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Sonntag, 4. November 2012 - 11:01 Uhr

Mars-Curiosity-Chroniken - Curiosity-Messdaten-News

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Shooting Lasers

This picture shows a lab demonstration of the measurement chamber inside the Tunable Laser Spectrometer, an instrument that is part of the Sample Analysis at Mars investigation on NASA's Curiosity rover. This demonstration uses visible lasers – rather than the infrared ones on the actual spectrometer – to show how the lasers bounce between the mirrors in the measurement chamber.

The TLS shoots laser beams into a type of measurement chamber that can be filled with Mars air. By measuring the absorption of light at specific wavelengths, the tool can measure concentrations of methane, carbon dioxide and water vapor in the Martian atmosphere and different isotopes of those gases.

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PASADENA, Calif. -- NASA's car-sized rover, Curiosity, has taken significant steps toward understanding how Mars may have lost much of its original atmosphere.

Learning what happened to the Martian atmosphere will help scientists assess whether the planet ever was habitable. The present atmosphere of Mars is 100 times thinner than Earth's.

A set of instruments aboard the rover has ingested and analyzed samples of the atmosphere collected near the "Rocknest" site in Gale Crater where the rover is stopped for research. Findings from the Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) instruments suggest that loss of a fraction of the atmosphere, resulting from a physical process favoring retention of heavier isotopes of certain elements, has been a significant factor in the evolution of the planet. Isotopes are variants of the same element with different atomic weights.

Initial SAM results show an increase of five percent in heavier isotopes of carbon in the atmospheric carbon dioxide compared to estimates of the isotopic ratios present when Mars formed. These enriched ratios of heavier isotopes to lighter ones suggest the top of the atmosphere may have been lost to interplanetary space. Losses at the top of the atmosphere would deplete lighter isotopes. Isotopes of argon also show enrichment of the heavy isotope, matching previous estimates of atmosphere composition derived from studies of Martian meteorites on Earth.

Scientists theorize that in Mars' distant past its environment may have been quite different, with persistent water and a thicker atmosphere. NASA's Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution, or MAVEN, mission will investigate possible losses from the upper atmosphere when it arrives at Mars in 2014.

With these initial sniffs of Martian atmosphere, SAM also made the most sensitive measurements ever to search for methane gas on Mars. Preliminary results reveal little to no methane. Methane is of interest as a simple precursor chemical for life. On Earth, it can be produced by either biological or non-biological processes.

Methane has been difficult to detect from Earth or the current generation of Mars orbiters because the gas exists on Mars only in traces, if at all. The Tunable Laser Spectrometer (TLS) in SAM provides the first search conducted within the Martian atmosphere for this molecule. The initial SAM measurements place an upper limit of just a few parts methane per billion parts of Martian atmosphere, by volume, with enough uncertainty that the amount could be zero.

"Methane is clearly not an abundant gas at the Gale Crater site, if it is there at all. At this point in the mission we're just excited to be searching for it," said SAM TLS lead Chris Webster of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. "While we determine upper limits on low values, atmospheric variability in the Martian atmosphere could yet hold surprises for us."

In Curiosity's first three months on Mars, SAM has analyzed atmosphere samples with two laboratory methods. One is a mass spectrometer investigating the full range of atmospheric gases. The other, TLS, has focused on carbon dioxide and methane. During its two-year prime mission, the rover also will use an instrument called a gas chromatograph that separates and identifies gases. The instrument also will analyze samples of soil and rock, as well as more atmosphere samples.

"With these first atmospheric measurements we already can see the power of having a complex chemical laboratory like SAM on the surface of Mars," said SAM Principal Investigator Paul Mahaffy of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. "Both atmospheric and solid sample analyses are crucial for understanding Mars' habitability."

SAM is set to analyze its first solid sample in the coming weeks, beginning the search for organic compounds in the rocks and soils of Gale Crater. Analyzing water-bearing minerals and searching for and analyzing carbonates are high priorities for upcoming SAM solid sample analyses.

