In this false-color image of NGC 6334, red represents the Herschel 70 micron IR image, green represents the IRAC 8 micron image and blue represents the NEWFIRM 1 micron J band. The region is about 70 light years wide. Image credit: S. Willis (CfA+ISU); ESA/Herschel; NASA/JPL-Caltech/ Spitzer; CTIO/NOAO/AURA/NSF.
Stars are known to form in dense clouds of gas and dust, but why do some regions show prodigious rates of star formation, while others barely produce any young stars at all? Many of the richest sites are found in distant galaxies: the name “starburst” is applied to them. Now, a team has identified a region in our own galaxy that may deserve this title, and help explain what leads to the furious production of new stars in a starburst region.
This region, NGC 6334 or informally named the Cat’s Paw Nebula, is rich in gas and dust. Long known to contain very massive young stars, NGC 6334 lies in the constellation Scorpius, toward the galactic center at a distance of about 5,500 light years, and practically in the plane of the Milky Way. It is the massive, hottest stars, classified by astronomers as type O, that cause the gas surrounding them to glow in the optical spectrum.
Imaging done at the NOAO Blanco 4-meter telescope at Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory, Chile, combined with data from the Spitzer Space Telescope, have enabled the team, led by Sarah Willis (Iowa State University), to catalog much fainter young stars in NGC 6334 than has been done before. Figure 1 shows combined images from space and ground-based telescopes. In this false color composite, blue is assigned to a ground-based image, green to a longer-wavelength image from †he Spitzer Space Telescope, and red to an even longer-wavelength image from the Herschel Space Telescope. The ground-based data were taken with the NOAO Extremely Wide-Field Infrared Imager, or NEWFIRM. (Figure 2).
“The study of NGC 6334 is a major component of Sarah Willis’ PhD thesis which is aimed to bridge the gap between the distant starburst galaxies and their relatively modest counterparts in our own galaxy.” says Massimo Marengo (Iowa State) who is Willis’ thesis advisor.
Starting from the brightest and most massive stars in the region, the team has identified and catalogued all the stars down to those with the brightness of the sun - approximately a million times fainter. Then, based on previous knowledge of the number of stars that form as a function of stellar mass, they can extrapolate to identify how many lower mass stars exist in the region. This is analogous to saying that if we observe the adult population in a town, we can estimate how many children live in the town, even if we can’t see them. In this way, the team can derive an estimate of the total number of stars in the region, and the efficiency with which stars are forming.
As team member Lori Allen (NOAO) says, “The observations acquired with NEWFIRM allowed us to identify and separate out the large number of contaminating sources, including background galaxies and cool stellar giants in the Galactic plane to obtain a more complete census of the newly-formed stars”. The team finds that the star formation rate in this region is equivalent to 3600 solar masses of gas becoming stars every million years – a tremendous rate even by astronomical standards.
National Optical Astronomy Observatory (NOAO) is operated by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy Inc. (AURA) under a cooperative agreement with the National Science Foundation.
Record-breaker: Valentina Tereshkova made history when she completed her mission at the age of 26 (left). She has said that she would like to travel to Mars
A limitless imagination is key to pioneering new forms of space travel. But even by astronomical standards, it would be quite the flight of fancy.
The first woman to go to space has said she would fly to Mars, given the opportunity - even if it meant she never returned to earth.
76-year-old Valentina Tereshkova said Mars is her favourite planet and she harbours dreams of going there.
The Russian astronaut said: 'We know the human limits. And for us this remains a dream. Most likely the first flight will be one way. But I am ready'.
Ms Tereshkova, who became a national heroine at the age of 26 when she made a solo space flight, said she had been part of the group who studied the possibility of going to the Red Planet.The former textile worker completed her groundbreaking space mission in 1963 in the spaceship Vostok VI.
Ms Tereshkova was an amateur parachutist when she was recruited into a cosmonaut programme in Moscow.
She was trained with three other women as part of Kruschev's project for the first woman in space to be from the Soviet Union.
But she was the only woman to complete the mission. She was honored with the title Hero of the Soviet Union.
During her three-day mission, she circled the Earth 48 times and set a new record for time in space by completing the most orbits in the shortest recorded time.
Her flight was a major propaganda coup for the Soviet Union.
She was later given the United Nations Gold Medal of Peace in her role as a spokesperson for the Soviet Union.
On June 16, Russia will celebrate the 50th anniversary of Tereshkova's historic flight.
Astronauts traveling to and from Mars would be bombarded with as much cosmic radiation as they would get from a full-body CT scan about once a week for a year, researchers predict.
That dose is enough to raise their cancer risk by about three per cent, but experts caution that there are many uncertainties about the space environment's effects on the body.
