Sonntag, 3. November 2013 - 13:30 Uhr

Planet Erde - Satellit-Aufnahmen von Staub-Wolke über dem Atlantik


In this animation of Earth Observatory images, hundreds of millions of tons of dust are picked up from the deserts of Africa and blown across the Atlantic Ocean each year.
Image Credit: 
NASA'S Earth Observatory
Hundreds of millions of tons of dust are picked up from the deserts of Africa and blown across the Atlantic Ocean each year. That dust helps build beaches in the Caribbean and fertilize soils in the Amazon. It affects air quality in North and South America. And some say dust storms might play a role in the suppression of hurricanes and the decline of coral reefs.

The Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite, or VIIRS, on the Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership satellite captured these images of a Saharan dust storm on July 31 and August 1–2, 2013. Each image is a composite of three adjacent satellite passes.

Dust from the Sahara and other points in interior Africa were lofted into the sky and blew west and northwest across the Atlantic Ocean. (The milky lines running vertically across each image are caused by sunglint, the reflection of sunlight off the ocean.) The images help reveal wind patterns such as trade winds that steer plumes and clouds. At several points, dust stretched continuously from North Africa to South America.

“These mosaics show where the dust goes, which tells us what governs the movement and where they end up,” said Ralph Kahn, a NASA atmospheric scientist who specializes in aerosols. “When satellites first began imaging Earth, it was shocking to see the degree to which airborne particles are carried across continents and oceans."

The dust also was detected by the Ozone Mapping Profiling Suite on Suomi NPP. Designed to measure ozone in the atmosphere, this instrument gathers ultraviolet spectral information that also reveals smoke and airborne dust. Lower concentrations appear in yellow, and greater concentrations appear in orange-brown. Each map includes roughly six satellite passes.

Since late July, some meteorologists have speculated that a particularly dry and dusty Saharan Air Layer was suppressing hurricane formation in the North Atlantic. As of August 27, 2013, no tropical storms had reached hurricane strength yet in the Atlantic Ocean, an unusual but not-unprecedented season.

Dry air masses from Africa can sap the moisture-collecting energy of storm systems over the ocean. More dust can also mean fewer storms because it blocks incoming sunlight, leading to cooler ocean temperatures. Deciphering the effect of Saharan air and dust is one of the research goals of NASA’s Hurricane and Severe Storm Sentinel airborne field campaign this year.

“Dust has long blown across the Atlantic from Africa, but only during the past several decades of satellite observations have we begun to appreciate the vast scale of these events,” wrote Norman Kuring, a member of the ocean color group at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center. “Estimates of the dust transported run to hundreds of millions of tons per year, yet we still know relatively little about the effects on phytoplankton productivity, climate, and human health.”


The dust also was detected by the Ozone Mapping Profiling Suite on Suomi NPP. These maps show the relative concentrations of aerosol particles on July 31 and August 1-2.
Image Credit: 
NASA's Earth Observatory
This composite projection shows the dust storm using data from seven orbits of the Suomi NPP satellite on August 1, 2013.
Image Credit: 
NASA's Earth Observatory
Quelle: NASA


