external tanks that enabled the shuttle fleet to safely return to flight after Columbia. It was also considered for use with NASA's new heavy-lift rocket, the Space Launch System (SLS), slated to fly in 2018.
"There was some initial interest within NASA to use ET-94 as a prototype SLS core stage but for various reasons this never happened," Jenkins stated. "NASA also examined various parts of ET-94 as part of its understanding how to build the SLS core stage."
From LA to L.A.
As it was no longer needed, ET-94 transitioned to serving as a display at Michoud. It even had a brief cameo in the 2013 movie "G.I. Joe: Retaliation," doubling as a missile.
Today, it sits in its wheeled carrier just outside the facility where it was assembled. But wheels will not help its move to the California Science Center — at least not at first.
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The California Science Center will ship ET-94 to Los Angeles by barge, similar in method to how an ET structural test article was transported in Florida in April 2013. (Jacksonville.com/Bob Self)
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"Since the tank is much too large to move overland, we will barge it from Michoud, through the Panama Canal, to Los Angeles," Jenkins told collectSPACE. "The majority of that route – minus the stop in L.A. – is the same route taken by the four tanks that were sent to Vandenberg [Air Force Base] before that launch site was closed."
A commercial barge will be used to transport ET-94 on its one-way trip to California.
Once at port on the U.S. west coast, the external tank will embark on a road trip through the streets of Los Angeles, similar to the three-day journey that Endeavour took to the science center three years ago.
"The tank is not nearly as wide (32 feet versus 78 feet) or as high (35 feet versus 56 feet), but it is a bit longer (154 feet versus 122 feet). It is also lighter," Jenkins described. "Therefore, we will impact fewer utilities and this time we won't need to remove any trees on the move to Exposition Park, although we may need to trim a few to make sure they do not brush the tank as we pass."
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ET-94's six to eight week journey from Louisiana to Los Angeles will take it through the Panama Canal. (California Science Center)
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ET-94's entire trip, from Michoud to the science center, is expected to take six to eight weeks to complete. Current plans call for the tank to leave Louisiana later this year or early in 2016.
"The timing is driven by the progress of some work on the ET that will take place before its journey to Los Angeles," Jenkins said. "There's some cosmetic restoration needed to fix foam where it was [earlier] removed for various tests and evaluations."
Go for stack
At the California Science Center, ET-94 will be reunited with its shuttle mounts and other hardware to get it ready for mating with Endeavour.
"About 18 months ago, NASA gave us all of the orbiter-ET attachment hardware from ET-94 to use on our [planned] replica tank," Jenkins said. "So we will need to install that hardware, along with the pressurization lines and feedlines that NASA removed several years ago."
And then ET-94 will wait.
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Concept drawing by ZGF Architects LLP of the California Science Center's vertical exhibit of Endeavour. (California Science Center)
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The science center plans to debut the fully-stacked space shuttle in 2018 inside its still-to-be-built Samuel Oschin Air and Space Center, named for the late philanthropist whose family foundation made a "transformational gift" toward the exhibit.
"Our fundraising efforts are progressing well," Rudolph told collectSPACE recently. "We're nearly half way to our $250 million goal for the EndeavourLA Campaign."
Groundbreaking for the Air and Space Center is expected to take place around the same time that the external tank arrives in Los Angeles.
Unlike NASA, the California Science Center does not have a towering Vehicle Assembly Building to stack the orbiter, boosters and tank in the vertical. Instead, the components will be mated while they are on the ground. The stack will then be carefully raised up using one of the world's largest cranes.
To prepare for that operation, which the center has dubbed "Go for Stack," Jenkins and his team opened Endeavour's payload bay doors in October 2014 to install a Spacehab module that the orbiter carried to space. When it debuts on exhibit in the Air and Space Center, one of Endeavour's two bay doors will be open, offering visitors the chance to see the cargo inside.
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This model reveals the planned design for the Samuel Oschin Air and Space Center, Endeavour's vertical exhibit.
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The twin solid rocket boosters, previously displayed at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, were delivered by truck to California in 2012. Currently held at NASA's Armstrong Flight Research Center, they will be moved to the science center closer to when stacking operations are set to begin.
First though, ET-94 needs to arrive.
"We've dreamed of displaying a full stack of real hardware since the development of our master plan in 1992," stated Rudolph. The tank's journey to the science center, and its subsequent reunion with the orbiter, will be historic."
"With the same outpouring of community support we saw with the arrival of Endeavour," he said, "we look forward to celebrating this gift from NASA."
Quelle: SC
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Update: 11.04.2016
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Photos: Final space shuttle fuel tank relic heads for California