The U.S. space agency, Nasa, aims to send a crew to orbit the red planet by the mid-2030s.
Private outfits like Inspiration Mars - backed by Nasa engineer-turned-space tourist Dennis Tito - are seeking volunteers for a Mars flight.
Quelle: Mail Online
Deutschland und Teile Zentraleuropas kämpfen mit den schlimmsten Überschwemmungen seit Jahrhunderten. Obwohl diese tragischen Ereignisse viele Ursachen haben, könnten die Daten des ESA-Satelliten SMOS helfen, die Hochwasservorhersage in der Zukunft zu verbessern.
Wie der Name schon sagt, liefert die Soil Moisture and Ocean Salinity (SMOS) Mission Daten über die Bodenfeuchte an der Erdoberfläche und über den Salzgehalt des Meeresoberflächenwassers.
Das massive Hochwasser, mit dem Mitteleuropa derzeit zu kämpfen hat, verdanken wir einem nassen Frühjahr und plötzlich auftretenden schweren Regenfällen.
Wissenschaftler nutzen die Informationen von SMOS, um zu verstehen, wie der Wasserkreislauf zwischen den Ozeanen, der Atmosphäre und dem Festland funktioniert. Die Daten tragen auch zur Verbesserung der Wetterberichte bei.
SMOS ist mit einem neuartigen Mikrowellensensor ausgestattet, mit dem Bilder der Strahlungstemperatur erstellt werden können, um Informationen über die Bodenfeuchte zu erhalten.
Vor den sintflutartigen Regenfällen zeigten Daten der SMOS-Mission, dass die Böden in Deutschland eine extrem hohe Feuchtigkeit aufwiesen. Werte in der gemessenen Höhe waren bislang noch nie beobachtet worden.
Die SMOS-Daten können dazu genutzt werden, die Sättigung des Bodens zu überwachen“, erklärt Matthias Drusch, ESA-Missionswissenschaftler für SMOS.
Ende Mai haben wir gesehen, dass der Boden fast vollständig gesättigt war und die Bodenfeuchte einen Rekordwert erreichte. Da das überschüssige Wasser nicht mehr im Boden versickern konnte, bedeutete mehr Regen, dass dieser sofort ablief. So ist dieses furchtbare Hochwasser entstanden.
Numerische Wettervorhersagezentren bewerten derzeit die Möglichkeit, SMOS-Daten zur Verbesserung von Wetter- und Hochwasservorhersagen zu nutzen, so dass wir in der Zukunft hoffentlich besser aufgestellt sein werden, um solche Ereignisse genauer vorhersagen zu können.“
Satellitenmissionen wie RapidEye und die DLR-Mission TerraSAR-X unterstützen mit Bildern die Hilfsmaßnahmen auf Basis der Internationalen Charta für Weltraum- und Naturkatastrophe
A Soyuz-2.1B carrier rocket orbited a military satellite on Friday, the defense ministry’s spokesman in charge of Russia's Aerospace Defense Forces said.
The rocket blasted off from the Plesetsk launch site in Russia’s north at 22:37 Moscow time on Friday.
"The spacecraft separated from the third stage of the rocket as scheduled,” Col. Dmitry Zenin said.
According to previous reports, the satellite is the second in the new Persona series of electro-optical reconnaissance satellites based on the Resurs DK remote sensing satellite.
The first Persona satellite (Kosmos 2441) was launched onto a sun synchronous orbit in July 2008 but reportedly malfunctioned in February 2009 due to a failure in electronic components.
Russia operates a network of about 60-70 military reconnaissance satellites, featuring updated imaging technology and an extended lifetime of up to seven years, according to open sources.
This panorama from NASA's Opportunity rover, made on June 1, shows Solander Point rising up on the Martian horizon. Mission managers plan to get the solar-powered rover to a north-facing slope on Solander Point by August, so that it can shelter there during the Martian winter.
Nearly 10 years after its launch, NASA's Opportunity rover has found its first evidence that Mars once had non-acidic water — the kind of water that could easily sustain the life we typically see on Earth.
"This is water that you can drink," Cornell astronomer Steve Squyres, principal investigator for Opportunity's long-lived Mars mission, told reporters Friday.
The water isn't there anymore, but the minerals left behind bear an aluminum-rich chemical signature that suggests they were formed through interaction with neutral-pH water. That's different from the previous evidence that Opportunity found, pointing to more acidic water. Some extreme forms of life on Earth could tolerate that environment, but it wouldn't have been as friendly an environment for prebiotic chemistry — the chemistry that's thought to have given rise to life on Earth.