Sonntag, 3. November 2013 - 12:00 Uhr

Raumfahrt - China startete unerwartet eine Langer Marsch-2C Rakete



The Long March 2C rocket launched at 10:50 a.m. Tuesday Beijing time. Credit: Xinhua
China unexpectedly launched a Long March rocket Tuesday and put into orbit a secret military surveillance satellite likely equipped with a synthetic aperture radar to make observations through clouds and darkness.
The Long March 2C rocket soared into space from the Taiyuan space center in northern China's Shanxi province at 0250 GMT Tuesday (10:50 p.m. EDT Wednesday), or 10:50 a.m. Beijing time, China's state-run Xinhua news agency reported.
The two-stage liquid-fueled launcher placed the Yaogan 18 satellite into an orbit more than 300 miles above Earth with an inclination of approximately 97 degrees, according to U.S. military tracking data.
China did not announce the launch in advance, keeping with the country's usual policy of not disclosing the launch schedule for military satellites.
The Xinhua news outlet, a mouthpiece for the Chinese government, said Yaogan 18 will "conduct scientific experiments, carry out land surveys, monitor crop yields and aid in preventing and reducing natural disasters."
But Western analysts believe the Yaogan name is a cover for China's intelligence-gathering satellites. The circumstances of Yaogan 18's launch, including its orbit and launch vehicle, match two previous Yaogan satellites launched in April 2009 and November 2011.
Independent observers of China's space program believe Yaogan 18, like the satellites launched in 2009 and 2011, hosts a synthetic aperture radar payload optimized to resolve targets on the ground through clouds and during nighttime.
Tuesday's launch was the second Chinese space launch in four days and China's 10th space launch of the year. It marked the 59th launch to reach orbit worldwide in 2013.
Quelle: SN 
Chinese Long March 2C lofts Yaogan Weixing-18 satellite
The Taiyuan Satellite Launch Center conducted yet another secretive launch on Tuesday morning (local time), when a Long March-2C orbited the Yaogan Weixing-18 satellite. Launch took place at 02:50 GMT from its LC9 Launch Complex, marking the second orbital Chinese launch in four days.
Chinese Launch:
As per usual, the Chinese media refer to the satellite as a new remote sensing bird that will be used for scientific experiments, land survey, crop yield assessment, and disaster monitoring.As was the case with previous launches of the Yaogan Weixing series, western analysts believe this class of satellites is being used for military purposes.
In fact, three types of satellites use the Yaogan designation. All with a basis for military purposes, these satellites are used for space-based synthetic aperture radar observations, electro-optical observations and naval oceanic surveillance.
This was the 184th successful Chinese orbital launch, the 183rd launch of a Chang Zheng launch vehicle, the 44th successful orbital launch from Taiyuan and the third from Jiuquan this year. It was also the tenth successful orbital Chinese launch in 2013.
Previous Yaogan Weixing Launch History:
The first Yaogan Weixing satellite (29092 2006-015A) was launched by the Long March-4C (Y1) from the Taiyuan Satellite Launch Center on April 27, 2006.
Developed by Shanghai Academy of Spaceflight Technology (SAST), details about this satellite were closely guarded, but later it was noted that this was the first Jianbing-5 satellite, equipped with the first space-based synthetic aperture radar (SAR).
The second satellite on the series, the Yaogan Weixing-2 (31490 2007-019A), was launched on 25 May, 2007, by the Long March-2D (Y8) from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center.
Details were also restricted, though it is claimed that this spacecraft was an electro-optical military observation satellite also known as JB-6 Jianbing-6, complementing the results of the Yaogan Weixing-1.
Another SAR mission similar to Yaogan-1 was launched on November 11, 2007 – with the Yaogan Weixing-3 (32289 2007-055A) satellite orbited by the Long March-4C (Y3) launch vehicle from Taiyuan.
Yaogan Weixing-4 (33446 2008-061A) was then launched on December 1, 2008. This was the second electro-optical satellite on the series and was launched by a Long March-2D (Y9) from Jiuquan.
Other satellites in the Jianbing-6 series were Yaogan Wexing-7 (36110 2009-069A), launched on December 9, 2009 from Jiuquan by the Long March-2D (Y10), and Yaogan Weixing-11 (37165 2010-047A) launched on September 22, 2010, by the Long March-2D (Y11) launch vehicle from Jiuquan.
The first second-generation electro-optical reconnaissance satellite developed by CAST, Yaogan Weixing-5 (33456 2008-064A), was launched on December 15, 2008. The launch took place from Taiyuan by the Long March-4B (Y20) rocket.
Yaogan Weixing-12 (37875 2011-066B) was other second-generation electro-optical reconnaissance satellite, launched on November 11, 2011, by the Long March-4B (Y21) rocket from Taiyuan.
Yaogan Weixing-6 (34839 2009-021A), launched by a Long March-2C (Y19) from Taiyuan on April 22, 2009, was a second-generation SAR satellite developed by SAST, having a spatial resolution of 1.5 meters.
Other second-generation SAR satellites were the Yaogan Weixing-10 (36834 2010-038A) launch on August 9, 2010, by the Long March-4C (Y6) launch vehicle from Taiyuan; and the Yaogan Weixing-13 (37941 2011-072A) launched on November 29, 2011, by the Long March-2C (Y20) launch vehicle from Taiyuan.
The Yaogan Weixing-8 (36121 2009-072A), launched on December 15, 2009, by the CZ-4C (Y4) from Taiyuan was a new generation of optical reconnaissance satellite. Similar to the Yaogan-8 was the mission of Yaogan Weixing-14 launched on May 10th, 2012 by the Long March-4B (Y12) from Taiyuan.
Click here for more Chinese Launch Articles:
The Yaogan Weixing-9 mission, launched March 5, 2010 from Jiuquan, had an architecture different from the previous missions on the series. Launched by Long March-4C (Y5) rocket, the mission put not one but a triplet of satellites in Earth orbit.
Flying in formation these three satellites form a type of NOSS system. Similar missions were the YG-16 launched on  November 25, 2012, from Jiuquan by the Long March (Y9), and the YG-17 launched on September 1, 2013, by the Long March-4C (Y13) also from Jiuquan.
The Yaogan Wrinxing-15 was an optical reconnaissance satellite launched on May 29, 2012 by the Long March-4C (Y10) from Taiyuan.
The Chang Zheng 2C (Long March 2C) is a Low Earth Orbit (LEO) launch vehicle derived from DF-5 ICBM.
It can be launched from either the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center or the Taiyuan Satellite Launch Center.
The rocket is a two stage hypergolic launch vehicle with a total length of 35.15 meters, a diameter of 3.35 meters and a total mass of 192,000 kg.
The first stage is equipped with four YF-20A engines. Is has a length of 20.52 meters and a burn time of 122 seconds.
The second stage is equipped with one YF-22A engine, and has a length of 7.50 meters with a burn time of 130 seconds.
Launch Site:
Situated in the Kelan County on the northwest part of the Shanxi Province, the Satellite Launch Center (TSLC) is also known by the Wuzhai designation. It is used mainly for polar launches (meteorological, Earth resources and scientific satellites).
The center is at a height of 1400-1900m above sea level, and is surrounded by mountains to the east, south and north, with the Yellow River to its west. The annual average temperature is 4-10C, with maximum of 28C in summer and minimum of -39C in winter.
The launch centre has two single-pad launch complexes, a technical area for rocket and spacecraft preparations, a communications centre, a mission command and control centre, and a space tracking centre.
The stages of the missile and rocket were transported to the launch centre by railway, and offloaded at a transit station south of the launch complex. They were then transported by road to the technical area for checkout procedures.
The launch vehicles were assembled on the launch pad by using a crane at the top of the umbilical tower to hoist each stage of the vehicle in place. Satellites were airlifted to the Taiyuan Wusu Airport about 300km away, and then transported to the centre by road.
The TT&C Centre, also known as Lüliang Command Post, is headquartered in the city of Taiyuan, It has four subordinate radar tracking stations in Yangqu (Shanxi), Lishi (Shanxi), Yulin (Shaanxi), and Hancheng (Shaanxi).
Quelle: NSC
Update: 3.11.2013
Yaogan XVIII remote-sensing satellite launched in N China
Quelle: China-News

Tags: Langer Marsch-2C Launch 


Samstag, 2. November 2013 - 17:28 Uhr

Astronomie - Junger Kosmos von schweren Elementen durchsetzt


[Fig.1] Ten to twelve billion years ago, the universe was undergoing a turbulent youth. Stars formed at very high rates, but many of the newborn stars died quickly in huge supernova explosions. These explosions produced the chemical elements - the building blocks of other stars, planets, and life.In the same period, black holes in the centers of galaxies were devouring large amounts of the surrounding gas, producing strong jets and outflows. The combined energy of supernovae and black hole activity created powerful galactic winds that blew the iron out of the galaxies, into intergalactic space.
[Image Credit: Akihiro Ikeshita]


Cosmos Seeded with Heavy Elements During Violent Youth

October 31, 2013 (JST)

Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA)

Traces of iron spread smoothly throughout a massive galaxy cluster tell the 10 billion-year-old story of exploding supernovae and fierce outbursts from supermassive black holes sowing heavy elements throughout the early cosmos.

