Sonntag, 23. Oktober 2016 - 21:45 Uhr

Astronomie - ASU-Astronomen erforschen Geheimnisse der Sternentstehung


Uniquely sensitive camera, with optics and electronics designed and built at ASU, will probe into giant clouds of interstellar dust

How do stars form deep inside clouds of molecular gas? What's the history of star formation throughout cosmic time? When did the first stars form? And how did they produce the materials necessary for life on Earth?

A group of astronomers at Arizona State University is seeking answers to such questions as part of an international experiment that has been awarded more than $6 million in funding from the National Science Foundation to help build a uniquely sensitive camera, called TolTEC, to probe these mysteries.

"Half the light from stars in the universe is absorbed by clouds of interstellar dust and then re-radiated at long wavelengths invisible to the human eye," said Philip Mauskopf, of Arizona State University's School of Earth and Space Exploration (SESE). "Astronomical observations at these wavelengths can let us see into the cores of stellar nurseries where new stars are forming."

Mauskopf, a professor in SESE, is the leader of the ASU team that will design and construct the optics for the new camera. The team will also develop the electronics for producing images from the instrument's superconducting detectors.

Big eye

The new camera will be attached to a giant telescope in Mexico. On top of the 15,000-foot Sierra Negra in the state of Puebla sits the Large Millimeter Telescope (pictured above), with a 50-meter (164-foot) diameter main mirror.

It is the largest telescope in the world designed to operate at a wavelength of 1 millimeter, ideal for making detailed study of the dusty universe. The construction of this telescope, with contributions from the University of Massachusetts, has been the biggest scientific project in the history of Mexico.

Over the next three years, an international consortium, led by UMass, will build the golf-cart-size TolTEC cryogenic camera for the Large Millimeter Telescope. It will survey the universe, imaging radiation from dust at millimeter-wavelengths across large areas of sky.

The astronomers expect these images will reveal millions of previously unknown galaxies that are invisible to standard optical telescopes due to their large dust content.

Hunting dusty galaxies

"Over the last decade, smaller cameras and telescopes have discovered thousands of these galaxies," Mauskopf said. "This new project will allow a complete census of dusty galaxies in the universe and enable us to truly begin to understand their properties."

Eagle Nebula in infrared light

Because of interstellar dust, star-forming regions such as the Eagle Nebula (M16) show relatively little when observed in visible light. This infrared view by the Herschel Space Observatory shows star formation activity inside the giant cloud of dusty gas. But the new TolTEC camera (with ASU optics and electronics) will produce views of stellar nurseries like this with finer detail.


In addition to Mauskopf, the ASU team includes postdoctoral scholar Sean Bryan, electrical engineer Hamdi Mani, mechanical engineer Matt Underhill as well as graduate student and NASA Earth and Space Science fellow Sam Gordon and Barrett Honors College student Rhys Kelso.

"To get the best images, we have to supercool the optics and the superconducting detectors," Mauskopf said. "While developing this kind of superconducting technology can be difficult, the detectors and readout electronics we are using for TolTEC are very similar to ones we have already developed for use on balloon-borne telescopes at shorter wavelengths."

Once the TolTEC camera is completed, it will be mounted on the Large Millimeter Telescope and begin a two-year program of three large sky surveys covering hundreds of square degrees. These surveys will target regions where there are known dust clouds in our own galaxy. They will also target regions where there is relatively little local dust so that more distant objects are visible for comparison with deep optical images containing large numbers of galaxies.

Major step forward

Observations that require today’s telescopes five years to complete will be done in a little more than a week with TolTEC.

"It’s hard to grasp the increased capabilities of the new instrument," said Grant Wilson of UMass, principal investigator for TolTEC. "The combination of the new camera and the LMT requires a new outlook on what types of investigations are possible."

The details of the TolTEC surveys will be worked out in consultation with the international astronomical community through a series of workshops led by members of the TolTEC scientific advisory board. Data from the surveys will be made public as quickly as possible to allow the maximum scientific return.

The data from TolTEC will enable cosmologists, such as SESE's Evan Scannapieco, to trace the mysterious mechanism that is shutting off star formation in giant galaxies. It will also help astronomers including SESE's Judd Bowman, Rogier Windhorst, James Rhoads and Sangeeta Malhotra, who are using other methods to directly observe the oldest and most distant galaxies responsible for the re-ionization of the hydrogen gas in the early universe.

"Designing and building this camera will be a wonderful hands-on opportunity for SESE students and researchers," Mauskopf said. "And the end result will be a powerful new tool for studying the universe."

Other partners in TolTEC include the National Institute of Standards and Technology, Northwestern University, the University of Michigan, Cardiff University (UK), and the National Institute of Astrophysics, Optics and Electronics in Mexico.


Top photo: Researchers and students at the School of Earth and Space Exploration will design and build the optics and electronics for a new, highly sensitive camera, dubbed TolTEC, for the Large Millimeter Telescope in Mexico. The camera will enable astronomers to observe deep inside galactic clouds of obscuring dust in regions of space where stars are being born. It will also help cosmologists trace the evolution of galaxies in the early universe. Image by LMT/James Lowenthal



Sonntag, 23. Oktober 2016 - 21:30 Uhr

Astronomie - Asteroid Psyche: Unerwartete Entdeckungen auf einer Metallwelt



An artist’s concept of the Psyche spacecraft, a proposed mission for NASA’s Discovery program that would explore the huge metal Psyche asteroid from orbit (Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

Psyche: Unexpected Discoveries on a Metal World 

A large asteroid thought to be the metallic core of a destroyed proto-planet appears to have molecules on its surface that shouldn't be there, according to a new study — unless they were delivered by other asteroids.

Astronomers have discovered possible evidence for water on the surface of the largest metallic asteroid in the solar system.

Named 16 Psyche, the bolide is one of the most massive in the Asteroid Belt, measuring 186 miles across and consisting of almost pure nickel-iron metal. It is thought to be the remnant core of a planetary embryo that was mostly destroyed by impacts billions of years ago. 

Previous observations of Psyche had shown no evidence for water on its surface. But in a paper accepted in The Astronomical Journal, Vishnu Reddy, an assistant professor at the University of Arizona's Lunar and Planetary Laboratory, argues that new observations from the NASA Infrared Telescope Facility show evidence for volatiles such as water or hydroxyl, a free radical consisting of one hydrogen atom bound to one oxygen atom, on Psyche's surface. In Earth's atmosphere, hydroxyl is extremely reactive and helps remove many chemical compounds. Hence, it is also known as the "detergent of the atmosphere."

"We did not expect a metallic asteroid like Psyche to be covered by water and/or hydroxyl," said Reddy, second author on the paper led by Driss Takir at the U.S. Geological Survey in Flagstaff, Arizona. "Metal-rich asteroids like Psyche are thought to have formed under dry conditions without the presence of water or hydroxyl, so we were puzzled by our observations at first."

The findings are interesting in the context of a proposed $500 million mission to send a spacecraft to Psyche, currently under review by NASA. Images taken by a spacecraft orbiting Psyche would enable us to distinguish between water and hydroxyl on the surface.

Asteroids are remaining fragments from the formation of the solar system that today orbit the sun between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter. Most of them fall into two broad categories: those rich in silicates, and those rich in carbon and volatiles. Metallic asteroids such as Psyche are extremely rare, making it a laboratory to study how planets formed. 

While the source of this water on Psyche remains a mystery, Reddy and his colleagues propose two possible mechanisms for its formation.

"We think the water we see on Psyche might have been delivered to its surface by carbonaceous asteroids that impacted Psyche in the distant past," Reddy says. 

"Our discovery of carbon and water on an asteroid that isn't supposed to have those compounds supports the notion that these building blocks of life could have been delivered to our Earth early in the history of our solar system history," said Reddy, who discovered similar dark, carbonaceous impactors rich in volatiles on the surface of asteroid Vesta by studying the images from NASA's Dawn mission. Alternatively, the hydroxyl could be the product of solar wind interacting with silicate minerals on Psyche's surface. 

To further explore the hypothesis of carbon and water delivered to protoplanetary bodies by asteroids in the early solar system, the UA is leading NASA's OSIRIS-REx mission to bring back a sample from carbonaceous asteroid (101955) Bennu in 2023.

Reddy presented the findings at the joint 48th meeting of the Division for Planetary Sciences and 11th European Planetary Science Congress in Pasadena, California. His research on Psyche is funded by NASA's Planetary Science Division's Planetary Geology and Geophysics program. The research paper is available online

Quelle: University of Arizona


Sonntag, 23. Oktober 2016 - 11:00 Uhr

Raumfahrt - Erfolgreicher Start und Ankunft von ISS-Crew-49/50



International Space Station Expedition 49 crew members Sergei Ryzhikov of the Russian space agency Roscosmos, Shane Kimbrough of NASA, and Andrei Borisenko of Roscosmos..
Credits: NASA/Robert Markowitz
NASA astronaut Shane Kimbrough and two Russian crewmates will answer questions about their upcoming mission on the International Space Station at a news conference, and be available for one-on-one interviews, Thursday, July 7, at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston. The 2 p.m. EDT news conference will air live on NASA Television and stream on the agency's website.
Kimbrough and cosmonauts Andrey Borisenko and Sergey Ryzhikov of the Russian space agency Roscosmos will launch to the space station Sept. 23 aboard the Soyuz MS-02 spacecraft from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. The trio will round out Expedition 49, and return to Earth in February as part of the Expedition 50 crew.
B-roll video of crew training will air before the news conference, beginning at 1:30 p.m. Media who wish to participate by telephone should call Johnson's newsroom at 281-483-5111 no later than 1:45 p.m. Those following the briefing on social media may ask questions using the hashtag #askNASA. Interview opportunities also are available in person or by phone.
To request credentials to attend in person, or to reserve an interview opportunity, reporters must contact Johnson's newsroom by 4 p.m. Tuesday, July 5.
During their planned five and a half month mission, the station crew members will perform approximately 250 research investigations and technology demonstrations not possible on Earth in order to advance scientific knowledge of Earth, space, physical and biological sciences. Science conducted on the space station continues to yield benefits for humanity and will enable future long-duration human and robotic exploration into deep space, including the agency’s Journey to Mars.
Kimbrough, a retired Army Colonel, completed his first spaceflight in 2008 on space shuttle mission STS-126, when he spent almost 16 days helping expand the station’s living quarters to accommodate a six-member crew. During those 16 days, he completed two spacewalks, logging 12 hours and 52 minutes outside the station.
A native of Killeen, Texas, Kimbrough is a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and the Georgia Institute of Technology. He started working at Johnson as a flight simulation engineer on shuttle training aircraft before his selection to the astronaut corps in 2004.
Quelle: NASA
Update: 15.09.2016

NASA Television to Air Launch of Next International Space Station Crew

Expedition 49 crewmembers Shane Kimbrough of NASA and Sergey Ryzhikov and Andrey Borisenko of the Russian space agency Roscosmos
Expedition 49 crewmembers Shane Kimbrough of NASA and Sergey Ryzhikov and Andrey Borisenko of the Russian space agency Roscosmos join hands in front of their Soyuz MS-02 spacecraft during a pre-launch training fit check at the Integration Facility at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.
Credits: NASA/Victor Zelentsov

Three crew members headed to the International Space Station are scheduled to launch on Friday, Sept. 23. Live launch coverage will begin at 1:15 p.m. EDT on NASA Television and the agency’s website.


NASA astronaut Shane Kimbrough, along with cosmonauts Sergey Ryzhikov and Andrey Borisenko of the Russian space agency Roscosmos, will launch at 2:16 p.m. from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan (12:16 a.m. Sept. 24, Baikonur time). The Expedition 49/50 crew will spend approximately five months together aboard the orbital complex before returning to Earth in late February.


