Sonntag, 16. Juni 2013 - 18:46 Uhr

Raumfahrt - MIR-Re-Entry an Fluss-Ufer gefunden



NASA: Amesbury rock came from Soviet spacecraft

AMESBURY — Phil Green knew he’d found something unusual when he pulled the strange green rock out of the Merrimack River six years ago, but it wasn’t until recently that he found out his discovery was truly out of this world.

Green, a custodian at the Amesbury Elementary School who lives by the Merrimack River, recently received confirmation from NASA that a strange rock he found is actually a piece of the Mir Space Station that fell into his backyard.

The space agency confirmed the rock’s origin after a year-long analysis, and sent the rock and a plaque back to Green for him to keep a couple of weeks ago.

Green said he found the rock while searching for arrowheads down by the river near his house, and said it stuck out to him immediately when he saw it.

“The river gets scoured really well by the ice in the wintertime, so you wouldn’t expect to find a small rock sitting on top of what’s almost like pavement and granite,” Green said. “So I went over and picked it up.”

The rock was covered in mud, but when he washed it off he found that it had a burnt shade of green and looked as if someone had tried to chip away at it. It had a distinctive glassy structure too, except for one side also had about a hundred tiny pores, the kind frequently found in volcanic rock.

Green checked it with his metal detector and found that it had no traces of metal in it. Perplexed, he decided to leave the rock outside on top of another rock by his house, and that’s where it remained for another five years.

“I kind of lost track of it,” Green said. “I didn’t really think much of it, and then a fellow came over, saw it and said that’s a meteor.”

Green didn’t think it could be because it wasn’t metallic, but he ended up bringing it inside and cleaning it up anyway. Not long later, his sister-in-law, a Newburyport teacher, came over for a visit, saw the rock and took it, sending it to NASA to be analyzed.

A year went by, and eventually Green assumed the strange rock was gone for good, until a couple of weeks ago when he received a package in the mail from NASA containing his rock, a plaque and a letter from NASA Analysis Engineer George Leussis confirming that the rock had indeed fallen from space.

“It’s funny that the week I got it back, I happened to wake up and think to myself ‘I wonder what happened to my rock, I don’t think I’m ever going to see it again,’” Green said. “And then it came back.”

The letter confirmed that while the rock originated on Earth, it had definitely been subjected to a fall from low Earth orbit, which was the reason for the rock’s green color and strange properties.

“The material shows a composition similar to that used as ballast by the soviet space program starting in the mid 1980s,” Leussis wrote. “This places its most likely origin as Mir, or one of the Progress-M class Russian resupply vehicles, that had undergone a TPS failure.”

Mir was a Russian space station that operated in low Earth orbit from 1986 to 2001, and at one point it held the record for the longest uninterrupted human presence in space and the distinction of being the largest artificial satellite orbiting the Earth. The International Space Station has since surpassed both records.

Mir fell to earth in March 2001, with the bulk of it landing in the South Pacific ocean. It’s unclear how a piece of it could have fallen so far from the bulk of the spacecraft.

Although it’s impossible to speculate what the rock originally looked like before it was subjected to the intense heat and pressure of reentry, NASA was able to conclude that the rock is not radioactive, and thus safe to handle and appreciate in its new form.

When he found out the rock had fallen from space, Green said he wasn’t totally surprised, given that the reason he noticed it in the first place was because it was somewhere on the riverbank it shouldn’t have been.

“It had to [have fallen], there’s no other way,” Green said. “There was a big flat rock and this thing was just sitting there, and with the dynamics of the river there’s no way that could’ve happened, unless [he whistled and made a falling gesture with his hand].”

Quelle: Eagle Tribune


Sonntag, 16. Juni 2013 - 18:36 Uhr

Astronomie - Supercomputer-Simulation verwendet, um schwarze Löcher zu erklären


This annotated image labels several features in the simulation, including the event horizon of the black hole. Credit: NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center/J. Schnittman, J. Krolik (JHU) and S. Noble (RIT)


Astronomers at NASA, Johns Hopkins University and the Rochester Institute of Technology have confirmed the way stellar-mass black holes produce their highest-energy light.

Black holes are the densest objects known. Stellar-mass black holes form when massive stars run out of fuel and collapse, crushing up to 20 times the Sun's mass into compact objects less than 75 miles (120 kilometres) wide.

Using a supercomputer simulation of gas flowing into a black hole, the team have reproduced a range of important X-ray features long observed in active black holes.

"Our work traces the complex motions, particle interactions and turbulent magnetic fields in billion-degree gas on the threshold of a black hole, one of the most extreme physical environments in the universe," said lead researcher Jeremy Schnittman, an astrophysicist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center.

Gas falling toward a black hole orbits and accumulates into a flattened disk. The gas in this disk spirals inward, becoming compressed and heated as it nears the centre. Ultimately reaching temperatures up to 20 million degrees Fahrenheit (12 million C) the gas shines brightly in low-energy, or soft, X-rays.

Over 40 years, observations showed that black holes also produce  "hard" X-rays, with energy tens to hundreds of times greater than soft X-rays. This implies the presence of correspondingly hotter gas, with temperatures reaching billions of degrees.