New evidence of heavy elements spread evenly between the galaxies of the giant Perseus cluster supports the theory that the universe underwent a turbulent and violent youth more than 10 billion years ago. That explosive period was responsible for seeding the cosmos with the heavy elements central to life itself.

This discovery, reported today in the journal Nature by a team of researchers from the Kavli Institute for Particle Astrophysics and Cosmology (KIPAC) and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), was made possible by almost two weeks of observations of the nearby Perseus cluster of galaxies with the Suzaku satellite. The Suzaku Key Project observations were used to map the spectroscopic signature of iron in the hot, 10 million degree gas that fills the space between galaxies in clusters.

"We saw that iron is spread out between the galaxies remarkably smoothly,"
said Norbert Werner, lead author of the paper. "That means it had to be present in the intergalactic gas before the Perseus cluster formed."

Most of the elements that we are made of were produced inside stars and released by stellar explosions called supernovae. Whether the elements formed by stars stay within the galaxies they are born in, or are spread out into intergalactic space, had long been an open question. If the elements stay within their original host galaxies then we would expect to see an uneven distribution of iron within galaxy clusters, roughly following the distribution of galaxies. But what Werner and his colleagues saw is a remarkably even distribution of iron all the way out to the edge of the Perseus cluster. According to the authors, this can only be explained if the iron had been spread out into the intergalactic medium before the cluster formed, roughly 10 billion years ago, during a time of intense star formation.

At that time, billions of exploding stars created vast quantities of heavy elements in the alchemical furnaces of their own destruction. This was also the epoch when black holes in the hearts of galaxies were at their most energetic.

"The combined energy of these cosmic phenomena must have been strong enough to expel most of the metals from the galaxies at early times, and to enrich and mix the intergalactic gas." said co-author and KIPAC graduate student Ondrej Urban.

"The results suggest that the Perseus cluster is probably not unique, and that iron - along with other heavy elements - is evenly spread throughout all massive galaxy clusters", said Steven Allen, a KIPAC professor and head of the research team.

"You are older than you think - or at least, some of the iron in your blood is older, formed in galaxies millions of lights years away and billions of years ago," concluded co-author Aurora Simionescu, an International Top Young Fellow at the Japanese Space Agency.

The researchers are now looking for iron in other clusters and eagerly awaiting a mission capable of measuring the concentration of chemical elements in the hot gas with a much higher accuracy.

"With measurements like these, the Suzaku satellite is having a profound impact on our understanding of how the largest structures in our universe grow," Allen said. "We're really looking forward to to what further data from Suzaku and the new ASTRO-H satellite will tell us."


[Fig.2] Suzaku observed the Perseus Cluster along 8 directions for two weeks .
Image Credit: "NASA/ISAS/DSS/O.Urban al., MNRAS"

[Fig.3] Young stars, exploding supernovae, and voraciously feeding black holes produced powerful winds 10-12 billion years ago. These winds were the spoon that lifted the iron from the galaxies and mixed it with the intergalactic gas.
[Image Credit: Akihiro Ikeshita/JAXA]


Quelle: JAXA


Samstag, 2. November 2013 - 13:30 Uhr

Raumfahrt - Novespace Parabol-Flüge mit A300 ZERO-G



A subsidiary of CNES (French Spatial Study National Center), Novespace was established in 1986 for the purpose of promoting micro-weightlessness as a tool for scientific experimentation.

After more than 50 programmes of parabolic flights carried out from 1988 to 1996 on board the Caravelle Zero G, Novespace took the Airbus A300 ZERO-G into service, which the company owns.

Based at the Bordeaux-Mérignac airport zone, the company organizes an average of six parabolic flight programmes annually, principally for the account of space agencies (CNES, ESA, DLR, JAXA, etc.) within the framework of their scientific and technological research programmes. The company also uses the A300 ZERO-G for missions for observing atmospheric re-entry of the Cryotechnic Main Stage (CMS) of the Ariane 5 rocket.

Novespace has carried out 100 parabolic flight programmes on board the A300 ZERO-G, with the 100th programme taking place from 3 to 14 December 2012, being more than 11 500 parabolas and 70 hours of accumulated weightlessness."With more than 3000 parabola to my credit, I live each one with the same enchantment as the first one, more than 25 years ago.

The total loss of sensation of weight remains a magical experience, incomprehensible by the body. It systematically recalls the insertion to orbit of the space shuttle when it cuts off its ascent main engines.
I am very pleased that one of the spectacular components of space flight – weightlessness – is now accessible to non-professionals thanks to the Air Zero G flights.

For those who will discover it, it will upset all concepts of weight and lightness. These new feelings are so strange and unique that they will remain engraved for life.

Astronauts for one day, they will better understand why so many science disciplines are interested in space."

Presentation of parabolic fligths

For ten years, Novespace has been organizing parabolic flight campaigns on board the A300 ZERO-G for international space agencies (CNES, ESA, DLR, JAXA) for technological investigation and scientific research.

What are parabolic flights?

Parabolic flights are performed onboard aircrafts following a flight pattern which alternates ascents and descents with short level flight breaks.
Each of those manoeuvres, called parabolas, provide up to 22 seconds of reduced gravity or weightlessness.
During those reduced gravity phases, researchers flying onboard the aircraft perform experiments and collect data with conditions impossible to simulate on Earth.

What are the advantages of parabolic flights?

Parabolic flights offer advantages unique to this platform:
- Tests of systems in preparation for long-duration Space missions
- Biomedical research experiments on human test subjects in weightlessness
- Ideal environment for new experiments
- Tests of experiments in critical design phases
- Low cost of design and production of an experiment
- Possibility to carry out several series of experiments during three consecutive days
- Possibility to use standard laboratory equipment
- Researchers interact directly on their experiment during flight
We need to dare … to dare to experience weightlessness in parabolic flight! So, for a moment which is long enough to make its impression on every cell in your body, an experience you will always remember you will have known a truly extraterrestrial state of being.

Yes, there is a way to live this sensation (or, should I say, this absence of sensation), without having to take your place in a rocket about to blast off into outer space.

All you need to do is board one of these few aircraft in the world which is specially designed for this type of flight. Those who have had this experience – and there are plenty of them; some tens of thousands of people have already done it, compared with the few more than five hundred men and women who to date have travelled into outer space – remember it as a truly unique experience, something they will remember for the rest of their lives. And they all dream of living the dream again.