Researchers are using Curiosity's 10 instruments to investigate whether areas in Gale Crater ever offered environmental conditions favorable for microbial life. JPL, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the project for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington, and built Curiosity. The SAM instrument was developed at Goddard with instrument contributions from Goddard, JPL and the University of Paris in France.

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Quelle: NASA


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Sonntag, 4. November 2012 - 10:45 Uhr

Raumfahrt - Erfolgreicher Start von Proton-M-Träger-Rakete

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A Russian Proton-M rocket carrying two telecommunications satellites blasted off from the Baikonur space center in Kazakhstan early Saturday, federal space agency Roscosmos said.

The launch was carried out at designated time and successful, a Roscosmos spokesman said.

Nine minutes after the launch, at 01:13 Moscow time (2113 GMT Friday), the Briz-M booster separated from the rocket to send the two satellites into their orbits, Roscosmos said.

The separation of the Yamal-300K satellite from the Briz booster was conducted at 10:19 Moscow time (0619 GMT), while the separation of the Luch 5B satellite was performed at 10:33 Moscow time (0633 GMT), according to Roscosmos.

Both Yamal and Luch were built by Reshetnev space company. The Yamal-300K telesat will joint the network of Russian energy giant Gazprom's telecoms branch Gazprom Space Systems (GSS). It covers a service zone of 95 percent of Russia's territory.

Luch 5B was expected to relay data from space vehicles and track orbits of various space objects, according to its designer.

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Samstag, 3. November 2012 - 16:00 Uhr

