The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) on Friday said it was all set to launch the historic PSLV-C21 on Sunday morning.
The wholly commercial launch will be the space agency's 100th mission in 49 years. So far it has built 62 satellites and flown 37 launch vehicles.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is slated to arrive at the space port of Sriharikota, some 120 km from Chennai and located in coastal Andhra Pradesh, on Saturday evening and witness the launch on 9.51 a.m. on Sunday, ISRO officials said.
The PSLV will carry France’s SPOT-6 earth observation satellite as the primary payload and PROITERES, a small spacecraft built by a team of Osaka Institute of Technology in Japan, as a secondary rider. They will be put into their respective pole-to-pole orbits at a distance of 655 km from Earth.
Scientists at the launch site, Satish Dhawan Space Centre at Sriharikota, began a 51-hour countdown at 6.51 a.m. on Friday, a release said.
The Launch Authorisation Board met on Thursday and cleared the event.
During the run-up, teams associated with the launch will complete filling liquid propellants in the second and fourth stages (PS2 and PS4) of the launch vehicle. The rocket and the spacecraft will be checked. Batteries will be charged and the fuel tanks on the satellites will be pressurised, the ISRO officials said.
“Readiness of various ground systems such as tracking radar systems and communication networks will also be ascertained,” they said.
India's Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle PSLVC-21 lifts off carrying one French and one Japanese satellite from a launch pad in Sriharikota, southern India, Sunday, Sept. 9, 2012
Dr. Singh, who watched the launch of two foreign satellites onboard PSLV-C21 from the mission control centre at Sriharikota, said, "As Isro's 100th space mission, today's launch is a milestone in our nation's space capabilities."
"The launch of these satellites on board an Indian launch vehicle is testimony to the commercial competitiveness of the Indian space industry and is a tribute to Indian innovation and ingenuity," he said.
He warmly congratulated EADS Astrium of France and Osaka Institute of Technology of Japan, whose satellites SPOT 6 and PROITERES were placed in orbit by Isro's workhorse Polar Launch Satellite Vehicle (PSLV) in a perfect textbook launch.
"India is justly proud of its space scientists, who have overcome immense odds to set up world class facilities and develop advanced technologies," Dr. Singh said, noting that this year also marks the 50th anniversary of the country's space programme.
An Indian rocket Sunday successfully put into orbit two foreign satellites, marking Indian space agency ISRO's 100th mission in the presence of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
"As ISRO's 100th space mission, today's launch is a milestone in our nation's space capabilities," the prime minister said here after the launch. Exactly at 9.53 a.m., Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle-C21 (PSLV-C21), 44 metres tall and weighing around 230 tonne, with a one-way ticket, hurtled itself towards the skies ferrying the two satellites - SPOT 6, a 712-kg French earth observation satellite, and Proiteres, a 15-kg Japanese micro satellite.
The PSLV, costing around Rs.90 crore, blasted off from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota, around 80 km from Chennai. The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has now completed its 100th mission since the launch of its first satellite, Aryabhata, in 1975 by a Russian rocket.
With a rich orange flame at its tail and plume of white smoke, PSLV-C21 ascended towards the sky amid cheers of ISRO scientists and media team assembled at the launch centre.
People perched atop nearby buildings too clapped as the rocket went up. Scientists at ISRO's new mission control room were glued to their computer screens watching the rocket escape the earth's gravitational pull.
At around 18 minutes into the flight, PSLV-C21 delivered SPOT 6 and a few seconds later Proiteres into their intended polar orbits. On the successful ejection of the satellites, scientists at mission control were visibly relieved and started clapping.
Manmohan Singh, who along with Minister in Prime Minister's Office, V. Narayanasamy, witnessed the launch, congratulated ISRO scientists and engineers and EADS Astrium of France and Osaka Institute of Technology of Japan for the successful launch of their satellites.
"Questions are sometimes asked about whether a poor country like India can afford a space programme and whether the funds spent on space exploration, albeit modest, could be better utilised elsewhere.
"This misses the point that a nation's state of development is finally a product of its technological prowess," the prime minister said. The remote sensing satellites send back pictures and other data.
SPOT 6 is the heaviest foreign satellite to be carried by a PSLV since 1999 when ISRO started launching satellites of foreign agencies. Proiteres will study powered flight of another satellite and observe Japan's Kansai district with a high-resolution camera.
Speaking to reporters later, ISRO Chairman K. Radhakrishnan said discussions were on with the French space agency to carry SPOT 7, a similar remote sensing satellite slated for launch soon.
He said there were 13 more satellites of similar class and some other satellites could go as co-passengers to the main cargo that ISRO/Antrix Corporation (ISRO's commercial arm) would target.