Everyone discovers weightlessness to be the same strange and unforgettable sensation of lightness of being, the total absence of weight. The temptation to play is irresistible. It seizes the imagination, because suddenly all kinds of contortions of the body become possible which would be unthinkable on Earth. You cannot stop yourself displaying your emotions, sharing them with those around you. You seek to understand; how can you become weightless without leaving the atmosphere? It is so alien to the experience of life on our planet that parabolic flight can easily lead you to believe that you have indeed become an extraterrestrial, or even that your body has been taken from you.

And yet all this is entirely without danger, without any consequence other than the experience being engraved on your memory, the recollection of this amazing escape from earth's gravity.
You can live the dream, with no anxiety at all. The unknown which awaits you is simply the pure joy of discovery.

With more than 3 000 parabolas to my score, I personally experience every one of them with the same sense of excitement and enchantment as the first, more than twenty five years ago. The transition between the sensation of excess weight which is necessarily produced when bringing the nose of the aircraft up into its skywards trajectory, then the total disappearance of the sensation of weight, continues to be a magical moment for me, something the body cannot understand, which always reminds me of the space shuttle entering orbit when the launch engines are shut down.

There has never been a parabolic flight in the course of which I have not found myself, for a moment, sitting on the ceiling and looking down at the cabin turned upside down. I always take a tennis ball with me, because of the fascination caused by its behaviour in flight. During the initial phase, when the ball is tossed upwards, it falls so rapidly that you think you are watching a film which has been speeded up. Then, during the transition, the “film” becomes slow motion. In zero gravity, weightlessness, I let the ball go just by withdrawing my fingers, and it stays motionless in front of me, the only thing to remind me that I'm not dreaming.

All movements, even the simplest, must be reinvented. One day there will have to be an Olympiad in zero gravity.

Think about this for your next Air Zero G flight, and decide on the activity you do best. You will be amazed at how easily a human being can adapt to this outer space environment. And you will also realise the potential for discovery offered by research in microgravity.


Atmospheric reentry observations


For those missions, an airborne radar system is mounted on the Airbus A300 ZERO-G: two antennas are attached on the front right cargo door and seven instrument racks and a CCD camera are installed in the cabin.
Sogerma Services was in charge of those modifications and also provides aircraft support during these observation missions. The objective of those missions is to characterize very accurately the atmospheric reentry of the Space object in order to validate and refine ground impact prediction models.
The American company System Planning Corporation designed and operates the radar system during those observation missions. ONERA is currently designing an onboard infrared observation system.


Novespace has already performed three observation missions for the reentry of the main cryogenic stage (EPC) of Ariane 5 launcher, in the framework of ARTA (Accompaniment in Research and Technology for Ariane 5) program of ESA, with the support of CNES Launch Vehicles Directorate.

During two missions performed from the West coast of Mexico, the reentry of EPC was observed above the Pacific Ocean. One of this mission was carried out during the lauch of Rosetta interplanetary probe.
Another mission was carried out from the West coast of Africa in order to observe the reentry of EPC above the Atlantic Ocean.
Quelle: CNES


Freitag, 1. November 2013 - 10:20 Uhr

Astronomie - Riesige Gaswolke bei Kollision mit Milchstraße


Magnetic ‘Force Field’ Shields Giant Gas Cloud during Collision with Milky Way

Doom may be averted for the Smith Cloud, a gigantic streamer of hydrogen gas that is on a collision course with the Milky Way Galaxy. Astronomers using the National Science Foundation’s Karl G. Jansky Very Large Array (VLA) and Robert C. Byrd Green Bank Telescope (GBT) have discovered a magnetic field deep in the cloud’s interior, which may protect it during its meteoric plunge into the disk of our Galaxy.

This discovery could help explain how so-called high velocity clouds (HVCs) remain mostly intact during their mergers with the disks of galaxies, where they would provide fresh fuel for a new generation of stars.Currently, the Smith Cloud is hurtling toward the Milky Way at more than 150 miles per second and is predicted to impact in approximately 30 million years. When it does, astronomers believe, it will set off a spectacular burst of star formation. But first, it has to survive careening through the halo, or atmosphere, of hot ionized gas surrounding the Milky Way.

“The million-degree upper atmosphere of the Galaxy ought to destroy these hydrogen clouds before they ever reach the disk, where most stars are formed,” said Alex Hill, an astronomer at Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO) and lead author of a paper published in the Astrophysical Journal. “New observations reveal one of these clouds in the process of being shredded, but a protective magnetic field shields the cloud and may help it survive its plunge.”Many hundreds of HVCs zip around our Galaxy, but their obits seldom correspond to the rotation of the Milky Way. This leads astronomers to believe that HVCs are the left-over building blocks of galaxy formation or the splattered remains of a close galactic encounter billions of years ago. 

Though massive, the gas that makes up HVCs is very tenuous, and computer simulations predict that they lack the necessary heft to survive plunging through the halo and into the disk of the Milky Way.

“We have long had trouble understanding how HVCs reach the Galactic disk,” said Hill.  “There's good reason to believe that magnetic fields can prevent their ‘burning up’ in the halo like a meteorite burning up in Earth’s atmosphere.”

Despite being the best evidence yet for a magnetic field inside an HVC, the origin of the Smith Cloud’s field remains a mystery. “The field we observe now is too large to have existed in its current state when the cloud was formed,” said Hill. “The field was probably magnified by the cloud's motion through the halo.”Earlier research indicates the Smith Cloud has already survived punching through the disk of our Galaxy once and -- at about 8,000 light-years from the disk -- is just beginning its re-entry now.

“The Smith Cloud is unique among high-velocity clouds because it is so clearly interacting with and merging with the Milky Way,” said Felix J. Lockman, an astronomer at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) in Green Bank, W.Va. “Its comet-like appearance indicates it’s already feeling the Milky Way’s influence.”

Since the Smith Cloud appears to be devoid of stars, the only way to observe it is with exquisitely sensitive radio telescopes, like the GBT, which can detect the faint emission of neutral hydrogen. If it were visible with the naked eye, the Smith Cloud would cover almost as much sky as the constellation Orion.