Mars-Chroniken - Bisher keine Hinweise auf Methan auf dem Mars

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NASA rover finds no methane on Mars, yet
Non-detection casts doubt on previous claims of methane hotspots due to microbes.
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The question of methane on Mars isn’t dead yet, but NASA’s Curiosity rover has at least put a first nail in the coffin.
On Friday, scientists on Curiosity announced that they had not detected methane with any confidence — though they left themselves some wiggle room for revision, saying that the 95% upper and lower confidence limits of the non-detection varied between -2 and 5 parts per billion.
“Bottom line, we have no detection of methane so far,” says Chris Webster, a Mars scientist at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, and principal investigator for the Tunable Laser Spectrometer (TLS), the rover instrument central in seeking the gas. “Mars may yet hold surprises for us.”
On Earth, life is responsible for the vast majority of the planet’s atmospheric methane, which exists at levels of about 1,700 parts per billion. If methane were detected on Mars, microbes could thus be invoked as its source, though trace amounts could also be produced via comet impacts or chemical reactions underground involving rocks and hot water.
Various campaigns in the last decade have claimed to detect martian methane at levels as intriguingly high as 30 parts per billion1 and 45 parts per billion2. But more perplexing was the way that the methane signals sometimes appeared as hotspots, or plumes, and then disappeared — implying both a sudden injecton, as well as an unknown process to destroy the methane quickly, which would otherwise mix in the atmosphere and persist. Skepticism for these claims has abounded (See “Curiosity set to weigh in on Mars methane puzzle” ).
Is there methane on Mars? The question has dogged scientists since 1969, when George Pimentel at the University of California, Berkeley, an instrument leader on NASA's Mariner 7 programme, held a press conference to announce that methane had been detected near Mars’ south polar cap. The revelation came less than 48 hours after his team received the data it was based on; he retracted the finding a month later after realizing that the methane signal was actually coming from carbon dioxide ice.
It is easy to understand why scientists are so keen for an answer. Although there are plenty of ways to make trace amounts of methane, levels of more than a few parts per billion would imply the presence of an unexpectedly active source — and raise the possibility that the planet supports methane-producing microbes.
NASA's Curiosity rover is poised to settle the question as early as this week. But the tale of George Pimentel, and a handful of hotly debated methane detections reported over the past decade from orbiting spacecraft and ground-based telescopes, have instilled a sense of caution in the rover science team. “We’re committed to getting this right,” John Grotzinger, the Curiosity project scientist at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, told Nature on 17 October, during a meeting of the American Astronomical Society’s Division for Planetary Sciences in Reno, Nevada.
Michael Mumma of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, is trying to wait patiently. In 2009, he reported finding seasonal plumes of methane following an analysis of observations made years earlier with telescopes in Hawaii1. In 2003, methane levels in one of the plumes reached 45 parts per billion, but three years later the methane had all but disappeared. Now, Mumma says he has results from 2009–10, gathered using even larger telescopes, that indicate no methane, although the upper limits of his error bars reach 6 parts per billion.
Mumma says the new results don’t worry him, but others suspect that what he saw in 2003 was really a mirage. “He’s not seeing anything now, and that’s a comfort to me,” says Kevin Zahnle of the NASA Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, California, who worked on a critique of recent positive detections2.
Zahnle’s main problem with the observations made by Mumma and others is not the existence of methane, but its extreme variability. Mars has an atmosphere that would quickly mix methane. A disappearing plume implies not only a sudden injection, but also a massive sink. The main method by which methane is destroyed — photochemical dissolution in the atmosphere — yields an average methane lifetime of about 300 years. A disappearing plume would require a lifetime on the order of months. Alternative mechanisms have been proposed to account for this, but they also face problems3. Curiosity is poised to break the stalemate.
Tuning in
The rover’s chief tool for spotting methane is its Tunable Laser Spectrometer (TLS). Several times now, during the Martian night, a valve on the rover has opened and let air into a 20-centimetre-long chamber with a mirror at each end. A mid-infrared laser passes through the gas, and if methane is present it will absorb the laser light at particular frequencies. If the instrument is performing as designed, a single 15-minute test should be sufficient to detect methane levels down to 0.3 parts per billion. By looking at the carbon isotopes that make up the methane, the TLS may also be able to distinguish between biological and non-biological sources.
Even the sceptics say that they would not be surprised if Curiosity sniffed a trace presence of methane, on the order of one to two parts per billion. That’s because there are non-biological ways of maintaining such modest amounts. Comet impacts could leave some methane. Hot water, reacting with olivine-rich rock, creates methane along with the mineral serpentinite. And clathrates, icy lattices that trap gas molecules, could be gradually leaking methane produced in previous geological epochs.
In the first test of the TLS, about three weeks after the rover’s 6 August landing, there was a strong methane signal. But that, it later emerged, was from a separate ‘foreoptics’ cell that the laser shoots through on its way to the mirrored chamber. The cell has not yet lost all of its Earth air, which is comparatively rich in methane. “It was a surprise,” says Grotzinger, who adds that the unexpected result gave the team an additional opportunity to calibrate the instrument.
Since then, the group has been silent on the question of Mars methane. At the Reno meeting, when Mumma stood up to ask Grotzinger about TLS results, the response was blunt. “Stand by.”
Now the wait may finally be over. NASA has announced that Grotzinger’s team will discuss atmospheric measurements at a briefing on 2 November. If the rover has detected methane at sufficiently high concentration, or exhibiting temporal variations of the kind that suggests microbial activity, then it will surely motivate a desire to identify and map the sources. “If it’s there, we really ought to figure it out,” says Philip Christensen, a Mars scientist at Arizona State University in Tempe.
But, when it come to methane on Mars, 'if' has always been the operative word. Just ask George Pimentel.
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While the Curiosity result would also seem to cast doubt on previous claims, one proponent, Michael Mumma, of Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, isn’t backing down yet. The plume he detected back in 2003 was in a different part of the planet, and could have dispersed by now, nearly a decade later, at the rover’s landing site. “Gale crater is not an auspicious place to search for current releases,” he says.
The TLS team will continue to take small gulps of Mars air in an effort to beat down their uncertainties. They have used the instrument four times, which works by firing a laser into a small mirrored chamber; if methane is present, absorption lines should appear at key frequencies. But on the first two occasions, a large methane signal of 7 or 8 parts per billion was present. The team quickly realized it was due to contamination by residual Earth air. The team has pumped out this residual air as best they can, and have also devised a workaround — but it’s a more complicated protocol that increases the systematic errors.
The TLS team has another trick that it plans to use in the coming weeks or months that would make the methane show up far more noticeably. By stripping the Mars air of carbon dioxide and concentrating it prior to illuminating it with the TLS laser, Webster says the concentration of methane can be increased by a factor of 10 or more, making it stand out sharply. He says the instrument should ultimately be able to detect methane at levels as low as 100 parts per trillion.
But at that sensitivity — not as good as had been promised pre-launch — many natural processes could be responsible. Moreover, another key capability of the TLS  will be mooted: distinguishing between methane with different isotopes of carbon. The team had hoped to see the slightly different absorption lines associated with methane comprised of carbon-12 — the type that microbes tend to produce — and methane made with the carbon-13 isotope, which tends to be non-biological in origin. Webster says these differences would be noticeable only if methane existed at levels of several tens of parts per billion, which is now ruled out.
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Quelle: nature