The last remaining external fuel tank built for the space shuttle program but never flew will depart its factory in New Orleans on Tuesday for a long sea voyage to the California Science Center in Los Angeles.
These pictures courtesy of the California Science Center show the tank being readied to leave the Michoud Assembly Facility where Lockheed Martin technicians originally built the tank.
The leftover tank, known as ET No. 94, will be the structural backbone of the space shuttle Endeavour vertical exhibit opening in 2019 to display the spaceship as if she was on the launch pad.
The barge carrying the tank will traverse the Panama Canal en route to California over the next several weeks. Arrival in Marina del Ray is scheduled for around May 19.
The tank will parade through 16 miles of Los Angeles city streets on May 21 to reach the museum for restoration and construction of the space shuttle attraction at the California Science Center’s new Samuel Oschin Air and Space Center.
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Quelle: SN
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Last NASA space shuttle external tank set for LA to L.A. sea voyage
April 11, 2016 — A last-of-its-kind, very large artifact from NASA's space shuttle program is set to leave New Orleans this week on an almost 40-day ocean voyage to Los Angeles via the Panama Canal.
The remaining external tank built to fuel a space shuttle's launch into Earth orbit was rolled down a one mile-long (1.6 km) road and onto a barge on Sunday (April 10), two days ahead of its scheduled departure from NASA's Michoud Assembly Facility in Louisiana.
"It is a bittersweet day, [but] at the same time we like to celebrate history of the work that was done by the men and women here," said Bobby Watkins, director of the Michoud Assembly Facility. "With it moving over to California, that is going to open it up for millions of people to come and take a look at it, so we're very proud of that."
The 154-foot-long (47 m) orange-brown tank is destined for the California Science Center, where it will be mated with NASA's retired orbiter Endeavour and a pair of solid rocket boosters to create a unique vertical display of a fully-authentic space shuttle stack. The exhibit, to be erected in the Science Center's planned Samuel Oschin Air and Space Center, is slated to open to the public in 2019.
Endeavour was delivered to Los Angeles in 2012 atop a NASA modified Boeing 747 jumbo jet and then was driven through the streets of Los Angeles to its display pavilion at the Science Center. An aircraft was not an option for the external tank, and so it is taking a circuitous route, crossing from the Atlantic to Pacific Ocean by way of the Panama Canal. Coming on shore at Marina del Rey, it will then spend a night traversing city streets to join the orbiter at the museum.
The tank is scheduled to arrive at the California Science Center on May 21.
The structural backbone of the space shuttle, the external tank was the vehicle's only major component that was discarded and destroyed with each launch. Over the course of the 135-mission space shuttle program, 136 flight-qualified external tanks were assembled at the Michoud facility. Just one of those tanks, no. 94 (ET-94), went unused and so it exists today to be shipped to Los Angeles.
ET-94, a "lightweight tank," was built at a time when NASA was transitioning to using even lighter "super lightweight tanks" to launch the heavier parts needed for the International Space Station. ET-94 may have launched a science mission were it not for the loss of the orbiter Columbia in 2003.
Instead, it became a test article, used to validate modifications made to the tanks that enabled the shuttle fleet to safely return to flight after Columbia. As part of that work, sections of insulating foam were removed, which can be seen on the tank in its current state.
Once at the Science Center, ET-94 will undergo a partial restoration, including the re-installation of feedlines and other hardware that were earlier removed by NASA. Foam repairs will also be applied to the tank's exterior.
First though, ET-94 has to leave for Los Angeles. A small ceremony, closed to the public, is scheduled for Tuesday afternoon, where Jody Singer, the deputy director of NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center, will sign over ownership of the tank to the California Science Center, represented by president Jeff Rudolph.
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Quelle: CS
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Update: 28.04.2016
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Photos: Space shuttle fuel tank in Panama for passage through canal
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The last space shuttle external tank in existence, headed from the New Orleans manufacturing plant to the California Science Center for the vertical launch pad display of the retired orbiter Endeavour, has passed through the Panama Canal.
The Shannon Dann tugboat pulling the Gulfmaster I barge loaded with External Tank No. 94 arrived at the canal’s northern inlet on Saturday. It traversed the initial portions of the 48-mile-long canal on Monday and reached the Pacific Ocean on Tuesday.
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Quelle: SN
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Update: 19.05.2016
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Shuttle fuel tank comes ashore in California for Endeavour museum exhibit