The study bridges the gap between theory and observation, demonstrating that both hard and soft X-rays inevitably arise from gas spiraling toward a black hole.

The team modelled the inner region of a black hole's accretion disk, tracking the emission and movement of X-rays, and compared the results to observations of real black holes.

Our work traces the complex motions, particle interactions and turbulent magnetic fields in billion-degree gas on the threshold of a black hole, one of the most extreme physical environments in the universe.

Scott Noble, a research scientist at the Rochester Institute of Technology, developed a computer simulation solving all of the equations governing the complex motion of inflowing gas and its associated magnetic fields near an accreting black hole. The rising temperature, density and speed of the infalling gas dramatically amplify magnetic fields threading through the disk, which then exert additional influence on the gas.

The result is a turbulent froth orbiting the black hole at speeds approaching the speed of light. The calculations simultaneously tracked the fluid, electrical and magnetic properties of the gas while also taking into account Einstein's theory of relativity.

Over the years, improved X-ray observations provided mounting evidence that hard X-rays originated in a hot, tenuous corona above the disk, a structure analogous to the hot corona that surrounds the sun.

"Astronomers also expected that the disk supported strong magnetic fields and hoped that these fields might bubble up out of it, creating the corona," Noble explained.

The team used the data to track how X-rays were emitted, absorbed, and scattered throughout the accretion disk and the corona region. Combined, they demonstrate for the first time a direct connection between magnetic turbulence in the disk, the formation of a billion-degree corona, and the production of hard X-rays around an actively "feeding" black hole.

The study was based on a non-rotating black hole. The researchers are extending the results to spinning black holes, where rotation pulls the inner edge of the disk further inward and conditions become even more extreme.

Quelle: SEN


Samstag, 15. Juni 2013 - 18:30 Uhr

Luftfahrt - Airbus A350 startet Freitag zum Jungfernflug



Das Warten hat ein Ende: Der Airbus A350 soll am Freitag zum ersten Mal in Toulouse abheben. Die erste Auslieferung des Langstreckenflugzeuges an Kunden plant Airbus im zweiten Halbjahr 2014.


ParisAirbus will sein neues Langstreckenflugzeug A350 am Freitag erstmals starten lassen. Der Flugzeugbauer bestätigte die Pläne für den lange Zeit erwarteten Jungfernflug am Dienstag in Toulouse. Alle Vortests seien erfolgreich gewesen, teilte der europäische Hersteller mit. Die Triebwerke waren erstmals Anfang Juni getestet worden.Die A350 XWB soll in Versionen für 270 bis 350 Passagiere gebaut werden. Die teuerste Variante steht mit rund 250 Millionen Euro in der Preisliste. Die erste Auslieferung an Kunden plant Airbus im zweiten Halbjahr 2014. Bisher haben laut Airbus 33 Fluglinien 613 Maschinen des neuen Typs geordert.
The A350 Family provides true long-range capability with seating capacities from 250 to 400-plus passengers. This enables airlines to best match their A350 XWB fleets to route capacity demands, guaranteeing optimum revenue potential and excellent operating efficiency.  The aircraft family concept, proven by Airbus with its other jetliners, also ensures optimal efficiency through the A350 XWB’s commonality in engines, systems and spare parts, while also enabling pilots to fly all three versions with a single type rating. 
Airbus’ A350 XWB family consists of three versions (the A350-800, -900 and -1000) – each with flight ranges that give them a global reach. In a typical three-class configuration, the A350-800 will accommodate 270 passengers, while the A350-900 and the A350-1000 will seat 314 and 350 passengers, respectively.  All A350 XWB Family members can be configured for higher density layouts of up to 440 seats. 
Responding to the market’s call for additional payload and range, the A350-1000 will be equipped with more powerful Trent XWB engines – which will be fully optimised for this largest member of the A350 XWB Family.  The enhanced Trent XWB will deliver up to 97,000 lb. of thrust on takeoff, making it the most powerful engine ever developed for an Airbus aircraft.  This extra thrust – together with an increased aircraft takeoff weight capability of 308 tonnes – will enable operators to fly the A350-1000 some 400 nm. further with a full load of 350 passengers, or to carry approximately 4.5 extra tonnes of payload at a given range. 
Quielle: Airbus
Update: 15.06.2013

Airbus hat am Freitag Luftfahrt-Geschichte geschrieben! Mit dem erfolgreichen Jungfernflug des A350 hat Europa im Flugzeugbau neue Maßstäbe gesetzt. Maßgeblich beteiligt: Ingenieur-Kunst „Made in Germany“!

Für ein Flugzeug ist der Super-Flieger leicht – nur 130 Tonnen Leergewicht, ein Viertel weniger als die unmittelbare Boeing-Konkurrenz 777. Grund für die radikalste Diät im Flugzeugbau ist der extra leichte Rumpf aus Karbon – dem Material, aus dem die Flugzeuge und Autos der Zukunft sind.