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Samstag, 3. November 2012 - 10:15 Uhr

Mars-Curiosity-Chroniken - Curiosity-News Sol 85+86

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This image was taken by Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) onboard NASA's Mars rover Curiosity on Sol 86 (2012-11-02 11:21:28 UTC) . 
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This image was taken by Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) onboard NASA's Mars rover Curiosity on Sol 86 (2012-11-02 11:39:11 UTC) . 
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This image was taken by Navcam: Right A (NAV_RIGHT_A) onboard NASA's Mars rover Curiosity on Sol 86 (2012-11-02 11:22:44 UTC) . 
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This image was taken by Navcam: Left A (NAV_LEFT_A) onboard NASA's Mars rover Curiosity on Sol 86 (2012-11-02 11:30:00 UTC) . 
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This image was taken by Navcam: Left A (NAV_LEFT_A) onboard NASA's Mars rover Curiosity on Sol 85 (2012-11-01 10:41:52 UTC) . 
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This image was taken by ChemCam: Remote Micro-Imager (CHEMCAM_RMI) onboard NASA's Mars rover Curiosity on Sol 85 (2012-11-01 07:16:26 UTC) .
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This image was taken by Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) onboard NASA's Mars rover Curiosity on Sol 85 (2012-11-01 10:00:40 UTC) . 
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This image was taken by Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) onboard NASA's Mars rover Curiosity on Sol 85 (2012-11-01 09:58:14 UTC) . 
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This image was taken by Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) onboard NASA's Mars rover Curiosity on Sol 85 (2012-11-01 10:01:51 UTC) . 
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This image was taken by Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) onboard NASA's Mars rover Curiosity on Sol 85 (2012-11-01 10:10:45 UTC) . 
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This image was taken by Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) onboard NASA's Mars rover Curiosity on Sol 85 (2012-11-01 10:31:58 UTC) . 
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This image was taken by Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) onboard NASA's Mars rover Curiosity on Sol 85 (2012-11-01 10:34:21 UTC) . 
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Fotos: NASA

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Samstag, 3. November 2012 - 10:10 Uhr

Astronomie - Wissenschaftler beobachten den Zerfall des Kometen 168P-Hergenrother

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Comet 168P-Hergenrother was imaged by the NOAO/Gemini telescope on Nov. 2, 2011 at about 6 a.m. UTC. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/NOAO/Gemini

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The Hergenrother comet is currently traversing the inner-solar system. Amateur and professional astronomers alike have been following the icy-dirt ball over the past several weeks as it has been generating a series of impressive outbursts of cometary-dust material. Now comes word that the comet's nucleus has taken the next step in its relationship with Mother Nature.
"Comet Hergenrother is splitting apart," said Rachel Stevenson, a post-doctoral fellow working at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. "Using the National Optical Astronomy Observatory's Gemini North Telescope on top of Mauna Kea, Hawaii, we have resolved that the nucleus of the comet has separated into at least four distinct pieces resulting in a large increase in dust material in its coma."
With more material to reflect the sun's rays, the comet's coma has brightened considerably.
"The comet fragments are considerably fainter than the nucleus," said James Bauer, the deputy principal investigator for NASA's NEOWISE mission, from the California Institute of Technology. "This is suggestive of chunks of material being ejected from the surface."
For those interested in viewing Hergenrother, with a larger-sized telescope and a dark sky, the comet can be seen in between the constellations of Andromeda and Lacerta.
The orbit of comet 168P/Hergenrother comet is well understood. The comet, nor any of its fragments, are a threat to Earth.
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Quelle: NASA