A five-week, 5,000-mile sea trek of the last space shuttle external fuel tank pulled into port today for a parade through the urban jungle of Southern California on Saturday to its final destination.
Originally built for a shuttle mission but never flown, the last-of-its-kind tank was donated to the California Science Center to use in its vertical launch pad attraction being designed with the retired orbiter Endeavour.
External Tank No. 94 left NASA’s Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans on April 12, sailed through the Panama Canal on April 25 and 26 and arrived in Marina del Rey, California, this morning.
The journey was performed by Emmert International, a commercial shipping firm based in Oregon.
Along the way, the tank transport rode out a storm in the Cayman Islands and then made a life-saving rescue off the coast of Mexico when a nearby charter fishing boat took on water and sank with four people aboard.
Under overcast skies at daybreak today, the tank was spotted just off the Los Angeles coastline and was greeted by a water cannon aboard an LA County fire boat while entering the harbor. The barge docked at 8 a.m. and workers offloaded the tank shortly before 10:30 a.m. using a semi-truck with an “ET XING” crossing sign on its grille.
The public can see the tank at the marina through Friday.
“Come out to Marina del Rey this week to get a look,” said Los Angeles County Supervisor Don Knabe. “It is just unbelievable the size of this tank.”
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An official welcoming ceremony is planned for Friday night ahead of Saturday’s 16-mile city drive to the museum.
Each year, the California Science Center holds an annual fundraising gala, but this year’s “Discovery Ball” will be held at Marina del Rey with ET-94 as the star.
The gala’s theme will incorporate elements from New Orleans and Panama, key areas to the tank’s journey to California.
Also on Friday, the Department of Beaches and Harbors will hold a “Party in the Park” for the public at large with a DJ, food trucks, space-themed carnival games and science exhibits from 5 to 9 p.m.
On Saturday morning at 12:01 a.m. local time (3:01 a.m. EDT; 0701 GMT), ET-94 will leave the Fisherman’s Village area of the Marina trailing a New Orleans jazz band.
It is anticipated that the tank will travel at a walking speed and take 18 to 20 hours to reach Exposition Park on Saturday evening.
Crews traveling ahead of the tank will take down utility lines, signals and street signs, as needed, to ensure safe passage of the artifact.
The top cruising speed could reach as high as 5 mph, but navigating tight turns may take 45 minutes each.
Officials anticipate the convoy will reach Exposition Park around 8 p.m. local time (11 p.m. EDT; 0300 GMT) where a special “finish line” photo opportunity will be held. However, another activity in the park and the exact arrival time will determine when the tank can be positioned next to the Samuel Oschin Pavilion where Endeavour is located.
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he parade’s route from the dock to the California Science Center in Exposition Park, adjacent to the LA Memorial Coliseum:
Marina Del Rey parking lot to Fiji Way
Fiji Way to Lincoln (PCH)
-Lincoln to Mindanao Way
Mindanao Way to CA-90
CA-90 to Culver Blvd.
Culver Blvd. to Lincoln via transition ramp
Lincoln to Loyola Blvd
Loyola Blvd. to Westchester Pkwy
Westchester Parkway turns into Arbor Vitae St. at Airport Blvd; Arbor Vitae St. to La Brea Ave
La Brea Ave. to Manchester Blvd
Manchester Blvd. to Vermont Ave
Vermont Ave. to Martin Luther King Blvd.
Martin Luther King Blvd. to Exposition Park.
The California Science Center’s official time estimates for when to expect the tank to pass by specific locations: (All projected times are subject to change; all listed in local time)
Leave the marina – Approximately 12:01 a.m.
Arbor Vitae between Inglewood Ave. and Rosewood Ave. – Approx. 8:00 to 9:30 a.m.
Forum – Approx. Noon to 2 p.m.
Manchester & Vermont – Approx. 2:30 to 4:00 p.m.
Vermont & MLK – Approx. 6:30 to 8:00 p.m.
Expo Park – Approx. 7:30 to 9:00 p.m.
The tank will go on public display at the museum upon arrival to the north-side of Endeavour’s pavilion. Technicians will perform extensive restoration work on the tank and re-install its missing nose cap, orbiter attachment hardware and the fuel and pressurant lines.
The launch pad display using the Endevour, the tank and a pair of solid rocket boosters is slated to open in 2019.
Quelle: SN
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Update: 22.05.2016
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Space shuttle tank move: ET94 arrives home
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The fuel tank arrived at Exposition Park at about 6:15 p.m. It sailed through its route from Marina Del Rey to the California Science Center, arriving far ahead of schedule.
Shortly after 7 p.m., thousands of spectators cheered, whistled and waved American flags as the tank inched its way to its final destination beside a pavilion housing the Space Shuttle at Exposition Park.
Among them was Monty Icenogle, 36, who traveled from Bakersfield. Icenogle, who has been blind since birth, is a Space Shuttle buff.
“I wouldn’t miss this for the world,” he said, as the immense fuel tank was being nestled into its new home just 100 yards away. “This will never happen again, but because it did today, we are now in the only place on earth where you will be able to admire a space shuttle in full launch configuration.”
“So, its final mission accomplished,” he said with a smile. “How cool is that?”
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The giant orange fuel tank, called ET-94, is on its final stretch. Its expected arrival is now forecast between 5:30 p.m. and 7 p.m.
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Mioko Lollis, 32, said her 11-year-old son, Jamier Flowers, had been talking for days about seeing the tank as it passed just a block from their home. 
"This is like a once in a lifetime thing to see it," Lollis said. "I remember watching it on the news, but for him, this is history." 
Flowers peered down the street. "It's getting closer, Mom!" he said. "I can see it!"
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As the tank rumbled north like a huge orange torpedo toward downtown, Eric Finister, 51, tightened his grip on a walking cane and weighed his words carefully.
“You’d think something this darn big couldn’t get off the ground,” he said. “Yet it lifted off of the face of the Earth and soared into the heavens to fetch new knowledge for mankind.”
He paused, then smiled, and added, “Look what we can do when we put our minds to it.”
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Quelle: Los Angeles Times

Tags: Raumfahrt 

2597 Views

Sonntag, 22. Mai 2016 - 19:45 Uhr

Astronomie - Keck-Observatorium sieht schwächste frühe Universum Galaxien

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Color image of the cluster taken with Hubble Space Telescope (images in three different filters were combined to make an RGB image). In the inset we show three spectra of the multiply imaged systems. They have peaks at the same wavelength, hence showing that they belong to the same source.