When the Smith Cloud eventually merges with the Milky Way, it could produce a bright ring of stars similar to the one relatively close to our Sun known as Gould's Belt.“Our Galaxy is in an incredibly dynamic environment,” concludes Hill, “and how it interacts with that environment determines whether stars like the Sun will continue to form.”

The National Radio Astronomy Observatory is a facility of the National Science Foundation, operated under cooperative agreement by Associated Universities, Inc.

Quelle: NRAO


Donnerstag, 31. Oktober 2013 - 12:00 Uhr

Raumfahrt - Vorbereitung der ISS-Expedition-Crew 39/40




Expedition 40 will begin in May 2014. The second half of the crew is scheduled to launch in June 2014.
Soyuz TMA-12M
Crew: Alexander Skvortsov, Oleg Artemyev, Steve Swanson
Launch: April 2014
Landing: September 2014
Soyuz 39
Crew: Reid Wiseman, Maxim Suraev, Alexander Gerst
Launch: June 2014
Landing: November 2014
Spacewalk Training in Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory
JSC2013-E-021295 (28 March 2013) -- Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) astronaut Koichi Wakata (right), Expedition 38 flight engineer and Expedition 39 commander; and NASA astronaut Rick Mastracchio, Expedition 38/39 flight engineer, attired in training versions of their Extravehicular Mobility Unit (EMU) spacesuits, participate in a spacewalk training session in the waters of the Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory (NBL) near NASA's Johnson Space Center. Divers are in the water to assist Wakata and Mastracchio in their rehearsal, which is intended to help prepare them for possible work on the exterior of the International Space Station. Photo credit: NASA
Astronaut Koichi Wakata With Robonaut
JSC2013-E-013783 (6 March 2013) -- Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) astronaut Koichi Wakata, Expedition 38 flight engineer and Expedition 39 commander, participates in a Robonaut task board training session in the Space Vehicle Mock-up Facility at NASA's Johnson Space Center. Photo credit: NASA
Expedtion 38/39 Crew Trains for Station Mission
JSC2013-E-017369 (18 March 2013) -- Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) astronaut Koichi Wakata (right), Expedition 38 flight engineer and Expedition 39 commander; along with NASA astronaut Rick Mastracchio (center) and Russian cosmonaut Mikhail Tyurin, both Expedition 38/39 flight engineers, participate in a Loss of Attitude Control (LOAC) training session in the Space Station Training Facility (SSTF) in the Jake Garn Simulation and Training Facility at NASA's Johnson Space Center. Photo credit: NASA
Astronaut Steve Swanson in Cupola Trainer
JSC2013-E-028664 (3 May 2013) -- NASA astronaut Steve Swanson, Expedition 39 flight engineer and Expedition 40 commander, participates in an exercise in a Cupola trainer in the systems engineering simulator in the Avionics Systems Laboratory at NASA's Johnson Space Center. The facility includes moving scenes of full-sized International Space Station components over a simulated Earth. Photo credit: NASA
Astronauts Steve Swanson and Scott Tingle
JSC2013-E-024889 (23 April 2013) -- NASA astronauts Steve Swanson (left), Expedition 39 flight engineer and Expedition 40 commander, and Scott Tingle, attired in training versions of their Extravehicular Mobility Unit (EMU) spacesuits, participate in a spacewalk training session in the waters of the Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory (NBL) near NASA's Johnson Space Center. Divers are in the water to assist Swanson and Tingle in their rehearsal, which is intended to help prepare them for possible work on the exterior of the International Space Station. Photo credit: NASA
Expedition 39/40 Crew Members
JSC2013-E-070676 (18 July 2013) --- Expedition 39/40 crew members, interpreters and various training personnel are pictured during an emergency scenario training session in the Space Vehicle Mock-up Facility at NASA's Johnson Space Center. Crew members are Russian cosmonauts Alexander Skvortsov (back to camera) and Oleg Artemyev (left foreground), both Expedition 39/40 flight engineers; and NASA astronaut Steve Swanson (left background), Expedition 39 flight engineer and Expedition 40 commander. Photo credit: NASA
Steve Swanson and Alexander Skvortsov
JSC2013-E-070697 (18 July 2013) --- NASA astronaut Steve Swanson (right), Expedition 39 flight engineer and Expedition 40 commander; and Russian cosmonaut Alexander Skvortsov, Expedition 39/40 flight engineer, participate in an emergency scenario training session in an International Space Station mock-up/trainer in the Space Vehicle Mock-up Facility at NASA's Johnson Space Center. Photo credit: NASA
Quelle: NASA

Tags: ISS-Crew 39 Expedition 39/40 flight 


Donnerstag, 31. Oktober 2013 - 11:12 Uhr

Astronomie - Feuerkugel in der Nacht von 30.Oktober über Niederlande und Deutschland


Aufnahmen der Feuerkugel:





Donnerstag, 31. Oktober 2013 - 08:50 Uhr

Astronomie - "Astroinformatik" - Informatik hilft Astronomen bei der Erforschung des Himmels