Samstag, 15. Juni 2013 - 17:20 Uhr

Raumfahrt - Wenn ATV4-Start Science-Fiction zur Realität macht



Deutsche Kamera an Bord der Ariane-Rakete filmt Separation erstmals in 3D
Acht Tage nach dem Start der "Volare-Mission" mit dem ESA-Astronauten Luca Parmitano hat die europäische Weltraumagentur ihr viertes ATV-Versorgungsraumschiff auf den Weg zur Internationalen Raumstation gebracht: Um 23.52 Uhr Mitteleuropäischer Sommerzeit (MESZ, 18.52 Uhr Ortszeit) ist ATV-4 "Albert Einstein" am 5. Juni 2013 an Bord einer Ariane 5ES-Trägerrakete vom ESA-Raumfahrtzentrum in Französisch-Guayana zur ISS gestartet. Deutschland  baut die Raumtransporter und hat zudem ein 3D-Kamerasystem konstruiert, das erstmals seit 2006 den Start einer Ariane 5 und die Separation des ATV von Bord der Rakete aus dokumentieren soll.
Aufbruch in eine neue Dimension
Verborgen unter der Verkleidung der Ariane 5 befindet sich der wohl wichtigste Teil von Sterex (Stereo-Experiment): die beiden Videokameras, die die Separation von ATV-4 im Stereomodus aufnehmen und damit zum ersten Mal 3D-Bilder vom Aussetzen einer Nutzlast im Weltraum aufzeichnen sollen. Die an Bord der Trägerrakete gespeicherten Videodaten werden zur Bodenstation des Deutschen Zentrums für Luft- und Raumfahrt (DLR) in Weilheim gesendet. "Rund acht Stunden nach dem Start wollen wir diese Daten so aufbereitet haben, dass sie zunächst in einem 2D-Video, später dann auch in 3D zu sehen sind", berichtet Thomas Ruwwe, Sterex-Projektleiter im DLR Raumfahrtmanagement in Bonn. Den ATV-4-Start und den Einsatz des Kamerasystems verfolgt  der Ingenieur vom Raumfahrtzentrum der ESA in Kourou aus. Alle Tests sind gut verlaufen, trotzdem liegt bei so einer Premiere bis zuletzt Spannung in der Luft. Denn die Erwartungen sind hoch: "Wir versprechen uns von den Bildern aus dieser neuen Perspektive, die dynamischen Abläufe bis zur Trennung des ATV von der Ariane noch besser zu verstehen und analysieren zu können", erklärt Thomas Ruwwe. Die dritte der insgesamt vier Sterex-Kameras nimmt einen neuartigen Separationsmechanismus auf, der beim ATV-4-Start erstmals eingesetzt worden ist. Die vierte Kamera ist an der Außenwand  der Ariane 5 angebracht. "Diese soll den Start, die Separation der Booster und der Hauptstufe sowie das Zünden der Oberstufe aufnehmen", sagt Ruwwe.
Sterex ist ein vom DLR Raumfahrtmanagement und der europäischen Raumfahrtagentur ESA gefördertes Projekt, das für den Mitflug an Bord verschiedener Trägerraketen entwickelt wurde und beim ATV-4-Start zum ersten Mal im Einsatz ist. Ein Beschleunigungssensor aktiviert das System, die Aufnahmen, die Speicherung und die Datenübertragung werden automatisch gesteuert. Die Kamera hat eine maximale Auflösung von 720 mal 576 Pixel (PAL) und liefert maximal 25 Bilder pro Sekunde. Es sind seit 2006 die ersten Video-Aufnahmen eines Ariane-Starts, die an Bord der Rakete selbst aufgenommen werden sollen (weitere Informationen im Sterex-Faktenblatt auf der rechten Seite dieses Artikels).  
ATV: Das " Lastpferd" für die ISS
Seit 2008 hat sich die ESA mit drei eigenen Raumtransportern  - "Jules Verne" (2008), "Johannes Kepler" (2011) und "Edoardo Amaldi" (2012) -  an Versorgungsflügen zur Internationalen Raumstation ISS beteiligt: Die Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV) dienen als Frachter, Lager und Antriebssystem für das  400 Kilometer über der Erde kreisende größte Forschungslabor im  All. "Das nach dem Schweizer Nobelpreisträger benannte ATV-4 soll am 15. Juni die Raumstation erreichen und automatisch am russischen Swesda-Modul andocken", berichtet Volker Schmid, Leiter der ISS-Fachgruppe im DLR Raumfahrtmanagement und Koordinator der deutschen ATV-Beiträge. Diese  waren vor allem in der Entwicklungsphase und bei der Produktionsvorbereitung  beachtlich: "Der Anteil deutscher Firmen und Forschungseinrichtungen, darunter auch das DLR, beträgt bei der Produktion etwa 50 Prozent. An der Entwicklungsphase hat sich Deutschland mit etwa 24 Prozent der Kosten beteiligt", berichtet der Ingenieur. 30 Unternehmen aus zehn europäischen Ländern sowie acht Firmen aus Russland und den USA liefern Bauteile und Komponenten für das mit knapp zehn Metern und gut 20 Tonnen längste, schwerste und leistungsfähigste Raumfahrzeug, das bislang in Europa gebaut worden ist. Vor ATV hat kein Raumfahrzeug dieser Größe und Masse vollautomatisch an die ISS angedockt.
ATV-4 Albert Einstein befördert dabei mehr Trockenfracht als seine Vorgänger: 2,5 Tonnen Experimente, Ersatzteile, Lebensmittel und Kleidung für die Besatzung  der ISS. "Hinzu kommen insgesamt 4,1 Tonnen Flüssigkeiten, darunter 100 Kilogramm Sauerstoff, Stickstoff und Luft, 570 Liter Trinkwasser, etwa 2,6 Tonnen Treibstoff für Bahnkorrekturen der ISS und  870 Kilogramm Treibstoff zum Nachtanken des Swesda-Moduls", ergänzt DLR-Experte Schmid.
Frams: DLR-Video
Quelle: DLR
Update: 15.06.2013 - Andock-Manöver von ATV-4 an ISS