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MAUNAKEA, Hawaii – An international team of scientists has detected and confirmed the faintest early-Universe galaxy ever using the W. M. Keck Observatory on the summit on Maunakea, Hawaii. In addition to using the world’s most powerful telescope, the team relied on gravitational lensing to see the incredibly faint object born just after the Big Bang. The results are being published in The Astrophysical Journal Letters today.
The team detected the galaxy as it was 13 billion years ago, or when the Universe was a toddler on a cosmic time scale.
The detection was made using the DEIMOS instrument fitted on the ten-meter Keck II telescope, and was made possible through a phenomenon predicted by Einstein in which an object is magnified by the gravity of another object that is between it and the viewer. In this case, the detected galaxy was behind the galaxy cluster MACS2129.4-0741, which is massive enough to create three different images of the object.
"Keck Observatory's telescopes are simply the best in the world for this work," said Marusa Bradac, a proefssor at University of California, Davis who led the team. "Their power, paired with the gravitational force of a massive cluster of galaxies, allows us to truly see where no human has seen before."
“Because you see three of them and the characteristics are exactly the same, that means it was lensed,” said Marc Kassis, staff astronomer at Keck Observatory who assists the discovery team at night. “The other thing that is particularly interesting is that it is small. The only way they would have seen it is through lensing. This allowed them to identify it as an ordinary galaxy near the edge of the visible Universe.”
“If the light from this galaxy was not magnified by factors of 11, five and two, we would not have been able to see it,” said Kuang-Han Huang, a team member from UC Davis and the lead author of the paper. “It lies near the end of the reionization epoch, during which most of the hydrogen gas between galaxies transitioned from being mostly neutral to being mostly ionized (and lit up the stars for the first time). That shows how gravitational lensing is important for understanding the faint galaxy population that dominates the reionization photon production.”
The galaxy’s magnified images were originally seen separately in both Keck Observatory and Hubble Space Telescope data. The team collected and combined all the Keck Observatory/DEIMOS spectra from all three images, confirming they were the same and that this is a triply-lensed system.
“We now have good constraints on when the reionization process ends – at redshift around 6 or 12.5 billion years ago – but we don’t yet know a lot of details about how it happened,” Huang said. “The galaxy detected in our work is likely a member of the faint galaxy population that drives the reionization process.”
“This galaxy is exciting because the team infers a very low stellar mass, or only one percent of one percent of the Milky Way galaxy,” Kassis said. “It’s a very, very small galaxy and at such a great distance, it’s a clue in answering one of the fundamental questions astronomy is trying to understand: What is causing the hydrogen gas at the very beginning of the Universe to go from neutral to ionized about 13 billion years ago. That’s when stars turned on and matter became more complex.”
The core of the team consisted of Bradac, Huang, Brian Lemaux, and Austin Hoag of UC Davis who are most directly involved with spectroscopic observation and data reduction of galaxies at redshift above seven. Keck Observatory astronomers Luca Rizzi and Carlos Alvarez were instrumental in helping the team collect the DEIMOS data. Tommaso Treu from University of California, Los Angeles and Kasper Schmidt of Leibniz Institute for Astrophysics Potsdam were also part of the team. They lead the effort that obtains and analyzes spectroscopic data from the WFC3/IR grism on Hubble.
The W. M. Keck Observatory operates the largest, most scientifically productive telescopes on Earth. The two, 10-meter optical/infrared telescopes near the summit of Maunakea on the Island of Hawaii feature a suite of advanced instruments including imagers, multi-object spectrographs, high-resolution spectrographs, integral-field spectrographs and world-leading laser guide star adaptive optics systems.
DEIMOS (the DEep Imaging and Multi-Object Spectrograph) boasts the largest field of view (16.7 arcmin by 5 arcmin) of any of the Keck instruments, and the largest number of pixels (64 Mpix). It is used primarily in its multi-object mode, obtaining simultaneous spectra of up to 130 galaxies or stars. Astronomers study fields of distant galaxies with DEIMOS, efficiently probing the most distant corners of the universe with high sensitivity.
Keck Observatory is a private 501(c) 3 non-profit organization and a scientific partnership of the California Institute of Technology, the University of California and NASA.
Quelle: KECK OBSERVATORY

Tags: Astronomie 

1305 Views

Sonntag, 22. Mai 2016 - 10:00 Uhr

Astronomie - Radio-Sturm auf Jupiter aufgenommen

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RADIO STORM ON JUPITER: Earlier this week, there was a storm on Jupiter--a radio storm. Amateur radio astronomer Thomas Ashcraft recorded the event on May 17th using a shortwave radio telescope located in New Mexico. Click on the image to hear the whooshing sounds that emerged from his telescope's loudspeaker:

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Zu hören hier: http://www.spaceweather.com/images2016/20may16/jMay172016_0104UT21.22_Ashcraft.mp3?PHPSESSID=f22imi7k5m74bp42i44lkvun92

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"This was a strong storm," says Ashcraft. "The audio recording captures the sounds I heard during one minute around 01:04 UT."
Jupiter's radio storms are caused by natural radio lasers in the planet's magnetosphere that sweep past Earth as Jupiter rotates. Electrical currents flowing between Jupiter's upper atmosphere and the volcanic moon Io can boost these emissions to power levels easily detected by ham radio antennas on Earth. Jovian "S-bursts" (short bursts) and "L-bursts" (long bursts) mimic the sounds of woodpeckers, whales, and waves crashing on the beach. Here are a few audio samples: S-bursts, S-bursts (slowed down 128:1), L-Bursts
Now is a good time to listen to Jupiter's radio storms. The giant planet is only two months past opposition (closest approach to Earth), and it is high in the sky at sunset. NASA's Radio Jove Project explains how to build your own receiver.
Quelle: Spaceweather

Tags: Astronomie 

1314 Views

Samstag, 21. Mai 2016 - 22:00 Uhr

Raumfahrt - Russlands Luna-27 Landers mit ESA Eisbohrer für Mission 2020

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Lunar Lander before touchdown on the Moon.
Lunar Lander is a robotic explorer that will demonstrate key European technologies and conduct science experiments. The mission is a forerunner to future human and robotic exploration of the Moon and Mars. It will establish European expertise to allow strong international partnerships in exploration.
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A drill designed to penetrate 1–2 m into the lunar surface is envisaged by ESA to fly to the Moon’s south pole on Russia’s Luna-27 lander in 2020.
“It is an essential part of a science and exploration package being developed to reach, extract and analyse samples from beneath the surface in the Moon’s south polar region,” explains lunar exploration systems engineer Richard Fisackerly.
“This region is of great interest to lunar researchers and explorers because the low angle of the Sun over the horizon leads to areas of partial or even complete shadow. These shadowed areas and permanently dark crater floors, where sunlight never reaches, are believed to hide water ice and other frozen volatiles.”
Developed by Finmeccanica in Nerviano, Italy, the drill would first penetrate into the frozen ‘regolith’ and then deliver the samples to a chemical laboratory, which is being developed by the UK’s Open University.
The development team has tested the drill design with simulated lunar soil cooled to –140°C (typical of the expected landing site of Luna-27) but the permanently shadowed regions of the Moon are known to be even colder, at down to –240°C.
The drill system plus laboratory are collectively known as Prospect: Platform for Resource Observation and in-Situ Prospecting in support of Exploration, Commercial exploitation & Transportation.
Prospect is one of the packages being developed by ESA for flight to the Moon as part of cooperation on Russia’s lunar programme. Pilot – Precise Intelligent Landing using On-board Technology – is an autonomous precision landing system incorporating ‘laser radar’ lidar for hazard detection and avoidance.
These packages are being developed by ESA’s Directorate of Human and Robotic Exploration and will be proposed for approval to fly by ESA’s Council of European Ministers in December 2016.
Quelle: ESA