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Samstag, 3. November 2012 - 10:00 Uhr

Luftfahrt - China´s neuer Stealth-J-31-Jet

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J-31-Kampfjet: Das Stealth-Kampfflugzeug ist Chinas zweiter Tarnkappen-Jet.
China hat seinen zweiten Tarnkappen-Kampfjet vorgestellt. Er stammt aus eigener Produktion - hat aber verblüffende Ähnlichkeit mit amerikanischen Jet´s.
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China´s J-20-Stealth-Jet welcher im Januar 2011 der Öffentlichkeit vorgestellt wurde.
Quelle: ChinaNews

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Freitag, 2. November 2012 - 23:50 Uhr

Raumfahrt - Space-Shuttle Atlantis auf den letzten Metern zur Ausstellungshalle

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Frams von NASA-TV-LIVE

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Rückblick auf letzten Flug von Sopace-Shuttle-Atlantis

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LIVE-Frams: NASA-TV

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Space shuttle Atlantis on the 76-wheeled orbiter transporter system in October when Atlantis was moved into the Vehicle Assembly Building. The same vehicle will take Atlantis to the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex. Image credit: NASAKim Shiflett/

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Frams-NASA-TV

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Freitag, 2. November 2012 - 12:50 Uhr

Raumfahrt - 30 Astronauten begleiten Space-Shuttle Atlantis auf den letzten Metern zur Ausstellungshalle

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Space Shuttle Atlantis being moved from the Orbiter Processing Facility to the VAB in this file photo from Oct. 17, before being transported in November to the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex. About 30 astronauts will lead the space shuttle Atlantis on the homestretch of its 9.8-mile journey Friday to its new home at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex.

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About 30 astronauts will lead the space shuttle Atlantis on the homestretch of its 9.8-mile journey Friday to its new home at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex.
Tim Macy, director of project development and construction for Delaware North Companies Parks & Resorts, which operates the Visitor Complex, said the astronaut appearance was just added to Friday’s event schedule.
Final preparations are under way for the daylong trip to the Visitor Complex from KSC Vehicle Assembly Building. Atlantis’ journey aboard a 76-wheeled Orbiter Transporter System vehicle will start at 6:30 a.m. and end at 6 p.m., with several planned stops along the way, including at Space Florida’s Exploration Park. More than 300 people are helping coordinate the move.
The public will be able to buy tickets to view part of the journey and see Atlantis up close that day.
Macy said he expects the final 150 yards of the trip to be the most challenging, as the massive orbiter must be make a right turn from State Road 405/NASA Parkway into the Visitor Complex area. It then will be maneuvered into its new building with only about 2 feet of clearance available on either side of its wings, then must be put in place within six to eight inches of its final mark. It later will be adjusted to within about 1.5 inches of the designated spot.
The Atlantis exhibit building and exhibits are still under construction, with the attraction scheduled to open in July.
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Employees monitor the space shuttle Atlantis as it moves from the Orbiter Processing Facility to the Vehicle Assembly Building. Atlantis will be transported to the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex in November where it will be placed on public display. Photo credit: NASA
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Inside Bay 2 of the Orbiter Processing, United Space Alliance technicians Dave Chodkowski, left, and Gary Hamilton, close and seal space shuttle Atlantis’ crew hatch for the final time. Over the course of its 26-year career, Atlantis spent 293 days in space during 33 shuttle missions. Photo credit: NASA
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The Oct. 17 move of the space shuttle Atlantis from the Orbiter Processing Facility to the Vehicle Assembly Building gave employees at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida an opportunity to celebrate. The milestone completed preparations for display at Kennedy's visitor complex. Atlantis will remain in the VAB on display until it is transported to its final home at Kennedy's visitor complex early next month. 
During the move, Atlantis stopped on the towway for a photo opportunity. For several hours there was a constant crowd of Kennedy employees who brought cameras to take pictures with the shuttle prior to its move to the visitor complex, slated for early November. Adding to the festive nature, representatives from the NASA Exchange were on hand with ice cream and other refreshments. 
Buddy McKenzie, the USA manager for Atlantis' forward and midbody looks forward to seeing the shuttle on display in the new museum. "If seeing Atlantis on display inspires even one young child, then it's all worth it," McKenzie said. "It's not the end -- I think of it as a beginning." 
Preparations for the move to Atlantis' new home included closing of the crew hatch on Atlantis on Oct. 11. 
As he did with the final hatch closure on Endeavour, Bob Cabana, director of NASA's Kennedy Space Center and a former space shuttle commander, lent a hand in bay 2 of the Orbiter Processing Facility as United Space Alliance, or USA, technicians Danny Brown and Dave Chodkowski performed the task. Cabana turned the special T-shaped tool, which is much like a key, to lock the hatch in place. 
Through this crew hatch, 207 astronauts passed to enter Atlantis and take their seats for launch on 33 space shuttle missions. 
"This is the end of an era," Cabana said. "Atlantis is going to have a really nice home at the Visitor Complex.” 
"The team preparing Atlantis for display has used the same pride and integrity they had as Atlantis was readied for each flight," said Bart Pannullo, NASA's Transition and Retirement vehicle manager. 
"Atlantis is the last space shuttle at Kennedy, the last vehicle to fly," said McKenzie who helped direct the hatch closing. "It's fitting that as the caretakers, we deliver it to the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex." 
The move to the museum being built especially for the historic spacecraft is scheduled for Nov. 2. 
Cabana was looking even further ahead. 
"The good side of this is that Atlantis, Discovery and Endeavour will be able to tell the space shuttle story to millions for years to come," he said. 
Quelle: NASA
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Update: 2.11.2012
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The last shuttle to fly in space is just hours away from heading on its new mission of education.