Die neue HITS-Forschungsgruppe „Astroinformatik“ wird Methoden sowie Software für Astronomen entwickeln und dazu beitragen, dass die rasch wachsende Datenmenge in der Astronomie besser analysiert und verarbeitet werden kann. Die Juniorgruppe unter Leitung von Kai Polsterer arbeitet dabei eng mit anderen Heidelberger astronomischen Einrichtungen zusammen.
Am Heidelberger Institut für Theoretische Studien (HITS) nahm jetzt die neue Junior-Forschungsgruppe „Astroinformatik“ ihre Arbeit auf. Sie entwickelt neue Ansätze, die stetig wachsende und in verteilten Archiven gespeicherte Datenmenge in der Astronomie zu analysieren und zu verarbeiten. Gruppenleiter ist der Physiker und Informatiker Dr. Kai Polsterer. Damit forschen nun insgesamt neun Arbeitsgruppen am HITS. 
„Wir konzentrieren uns darauf, durch neue Ansätze die beobachtenden Wissenschaftler bei ihrer Forschung zu unterstützen“, sagt Kai Polsterer. Die neu eingerichtete Juniorgruppe ergänzt die Aktivitäten der Forschungsgruppe „Theoretical Astrophysics“ unter Leitung von Prof. Volker Springel, die sich mit Computersimulationen zur Galaxienentstehung und zur Dunklen Materie befasst. Im Frühjahr 2014 wird dann noch eine weitere Forschungsgruppe mit Schwerpunkt Hochenergie-Astrophysik eingerichtet werden und den Bereich Astrophysik am HITS weiter stärken.
Der Computer hat die Astronomie in den letzten zwanzig Jahren revolutioniert. Dank neuer Detektoren und innovativer Teleskope können Astronomen heute Objekte in nie dagewesenem Umfang und mit hoher Auflösung beobachten. Hinzu kommen neue, bisher unerschlossene Wellenlängenbereiche. Spezielle „Survey Teleskope“ durchmustern den Himmel und sammeln kontinuierlich Daten. Kai Polsterer möchte den Zugriff der Astronomen auf die in Archiven verfügbaren Daten so verbessern, dass Forschung intuitiver  stattfinden kann. Als Beispiel nennt er den „Sloan Digital Sky Survey“, der mit Bildern in fünf Wellenlängen sowie spektroskopischen Detailaufnahmen den Himmel durchmustert und digital zur Verfügung stellt. „Hier gibt es viele Datenschätze zu heben, die Astronomen können die Daten aber nicht einfach durchstöbern, also explorativ arbeiten“, so der 37-jährige. In einem ersten Schritt will er Werkzeuge entwickeln, die Merkmale von Objekten automatisch aus den vorhandenen Daten extrahieren können, wie zum Beispiel die sogenannte Rotverschiebung (redshift). Die Rotverschiebung zeigt an, wie weit eine Galaxie von uns entfernt ist. Diese direkt zu messen erfordert einen sehr hohen messtechnischen Aufwand. Daher sind die auf Modellen basierenden, statistischen Werte sehr wichtig für die Astronomen.
„Die Zahl der Daten steigt exponentiell an, die der Astronomen nicht“, so Kai Polsterer. Hier können Methoden der Informatik helfen. Deshalb arbeitet die neue HITS-Gruppe daran, Ansätze des maschinellen Lernens in der Astronomie populärer machen. Kai Polsterer ist in beiden Gebieten zuhause: Nach seinem Informatikdiplom an der TU Dortmund promovierte der gebürtige Westfale in Physik und Astronomie an der Universität Bochum. Dort leitete er später die Softwareentwicklung im Projekt „Lucifer“, an dem auch die Landessternwarte Heidelberg (LSW) und das Max-Planck-Institut für Astronomie (MPIA) beteiligt sind. „Lucifer“ ist eine Kombination aus Kamera und Spektrograph am weltgrößten optischen Teleskop, dem Large Binocular Telescope in Arizona. Dieses Instrument wurde für Untersuchungen im nah-infraroten Spektralbereich gebaut, der für das Auge nicht sichtbar ist. Mit den beiden Heidelberger Einrichtungen LSW und MPIA arbeitet Kai Polsterer auch in Zukunft eng zusammen, ebenso mit dem „German Astrophysical Virtual Observatory“ unter der Leitung von Prof. Joachim Wambsganss (Universität Heidelberg).
Ergebnisse, die mit einem neuen rechnerischen Werkzeug zur Bestimmung der Rotverschiebung von 130.000 Quasaren erzielt wurden. Im vorliegenden Diagramm sieht man den Vergleich zwischen der tatsächlichen Rotverschiebung (x-Achse) und den Berechnungen, die anhand eines Modells bestimmt werden (y-Achse). (Grafik: Polsterer / HITS)
Das Heidelberger Institut für Theoretische Studien (HITS gGmbH) ist ein privates, gemeinnütziges Forschungsinstitut. Es ging am 01.01.2010 durch Namensänderung aus  der EML Research gGmbH hervor und setzt deren Forschungsaktivitäten auf einer breiteren Grundlage fort. Als Forschungseinrichtung der Klaus Tschira Stiftung ( betreibt HITS Grundlagenforschung in verschiedenen Bereichen der Naturwissenschaften, Mathematik und Informatik. Der methodische Schwerpunkt liegt bei der Theorie- und Modellbildung, wobei rechnergestützte Simulation und Datenerschließung eine zentrale Rolle spielen. HITS ist auf insgesamt ca. zehn Forschungsgruppen ausgelegt, die sich mit so verschiedenen Gebieten wie theoretischer Biochemie, molekularer Biomechanik, wissenschaftlichen Datenbanken, Computerlinguistik, theoretischer Astrophysik, medizinischer Statistik, Informatik u.ä. befassen sollen. 
Geschäftsführer der HITS gGmbH sind Dr. h.c. Klaus Tschira und Prof. Dr.-Ing. Andreas Reuter.
Quelle: HITS

Tags: Astroinformatik Heidelberg 


Donnerstag, 31. Oktober 2013 - 08:30 Uhr

Raumfahrt - IRAN´s neue RAUMFAHRT-Pläne



TEHRAN (FNA)- Head of Iran's Space Agency (ISA) Hamid Fazeli Saturday announced that his agency plans to send the second living creature into the space in a couple of months on the back of a liquid-engine explorer rocket.
Official: Iran to Send Second Living Creature into Space in October

"In a new initiative, Iran's Aviation Agency will send another living creature to the space by mid-October through a liquid-fuel explorer which has less acceleration and is equipped with control and monitor system. It leads to a return of the living creature with high precession," Fazeli said.

Fazeli also expressed the hope that the living creature would be received again in the earth safe and sound.

Fazeli highlighted that Iran successfully sent the first living animal into space by a solid-fuel capsule in the last Iranian calendar year (ended March 20, 2013).

Sending liquid-fuel capsule into space has many advantages including the high precision and better navigational and controlling systems, he added.

Late in January, the Iranian Defense Ministry's Aerospace Industries Organization announced that it has sent a monkey into the space on the back of Pishgam (Pioneer) explorer rocket, and that it has brought back and recovered the living cargo.

The Aerospace Industries Organization said it had sent the living creature into space aboard an indigenous biocapsule as a prelude to sending humans into space.

The Aerospace Industries Organization said the capsule was sent to an orbit beyond 120km in altitude and carried out telemetry of the environmental data records.

The explorer rocket was launched by the Aerospace Industries Organization and it returned to the Earth after reaching the desired speed and altitude, and the living creature (monkey) was retrieved and found alive.