Tags: Raumfahrt 

1226 Views

Samstag, 21. Mai 2016 - 19:15 Uhr

Astronomie - HAWC - Observatorium für High Energy Sky

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"A view of two-thirds of the entire sky with very high-energy gamma-rays observed by HAWC during 340 days of data taking between November 2014 and November 2015. Clearly visible are many sources in the Milky Way and the extragalactic objects Markarian 421 and 501. Several well-known constellations are shown as a reference."
Credit: HAWC collaboration
In a remote section of desert in southern Mexico, on the slopes of the dormant Sierra Negra volcano, lies a collection of 300 steel tanks, each the size of a small house. Together, they take up an area that's a little less than four football fields. In the otherwise uninhabited area, the glistening metal structures look like a futuristic city tried to take root there.
These metal tanks make up the High-Altitude Water Cherenkov Gamma-Ray Observatory, or HAWC for short, which is being used to map the sky in high-energy gamma-rays. The new map reveals a cosmic landscape that resembles the isolated desert where HAWC's detectors make their home, sparsely littered with sources of light.
The release of HAWC's first complete sky map last month effectively signified that HAWC is now a participating member of the observing community, and has already begun to perform one of its primary functions: alerting other telescopes when strange and sporadic bursts of gamma-rays appear in the sky. [Gamma-Ray Universe: Photos by NASA's Fermi Space Telescope]
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Water tanks for the HAWC detector with Picode Orizaba in the background.
Credit: Zig Hampel-Arias, HAWC/WIPAC
Earthlings who look up at the night sky see a background of blackness littered with millions of points of light, and the hazy band of the Milky Way.
HAWC's view of the sky is decidedly different. The map released by the collaboration in April shows a sky that is mostly dark; there are only about 40 distinct sources of light, and most of those line up along the plane of the Milky Way Galaxy, which looks bright in any wavelength, simply because of its proximity to the Earth.
The longer HAWC observes the sky, the more sources it will discover, but a high-energy, gamma-ray map of the sky will never look quite like the cosmic skyline that human eyes see. Compared to the number of stars that radiate visible light, there just aren't very many cosmic objects that emit the high-energy gamma-rays that HAWC detects.
But quantity isn't everything. The view of the sky in high-energy gamma-rays is part of the cosmic puzzle, and without it, humanity's view of the cosmos is incomplete.
Consider the different types of maps that can be made of a single city: there are those that show the location of roads, buildings, rivers and lakes; but there are also topological maps that show the rise and fall of the land, or geological maps that reveal the materials buried under the ground. Maps that show gas and power lines are essential for construction projects — even though they don't help people find their way to the grocery store. Different maps can show the same location in a different light.
Maps of the universe show the same location in, literally, different kinds of light — there are telescopes and observatories that have mapped the sky in just about every wavelength of light: radio, infrared, optical, microwave, X-ray and gamma-ray HAWC is not the first).
HAWC's map covers two-thirds of the night sky. (Because it is located on the ground, and not in space, part of its view is blocked by the Earth.) No other observatory has ever mapped such a large section of the sky in such high-energy gamma-rays, and over such a long period of time (which lets HAWC pick up fainter sources), said Brenda Dingus, the principal investigator for the U.S. Department of Energy for HAWC. Comparing the locations in HAWC's map with those same locations on maps of other wavelengths can reveal more about the objects that lurk there, and the processes going on there. These multiwavelength investigations can solve mysteries or create new ones.
Cosmic accelerators
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This view shows the entire sky in gamma-rays, based on five years of data from the LAT instrument on NASA's Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope. Brighter colors indicate brighter gamma-ray sources.
Credit: NASA/DOE/Fermi LAT Collaboration
Stars and most other objects in the universe radiate energy because they are hot, Dingus told Space.com. That thermal energy is responsible for most of the illumination in the universe. But gamma-rays don't form so easily.
"You can't just get something hot and make gamma-rays," Dingus said. "You actually have to have a particle accelerator."
One such cosmic accelerator is a supernova — a massive star that runs out of fuel, collapses under its own weight and explodes. As the stellar mass collapses, the in-falling material can bounce off the star's core, creating a shockwave that slams through nearby dust clouds like a wrecking ball. The dust particles get kicked so hard they spit out gamma-rays. While the initial explosion releases visible light and other wavelengths for a few days, the gamma-rays from the shockwave remain visible for centuries, allowing long-term study of the remains of the supernova. [Supernova Photos: Great Images of Star Explosions]
When a gamma-ray from a distant source collides with a particle in the Earth's atmosphere, it's like a particle piñata got cracked open: the energy from the collision creates a shower of new particles (including more gamma-rays). Those 300 massive steel tanks that make up the HAWC observatory don't look like most instruments that observe the cosmos; they bear no resemblance to a telescope. The tanks are full of purified water, and when those showers of particles speed through the H2O, they generate more light, which is picked up by detectors. Working backward, scientists can trace the path of the original particle.
HAWC isn't the only telescope that uses this approach to capture gamma-rays, but it is currently the only detector of this type surveying such a large portion of the sky. The Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope also surveys the sky in gamma-rays (using a different method), but the highest-energy light it collects is fifty times weaker than HAWC's maximum, and HAWC covers an energy range that's over 65 times larger than what Fermi covers.
Despite such a broad reach, HAWC's map effectively reveals a cosmic desert. Maps in other wavelengths — even the lower-energy gamma-ray maps from Fermi — are lush with light sources and diffuse glow. By comparison, the creators of these powerful gamma-rays sparsely populate the cosmic landscape. But quantity isn't everything.
New discoveries
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This full-sky map from the Planck mission shows matter between Earth and the edge of the observable universe. Each sky map of the universe can reveal different information about the same area. Image released March 21, 2013.
Credit: ESA/NASA/JPL-Caltech
Of the 40 high-energy gamma-ray sources seen in the HAWC map, about 25 percent have not been seen before in this wavelength range, said Michelle Hui, a researcher at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center and a member of the HAWC collaboration. Hui spoke about the new HAWC map at The American Physical Society April Meeting, held this year in Salt Lake City. The meeting brings together scientists from the field of astrophysics, as well as from particle and nuclear physics, to discuss current trends and new results.
It's likely that some of the sources in the new HAWC map are associated with pulsars, another example of a cosmic particle accelerator, Hui said. Pulsars are the dense cores of material that are often left behind after a star explodes, and their incredibly strong magnetic fields and fierce spinning (up to hundreds of times per second) sometimes generate gamma-rays.
Many pulsars also emit radio waves — the least energetic form of light — all the way at the other end of the spectrum from gamma-rays. So HAWC scientists can consult a radio map of the sky, and see if their gamma-ray sources line up with a known pulsar.
"That will be our next step … to correlate with the other wavelengths to see exactly what is generating these high-energy photons," Hui said.
One of the most interesting revelations in the new map is a region nicknamed "the executioner," which has previously been spotted by other gamma-ray telescopes, Hui said. HAWC's map revealed that there might be three di
stinct sources in this bright spot, which could mean the discovery of a brand-new gamma-ray emitter. [NASA's Top 10 Gamma-Ray Sources in the Universe]
Alert!
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The universe seen in infrared light, captured by NASA's Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE).
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA
On April 6, 10 days before the start of the APS meeting, HAWC saw a known gamma-ray source rapidly brighten for about one day, and then nearly disappear again. The team sent out an astronomer's telegram, which is a community-wide alert that lets other telescope observatories know if a bright flash of light appears, or if something else strange is happening. The HAWC scientists still don't know what's causing the flare-up.
This is one of the primary roles that HAWC would like to serve, Dingus said — to be an alert system to let other telescopes know when an object releases a short-lived burst of gamma-rays. The Fermi telescope also performed this function in lower energies.
"We have other [observatories] that also look at this source daily … with the Fermi gamma-ray satellite in lower-energy gamma-rays, down to X-rays," Robert Lauer, a research assistant professor in physics and astronomy at the University of New Mexico and a member of the HAWC collaboration, said at the press conference. "And then we can compare all these measurements and see if we see the same type of fluctuation and learn much more about the processes and the source."
"You get a whole lot of new information by studying variability," Dingus told Space.com. "If you look at something and it stays the same all the time, you can make a theory about it. But then if it actually changes, that adds a lot more constraints to your theory."
Outside the room where the three scientists discussed these findings, another 20 HAWC members showed up just to cheer on their colleagues. The hallway buzzed with excitement — it felt more like a red carpet debut than a scientific announcement. But the release of the map is a major milestone for the experiment.
"This is our announcement that we work, and we work as advertised," Dingus told Space.com at the APS April Meeting. "This is the first map with the full detector. And it promises that the next five years are going to be really exciting."
Quelle: SC