Tags: ATV4 


Samstag, 15. Juni 2013 - 16:35 Uhr

Astronomie - Asteroid 1998 QE2 im Vorbeiflug am 31.Mai



On May 31, 2013, asteroid 1998 QE2 will sail serenely past Earth, getting no closer than about 3.6 million miles (5.8 million kilometers), or about 15 times the distance between Earth and the moon. And while QE2 is not of much interest to those astronomers and scientists on the lookout for hazardous asteroids, it is of interest to those who dabble in radar astronomy and have a 230-foot (70-meter) -- or larger -- radar telescope at their disposal. 
"Asteroid 1998 QE2 will be an outstanding radar imaging target at Goldstone and Arecibo and we expect to obtain a series of high-resolution images that could reveal a wealth of surface features," said radar astronomer Lance Benner, the principal investigator for the Goldstone radar observations from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. "Whenever an asteroid approaches this closely, it provides an important scientific opportunity to study it in detail to understand its size, shape, rotation, surface features, and what they can tell us about its origin. We will also use new radar measurements of the asteroid's distance and velocity to improve our calculation of its orbit and compute its motion farther into the future than we could otherwise." 
The closest approach of the asteroid occurs on May 31 at 1:59 p.m. Pacific (4:59 p.m. Eastern / 20:59 UTC). This is the closest approach the asteroid will make to Earth for at least the next two centuries. Asteroid 1998 QE2 was discovered on Aug. 19, 1998, by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Lincoln Near Earth Asteroid Research (LINEAR) program near Socorro, New Mexico. 
The asteroid, which is believed to be about 1.7 miles (2.7 kilometers) or nine Queen Elizabeth 2 ship-lengths in size, is not named after that 12-decked, transatlantic-crossing flagship for the Cunard Line. Instead, the name is assigned by the NASA-supported Minor Planet Center in Cambridge, Mass., which gives each newly discovered asteroid a provisional designation starting with the year of first detection, along with an alphanumeric code indicating the half-month it was discovered, and the sequence within that half-month. 
Radar images from the Goldstone antenna could resolve features on the asteroid as small as 12 feet (3.75 meters) across, even from 4 million miles away. 
"It is tremendously exciting to see detailed images of this asteroid for the first time," said Benner. "With radar we can transform an object from a point of light into a small world with its own unique set of characteristics. In a real sense, radar imaging of near-Earth asteroids is a fundamental form of exploring a whole class of solar system objects." 
Asteroids, which are always exposed to the sun, can be shaped like almost anything under it. Those previously imaged by radar and spacecraft have looked like dog bones, bowling pins, spheroids, diamonds, muffins, and potatoes. To find out what 1998 QE2 looks like, stay tuned. Between May 30 and June 9, radar astronomers using NASA's 230-foot-wide (70 meter) Deep Space Network antenna at Goldstone, Calif., and the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico, are planning an extensive campaign of observations. The two telescopes have complementary imaging capabilities that will enable astronomers to learn as much as possible about the asteroid during its brief visit near Earth. 
NASA places a high priority on tracking asteroids and protecting our home planet from them. In fact, the U.S. has the most robust and productive survey and detection program for discovering near-Earth objects. To date, U.S. assets have discovered over 98 percent of the known NEOs. 
In 2012, the NEO budget was increased from $6 million to $20 million. Literally dozens of people are involved with some aspect of near-Earth object (NEO) research across NASA and its centers. Moreover, there are many more people involved in researching and understanding the nature of asteroids and comets, including those that come close to the Earth, plus those who are trying to find and track them in the first place. 
In addition to the resources NASA puts into understanding asteroids, it also partners with other U.S. government agencies, university-based astronomers, and space science institutes across the country that are working to track and better understand these objects, often with grants, interagency transfers and other contracts from NASA. 
NASA's Near-Earth Object Program at NASA Headquarters, Washington, manages and funds the search, study, and monitoring of asteroids and comets whose orbits periodically bring them close to Earth. JPL manages the Near-Earth Object Program Office for NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington. JPL is a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena. 
In 2016, NASA will launch a robotic probe to one of the most potentially hazardous of the known NEOs. The OSIRIS-REx mission to asteroid (101955) Bennu will be a pathfinder for future spacecraft designed to perform reconnaissance on any newly-discovered threatening objects. Aside from monitoring potential threats, the study of asteroids and comets enables a valuable opportunity to learn more about the origins of our solar system, the source of water on Earth, and even the origin of organic molecules that lead to the development of life. 
NASA recently announced developing a first-ever mission to identify, capture and relocate an asteroid for human exploration. Using game-changing technologies advanced by the Administration, this mission would mark an unprecedented technological achievement that raises the bar of what humans can do in space. Capturing and redirecting an asteroid will integrate the best of NASA's science, technology and human exploration capabilities and draw on the innovation of America's brightest scientists and engineers. 
Quelle: NASA
Update: 27.05.2013
Astronomers are gearing up to watch a giant asteroid sail past the Earth this week. It is nine times as long as a cruise liner and dubbed 1998 QE2, but this chunk of space rock has nothing to do with the famous Cunard vessel now docked in Dubai.
The asteroid will come to a distance of 5.8 million km (3.6 million miles) - closer than at any time in the next two centuries but still a reasonably wide berth with no danger of an impact. The flyby will give telescopes around the world the chance to study what is logged as a Potentially Hazardous Object.
Closest approach will occur on May 31 when the asteroid will be about 15 times the distance of the Moon. That will bring it near enough for powerful radio telescopes at Goldstone in California and Arecibo in Puerto Rico to bounce beams off it to make detailed radar maps of its surface.
1998 QE2, which was discovered by Massachusetts Institute of Technology Lincoln Near Earth Asteroid Research (LINEAR) robotic survey operating near Socorro, New Mexico, on August 19, 1998, will be in range for Goldstone’s 70 meter (230 ft) steerable dish from May 28 as it heads north through the sky. The observatory has scheduled observations on seven dates from May 30 to June 9.
The 305 meter (1,000 ft) Arecibo dish, which sits fixed in a well in the ground, will be able to observe from June 5, and observations have been planned from June 6 to 12. Together the telescopes hope to pick out detail on the asteroid as small as 7.5 meters across.
On a previous flight through the neighbourhood in 2010, the asteroid was observed by NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope which estimated it to be about 2.7 km in diameter. It is a member of the Amor class of asteroids which originated in the main belt between Mars and Jupiter. On of the largest members of this class is Eros which was visited by NASA’s NEAR Shoemaker probe in 2000.
1998 QE2 has a very low albedo, meaning it is a dark object and in fact its surface is as reflective as soot. It will still be visible in larger amateur telescopes, shining at magnitude 11 in early June.
Goldstone is operated by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California. Radar astronomer Lance Benner, principal investigator for the observatory, said: “Asteroid 1998 QE2 will be an outstanding radar imaging target at Goldstone and Arecibo and we expect to obtain a series of high-resolution images that could reveal a wealth of surface features.
“Whenever an asteroid approaches this closely, it provides an important scientific opportunity to study it in detail to understand its size, shape, rotation, surface features, and what they can tell us about its origin. We will also use new radar measurements of the asteroid’s distance and velocity to improve our calculation of its orbit and compute its motion farther into the future than we could otherwise.”
Last year NASA was given an increased budget to find and track the hundreds of asteroids known as Near Earth Objects that could potentially hit our planet causing devastation.
In 2016, NASA’s robotic OSIRIS-REx mission will be launched to asteroid (101955) Bennu. The study will help prepare for the threats close passing asteroids pose but also help scientists learn more about some of the earliest material formed in the Solar System.
NASA is also developing a mission to capture a small asteroid and bring it into orbit around the Moon so that astronauts can later visit it.
Quelle: SEN
Update: 1.06.2013
Asteroid hat einen Mond