Between launch and docking to the space station, the trio will spend two days in the Soyuz MS-02 testing upgrades to the spacecraft’s various systems. The team will dock to the space station’s Poisk module at 3:32 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 25. NASA TV coverage of the docking will begin at 2:45 p.m.


Hatches between the Soyuz and station will open at approximately 6:10 p.m. Sunday, and NASA TV coverage of hatch opening and welcoming ceremonies will begin at 5:45 p.m. The arriving crew will be welcomed by Expedition 49 Commander Anatoly Ivanishin of Roscosmos and Flight Engineers Kate Rubins of NASA and Takuya Onishi of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, who have been on the station since July.


The soon-to-be six crew members of Expedition 49 will continue work on hundreds of experiments in biology, biotechnology, physical science and Earth science aboard humanity’s only microgravity laboratory.

Quelle: NASA


Update: 17.09.2016


Roscosmos Postpones Launch of Soyuz MS-02 Over Technical Reasons © Sputnik/ STR

TECH 11:11 17.09.2016(updated 11:12 17.09.2016) Get short URL 027410 The Russian space agency postponed the launch of the Soyuz MS-02 spacecraft over technical reasons. © AP PHOTO/ GAGARIN COSMONAUT TRAINING CENTER VIA NASA ‘Your Blood Will Boil’: Never Walk in Space Without a Spacesuit, Cosmonauts Warn MOSCOW (Sputnik) — Russian space corporation Roscosmos has canceled the launch of the Soyuz MS-02 spacecraft, scheduled for September 23, due to technical reasons, the agency's press service said in statement. "Roscosmos decided to postpone launch of the spacecraft Soyuz MS-02, scheduled for September 23, 2016, due to technical reasons after control testing at the Baikonur space center [in Kazakhstan]," the statement said. The launch date will be announced later, the press service added.

Quelle: Sputnik


Update: 20.09.2016


Soyuz MS-02 launch to ISS postponed until November 1 

MOSCOW, September 20. /TASS/. The launch of Soyuz MS-02 manned spacecraft with the new crew to the International Space Station (ISS) scheduled for September 23 has been postponed until November 1, a NASA representative in Russia’s Mission Control Center has told TASS.

"Yesterday a meeting of the state commission was held that took a decision on the Soyuz launch on November 1," the NASA representative said.

The launch has been postponed for technical reasons. A source in the rocket and space sector earlier told TASS the delay came due to a short circuit in the spacecraft’s equipment.

The flight was scheduled to carry Russian cosmonauts Sergei Ryzhikov and Andrei Borisenko, and US astronaut Robert Shane Kimbrough to the space station.

Quelle: TASS


Update: 23.09.2016


Soyuz MS-02 launch to ISS postponed due to burnt cable — source

MOSCOW, A burnt cable was the cause of postponing the launch of the Soyuz MS-02 manned spacecraft to the International Space Station (ISS) from the Baikonur space center in Kazakhstan, a source in the rocket and space sector said on Thursday.

"The cause has been determined - one of the cables was burnt. The specialists may remove the old one and install a new one by October 19. If they manage to do this by that time, then the launch will take place after October 20," he said. 

The Roscosmos space corporation has not commented on the report.

The Soyuz MS-02 manned spacecraft, carrying Russian cosmonauts Sergei Ryzhikov and Andrei Borisenko, as well as US astronaut Robert Shane Kimbrough, was initially scheduled to blast off for the ISS on September 23, but the launch was delayed on September 17 due to undetected technical malfunction.

Two days ago a NASA representative in Russia’s Mission Control Center told TASS that the launch of Soyuz MS-02 was postponed until November 1.

Roscosmos informed earlier that despite the delayed launch of the Soyuz MS-02 rocket, specialists continued preparations for the launch of the Soyuz MS-03 spacecraft, scheduled for November 16.

The launch of the first spacecraft of the new series Soyuz MS initially scheduled for June 24 was postponed until July 7 due to technical problems with the flight control system.

Quelle: TASS


Update: 13.10.2016


Next Space Station Crew Set for Launch, Live on NASA TV


Expedition 49 crew members Shane Kimbrough of NASA, and Sergey Ryzhikov and Andrey Borisenko of the Russian space agency Roscosmos at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on Sept. 9, 2016.
Credits: NASA

Three crew members of Expedition 49/50 are scheduled to launch to the International Space Station at 4:05 a.m. EDT Wednesday, Oct. 19 (2:05 p.m. Baikonur time) from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Live launch coverage will begin at 3:15 a.m. on NASA Television and the agency’s website.


NASA astronaut Shane Kimbrough, along with Roscosmos cosmonauts Sergey Ryzhikov and Andrey Borisenko, will travel for two days in the Soyuz MS-02 spacecraft to test upgraded spacecraft systems before docking to the space station’s Poisk module at 5:59 a.m. Friday, Oct. 21. NASA TV coverage of the docking will begin at 5:15 a.m.


Hatches between the Soyuz and station will open at approximately 8:35 a.m., and the arriving crew will be welcomed on board by Expedition 49 Commander Anatoly Ivanishin of Roscosmos and Flight Engineers Kate Rubins of NASA and Takuya Onishi of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, who have been aboard the complex since July. NASA TV coverage of hatch opening and welcoming ceremonies will begin at 8 a.m.


The original launch date of Sept. 23 was postponed due to a technical issue with the Soyuz spacecraft, which Roscosmos repaired.


Kimbrough, Ryzhikov and Borisenko will spend a little more than four months together aboard the orbital complex before returning to Earth in late February. The full six-person crew will continue work on hundreds of experiments in biology, biotechnology, physical science and Earth science aboard the International Space Station, humanity’s only microgravity laboratory.

Quelle: NASA


Update: 16.10.2016


© Marina Lystseva/TASS, archive 

BAIKONUR, The Soyuz-FG rocket carrier with the Soyuz MS-02 spacecraft has been set up at the launch pad at the Baikonur spaceport in Kazakhstan, Roscosmos state corporation told TASS on Sunday.

"In accordance with the decision of the state commission, the Soyuz-FG rocket carrier, with the Soyuz MS transport manned spacecraft, were taken from the assembly and testing facility to the launch pad," a spokesman for Roscosmos said.

The spacecraft to the International Space Station (ISS) will be launched at 11:05am Moscow time on October 19. It will dock the Russian module Poisk at 12:59pm Moscow time on October 21.

Among the crewmembers of the Soyuz MS-02 transport manned spacecraft are Russian cosmonauts Sergey Ryzhikov and Andrei Borisenko and US astronaut Shane Kimbrough.

Quelle: TASS


Update: 18.10.2016


Quelle: NASA


Update: 19.10.2016


NASA Astronaut Shane Kimbrough, Crewmates Launch to Space Station to Continue Research

Launch of Expedition 49 crew to ISS on Oct. 19, 2016.
The Soyuz MS-02 rocket is launched with Expedition 49 Soyuz commander Sergey Ryzhikov of Roscosmos, flight engineer Shane Kimbrough of NASA, and flight engineer Andrey Borisenko of Roscosmos, Wednesday, Oct. 19, 2016 at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Ryzhikov, Kimbrough, and Borisenko will spend the next four months living and working aboard the International Space Station.
Credits: NASA/Joel Kowsky
NASA astronaut Shane Kimbrough gives a thumbs-up shortly after launch on Oct. 19, 2016
NASA astronaut Shane Kimbrough gives a thumbs-up shortly after launching Oct. 19, 2016, from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on his way to the International Space Station with Expedition 49 crewmates Sergey Ryzhikov and Andrey Borisenko of the Russian space agency Roscosmos.
Credits: NASA TV
Expedition 49's Andrey Borisenko of Roscosmos, Shane Kimbrough of NASA, and Sergey Ryzhikov of Roscosmos
Expedition 49 flight engineer Andrey Borisenko of Roscosmos, flight engineer Shane Kimbrough of NASA, and Soyuz commander Sergey Ryzhikov of Roscosmos, climb the ladder to the elevator as they prepare to board the Soyuz MS-02 rocket for launch, Wednesday, Oct. 19, 2016 at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Kimbrough, Borisenko, and Ryzhikov will spend the next four months living and working aboard the International Space Station.
Credits: NASA/Joel Kowsky

Three crew members representing the United States and Russia are on their way to the International Space Station after launching from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 4:05 a.m. EDT Wednesday (2:05 p.m. Baikonur time).

The Soyuz spacecraft carrying astronaut Shane Kimbrough of NASA, and cosmonauts Sergey Ryzhikov and Andrey Borisenko of the Russian space agency Roscosmos, is scheduled to dock to the Poisk module of the space station at 5:59 a.m. Friday, Oct. 21. NASA Television coverage of docking will begin at 5:15 a.m. Hatches are scheduled to open about 8:35 a.m., with NASA TV coverage starting at 8 a.m.

The arrival of Kimbrough, Ryzhikov and Borisenko returns the station's crew complement to six. The three join Expedition 49 Commander Anatoli Ivanishin of Roscosmos, Flight Engineers Kate Rubins of NASA and Takuya Onishi of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency. The Expedition 49 crew members will spend a little over four months conducting more than 250 science investigations in fields such as biology, Earth science, human research, physical sciences and technology development.


Kimbrough, Ryzhikov and Borisenko are scheduled to remain aboard the station until late February. Rubins, Ivanishin and Onishi will return to Earth Oct. 30.


The Expedition 49 crew will welcome a variety of cargo deliveries to the space station, including Orbital ATK’s Cygnus, which launched Monday from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. The spacecraft is scheduled to arrive at the orbital laboratory Sunday, Oct. 23, with more than 5,100 pounds of science and research equipment, as well as crew supplies and hardware.


Included in the Cygnus shipment are payloads that will study fires in space, the effect of lighting on sleep and daily rhythms, collection of health-related data, and a new way to measure neutrons.


A Japanese cargo craft is scheduled to deliver new lithium ion batteries in December to replace the nickel-hydrogen batteries currently used to store electrical energy generated by the station’s solar arrays. The crew members also are scheduled to receive SpaceX’s 10th commercial resupply ship and two Russian Progress resupply missions delivering several tons of food, fuel, supplies and research.


For more than 15 years, humans have been living continuously aboard the space station to advance scientific knowledge and demonstrate new technologies, making research breakthroughs not possible on Earth that also will enable long-duration human and robotic exploration into deep space. A truly global endeavor, more than 200 people from 18 countries have visited the unique microgravity laboratory that has hosted more than 1,900 research investigations from researchers in more than 95 countries.


Frams von Launch:








Quelle: NASA


Update: 22.10.2016


New crew members move from Soyuz spacecraft to ISS

"The crew of the manned cargo spacecraft has begun transfer to the ISS," Mission Control said.


Soyuz has brought to the ISS Russia’s Sergei Ryzhikov and Andrei Borisenko, as well as US astronaut Robert Shane Kimbrough.

On board the ISS they have been welcomed by the crew of the previous expedition - Russia’s Aleksey Ivanishin, Japan’s Takuya Onishi, and NASA’s Kathleen Rubins - who are to travel back to Earth on October 30. It is expected that the Soyuz MS will separate from the ISS at 03:36 Moscow time to land in Kazakhstan’s steppe at 06:59 Moscow time.

The Soyuz-FG rocket carrying the Soyuz MS-02 spacecraft blasted off from the Baikonur space site in Kazakhstan at 11:05 on October 19. Nine and a half minutes later the ship entered the expected orbit and started closing up with the ISS. At 12:59 on October 21 the Soyuz spacecraft docked with the Russian module of the ISS in the automatic mode.

Quelle: TASS


Upgraded Soyuz brings crew of three to space station

The Soyuz MS-02 spacecraft on final approach early Friday, bringing three fresh crew members to the International Space Station. 