Tags: Astronomie 

1653 Views

Samstag, 21. Mai 2016 - 18:51 Uhr

Raumfahrt - Nanoracks LLC erreicht Meilenstein: Mehr als 100 CubeSats von der ISS ausgesetzt

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Houston, TX- May 20, 2016—On May 18, 2016 the 111th customer CubeSat was deployed from the Company’s NanoRacks CubeSat Deployer (NRCSD) via the JAXA KIBO airlock on the International Space Station (ISS).
The NanoRacks commercial ISS program has proven critical for emerging companies, universities and organizations worldwide, either as a technology demonstration opportunity or for educational purposes. Customers include: Planet Labs, NanoAvionics, NanoSatisfi (Spire), Southern Stars, NASA, Lithuanian Space Association, Kaunas University of Technology, MIT, Booz-Allen Hamilton, Planetary Resources, GOMspace, Aalborg University, University of Colorado, Boulder and University of Michigan to just name a few.
NanoRacks is able to offer this CubeSat deployment opportunity via the Company’s Space Act Agreement with NASA as part of the ISS National Lab in coordination with CASIS. The program is commercially funded, meaning there is no government funding and it is sustained by customer’s revenue.
“This week marks an important milestone for NanoRacks and for the space station, as we demonstrate the value of commercial contributions to existing government resources,” explains NanoRacks CEO Jeffrey Manber. “Government and industry working together with both sides contributing is the most efficient pathway forward.”
NanoRacks is very thankful to all the ISS partners for allowing our CubeSat Program to grow, especially from NASA’s ISS Program office and the Space Station team at JAXA. “A new program faces technical and commercial risks but we keep learning and look forward to more innovative commercial services in low-earth orbit in the years to come,” adds NanoRacks’ CTO Mike Lewis.
Download the press release PDF and for further media inquiries, please contact Abby Dickes at adickes@nanoracks.com. For continued updates, follow us on twitter: @NanoRacks
About NanoRacks
NanoRacks LLC was formed in 2009 to provide commercial hardware and services for the U.S. National Laboratory onboard the International Space Station via a Space Act Agreement with NASA. NanoRacks’ main office is in Houston, Texas, right alongside the NASA Johnson Space Center. The Business Development office is in Washington, DC. Additional offices are located in Silicon Valley, California and Leiden, Netherlands.
In July 2015, NanoRacks signed a teaming agreement with Blue Origin to offer integration services on their New Shepard space vehicle. The Company has grown into the Operating System for Space Utilization by having the tools, the hardware and the services to allow other companies, organizations and governments to realize their own space plans.
As of March 2016, over 350 payloads have been deployed by NanoRacks on the International Space Station and our customer base includes the European Space Agency (ESA) the German Space Agency (DLR,) the American space agency (NASA,) US Government Agencies, Planet Labs, Urthecast, Space Florida, NCESSE, Virgin Galactic, pharmaceutical drug companies, and organizations in Vietnam, UK, Romania and Israel. The NanoRacks customer base has propelled the company into a leadership position in understanding the emerging commercial market for low-earth orbit utilization.
Quelle: NANORACKS