Atlantis will be moved all day Friday on a nearly 10-mile road journey to the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex.

It will be the last time anyone will see a 150,000-plus pound space shuttle in motion.

“You're right, there are a lot of logistics to it,” said project manager Tim Macy.

Macy is in charge of getting the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex's newest guest safely there.

Space shuttle Atlantis will be taken via Orbiter Transportation System on the final rollover of its kind in NASA history

The shuttle will go 9.8 miles from the Vehicle Assembly Building to a new $100 million exhibit, currently under construction.

“We are lucky in that we don't have to go through city streets, we don't have all the same issues Endeavour had,” said Macy.

Shuttle Endeavour had to be moved through the streets of Los Angeles to the California Science Center.

It meant moving hundreds of trees, power poles and a lot more.

Here, 70 percent of Atlantis' trip is on KSC restricted property, but even in the open space, 120 light poles, 23 traffic signals, 56 traffic signs and one high voltage line have been removed and will be replaced.

The route begins at the Vehicle Assembly Building, goes down Kennedy Parkway, then on to SR 405 NASA Parkway and the KSC Headquarters Building, where a ceremony will take place.

After that, the shuttle will go along Avenue C, and then stop for four hours at Exploration Park for visitor complex patrons to see.

The route then moves to Space Commerce Way, back to SR 405 for its turn into the attraction.

“When it really comes down to it, the last 150 yards are the toughest. Sharp right hand turn, get the orbiter into position, and into its final resting place,” said Macy.

The entire journey with stops is expected to take eleven hours.

The Atlantis exhibit is due to open in July of 2013.

Quelle:13news  
Frams: NASA-TV-LIVE 2.11.2012 / 11.45 MEZ

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Donnerstag, 1. November 2012 - 23:00 Uhr

