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Sonntag, 4. September 2016 - 19:00 Uhr

Raumfahrt - ISS-ALLtag: Erde in Zeitaufnahme

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Sonntag, 4. September 2016 - 09:00 Uhr

Astronomie - SwRI Ballon-Testflug mit Low-Cost-Miniatur-Sonnenobservatorium

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SwRI to demonstrate low-cost miniature solar observatory 
Balloon-borne payload will image solar soundwaves

Image: SwRI Solar Instrument Pointing Platform (SSIPP)

Image Courtesy of Southwest Research Institute

The SwRI Solar Instrument Pointing Platform (SSIPP) is a miniature, low-cost solar observatory designed to conduct solar research from the near-space environment. SwRI hang tested the SSIPP payload, which will be demonstrated in August carried aloft by a stratospheric balloon. 

San Antonio, Texas — August 29, 2016 —Southwest Research Institute will flight test a miniature solar observatory on a six-hour high-altitude balloon mission scheduled for the end of August. The SwRI Solar Instrument Pointing Platform (SSIPP) is a complete, high-precision solar observatory about the size of a mini fridge and weighing 160 pounds.

“This novel, low-cost prototype was developed for less than $1 million, which is one-tenth the cost of other comparable balloon-borne observatories,” said Principal Investigator Dr. Craig DeForest, a principal scientist in SwRI’s Space Science and Engineering Division. “Funded by NASA’s Game-Changing Technologies program, SSIPP is a reusable, optical table-based platform. This novel approach breaks down barriers to science by allowing low-cost solar research.”

SSIPP collects solar data using infrared, ultraviolet, or visible light instruments on an optical table, similar to those used in ground-based observatories but from a near-space environment. This arcsecond-class observatory provides optical precision equivalent to imaging a dime from a mile away. Originally conceived to fly aboard a commercial suborbital rocket, SSIPP has now been adapted for balloon flight. Collecting data from the edge of space — around 20 miles above the Earth’s surface — avoids image distortions caused by looking through the atmosphere.

“SSIPP could support the development of a range of new instruments for the near-space environment at relatively low cost,” DeForest said. “Using a standard optical table platform increases flexibility, allowing scientists to try new things and develop new technologies without designing a custom observatory.”

During the demonstration, scientists will spend two hours commissioning the observatory and searching for visible signatures of “high-frequency” solar soundwaves, which are actually some eight octaves below the deepest audible notes. By contrast, the most studied sound waves in the Sun (the solar “P-modes” used to probe the solar interior) are five octaves deeper still. 

The surface of the Sun is covered with granular convection cells analogous to a pot of water at a rolling boil. Continuously, every 5 minutes, a million of these cells erupt, creating sound waves at a range of frequencies. SSIPP will image the solar atmosphere to understand their heat and noise properties. The comparatively high frequency of the “solar ultrasound” waves makes them undetectable by ground-based observatories. 

“The transfer of heat to the surface of our star is a violent and tremendously loud process,” DeForest said. “Soundwaves heat the solar atmosphere to extremely high temperatures, but it’s a poorly understood process. Existing measurements of the solar infrasound cannot account for all the energy required.”

SSIPP will launch aboard a World View stratospheric balloon, funded by NASA’s Flight Opportunities Program under the Space Technology Mission Directorate. The program is managed by NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center in Edwards, California.

Quelle: SwRI


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Sonntag, 4. September 2016 - 08:45 Uhr

Raumfahrt - NASA-Raumsonde Dawn im Orbit von Zwergplaneten Ceres - Update-9

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22.03.2016

Bright Spots and Color Differences Revealed on Ceres

Scientists from NASA's Dawn mission unveiled new images from the spacecraft's lowest orbit at Ceres, including highly-anticipated views of Occator Crater, at the 47th annual Lunar and Planetary Science Conference in The Woodlands, Texas, on Tuesday.

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Occator Crater, measuring 57 miles (92 kilometers) across and 2.5 miles (4 kilometers) deep, contains the brightest area on Ceres.

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Occator Crater, measuring 57 miles (92 kilometers) across and 2.5 miles (4 kilometers) deep, contains the brightest area on Ceres, the dwarf planet that Dawn has explored since early 2015. The latest images, taken from 240 miles (385 kilometers) above the surface of Ceres, reveal a dome in a smooth-walled pit in the bright center of the crater. Numerous linear features and fractures crisscross the top and flanks of this dome.  Prominent fractures also surround the dome and run through smaller, bright regions found within the crater.
"Before Dawn began its intensive observations of Ceres last year, Occator Crater looked to be one large bright area. Now, with the latest close views, we can see complex features that provide new mysteries to investigate," said Ralf Jaumann, planetary scientist and Dawn co-investigator at the German Aerospace Center (DLR) in Berlin. "The intricate geometry of the crater interior suggests geologic activity in the recent past, but we will need to complete detailed geologic mapping of the crater in order to test hypotheses for its formation."
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Ceres' Haulani Crater (21 miles, 34 kilometers wide) is shown in these views from the visible and infrared mapping spectrometer (VIR) aboard NASA's Dawn spacecraft.
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Color Differences
The team also released an enhanced color map of the surface of Ceres, highlighting the diversity of surface materials and their relationships to surface morphology. Scientists have been studying the shapes of craters and their distribution with great interest. Ceres does not have as many large impact basins as scientists expected, but the number of smaller craters generally matches their predictions. The blue material highlighted in the color map is related to flows, smooth plains and mountains, which appear to be very young surface features.
"Although impact processes dominate the surface geology on Ceres, we have identified specific color variations on the surface indicating material alterations that are due to a complex interaction of the impact process and the subsurface composition," Jaumann said. "Additionally, this gives evidence for a subsurface layer enriched in ice and volatiles."
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This map shows a portion of the northern hemisphere of Ceres with neutron counting data acquired by the gamma ray and neutron detector (GRaND) instrument aboard NASA's Dawn spacecraft.
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Data relevant to the possibility of subsurface ice is also emerging from Dawn's Gamma Ray and Neutron Detector (GRaND), which began acquiring its primary data set in December. Neutrons and gamma rays produced by cosmic ray interactions with surface materials provide a fingerprint of Ceres’ chemical makeup.  The measurements are sensitive to elemental composition of the topmost yard (meter) of the regolith.
In Dawn's lowest-altitude orbit, the instrument has detected fewer neutrons near the poles of Ceres than at the equator, which indicates increased hydrogen concentration at high latitudes. As hydrogen is a principal constituent of water, water ice could be present close to the surface in polar regions.
"Our analyses will test a longstanding prediction that water ice can survive just beneath Ceres' cold, high-latitude surface for billions of years," said Tom Prettyman, the lead for GRaND and Dawn co-investigator at the Planetary Science Institute, Tucson, Arizona.
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This colorized global map of Ceres was created from a clear-filter mosaic.
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The Mystery of Haulani Crater
But the subsurface does not have the same composition all over Ceres, according to data from the visible and infrared mapping spectrometer (VIR), a device that looks at how various wavelengths of sunlight are reflected by the surface, allowing scientists to identify minerals.
Haulani Crater in particular is an intriguing example of how diverse Ceres is in terms of its surface material composition. This irregularly-shaped crater, with its striking bright streaks of material, shows a different proportion of surface materials than its surroundings when viewed with the VIR instrument. While the surface of Ceres is mostly made of a mixture of materials containing carbonates and phyllosilicates, their relative proportion varies across the surface. 
"False-color images of Haulani show that material excavated by an impact is different than the general surface composition of Ceres. The diversity of materials implies either that there is a mixed layer underneath, or that the impact itself changed the properties of the materials," said Maria Cristina de Sanctis, the VIR instrument lead scientist, based at the National Institute of Astrophysics, Rome.
The Big Picture
Dawn made history last year as the first mission to reach a dwarf planet, and the first to orbit two distinct extraterrestrial targets -- both of them in the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. The mission conducted extensive observations of Vesta during its 14-month orbit there in 2011-2012.
"We're excited to unveil these beautiful new images, especially Occator, which illustrate the complexity of the processes shaping Ceres' surface. Now that we can see Ceres’ enigmatic bright spots, surface minerals and morphology in high resolution, we're busy working to figure out what processes shaped this unique dwarf planet. By comparing Ceres with Vesta, we'll glean new insights about the early solar system," said Carol Raymond, deputy principal investigator for the Dawn mission, based at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California.Dawn's mission is managed by JPL for NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington. Dawn is a project of the directorate's Discovery Program, managed by NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. UCLA is responsible for overall Dawn mission science. Orbital ATK Inc., in Dulles, Virginia, designed and built the spacecraft. The German Aerospace Center, Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research, Italian Space Agency and Italian National Astrophysical Institute are international partners on the mission team.
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The bright spots of Occator Crater are shown in enhanced color in this view from NASA's Dawn spacecraft. Such views can be used to highlight subtle color differences on Ceres' surface.
Quelle: NASA
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Update: 24.03.2016
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MYSTERIOUS BRIGHT SPOTS ON CERES: Last year, NASA's Dawn spacecraft went into orbit around Ceres, a dwarf planet in the asteroid belt. Immediately, researchers were mesmerized by a number of bright spots peppering the planet's charcoal-gray surface. What were they? No one knew, but they hoped that close-up images taken during a low orbit in Feb. 2016 might crack the mystery. On Tuesday, those images were released, and here is an example:
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This is the largest bright spot on Ceres, located at the center of Occator Crater. Dawn took the picture at point-blank range, just 240 miles (385 kilometers) above the crater's floor. By far the best photo ever taken of a bright spot on Ceres, it reveals a dome criss-crossed by numerous linear features and fractures.
It does not, however, solve the mystery. "The intricate geometry of the crater interior suggests geologic activity in the recent past, but we will need to complete detailed geologic mapping of the crater in order to test multiple hypotheses for its formation," says Ralf Jaumann of the German Aerospace Center. He is a member of the Dawn science team that released the new images at the 47th annual Lunar and Planetary Science Conference in The Woodlands, Texas, on March 22nd.
One idea gaining favor is that the bright area might be a crust of salt marking the spot where a briny underground ocean briefly broke through to the surface. If so, Ceres might not be as dry as it looks. Indeed, the density of Ceres suggests that 1/3rd of its mass is H2O, and some researchers think Ceres contains more freshwater than Earth itself. Sounds like a mystery worth solving
Quelle: Spaceweather
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Update: 19.04.2016
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New Ceres Images Show Bright Craters
Ceres' Haulani Crater, with a diameter of 21 miles (34 kilometers), shows evidence of landslides from its crater rim.
Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA
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Craters with bright material on dwarf planet Ceres shine in new images from NASA's Dawn mission.
In its lowest-altitude mapping orbit, at a distance of 240 miles (385 kilometers) from Ceres, Dawn has provided scientists with spectacular views of the dwarf planet.
Haulani Crater, with a diameter of 21 miles (34 kilometers), shows evidence of landslides from its crater rim. Smooth material and a central ridge stand out on its floor. An enhanced false-color view allows scientists to gain insight into materials and how they relate to surface morphology. This image shows rays of bluish ejected material. The color blue in such views has been associated with young features on Ceres.
"Haulani perfectly displays the properties we would expect from a fresh impact into the surface of Ceres. The crater floor is largely free of impacts, and it contrasts sharply in color from older parts of the surface," said Martin Hoffmann, co-investigator on the Dawn framing camera team, based at the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research, Göttingen, Germany.
The crater's polygonal nature (meaning it resembles a shape made of straight lines) is noteworthy because most craters seen on other planetary bodies, including Earth, are nearly circular. The straight edges of some Cerean craters, including Haulani, result from pre-existing stress patterns and faults beneath the surface.  
A hidden treasure on Ceres is the 6-mile-wide (10-kilometer-wide) Oxo Crater, which is the second-brightest feature on Ceres (only Occator's central area is brighter). Oxo lies near the 0 degree meridian that defines the edge of many Ceres maps, making this small feature easy to overlook. Oxo is also unique because of the relatively large "slump" in its crater rim, where a mass of material has dropped below the surface. Dawn science team members are also examining the signatures of minerals on the crater floor, which appear different than elsewhere on Ceres.
"Little Oxo may be poised to make a big contribution to understanding the upper crust of Ceres," said Chris Russell, principal investigator of the mission, based at the University of California, Los Angeles.
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NASA's Dawn spacecraft took images of Haulani Crater at a distance of 240 miles (385 kilometers) from the surface of Ceres.
Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA/PSI
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Oxo Crater is unique because of the relatively large "slump" in its crater rim.
Quelle: NASA
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Update: 29.06.2016
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Recent Hydrothermal Activity May Explain Ceres' Brightest Area
The center of Ceres' mysterious Occator Crater is the brightest area on the dwarf planet. The inset perspective view shows new data on this feature: Red signifies a high abundance of carbonates, while gray indicates a low carbonate abundance.
Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA/ASI/INAF
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The brightest area on Ceres, located in the mysterious Occator Crater, has the highest concentration of carbonate minerals ever seen outside Earth, according to a new study from scientists on NASA's Dawn mission. The study, published online in the journal Nature, is one of two new papers about the makeup of Ceres.
"This is the first time we see this kind of material elsewhere in the solar system in such a large amount," said Maria Cristina De Sanctis, lead author and principal investigator of Dawn's visible and infrared mapping spectrometer. De Sanctis is based at the National Institute of Astrophysics, Rome.
At about 80 million years old, Occator is considered a young crater. It is 57 miles (92 kilometers) wide, with a central pit about 6 miles (10 kilometers) wide. A dome structure at the center, covered in highly reflective material, has radial and concentric fractures on and around it.
De Sanctis' study finds that the dominant mineral of this bright area is sodium carbonate, a kind of salt found on Earth in hydrothermal environments. This material appears to have come from inside Ceres, because an impacting asteroid could not have delivered it. The upwelling of this material suggests that temperatures inside Ceres are warmer than previously believed. Impact of an asteroid on Ceres may have helped bring this material up from below, but researchers think an internal process played a role as well.
More intriguingly, the results suggest that liquid water may have existed beneath the surface of Ceres in recent geological time. The salts could be remnants of an ocean, or localized bodies of water, that reached the surface and then froze millions of years ago.
"The minerals we have found at the Occator central bright area require alteration by water," De Sanctis said. "Carbonates support the idea that Ceres had interior hydrothermal activity, which pushed these materials to the surface within Occator."
The spacecraft's visible and infrared mapping spectrometer examines how various wavelengths of sunlight are reflected by the surface of Ceres. This allows scientists to identify minerals that are likely producing those signals. The new results come from the infrared mapping component, which examines Ceres in wavelengths of light too long for the eye to see.
Last year, in a Nature study, De Sanctis' team reported that the surface of Ceres contains ammoniated phyllosilicates, or clays containing ammonia. Because ammonia is abundant in the outer solar system, this finding introduced the idea that Ceres may have formed near the orbit of Neptune and migrated inward. Alternatively, Ceres may have formed closer to its current position between Mars and Jupiter, but with material accumulated from the outer solar system.
The new results also find ammonia-bearing salts -- ammonium chloride and/or ammonium bicarbonate -- in Occator Crater. The carbonate finding further reinforces Ceres' connection with icy worlds in the outer solar system. Ammonia, in addition to sodium carbonate and sodium bicarbonate found at Occator, has been detected in the plumes of Enceladus, an icy moon of Saturn known for its geysers erupting from fissures in its surface. Such materials make Ceres interesting for the study of astrobiology.
"We will need to research whether Ceres' many other bright areas also contain these carbonates," De Sanctis said.
A separate Nature study in 2015 by scientists with the Dawn framing camera team hypothesized that the bright areas contain a different kind of salt: magnesium sulfate. But the new findings suggest sodium carbonate is the more likely constituent.
"It’s amazing how much we have been able to learn about Ceres' interior from Dawn's observations of chemical and geophysical properties. We expect more such discoveries as we mine this treasure trove of data," said Carol Raymond, deputy principal investigator for the Dawn mission, based at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California.
Dawn science team members have also published a new study about the makeup of the outer layer of Ceres in Nature Geoscience, based on images from Dawn's framing camera. This study, led by Michael Bland of the U.S. Geological Survey, Flagstaff, Arizona, finds that most of Ceres' largest craters are more than 1 mile (2 kilometers) deep relative to surrounding terrain, meaning they have not deformed much over billions of years. These significant depths suggest that Ceres' subsurface is no more than 40 percent ice by volume, and the rest may be a mixture of rock and low-density materials such as salts or chemical compounds called clathrates. The appearance of a few shallow craters suggests that there could be variations in ice and rock content in the subsurface.
Dawn’s mission is managed by JPL for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. Dawn is a project of the directorate’s Discovery Program, managed by NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. UCLA is responsible for overall Dawn mission science. Orbital ATK Inc., in Dulles, Virginia, designed and built the spacecraft. The German Aerospace Center, Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research, Italian Space Agency and Italian National Astrophysical Institute are international partners on the mission team.
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Occator Crater is 57 miles (92 kilometers) wide, with a central pit around 6 miles (10 kilometers) wide. This enhanced-color view highlights subtle color differences on Ceres'
surface.
Quelle: NASA
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Update: 30.06.2016
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Dawn Completes Primary Mission