In mid-March 2011, ISA announced the launch of the Kavoshgar-4 rocket carrying a test capsule designed to house the monkey.

The capsule had been unveiled in February 2011 by former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, along with four new prototypes of home-built satellites.

At the time, Fazeli called the launch of a large animal into space as the first step towards sending a man into space, which Tehran says is scheduled for 2020.

Iran had sent small animals into space - a rat, turtles and worms - aboard a capsule carried by its Kavoshgar-3 rocket in 2010.

The Islamic republic, which first put a satellite into orbit in 2009, has outlined an ambitious space program and has, thus far, made giant progress in the field despite western sanctions and pressures against its advancement.

Iran has taken wide strides in aerospace. The country sent the first biocapsule of living creatures into space in February 2011, using its home-made Kavoshgar-3 (Explorer-3) carrier.

Former president Ahmadinejad announced in 2010 that Iran plans to send astronauts into space in 2024. But, later he said that the issue had gone under a second study at a cabinet meeting and that the cabinet had decided to implement the plan in 2019, five years earlier than the date envisaged in the original plan.

Omid (hope) was Iran's first research satellite that was designed for gathering information and testing equipment. After orbiting for three months, Omid successfully completed its mission without any problem. It completed more than 700 orbits over seven weeks and reentered the Earth's atmosphere on April 25, 2009.

After launching Omid, Tehran unveiled three new satellites called Tolou, Mesbah II and Navid, respectively. Iran has also unveiled its latest achievements in designing and producing satellite carriers.

A new generation of home-made satellites and a new satellite carrier called Simorgh (Phoenix) were among the latest achievements unveiled by Iran's aerospace industries.

The milk-bottle shaped rocket is equipped to carry a 60-kilogram (132-pound) satellite 500 kilometers (310 miles) into orbit.

The 27-meter (90 foot) tall multi-stage rocket weighs 85 tons and its liquid fuel propulsion system has a thrust of up to 143 tons.

Iran is one of the 24 founding members of the United Nations' Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (UNCOPUOS), which was set up in 1959.

Quelle: FNA


Update: 31.10.2013


Iran new satellite ready for lift-off into space: Minister


Iranian Defense Minister Brigadier General Hossein Dehqan says the country’s new domestically designed and manufactured satellite is ready to be launched into orbit, and it will be lifted into space in due time.


“Presence in space is a strategic issue and indicates the scientific, technological and industrial power of the Islamic Republic of Iran,” Dehqan said in the Iranian Persian Gulf island of Kish on Tuesday. 


He added that Iran enjoys “acceptable potential and capabilities” regarding the manufacture of satellites and satellite carriers as well as lift-off of satellites and their navigation in the space. 


The Iranian defense minister expressed hope that such achievements would further progress under the current Iranian administration. 


Iran launched its first indigenous satellite, Omid (Hope), in 2009. The country also sent its first bio-capsule containing living creatures into the space in February 2010, using the indigenous Kavoshgar-3 (Explorer-3) carrier. 


Dehqan also said Moscow must honor its deal with Iran with regards to the delivery of Russian-made S-300 missile systems to the Islamic Republic. 


A group of senior Russian military officials recently visited Iran to find a solution to the dispute over the missile systems. 


“The implementation of the agreement was among the major issues discussed with the Russian side. Russia has refused to honor the deal under the pretext of sanctions [against Iran]. This is while the contract was signed before the adoption of the UN Security Council resolution, and Moscow must therefore stand committed to the deal,” he stated.


Under a contract inked in 2007, Russia undertook to provide Iran with at least five S-300 missile systems. However, Moscow refrained from meeting its obligations under the pretext that they were covered by the fourth round of the UN Security Council sanctions against Tehran. 


Following Moscow’s failure to deliver the systems, Iran filed a complaint against the Russian arms firm, Rosoboronexport, with the International Court of Arbitration in Geneva. 


Dehqan further noted that Iran pursues active defense diplomacy in line with the consolidation of regional security and stability, stressing that the Islamic Republic regards the presence of outsiders in the Middle East as a source of insecurity. 

Quelle: PRESS-TV

Tags: Irans Space Agency (ISA) Iran Satellite launch 


Mittwoch, 30. Oktober 2013 - 22:57 Uhr

Astronomie - Wissenschaftler entdecken Erde-großen steinigen Planeten (Kepler-78b)


This illustration compares Earth with the newly confirmed scorched world of Kepler-78b. Kepler-78b is about 20 percent larger than Earth and is 70% more massive. Kepler-78b whizzes around its host star every 8.5 hours, making it a blazing inferno. Credit: David A. Aguilar (CfA)


Scientists Discover the First Earth-Sized Rocky Planet


Astronomers have discovered the first Earth-sized planet outside the solar system that has a rocky composition like that of Earth. Kepler-78b whizzes around its host star every 8.5 hours, making it a blazing inferno and not suitable for life as we know it. The results are published in two papers in the journal Nature.
"The news arrived in grand style with the message: 'Kepler-10b has a baby brother,'" said Natalie Batalha, Kepler mission scientist at NASA's Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif.  Batalha led the team that discovered Kepler-10b, a larger but also rocky planet identified by the Kepler spacecraft.  
"The message expresses the joy of knowing that Kepler's family of exoplanets is growing," Batalha reflects. "It also speaks of progress. The Doppler teams are attaining higher precision, measuring masses of smaller planets at each turn.  This bodes well for the broader goal of one day finding evidence of life beyond Earth."
Kepler-78b was discovered using data from NASA’s Kepler space telescope, which for four years simultaneously and continuously monitored more than 150,000 stars looking for telltale dips in their brightness caused by crossing, or transiting, planets.
Two independent research teams then used ground-based telescopes to confirm and characterize Kepler-78b. To determine the planet's mass, the teams employed the radial velocity method to measure how much the gravitation tug of an orbiting planet causes its star to wobble. Kepler, on the other hand, determines the size or radius of a planet by the amount of starlight blocked when it passes in front of its host star.
A handful of planets the size or mass of Earth have been discovered. Kepler-78b is the first to have both a measured mass and size. With both quantities known, scientists can calculate a density and determine what the planet is made of.
Kepler-78b is 1.2 times the size of Earth and 1.7 times more massive, resulting in a density that is the same as Earth's. This suggests that Kepler-78b is also made primarily of rock and iron. Its star is slightly smaller and less massive than the sun and is located about 400 light-years from Earth in the constellation Cygnus.
One team led by Andrew Howard from the University of Hawaii in Honolulu, made follow-up observations using the W. M. Keck Observatory atop Mauna Kea in Hawaii.The other team led by Francesco Pepe from the University of Geneva, Switzerland, did their ground-base work at the Roque de los Muchachos Observatory on La Palma in the Canary Islands.
This result will be one of many discussed next week at the second Kepler science conference Nov. 4-8 at Ames. More than 400 astrophysicists from Australia, China, Europe, Latin America and the US will convene to present their latest results using publicly accessible data from Kepler.
Quelle: NASA