Raumfahrt - Progress-Frachter dockt nach 6 Stunden nach Start an ISS

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A Russian cargo spacecraft performed an accelerated docking with the International Space Station (ISS) on Wednesday just under six hours after liftoff from the Baikonur Space Center in Kazakhstan, a spokesman for Mission Control outside Moscow said.
A Soyuz-U launch vehicle carrying the Progress M-17M spacecraft lifted off at 11:41 a.m. Moscow time (07:41 GMT).
“The docking was carried out in automated regime as scheduled,” the official said.
The freighter delivered about 2.5 metric tons of supplies, including fuel components, oxygen, food, water and scientific equipment, to a six-man Expedition 33/34 crew onboard the orbital station.
Follow-up activities, such as hatch opening, deactivation of the vehicle, and cargo transfers will be performed later in the day.
The mission marks the final delivery of cargo to the ISS this year.
It was the second successful attempt to test the concept of shortening the time span between launches and dockings of Russian spacecraft to the ISS from the usual 50 hours to just six hours.
The first accelerated rendezvous with the orbital station was performed by the Progress M-16M space freighter in August.
Russian experts believe that the same type of maneuver could now be performed using a manned Soyuz spacecraft as early as in March next year, when the Soyuz TMA-08M voyage to the ISS is expected.
Quelle: Roscosmos
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Update: 1.11.2012 / 23.00 MEZ
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Russia's Mission Control Centre has adjusted the orbit of the International Space Station (ISS) to avoid a possible collision with a fragment of the U.S. communications satellite Iridium-33.
"The orbit was corrected at 03:08 Moscow time by means of the engines the Progress M-16M transport ship. The engines operated for 406 seconds to give the ISS an impetus of 0.5 meters per second. As a result, the station's orbit was raised by one kilometer," the Mission Control Centre said.
In February 2009, Iridium-33 collided with the Russian military communications satellite Cosmos-2251. The collision produced 600 fragments of five centimeters in diameter and several thousands smaller fragments, Kazinform refers to Itar-Tass.
It is next to impossible to predict the trajectory of such small objects well in advance, that is why Russian ballistic specialists said on Wednesday, after a NASA warning of a small satellite fragment approaching the station, that there was no potential threat of the Iridium-33 fragment colliding with the International Space Station. The Mission Control Centre however did not exclude that the ISS orbit correction might be needed. The decision to adjust the orbit was taken by midnight.
ISS orbit is regularly adjusted in the automated mode in line with the program of the Mission Control Centre.
Today's adjustment was the 15th off-schedule correction of the ISS orbit to avoid collision with space debris. The last such operation was carried out in January 2012.
Currently, more than 13,000 objects measuring 20 to 30 centimeters and tens of millions pieces of debris smaller than one centimeter are orbiting around the Earth at speed of up to 10-15 kilometers per second. A collision with a space object of about ten centimeters in diameter might be equal to a collision with a loaded KAMAZ truck running at a speed of 80-100 kilometers per hour.
The current crew of the International Space Station includes three Russian cosmonauts - Oleg Novitsky, Yevgeny Tarelkin, and Yuri Malenchenko, NASA astronauts Sunita Williams, Kevin Ford, and astronaut Akihiko Hoshide of the Japanese space agency JAXA.
 

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Donnerstag, 1. November 2012 - 21:45 Uhr