NASA's Dawn mission exceeded all expectations during its primary mission to Vesta and Ceres.
Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech
On June 30, just in time for the global celebration known as Asteroid Day, NASA's Dawn spacecraft completes its primary mission. The mission exceeded all expectations originally set for its exploration of protoplanet Vesta and dwarf planet Ceres.
The historic mission is the first to orbit two extraterrestrial solar system targets, and the first to orbit any object in the main asteroid belt, between Mars and Jupiter. On March 6, 2015, Dawn also became the first spacecraft to enter orbit around a dwarf planet.
An infographic highlights some of the accomplishments of Dawn's journey since launching in September 2007. Dawn has traveled 3.5 billion miles (5.6 billion kilometers) since launch, and has made 2,450 orbits around Vesta and Ceres. The spacecraft has returned about 69,000 images, combined, of both bodies.
Dawn's advanced ion propulsion system made it possible for the spacecraft to orbit two targets in the main asteroid belt. The spacecraft has logged about 48,000 hours of ion engine thrusting.
Scientists have learned a great deal about these unique, massive residents of the asteroid belt through data from the mission. Dawn has revealed that while Vesta is a dry body, Ceres could be as much as 25 percent water ice by mass. Dawn also discovered many intriguing features at both bodies -- Vesta is home to a mountain whose height is more than twice that of Mount Everest, and Ceres has a crater called Occator with mysterious bright features that continue to spark scientific investigation. 
Dawn's mission is managed by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California, for NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington. Dawn is a project of the directorate's Discovery Program, managed by NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. UCLA is responsible for overall Dawn mission science. Orbital ATK Inc., in Dulles, Virginia, designed and built the spacecraft. The German Aerospace Center, Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research, Italian Space Agency and Italian National Astrophysical Institute are international partners on the mission team.
Quelle: NASA
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Update: 8.07.2016
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Dawn Maps Ceres Craters Where Ice Can Accumulate

Scientists with NASA's Dawn mission have identified permanently shadowed regions on the dwarf planet Ceres. Most of these areas likely have been cold enough to trap water ice for a billion years, suggesting that ice deposits could exist there now.
"The conditions on Ceres are right for accumulating deposits of water ice," said Norbert Schorghofer, a Dawn guest investigator at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. "Ceres has just enough mass to hold on to water molecules, and the permanently shadowed regions we identified are extremely cold -- colder than most that exist on the moon or Mercury."
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Permanently shadowed regions capable of accumulating surface ice were identified in the northern hemisphere of Ceres using images taken by NASA’s Dawn mission combined with sophisticated computer modeling of illumination.
Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech
Permanently shadowed regions do not receive direct sunlight. They are typically located on the crater floor or along a section of the crater wall facing toward the pole. The regions still receive indirect sunlight, but if the temperature stays below about minus 240 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 151 degrees Celsius), the permanently shadowed area is a cold trap -- a good place for water ice to accumulate and remain stable. Cold traps were predicted for Ceres but had not been identified until now.
In this study, Schorghofer and colleagues studied Ceres' northern hemisphere, which was better illuminated than the south. Images from Dawn's cameras were combined to yield the dwarf planet's shape, showing craters, plains and other features in three dimensions. Using this input, a sophisticated computer model developed at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland, was used to determine which areas receive direct sunlight, how much solar radiation reaches the surface, and how the conditions change over the course of a year on Ceres.
The researchers found dozens of sizeable permanently shadowed regions across the northern hemisphere. The largest one is inside a 10-mile-wide (16-kilometer) crater located less than 40 miles (65 kilometers) from the north pole.
Taken together, Ceres' permanently shadowed regions occupy about 695 square miles (1,800 square kilometers). This is a small fraction of the landscape -- much less than 1 percent of the surface area of the northern hemisphere.
The team expects the permanently shadowed regions on Ceres to be colder than those on Mercury or the moon. That's because Ceres is quite far from the sun, and the shadowed parts of its craters receive little indirect radiation.
"On Ceres, these regions act as cold traps down to relatively low latitudes," said Erwan Mazarico, a Dawn guest investigator at Goddard. "On the moon and Mercury, only the permanently shadowed regions very close to the poles get cold enough for ice to be stable on the surface."
The situation on Ceres is more similar to that on Mercury than the moon. On Mercury, permanently shadowed regions account for roughly the same fraction of the northern hemisphere. The trapping efficiency -- the ability to accumulate water ice -- is also comparable.
By the team's calculations, about 1 out of every 1,000 water molecules generated on the surface of Ceres will end up in a cold trap during a year on Ceres (1,682 days). That's enough to build up thin but detectable ice deposits over 100,000 years or so.
"While cold traps may provide surface deposits of water ice as have been seen at the moon and Mercury, Ceres may have been formed with a relatively greater reservoir of water," said Chris Russell, principal investigator of the Dawn mission, based at the University of California, Los Angeles. "Some observations indicate Ceres may be a volatile-rich world that is not dependent on current-day external sources."
Quelle: NASA
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Update: 26.07.2016
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The Case of the Missing Ceres Craters

 
Ceres is covered in countless small, young craters, but none are larger than 175 miles (280 kilometers) in diameter. To scientists, this is a huge mystery, given that the dwarf planet must have been hit by numerous large asteroids during its 4.5 billion-year lifetime. Where did all the large craters go?
A new study in the journal Nature Communications explores this puzzle of Ceres' missing large craters, using data from NASA's Dawn spacecraft, which has been orbiting Ceres since March 2015. 
 
"We concluded that a significant population of large craters on Ceres has been obliterated beyond recognition over geological time scales, which is likely the result of Ceres' peculiar composition and internal evolution," said lead investigator Simone Marchi, a senior research scientist at the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colorado. 
Marchi and colleagues modeled collisions of other bodies with Ceres since the dwarf planet formed, and predicted the number of large craters that should have been present on its surface. These models predicted Ceres should have up to 10 to 15 craters larger than 250 miles (400 kilometers) in diameter, and at least 40 craters larger than 60 miles (100 kilometers) wide. However, Dawn has shown that Ceres has only 16 craters larger than 60 miles, and none larger than 175 miles (280 kilometers) across.
One idea about Ceres' origins holds that it formed farther out in the solar system, perhaps in the vicinity of Neptune, but migrated in to its present location. However, scientists determined that even if Ceres migrated into the main asteroid belt relatively late in solar system history, it should still have a significant number of large craters.
"Whatever the process or processes were, this obliteration of large craters must have occurred over several hundred millions of years," Marchi said.
Dawn's images of Ceres reveal that the dwarf planet has at least three large-scale depressions called "planitiae" that are up to 500 miles (800 kilometers) wide. These planitiae have craters in them that formed in more recent times, but the larger depressions could be left over from bigger impacts. One of them, called Vendimia Planitia, is a sprawling area just north of Kerwan crater, Ceres' largest well-defined impact basin. Vendimia Planitia must have formed much earlier than Kerwan.
One reason for the lack of large craters could be related the interior structure of Ceres. There is evidence from Dawn that the upper layers of Ceres contain ice. Because ice is less dense than rock, the topography could "relax," or smooth out, more quickly if ice or another lower-density material, such as salt, dominates the subsurface composition. Recent analysis of the center of Ceres' Occator Crater suggests that the salts found there could be remnants of a frozen ocean under the surface, and that liquid water could have been present in Ceres' interior.
Past hydrothermal activity, which may have influenced the salts rising to the surface at Occator, could also have something to do with the erasure of craters. If Ceres had widespread cryovolcanic activity in the past -- the eruption of volatiles such as water -- these cryogenic materials also could have flowed across the surface, possibly burying pre-existing large craters. Smaller impacts would have then created new craters on the resurfaced area.
"Somehow Ceres has healed its largest impact scars and renewed old, cratered surfaces," Marchi said. 
Ceres differs from Dawn's previous destination, protoplanet Vesta, in terms of cratering. Although Vesta is only half the size of Ceres, it has a well-preserved 300-mile- (500-kilometer) -wide crater called Rheasilvia, where an impacting asteroid knocked out a huge chunk of the body. This and other large craters suggest that Vesta has not had processes at work to smooth its surface, perhaps because it is thought to have much less ice. Dawn visited Vesta for 14 months from 2011 to 2012.
"The ability to compare these two very different worlds in the asteroid belt -- Vesta and Ceres -- is one of the great strengths of the Dawn mission," Marchi said. 
Quelle: NASA
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Update: 4.08.2016
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What’s Inside Ceres? New Findings from Gravity Data

This artist's concept shows a diagram of how the inside of Ceres could be structured.
This artist's concept shows a diagram of how the inside of Ceres could be structured, based on data about the dwarf planet's gravity field from NASA's Dawn mission.
Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA

In the tens of thousands of photos returned by NASA’s Dawn spacecraft, the interior of Ceres isn’t visible. But scientists have powerful data to study Ceres’ inner structure: Dawn’s own motion.

 

Since gravity dominates Dawn's orbit at Ceres, scientists can measure variations in Ceres’ gravity by tracking subtle changes in the motion of the spacecraft. Using data from Dawn, scientists have mapped the variations in Ceres' gravity for the first time in a new study in the journal Nature, which provides clues to the dwarf planet's internal structure.

 

"The new data suggest that Ceres has a weak interior, and that water and other light materials partially separated from rock during a heating phase early in its history," said Ryan Park, the study’s lead author and the supervisor of the solar system dynamics group at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California.

 

Ceres' gravity field is measured by monitoring radio signals sent to Dawn, and then received back on Earth, by NASA’s Deep Space Network. This network is a collection of large antennas at three locations around the globe that communicate with interplanetary spacecraft. Using these signals, scientists can measure the spacecraft's speed to a precision of 0.004 inches (0.1 millimeters) per second, and then calculate the details of the gravity field.

 

Ceres has a special property called "hydrostatic equilibrium," which was confirmed in this study. This means that Ceres' interior is weak enough that its shape is governed by how it rotates. Scientists reached this conclusion by comparing Ceres' gravity field to its shape. Ceres' hydrostatic equilibrium is one reason why astronomers classified the body as a dwarf planet in 2006.

 

The data indicate that Ceres is “differentiated,” which means that it has compositionally distinct layers at different depths, with the densest layer at the core. Scientists also have found that, as they suspected, Ceres is much less dense than Earth, the moon, giant asteroid Vesta (Dawn’s previous target) and other rocky bodies in our solar system. Additionally, Ceres has long been suspected to contain low-density materials such as water ice, which the study shows separated from the rocky material and rose to the outer layer along with other light materials.

 

"We have found that the divisions between different layers are less pronounced inside Ceres than the moon and other planets in our solar system," Park said. “Earth, with its metallic core, semi-fluid mantle and outer crust, has a more clearly defined structure than Ceres," Park said.

 

Scientists also found that high-elevation areas on Ceres displace mass in the interior. This is analogous to how a boat floats on water: the amount of displaced water depends on the mass of the boat. Similarly, scientists conclude that Ceres’ weak mantle can be pushed aside by the mass of mountains and other high topography in the outermost layer as though the high-elevation areas "float" on the material below. This phenomenon has been observed on other planets, including Earth, but this study is the first to confirm it at Ceres.

 

The internal density structure, based on the new gravity data, teaches scientists about what internal processes could have occurred during the early history of Ceres. By combining this new information with previous data from Dawn about Ceres' surface composition, they can reconstruct that history: Water must have been mobile in the ancient subsurface, but the interior did not heat up to the temperatures at which silicates melt and a metallic core forms.

 

"We know from previous Dawn studies that there must have been interactions between water and rock inside Ceres," said Carol Raymond, a co-author and Dawn’s deputy principal investigator based at JPL. "That, combined with the new density structure, tells us that Ceres experienced a complex thermal history."