Tags: Raumfahrt 

1150 Views

Samstag, 21. Mai 2016 - 12:00 Uhr

Planet Erde - Neue NASA-geführten Studie über die Geologie der Antarktis

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Location of the southern Antarctic Circumpolar Current front (white contour), with -1 degree Celsius sea surface temperature lines (black contours) on Sept. 22 each year from 2002-2009, plotted against a chart of the depth of the Southern Ocean around Antarctica. The white cross is Bouvet Island.
Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech
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Why has the sea ice cover surrounding Antarctica been increasing slightly, in sharp contrast to the drastic loss of sea ice occurring in the Arctic Ocean? A new NASA-led study finds the geology of Antarctica and the Southern Ocean are responsible.
A NASA/NOAA/university team led by Son Nghiem of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California, used satellite radar, sea surface temperature, land form and bathymetry (ocean depth) data to study the physical processes and properties affecting Antarctic sea ice. They found that two persistent geological factors -- the topography of Antarctica and the depth of the ocean surrounding it -- are influencing winds and ocean currents, respectively, to drive the formation and evolution of Antarctica's sea ice cover and help sustain it.
"Our study provides strong evidence that the behavior of Antarctic sea ice is entirely consistent with the geophysical characteristics found in the southern polar region, which differ sharply from those present in the Arctic," said Nghiem.
Antarctic sea ice cover is dominated by first-year (seasonal) sea ice. Each year, the sea ice reaches its maximum extent around the frozen continent in September and retreats to about 17 percent of that extent in February. Since the late 1970s, its extent has been relatively stable, increasing just slightly; however, regional differences are observed.
Over the years, scientists have floated various hypotheses to explain the behavior of Antarctic sea ice, particularly in light of observed global temperature increases. Are changes in the ozone hole involved? Could fresh meltwater from Antarctic ice shelves be making the ocean surface less salty and more conducive to ice formation, since salt inhibits freezing? Are increases in the strength of Antarctic winds causing the ice to thicken? Something is protecting Antarctic sea ice, but a definitive answer has remained elusive.
To tackle this cryospheric conundrum, Nghiem and his team adopted a novel approach. They analyzed radar data from NASA's QuikScat satellite from 1999 to 2009 to trace the paths of Antarctic sea ice movements and map its different types. They focused on the 2008 growth season, a year of exceptional seasonal variability in Antarctic sea ice coverage.
Their analyses revealed that as sea ice forms and builds up early in the sea ice growth season, it gets pushed offshore and northward by winds, forming a protective shield of older, thicker ice that circulates around the continent. The persistent winds, which flow downslope off the continent and are shaped by Antarctica's topography, pile ice up against the massive ice shield, enhancing its thickness. This band of ice, which varies in width from roughly 62 to 620 miles (100 to 1,000 kilometers), encapsulates and protects younger, thinner ice in the ice pack behind it from being reduced by winds and waves.
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NASA QuikScat data of Antarctic sea ice movement (June-Sept. 2008) overlaid on maps of sea ice type (white = rough older ice; light blue = older ice, darker blue = younger ice, red = melt on ice, gray = permanent ice, brown = land, deep blue = open water. Red/black dots track ice movement over time.
Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Washington, U.S. National Ice Center
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The team also used QuikScat radar data to classify the different types of Antarctic sea ice. Older, thicker sea ice returns a stronger radar signal than younger, thinner ice does. They found the sea ice within the protective shield was older and rougher (due to longer exposure to wind and waves), and thicker (due to more ice growth and snow accumulation). As the sea ice cover expands and ice drifts away from the continent, areas of open water form behind it on the sea surface, creating "ice factories" conducive to rapid sea ice growth.
To address the question of how the Southern Ocean maintains this great sea ice shield, the team combined sea surface temperature data from multiple satellites with a recently available bathymetric chart of the depth of the world's oceans. Sea surface temperature data reveal that at the peak of ice growth season, the boundary of the ice shield remains behind a 30-degree Fahrenheit (-1 degree Celsius) temperature line surrounding Antarctica. This temperature line corresponds with the southern Antarctic Circumpolar Current front, a boundary that separates the circulation of cold and warm waters around Antarctica. The team theorized that the location of this front follows the underwater bathymetry.
When they plotted the bathymetric data against the ocean temperatures, the pieces fit together like a jigsaw puzzle. Pronounced seafloor features strongly guide the ocean current and correspond closely with observed regional Antarctic sea ice patterns. For example, the current stays near Bouvet Island, located 1,000 miles (1,600 kilometers) from the nearest land, where three tectonic plates join to form seafloor ridges. Off the coast of East Antarctica, the -1 degree Celsius sea surface temperature lines closely bundle together as they cross the Kerguelen Plateau (a submerged microcontinent that broke out of the ancient Gondwana supercontinent), through a deep channel called the Fawn Trough. But those lines spread apart over adjacent deep ocean basins, where seafloor features are not pronounced. Off the West Antarctica coast, the deep, smooth seafloor loses its grip over the current, allowing sea ice extent to decrease and resulting in large year-to-year variations.  
Study results are published in the journal Remote Sensing of Environment. Other participating institutions include the Joint Institute for Regional Earth System Science and Engineering at UCLA; the Applied Physics Laboratory at the University of Washington in Seattle; and the U.S. National/Naval Ice Center, NOAA Satellite Operations Facility in Suitland, Maryland. Additional funding was provided by the National Science Foundation.
NASA uses the vantage point of space to increase our understanding of our home planet, improve lives and safeguard our future. NASA develops new ways to observe and study Earth's interconnected natural systems with long-term data records. The agency freely shares this unique knowledge and works with institutions around the world to gain new insights into how our planet is changing.
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Map of sea surface temperatures (in degrees Celsius) combined with sea surface temperature contour lines for -1 degree Celsius (black) and -1.4 degrees Celsius (green), plotted atop a National Ice Center map of the extent of Antarctic sea ice on Sept. 22, 2009.
Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech
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Older, rougher and thicker Antarctic sea ice in the Bellingshausen Sea in Oct. 2007, within the sea ice shield surrounding Antarctica. The ice in this region is approximately 33 feet (10 meters) thick.
Credits: M.J. Lewis
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Tags: Planet Erde 