A large asteroid that will sail relatively close past Earth on Friday is not alone. Radar images taken by astronomers on Wednesday revealed the asteroid, known as 1998 QE2, is accompanied by an orbiting moon.


“It was quite a surprise,” Marina Brozovic, a radar scientist with NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., said during an NASA interview.

“This is something we did not expect,” she said.

The pair will come as close as about 3.6 million miles to Earth at 4:59 p.m. EDT on Friday. That’s just 15 times farther away than Earth’s moon.


“For an asteroid of this size, it’s a close shave,” said Paul Chodas with NASA’s Near Earth Object program office at JPL.

Measuring about 1.7 miles in diameter, 1998 QE2 is among the largest asteroids with orbits that can pass near Earth.

At its most distant, 1998 QE2 flies to  the far edge of the Main Asteroid Belt, nearly to Jupiter. Its pass on Friday is expected to be its closest approach to Earth for at least the next 200 years.


“For the foreseeable future, there’s nothing to worry about,” Chodas said.

Asteroid 1998 QE2 was not named after the United Kingdom’s Queen Elizabeth II, or the QE2 cruise ship. The designation stems from the date and place of its discovery –  1998 by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Lincoln Near Earth Asteroid Research (LINEAR) program.

Astronomers are hoping to get images and data during the flyby that rival what a visiting spacecraft could collect.