Declining to reveal the carriage fee received from French and Japanese agencies for launching their satellites, Radhakrishnan said the mission revenue had recovered the rocket's cost.
Agreeing that there was a two-minute delay in the rocket's lift off (the scheduled time was 9.51 a.m.), Radhakrishnan said it was to avoid possible space debris impacts. He said ISRO had decided to set up a Multi Object Tracking Radar (MOTR) to track space debris and time its rocket launches precisely.
ISRO was also planning to have a second vehicle (rocket) assembly building to increase launch frequency, he said. ISRO would also build two more communication satellites - GSAT 15 and GSAT 16 - to augment its transponder (transmitters that receive and send signals) capacity, he added.
Till date, ISRO has successfully launched 27 foreign satellites and the Sunday mission took the tally to 29.
This image was taken by Front Hazcam: Left A (FHAZ_LEFT_A) onboard NASA's Mars rover Curiosity on Sol 30 (2012-09-06 00:14:04 UTC) .
This image was taken by Navcam: Right A (NAV_RIGHT_A) onboard NASA's Mars rover Curiosity on Sol 32 (2012-09-08 00:43:15 UTC) .
This image was taken by Navcam: Left A (NAV_LEFT_A) onboard NASA's Mars rover Curiosity on Sol 32 (2012-09-08 01:10:21 UTC) .
This image was taken by Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) onboard NASA's Mars rover Curiosity on Sol 33 (2012-09-09 01:43:51 UTC) .
Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Malin Space Science Systems
Eine internationale Forschergruppe hat mit der optischen Bodenstation der ESA auf den Kanarischen Inseln einen neuen Entfernungsweltrekord in der Quantenteleportation aufgestellt, bei dem die Eigenschaften eines Lichtteilchens über eine Strecke von 143 Kilometern durch die Luft reproduziert wurden.
Mit Finanzierungsbeteiligung der ESA haben Wissenschaftler aus Österreich, Kanada, Deutschland und Norwegen die physikalischen Eigenschaften eines einzigen Lichtteilchens - ein Photon - auf seinen mit ihm verschränkten Partner per Quantenteleportation übertragen. Dabei wurde eine Entfernung von 143 Kilometern zwischen dem Jacobus Kapteyn Teleskop auf La Palma und der optischen Bodenstation der ESA auf dem benachbarten Teneriffa überwunden.
Die Ergebnisse wurden diese Woche im britischen Wissenschaftsmagazin NATURE veröffentlicht.
So funktioniert Quantenteleportation
Sobald zwei Teilchen miteinander verschränkt sind, ergibt die Messung einer bestimmten Eigenschaft, wie zum Beispiel Polarisation oder Spin, das gleiche Ergebnis für beide Teilchen, egal wie weit die Teilchen voneinander entfernt sind, und ohne dass ein zusätzliches Signal zwischen den beiden verschickt wird.
Genau genommen ist die Quantenteleportation jedoch kein Kopiervorgang, da der Übertragungsprozess das Originalteilchen zerstört. Dessen Eigenschaften werden aber auf das verschränkte Gegenstück übertragen.
Leistungstarke Quantencomputer für die Zukunft
Ein verblüffter Albert Einstein nannte diese Quantenverschränkung eine "spukhafte Fernwirkung". Diese ist jedoch ein dokumentiertes physikalisches Phänomen, das für eine zukünftige Generation ultra-leistungsstarker Quantencomputer bei der Informationsübertragung mit "Quantenbits" - kurz: Qubits - sowie auch für abhörsichere Kommunikationssysteme wichtig ist.
"Dieser Erfolg ist bahnbrechend für die Quantenkommunikation über große Entfernungen", erklärte Eric Wille, der das Projekt für die ESA überwacht.
"Die erste Quantenteleportation fand unter Laborbedingungen statt. Die Herausforderung bestand darin, trotz atmosphärischer Störungen die Verschränkung zweier 143 Kilometer voneinander entfernten Photonen aufrechtzuerhalten, so dass eine Quantenteleportation noch möglich war."
Dies erforderte ein so geringes Signal-Rausch-Verhältnis, dass das Experiment sehr sorgfältig geplant werden musste.
Es wurden ultra-rauscharme Photonen-Detektoren eingebaut; eine separate, zusätzliche Quantenverschränkung wurde benutzt, um die Uhren der beiden Stationen auf eine drei-Milliardstel Sekunde genau miteinander zu synchronisieren.
Damit konnte man sichergehen, dass die richtigen Photonen erfasst wurden. GPS-Signale schaffen es bestenfalls auf eine zehn-Milliardstel Sekunde.