Quelle: NASA

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Update: 2.09.2016

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Dawn probe paints picture of icy, rocky Ceres – with an ice volcano


NASA scientists take stock of the treasure trove of data on the largest object in the asteroid belt. Angus Bezzina reports.


An artist's impression of Dawn firing above dwarf planet Ceres.
NASA / JPL-CALTECH

NASA’s Dawn spacecraft has beamed back an abundance of information about dwarf planet Ceres, painting a new picture of the gigantic, pockmarked asteroid made of ice and rock – and sporting an ice volcano. 

The papers were published in Science today.

Discovered in 1801, Ceres is the largest object in the asteroid belt that whirls around the sun between Mars and Jupiter. It is thought to be a protoplanet – a mass that was on its way to becoming a planet before the gravitational pull of Jupiter stopped it from accumulating enough mass – and one of the oldest pieces of the solar system, forming within the celestial array’s first five to 15 million years.

Planetary scientists think Ceres contains a layer of water-ice below its dusty outer crust – similar to Jupiter’s moon Europa and Saturn’s moon Enceladus, which are both considered to be potential sources for harbouring life. 

Information about the dwarf planet has come from a combination of sources including microwave studies, and analyses of meteorites thought to have originated from another, similar dwarf planet, Vesta. 

But the lion’s share comes from the Dawn spacecraft, launched by NASA in 2007 to get a better understanding of Ceres, Vesta and the origins of the solar system.

Now, a deluge of recent Dawn data has been presented in six papers.

Surface watermarks

While we’ve known for a while that the dwarf planet contains water – we’ve seen water vapour emissions from the surface – exactly what the nature of the water was has been vague.

Theories have long suggested Ceres has a mantle rich in ice – and they’re right.

Jean-Philippe Combe from the Bear Fight Institute in the US and his colleagues describe ice on the surface of the dwarf planet. 

The Dawn spacecraft found the mass of ice as it scanned the 10-kilometre-wide, geologically fresh Oxo crater with is visible light and infrared mapping spectrometer.

More water-based revelations on Ceres from the spectrometer were provided by Eleonora Ammannito from the National Institute of Astrophysics in Italy and her colleagues. But rather than water ice, they uncovered a number of phyllosilicate (hydrated, rock-forming) minerals in Ceres’ clay-like crust.

They found magnesium and ammonium bearing minerals all over Ceres’ surface but their abundance varied considerably from place to place.

A view of the Ahuna Mons region, derived from a digital terrain model and images from the framing camera on board the Dawn spacecraft. 
RUESCH ET AL, SCIENCE (2016)

Ice volcanoes

Ceres’ distinctive outer shell is the product of a combination of ice and rock and shaped by external impacts, cryomagmatism and cryovolcanism. And it looks as though it has the solar system’s first confirmed ice volcano.

Ahuna Mons is largest mountain on Ceres – but Ottaviano Ruesch from NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Centre in the US and his colleagues believe it is an ice volcano (also called a cryovolcano).

Perspective view of Ahuna Mons in false colour derived from the Dawn framing camera data. The bluish hue of the mountain's flanks probably reflects a compositional change. 
NASA / JPL-CALTECH / UCLA / MPS / DLR / IDA

Their claim is based on extensive modelling of the formation’s topographic profile. 

If correct, it would mark the first evidence of a cryovolcano, although scientists have predicted their existence before as they observed molten ices.

Ruesch and his colleagues claim that features such as Ahuna Mons’ elliptical base and concave top are especially indicative of cryovolcanism because it consists of a brittle outer shell with pressurised, fluid-like material inside.

They also determined that Ahuna Mons is younger than surrounding craters, suggesting that the dome-shaped mountain is a relatively recent formation, extruding from below as chlorine salts mixed with water and pushed the ice up.
NASA's Dawn spacecraft spotted this tall, conical mountain on Ceres from a distance of 1,470 kilometres. The mountain, located in the southern hemisphere, stands 6 kilometres high. Its perimeter is sharply defined, with almost no accumulated debris at the base of the brightly streaked slope.
NASA/JPL-CALTECH/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA

Meanwhile, Debra Buczkowski from Johns Hopkins University in the US and her colleagues conducted a broader analysis of Ceres’ topography and geomorphology. Their report was based on a geomorphic analysis and physical modelling of the images collected by Dawn’s framing camera.

Buczkowski and her team discovered that while Ceres is covered with a large number of craters, features such as grooves, pit crater chains and troughs are also scattered around.

They argue that many of these features indicate near-surface cryovolcanism.

They also claim that although only one instance of surface ice on Ceres has been detected so far, the presence of these other potentially ice-related features suggests that there is ice in other parts of Ceres’ crust. 

Harald Hiesinger from the University of Münster in Germany and his team found something similar when they looked at more images taken by the same camera on the Dawn spacecraft.

According to them, the thermochemical models that had been developed by scientists in the past predicted Ceres should have an icy crust with few or no impact craters.

NASA's Dawn Spacecraft took this image of Gaue crater, the large crater on the bottom, on Ceres. Gaue is a Germanic goddess to whom offerings are made in harvesting rye.
NASA/JPL-CALTECH/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA

And although Hiesinger and his colleagues’ observations revealed no large craters, the pictures contradicted predictions, as they showed a varied and heavily cratered surface.

Some impact craters seemed “relaxed” in shape – evidence the ground there was icy – while others were not – indicating something harder such as rock. 

They suggest that this, along with the varied features of the dwarf planet’s surface such as polygon-shaped craters, smooth deposits and bright spots suggest that Ceres’ surface is a combination of ice and rock, not one or the other. 

NASA's Dawn spacecraft took this image that shows a mountain ridge, near lower left, that lies in the center of Urvara crater on Ceres.
NASA/JPL-CALTECH/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA

Up in the sky

Christopher Russell from the University of California, Los Angeles in the US and his colleagues looked off the little world to its atmosphere. 

They peered through the eyes of Dawn’s gamma-ray and neuron detector instrument and mapped charged particles from the sun curving around the dwarf planet. How did this happen?

The most likely explanation was that Ceres’ weak atmosphere was ionised – that is, molecules had electrons stripped away – by particles streaming from the sun. This solar wind was deflected around the dwarf planet. 

Their other explanation was that the salty interior generated an electric current, which created a magnetic field which deflected solar particles – in the same way Earth’s magnetic field does. 

And this isn’t the last we’ll hear of Dawn. The mission is still active – just today it was moved into a slightly higher orbit to see things from a slightly different angle – and is expected to send back information about the mysterious dwarf planet until 2017 at least.

Quelle: COSMOS

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Update: 4.09.2016

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Ice Not a Major Factor of Dwarf Planet Ceres’ Surface Features 

Images of Ceres' Occator crater
 
Although there is significant evidence of ice on the surface of the dwarf planet Ceres, an analysis of the surface geology indicates that ice is not a major factor in forming surface features. Ceres’ Occator crater: (A) High-altitude mapping orbit (HAMO) mosaic of Occator crater (140 m/pixel). North is up. Inset shows location of (C). Red arrows point to 90° bends in the crater rim. (B) HAMO topography of Occator overlain on the HAMO mosaic. (C) Low-altitude mapping orbit (LAMO) resolution (35 m/pixel) mosaic of the lobate flows in Occator. Red arrows point to flow margins. White arrows point to fractures on the crater floor. (D) Map of the fractures on the floor of Occator. The crater rim is outlined. Credit: NASA

Although there is significant evidence of ice on the surface of the dwarf planet Ceres, the largest object in orbit between Mars and Jupiter, an analysis of the surface geology indicates that ice is not a major factor in forming surface features, according to a paper in the September issue of Science magazine.

The paper is based on images obtained by NASA’s Dawn spacecraft, which entered orbit around Ceres in March 2015 after completing its mission on the asteroid Vesta. Since that time, Dawn’s instruments have created digital terrain models, three-dimensional visualizations of the surface of Ceres.

The resulting mapping allowed for a more detailed observation of Ceres’ topography, which includes impact craters, linear structures, domical features and lobate flows. Craters appear to dominate Ceres, many of which have sharp walls and deep floors, although one topographically high region — a plateau named Hanami Planum — stood out to researchers. Researchers also spotted multiple mysterious bright spots in Ceres’ craters.

Angular polygonal craters on the surface suggest that Ceres’ crust is fractured, furthering the conclusion that the near-surface crust “must be both brittle enough to fracture and strong enough to retain fractures for long periods of time.”

“Based on our analysis, the crust of Ceres is too strong to be dominated by ice,” said Debra Buczkowski of the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Maryland, the study’s lead author. “While surface features such as the lobate flows show that water ice is present in the dwarf planet’s upper crust and on the surface in some locations, it appears not to be a major factor in creating surface features.”

In addition to studying the surface, researchers drew conclusions about the dwarf planet’s interior makeup. Beneath a strong crust composed of rock, ice and salt hydrates lays a water-rich mantle and a silicate core. Evidence of cryomagmatism is found in the floor-fractured craters, while Ahuna Mons and other domical features have been shown to be cryovolcanic in nature. These surface features suggest that Ceres has been geologically active at some point in its past, perhaps even its recent past.

This in-depth study was the first of its kind for Ceres. The primary purpose of the study was to answer questions about the dwarf planet; although some were answered, many more still remain.

Buczkowski is also a coauthor of three other papers about the dwarf planet appearing in this month’s issue of Science magazine.

Quelle: The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory LLC

 

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Sulfur, Sulfur Dioxide and Graphitized Carbon Observed on Asteroid For First Time 

 
fp-ceres-art
 
Tucson, Ariz. -- Hubble Space Telescope observations of the dwarf planet Ceres have discovered the first evidence of sulfur, sulfur dioxide and graphitized carbon found on an asteroid. The sulfur species are likely associated with regions of recent activity, reports Planetary Science Institute Senior Scientist Amanda Hendrix.
 
The discoveries were made by comparing Ceres’ ultraviolet-visible spectra to laboratory measurements and are presented in the paper “Ceres: Sulfur Deposits and Graphitized Carbon” that appears in the journal Geophysical Research Letters.
Planetary Science Institute Senior Scientists Faith Vilas and Jian-Yang Li are co-authors. 
 
The new HST observations are complementary to observations being made by instrument on the Dawn spacecraft in orbit at Ceres, covering additional wavelengths.
 
The presence of graphitized carbon is consistent with weathering of carbonaceous material on the asteroid’s surface, caused by processes such as charged particle bombardment.
 
“For the first time, a carbon-rich asteroid has been observed in the spectral region where graphitized carbons show unique spectral features,” said Hendrix. “Other dark asteroids probably have graphitized carbon on their surfaces as well.” 
 
“This is a window to evidence of the effects caused by direct exposure to space for a primitive asteroid surface,” said Vilas. 
 
“Both sulfur and SO2 are volatile species at typical Ceres temperatures – they aren’t likely to stick around for long before they sublimate and are lost to space. These species could also migrate to cold regions on Ceres, such as some shadowed craters, where they are stable,” said Hendrix. “The presence of these volatile species on the surface suggests that they have recently been emplaced, perhaps by some sort of geothermal activity. Both Dawn observations and Herschel Space Telescope observations have suggested recent activity at Ceres, so it may be that sulfurous materials are involved in the activity.“
 
“It is remarkable that Ceres has this graphitized carbon covering much of its surface – which tells us that it’s been exposed to weathering processes for eons – and yet Ceres also shows evidence of relatively young, fresh materials as well,” said Hendrix.
 
“With two space probes planning to rendezvous with dark, carbon-rich asteroids in the next few years, these Ceres observations are helping us to build a good foundation for our understanding of these type of bodies,” Vilas said.
 
Ceres is the largest object in the main asteroid belt, and, along with Pluto, is classified as a dwarf planet.
Quelle: The Planetary Science Institute

Tags: Raumfahrt 

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Samstag, 3. September 2016 - 21:30 Uhr

Raumfahrt - SpaceX - Rakete explodiert bei pre-launch static fire

1.09.2016

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spacex-expl-a

Below are updates regarding the anomaly that occurred in preparation for the AMOS-6 mission:

September 1, 1:28pm EDT 

At approximately 9:07 am ET, during a standard pre-launch static fire test for the AMOS-6 mission, there was an anomaly at SpaceX’s Cape Canaveral Space Launch Complex 40 resulting in loss of the vehicle.

The anomaly originated around the upper stage oxygen tank and occurred during propellant loading of the vehicle. Per standard operating procedure, all personnel were clear of the pad and there were no injuries.

We are continuing to review the data to identify the root cause. Additional updates will be provided as they become available.”

September 1, 10:22am EDT

SpaceX can confirm that in preparation for today's static fire, there was an anomaly on the pad resulting in the loss of the vehicle and its payload. Per standard procedure, the pad was clear and there were no injuries.

spacex-expl-aa

spacex-expl-ab

Quelle: SpaceX

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Update: 2.09.2016

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SpaceX rocket explodes at Cape Canaveral ahead of launch

A rocket operated by the aerospace company SpaceX has exploded on the launch pad at Cape Canaveral where it was being test-fired ahead of a launch.

The force of the blast shook buildings several miles away.

SpaceX said "an anomaly" had occurred while the rocket was being loaded with fuel. No-one was injured, it said.

The rocket's payload, an Israeli-built communications satellite for Facebook due to launch on Saturday, was also destroyed, it added.

Facebook, in partnership with Eutelsat Communications, had been due to use the Amos-6 satellite to deliver broadband internet coverage for swathes of sub-Saharan Africa as part of its Internet.org initiative.

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, who is currently visiting Africa, said he was "deeply disappointed" to hear that the satellite had been destroyed.

"We remain committed to our mission of connecting everyone, and we will keep working until everyone has the opportunities this satellite would have provided," he wrote on his Facebook account.

A leading Israeli space official said the loss of the Amos-6 satellite, valued at more than $200m (£150m) and owned by Spacecom, was a major blow to the industry.

"As far as the Israeli communications satellite industry is concerned, this is a very severe blow which could place the future of the industry in doubt if it is not dragged out of the mud," said the chairman of the Israel Space Agency, Isaac Ben-Israel.