An upgraded Soyuz ferry ship, the second in a new series featuring improved avionics, navigation and other systems, glided to a flawless docking with the International Space Station early Friday, bringing three fresh crew members to the outpost and briefly boosting the lab’s crew back to six.

With commander Sergey Ryzhikov monitoring an automated approach, flanked on the left by flight engineer Andrey Borisenko and on the right by NASA astronaut Shane Kimbrough, the Soyuz MS-02/48S spacecraft docked at the station’s upper Poisk module at 5:52 a.m EDT (GMT-4) as the two spacecraft passed 250 miles above southern Russia.

Hooks and latches then engaged, pulling the nose of the Soyuz firmly into the docking mechanism and locking the spacecraft in place.

“Congratulations on (a) successful docking,” a Russian flight controller radioed.


The Soyuz MS-02 crew -- Andrey Borisenko, front left, Sergey Ryzhikov, front center, and NASA astronaut Shane Kimbrough, front right, reached the International Space Station Friday after a two-day orbital chase. Welcoming them aboard were Kate Rubins, back left, Expedition 49 commander Anatoly Ivanishin, back center, and flight engineer Takyua Onishi, back right.


After verifying an airtight seal and equalizing pressure between the station and the Soyuz, Expedition 49 commander Anatoly Ivanishin, Japanese astronaut Takuya Onishi and NASA astronaut Kate Rubins welcomed their new crewmates aboard at 8:20 a.m., two days after launch from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

Floating in the Russian Zvezda module, all six crew members took a moment to chat with family, friends and program officials in the Moscow mission control center during a traditional post-docking video conference.

“Andrey dear, we’re wishing you and your entire crew, and the Anatoly Ivanishin crew, all the very, very best, every success in your work,” Borisenko’s mother called up. “We love you very, very much, we’re wishing you all the very best. Remain in good health.”

“Thank you, mother,” her son replied from orbit. “We’re doing really well, everything is great. Please, don’t worry about any of us.”

Ivanishin, Onishi and Rubins, launched July 6 aboard the Soyuz MS-01 spacecraft, have had the station to themselves since Sept. 6 when Expedition 48 commander Jeff Williams, Alexey Ovchinin and Oleg Skripochka departed and returned to Earth aboard their Soyuz TMA-20M spacecraft.

Kimbrough and his crewmates originally hoped to replace the TMA-20M crew in September, but the flight was delayed nearly a month by work to repair damaged wiring in the MS-02 spacecraft.

The new MS-series Soyuz features a variety of major upgrades and improvements, including enhanced navigation and rendezvous systems, a new satellite communications capability, improved propulsion and increased redundancy in critical systems.


The Soyuz MS-02 spacecraft on final approach to the space station, as seen by a new high-definition camera mounted on the lab’s solar power truss.


In recent years, Soyuz crews have carried out relatively short, six-orbit trips to the station. But for at least the first two MS-series spacecraft, Russian mission managers opted for two-day 34-orbit rendezvous profiles to carry out a variety of tests before resuming faster four-orbit trips. 

Ryzhikov, Borisenko and Kimbrough face a busy first few days aboard the space station, preparing for the arrival early Sunday of an Orbital ATK Cygnus cargo ship loaded with more than 5,100 pounds of equipment and supplies.

Six days later, Ivanishin’s crew will prepare for departure and return to Earth on Oct. 29 U.S. time, leaving Kimbrough in command of the Expedition 50 crew.

“To all crew members, have a good flight, wishing you a successful handover,” a Russian flight controller radioed Friday. “You have a very busy day, the day after tomorrow you’re going to welcome a cargo vehicle. It’s a lot of work, and then you will need to get ready to go back home to Earth. Wishing you a soft landing.”

After Ivanishin’s crew departs, Kimbrough and his MS-02 crewmates will be on their own until Nov. 15 when Soyuz MS-03 commander Oleg Novitskiy, European Space Agency astronaut Thomas Pesquet and NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson arrive after blastoff from Baikonur.

A Japanese HTV cargo ship is expected to arrive in December, bringing six lithium-ion batteries to the lab complex to replace 12 aging, less powerful batteries in the station’s solar power system. The new batteries will be installed during spacewalks in January.

If all goes well, Kimbrough, Ryzhikov and Borisenko will return to Earth at the end of February to close out a 130-day mission.



Update: 23.10.2016


ISS-Crew im Gespräch mit Angehörigen in Moskau:





Quelle: NASA




Tags: Raumfahrt 


Samstag, 22. Oktober 2016 - 22:45 Uhr

Astronomie - Geologisch junge Lavaströme an den Flanken des Venusvulkans Idunn Mons




Die europäische Orbitermission Venus Express lieferte über acht Jahre, zwischen 2006 und 2014, eine enorme Fülle an Messdaten und Aufnahmen von der Atmosphäre und Oberfläche des Schwesterplaneten der Erde. Anhand von spektroskopischen Messungen in Wellenlängen des nahen Infrarot haben Wissenschaftler im Deutschen Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt (DLR) an den Flanken von Idunn Mons, einem Vulkan auf der Südhalbkugel der Venus mit 200 Kilometern Basisdurchmesser, Anomalien in den Messungen identifiziert, die auf Spuren von jungem Vulkanismus auf der Venus hindeuten. "Es ist uns gelungen, einzelne Lavaströme zu identifizieren und ihre Ausdehnung zu kartieren, die an der Caldera am Gipfel des Vulkans ihren Ausgang nehmen und sich über die Ostflanke erstrecken" sagt Piero d’Incecco vom DLR-Institut für Planetenforschung, der seine Forschungsergebnisse auf der gemeinsamen Konferenz der Division for Planetary Sciences (DPS) der American Astronomical Society und des European Planetary Science Congress im kalifornischen Pasadena vorstellte. "Die Daten deuten stark darauf hin, dass der Vulkan in geologisch jüngerer Zeit aktiv war".

D’Incecco und seine Kollegen wendeten dabei einen technischen Kniff an. "Wir kombinierten die Infrarotmessungen von Venus Express mit den räumlich viel höher aufgelösten topographischen Radardaten der NASA-Mission Magellan, die den Planeten zwischen 1990 und 1992 aus einer Umlaufbahn kartierte. Durch die Kombination der Datensätze zweier unterschiedlicher Missionen ist es zum ersten Mal die Kartierung einer noch vor kurzem aktiven vulkanischen Struktur auf einem anderen Himmelskörper als der Erde gelungen".

Erhöhte Temperatur am Vulkan

Dabei gestatte der Orbit von Venus Express es, insbesondere die Südhalbkugel der Venus in Wellenlängen des nahen Infrarot gut zu beobachten: Dazu wurde das Experiment VIRTIS (Visible and InfraRed Thermal Imaging Spectrometer) eingesetzt, das in bestimmten Wellenlängen die von der Venusoberfläche abgegebene und durch die Venusatmosphäre dringende Wärmestrahlung aufzeichnete. Allerdings begrenzt die den ganzen Planeten permanent einhüllende Wolkendecke die räumliche Auflösung der VIRTIS-Beobachtungen, ähnlich einer Fotografie im Nebel. Mit einer numerischen Modellierung der Daten konnte nun die Auflösung dieser Messungen erhöht werden.

Die DLR-Planetenforscher analysierten die Aufzeichnungen der Spitze und der Ostflanke des Vulkans Idunn Mons und stießen auf ungewöhnlich hohe Temperaturwerte für die Oberfläche. Die erhöhten Temperaturen deuten darauf hin, dass dieser Vulkan in geologisch relativ junger Vergangenheit aktiv gewesen sein könnte.
Die Lavadecke auf dem Gipfelplateau des Idunn Mons hat dabei einen Durchmesser von stellenweise mehr als 100 Kilometern, auch die Lavaströme an den Flanken von Idunn Mons sind zwischen 50 und 150 Kilometer lang, was auf eine dünnflüssige Lava basaltischer Zusammensetzung hindeutet. Basalte sind vulkanische Gesteine reich an Eisen und Magnesium und die häufigsten im Sonnensystem vorkommende Vulkanite: So bestehen die dunklen Gebiete auf dem Mond aus Basalt, oder auch die Ozeanböden der Erde, die Hawaii-Vulkane, der Ätna oder die Eifel.

Schwesterplanet mit Treibhauseffekt

Hauptaufgabe der Venus Express-Mission war die Untersuchung der Dynamik und Zusammensetzung der Venusatmosphäre, aber auch der Oberfläche des Planeten. Die Venus ist nur geringfügig kleiner ist als die Erde, ihre Entwicklung hat aber eine ganz andere Richtung genommen: Der Planet ist permanent von einer dichten Wolkenhülle umgeben, die Atmosphäre hat etwa 90 mal so viel Masse wie die Erde und besteht hauptsächlich aus Kohlendioxid, das für einen enormen Treibhauseffekt mit Temperaturen an der Oberfläche von 440 bis zu fast 500 Grad Celsius sorgt. Der Gasdruck beträgt dort über 90 bar, was dem Druck in 900 Meter Meerestiefe entspricht. Bisher sind die Wissenschaftler davon ausgegangen, dass die Venus zwar vor etwa 500 bis 600 Millionen Jahren global von Vulkanausbrüchen verändert wurde, es aber in der jüngeren geologischen Vergangenheit eher keinen aktiven Vulkanismus gab. Weder Magellan noch Venus Express zeigten zunächst Anzeichen hierfür.

VIRTIS war eines von sieben Experimenten an Bord von Venus Express. Mit dem in Italien, Frankreich und im DLR entwickelten Instrument wurden die untere Atmosphäre der Venus und die Temperaturen auf der Oberfläche in Wellenlängen der UV-Strahlung, des sichtbaren Lichts und des nahen Infrarots untersucht. Die Ostflanke des Vulkans Idunn Mons fiel bereits im Jahre 2010 in VIRTIS-Daten durch eine ungewöhnliche hohe thermale Abstrahlung bei einer Wellenlänge von einem Mikrometer auf. Aus diesem Grund unterzogen die DLR-Planetenforscher Piero D’Incecco, Nils Müller, Jörn Helbert und Mario D'Amore diesem einzigen, markanten Vulkan in der Region Imdr einer genaueren Untersuchung und wendeten erstmals die Kombination der Venus Express- und Magellan-Datensätze an. Dabei entdeckten sie am Gipfel und an der Ostflanke von Idunn Mons erneut Abweichungen der thermalen Abstrahlung – nun aber in höherer Auflösung.

Die Suche nach dem genauen Ort und der Ausdehnung der Lavaströme

Hierbei wurde eine neue Auswertemethode eingesetzt, die in der DLR-Gruppe für Planetenspektroskopische Labore entwickelt wurde. Ziel der Studie war es, die Position und die Ausdehnung der Anomalien genauer eingrenzen zu können. Dies ist mit der Identifikation der jüngsten Lavaströme an Idunn Mons auf Anhieb gelungen. Dabei wurden alle Lavaströme in ihrer Ausdehnung auf Basis der Radardaten kartiert. Dann wurden verschiedene Varianten für Intensität der Wärmeabstrahlung (Emissivität) bei einer Wellenlänge von einem Mikrometer für jeden einzelnen Lavastrom auf die kartierten Lava-Einheiten projiziert. Jede simulierte Szene wurde mit den Daten verglichen, die mit VIRTIS gemessen wurden. Für jede Simulation wurde die absolute Abweichung von den gemessenen Werten auf der Basis eines Quadratwurzel-Fehlers berechnet. Aus der Konfiguration, in der diese beiden Datensätze am besten zueinander passten, kann dann auf die Emissivität jedes einzelnen Lavastroms bei einer Wellenlänge von einem Mikrometer geschlossen werden. Die Lavaströme an der Idunn Mons-Ostflanke sind danach mit hoher Wahrscheinlichkeit Quelle der hohen Abstrahlungswerte in den VIRTIS Daten. Hohe Emissivitätswerte sind ein Anzeichen für geringe Verwitterung und damit auch geringes Alter der Lavaströme.