Auch dann musste das Team fast ein Jahr warten, nachdem ein erster Versuch 2011 aufgrund außergewöhnlich schlechten Wetters scheiterte.
Auf den Vulkanen in 2.400 Meter über dem Meeresspiegel sind die zwei Teleskopstationen rauen Bedingungen ausgesetzt, darunter Regen, Nebel und starke Winde, oder sogar Schnee- und Sandstürme.
Das Experiment fand schließlich im Mai statt und es wurde ein neuer Entfernungs-Rekord bei der Teleportation aufgestellt.
"Der nächste Schritt wäre eine Quantenteleportation zu einem Satelliten in der Erdumlaufbahn, um die Quantenkommunikation im globalen Maßstab demonstrieren zu können", kommentierte Dr. Rupert Ursin von der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften.
Die Messkampagne zwischen den Inseln wurde von der ESA im Rahmen ihres Projekts "General Studies Programme" beauftragt, um die Langstrecken-Quantenteleportation für zukünftige Weltraum-Missionen zu demonstrieren.
Auch wurde hier in hervorragender Weise gezeigt, wie die Expertise von Wissenschaftlern verschiedener ESA-Mitgliedsstaaten gebündelt wurde, um außergewöhnliche Experimente mit der optischen Bodenstation der ESA durchzuführen.
A prototype NASA lander completed a successful free flight on Sept. 5, helping to bring a new generation of landing vehicles closer to reality.
The Mighty Eagle flew up to 100 feet, identified an on-the-ground target with its onboard cameras, and then autonomously landed itself at the chosen spot. The successful flight is part of a series of incremental tests to mature this technology.
The prototype brings to mind earlier Apollo-era test crafts such as the Lunar Landing Research Vehicle, which nearly killed astronaut Neil Armstrong during a training maneuver in 1968.
The cute three-legged lander stands at 4 feet high and 8 feet in diameter, so it’s not designed to carry astronauts. Instead, NASA engineers are hoping that such a vehicle could one day autonomously land cargo and scientific instruments on the moon, an asteroid, or other airless body in the solar system.
It stands in contrast to NASA’s Morpheus Lander, a larger craft capable of bringing about 1,000 pounds to the lunar surface, which might include a robotic humanoid, small rover, or scientific laboratory. During its first untethered test on Aug. 9, Morpheus suffered an inglorious explosion after it flipped over shortly after liftoff.
The video below shows the Mighty Eagle in action during an earlier test on Aug. 8, when the vehicle flew 30 feet in the air.
This view of the giant solar prominence from the sun on Aug. 31, 2012, is created from two views by NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory spacecraft using observations in both the 304 angstroms and 171 angstroms wavelengths.
NASA spacecraft watching the sun have captured jaw-dropping pictures and video of a giant filament of super-hot plasma reaching up from the star's surface and erupting into space.
The filament was made of solar material that was ejected from the sun during an intense solar storm on Aug. 31. Flares are caused by increased magnetic activity on the surface of our star, and are becoming more common as the sun approaches a phase of peak activity in 2013.
"It is hard to easily judge the size of this 3D event with a 2D image at this angle, but this filament is probably on the order of 30 Earths across, 300,000 kilometers or 186,000 miles," said C. Alex Young, a solar physicist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. "When the filament expanded into space it quickly became more extended leaving the sun as a CME many solar diameters across, many millions of kilometers or miles."
Curiosity skipped arm testing on Sol 31 (Sept. 6) after controllers held back on new commanding due to a caution about a temperature reading on the arm. The issue was resolved later in the day, so the planned activities have shifted to Sol 32 (Sept. 7). These include a checkout of the tool turret at the end of the arm and a test using vibration of the sample processing device on the arm.
The downlink during Sol 31 returned a Navigation Camera image of the turret taken during testing on Sol 30. It can be seen among the raw images from the rover at: http://1.usa.gov/NPGnIp .
Curiosity continues to work in good health. Sol 31, in Mars local mean solar time at Gale Crater, ended at 3:56 a.m. Sept. 7, PDT.
On Sol 32 (Sept. 7, 2012) the Curiosity rover used a camera located on its arm to obtain this self portrait. The image of the top of Curiosity's Remote Sensing Mast, showing the Mastcam and Chemcam cameras, was acquired by the Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI). The angle of the frame reflects the position of the MAHLI camera on the arm when the image was taken. The image was acquired while MAHLI's clear dust cover was closed.
The image was taken on a day when MAHLI and other instruments and tools on the turret were being inspected using the rover's Mastcams and Navcams. The MAHLI cover was in the closed position in order to inspect the dust cover to ensure that the cover, its hinge, and the volume it sweeps when it opens are clear of debris.