Scientists Find Earth-Sized Rocky Exoplanet

A team of astronomers has found the first Earth-sized planet outside the solar system that has a rocky composition like that of Earth. This exoplanet, known as Kepler-78b, orbits its star very closely every 8.5 hours, making it much too hot to support life. The results are being published in the journal Nature.
This Earth-sized planet was discovered using data from NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope, and confirmed and characterized with the W. M. Keck Observatory.
Every 8.5 hours the planet passes in front of its host star, blocking a small fraction of the starlight. These telltale dimmings were picked up by researchers analyzing the Kepler data.
The team led by Dr. Andrew Howard (Institute for Astronomy, University of Hawaii at Manoa) then measured the mass of the planet with the Keck Observatory on Mauna Kea, in Hawaii. Using the ten-meter Keck I telescope fitted with the HIRES instrument, the team employed the radial velocity method to measure how much an orbiting planet causes its star to wobble, to determine the planet’s mass. This is another excellent example of the synergy between the Kepler survey, which has identified more than 3,000 potential exoplanet candidates, and Keck Observatory, which plays a leading role in conducting precise Doppler measurements of the exoplanet candidates.
A handful of planets the size or mass of Earth have been discovered recently. This is the first one with both quantities measured. “When you have both the size and the mass of an object, you can calculate its density, and thereby determine what it is made of,” explained Howard.
With a radius about 1.2 times that of Earth and a mass equal to about 1.7 times Earth’s, Kepler-78b has a density that is the same as Earth’s, suggesting that it also made primarily of rock and iron. Its star is slightly smaller and less massive than the sun and is located about 400 light-years from Earth in the constellation Cygnus.  
Kepler-78b is a member of a new class of “ultrashort period” planets recently identified by the Kepler spacecraft.  These newfound worlds all orbit their stars with orbital periods of less than 12 hours.  They’re also small, about one-to-two times the size of Earth.  Kepler-78b is the first planet in this new class to have its mass measured. It is a mystery how these planets formed and made it so close to their host stars (only 1 percent of the Earth-sun separation in the case of Kepler-78b).
In a rather unique arrangement, a companion study led by Dr. Francesco Pepe (University of Geneva, Switzerland) that used the same Kepler data but independent radial velocity observations is being published in the same issue.
The two studies found very similar results. “The gold standard in science is having your findings reproduced by other researchers,” explained Howard. “In this case, we did not have to wait for this to happen.”
The other members of Howard’s team are Roberto Sanchis-Ojeda (MIT), who analyzed the transit data taken by the Kepler spacecraft to find the planet and calculate its size, Dr. Geoffrey Marcy (University of California, Berkeley), Dr. John Johnson (Harvard), Dr. Debra Fischer (Yale), Benjamin Fulton and Evan Sinukoff (UHM graduate students), and Dr. Jonathan Fortney (University of California, Santa Cruz).
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Mystery World Baffles Astronomers
Kepler-78b is a planet that shouldn't exist. This scorching lava world circles its star every eight and a half hours at a distance of less than one million miles - one of the tightest known orbits. According to current theories of planet formation, it couldn't have formed so close to its star, nor could it have moved there.
"This planet is a complete mystery," says astronomer David Latham of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA). "We don't know how it formed or how it got to where it is today. What we do know is that it's not going to last forever."
"Kepler-78b is going to end up in the star very soon, astronomically speaking," agrees CfA astronomer Dimitar Sasselov.
Not only is Kepler-78b a mystery world, it is the first known Earth-sized planet with an Earth-like density. Kepler-78b is about 20 percent larger than the Earth, with a diameter of 9,200 miles, and weighs almost twice as much. As a result it has a density similar to Earth's, which suggests an Earth-like composition of iron and rock.
The tight orbit of Kepler-78b poses a challenge to theorists. When this planetary system was forming, the young star was larger than it is now. As a result, the current orbit of Kepler-78b would have been inside the swollen star.
"It couldn't have formed in place because you can't form a planet inside a star. It couldn't have formed further out and migrated inward, because it would have migrated all the way into the star. This planet is an enigma," explains Sasselov.
According to Latham, Kepler-78b is a member of a new class of planets recently identified in data from NASA's Kepler spacecraft. These newfound worlds all orbit their stars with periods of less than 12 hours. They're also small, about the size of Earth. Kepler-78b is the first planet in the new class to have its mass measured.
"Kepler-78b is the poster child for this new class of planets," notes Latham.
The team studied Kepler-78b using a newly commissioned, high-precision spectrograph known as HARPS-North, at the Roque de los Muchachos Observatory on La Palma. They coordinated their work with a second, independent team using the HIRES spectrograph at the Keck Observatory. The teams' measurements agreed with each other, increasing their confidence in the result.
Kepler-78b is a doomed world. Gravitational tides will draw it even closer to its star. Eventually it will move so close that the star's gravity will rip the world apart. Theorists predict that Kepler-78b will vanish within three billion years.
Interestingly, our solar system could have held a planet like Kepler-78b. If it had, the planet would have been destroyed long ago leaving no signs for astronomers today.
Kepler-78b orbits a Sun-like G-type star located 400 light-years from Earth in the constellation Cygnus.
Headquartered in Cambridge, Mass., the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA) is a joint collaboration between the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory and the Harvard College Observatory. CfA scientists, organized into six research divisions, study the origin, evolution and ultimate fate of the universe.
Quelle: Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics

Tags: Kepler-78b 


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