Image of blast by @krisn99 via TwitterImage copyright@KRISN99
Image captionAn employee at the nearby Kennedy Space Center took this image of the blast

SpaceX rocket explodes on launch pad

BoosterImage copyrightSPACEX
Image captionThe Falcon-9 booster is designed to return to Earth, touching down on land or a floating platform

Cape Canaveral Air Force Station said a "significant" explosion had happened just after 09:00 (14:00 GMT) at Launch Complex 40, which is leased by SpaceX.

SpaceX said in a statement: "The anomaly originated around the upper stage oxygen tanks and occurred during propellant loading of the vehicle.

 

"As per standard operating procedure, all personnel were clear of the pad and no-one was injured. We are continuing to review the data to identify the root cause."

SpaceX is aiming to create a new era of reusable rockets and affordable private space travel and has used its Falcon-9 rocket to take supplies to the International Space Station (ISS).

Map locator

In December last year, the California-based company successfully landed a Falcon-9 back on Earth after a mission to launch orbiting satellites - a first in rocketry. 

SpaceX is run out of Hawthorne near Los Angeles by Elon Musk, who made his fortune with internet companies. 

As well as being tQuelle: BBChe rocket company's CEO, he also heads up the Tesla electric car company.

Grey line

Analysis: David Shukman, Science Editor, BBC News

Whatever the details of what went wrong at the launch-pad, this is bad news for one of the most ambitious-ever space programmes. 

SpaceX has big dreams for cheap, frequent and distant space travel. This test-firing was meant to be routine, part of an accelerating series of launches. 

Beyond it, SpaceX is looking to make history by re-using one of the massive first stages that was returned to Earth intact. The company is also preparing to fly astronauts to the International Space Station. 

Most exotic of all, the company's boss, Elon Musk, is due later this month to unveil his plans for a Mars colony, and how that would take effect. 

There had been talk of the first SpaceX unmanned mission to the Red Planet in a couple of years' time. All its timetables will now be in jeopardy.

Quelle: BBC

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SpaceX rocket explodes on launch site in Florida during testing

Buildings shook and multiple explosions continued for several minutes at site where SpaceX was scheduled to carry Facebook’s first satellite launch into orbit  

A SpaceX rocket exploded on the launch pad at the air force station in Cape Canaveral, Florida, on Thursday morning, as it prepared to carry a communications satellite into space this weekend. The satellite was intended to be used by Facebook, as part of its effort to extend internet access in Africa.

Facebook’s founder and chief executive, Mark Zuckerberg, said in a statement he was “deeply disappointed” by the news.

A little over a year ago, an unmanned SpaceX rocket carrying supplies to the International Space Station exploded shortly after take-off. In a statement issued later on Thursday, US space agency Nasa expressed its confidence in SpaceX as a commercial partner and said the new explosion was “a reminder that spaceflight is an incredible challenge”.

“It’s too early to know whether the incident will affect the schedule for upcoming Nasa-related SpaceX launches to the International Space Station,” the statement said. “If there are SpaceX mission delays, other cargo spacecraft will be able to meet the station’s needs, and supplies and research investigations are at good levels.”

The Nasa statement said the rocket and spacecraft for its next scheduled launch with SpaceX, Osiris-Rex, were “healthy and secure” at a launch site a mile away from the site of the explosion. That mission, to retrieve samples from an asteroid, is due to launch on 8 September.

After Thursday’s blast a huge plume of smoke billowed from the site. Reports claimed the explosion lasted several minutes, destroying the vehicle and shaking buildings for several miles around. The sirens of emergency vehicles could be heard approaching the area. 

Initial reports suggested there were no injuries and the private aerospace company’s unmanned Falcon 9 rocket exploded due to a problem with the launch pad, rather than with the rocket itself, during routine engine testing ahead of the planned lift-off on Saturday overnight. 

Smoke rises from a SpaceX launch site on Thursday in Cape Canaveral, Florida.
Pinterest
 Smoke rises from a SpaceX launch site on Thursday in Cape Canaveral, Florida. Photograph: Marcia Dunn/AP

Images quickly emerged on social media showing the site of the incident issuing thick clouds of dark smoke and lit up with flames. Smoke continued to swirl into an overcast sky more than an hour after the reported explosion as witnesses in the area gave accounts of feeling a shock wave.

The SpaceX launch was scheduled to carry an Israeli communications satellite into orbit, with Facebook using some of the satellite’s capacity. It would have been Facebook’s first such launch, as part of Zuckerberg’s attempt to provide internet access to some 14 countries in sub-Saharan Africa that are currently poorly connected. 

About 90 minutes after the explosion, with images and reports widespread on television and online but no official word on its cause, SpaceX issued a statementvia Twitter. Both the rocket and the satellite it was carrying had been destroyed, it said.

The statement read: “In preparation for today’s standard pre-launch static fire test, there was an anomaly on the pad resulting in the loss of the vehicle and its payload. Per standard procedure, the pad was clear and there were no injuries.”

Zuckerberg later confirmed in a Facebook post that the satellite had been wrecked. He announced last year that Facebook planned to provide internet access via orbiting satellite to at least 14 sub-Saharan African countries. In his post on Thursday he said he was in Africa, although he did not give a specific location.

His post said: “As I’m here in Africa, I’m deeply disappointed to hear that SpaceX’s launch failure destroyed our satellite that would have provided connectivity to so many entrepreneurs and everyone else across the continent.”

Zuckerberg said the company had alternative ideas and added: “We remain committed to our mission of connecting everyone.”

The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket was being used to launch the Amos-6 communications satellite for the Israeli company Spacecom. In October 2015, Facebook and the French satellite communications company Eutelsat announced a $95m agreement to lease broadband capacity on the satellite.

According to the website Spacenews.com, at the time, Spacecom, Eutelsat and Facebook reported plans to secure insurance policies to cover risk linked to the satellite project.

SpaceX is the commonly used name for Space Exploration Technologies Corporation, a California-based private aerospace enterprise founded by Elon Musk, chief of Tesla Motors and former PayPal entrepreneur.

The company has succeeded in landing several spent rockets at Cape Canaveral and on a barge in the ocean, although some of the attempts at barge-landings have ended in failure and the explosion on the mission to the International Space Station last year created unwelcome headlines.

Nasa’s statement said: “We remain confident in our commercial partners and firmly stand behind the successful 21st-century launch complex that Nasa, other federal agencies and US commercial companies are building on Florida’s SpaceCoast.”

Quelle: the guardian

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SpaceX rocket and Israeli satellite destroyed in launch pad explosion

 

Updated with quotes and 45th Space Wing release.

Credit: US Launch Report
Credit: US Launch Report

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket exploded in the final minutes of a simulated countdown at Cape Canaveral on Thursday, destroying the booster and an Israeli communications satellite valued at nearly $200 million.

The mishap on Cape Canaveral’s Complex 40 launch pad Thursday will raise questions about the reliability of the Falcon 9 booster, which is slated to haul up cargo to the International Space Station, launch dozens of commercial satellites, and eventually send astronauts into orbit.

The 229-foot-tall (70-meter) launcher exploded at 9:07 a.m. EDT (1307 GMT), a few minutes before a planned ignition of the rocket’s nine Merlin main engines for a brief “static fire” test designed to wring out problems with the launch pad and the vehicle.

Watch a video of the explosion captured a few miles from the launch pad by U.S. Launch Report.

The Falcon 9 was scheduled to blast off early Saturday with the Amos 6 satellite, a nearly 6-ton commercial television and Internet broadcast platform owned by Spacecom Ltd. of Israel.

The mishap destroyed the rocket and the Amos 6 satellite, SpaceX said in a statement. The launch pad was cleared of all personnel for the static fire test, and no injuries were reported.

SpaceX chief executive Elon Musk tweeted that the Falcon 9 rocket anomaly occurred as RP-1 kerosene and liquid oxygen propellants were pumped aboard the launcher. He wrote that the problem apparently “originated around (the) upper stage oxygen tank. Cause still unknown. More soon.”

Images captured in the aftermath of the explosion showed black smoke and flames billowing from the launch pad, and damage to the metal strongback tower that feeds electricity, purge air and propellants into the rocket. Nearby structures, such as the launch pad’s rocket integration hangar and four lightning towers, appeared intact.

“We are continuing to review the data to identify the root cause,” SpaceX said in a statement. “Additional updates will be provided as they become available.”

Saturday’s launch was supposed to be the 29th flight of a Falcon 9 rocket. Another SpaceX launcher disintegrated about two minutes after a liftoff in June 2015 with a Dragon supply ship heading for the space station, but the company had logged nine successful flights in a row since resuming launch operations in December.

A component inside the Falcon 9’s upper stage liquid oxygen tank was the source of last year’s in-flight rocket failure, according to SpaceX. Officials blamed the failure on a sub-standard strut holding one of the tank’s high-pressure helium reservoirs inside the upper stage liquid oxygen tank.

There were no other reports of damage at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station or Kennedy Space Center.

A United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket is set for liftoff Sept. 8 with NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft on a $1 billion mission to travel to an asteroid and return a sample to Earth. Initial assessments show the robotic science probe and its launcher are healthy and secure inside the Vertical Integration Facility near the Atlas 5 pad about 1.1 miles north of the SpaceX launch facility, NASA said.

“Days like today are difficult for many reasons,” said Brig. Gen. Wayne Monteith, commander of the U.S. Air Force’s 45th Space Wing, which oversees Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. “There was the potential for things to be a lot worse; however, due to our processes and procedures no one was injured as a result of this incident.

“I am proud of our team and how we managed today’s response and our goal moving forward will be to assist and provide support wherever needed,” Monteith said in a statement. “Space is inherently dangerous and because of that, the Air Force is always ready.”

Before Thursday’s incident, SpaceX had around nine launches left to execute before the end of this year, according to statements from the company’s numerous customers about their intentions. Next up after the Amos 6 launch was the first of seven Iridium satellite deployment flights Sept. 19 from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, with 10 spacecraft for the company’s next-generation voice and data relay network.

In late October, SpaceX planned to fly a recycled Falcon 9 first stage for the first time with the SES 10 communications satellite to provide coverage over Latin America. SpaceX and SES announced the first-of-its-kind reusable launch agreement earlier this week, after recovering six of its last nine rocket boosters with propulsive rocket-assisted landings.

SpaceX’s next space station cargo mission was on track for liftoff in November with several tons of supplies and experiments, including an externally-mounted package of U.S. Air Force research investigations and a multimillion-dollar NASA instrument to study Earth’s ozone layer.

Other missions that were on SpaceX’s manifest later this year included missions for Inmarsat, EchoStar, South Korea’s KTsat, another flight for SES, a tandem launch for Taiwan’s National Space Organization and Seattle-based Spaceflight Industries, and the second batch of 10 Iridium satellites.

The impact of Thursday’s explosion on SpaceX’s upcoming missions was not clear, but with an investigation underway and the company’s main launch pad damaged, some delays are all but certain.

This view of Cape Canaveral's Complex 40 launch pad from the roof of NASA's Vehicle Assembly Building shows the facility soon after the Falcon 9 rocket exploded. Credit: NASA
This view of Cape Canaveral’s Complex 40 launch pad from the roof of NASA’s Vehicle Assembly Building shows the facility soon after the Falcon 9 rocket exploded. Credit: NASA

Kirk Shireman, NASA’s International Space Station program manager, spoke with Spaceflight Now Thursday morning shortly after the Falcon 9 rocket and the Amos 6 satellite were destroyed on the launch pad at Cape Canaveral.

The space station program is SpaceX’s biggest customer, with three separate multibillion-dollar contracts to ferry supplies to and from the orbiting research complex, and eventually transport astronauts.

“I have reached out to SpaceX and offered our assistance,” Shireman told Spaceflight Now in a previously scheduled interview at the Johnson Space Center in Houston. “We have people and resources there at KSC and across the country. They are understandably very busy, so that’s all. I just reached out and said we have resources. We’re at your disposal.”

SpaceX has launched nine commercial resupply missions to the space station with its Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon cargo capsule. Eight of those flights reached the outpost, and one failed during the launch in June 2015.

The next cargo mission by SpaceX was slated for liftoff Nov. 11, but that date could be in jeopardy after Thursday’s launch pad mishap in Florida.

“We carry margin on orbit in terms of crew supplies, critical spares and science to allow for these kinds of things,” Shireman said. “It’s not a critical situation for us on orbit. Who knows what, if any, disruption there will be to the supply chain as a result of this.”

Using a fleet of SpaceX Dragon, Orbital ATK Cygnus, and Russian Progress logistics freighters, officials spent the last year-and-a-half restocking the space station with provisions and science gear after three launch failures in 2014 and 2015.

In October 2014, an Orbital ATK Antares launcher crashed moments after blastoff from Virginia, destroying a Cygnus cargo craft heading for the space station. A Russian Progress supply ship spun out of control shortly after reaching orbit atop a Soyuz rocket in April 2015, then a Falcon 9 booster disintegrated in mid-air in June 2015 about two minutes after liftoff with a Dragon cargo carrier.

The trio of mission failures never endangered the space station’s crew — they always have a reserve of food and critical supplies — but it diminished the stockpiles managers send to the complex just in case of such problems.

“We actively track and plan for logistics on-board ISS, and by logistics I mean not only food and water for the crew, but we’re also talking critical spares for equipment that has to work, like oxygen generation, carbon dioxide removal, the toilet, all those things that really have to work,” Shireman said. “We also track logistics for science. We track what our science program is, and we carry reserve science as well.

“In terms of spares on orbit, critical spares for hardware, I would say we’re close” to reconstituting the reserves lost last year, he said. “We’re not quite recovered. In terms of food, water and science, yes. Our No. 1 priority was, of course, we want to keep the crew healthy, but it was really also science. And then it was building back up the spare posture we’d like to have on orbit, and we’re close to that.”

NASA’s other space station cargo provider, Orbital ATK, is in the final stages of preparing an upgraded Antares rocket for its first flight since the October 2014 mishap. Orbital ATK replaced the Russian-made AJ26 engines blamed for that failure with two new RD-181 powerplants, and engineers have spent the last couple of months wrangling with technical issues to ensure the RD-181s are ready.

In the meantime, Orbital ATK ordered two Atlas 5 rockets from ULA for a pair of Cygnus resupply flights in December and March, ensuring the station’s supply chain remained largely intact while the Antares and Falcon 9 launchers were grounded and returning to flight status.

Those two missions were successful, and now attention turns to the resumption of Antares launches from Wallops Island, Virginia.