Image: A series of radar images by NASA’s Goldstone Observatory of asteroid 1998 QE2 and moon. Credit: NASA


Update: 2.06.2013

The closest approach of the asteroid occurred today at 4:59 p.m. EDT, when the asteroid was no closer than about 3.6 million miles (5.8 million kilometers), or about 15 times the distance between Earth and the moon.

Its next pass, on July 12, 2028 will be at a very safe 45 million miles (73 mil km).

Quelle: NASA


Update: 15.06.2013


Arecibo Radar Sees Asteroid 1998 QE2 and Moon

Arecibo, Puerto Rico, June 14, 2013 - Arecibo Observatory catches the most detailed radar images ever of asteroid 1998 QE2 and its newly discovered moon as they safely pass our planet.

Arecibo Observatory continues to take radar images of asteroid 1998 QE2 and its moon as the space rock sails safely passed earth this week. The images show a dark cratered asteroid 3 kilometers across (1.9 miles) with a companion moon 750 meters (2,500 feet) in size. The asteroid and its moon passed 6 million kilometers (3.75 million miles) from earth, far enough from our planet not to worry, close enough to study this rocky world with the most sensitive radar telescope in the world, the U.S. National Science Foundation's Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico. "Asteroid QE2 has no chance of hitting earth," said USRA's Dr. Michael Nolan, head of the asteroid radar group at Arecibo Observatory who took the images.

Images: Radar images of Asteroid 1998 QE2 taken on June 7, 2013 as the asteroid and its moon safely passed Earth. The asteroid appears lit from the bottom while we The light is from the powerful radio waves from the radar transmitter. The Earth is at the bottom of this image: the "side view" is a result of the radar imaging method. Several craters are visible on the asteroid, and the moon appears as a bright streak. Each pixel is 7.5 meters (25 feet). Image credit: Arecibo Observatory/NASA/Ellen Howell

Arecibo Observatory and the complementary Goldstone Solar System Radar in California run by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory are unique among telescopes on earth for their ability to resolve features on asteroids, when optical telescopes on the ground would see these rocks as simple points of light. "We transmit powerful radio waves at passing asteroids," said Nolan. "Arecibo is a thousand times more powerful than your microwave oven." Sensitive radio receivers collect radio signals reflected from the asteroids and computers turn the radio echoes into images that show features such as craters and the smaller moon. The moon appears brighter than the asteroid as it is rotating more slowly; thus, its Doppler echoes compress along the Doppler axis of the image and appear stronger.

Of the asteroids that come close to Earth, approximately one out of six have moons. Dr. Patrick Taylor, a USRA research astronomer at Arecibo, remarked that "QE2's moon is roughly one-quarter the size of the main asteroid," which is a lumpy, battered world in the inner part of our solar system. "Similarly, our moon is also approximately one-fourth the size of our planet."

QE2's moon will help scientists determine the mass of the main asteroid and what minerals make up the asteroid-moon system. "Being able to determine its mass from the moon helps us understand better the asteroid's material," said Dr. Ellen Howell, a USRA research astronomer at Arecibo Observatory who took both radar images of the asteroid at Arecibo and optical and infrared images using the Infrared Telescope Facility in Hawaii. While the optical images do not show detail of the asteroid's surface, like the radar images do, instead they allow for measurements of what it is made of. Howell said, "What makes this asteroid so interesting, aside from being an excellent target for radar imaging, is the color and small moon."

"Asteroid QE2 is dark, red, and primitive - that is, it hasn't been heated or melted as much as other asteroids," continued Howell. "QE2 is nothing like any asteroid we've visited with a spacecraft, or plan to, or that we have meteorites from. It's an entirely new beast in the menagerie of asteroids near Earth."

The provisional designation "1998 QE2" reflects the mid-August 1998 discovery date of this asteroid and is not related to the Queen Elizabeth II ocean liner, though a similarity of the asteroid's name to that of a cruise ship makes for interesting size comparisons. Arecibo astronomer Rhys Taylor said, "The moon is twice the length of the Queen Elizabeth II ocean liner, while the asteroid is nine times the length. Twenty-nine QE2 ships would fit around the circumference of asteroid QE2, plus or minus a ship."

USRA's Michael Nolan led the radar observations of QE2, with Ellen Howell, Patrick Taylor, Alessondra Springmann, Sean Marshall of Cornell University, and Mariah Law of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, in collaboration with the Near-Earth Object radar team at NASA/JPL and Goldstone Observatory in California. Observations continued through the morning of June 13, 2013.

Located in Puerto Rico, the Arecibo Observatory is home to the world's largest and most sensitive single-dish radio telescope, and dedicates hundreds of hours a year of its telescope time to improving our knowledge of near-Earth asteroids.

About Arecibo Observatory

The Arecibo Observatory is operated by SRI International in alliance with Ana G. Méndez-Universidad Metropolitana and the Universities Space Research Association, under a cooperative agreement with the National Science Foundation (AST-1100968). The Arecibo Planetary Radar program is supported by NASA's Near Earth Object Observation program. The Arecibo Observatory is sponsored by the National Science Foundation. Any opinions, findings and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.