Die Stratigraphie der Region und die daraus abgeleitete zeitliche Reihenfolge der Vulkanausbrüche bestätigt dieses Ergebnis unabhängig von der Modellierung.  Die Werte der durchschnittlichen Mikrowellen-Emissivität entsprechen dem globalen Durchschnitt auf der Venusoberfläche. Sie stimmen mit den Labormesswerten für trockene Basalte überein.



Fortschritt für zukünftige Venus-Missionen

Die Studie der DLR-Planetenforscher wird zukünftige Projekte bei der Erforschung der Venus positiv beeinflussen, wie zum Beispiel die vorgeschlagene Discovery-Mission VERITAS der NASA oder der Vorschlag für eine Mission der europäischen Weltraumorganisation ESA mit Namen EnVision. Die Kombination von hochaufgelösten Radardaten mit der flächenhaften Kartierung der Zusammensetzung der Venus-Oberfläche im nahen Infrarot dürfte bedeutende wissenschaftliche Fortschritte bei der Erforschung der Geologie der Venus ermöglichen.

Quelle: DLR


Samstag, 22. Oktober 2016 - 22:15 Uhr

Raumfahrt - Shenzhou-11 Crew im Orbit zu Tiangong-2 - Update


China launches longest-ever manned space mission



JIUQUAN, China on Monday successfully launched the manned spacecraft Shenzhou-11, carrying two astronauts who will remain in space for 33 days, the longest manned mission in the country's space program to date.

Shenzhou-11, China's sixth manned spacecraft, will dock with space lab Tiangong-2, marking a step closer to its space station ambitions.

The spacecraft was launched with a Long March-2F Y11 carrier rocket at the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in northwest China's Gobi desert at 7:30 a.m. Monday Beijing time.

The launch was declared a success by Zhang Youxia, commander-in-chief of China's manned space program, about 19 minutes after blast-off.

President Xi Jinping, also general secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, sent a message of congratulations for the successful launch, expressing hope that "Chinese people will take bigger steps and march further in space, to make a new contribution to the building of China into a space power."

Premier Li Keqiang and Liu Yunshan, both members of Politburo Standing Committee of the CPC Central Committee, watched the live broadcast of the launch at the command center of China's manned space program in Beijing.

After docking with Tiangong-2, the astronauts will enter the space lab and stay there for 30 days.

Shenzhou-11 will then undock from Tiangong-2 and return to Earth within one day.

The two astronauts are commander Jing Haipeng, a 50-year-old veteran who participated in the Shenzhou-7 and Shenzhou-9 missions, as well as Chen Dong, 38, who is on his first space mission.

A ceremony to see the two astronauts off was held at the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center ahead of the launch on Monday morning.

In an interview with Xinhua, Chen said he was inspired by his idol, China's first astronaut Yang Liwei, to become one of the country's elite space explorers.

Tiangong-2 was launched into space on September 15. The rendezvous will happen at an orbit about 393 kilometers above Earth, the same height the future Chinese space station will operate at.

Wu Ping, deputy director of China's manned space engineering office, said at a press conference Sunday that Tiangong-2 has already reached its preset orbit 393 kilometers above the earth, adding that it was in stable condition and would meet the requirements for docking with Shenzhou-11 and accommodating the astronauts.

The mission aims to transport personnel and materials between Earth and Tiangong-2, as well as test meeting, docking and return processes.

Other objectives include aerospace medical experiments, space science experiments and in-orbit maintenance. The astronauts will conduct three experiments designed by middle school students from the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, including raising silkworms in space.

Jing and Chen will also be special correspondents for Xinhua, sharing their work and life in space via text, photo, audio and video, using Xinhua's global media services.

During their 30 days in the space lab, the astronauts will work eight hours per day, six days a week, according to the Astronaut Center of China.

"It is synchronized with the sleep-wake cycle on Earth and marks a transitional design to long-term flight in a space station," said Huang Weifen, deputy chief designer of the astronaut system with the center.

As the last manned space flight before China's space station mission, Huang said Shenzhou-11 offers a precious opportunity to verify the technology needed to support astronauts' life, health and work, as well as to gather data for the space station mission.

The astronauts will have access to: almost 100 kinds of food; contact with Earth through video, audio and emails; and exercise through a stationary bike and treadmill.

The mission will prove China's capability of carrying out a medium-term manned space mission.

In June 2013, three astronauts spent 15 days in space with the Shenzhou-10 mission, which docked with Tiangong-1, the predecessor of Tiangong-2.

Zhang Yulin, deputy commander-in-chief of China's manned space program, said Shenzhou-11 marks the imminent end of the exploratory stage of China's manned space program. The program will carry out manned space missions on a regular basis with the establishment of its own space station.

China's space station, which is expected to debut around 2020, may become mankind's only foothold in space when the International Space Station retires in 2024.


Tiangong-2 will remain operative in orbit after the Shenzhou-11 spacecraft returns to Earth, waiting for docking with Tianzhou-1, China's first cargo spacecraft to be launched in April 2017, to verify refueling technology, a key technology for any space station.

The mission will be a key step toward China's dream of building a permanent manned space station.

In 1992, China developed a three-step strategy for a manned space program.

The first step, to send an astronaut into space and return safely, was fulfilled by Yang Liwei in the Shenzhou-5 mission in 2003.

The second step was developing advanced space flight techniques and technologies including extra-vehicular activity and orbital docking. This phase also included the launch of two space laboratories -- effectively mini space-stations that could be manned on a temporary basis.

The next step will be to assemble and operate a permanent manned space station.

Zhou Jianping, chief designer of China's manned space program, said China's space station will be comprised of a core module and two experimental modules, each weighing about 20 tonnes.

It will accommodate three to six astronauts, Zhou added.

The core module is expected to be launched around 2018, and the space station will enter into full service around 2022, with an initial designed life of at least 10 years.

With the space station, China will become the second country after the former Soviet Union to have developed a space station with its own efforts.

Currently, China's astronauts, all selected from commissioned pilots of the People's Liberation Army Air Force, are mainly responsible for operating spacecraft, according to Zhou.

"In the future, we need astronauts from different backgrounds, engineers and scientists in particular, because we will carry out scientific experiments in the space station," Zhou said.

Zhang Bonan, chief designer of the Shenzhou-11 spacecraft, said China is exploring a new generation of manned spacecraft technology, aiming to lower the cost of space flight significantly, while ensuring its safety and reliability.

"I hope a spacecraft launch will just be ordinary news one day, and more Chinese citizens can embark in space flight, just like travelling by plane," Zhang said.


Spotlight: China closer to establishing permanent space station with launch of Shenzhou-11 
BEIJING, The launch of a new manned space mission brings China closer to the establishment of a permanent space station, international experts say.

Chinese taikonauts, Jing Haipeng, 50, and Chen Dong, 37, were blasted off into space onboard Shenzhou-11 at 7:30 a.m. Monday (2330 GMT Sunday) and will spend 30 days in the Chinese space laboratory Tiangong-2.

The launch marks a key step toward China's plan to eventually operate a permanent space station, said Russia Today television.

The successful launch of the Shenzhou-11 spacecraft is another step forward to put China among leading players in space technology, said Alexander Zheleznyakov, a Russian expert on history of space flights.

China's experimental space lab will help provide solutions for spacecraft of different functions to approach and dock, and for a long-term operation of life support system, said Zheleznyakov.

Shenzhou-11 is scheduled to dock on Wednesday with Tiangong-2, which is part of China's plan to build a permanent space station by 2022.

Igor Lisov, a prominent Russian space expert and an editor at the industry magazine Cosmonautics News, spoke highly of China's launch of the manned space mission.

China can now test technologies for cargo spacecraft docking, life support system operation and water recycling to ensure a long-term continuous operation of its space station in the future with less dependance on replenishment from the Earth, he said.

If all goes well, China will launch the unpiloted Tianzhou-1 cargo ship next spring to autonomously dock with Tiangong-2. Tianzhou-1 will be capable of automatically transferring propellants, a crucial requirement for space station assembly and maintenance, according to a report by Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS).

"That will further their docking capabilities needed for the larger space station," Johnson Freese, a professor at the Naval War College and an expert on China's space program, was quoted as saying by the CBS.

"Tiangong-2 is supposed to be able to stay in orbit for two years or longer, so that's taking them (Chinese) really close to 2019 or so. I think this will be their last big technology test phase before going to their large space station," said Freese.

The steady progress of China's space program has aroused criticism against the United States, who refused to cooperate with China in the International Space Station program and forced China to develop its own.

While the European Space Agency and Russia are cooperating with China, NASA of the United States is currently largely prohibited from doing so by law, said the Finland-based news website

With the current U.S.-led International Space Station expected to retire in 2024, China could be the only country with a permanent presence in space, said the National Broadcasting Company (NBC).

China has already signed an agreement with the United Nations opening the Chinese Space Station to receive science payload, astronauts and even modules from countries around the world, the gbtimes reported.

China is "on the rise and the United States is in very real danger of falling behind in the future," Leroy Chiao, a former NASA astronaut and veteran of four space flights, was quoted by the NBC as saying.

Despite being decades behind the U.S. space program, China is clearly catching up and using what Chinese experts call the "latecomer's advantage," the NBC reported.

Quelle: Xinhua


Update: 21.45 MESZ



Inzwischen Bergung der Shenzou11-Reentry-Teile...



Quelle: Xinhua


Update: 18.10.2016


Shenzhou XI astronaut to spend 50th birthday in space



Shenzhou XI astronaut to spend 50th birthday in space

Astronauts Jing Haipeng (right) and Chen Dong salute inside the spacecraft at the moment of launching on Monday. [Photo/Xinhua]


China launched the Shenzhou XI manned spacecraft on Monday morning to transport two male astronauts – 49-year-old Jing Haipeng and 37-year-old Chen Dong to the Tiangong II space laboratory.

Jing Haipeng, commander of Shenzhou XI, will spend his 50th birthday in space during the 30-day mission and break the age record of Chinese astronauts in service.

The mission is Jing's third spaceflight following his 68-hour Shenzhou VII mission in 2008 and 13-day Shenzhou IX mission in 2012, making him the first astronaut to enter the space thrice and holding the record of most hours spent in space by a Chinese.

His companion, Chen Dong, with a safe flight record of 1,500 hours as an air force pilot, was named one of China's second generations of astronauts in May 2010, and was selected as a crew member for the Shenzhou XI mission in June 2016.

'Totally believe in each other, but do not totally believe each other'

Jing is 12 years older and more experienced than zero-space-experience Chen. How do they cooperate with each other?

Chen said they have trained together for six years. "We spent more than 10 hours every day after being selected as crew members, far beyond the time we spent with our family members."

"Brother Jing once told me to totally believe in each other, but not totally believe each other," said Chen. "We believe in each other because our lives depend on each other," he said.

"But mistakes can happen in anything, he added, "we have to offer strengths to complement the others' weaknesses and make sure every action and every order is right."

Jing Haipeng was deeply impressed by Chen's professionalism. Once during training, when Jing was about to carry out a maneuver, Chen suddenly said "No 01, wait a moment please". Jing immediately realized that he had almost made a mistake.

"Although I am the commander and an older brother and Chen has to listen to me, he never obeys me blindly and stopped me tactfully," said Jing.

Jing and Chen call each other "brothers" in private, but "No 01" and "No 02" at work.

"After taking into consideration the current status and the future of the space team, we combined veteran astronaut with new astronaut," said Huang Weifen, deputy chief designer of Astronaut Center of China, adding that he hopes more veteran astronauts will carry out future missions.