Shireman said NASA is treating the re-engined Antares booster — dubbed the Antares 230 — like a “brand new rocket” and will avoid placing one-of-a-kind high-priority items aboard the mission, which is currently slated for late September. If SpaceX’s launch schedule slips — as widely expected — the Antares flight needs to go well to ensure NASA has unfettered access to the space station for cargo deliveries.

“Antares 230 is about to fly for the very first time, so I don’t think our supply chain is really back to normal,” Shireman said. “We are looking forward to Antares flying quickly, and at that point we would feel comfortable. We’d feel that our supply chain is where we expected it to be.”

A Japanese HTV cargo mission is scheduled for launch around December to deliver more equipment to the space station, including six new lithium-ion batteries for the research lab’s huge power truss.

A Russian Progress refueling and resupply capsule is due for launch Oct. 20.

“Our supply chain, fortunately, has dissimilar redundancy,” Shireman said. “Today, we have HTV, we have SpaceX, we have Orbital ATK’s Cygnus, we have Russian Energia Progress vehicles, and then we have a little cargo we can fly up on Soyuz, too. All those things allow us to carry cargo.

“When you lose one of those capabilities, even temporarily, yes, it’s an impact,” he said Thursday morning. “What specific impacts there will be is hard to say. If it’s a disruption, we’ll manage it. We’re very good at anticipating what things could happen and positioning ourselves to be tolerant to those things, and then recovering from them.

“We still have Cygnus and HTV coming up. We have Progresses and even Soyuz,” Shireman said. “There are plenty of opportunities for us to carry up cargo to the ISS.”

File photo of the Amos 6 satellite during ground testing. Credit: Spacecom Ltd.
File photo of the Amos 6 satellite during ground testing. Credit: Spacecom Ltd.

Rocket launches are risky, and failures occur regularly, but catastrophic explosions on the ground like Thursday’s launch pad blast are very rare.

Jonathan McDowell, an astrophysicist at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics who keeps a respected catalog of space activities, said he believes the last time such a mishap occurred at Cape Canaveral on an orbital-class rocket before liftoff was in 1959, when an Atlas-Able booster exploded during a static fire test.

More recently, a Brazilian VLS satellite launcher exploded on its launch pad in 2003 when one of its solid rocket boosters inadvertently ignited, killing 21 people. That was the last time an orbital-class rocket was lost in a mishap on the launch pad before liftoff.

The Amos 6 satellite fastened on top of the Falcon 9 rocket during Thursday’s doomed test was fully fueled with several tons of toxic hydrazine and nitrogen tetroxide propellants for orbital maneuvers. Built by Israel Aerospace Industries, the satellite was about to set off on a 16-year mission to broadcast direct-to-home television across Europe and the Middle East.

Spacecom signed a $195 million contract with IAI for the Amos 6 satellite in 2012, and the new craft was supposed to replace the aging Amos 2 launched on a Soyuz rocket in 2003.

Opher Doron, general manager of IAI’s space division, said in an interview before Thursday’s mishap that the Amos 6 spacecraft weighed nearly 11,600 pounds — 5,250 kilograms — with a full tank of propellant, making it the largest and heaviest satellite ever produced in Israel.

Eutelsat and Facebook leased a portion of Amos 6’s communications payload to provide broadband Internet access across sub-Saharan Africa, part of an initiative by the social media company to connect the developing world.

“As I’m here in Africa, I’m deeply disappointed to hear that SpaceX’s launch failure destroyed our satellite that would have provided connectivity to so many entrepreneurs and everyone else across the continent,” wrote Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s founder and CEO, in a post to his social media site Thursday.

“Fortunately, we have developed other technologies like Aquila that will connect people as well,” Zuckerberg wrote, referring to a solar-powered high-altitude drone developed to beam Internet signals down to Earth. “We remain committed to our mission of connecting everyone, and we will keep working until everyone has the opportunities this satellite would have provided.”

Spacecom has not confirmed whether the spacecraft was fully insured for a total loss before liftoff.

Two industry sources familiar with space insurance arrangements for Falcon 9 launches said standard satellite insurance policies should likely cover risks to the spacecraft during SpaceX’s static fire test.

SpaceX has always conducted a customary “static fire” test before each launch, using it as a rehearsal for the launch team and as a way to verify the rocket and ground systems are ready. In 2014, SpaceX started regularly executing the static fire tests with the rocket’s payload on-board, first with Dragon cargo capsules heading to the space station, then with commercial satellites.

Quelle: SN

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Update: 3.09.2016

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Israel’s aerospace industry fears fallout from satellite loss

Space minister convenes urgent talks after explosion destroys the Amos-6, while ISA head warns blast could threaten $285M sale of satellite operator Spacecom
The Amos-6, Israel's largest ever satellite, and the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket on which it was perched go up in flames after the rocket exploded on the launch pad during a static fire test at a launch facility at Cape Canaveral in Florida on September 1, 2016. (YouTube screen capture)The Amos-6, Israel's largest ever satellite, and the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket on which it was perched go up in flames after the rocket exploded on the launch pad during a static fire test at a launch facility at Cape Canaveral in Florida on September 1, 2016. (YouTube screen capture)NEWSROOM

The unmanned SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket exploded during a test in Florida on Thursday, destroying the Israeli-built and -owned Amos-6 satellite that Facebook planned to use to beam high-speed internet to sub-Saharan Africa.


Dramatic footage broadcast by ABC News showed the rocket burst into a ball of flame amid what appeared to be a succession of blasts — sending its payload tumbling to the ground as a dense plume of black smoke filled the air.

ISA chairman Yitzchak Ben-Yisrael said the blast’s shock waves could reverberate far beyond Cape Canaveral.

Professor Yitzchak Ben-Yisrael (photo credit: Kobi Gideon/Flash90)
Professor Yitzchak Ben-Yisrael (Kobi Gideon/Flash90)

He said the incident could jeopardize a pending deal for the sale of private Israeli firm and Amos-operator Spacecom to China’s Xinwei group, reportedly worth $285 million and conditional on the satellite successfully entering service.

“This is the second blow, ahead of the Chinese deal,” he said, recalling the blackout of the Amos-5 satellite, which like Amos-6 was owned and operated by Spacecom.

Communication with the Franco-Italian made Amos-5 was lost in November 2015, four years after it was launched from Kazakhstan.

“There is a major question about the launch and I very much hope that Spacecom is strong enough to overcome these things and to order a new satellite,” Ben-Yisrael told Israeli radio.

“If it orders a new satellite, it will take between two and three years to fill the gap.”

Israeli business paper Globes said Thursday that the loss of the Amos-6 could directly impact on Spacecom stock, which tumbled by almost 9% in the wake of the Cape Canaveral explosion. There are, Globes said, concerns that the share price will fall further.

According to the paper, a successful launch of the satellite would have yielded Spacecom $100 million from Facebook and another $164 million from the Israeli government. And while the satellite itself was insured for $330 million, the company had issued bonds of some NIS 1 billion ($265.5 million) to fund the project, and could find itself with a monetary shortfall for “ongoing expenses.”

‘Strategic’ business for Israel
Amos-6 manufacturer Israel Aircraft Industries (IAI) said the satellite was “the largest and most advanced communications satellite ever built in Israel.”

“Obviously, we are disappointed about this incident in the launch vehicle and are ready and willing to assist Spacecom in any manner,” it said. “The communications satellite business is strategic for IAI and the State of Israel.”

The Israel Space Agency, part of the country’s Science, Technology and Space Ministry, said that “support for the space industry in Israel will continue with the aim of continuing at the forefront of technology.”

It said Science, Technology and Space Minister Ofir Akunis would convene industry leaders on Sunday for “an emergency debate and situation report.”

Workers for Israel Aerospace Industries building the Amos-6 satellite, in footage aired September 1, 2016. (screen capture: Channel 2)
Workers for Israel Aerospace Industries building the Amos-6 satellite, in footage aired September 1, 2016. (screen capture: Channel 2)

David Zusiman, former project manager for the Amos-3 and 4 satellite projects and involved with the early stages of the Amos-6, said the explosion was a setback but not necessarily a disaster.

“Amos-6 can be replaced by an identical satellite which it will be possible to order immediately, thanks to the insurance money they will get,” he said in an interview on public radio.

“The insurance is supposed to cover the cost of a complete satellite, including a new launch.”

The Amos-6 has an estimated value of between $200 million and $300 million, according to John Logsdon, former director of the Space Policy Institute at George Washington University.


“The problem is that Amos-6 was supposed to replace Amos-2 which is now quite old and needs replacing,” Zusiman said.

“There are a number of satellites on the international market which could match Amos-2, they are also old but they could still work for a few more years,” he added. “The clients who bought the extra capability of Amos-6 could suffer damage because it sets back their programs by two to three years.”

Channel 2 said Thursday that the destruction of the Amos-6 could adversely impact on Israeli subscribers to the Yes satellite company, which relies on the Amos-2 and 3 satellites to broadcast. The destroyed satellite was supposed to replace the Amos-2, which went into orbit in 2003.

The AMOS 3 satellite (Photo credit: Spacecom via Tsahi Ben-Ami/FLASH 90)
The Amos-3 satellite (Spacecom via Tsahi Ben-Ami/FLASH 90)

Now reliant on just one satellite, at least in the short term, the company could face a breakdown in transmissions if there are any technical difficulties with the Amos-3. In any event, Yes could be forced to reduce the number of channels it offers, but says it will not remove popular channels, Channel 2 reported.

Yes was quick to deny Thursday that it would be impacted by the explosion, writing on Twitter that “Amos-6’s failure to launch will not harm Yes’ broadcasts or viewing experience. We will continue to broadcast as usual and provide our customers with the best television in Israel.”

David Zusiman also cast doubt on any adverse impact for Israel’s space projects, highlighting IAI’s “100 percent” success rate with its launched satellites.

“I don’t know if the image of the Israeli space industry will be harmed,” he said. “From a rational point of view there was a fault with a small part of the system. The rocket is reliable, it works. The IAI satellite has 100 percent success in space, something very rare.”

Quelle: THE TIMES OF ISRAEL

 


1422 Views

Samstag, 3. September 2016 - 21:10 Uhr

Raumfahrt - Fehlstart von Long March-4C-Trägerrakete mit Gaofen-10 Satelliten ?

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2.09.2016

Long March 4C apparently fails during Gaofen-10 launch

no alt

China has unofficially suffered its first failure of the year during the attempt to launch the Gaofen-10 remote sensing satellite from the Taiyuan Satellite Launch Center on Wednesday. Launching from the LC9 Launch Complex at around 18:53 UTC, the Long March-4C (Chang Zheng-4C) failied for reasons not yet known.


Chinese Failure:

The loss of the Long March 4C is China’s first “orbital launch” failure of 2016. However, Chinese State media have yet to provide any acknowledgment of the loss.

China rarely provides live coverage of launches and only confirms missions once the satellite has been successfully inserted into its transfer orbit. For this mission, no news has been provided for over half a day.

2016-09-01-112913Online photos showing debris from the rocket are not uncommon and it appears the debris is in a nominal location for expended stages.

However, the text associated with the photos claim there is a search for debris associated with the payload.

Coupled with the lack of any State media news on the launch, it would appear this mission has failed and the Chinese have so far opted not to report the failure.

Gaofen (“High Resolution”) is a series of civilian Earth observation satellites developed and launched for the state-sponsored program China High-definition Earth Observation System (CHEOS).

In May 2010, China officially initiated the development of the CHEOS system, which is established as one of the major national science and technology projects.

2015-12-28-122418The Earth Observation System and Data Center of China National Space Administration (EOSDC-CNSA) is responsible for organizing the construction of the CHEOS that is a near-real time, all-weather, global surveillance network consisting of satellite, stratosphere airships, and aerial observation platforms.

The Earth Observation System and Data Center, China National Space Administration was established in March, 2010.

The Center is principally responsible for organizing and implementing as well as managing CHEOS. It is also responsible for EO application services, commercial development, technology consultant and international cooperation.

By following an arrangement of integral observation from space, air and ground, the CHEOS is developing a space-based system, near space system, aerial system, ground system and application system.

This is to create Earth observation at a high temporal, spatial and spectral resolution, which is making good progress.

In order to meet the strategic demands of the national economic development and social progress, the initial plan involved five satellites.

2015-12-28-160731Gaofen-1 employs a CAST2000 bus, configured with one 2 meter panchromatic / 8 meter multi-spectral camera and one 16m multispectral medium-resolution and wide-view camera.

The satellite realizes an integration of imaging capacity at medium and high spatial resolution and with large swath, with designed lifespan of over 5 years. It was launched on April 26, 2013.

Gaofen-2 employs CS-L3000A bus, configured with one 1 meter panchromatic/4m multi-spectral camera, with designed lifespan of over 5 years. The satellite was launched on August 19, 2014.

Designed by CAST (China Academy of Space Technology), Gaofen-3 employs the CS-L3000B bus configured with multi-polarized C-band SAR at meter-level resolution.

The new satellite has a designed lifespan of 8 years and will mainly be used by the State Oceanic Administration (SOA) of China. GF-3 was launched on August 9, 2016.

Gaofen-4 was developed by CAST and is based on the new GEO remote-sensing satellite bus. It has an orbital mass of 4,600 kg, and was designed for a lifespan of 8 years.

2016-08-09-221919The satellite was placed into orbit by a Long March-3B launch vehicle from the Xichang Satellite Launch Centre on 29 December 2015.

Gaofen-5 employs SAST5000B bus and is configured with six types of payloads, including visible and short-wave infra hyper-spectral camera, spectral imager, greenhouse gas detector, atmospheric environment infrared detector at very high spectral resolution, differential absorption spectrometer for atmospheric trace gas, and multi-angle polarization detector. It is designed for 8 years and is scheduled to launch in 2017.

On June 26, 2015, China launched the Gaofen-8 satellite. Developed by the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC), the satellite is part of a civilian program whose aim is to facilitate climate surveying, disaster response, precision agriculture mapping, urban planning and road network design.

Its imagery will be mostly used by the Ministry of Land and Resources, the Ministry of Environmental Protection, and the Ministry of Agriculture. The satellite was launched from the Taiyuan Satellite Launch Center using a Long March-4B rocket.

On September 14, 2015, another Gaofen satellite, Gaofen-9, was launched from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center, using a Long March-2D. Possibly a civilian version of the Yaogan Weixing-2 (Jianbing-6) satellite, Gaofen-9 will provide sub-meter class resolution optical images for city planning, road network design, land ownership determination purposes.