This image was taken by Mars Descent Imager (MARDI) onboard NASA's Mars rover Curiosity on Sol 30 (2012-09-05 21:50:31 UTC) .
Curiosity Traverse Map Through Sol 29 This map shows the route driven by NASA's Mars rover Curiosity through the 29th Martian day, or sol, of the rover's mission on Mars (Sept. 4, 2012).
The route starts where the Mars Science Laboratory spacecraft placed the rover, a site subsequently named Bradbury Landing. The line extending toward the right (eastward) from Bradbury Landing is the rover's path. Numbering of the dots along the line indicate the sol numbers of each drive. North is up. The scale bar is 200 meters (656 feet).
By Sol 29, Curiosity had driven at total of 358 feet (109 meters). At the location reached by the Sol 29 drive, the rover began several sols of arm characterization activities. The Glenelg area farther east is the mission's first major science destination, selected as likely to offer a good target for Curiosity's first analysis of powder collected by drilling into a rock.
The image used for the map is from an observation of the landing site by the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) instrument on NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.
The latest HiRISE color image of MSL shows new details.
Subimage 1 shows the rover and its tracks after a few short drives. Tracking the tracks over time will provide information on how the surface changes over time as dust is deposited and eroded.
Subimage 2 shows the parachute and backshell, now in color. The outer band of the parachute has a reddish color.
The Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy, or SOFIA, a joint program between NASA and the German Aerospace Center DLR, is set tobegin its first full cycle of science flightsstarting in November 2012 andextending through December 2013.
SOFIA's Science Mission Operations Director Erick Young has announced the list of researchers who have been awarded time to study the universe with this unique infrared observatory. SOFIA is a heavily modified 747SP aircraft that carries a telescope with an effective diameter of 100 inches (2.5 meters) to altitudes above 39,000 feet (12 km),beyond the obscuring layer of water vapor in Earth's atmosphere.
In announcing the observing time awards, Young noted, "More than 1,000 hours of observing time were requested, five times the amount available, evidence of SOFIA's desirability to astronomers. The approved projects make good use of the observatory's capabilities to study objects ranging from Earth's solar system neighbors to galaxies hundreds of millions of light years away."
SOFIA's first airborne science observations were made in December 2010. During 2011, SOFIA accomplished 30 flights in the "Early Science" program, as well as a deployment to Germany from its base at NASA's Dryden Aircraft Operations Facility in Palmdale, Calif. The newly announced observing period, known as Cycle 1, includes 46 science flights grouped in four multi-week observing campaigns spread through a 13-month span.
The Cycle 1 science flights include approximately 330 research flight hours, about 200 hours of which have been awarded to guest investigators whose proposals to observe with SOFIA were evaluated by U.S. and German-chartered peer review panels.
In addition to the 46 science flights planned for Cycle 1, during the coming months SOFIA will undertake commissioning observations needed to make the first four of the observatory's seven first-generationscientific instruments ready for use by guest investigators.
The four instruments to be employed during Cycle 1 are: the FORCAST mid-infrared camera and spectrometer (Principal Investigator Terry Herter, Cornell University); the GREAT far-infrared spectrometer (P.I. Rolf Guesten, Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy); the HIPO high-speed photometer (P.I. Ted Dunham, Lowell Observatory); and the FLITECAM near-infrared camera and spectrometer (P.I. Ian McLean, University of California at Los Angeles.) Twenty-six U.S. educators in the Airborne Astronomy Ambassadors program previously were chosen to participate in SOFIA Cycle 1 flights as partners with the astronomers.
These educators, including classroom teachers and science museum staff, were selected based on the quality of their plans to bring SOFIA training and flight experiences back to their classrooms and communities.
Six German Airborne Ambassador educators also are expected to participate in SOFIA flights during Cycle 1. "Last year, SOFIA demonstrated that it is well on its way to being a first-class asset to the world scientific community. Since then, the observatory staff has been working hard to complete integrated systems testing, fine-tuning of observatory performance and planning for international operations," said Pete Zell, NASA SOFIA science project manager.
"This SOFIA Cycle 1 announcement marks an important step in our progress. Infrared studies from these observations will enhance our knowledge of the life cycles of stars, how planets form, the chemistry of the interstellar medium and much more."
SOFIA is a joint project of NASA and the German Aerospace Center (DLR) based and managed at NASA's Dryden Aircraft Operations Facility in Palmdale, Calif. NASA's Ames Research Center at Moffett Field, Calif., manages the SOFIA science and mission operations in cooperation with the Universities Space Research Association (USRA) headquartered in Columbia, Md., and the German SOFIA Institute (DSI) at theUniversity of Stuttgart.