Raise silkworms in space in experiment designed by HK students

One of the striking characteristics of Shenzhou XI mission is to perform many tests and experiments, dozens of which require astronauts to do them by themselves.

Raising silkworms is one of them. It is based on the design of Hong Kong students, who asks astronauts to observe whether silkworm will spin silk in space the way they spin on earth and whether they will cocoon themselves.

Jing and Chen therefore learned how to raise silkworms and Jing thinks it is very interesting.

They will also carry out some professional experiments, including scans of internal organs.

"I spoke with a doctor and he told me you need at least a year of training before you can conduct a B-scan on a patient," Jing said, referring to a technique in which structures of the body are visualized by recording echoes of ultrasonic waves directed into tissue. "We were trained for less than six months, and we're about to do it on our own bodies-with no gravity."

The resulting images and data will be sent back to headquarters for experts to analyze, he said, adding that the purpose is to see how the cardiovascular system is affected in a zero-gravity environment."

He said that one of the goals of Shenzhou XI mission is to evaluate astronauts' physical signs and living condition.

To finish all these tasks, astronauts underwent extensive training in operating scientific experiments. "We are not scientists, but we will realize scientists' ideas and goals through our hands," said Jing, adding that these tests and experiments will pave way for the long-term manned flight of space station in the future.

Meet family through VR technology

Three weeks before the mission, the family members of Jing and Chen still did not know anything.

Chen Dong has been a pilot for many years before joining the space team. He got acquainted with his wife several years ago and now has a pair of five-year-old twin sons.

One-month mission is not the longest time Chen has stayed away from home. When he was a pilot, he once did not come back home for half a year during a mission. He described the experience as "no seeing, no missing".

But with the help of Virtual Reality (VR) technology, astronauts will meet their family during leisure time. "If I see them (family members), it will be different somehow," Chen said.

For Jing, he looks very calm. In his first space mission on Shenzhou VII, his wife was so nervous that she almost did not sleep during those three days. Now that it is his third mission, his wife has got used to it.

During the mission, the team on the ground will visits Jing and Chen's family. "I talked with my wife and I think she will not worry much," said Chen Dong with a smile.


Astronauts enjoy range of delicacies on Shenzhou XI

Astronauts enjoy range of delicacies on Shenzhou XI

Astronauts Jing Haipeng (right) and Chen Dong salute inside the spacecraft at the moment of launching on Monday. [Photo/Xinhua]

The two astronauts headed for the Tiangong II space laboratory aboard the Shenzhou XI enjoyed their first meal about four hours after the spacecraft blasted off at 7:30am on Monday.

The lunch included eight types of food, ranging from grain crackers, canned apples, flatfish, spicy tofu, chicken sausages to lemon tea and stomach friendly beverage.

The recipe will change every five days during their 33-day stay in space, said Cao Ping, a nutrition researcher at the Astronaut Center of China in Beijing.

After Shenzhou docks at the space laboratory, the astronauts will have six types of meals thrice a day - staple and non-staple food, instant food, beverages, flavoring and functional food, and the meal time will synchronize with that on the earth.

Compared to previous space missions, the food on Shenzhou XI has a wider variety of Chinese delicacies.

In 2003, there were 20 or 30 types of food for China's first astronaut, Yang Liwei, who was carried aloft by Shenzhou V. On Shenzhou VII which blasted off in 2012, there were about 70 types of items. 

Shenzhou XI, on the other hand, carries more than 100 types of food and beverages, including spiced beef and shredded pork in garlic sauce, a popular dish in almost every Sichuan-cuisine restaurant, and desserts such as ice cream, according to Cao.

Recipes were designed and arranged in accordance with nutritional requirements in different phases of the mission. 

For example, the astronauts can eat congees if they lack appetite during their first days in space; Chinese food therapy will be adopted in the middle phase in line with the changes in the astronauts' physical conditions; while in the latter stage, food with low dietary fiber along with multivitamins will kick in.

The daily calorie intake, based on the working load of the astronauts, will be converted to the weight of food, equaling about one or two kilograms. 

Cao said the ground crew of Shenzhou XI will keep a close eye on the meals and make evaluations so as to keep the astronauts posted.

The astronauts will use a food heater developed by the Fourth Academy of China Aerospace Science and Industry Corp.



Update: Shenzhou11 dockt an Tiangong-2


China's crewed Shenzhou-11 spacecraft docks with Tiangong-2 space lab 

A split screen of the Shenzhou-11 capsule and view from Tiangong-2.A split screen of the Shenzhou-11 capsule and view from Tiangong-2. (Photo: Framegrab/CCTV)


The Shenzhou-11 spacecraft carrying two Chinese astronauts has docked with the Tiangong-2 space lab, in a mission designed to pave the way for the future Chinese space station.

The successful procedure, performed with both craft travelling at around 7 kilometres per second, comes two days afterlaunch of Shenzhou-11 on a Long March 2F rocket from the Gobi Desert.

The automated docking occurred at 03:29 Beijing on Wednesday (19:29 UTC Tuesday) while the craft passed over southwest China at an altitude of 393 km.

Two to three hours after docking astronauts Jing Haipeng and Chen Dong will move through a one-metre-long passage to begin a 30-day mission aboard Tiangong-2.

Shenzhou-11 and Tiangong-2 space lab a few metres away from docking.
Shenzhou-11 and Tiangong-2 space lab a few metres away from docking.

The main aims of the Shenzhou-11 and Tiangong-2 missions are to test advanced life support and repair and maintenance capabilities required for China's planned large space station. 

In the process the astronauts will more than double the national record for human spaceflight mission duration.

Tiangong-2 and Shenzhou-11 are also carrying a range of science experiments, some of which will be carried out by the astronauts.


The mission is the third for the 49-year-old Jing,while the 37-year-old Chen, who became the 547th person to enter Earth orbit on Monday.

Shenzhou-11 is China's sixth human spaceflight mission, with the first, Shenzhou-5, taking Yang Liwei to orbit in October 2003.

China is only the third country, after the United States and Soviet Union (now Russia), to develop and perform automatic and manual docking capabilities between spacecraft in orbit.

Shenzhou-10 docking with Tiangong-1 in June 2013.
Above: Shenzhou-10 docking with Tiangong-1 in June 2013.

The first demonstration was with the uncrewed, automated Shenzhou-8 spacecraft and Tiangong-1 space lab in 2011, followed by the crewed Shenzhou-9 and 10 missions to Tiangong-1 in 2012 and 2013.

Space station plans

If all goes well with Shenzhou-11, China's first cargo supply vessel, Tianzhou-1, will launch on a new Long March 7 rocket in April 2017 to dock with Tiangong-2 to test on-orbit refueling technology required for maintaining a space station.

Together, the missions mark crucial steps towards China launching, in 2018, the core module of its planned 3-module, 60-tonne space station.

The space station is expected to be completed by around 2022 and share an orbit with a Hubble-class space telescope which can dock with the station.





Quelle: gbtimes


Update: 19.10.2016


Shenzhou-11 astronauts enter Tiangong-2 space lab



Photo taken on Oct. 19, 2016 shows the screen at the Beijing Aerospace Control Center showing Chinese astronaut Jing Haipeng entering the space lab Tiangong-2. The two astronauts onboard the Shenzhou-11 spacecraft entered the space lab Tiangong-2 Wednesday morning. (Xinhua/Ju Zhenhua)

BEIJING, Oct. 19 (Xinhua) -- The two astronauts aboard the Shenzhou-11 spacecraft entered the space lab Tiangong-2 at 6:32 Wednesday morning Beijing Time, according to Beijing Aerospace Control Center (BACC).

Commander of the mission Jing Haipeng opened the hatch of Tiangong-2 and floated into the space lab, followed later by Chen Dong.

The two astronauts extended greetings to all the people of the nation in the space lab, and checked the status of the space complex formed by Shenzhou-11 and Tiangong-2.

Before entering the space lab, the two astronauts entered Shenzhou-11's orbital compartment and removed their intravehicular mobility unit spacesuits to change into blue jumpsuits.

They will live in the space lab for 30 days before returning to Earth.

Shenzhou-11 was launched on Monday morning from northwest China's Gobi Desert.

It approached Tiangong-2 and automatically docked with the space lab at 3:31 a.m. Wednesday.




The graphics shows the procedure of Shenzhou-11 manned spacecraft automated docking with Tiangong-2 space lab on Oct. 19, 2016.






Quelle: Xinhua


Update: 20.10.2016


Astronaut's first diary from space: forget all about rice and noodle after they are heated


Photo taken on Oct. 19, 2016 shows the screen at the Beijing Aerospace Control Center showing the two Chinese astronauts Jing Haipeng (L) and Chen Dong saluting in the space lab Tiangong-2. The two astronauts onboard the Shenzhou-11 spacecraft entered the space lab Tiangong-2 Wednesday morning. (Xinhua/Ju Zhenhua)


ABOARD TIANGONG-2, Today is the first day that our flight crew moved into the space complex for the Shenzhou-11 mission. It is 10:05 p.m. now, and we haven't finished our work yet.

I'm told people are concerned about our life here in space. Tutuping'an, a net user of Xinhua mobile app, is curious about how we sleep and have meal in the space lab. I should say Chen Dong and I feel fulfilled in work, and we really want to go to bed now. As we were so busy in the morning, docking Shenzhou-11 and Tiangong-2 and then entering Tiangong-2 of the complex, we had no time for dinner. We ate only one meal for breakfast and lunch. They were largely ready-to-eat foods, or what we often say snacks. We took few staple food. We did heat rice and noodle, but in a little while forgot all about them. We are to make up for the meal at night.

This is my third time to fly into space. This is also my second time to enter Tiangong. Tiangong-1 was quite well, but Tiangong-2 is much more comfortable. It is perfect in layout, decoration and matching of colors.

Speaking of the family, I remember I said when meeting the press that half of the credit should be given to our family members. Chen Dong and I talked about it today, and we agreed with that.

At this very moment, Chen Dong and I miss you so much in Tiangong-2. I want to tell you, dear comrades from the astronaut brigade, that in the past 18 years, we have taken meals at the same table, attended class in the same room, and played basketball in the same court. In the 18 years, we have worked together, lived together, received training together, and chased dream together. We are as dear to each other as members of one family. I know you are standing guard, cheering us on, and on duty for us. And we salute you all!

Quelle: Xinhua


Update: 22.10.2016


Space Journal: Entry 2 -- I haven't seen aliens, or got space sickness

Photo taken on Oct. 19, 2016 shows the screen at the Beijing Aerospace Control Center showing the two Chinese astronauts Jing Haipeng (L) and Chen Dong saluting in the space lab Tiangong-2. The two astronauts onboard the Shenzhou-11 spacecraft entered the space lab Tiangong-2 Wednesday morning. (Xinhua/Ju Zhenhua)

ABOARD TIANGONG-Today is my third day aboard Tiangong-2. I am Xinhua space correspondent Chen Dong.

Being in space for the first time is unusual, to say the least, initially I felt that I could not control my body. I could not walk and certain actions just felt weird. My big brother Jing Haipeng has really helped me adjust to life up here, and I am slowly getting used to the feeling of zero gravity, and, you know what -- I'm starting to enjoy it more and more.

I sleep well but I think that is because during our waking hours we are busy so that I fall asleep as soon as I close my eyes at night. Have I dreamed? I think so, because of all the new things I am experiencing during the day. I definitely dreamed of the feeling of zero gravity.

Before being here, in space, I was most excited by the view from our porthole. Actually I saw it from our spacecraft when the fairing detached. I was so taken by this vision -- our beautiful planet -- that I made sure to take a few glances to really leave an imprint in my mind. While I was hypnotized by the view of Earth, bro Jing asked me how it made me feel. All I could say was that it was very beautiful. I had no more words for the way I felt at that moment. As being in space is not just about the view -- we have a lot of work to do after all -- I had to take as much in as I could in just a few moments. After all, I will always have the memory of this amazing moment.