Launch vehicle and launch center:

Gaofen-10 was launched by a Long March-4C launch vehicle. With its main commonality matched to the Long March 4B, the first stage has a 24.65 meter length with a 3.35 meter diameter, consuming 183,340 kg of N2O4/UDMH (gross mass of first stage is 193.330 kg).

2015-08-27-081458The vehicle is equipped with a YF-21B engine capable of a ground thrust of 2,971 kN and a ground specific impulse of 2,550 Ns/kg. The second stage has a 10.40 meter length with a 3.35 meter diameter and 38,326 kg, consuming 35,374 kg of N2O4/UDMH.

It includes a YF-22B main engine capable of a vacuum thrust of 742 kN and four YF-23B vernier engines with a vacuum thrust of 47.1 kN (specific impulses of 2,922 Ns/kg and 2,834 Ns/kg, respectively).

The third stage has a 4.93 meter length with a 2.9 meter diameter, consuming 12,814 kg of N2O4/UDMH. Having a gross mass of 14,560 kg, it is equipped with a YF-40 engine capable of a vacuum thrust of 100.8 kN and a specific impulse in vacuum of 2,971 Ns/kg.

Z114The launch took place from the Taiyuan Satellite Launch Center (TSLC). Situated in the Kelan County in the northwest part of the Shanxi Province, TSLC is also known by the Wuzhai designation.

It is used mainly for polar launches (meteorological, Earth resources and scientific satellites).

The launch center has two single-pad launch complexes, a technical area for rocket and spacecraft preparations, a communications center, a mission command and control center, and a space tracking center.

Quelle: SN

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Did China just suffer the first space launch failure of 2016? 

 
A Long March 4C rocket launches a Fengyun-3 series satellite from Taiyuan on September 23, 2013.A Long March 4C rocket launches a Fengyun-3 series satellite from Taiyuan on September 23, 2013.

 

China was early this morning expected to launch its Gaofen-10 Earth observation satellite from Taiyuan, following the issuance of an airspace exclusion zone days in advance. However, it seems the launch did not go to plan.

Gaofen-10, nominally part of the 'CHEOS' Earth observation system for civilian purposes, was due to be launched on a Long March 4C rocket between 18:46 and 19:11 UTC on Wednesday (02:46-03:11 Thursday Beijing time).

China usually releases information of launches once payloads are successfully heading towards their target orbits around an hour after launch. Much earlier, spectators and insiders often share details and photos of the launch on social media.

However, many hours after the launch window passed there was still silence, with the launch timing and location of the Taiyuan Satellite Launch Centre apparently limiting opportunities for outside viewers.

The US Department of Defense, which tracks objects in space, had not announced new two-line element sets (TLEs) which would indicate new objects in orbit. The upper stage of the multistage Long March rocket and the satellite would have been picked up soon after launch. 

This lead followers of China's space activities to wonder what had happened. Was the launch been 'scrubbed', or pushed back? Had there been a launch? And had it failed to reach orbit for some reason?

The first clue that a launch had taken place was an announcement on Sina Weibo, a Chinese microblogging platform, from the Public Security Bureau of Shaanxi Province some nine hours after the launch window opened, showing the expected rocket debris along the flight path indicated by the air exclusion zone notification.

Shaanxi Public Security Bureau announces the recovery of Long March rocket debris.

But with no new objects in orbit, it would appear that the Gaofen-10 satellite - likely an extremely sophisticated sub-metre resolution optical or radar observation satellite, failed to reach orbit and was lost. 

With the wreckage from the first stage landing where expected, it suggests that the suspected problem occured with a later stage.

This was the 20th launch of the Long March 4C 3-stage rocket and, if confirmed, its first failure. It would also mark China's first launch failure since China–Brazil Earth Resources Satellite 3 (CBERS-3) mission from the same launch pad in December 2013.

China's Long March rockets have proven reliable comparable to international standards, but mission failures are suffered occasionally by space programs. 

Quelle: gbtimes

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Update: 3.09.2016

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Chinese officials silent after Long March rocket failure
A Long March 4C rocket lifted off at 1855 GMT (2:55 p.m. EDT) Wednesday with the Gaofen 10 Earth observation satellite. Credit: Xinhua
A Long March 4C rocket lifted off at 1855 GMT (2:55 p.m. EDT) Wednesday with the Gaofen 10 Earth observation satellite. Credit: Xinhua
A U.S. Air Force spokesperson said Friday that the military has not detected any objects deployed in orbit by a Chinese Long March rocket launch Wednesday, but China’s official media outlets still have not acknowledged the apparent failure.

The Long March 4C rocket, standing 15 stories tall, was carrying the Gaofen 10 Earth imaging payload. The booster took off some time around 1855 GMT (2:55 p.m. EDT) Wednesday from the Taiyuan launch base in the Shanxi province of northern China.

Liftoff occurred in the wee hours of Thursday morning local time at Taiyuan, an arid launch site about 270 miles (435 kilometers) west of Beijing.

The China Xinhua News Network Corp., the television arm of the nation’s government-run Xinhua news agency, released photos of the liftoff, but Chinese media never issued an update on the flight. Official news agencies typically announce the success of Chinese rocket launches within hours.

Warnings issued to pilots by Chinese authorities indicated the Long March 4C rocket would fly to the south, dropping its first stage stage and payload fairing over central China. Reports from Chinese social media showed parts of the launcher’s first stage and nose cone that fell to the ground in their predicted drop zones.

But the flight apparently never reached orbit.

The U.S. military publishes orbit data for foreign space launches online, but no entries appeared after Wednesday’s liftoff.

The military’s Space Surveillance Network has not detected any objects attributed to Wednesday’s launch from China, according to Air Force Capt. Nicholas Mercurio, a spokesperson for the Joint Functional Component Command for Space at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.

Western experts suggest something went wrong with the Long March 4C’s upper stage, and the Gaofen 10 satellite did not attain enough speed to enter orbit.

As of Friday, China’s state-owned media have not reported on the failed launch, and there are scant details on what happened.

Wednesday’s mishap was the first failure of a Chinese satellite launcher since December 2013, when a joint Chinese-Brazilian satellite was destroyed. In nearly three years since that failure, China logged 43 consecutive successful orbital launches in a row.

China has several crucial launches scheduled before the end of the year, and the impact of this week’s failure on those plans remains unclear. Many of China’s Long March rocket variants use the same types of engines, but the country’s space engineers resumed Long March flights within weeks after crashes in 2011 and 2013.

Chinese media disclosed those failures soon after they occurred.

Ground crews are readying a Long March 2F rocket for launch at the Jiuquan space center in northwest China’s Gobi desert next month with Tiangong 2, the country’s next orbiting space laboratory. Two Chinese astronauts will blast off on another Long March 2F booster later this year for a 30-day visit to the Tiangong 2 space lab.

The heavy-lift Long March 5 rocket, powered by a new generation of engines, is also set for its debut mission before the end of the year.

Quelle: SN


1278 Views

Samstag, 3. September 2016 - 21:00 Uhr

Astronomie - GENESIS Projekt: Sollten wir Geschenk dem Kosmos mit Leben geben?

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Some exoplanets are only considered habitable for short periods of time, should we give life on these worlds an evolutionary helping hand?

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genesis-projekt 

OPINION

The search for what we would deem to be "habitable" worlds orbiting other stars has reached a crossroads in recent years. As our technology and techniques improve, we've been able to identify small rocky worlds orbiting within other stars' "habitable zones."

So far, we can measure an exoplanet's mass, understand its physical size, even calculate its average density, revealing whether or not that planet may contain quantities of water, for example. Add these factors to our knowledge of that alien world's orbit and we are given tantalizing clues as to whether liquid water may persist on its surface.

These apparently habitable worlds are quickly labeled "Earth-like," but they may not be like Earth at all. There's a lot more to our planet besides its mass and orbit that makes it habitable -- namely our thick atmosphere and protective magnetosphere, both of which safeguarded burgeoning terrestrial life around four billion years ago from the ravages of space weather.

Lacking sufficiently powerful observatories, we're not able to detect atmospheres, let alone magnetospheres, around distant small exoplanets, so the "Earth-like" moniker is premature at best.

But as we continue to discover all the weird, wonderful and extremely varied exoplanets our galaxy has on offer, we're finding the potential for worlds that may be considered "habitable" for short periods, hypothetically allowing life (as we know it) to be sparked, only for the habitable conditions in these worlds' atmospheres to dramatically change, snuffing out the immature lifeforms.

An often-overlooked factor in the science behind the evolution of life is time, and many of the exoplanets we've found may well be habitable during short periods of their existence, but not long enough to allow life to gain a foothold.

In an interesting discussion published in the journal Astrophysics and Space Science, Claudius Gros from the Institute of Theoretical Physics at Goethe University Frankfurt investigates the possibility of giving life a helping hand by blasting it into interstellar space and flinging our ready-made biology toward exoplanets that may only have a very short window of habitability.

"It is therefore certain that we will discover a large number of exoplanets which are inhabitable intermittently but not permanently," Gros said in a statement. "Life would indeed be possible on these planets, but it would not have the time to grow and develop independently."

When basic life took hold on Earth, its very existence helped to shape the habitability of our atmosphere. For example, bacterial mats changed the chemistry of atmospheric gases, boosting its oxygen content and facilitating the evolution of complex eukaryotic cells, upon which all multicellular life is based.

WATCH VIDEO: Could Life On Earth Have Come From A Comet?

In Gros' discussion, he imagines sending a small interstellar probe to another star system. On arrival, that probe would somehow slow down and, using an on-board biological laboratory, would synthesize a selection of single-celled organisms that would then be dropped onto a habitable, yet lifeless world. Should this biological "Ark" of sorts seed the first microbial life, potentially billions of years of evolution would have been skipped on that world allowing life to take hold within the tight window of opportunity, possibly allowing it to spawn a self-sustaining alien ecosystem with a very terrestrial flavor.

"In this way, we could jump the approximately four billion years which had been necessary on Earth to reach the Precambrian stage of development out of which the animal world developed about 500 million years ago," he added.

This highly speculative method of seeding life is called, perhaps unsurprisingly, the "Genesis Project" and Gros sees it as a means for us to "give life something back."

Seeding life on other worlds is not a new concept; science fiction has tackled it countless times and there are some scientific foundations for the idea. 

The mechanism known as "panspermia" is a hypothesis that governs the transfer of life from one planet to another. Should a massive asteroid hit one planet brimming with life, sending a chunk of rock packed with living microbes into space, that rock may land on another planet with some habitable qualities, allowing a few of the surviving microbes that hitched a ride on the rock to make a new home.

But the mechanism described by Gros is a variation on the "directed panspermia" hypothesis where an intelligent civilization wants to seed life on other worlds in their image, sending biological capsules to spark their brand of life elsewhere.

However, we quickly fall into an ethical trap. Just because we have life on Earth, is it our biological obligation to share it with the rest of the galaxy? Or would such an act be no better than biological pollution or, even worse, a biological weapon? Just because we've got it, doesn't mean the rest of the universe wants it.

One obvious problem is the question of native lifeforms; say if a target world already has a rapidly evolving lifeform that's taken the opportunity to gain a foothold on that world? A Genesis Project capsule dropping on their heads filled with an out-of-the-box Earth BrandTM goo would be disastrous.

Though Gros points out that great pains should be taken to ensure the target planet isn't already inhabited, when talking about the potential genocide of the foundational biology of a future alien race, it would be hard to justify such a risky mission.

Aside: If you're thinking about Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan, you're not alone, so here you go:

Quelle: Seeker

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The Genesis Project: New life on exoplanets

Physicist Claudius Gros on the journey of an automated gene laboratory to celestial bodies outside our solar system

 
Veröffentlicht am: Mittwoch, 31. August 2016, 13:18 Uhr (23)

FRANKFURT.Can life be brought to celestial bodies outside our solar system which are not permanently inhabitable? This is the question with which Professor Dr. Claudius Gros from the Institute of Theoretical Physics at Goethe University Frankfurt is dealing in an essay which will shortly appear in the scientific journal Astrophysics and Space Science.

Over the last years, the search for exoplanets has shown that very different types exist. “It is therefore certain that we will discover a large number of exoplanets which are inhabitable intermittently but not permanently. Life would indeed be possible on these planets, but it would not have the time to grow and develop independently”, says Gros. Against this background, he has investigated whether it would be possible to bring life to planets with transient habitability.

From a technical standpoint, the Genesis mission could already be achieved within a few decades with the aid of interstellar unmanned micro spacecraft which could be both accelerated and slowed down passively. On arrival, an automated gene laboratory on board the probe would synthesize a selection of single-cell organisms with the aim of establishing an ecosphere of unicellular organisms on the target planet. This could subsequently develop autonomously and possibly also into complex life forms. “In this way, we could jump the approximately four billion years which had been necessary on Earth to reach the Precambrian stage of development out of which the animal world developed about 500 million years ago”, explains Gros. In order not to endanger any life which might already be present, Genesis probes would only head for uninhabited exoplanets.

The mission’s actual duration played no role in the Genesis project, since the time scales for the subsequent geo-evolutionary development of the target planet lies in the range between a few tens of millions and a hundred million years. The Genesis project therefore has no direct benefit for people on Earth. “It would, however, enable us to give life something back”, says Gros. In this context, he is also discussing whether biological incompatibilities would have to be expected in the case that a second Earth fully developed in terms of evolution were to be colonized. “That seems, however, at present to be highly unlikely”, says the physicist, dampening any too high expectations.

 

Publication: Claudius Gros, Developing Ecospheres on Transiently Habitable Planets: The Genesis Project, Astrophysics and Space Science (in press); http://arxiv.org/abs/1608.06087

Interview with Claudius Gros: How to Jumpstart Life Elsewhere in Our Galaxy, The Atlantic, http://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2016/08/genesis-missions/497258/

Information: Prof. Claudius Gros, Institut für Theoretische Physik, Campus Riedberg, Tel.: (069)-798 47818, gros07@itp.uni-frankfurt.de.

Quelle: Die Goethe-Universität Frankfurt am Main

 


1084 Views

Samstag, 3. September 2016 - 08:45 Uhr

Raumfahrt - 1970s Spionage Satellit besser als Google Earth

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hexagon-spy-foto-people

Sorry to break it to you, but Google Earth ain't all that. 