1614 Views

Samstag, 21. Mai 2016 - 11:56 Uhr

Astronomie - Hubble sieht einen Schwarm von alten Sternhaufen um eine Galaxie

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This NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope image shows star clusters encircling a galaxy, like bees buzzing around a hive. The hive in question is an edge-on lenticular galaxy NGC 5308, located just under 100 million light-years away in the constellation of Ursa Major (The Great Bear).
Members of a galaxy type that lies somewhere between an elliptical and a spiral galaxy, lenticular galaxies such as NGC 5308 are disk galaxies that have used up, or lost, the majority of their gas and dust. As a result, they experience very little ongoing star formation and consist mainly of old and aging stars. On Oct. 9, 1996, scientists saw one of NGC 5308’s aging stars meet dramatic demise, exploding as a spectacular Type la supernova.
Lenticular galaxies are often orbited by gravitationally bound collections of hundreds of thousands of older stars. Called globular clusters, these dense collections of stars form a delicate halo as they orbit around the main body of NGC 5308, appearing as bright dots on the dark sky.
The dim, irregular galaxy to the right of NGC 5308 is known as SDSS J134646.18+605911.9.
Quelle: NASA

Tags: Astronomie 

1278 Views

Samstag, 21. Mai 2016 - 11:50 Uhr

Raumfahrt - Präzise Messungen auf der Erde stellen die Arbeit der NASA im Weltraum sicher

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Metrology technician Joey Longino stands on the top of a 25-foot high, 750-thousand pound Gilmore machine to connect power prior to starting the calibration process.
Credits: NASA/MSFC/Ryan Connelly
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Measurement is the first step that leads to success. If you can’t measure something accurately, you can’t understand and improve it. That is especially true for giant rockets designed to operate under extreme temperatures and pressures at liftoff or space stations the size of a six-bedroom house that must support people living and working in space for years.
Researchers at the Metrology and Calibration Laboratory at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, understand the importance of measurement accuracy, especially for the Space Launch System -- the most powerful launch vehicle ever built that will carry humans to deep space and ultimately on a journey to Mars.
“We make sure every instrument that takes measurements during tests for the International Space Station or the Space Launch System or other NASA programs are accurate,” said Gary Kennedy, technical representative for the Marshall Metrology and Calibration program. About 96 percent of Marshall's measurement and test equipment is calibrated through the lab in support of center operations, research and development, manufacturing and testing for NASA projects. 
“For hardware to work successfully in space, it has to be tested on Earth, sometimes in harsh environments,” said Kennedy. “That means the success of the hardware in space can be traced back to our laboratory and the accurate data made during a test.”
Equipment that takes quantitative measurements is being used to test critical elements of the SLS and space station. Hardware such as the liquid oxygen tank, liquid hydrogen tank, thermal protection system, and the intertank for SLS are calibrated at the MCL prior to testing, and will be evaluated after testing for comparison. This same calibration process is used to manufacture and test the life support systems on the space station, such as the Environmental Control and Life Support System which provides air and water for the station crew.  
Marshall’s laboratory is responsible for ensuring that measurement and test equipment used by its customers are calibrated accurately and have traceable measurements to a national metrological institute. A Consensus Standard, or an Intrinsic Standard makes certain that the type of measurement made at Marshall will be the same measurement made at another NASA center.
The metrology laboratory continually works with Marshall and other NASA customers to develop the most technically advanced measurement concepts and processes to successfully accomplish NASA objectives. Its personnel calibrate all types of measurement and test equipment, from specialized equipment for research and development to common equipment for everyday operations and manufacturing. These capabilities include mechanical, electrical, pressure, force and flow, along with other disciplines in 15 areas to perform more than 1,500 different types of calibration processes. For several of these unique and critical calibration processes, the lab has the only known capability in NASA and in some cases the only capability in the country.
NASA and Department of Defense Services branches conduct calibrations to ensure research and operations work safely and correctly. “Calibrations are only as good as the measurements and data collected,” explained Kirk Foster, manager of the laboratory. “Without proper and accurate measurements, none of NASA’s missions could be successfully accomplished.”
As NASA pushes the limits of space exploration, success depends on reliable and accurate measurements. NASA’s huge missions are built on the foundation of these tiny, precise measurements that inform decisions resulting in bold missions and new scientific discoveries.
Quelle: NASA

Tags: Raumfahrt 

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