I haven't seen the sunrise or sunset yet, just day and night. I'm sure the time will come for me to experience them both. And, as for taking photos or recording videos, I want to collect as much visual data as possible, as much for the world as for my own memories.

I heard that Xu Sidan, a student from Hangzhou school for the deaf asked me a question on Xinhua's mobile app. Xu asked whether I have seen aliens yet? What a beautiful imagination this child has. I haven't seen aliens, yet, but I do harbor a hope that I will see aliens, and many other peculiar things aside.

Another child asked me whether human get space sickness. Although a spaceship is a "ship," it is not at all like being at sea or onboard a car. This feeling of zero gravity will not cause sickness. It is just a wonderful feeling; very, very good.

Quelle: Xinhua



TIANGONG 2 SIGHTED FROM EARTH: China's new space station literally doubled in size on Oct. 18th when two Chinese astronauts (taikonauts) guided their Shenzhou 11 spacecraft into Tiangong 2's orbit and docked with it.  This has made the growing outpost even easier to see from Earth.  Last night, amateur astronomer Tom Harradine of Brisbane, Australia, took this picture of the joined spacecraft:

"I used a Skywatcher 14-inch Dobsonian telescope and a Canon EOS 70D digital camera to take this 1/3200 s exposure (ISO 800)," he explains. It was great to see the outlines of the space station with astronauts Jing Haipeng and Chen Dong on board."

Linked together, the merged spacecraft will orbit Earth for the next month providing a home in space about the size of a double decker bus. If all goes as planned, Haipeng and Dong will more than double the record for the longest-duration Chinese crewed mission, extending the mark from 15 days to 33 days. They will spend their time conducting science experiments and rehearsing procedures for future missions: Within a few years, China plans to start launching modules for a much larger Mir-class space station slated for completion in the 2020s.

Ready to see for yourself?  Tiangong 2 flyby predictions may be found at Heaven's Above. 

Quelle: Spaceweather



Samstag, 22. Oktober 2016 - 21:35 Uhr

Raumfahrt-History - NASA-flickr-Archiv: Apollo-17 Teil-8

























































Fotos: NASA









Samstag, 22. Oktober 2016 - 11:40 Uhr

Astronomie - Im Focus von Cassini: Saturn´s Nordpol


Changing Colors in Saturn's North


These two natural color images from NASA's Cassini spacecraft show the changing appearance of Saturn's north polar region between 2012 and 2016.


Scientists are investigating potential causes for the change in color of the region inside the north-polar hexagon on Saturn. The color change is thought to be an effect of Saturn's seasons. In particular, the change from a bluish color to a more golden hue may be due to the increased production of photochemical hazes in the atmosphere as the north pole approaches summer solstice in May 2017.


Researchers think the hexagon, which is a six-sided jetstream, might act as a barrier that prevents haze particles produced outside it from entering. During the seven-year-long Saturnian winter, the polar atmosphere became clear of aerosols produced by photochemical reactions -- reactions involving sunlight and the atmosphere. Since the planet experienced equinox in August 2009, the polar atmosphere has been basking in continuous sunshine, and aerosols are being produced inside of the hexagon, around the north pole, making the polar atmosphere appear hazy today.


Other effects, including changes in atmospheric circulation, could also be playing a role. Scientists think seasonally shifting patterns of solar heating probably influence the winds in the polar regions.


Both images were taken by the Cassini wide-angle camera.


The Cassini mission is a cooperative project of NASA, ESA (the European Space Agency) and the Italian Space Agency. The Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of Caltech in Pasadena, manages the mission for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington. The Cassini orbiter and its two onboard cameras were designed, developed and assembled at JPL. The imaging operations center is based at the Space Science Institute in Boulder, Colorado.

Quelle: NASA




Samstag, 22. Oktober 2016 - 11:30 Uhr

Astronomie - Uranus könnte zwei dunkle Monde haben, die wir noch nie gesehen haben



Uranus might have two dark moons we’ve never seen before


More moons round Uranus?


Uranus may have two small moons that no one has ever seen, orbiting closer to the planet than any of its other satellites and making wavy patterns in the planet’s rings.

The ice giant has 27 known moons, far fewer than the 67 and 62 of its neighbours Jupiter and Saturn, respectively. Uranus is a smaller planet, which may explain the difference.

But it might just be that we haven’t previously had a chance to look for more moons. Unlike its larger brethren, Uranus has entertained only one passing spacecraft – Voyager 2, which tripled the number of known Uranian moons in its 1986 flyby. Uranus is also yet to receive an orbiting spacecraft like Jupiter’s Galileo and Juno, or Saturn’s Cassini.

In addition to its moons, Uranus has dark, narrow rings. Scientists detected the first of these in 1977, when the planet and its rings blocked the light from a distant star. Voyager 2 later discovered two moons, Cordelia and Ophelia, on either side of the outermost ring, named Epsilon. The gravitational pulls of the two moons herd the ring’s particles into a narrow formation.

Small, dark satellites

Now planetary scientists Rob Chancia and Matthew Hedman at the University of Idaho in Moscow have re-examined Voyager data and discovered wavy patterns in two other rings, Alpha and Beta. These may similarly arise from the gravitational tug of a moon that lies outside each ring.

“These moons are pretty tiny,” says Chancia, at only 4 to 14 kilometres across if they exist. That means they’re probably smaller than any Uranian satellite known – and too diminutive for Voyager to have seen clearly. Still, at least four of Saturn’s moons are even smaller.

The two putative moons are probably dark, based on the colours of their neighbours. “Not only are Uranus’s rings dark, so are most of the little satellites that are in that region,” says Hedman.

The existence of the two moons is “certainly a very plausible possibility”, says Mark Showalter of the SETI Institute in Mountain View, California, who has discovered moons around Saturn, UranusNeptune and Pluto.

In the coming months, Showalter and his colleagues will examine observations of Uranus by the Hubble Space Telescope, which spotted Pluto’s four smallest moons years before the New Horizons spacecraft visited in 2015. He calls Hubble “the best bet” for finding the Uranian satellites, adding that characterising their orbits is very useful.

If a Hubble search fails, a Uranus orbiter could someday succeed – or else rule out the moons’ existence altogether. “That would definitely be a good way to do it,” says Hedman.

Quelle: NewScientist


Update: 22.10.2016


Uranus May Have Two Undiscovered Moons

Uranus is seen in this false-color view from NASA's Hubble Space Telescope
Uranus is seen in this false-color view from NASA's Hubble Space Telescope from August 2003. The brightness of the planet's faint rings and dark moons has been enhanced for visibility.
Credits: NASA/Erich Karkoschka (Univ. Arizona)

NASA's Voyager 2 spacecraft flew by Uranus 30 years ago, but researchers are still making discoveries from the data it gathered then. A new study led by University of Idaho researchers suggests there could be two tiny, previously undiscovered moonlets orbiting near two of the planet’s rings.


Rob Chancia, a University of Idaho doctoral student, spotted key patterns in the rings while examining decades-old images of Uranus' icy rings taken by Voyager 2 in 1986. He noticed the amount of ring material on the edge of the alpha ring -- one of the brightest of Uranus' multiple rings -- varied periodically. A similar, even more promising pattern occurred in the same part of the neighboring beta ring.


"When you look at this pattern in different places around the ring, the wavelength is different -- that points to something changing as you go around the ring. There's something breaking the symmetry," said Matt Hedman, an assistant professor of physics at the University of Idaho, who worked with Chancia to investigate the finding. Their results will be published in The Astronomical Journal and have been posted to the pre-press site arXiv.


Chancia and Hedman are well-versed in the physics of planetary rings: both study Saturn's rings using data from NASA's Cassini spacecraft, which is currently orbiting Saturn. Data from Cassini have yielded new ideas about how rings behave, and a grant from NASA allowed Chancia and Hedman to examine Uranus data gathered by Voyager 2 in a new light. Specifically, they analyzed radio occultations -- made when Voyager 2 sent radio waves through the rings to be detected back on Earth -- and stellar occultations, made when the spacecraft measured the light of background stars shining through the rings, which helps reveal how much material they contain.


They found the pattern in Uranus' rings was similar to moon-related structures in Saturn's rings called moonlet wakes.


The researchers estimate the hypothesized moonlets in Uranus' rings would be 2 to 9 miles (4 to 14 kilometers) in diameter -- as small as some identified moons of Saturn, but smaller than any of Uranus' known moons. Uranian moons are especially hard to spot because their surfaces are covered in dark material.


"We haven't seen the moons yet, but the idea is the size of the moons needed to make these features is quite small, and they could have easily been missed," Hedman said. "The Voyager images weren't sensitive enough to easily see these moons."


Hedman said their findings could help explain some characteristics of Uranus' rings, which are strangely narrow compared to Saturn's. The moonlets, if they exist, may be acting as "shepherd" moons, helping to keep the rings from spreading out. Two of Uranus' 27 known moons, Ophelia and Cordelia, act as shepherds to Uranus' epsilon ring.


“The problem of keeping rings narrow has been around since the discovery of the Uranian ring system in 1977 and has been worked on by many dynamicists over the years,” Chancia said. “I would be very pleased if these proposed moonlets turn out to be real and we can use them to approach a solution.”


Confirming whether or not the moonlets actually exist using telescope or spacecraft images will be left to other researchers, Chancia and Hedman said. They will continue examining patterns and structures in Uranus’ rings, helping uncover more of the planet’s many secrets.


"It's exciting to see Voyager 2's historic Uranus exploration still contributing new knowledge about the planets," said Ed Stone, project scientist for Voyager, based at Caltech, Pasadena, California.

Voyager 2 and its twin, Voyager 1, were launched 16 days apart in 1977. Both spacecraft flew by Jupiter and Saturn, and Voyager 2 also flew by Uranus and Neptune. Voyager 2 is the longest continuously operated spacecraft. It is expected to enter interstellar space in a few years, joining Voyager 1, which crossed over in 2012. Though far past the planets, the mission continues to send back unprecedented observations of the space environment in the solar system, providing crucial information on the environment our spacecraft travel through as we explore farther and farther from home.

NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of Caltech in Pasadena, California, built the twin Voyager spacecraft and operates them for the Heliophysics Division within NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington.

Quelle: NASA


Freitag, 21. Oktober 2016 - 23:00 Uhr

Raumfahrt - ESA ExoMars Mission 2016 - Update-7

19.10.2016 / 17.44 MESZ


ExoMars Mission LIVE-Frams aus Darmstadt










...18.05 MESZ






Nach sieben Monaten Flugzeit und rund 500 Millionen Kilometern ist die Sonde Schiaparelli auf dem Mars angekommen. Das geht aus Informationen der Europäischen Raumfahrtbehörde Esa hervor.Ob die Landung aber auch geglückt und die Sonde unbeschädigt ist, steht noch nicht fest. "Wir müssen noch ein bisschen warten, was mit dem Testlander passiert", sagte Esa-Chef Jan Wörner in der Flugleitzentrale in Darmstadt. Offenbar sind die Wissenschaftler mit den gesendeten Daten nicht ganz zufrieden. Sie seien "nicht beweiskräftig", der Status der Sonde sei "unklar".



EDM ist der Kurzcode für Schiaparelli und steht für "entry, descent and landing demonstration module", also Testmodul für Eintritt, Abstieg und Landung.

Für die Forscher war die Landung eine nervenaufreibende Angelegenheit, denn in den letzten Minuten konnten sie nicht mehr eingreifen. Das hängt auch mit der rund zehnminütigen Zeitverzögerung zusammen, mit der Signale vom Mars auf der Erde eintreffen.