About USRA

Universities Space Research Association (USRA) is an independent, nonprofit research corporation where the combined efforts of in-house talent and university-based expertise merge to advance space science and technology. USRA works across disciplines including biomedicine, astrophysics, and engineering and integrates those competencies into applications ranging from fundamental research to facility management and operations. USRA engages the creativity and authoritative expertise of the research community to develop and deliver sophisticated, forward-looking solutions to Federal agencies and other customers - on schedule and within budget.

Quelle: USRA


Tags: Asteroid 1998 QE2 


Freitag, 14. Juni 2013 - 17:53 Uhr

ATV Albert Einstein virtuelles Skelett als Geisterbilder aus dem Orbit


ATV’s virtual skeleton ghosting across the cosmos


You might have seen the wonderful radar images of ATV flying over Earth after its launch last week. Jean-Michel Bois, Nathalie Védie and Laurent Arzel from ESA and Dr.-Ing. Thomas Patzelt, Dr.-Ing. Jens Rosebrock and Dr.-Ing. Ludger Leushacke from Fraunhofer got together to explain the background on these images:

ESA’s ATV Toulouse Operations requested High frequency physics and Radar support from the German Fraunhofer institute to track ATV during its first orbits after separation from its Ariane 5 launcher. The goal is to provide information on the ATV injection and orbit parameters and to assess ATV’s configuration for the Flight Dynamics team. In particular the flight dynamics team was interested in the deployment ATV’s solar panels and of the ADB/KBM boom in the first minutes after the separation.

The ADB/KBM boom supports ATV’s Proximity Link Transceiver used during the rendezvous phase to exchange data with its counterpart on the International Space Station. This data allows for relative navigation between ATV and the Space Station and provides crew monitoring and control of the ATV during docking.

For ATV-2 and ATV-3, the full deployment and lock of this boom were not confirmed by telemetry data, so the final boom position was never confirmed.

To answer this question the Fraunhofer Institute was asked to image the spacecraft using TIRA radar data analysis.

Tests were performed during ATV-3’s free-flight days before its destructive reentry to validate the feasibility of the system, the quality of the radar images and coordination between ATV-CC and Fraunhofer teams and also to check potential ATV attitude changes to optimise the observation conditions for radar imaging, if necessary.

In parallel, a tool was developed by the ESA ATV Operations Division (Nathalie Védie and Laurent Arzel) to reproduce ATV’s orientation in a virtual radar image by projecting a wire-frame model on the radar image plane. Based on real trajectory and ATV attitude telemetry data during the path over the Fraunhofer’s radar station, the virtual wire-frame ATV image can be compared with the radar image. It allows a validation of the ATV configuration and a rejection of the bright radar image pixels due to noise or image generation artefacts.

The combination of the images is a powerful way to assess ATV’s configuration in space. The figures show that the projected image fits perfectly with the radar image.


ATV-4 imaged by radar with wire grid superimposed Credit: ESA/Fraunhofer FHR institute


ATV-4 imaged in orbit 8 June

A fabulous mix of images taken by Ralf Vandebergh showing exquisite detail of the ATV in orbit on 8 June 2013. Ralf wrote:"No illumination of the solar panels but amazing visibility of segment structure in the ATV!" Thanks for sharing, Ralf!

ATV-4 mission report 13 June

ATV is operating as expected; all systems nominal. On 13 June, ATV-CC completed the docking probe pull-out test at 16:14 CEST (ATV's docking system is now ready for contact with Station). Next activity 14 June: TIV (transfer to ISS vicinity) manoeuvres; first boost set for 13:13 CEST.

Jean-Michel Bois, Head of the ESA Operations Team at ATV-CC, notes:

The ATV probe extension activity was successfully performed on 13 June at 14:30 GMT. This task prepares the ATV for the docking on 15 June. The probe detects the contact with the ISS Service Module port; then, by retraction, performs the mechanical link-up between ATV and ISS.


Final days of preparation for the arrival of ATV-4

ESA's Volare mission director Roland Luettgen's latest update on ATV-4 preparations from an astronaut perspective.

Although astronauts are well trained for the arrival of ESA’s supply ship ATV-4, they are spending time these days to refresh their knowledge, to make sure they are ready.

The main astronaut task during the rendezvous and docking of ATV Albert Einstein is monitoring the spacecraft’s automated approach and reacting in case of problems.

The monitoring will start on Saturday at around 09:50 GMT when ATV-4 is still more than 15 km away from the International Space Station. Until then the crew, and in particular Luca, are preparing everything for Albert Einstein’s arrival. We expect some spectacular video and images taken when ATV-4 is closing in at about 1 km distance from the Station.

During the final approach, the International Space Station and ATV-4 will pass through day and night several times as they travel at speeds of more than 28 000 km/h. At this speed they fly around Earth every 90 minutes.

Once ATV Albert Einstein has arrived, the crew will start preparing to enter the spaceship on Monday and getting ready to unload the cargo. Luckily they are in space and gravity does not pull at them, so transferring several tons of cargo is not ‘heavy’ work. We have planned to have the first major science experiment, FASES, moved out of ATV-4 and installed into the Columbus laboratory on Tuesday next week.