In a pre-digital era more than 30 years before Google Earth, an ultrasecret US satellite program spied on other countries by taking much higher quality photos of the planet's surface.
The intelligence community called this program Big Bird and Keyhole-9, but its codename was Hexagon. 
"These were much better pictures than Google Earth," Phil Pressel told CNN's "Declassified."
Pressel should know. He was a top engineer at Massachusetts-based Perkin-Elmer, designer and builder of Hexagon's cameras -- which played a huge role in protecting the United States during the Cold War. 
"I honestly think that the Hexagon program was responsible for preventing World War III," Pressel said. Hexagon photos allowed US intelligence analysts to conclusively count numbers of Soviet troops, tanks, aircraft and missiles to make sure Moscow wasn't violating arms control treaties. 
The Hexagon program is part of a legacy of American spies in the sky stretching from the 1950s to today, aimed at finding early warning signs about potential threats to the US.
The US National Reconnaissance Office launched 20 Hexagons between 1971 and 1986. One reason their cameras captured so much detail was because they were big. 
Each satellite was the size of a school bus and weighed 30,000 pounds. They created photos showing 370-mile swaths of the planet. From 100 miles in orbit, those pictures clearly showed objects as small as 2 feet wide (61 centimeters.) 
A Hexagon spy satellite at the National Museum of the US Air Force in Dayton, Ohio.
 
At that level of resolution, you could see a picnic blanket and count the number of people on it, said Pressel, "... you might see a ball being tossed." 

 
Declassified Ep. 8 Hexagon 2_00005724
 
 

 

 
 
The satellites that engineers say prevented a US-Soviet war. 01:08
Although some of Google Earth's images shot from aircraft are very clear and show people on the ground like Hexagon's, that's not the case with Google Earth's color photos from satellites. Google wouldn't respond to CNN's questions asking for specific resolution figures for its satellite images, but at best, their color photos only show objects as small as about 3 feet wide, or about 1 meter, according to several satellite industry reports
For security reasons, "U.S. companies are currently limited to selling imagery that has a ground resolution of 0.25 meters (9.8 inches) on the commercial market," said Brian Weeden, space surveillance expert and technical adviser at the Secure World Foundation.

Hexagon's amazing delivery system

What was really crazy about these satellites is how they delivered the goods.
After the film was shot, the satellites loaded the footage into capsules and dropped them from orbit into the atmosphere. These so-called "buckets" descended to an altitude of 50,000 feet -- where they popped their parachutes off the Hawaiian Islands.
Hexagon spy satellite

Altitude: 80-370 nautical miles (92-426 miles)

Mission duration: 124 days average

Panoramic cameras: Perkin-Elmer, 60-inch focal length f/3.0, aperture 20 inches

Mapping camera: Itek, 12-inch focal length f/6.0, 9.5 in film, with two Itek 10-in focal length f/2.0, 70mm film cameras for star-tracking position reference

Film: length 320,000 feet (about 60 miles), width 6.6 inches

Number of film return capsules (aka "buckets"): Four (five if mapping camera used)

Maximum film load per capsule: 52,000-77,500 feet

Maximum film weight per capsule: 500 pounds

Capsule weight: 956 pounds

 Source: National Museum of the USAF

While the buckets floated toward the ocean surface, they broadcast radio beacons that helped Air Force pilots flying C-130 cargo planes zero in on their locations. The planes then used a special system of cables to snag the buckets in midair.
In 1972, a bucket parachute failed to open and it crashed into the Pacific. Although the buckets were designed to float, this one sank, experts said, probably because it was damaged by the force of hitting the water. 
The United States mounted a secret, dramatic and unprecedented deep-sea search and recovery mission to find the bucket, a story revealed in CNN's "Declassified."
After each satellite ran out of film, controllers intentionally let the Hexagons fall out of orbit back to Earth, where they burned up in the atmosphere during re-entry, like falling stars. 

'Ice Station Zebra'

Film buffs may know that a lost canister from a US spy satellite inspired the plot of the 1968 Rock Hudson film, "Ice Station Zebra." 
In 1959, the Air Force accidentally caused the satellite Discoverer II to send its re-entry vehicle down over the Arctic, said Dwayne Day, historian and space policy analyst. 
The United States suspected the vehicle landed on Norway's Spitsbergen Island, prompting a search mission. 
Supposedly, Day said, US searchers saw tracks in the snow that led back to a Soviet mining camp, which sparked suspicions that Moscow got its hands on that secret US re-entry vehicle.
Day said the Air Force officer responsible for the launch "kind of scoffed at the story. He told me, 'I find it really hard to believe that in all that big ocean the thing happened to come down on that one tiny piece of land.' He just thought it was all a lot of bunk," Day said.

Task a satellite with your smartphone

Fast forward to today, when just about anybody can get in on the satellite game. 
Got a credit card and a smartphone? You can change a satellite's orbit and take photos of specific areas of Earth from space with a phone app called SpyMeSat
But those are commercial satellites, owned and operated by companies. They may have the high-res capabilities of some imagery spy satellites, but they're not allowed to sell those images commercially. Access to the ultra-high resolution stuff captured by commercial satellites is limited to the US government. 
Even without high-res photos, access to commercial satellites allow just about anyone to do cool things with the technology, like a project with DigitalGlobe to count Weddell seals in Antarctica.

Uncle Sam's orbiting spy gear

So, what kind of space-surveillance gear is Uncle Sam packing these days? 
There are "probably a handful" of secret US satellites today that take ultra-high resolution photos of the Earth from space, said Day. "Some have been up there many years -- five to 10 years."
These satellites are even better than Hexagon, Day said, with higher resolution and the ability to see at night -- using sensors that detect infrared electromagnetic radiation -- like heat coming off machines, buildings or people.
A National Reconnaissance Office diagram of Hexagon (Click to expand)
 
Although their dimensions are classified, we know these modern photo satellites are fairly large because of the size of the rockets that launch them into orbit. 
The United States has more than 120 secret satellites in orbit, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists, which updates a list on its website.
Just like human spies, top secret satellites actually have cover names. 
These names begin with the letters "USA" followed by a three-digit code. The most recent secret satellites, USA-270 and 271, were launched on August 19.
Today's spy photo satellites transmit images back to Earth electronically. That allows for somewhat smaller satellite designs because it eliminates the need to store film. Hexagon had to haul 60 miles of film -- 30 miles in two cameras -- and eight buckets to drop the film back to Earth. 
First launched in 1976, a US spy satellite program called Kennen "was the first near-real time system," Day said. Images were beamed down minutes or hours after they were taken, he said, as opposed to waiting days or weeks for them to be dropped, like the Hexagons. Current US photo satellite systems are descendants of that technology, said Day.

Spy satellite tool box 

There are other amazing ways that snooping governments can get a look at us.
Radar satellites bounce radio waves off objects on the ground, allowing analysts to precisely evaluate their shapes. These satellites can determine a building's dimensions down to the centimeter, day or night.
Multispectral and hyperspectral satellites monitor many kinds of electromagnetic waves on the planet's surface that are invisible to the human eye. With this technology, for example, analysts can determine what materials make up an object. 

Who's the best?

The US government remains the global leader in satellites that boast extreme surveillance capabilities -- so-called "exquisite" platforms, experts say. 
"The US is second to none in terms of quality, quantity and diversity of different types of spy satellites. It has far more reconnaissance imagery satellites than anybody else and they're much better quality," said Weeden. 
But other nations are rushing to catch up. 
France and Israel "have some very good imagery and electronic intelligence and -- in the case of the Israelis -- radar imagery satellites, but they have only very few of them," said Weeden, who is technical adviser for the Secure World Foundation.
"Russia is pretty good," he said, "but they're definitely a step behind" the United States. "Same with China," said Weeden. "They've gotten much, much better just within the past 10 to 15 years."
China's 2013 space budget was estimated at $6 billion, outspending Moscow by about a billion dollars, according to Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. The US government's civilian and military space budgets together total around $44 billion a year,according to the US Government Accountability Office. Of that, Washington spends about $22 billion a year on military national security space programs, according to the Defense Department.
"China is making a concerted effort on space, across the board," Weeden said, "everything from human space flight to military intelligence, because they see space as being a key to power in the 21st century."
As more nations develop increasingly sophisticated spy satellites designed to gather the best intelligence data, the space surveillance arena will only become more competitive.
The whole scenario offers a reminder that -- now more than ever -- prying eyes are looking down on us 24/7.
Quelle: CNN

1126 Views

Freitag, 2. September 2016 - 20:00 Uhr

Raumfahrt - JUNO SPACECRAFT-Jupiter-Mission Update-5

2.09.2016

Juno’s View of Jupiter’s Southern Lights

Jupiter

This infrared image gives an unprecedented view of the southern aurora of Jupiter, as captured by NASA's Juno spacecraft on August 27, 2016.

 

The planet's southern aurora can hardly be seen from Earth due to our home planet's position in respect to Jupiter's south pole. Juno's unique polar orbit provides the first opportunity to observe this region of the gas-giant planet in detail.

 

Juno's Jovian Infrared Auroral Mapper (JIRAM) camera acquired the view at wavelengths ranging from 3.3 to 3.6 microns -- the wavelengths of light emitted by excited hydrogen ions in the polar regions. The view is a mosaic of three images taken just minutes apart from each other, about four hours after the perijove pass while the spacecraft was moving away from Jupiter.

 

NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California, manages the Juno mission for the principal investigator, Scott Bolton, of Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio. The Juno mission is part of the New Frontiers Program managed at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. Lockheed Martin Space Systems, Denver, built the spacecraft. JPL is a division of Caltech in Pasadena.

---

Jupiter’s North Pole Unlike Anything Encountered in Solar System

Jupiter's north pole
NASA's Juno spacecraft captured this view as it closed in on Jupiter's north pole, about two hours before closest approach on Aug. 27, 2016.
Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS
Jupiter's polar cloud tops
Juno was about 48,000 miles (78,000 kilometers) above Jupiter's polar cloud tops when it captured this view, showing storms and weather unlike anywhere else in the solar system.
Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS
Infrared image of Jupiter's southern aurora
This infrared image from Juno provides an unprecedented view of Jupiter's southern aurora. Such views are not possible from Earth.
Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS

NASA’s Juno spacecraft has sent back the first-ever images of Jupiter’s north pole, taken during the spacecraft’s first flyby of the planet with its instruments switched on. The images show storm systems and weather activity unlike anything previously seen on any of our solar system’s gas-giant planets.

 

Juno successfully executed the first of 36 orbital flybys on Aug. 27 when the spacecraft came about 2,500 miles (4,200 kilometers) above Jupiter’s swirling clouds. The download of six megabytes of data collected during the six-hour transit, from above Jupiter’s north pole to below its south pole, took one-and-a-half days. While analysis of this first data collection is ongoing, some unique discoveries have already made themselves visible.

 

“First glimpse of Jupiter’s north pole, and it looks like nothing we have seen or imagined before,” said Scott Bolton, principal investigator of Juno from the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio. “It’s bluer in color up there than other parts of the planet, and there are a lot of storms. There is no sign of the latitudinal bands or zone and belts that we are used to -- this image is hardly recognizable as Jupiter. We’re seeing signs that the clouds have shadows, possibly indicating that the clouds are at a higher altitude than other features.”

 

One of the most notable findings of these first-ever pictures of Jupiter’s north and south poles is something that the JunoCam imager did not see.

 

“Saturn has a hexagon at the north pole,” said Bolton. “There is nothing on Jupiter that anywhere near resembles that. The largest planet in our solar system is truly unique. We have 36 more flybys to study just how unique it really is.”

 

Along with JunoCam snapping pictures during the flyby, all eight of Juno’s science instruments were energized and collecting data. The Jovian Infrared Auroral Mapper (JIRAM), supplied by the Italian Space Agency, acquired some remarkable images of Jupiter at its north and south polar regions in infrared wavelengths.

 

“JIRAM is getting under Jupiter’s skin, giving us our first infrared close-ups of the planet,” said Alberto Adriani, JIRAM co-investigator from Istituto di Astrofisica e Planetologia Spaziali, Rome. “These first infrared views of Jupiter’s north and south poles are revealing warm and hot spots that have never been seen before. And while we knew that the first-ever infrared views of Jupiter's south pole could reveal the planet's southern aurora, we were amazed to see it for the first time. No other instruments, both from Earth or space, have been able to see the southern aurora. Now, with JIRAM, we see that it appears to be very bright and well-structured. The high level of detail in the images will tell us more about the aurora’s morphology and dynamics.”

 

Among the more unique data sets collected by Juno during its first scientific sweep by Jupiter was that acquired by the mission’s Radio/Plasma Wave Experiment (Waves), which recorded ghostly-sounding transmissions emanating from above the planet. These radio emissions from Jupiter have been known about since the 1950s but had never been analyzed from such a close vantage point.

 

“Jupiter is talking to us in a way only gas-giant worlds can,” said Bill Kurth, co-investigator for the Waves instrument from the University of Iowa, Iowa City. “Waves detected the signature emissions of the energetic particles that generate the massive auroras which encircle Jupiter’s north pole. These emissions are the strongest in the solar system. Now we are going to try to figure out where the electrons come from that are generating them.”

 

The Juno spacecraft launched on Aug. 5, 2011, from Cape Canaveral, Florida and arrived at Jupiter on July 4, 2016. JPL manages the Juno mission for the principal investigator, Scott Bolton, of Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio. Juno is part of NASA's New Frontiers Program, which is managed at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, for NASA's Science Mission Directorate. Lockheed Martin Space Systems, Denver, built the spacecraft. Caltech in Pasadena, California, manages JPL for NASA.

  

Thirteen hours of radio emissions from Jupiter's intense auroras are presented here, both visually and in sound.
 
As Juno approached Jupiter on August 27, 2016, it's Jovian Infrared Auroral Mapper (JIRAM) instrument captured the planet's glow in infrared light.
---

Southern Hemisphere Close-Up

Southern hemisphere view of Jupiter

This image provides a close-up view of Jupiter's southern hemisphere, as seen by NASA's Juno spacecraft on August 27, 2016. The JunoCam instrument captured this image with its red spectral filter when the spacecraft was about 23,600 miles (38,000 kilometers) above the cloud tops. 

 

The image covers an area from close to the south pole to 20 degrees south of the equator, centered on a longitude at about 140 degrees west. The transition between the banded structures near the equator and the more chaotic polar region (south of about 65 degrees south latitude) can be clearly seen.

 

A second version of the image shows the same view with a latitude/longitude grid overlaid.