"Deswegen sprechen die Amerikaner bei diesen Manövern von den Minuten des Schreckens", hatte der Esa-Ingenieur Jorge Vago zuvor erklärt. "In unserem Fall sind es sechs Minuten" - die Landesequenz sei auf sechs Minuten programmiert worden. Doch der 54-Jährige war zuversichtlich: "Unsere Simulationen geben uns eine Erfolgschance von fast 98 Prozent."

Allerdings: Selbst die komplexesten Computermodelle können nicht alle Eventualitäten in ihren Formeln mit einkalkulieren - das unkontrollierte Hopsen der Landefähre Philae auf dem Kometen Tschuri ist dafür das beste Beispiel.



18:53 CEST: The ExoMars/TGO spacecraft completed its critical orbit-insertion manoeuvre at Mars today and its signals were received by ground stations at 18:34 CEST, just as expected. The timely re-acquisition indicates the engine burn went as planned, and mission controllers are waiting for a detailed assessment from the flight dynamics specialists at ESOC to confirm it.

Teams monitoring the Schiaparelli lander continue waiting for indication of the lander’s progress. Recording of the lander’s beacon signal during descent by ESA’s Mars Express orbiter was inconclusive. Engineers are waiting for the next signal receipt slot, which will be provided by NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, which will overfly the Schiaparelli landing site between about 18:49 and 19:03 CEST, and downlink any received signals at around 20:00 CEST.

18:35 CEST: ACQUISITION OF SIGNAL from the ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter at 18:34 CEST, as expected, after it emerged from behind Mars.

17:28 CEST: According to nominal timeline, the orbit insertion manoeuvre of the ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter should have ended but the spacecraft is now behind Mars on the line of sight from Earth. Acquisition of signal is expected when TGO emerges from behind Mars after 18:32 CEST.

17:12 CEST: End of planned Schiaparelli transmission. Initial signals were received via the Giant Metrewave Radio Telescope (GMRT) as Schiaparelli descended to the surface of Mars, but no signal indicating touchdown yet. This is not unexpected due to the very faint nature of the signal received at GMRT. A clearer assessment of the situation will come when ESA's Mars Express will have relayed the recording of Schiaparelli's entry, descent and landing.

16:50 CEST: Signals from Mars take 9 minutes 47 seconds to reach Earth today, so the teams are waiting for the first indications that the entry, descent and landing events actually happened at Mars. It may take some hours to get official confirmation that Schiaparelli has landed on the Red Planet. Stay tuned.

16:48 CEST: According to nominal timeline, the Exomars Schiaparelli entry, descent, and landing demonstrator module should now switch off its thrusters to avoid touching the surface with the heat plumes from the thrusters, or hitting a rock on the surface while the engines are still on. After switching off the thrusters, Schiaparelli should proceed to touchdown on the surface of Mars.

16:47 CEST: According to nominal timeline, Schiaparelli should be jettisoning its parachute & back shell, then igniting thrusters.

16:46 CEST: According to nominal timeline, the front shield of the heat shield protecting Schiaparelli should now be jettisoned.

16:45 CEST: According to nominal timeline, the Exomars Schiaparelli entry, descent, and landing demonstrator module should now be deploying its parachute.

16:43 CEST: According to nominal timeline, the Exomars Schiaparelli entry, descent, and landing demonstrator module should now be undergoing maximum heating.

16:42 CEST: According to nominal timeline, the Exomars Schiaparelli entry, descent, and landing demonstrator module should be entering the atmosphere of Mars now.

16:17 CEST: ExoMars Flight Director Michel Denis confirms that the signal from the Schiaparelli entry, descent and landing demonstrator module is coming through strong and clear as it falls gently towards Mars via the Giant Metrewave Radio Telescope (GMRT) near Pune, India.

15:43 CEST: Confirmation received that the Schiaparelli entry, descent and landing demonstrator module has woken up, as expected, ahead of attempting to land on Mars in about an hour. The confirmation arrived via a very faint signal received by the Giant Metrewave Radio Telescope (GMRT) near Pune, India.

15:15 CEST: Ignition of the ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter is confirmed! The orbiter has started its main manoeuvre for Mars orbit insertion. The burn with the 424 newton engine on board is expected to last for about 139 minutes (over two hours) and will slow down TGO by over 5500 km/h in order to let the spacecraft be captured by the Red Planet's gravitational field.

14:41 CEST: The ExoMars/TGO orbiter is in great shape! ESA Flight Director Michel Denis is now on console in the Main Control Room at the ESOC mission control centre with the full mission control team for a 12-hour shift. TGO has begun turning away from Earth pointing to align its engine nozzle into the direction of flight. When it ignites (confirmation of ignition is expected on ground at about 15:15 CEST), its thrust will begin slowing the craft. The burn will last about 139 minutes. It is less than one hour until Schiaparelli wakes itself up at about 15:27 CEST.

07:35 CEST: The ExoMars/TGO orbiter is in great shape and ready to swing into orbit around Mars, while the Schiaparelli lander is programmed to wake up at about 15:37 CEST for its landing demonstration mission. There is a cooperative international 'listening in' campaign ready to monitor signals from the landing module as it conducts the critical entry, descent and landing sequence today, leading to touch down and the start of surface science at about 16:48 CEST. The Giant Metrewave Radio Telescope in India will listen from Earth, while a fleet of NASA and ESA orbiters listen from Mars orbit. Read details via Listening to an alien landing.

Quelle: ESA


ExoMars approaching Mars


19 October 2016

The Trace Gas Orbiter (TGO) of ESA’s ExoMars 2016 has successfully performed the long 139-minute burn required to be captured by Mars and entered an elliptical orbit around the Red Planet, while contact has not yet been confirmed with the mission’s test lander from the surface.

TGO’s Mars orbit Insertion burn lasted from 13:05 to 15:24 GMT on 19 October, reducing the spacecraft’s speed and direction by more than 1.5 km/s. The TGO is now on its planned orbit around Mars. European Space Agency teams at the European Space Operations Centre (ESOC) in Darmstadt, Germany, continue to monitor  the good  health of their second orbiter around Mars, which joins the 13-year old Mars Express.

The ESOC teams are trying to confirm contact with the Entry, Descent & Landing Demonstrator Module (EDM), Schiaparelli, which entered the Martian atmosphere some 107 minutes after TGO started its own orbit insertion manoeuvre.

The 577-kg EDM was released by the TGO at 14:42 GMT on 16 October. Schiaparelli was programmed to autonomously perform an automated landing sequence, with parachute deployment and front heat shield release between 11 and 7 km, followed by a retrorocket braking starting at 1100 m from the ground, and a final fall from a height of 2 m protected by a crushable structure.

Prior to atmospheric entry at 14:42 GMT, contact via the Giant Metrewave Radio Telescope (GMRT), the world’s largest interferometric array, located near Pune, India, was established just after it began transmitting a beacon signal 75 minutes before reaching the upper layers of the Martian atmosphere.  However, the signal was lost some time prior to landing.

A series of windows have been programmed to listen for signals coming from the lander via ESA’S Mars Express and NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) and Mars Atmosphere & Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) probes. The Giant Metrewave Radio Telescope (GMRT) also has listening slots. 

If Schiaparelli reached the surface safely, its batteries should be able to support operations for three to ten days, offering multiple opportunities to re-establish a communication link.

TGO is equipped with a suite of science instruments in order to study the Martian environment from orbit. Although mostly a technology demonstrator, Schiaparelli is also carrying a small science payload to perform some observations from ground.

ExoMars 2016 is the first part of a two-fold international endeavour conducted by ESA in cooperation with Roskosmos in Russia that will also encompass the ExoMars 2020 mission. Due in 2020, the second ExoMars mission will include a Russian lander and a European rover, which will drill down to 2 m underground to look for pristine organic material.

Media are invited to a briefing tomorrow at 10:00 CEST at ESA Operations Centre (ESOC) in Darmstadt, Germany.



Quelle: ESA


Update: 20.10.2016 / 9.15 MESZ



Quelle: ESA


Update: 13.00 MESZ



Schiaparelli with parachute deployed
Schiaparelli with parachute deployed


20 October 2016

Essential data from the ExoMars Schiaparelli lander sent to its mothership Trace Gas Orbiter during the module’s descent to the Red Planet’s surface yesterday has been downlinked to Earth and is currently being analysed by experts.

Early indications from both the radio signals captured by the Giant Metrewave Radio Telescope (GMRT), an experimental telescope array located near Pune, India, and from orbit by ESA’s Mars Express, suggested the module had successfully completed most steps of its 6-minute descent through the martian atmosphere. This included the deceleration through the atmosphere, and the parachute and heat shield deployment, for example.

But the signals recorded by both Pune and Mars Express stopped shortly before the module was expected to touchdown on the surface. Discrepancies between the two data sets are being analysed by experts at ESA’s space operations centre in Darmstadt, Germany.

The detailed telemetry recorded by the Trace Gas Orbiter was needed to better understand the situation. At the same time as Schiaparelli’s descent, the orbiter was performing a crucial ‘Mars Orbit Insertion’ manoeuvre – which it completed successfully. These important data were recorded from Schiaparelli and beamed back to Earth in the early hours of Thursday morning.

The data have been partially analysed and confirm that the entry and descent stages occurred as expected, with events diverging from what was expected after the ejection of the back heat shield and parachute. This ejection itself appears to have occurred earlier than expected, but analysis is not yet complete.

The thrusters were confirmed to have been briefly activated although it seems likely that they switched off sooner than expected, at an altitude that is still to be determined.

 “Following yesterday’s events we have an impressive orbiter around Mars ready for science and for relay support for the ExoMars rover mission in 2020,” said Jan Wörner, ESA’s Director General.  

“Schiaparelli’s primary role was to test European landing technologies. Recording the data during the descent was part of that, and it is important we can learn what happened, in order to prepare for the future.”

“In terms of the Schiaparelli test module, we have data coming back that allow us to fully understand the steps that did occur, and why the soft landing did not occur,” said David Parker, ESA’s Director of Human Spaceflight and Robotic Exploration.

 “From the engineering standpoint, it’s what we want from a test, and we have extremely valuable data to work with. We will have an enquiry board to dig deeper into the data and we cannot speculate further at this time.” 









Quelle: ESA




20.10.2016 14:54

20 октября 2016 года ESOC (Центр космических операций) Европейского космического агентства (ЕКА) объявил о том, что получил с орбитального модуля TGO (Trace Gas Orbiter) информацию о ходе посадки на Марс демонстрационного спускаемого модуля «Скиапарелли» (Schiaparelli). Специалисты ЕКА проводят анализ полученных данных для определения причин, по которым «Скиапарелли» не отвечает на команды с Земли.


Первые сигналы, которые получили радиотелескоп GMRT, находящийся рядом с городом Пуна (Индия) и орбитальный аппарат «Марс Экспресс» (Mars Express), показали, что демонстрационный модуль успешно выполнил большую часть запрограммированных действий за время своего шестиминутного спуска в атмосферу Марса. В их числе: торможение в атмосфере Красной планеты, раскрытие парашюта, и сброс теплозащитного экрана.


Но сигналы, которые получали радиотелескоп в Пуне и аппарат «Марс Экспресс», прекратились незадолго до посадки на поверхность Марса. Расхождения в полученных данных сейчас анализируются в немецком Дармштадте.


Сегодня рано утром Центр управления миссией «ЭкзоМарс-2016» в Дармштадте получил всю телеметрию с TGO о маневрах «Скиапарелли» во время посадки. После частичного анализа данных было подтверждено, что существуют расхождения с циклограммой посадки и возможно, отстрел парашюта произошел несколько раньше запланированного.


Информация, полученная со «Скиапарелли» свидетельствует, что двигатели спускаемого модуля были активированы, но, вероятно, выключились раньше, чем ожидалось, на высоте, которая пока не определена.