The newly announced findings, based on X-ray analysis of a rock nicknamed Esperance, add to similar evidence of neutral water that was found on the other side of the Red Planet by NASA's bigger and more capable Curiosity rover. Taken together, they flesh out the story of a planet that was friendly to life's conditions early in its existence but became colder, drier and less hospitable as it lost its global magnetic field and much of its atmosphere.
How Mars lost its mojo
The mission's deputy principal investigator, Ray Arvidsen of Washington University at St. Louis, sketched out a scenario in which Mars had a more Earthlike climate in the planet's early years. But as the planet wound down, the rains stopped, the oceans dried up, and more of the water that was available on Mars percolated up from the subsurface. That water picked up iron, sulfur and other elements, resulting in a more acidic pH.
The differences in the mineral signatures seen by Opportunity in older and newer rocks probably reflect "the transition from the early wet Mars to the cold dry Mars," Arvidsen said.
NASA's Opportunity rover analyzed the composition of a rock called Esperance, highlighted in this Feb. 23 image, and scientists determined that the minerals found there were probably formed through interaction with neutral-pH water. That's in contrast to previous evidence from Opportunity pointing to acidic water on ancient Mars.
Arvidsen and Squyres were reluctant to talk about time frames for that transition, but Squyres speculated that the minerals seen in the Esperance rock were formed during the first billion years of Mars' 4.6 billion-year existence. He said the rock appeared to be older than the 14-mile-wide (22-kilometer-wide) crater where it was found, known as Endeavour Crater.
Opportunity, which was launched from Cape Canaveral in July 2003 and landed on Mars in January 2004, has been at Endeavour Crater for almost two years. Squyres marveled at the fact that the rover found the evidence for neutral water so soon after Curiosity found the same thing.
"It's really striking to me how similar are the stories that are being told by the rocks that were recently investigated by Opportunity at Endeavour Crater, and the rocks that were recently investigated by Curiosity at Gale Crater," Squyres said. He said that the decisions on site selection "paid off on both sides of the planet, almost simultaneously."
Squyres ranked the find at Esperance among the nearly 10-year-long mission's top four or five discoveries.
Opportunity's next stop
Now Opportunity is heading for a new destination on the crater's rim: a rise called Solander Point, where the rover is due to spend the Martian winter. The rover team wants to position Opportunity on a north-facing, 15-degree slope, which will make it easier for its solar arrays to soak up power. While it's at Solander Point, Opportunity will study a rich range of geological layers that could provide further insights into the Red Planet's history.
"We consider it Sol 1 all over again for Opportunity," said John Callas, the Opportunity mission's project manager at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. "Sols" are Martian days: Opportunity is currently on Sol 3331 of what was originally expected to be a 90-sol mission on Mars.
Callas said the rover is still working fine, except for some "arthritis" in its mechanical joints and a potentially worrisome computer issue he called "flash memory amnesia." The temporary memory loss was last experienced about two weeks ago.
The Mars rover mission, which launched Opportunity as well as a second rover named Spirit toward the Red Planet in 2003, was originally budgeted at $800 million. Spirit lost its mobility and fell silent in 2010, but NASA is still funding Opportunity on maintenance mode to the tune of $14 million a year, Callas said.
Callas said he never expected the rover to last this long.
"This is like your car not lasting 200,000 miles, or even a million miles. You're talking about a car that lasts 2 million miles without an oil change," he said. "At this point, how long Opportunity lasts is anyone's guess."
Correction for 11:44 p.m. ET: I originally wrote that the Mars rovers' primary mission was supposed to last 30 sols, but it was actually 90 sols. Thanks for setting me straight, ToSeek!
Hybrid Motor Test on June 4,2013. Photo Credit: Sierra Nevada Corporation
A rocket is scheduled to launch from NASA's Wallops Flight Facility tonight to study how the first stars and galaxies formed and how brightly their nuclear fuel burned.
The launch is expected to lift off between 11 and 11:50 p.m., carrying the Cosmic Infrared Background ExpeRiment or CIBER, according to a release from the space agency.
The CIBER has flown three times on a NASA sounding rocket from White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico.
This time, the experiment will fly on a larger and more powerful rocket and is expected to reach a higher altitude. The instruments will have longer observation time before the experiment splashes down about 400 miles off the coast. It won’t be recovered.
When did the first stars and galaxies form in the universe? How brightly did they burn their nuclear fuel?
Numerical simulation of the density of matter when the universe was one billion years old. Galaxies formation follows the gravitational wells produced by dark matter, where hydrogen gas coalesces, and the first stars ignite. CIBER studies the total sky brightness, to probe the component from first stars and galaxies using spectral signatures, and searches for the distinctive spatial pattern seen in this image, produced by large-scale structures from dark matter. Photo: Courtesy of Jamie Bock/Caltech