 

This image has been processed to remove shading effects near the terminator -- the dividing line between day and night -- caused by Juno's orbit.

 

NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California, manages the Juno mission for the principal investigator, Scott Bolton, of Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio. The Juno mission is part of the New Frontiers Program managed at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. Lockheed Martin Space Systems, Denver, built the spacecraft. JPL is a division of Caltech in Pasadena. 

Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS

 

Last Updated: Sept. 2, 2016
Editor: Tony Greicius
 
 
Juno
Sept. 2, 2016
 

Arrival and Departure at Jupiter

Montage of 10 JunoCam images shows Jupiter growing and shrinking

This montage of 10 JunoCam images shows Jupiter growing and shrinking in apparent size before and after NASA's Juno spacecraft made its closest approach on August 27, 2016, at 12:50 UTC. 

 

The images are spaced about 10 hours apart, one Jupiter day, so the Great Red Spot is always in roughly the same place. The small black spots visible on the planet in some of the images are shadows of the large Galilean moons.

 

The images in the top row were taken during the inbound leg of the orbit, beginning on August 25 at 13:15 UTC when Juno was 1.4 million miles (2.3 million kilometers) away from Jupiter, and continuing to August 27 at 04:45 UTC when the spacecraft was 430,000 miles (700,000 kilometers) away. The images in the bottom row were obtained during the outbound leg of the orbit. They begin on August 28 at 00:45 UTC when Juno was 750,000 miles (920,000 kilometers) away and continue to August 29 at 16:45 UTC when the spacecraft was 1.6 million miles (2.5 million kilometers) away. 

 

NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California, manages the Juno mission for the principal investigator, Scott Bolton, of Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio. The Juno mission is part of the New Frontiers Program managed at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. Lockheed Martin Space Systems, Denver, built the spacecraft. JPL is a division of Caltech in Pasadena.

 

 

Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS

Last Updated: Sept. 2, 2016
Editor: Tony Greicius
 
 
Juno
Sept. 2, 2016
 

Jupiter Down Under

Jupiter's south polar region

This image from NASA's Juno spacecraft provides a never-before-seen perspective on Jupiter's south pole.

 

The JunoCam instrument acquired the view on August 27, 2016, when the spacecraft was about 58,700 miles (94,500 kilometers) above the polar region. At this point, the spacecraft was about an hour past its closest approach, and fine detail in the south polar region is clearly resolved. 

 

Unlike the equatorial region's familiar structure of belts and zones, the poles are mottled by clockwise and counterclockwise rotating storms of various sizes, similar to giant versions of terrestrial hurricanes. The south pole has never been seen from this viewpoint, although the Cassini spacecraft was able to observe most of the polar region at highly oblique angles as it flew past Jupiter on its way to Saturn in 2000 (see PIA07784).

 

NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California, manages the Juno mission for the principal investigator, Scott Bolton, of Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio. The Juno mission is part of the New Frontiers Program managed at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. Lockheed Martin Space Systems, Denver, built the spacecraft. JPL is a division of Caltech in Pasadena.

 

 

Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS

Last Updated: Sept. 2, 2016
Editor: Tony Greicius
 
 
Juno
Sept. 2, 2016
 

Close-Up Views of Jupiter's North Pole

Jupiter's polar cloud tops

Storm systems and weather activity unlike anything encountered in the solar system are on view in these color images of Jupiter's north polar region from NASA's Juno spacecraft.

 

Two versions of the image have been contrast-enhanced differently to bring out detail near the dark terminator and near the bright limb.

 

The JunoCam instrument took the images to create this color view on August 27, when the spacecraft was about 48,000 miles (78,000 kilometers) above the polar cloud tops.

 

A wavy boundary is visible halfway between the grayish region at left (closer to the pole and the nightside shadow) and the lighter-colored area on the right. The wavy appearance of the boundary represents a Rossby wave -- a north-south meandering of a predominantly east-west flow in an atmospheric jet. This may be caused by a difference in temperature between air to the north and south of this boundary, as is often the case with such waves in Earth's atmosphere.

 

The polar region is filled with a variety of discrete atmospheric features. Some of these are ovals, but the larger and brighter features have a "pinwheel" shape reminiscent of the shape of terrestrial hurricanes. Tracking the motion and evolution of these features across multiple orbits will provide clues about the

dynamics of the Jovian atmosphere.

 

This image also provides the first example of cloud shadowing on Jupiter: near the top of the image, a high cloud feature is seen past the normal boundary between day and night, illuminated above the cloud deck below.

 

While subtle color differences are visible in the image, some of these are likely the result of scattered light within the JunoCam optics. Work is ongoing to characterize these effects.

 

NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California, manages the Juno mission for the principal investigator, Scott Bolton, of Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio. The Juno mission is part of the New Frontiers Program managed at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. Lockheed Martin Space Systems, Denver, built the spacecraft. JPL is a division of Caltech in Pasadena.

 

 

Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS

Last Updated: Sept. 2, 2016
Editor: Tony Greicius
 
 
Juno
Sept. 2, 2016
 

Jupiter’s North Pole Unlike Anything Encountered in Solar System

Jupiter's north pole
NASA's Juno spacecraft captured this view as it closed in on Jupiter's north pole, about two hours before closest approach on Aug. 27, 2016.
Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS
Jupiter's polar cloud tops
Juno was about 48,000 miles (78,000 kilometers) above Jupiter's polar cloud tops when it captured this view, showing storms and weather unlike anywhere else in the solar system.
Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS
Infrared image of Jupiter's southern aurora
This infrared image from Juno provides an unprecedented view of Jupiter's southern aurora. Such views are not possible from Earth.
Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS

NASA’s Juno spacecraft has sent back the first-ever images of Jupiter’s north pole, taken during the spacecraft’s first flyby of the planet with its instruments switched on. The images show storm systems and weather activity unlike anything previously seen on any of our solar system’s gas-giant planets.

 

Juno successfully executed the first of 36 orbital flybys on Aug. 27 when the spacecraft came about 2,500 miles (4,200 kilometers) above Jupiter’s swirling clouds. The download of six megabytes of data collected during the six-hour transit, from above Jupiter’s north pole to below its south pole, took one-and-a-half days. While analysis of this first data collection is ongoing, some unique discoveries have already made themselves visible.

 

“First glimpse of Jupiter’s north pole, and it looks like nothing we have seen or imagined before,” said Scott Bolton, principal investigator of Juno from the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio. “It’s bluer in color up there than other parts of the planet, and there are a lot of storms. There is no sign of the latitudinal bands or zone and belts that we are used to -- this image is hardly recognizable as Jupiter. We’re seeing signs that the clouds have shadows, possibly indicating that the clouds are at a higher altitude than other features.”

 

One of the most notable findings of these first-ever pictures of Jupiter’s north and south poles is something that the JunoCam imager did not see.

 

“Saturn has a hexagon at the north pole,” said Bolton. “There is nothing on Jupiter that anywhere near resembles that. The largest planet in our solar system is truly unique. We have 36 more flybys to study just how unique it really is.”

 

Along with JunoCam snapping pictures during the flyby, all eight of Juno’s science instruments were energized and collecting data. The Jovian Infrared Auroral Mapper (JIRAM), supplied by the Italian Space Agency, acquired some remarkable images of Jupiter at its north and south polar regions in infrared wavelengths.

 

“JIRAM is getting under Jupiter’s skin, giving us our first infrared close-ups of the planet,” said Alberto Adriani, JIRAM co-investigator from Istituto di Astrofisica e Planetologia Spaziali, Rome. “These first infrared views of Jupiter’s north and south poles are revealing warm and hot spots that have never been seen before. And while we knew that the first-ever infrared views of Jupiter's south pole could reveal the planet's southern aurora, we were amazed to see it for the first time. No other instruments, both from Earth or space, have been able to see the southern aurora. Now, with JIRAM, we see that it appears to be very bright and well-structured. The high level of detail in the images will tell us more about the aurora’s morphology and dynamics.”

 

Among the more unique data sets collected by Juno during its first scientific sweep by Jupiter was that acquired by the mission’s Radio/Plasma Wave Experiment (Waves), which recorded ghostly-sounding transmissions emanating from above the planet. These radio emissions from Jupiter have been known about since the 1950s but had never been analyzed from such a close vantage point.

 

“Jupiter is talking to us in a way only gas-giant worlds can,” said Bill Kurth, co-investigator for the Waves instrument from the University of Iowa, Iowa City. “Waves detected the signature emissions of the energetic particles that generate the massive auroras which encircle Jupiter’s north pole. These emissions are the strongest in the solar system. Now we are going to try to figure out where the electrons come from that are generating them.”

 

The Juno spacecraft launched on Aug. 5, 2011, from Cape Canaveral, Florida and arrived at Jupiter on July 4, 2016. JPL manages the Juno mission for the principal investigator, Scott Bolton, of Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio. Juno is part of NASA's New Frontiers Program, which is managed at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, for NASA's Science Mission Directorate. Lockheed Martin Space Systems, Denver, built the spacecraft. Caltech in Pasadena, California, manages JPL for NASA.

Quelle: NASA

 

 


1090 Views

Freitag, 2. September 2016 - 17:40 Uhr

Raumfahrt - Startvorbereitung von JAXA H-IIA No. 31 mit Himawari-9 Satelliten

2,09.2016

Launch of H-IIA Launch Vehicle No. 31

September 2, 2016 (JST)

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd.
National Research and Development Agency
Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA)

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd. and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency decided to launch the H-IIA Launch Vehicle No. 31 (H-IIA F31) with the Geostationary Meteorological Satellite "Himawari-9" in the following schedule.

Scheduled date of launch:
November 1 (Tue.), 2016 (Japan Standard Time)
Launch time:
3:20 through 6:18 p.m. (Japan Standard Time) (*)
Reserved Launch Period:
November 2 (Wed.), 2016 through December 31 (Sat.)
Launch site:
Yoshinobu Launch Complex at the Tanegashima Space Center

* The launch time will be set to sometime between 3:20 and 6:40 p.m. (JST)

Quelle: JAXA


940 Views

Freitag, 2. September 2016 - 17:30 Uhr

Astronomie - Bilder von Sonnen Rand enthüllen Ursprünge des Sonnenwindes

.

Ever since the 1950s discovery of the solar wind – the constant flow of charged particles from the sun – there’s been a stark disconnect between this outpouring and the sun itself. As it approaches Earth, the solar wind is gusty and turbulent. But near the sun where it originates, this wind is structured in distinct rays, much like a child’s simple drawing of the sun. The details of the transition from defined rays in the corona, the sun’s upper atmosphere, to the solar wind have been, until now, a mystery.

 

Using NASA’s Solar Terrestrial Relations Observatory, or STEREO, scientists have for the first time imaged the edge of the sun and described that transition, where the solar wind starts. Defining the details of this boundary helps us learn more about our solar neighborhood, which is bathed throughout by solar material – a space environment that we must understand to safely explore beyond our planet. A paper on the findings was published in The Astrophysical Journal on Sept. 1, 2016.

 

The details of the transition from defined rays in the corona, the sun’s upper atmosphere, to the solar wind have always been a mystery. Using NASA’s Solar Terrestrial Relations Observatory, or STEREO, scientists have for the first time imaged the edge of the sun and described that transition, where the solar wind starts.
Credits: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center/Genna Duberstein

“Now we have a global picture of solar wind evolution,” said Nicholeen Viall, a co-author of the paper and a solar scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. “This is really going to change our understanding of how the space environment develops.”

 

Both near Earth and far past Pluto, our space environment is dominated by activity on the sun. The sun and its atmosphere are made of plasma – a mix of positively and negatively charged particles which have separated at extremely high temperatures, that both carries and travels along magnetic field lines. Material from the corona streams out into space, filling the solar system with the solar wind.

 

But scientists found that as the plasma travels further away from the sun, things change: The sun begins to lose magnetic control, forming the boundary that defines the outer corona – the very edge of the sun.

 

“As you go farther from the sun, the magnetic field strength drops faster than the pressure of the material does,” said Craig DeForest, lead author of the paper and a solar physicist at the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colorado. “Eventually, the material starts to act more like a gas, and less like a magnetically structured plasma.”

 

The breakup of the rays is similar to the way water shoots out from a squirt gun. First, the water is a smooth and unified stream, but it eventually breaks up into droplets, then smaller drops and eventually a fine, misty spray. The images in this study capture the plasma at the same stage where a stream of water gradually disintegrates into droplets.

Conceptual animation (not to scale) showing the sun's corona and solar wind.
Conceptual animation (not to scale) showing the sun's corona and solar wind.
Credits: NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center/Lisa Poje

 

Before this study, scientists hypothesized that magnetic forces were instrumental to shaping the edge of the corona. However, the effect has never previously been observed because the images are so challenging to process. Twenty million miles from the sun, the solar wind plasma is tenuous, and contains free-floating electrons which scatter sunlight. This means they can be seen, but they are very faint and require careful processing.

 

In order to resolve the transition zone, scientists had to separate the faint features of the solar wind from the background noise and light sources over 100 times brighter: the background stars, stray light from the sun itself and even dust in the inner solar system. In a way, these images were hiding in plain sight.

animation showing views of the solar wind before (left) and after (right) computer processing
Views of the solar wind from NASA's STEREO spacecraft (left) and after computer processing (right). Scientists used an algorithm to dim the appearance of bright stars and dust in images of the faint solar wind. This innovation enabled them to see the transition from the corona to the solar wind. It also gives us the first video of the solar wind itself in a previously unmapped region.
Credits: data from Craig DeForest, SwRI

 

computer-processed animation of solar wind
Computer-processed data of the solar wind.
Credits: data from Craig DeForest, SwRI

Images of the corona fading into the solar wind are crucial pieces of the puzzle to understanding the whole sun, from its core to the edge of the heliosphere, the region of the sun’s vast influence. With a global perspective, scientists can better understand the large-scale physics at this critical region, which affect not only our planet, but also the entire solar system.

 

Such observations from the STEREO mission – which launched in 2006 – also help inform the next generation of sun-watchers. In 2018, NASA is scheduled to launch the Solar Probe Plus mission, which will fly into the sun’s corona, collecting more valuable information on the origin and evolution of the solar wind.

 

STEREO is the third mission in NASA Heliophysics Division’s Solar Terrestrial Probes program, which is managed by Goddard for the Science Mission Directorate, in Washington, D.C.

Quelle: NASA


996 Views


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