«Итог вчерашних событий: у нас есть орбитальный модуль, обращающийся вокруг Марса, который готов к проведению научных исследований и поддержке миссии «ЭкзоМарс-2020», - сказал Ян ВЁРНЕР, генеральный директор ЕКА. – Основной задачей «Скиапарелли» была отработка европейских технологий посадки. Запись информации во время посадки была частью полетного задания, очень важной для будущего». 


«Мы получили необходимый объем данных для понимания того, что произошло и почему не было мягкой посадки, - отметил Дэвид ПАРКЕР, директор ЕКА по пилотируемым полетам и автоматическим комплексам. – С инженерной точки зрения, полученная информация – это как раз то, что мы хотели получить от данного эксперимента, и у нас есть ценные данные для дальнейшей работы».


На борту TGO – два российских научных прибора АЦС и ФРЕНД, созданные в ИКИ РАН. Спектрометрический комплекс АЦС предназначен для исследования атмосферы и климата Марса, поиска малых составляющих атмосферы, в том числе метана. Нейтронный спектрометр ФРЕНД работал во время всего полета миссии «ЭкзоМарс-2016» от Земли к Марсу и собирал данные о радиационной обстановке на перелёте к Марсу при помощи входящего в его состав дозиметра «Люлин-МО» и отдельно включенных гелиевого и сцинтиляционных детекторов. Полученные данные важны для оценки радиационной дозы на перелёте к Марсу при планировании будущих пилотируемых экспедиций.

Проект «ЭкзоМарс» — совместный проект РОСКОСМОСА и Европейского космического агентства по исследованию Марса, его поверхности, атмосферы и климата с орбиты и на поверхности планеты. Он откроет новый этап исследования космоса для Европы и России.

Quelle: roscosmos


Update: 21.10.2016


It Sounds Like ESA's Mars Lander Crashed Into the Surface (Updated)

The complicated landing procedure played out this afternoon.


Update, 10/20 9:30 a.m. EDT: The ESA ExoMars science team was unable to reestablish contact with the Schiaparelli Mars lander this morning, and it seems likely that the spacecraft is not functional. Preliminary analysis of new data suggests the landing thrusters fired, but cut out sooner than planned, and that the ejection of the back heat shield and parachute occurred earlier than expected.

However, telemetry data from the Schiaparelli lander was collected by the Trace Gas Orbiter, the primary spacecraft of the first ExoMars mission, and relayed to Earth—which should give the science team some new information regarding the velocity and altitude of the lander at given times, helping them figure out what happened.


"Schiaparelli's primary role was to test European landing technologies," said Jan Wörner, ESA's Director General, in a press release. "Recording the data during the descent was part of that, and it is important we can learn what happened, in order to prepare for the future."

Update, 2:45 a.m. EDT: The ESA has said not to "jump to conclusions and let the experts do their work," but unfortunately it sounds like the Schiaparelli lander crash landed on Mars and might not be functional. The original signal being received by the Giant Metrewave Radio Telescope (GMRT) in India was tracking the spacecraft as it entered the atmosphere. A boost in the signal suggests that the parachute was properly jettisoned and the main antenna was exposed, but the signal cuts out before the landing. The GMRT signal was weak, and no one knew if it would be received at all, so scientists eagerly awaited data from ESA's Mars Express Orbiter, which recorded the Schiaparelli lander's decent. The signal was the same, cutting out before the spacecraft reached the surface.

The other ExoMars spacecraft, the TGO orbiter, successfully entered orbit around Mars without any complications. More comprehensive data from both the TGO and from NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter will help the ExoMars team determined exactly what happened to its lander in the coming days.

Update, 12:36 p.m. EDT: The Trace Gas Orbiter (TGO) spacecraft has successfully reemerged from behind Mars and reestablished a signal with Earth after a two-hour engine burn to slow the craft down and enter Mars orbit. A recording of the Schiaparelli lander's signal has been obtained via ESA's Mars Express Orbiter, and it should be interpreted later today to tell us more about what happened during the landing attempt.

Update, 11:15 a.m. EDT: The signal from the Schiaparelli Mars lander temporarily increased, indicating that the parachute jettisoned and the lander's main antenna was deployed. But the signal cut out as it made its attempted landing—this is not necessarily surprising given the faint signal coming from the spacecraft. ESA's Mars Express Orbiter recorded the landing and will be relaying that information to Earth in about and hour and a half.

Update, 10:50 a.m. EDT: Waiting for a signal from the Schiaparelli lander. You can watch live footage from ESA about the Schiaparelli lander's progress here.

Update, 10:42 a.m. EDT: The Schiaparelli lander is expected to have entered the Martian atmosphere. The six-minute landing procedure will first deploy a parachute to slow the craft from an initial speed of 21,000 km/h. Then the spacecraft will fire retro-rockets to slow even more after the chute is jettisoned. The lander should hover about two meters over the surface of Mars before dropping the rest of the way. The EDM lander uses a deformable bottom that will buckle on impact to protect the spacecraft's main components.

Update, 10:22 a.m. EDT: The TGO spacecraft has begun recording data from the Schiaparelli lander to give a full picture of the landing, though that data will not be relayed to Earth until tomorrow morning. Landing in about 20 minutes.

Original post:

Two ESA spacecraft just reached Mars—the Trace Gas Orbiter (TGO) that will circle the planet to study its atmosphere, and the EDM (Entry, Descent and Landing Demonstrator Module), also known as the Schiaparelli lander, which will be touching down within the hour. Both are part of the ExoMars mission to search Mars for life, which you can read more about here.

The Schiaparelli lander just relayed a signal to the Giant Metrewave Radio Telescope (GMRT) near Pune, India, indicating that it is operational and beginning its final descent. The lander will be touching down on Mars around 10:42 EDT, but it could be a couple hours before a spacecraft orbiting the Red Planet can relay a signal to us to confirm the mission was a success.

Quelle: PS


Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter view of Schiaparelli landing site


21 October 2016

NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has identified new markings on the surface of the Red Planet that are believed to be related to ESA’s ExoMars Schiaparelli entry, descent and landing technology demonstrator module.

Schiaparelli entered the martian atmosphere at 14:42 GMT on 19 October for its 6-minute descent to the surface, but contact was lost shortly before expected touchdown. Data recorded by its mothership, the Trace Gas Orbiter, are currently being analysed to understand what happened during the descent sequence.

In the meantime, the low-resolution CTX camera on-board the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) took pictures of the expected touchdown site in Meridiani Planum on 20 October as part of a planned imaging campaign.

The image released today has a resolution of 6 metres per pixel and shows two new features on the surface when compared to an image from the same camera taken in May this year.

Schiaparelli landing site

One of the features is bright and can be associated with the 12-m diameter parachute used in the second stage of Schiaparelli’s descent, after the initial heat shield entry. The parachute and the associated back shield were released from Schiaparelli prior to the final phase, during which its nine thrusters should have slowed it to a standstill just above the surface.

The other new feature is a fuzzy dark patch roughly 15 x 40 metres in size and about 1 km north of the parachute. This is interpreted as arising from the impact of the Schiaparelli module itself following a much longer free fall than planned, after the thrusters were switched off prematurely.

Estimates are that Schiaparelli dropped from a height of between 2 and 4 kilometres, therefore impacting at a considerable speed, greater than 300 km/h. The relatively large size of the feature would then arise from disturbed surface material. It is also possible that the lander exploded on impact, as its thruster propellant tanks were likely still full. These preliminary interpretations will be refined following further analysis.

A closer look at these features will be taken next week with HiRISE, the highest-resolution camera onboard MRO. These images may also reveal the location of the front heat shield, dropped at higher altitude.

MRO image of Schiaparelli – before

Since the module’s descent trajectory was observed from three different locations, the teams are confident that they will be able to reconstruct the chain of events with great accuracy. The exact mode of anomaly onboard Schiaparelli is still under investigation.

The two new features are located at 353.79 degrees east longitude, 2.07 degrees south latitude on Mars. The position of the dark mark shows that Schiaparelli impacted approximately 5.4 km west of its intended landing point, well within the nominal 100 x 15 km landing ellipse.

Meanwhile, the teams continue to decode the data extracted from the recording of Schiaparelli descent signals recorded by the ExoMars TGO in order to establish correlations with the measurements made with the Giant Metrewave Radio Telescope (GMRT), an experimental telescope array located near Pune, India, and with ESA’s Mars Express from orbit.

A substantial amount of extremely valuable Schiaparelli engineering data were relayed back to the TGO during the descent and is being analysed by engineers day and night.

MRO image of Schiaparelli – after 

The ExoMars TGO orbiter is currently on a 101 000 km x 3691 km orbit (with respect to the centre of the planet) with a period of 4.2 days, well within the planned initial orbit. The spacecraft is working very well and will take science calibration data during two orbits in November 2016.

It will then be ready for the planned aerobraking manoeuvres starting in March 2017 and continuing for most of the year, bringing it into a 400-km altitude circular orbit around Mars.

The TGO will then begin its primary science mission to study the atmosphere of Mars in search of possible indications of life below the surface, and to act as a telecommunications relay station for the ExoMars 2020 rover and other landed assets.

Quelle: ESA




Freitag, 21. Oktober 2016 - 09:15 Uhr

Astronomie - Alles, was wir über die Bildung von Sonnensystemen wissen, könnte falsch sein


First Pluto, now this: Discovery of first binary-binary calls solar system formation into question


Everything we know about the formation of solar systems might be wrong, says University of Florida astronomy professor Jian Ge and his postdoc, Bo Ma. They’ve discovered the first “binary–binary” – two massive companions around one star in a close binary system, one so-called giant planet  and one brown dwarf, or “failed star” The first, called MARVELS-7a, is 12 times the mass of Jupiter, while the second, MARVELS-7b, has 57 times the mass of Jupiter.

Astronomers believe that planets in our solar system formed from a collapsed disk-like gaseous cloud, with our largest planet, Jupiter, buffered from smaller planets by the asteroid belt. In the new binary system, HD 87646, the two giant companions are close to the minimum mass for burning deuterium and hydrogen, meaning that they have accumulated far more dust and gas than what a typical collapsed disk-like gaseous cloud can provide. They were likely formed through another mechanism. The stability of the system despite such massive bodies in close proximity raises new questions about how protoplanetary disks form. The findings, which are now online, will be published in the November issue of the Astronomical Journal.

HD 87646’s primary star is 12 percent more massive than our sun, yet is only 22 astronomical units away from its secondary, a star about 10 percent less massive than our sun, roughly the distance between the sun and Uranus in our solar system. An astronomical unit is the mean distance between the center of the Earth and our sun, but in cosmic terms, is a relatively short distance. Within such a short distance, two giant companions are orbiting the primary star at about 0.1 and 1.5 astronomical units away. For such large companion objects to be stable so close together defies our current popular theories on how solar systems form.

The planet-hunting Doppler instrument W.M. Keck Exoplanet Tracker, or KeckET, developed by a team led by Ge at the Sloan Digital Sky Survey telescope at Apache Point Observatory in New Mexico, is unusual in that it can simultaneously observe dozens of celestial bodies. Ge says this discovery would not have been possible without a multiple-object Doppler measurement capability such as KeckET to search for a large number of stars to discover a very rare system like this one. The survey of HD 87646 occurred in 2006 during the pilot survey of the Multi-object APO Radial Velocity Exoplanet Large-area Survey (MARVELS) of the SDSS-III program, and Ge led the MARVELS survey from 2008 to 2012. It has taken eight years of follow-up data collection through collaboration with over 30 astronomers at seven other telescopes around the world and careful data analysis, much of which was done by Bo Ma, to confirm what Ge calls a “very bizarre” finding.

The team will continue to analyze data from the MARVELS survey.

Quelle: University of Florida


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