Raumfahrt - ISS-Spacewalk-166 von Suni Williams und Aki Hoshide

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Station Spacewalk Today; Debris Avoidance Maneuver Completed Thursday 
Expedition 33 Commander Suni Williams and Flight Engineer Aki Hoshide switched their spacesuits to battery power at 8:29 a.m. EDT, signalling the start of Thursday’s planned 6.5-hour excursion outside the International Space Station. 
 During the spacewalk, Williams and Hoshide are venturing out to the port side of the station’s truss to configure the 2B solar array power channel’s photovoltaic thermal control system (PVTCS) to support ground-based troubleshooting of an ammonia leak. 
The spacewalking duo will isolate the photovoltaic radiator on the P6 truss from the PVTCS, shutting off the flow of ammonia in and out of it and rerouting the ammonia flow through a spare radiator so the PVTCS can continue operation. Over the following weeks and months, flight controllers at Mission Control Houston will monitor telemetry to see if the leak continues. 
If rerouting the ammonia through the spare radiator stops the leak, mission managers will evaluate whether to leave the fix as-is or replace the photovoltaic radiator on a future spacewalk. If the leak continues, additional troubleshooting will be required. 
Williams, who is the lead for this spacewalk, is wearing the suit with red stripes. This is the seventh spacewalk for Williams who holds the record for spacewalking time for female astronauts with over 44 hours during six previous excursions. Hoshide, who is making his third spacewalk, now holds the equivalent record for Japanese astronauts. 
This is the 166th spacewalk in support of International Space Station assembly and maintenance and the 138th spacewalk from the station. 
Last night, thrusters on the ISS Progress 48 cargo ship at the Pirs Docking Compartment were used to raise the station’s altitude in a debris avoidance maneuver to steer clear of a small fragment of debris from the Iridium 33 satellite. Only one set of thrusters on a single manifold was used to execute the reboost at 7:08 p.m. EDT instead of both sets of thrusters on two manifolds, resulting in a slightly reduced altitude change than had been expected. The single manifold selection was the result of a software configuration. The burn lasted 10 minutes in duration and was automatically terminated by thruster cut off limits. 
Ballistics and trajectory specialists in Mission Control, Houston evaluated the resulting orbit of the station and determined that, despite the fact that the maneuver achieved only about 72 per cent of the anticipated altitude change, the goal of maneuvering away from the debris in question was accomplished and no additional maneuver would be required. 
The ISS and the crew were never in any danger. 
The reboost increased the station’s altitude by 0.18 statute miles at apogee and 0.49 statute miles at perigee. The station is now orbiting at an altitude of 261.3 x 252.3 statute miles, with all of its systems functioning normally in support of today’s spacewalk by Expedition 33 Commander Sunita Williams and Flight Engineer Aki Hoshide of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency for the reconfiguration of a cooling loop in the station’s P6 solar array 2B power channel to bypass a leak in the system’s thermal control system.
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Nachfolgende Frams: NASA-TV-Live:
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Expedition 33 Commander Suni Williams and Flight Engineer Aki Hoshide wrapped up a 6-hour, 38-minute spacewalk at 3:07 p.m. EDT Thursday. 
During the spacewalk which began at 8:29 a.m., Williams and Hoshide ventured out to the port side of the International Space Station’s truss to configure the 2B solar array power channel’s photovoltaic thermal control system (PVTCS) to support ground-based troubleshooting of an ammonia leak. 
The spacewalking duo isolated the photovoltaic radiator on the P6 truss from the PVTCS, shutting off the flow of ammonia in and out of it and rerouting the ammonia flow through a spare radiator so the PVTCS can continue operation. Over the following weeks and months, flight controllers at Mission Control Houston will monitor telemetry to see if the leak continues. 
If rerouting the ammonia through the spare radiator stops the leak, mission managers will evaluate whether to leave the fix as-is or replace the photovoltaic radiator on a future spacewalk. If the leak continues, additional troubleshooting will be required. 
Williams now has a total of 50 hours, 40 minutes of spacewalking time over seven spacewalks. Thursday's spacewalk puts her fifth on the all time list of cumulative spacewalking time. She holds the record for total cumulative spacewalk time by a female astronaut. This was the third spacewalk for Hoshide, who now totals 21 hours and 23 minutes. He holds the record for total cumulative spacewalk time by a Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency astronaut. 
This was the 166th spacewalk in support of station assembly, totaling 1,049 hours and 1 minute -- the equivalent of 44 days. 
Wednesday night, thrusters on the ISS Progress 48 cargo ship at the Pirs Docking Compartment were used to raise the station’s altitude in a debris avoidance maneuver to steer clear of a small fragment of debris from the Iridium 33 satellite. Only one set of thrusters on a single manifold was used to execute the reboost at 7:08 p.m. EDT instead of the planned both sets of thrusters on two manifolds, resulting in a slightly reduced altitude change. The single manifold selection was the result of a software configuration, but the burn lasted 10 minutes in duration and was automatically terminated by thruster cut off limits. 
Despite the fact that the maneuver achieved only about 72 percent of the planned altitude change, the goal of maneuvering away from the debris was accomplished and no additional maneuver is required. 
The reboost increased the station’s altitude by 0.18 statute miles at apogee and 0.49 statute miles at perigee. The station is now orbiting at an altitude of 261.3 x 252.3 statute miles. 
Quelle: NASA

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