Quelle; ESA

Tags: ATV Albert Einstein 


Freitag, 14. Juni 2013 - 12:22 Uhr

Astronomie - Feuerkugel über Österreich


Von Österreich/Fornach aus konnte Hermann Koberger gestern kurz nach
Mitternacht 14.06.2013 wieder eine schöne Feuerkugel fotografieren, welche durch ihre lange Leuchtspur auffällt!


Foto: Hermann Koberger / Fornach-Austria


Freitag, 14. Juni 2013 - 11:39 Uhr

Luftfahrt - Frankreich´s UAV-NEURON





















Quelle: Dassault Aviation

Dassault Aviation



Freitag, 14. Juni 2013 - 09:11 Uhr

Astronomie - Chandra X-Ray Observatory enthüllt "Schwarzes Loch Bonanza" in Andromeda-Galaxie


Data from Chandra’s X-ray Observatory has led astronomers to unveil 26 black holes in the Milky Way’s neighbor, the Andromeda Galaxy. This is the largest number of black hole candidates found in a galaxy outside our own. Image Credit: X-ray: NASA/CXC/SAO/R. Barnard, Z. Lee et al.; Optical: NOAO/AURA/NSF/REU Program/B. Schoening, V. Harvey and Descubre Foundation/CAHA/OAUV/DSA/V. Peris.


Data from NASA’s Chandra X-Ray Observatory has led astronomers to unveil 26 black hole candidates in one of the Milky Way’s neighboring galaxies, the Andromeda Galaxy. The data was found using more than 150 Chandra observations over its lifetime of 13 years. The number of black hole candidates is the largest number to date in a galaxy other than our home galaxy. Nine black holes were previously identified from Chandra’s data; this new finding brings the total number to 35.
The black holes detected belong to the stellar mass category, meaning they were formed in the wake of dying stars. They typically have a mass five to 10 times larger than that of our Sun and can be detected as they pull material from companion stars and heat up, producing radiation (the black holes are otherwise invisible).
Astronomers had to make sure they were detecting stellar masses versus other galaxy systems’ super-massive black holes. Researchers utilized a new technique which drew on the brightness and variability of the X-ray sources in the data from Chandra. They found that the stellar masses changed more frequently than other systems’ black holes.
In addition, the researchers determined the X-ray sources had to have special characteristics, which include being brighter than a certain high level of X-rays and having a particular color. While neutron stars do not have these characteristics simultaneously, the black holes do.
The European Space Agency’s XMM-Neutron X-ray Observatory also supported researchers’ work by providing X-ray spectra (the distribution of X-rays with energy) for some of the black hole candidates, aiding object identification.
The results and findings from this research will be published in the Astrophysical Journal on Thursday, June 20. Many of the observations were found through Chandra’s Guaranteed Time Observer Program. NASA Marshall Spaceflight Center in Huntsville, Alabama manages the Chandra program for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, located in Washington, D.C. Chandra’s science and flight observations are controlled from the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory located in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
The Chandra X-Ray Observatory is celebrating its 13th year of operation, having been deployed on STS-93 (a mission flown by space shuttle Columbia) on July 23, 1999.
Quelle: NASA

Tags: Chandra X-Ray Observatory 


Freitag, 14. Juni 2013 - 08:58 Uhr

Raumfahrt - SpaceX-SS2 vor zweiten Überschallflug


New pilots for Virgin Galactic’s Spaceline have completed a series of check rides from Mojave, Calif, as preparations continue towards the next supersonic envelope expansion flight of the rocket-powered SpaceShipTwo (SS2) sub-orbital vehicle.  Flights were in WhiteKnightTwo (WK2), built by Scaled Composites, which has been flown on at least 11 training sorties since dropping SS2 for its first powered test flight (PF01) on April 29. The two are former space shuttle astronaut and Top Gun graduate, Frederick “CJ” Sturckow, and former U.S. Air Force Test Pilot School and U-2 veteran, Michael “Sooch” Masucci. Both completed check rides on June 6.
SS2 cockpit view during April 29 supersonic flight. Virgin Galactic
The second powered test flight is expected shortly, with expectations of achieving the first full sub-orbital flight in December, if not shortly before. Speaking recently at the Space Tech Expo event in Long Beach, Virgin Galactic special projects Vice President Will Pomerantz says “we are on a path to be on the edge of space by the end of the year.” More than 580 have now signed up to travel to sub-orbit on the world’s first spaceline.  Speaking at the same event, Mark Sirangelo, Chairman and Vice President of Sierra Nevada Space Systems, which provides the RM2 motor for SS2 says after the April 29 flight “we realized we’d done something quite special. The 16 seconds burn took SS2 to over Mach 1.2. We were wondering whether we wanted to break the sound barrier or not but the flight was going so smooth we decided to go for it. The pilots heard noises after the engine stopped, but they relaxed when they realized it was the (breaking of the) sound barrier.”
No exact timing of the next flight but it could be soon, and possibly during the Paris air show.
Quelle: SpaceX

Tags: SpaceX-SS2 


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