Planeten entstehen in Scheiben aus Gas und Staub rund um junge Sterne. Nun ist mit dem Verbundteleskop ALMA und dem Weltraumobservatorium Herschel eine seltene Aufnahme einer Planetenbaustelle in einem unerwarteten Zwischenstadium gelungen: Entgegen den Erwartungen enthält die Scheibe um den Stern HD 21997 sowohl ursprüngliches Gas aus der Zeit der Sternentstehung als auch Staub, der durch die Kollision von Planetesimalen entstanden ist – den urtümlichen kosmischen Gesteinsbrocken, aus denen die sehr viel größeren Planeten entstehen. Dies ist die erste Beobachtung einer solchen »hybriden Scheibe« und dürfte eine Nachbesserung der gängigen Modelle der Planetenentstehung erfordern.
Abbildung 1: ALMA-Bilder der Scheibe um HD 21997. Das linke Bild zeigt die Strahlung, die von kalten Staubkörnern ausgesandt wird, die einen Ring rund um den Stern bilden. Das mittlere Bild zeigt die Strahlung, die von Kohlenstoffmonoxid ausgesandt wird. Offenbar ist das Gas auch deutlich dichter am Stern zu finden als der Staub. Das untere Bild zeigt die Geschwindigkeitsverteilung des Gases. Die rötlichen Anteile zeigen Scheibenregionen, die sich von uns entfernten; die bläulich eingefärbten kommen auf uns zu. Die Verteilung zeigt an, dass das Gas um den Stern in seiner Mitte kreist.
Bild: Á. Kóspál (ESA) und A. Moór (Konkoly-Sternwarte)
Bei ihrer Geburt sind Sterne wie unsere Sonne von Scheiben aus Staub und Gas umgeben. In diesen Scheiben bildet sich das Planetensystems des Sterns: Der Staub verklumpt weiter und weiter, und am Ende sind kilometergroße massive Brocken entstanden, die Planetesimale genannt werden. Diese Brocken bilden später die Asteroiden und Kometen des Systems, oder sie verklumpen weiter und bilden Felsplaneten unsere Erde oder die Kerne für große Gasplaneten.
Die gängigen Modelle der Planetenentstehung sagen voraus, dass das ursprünglich vorhandene Gas der Scheibe in der Planetesimalen-Phase rasch aufgebraucht wird. Einiges davon fällt in den Stern zurück, ein weiterer Teil sammelt sich in dem, was später die Gasplaneten (wie unser Jupiter) werden, und der Rest wird durch die intensive Strahlung des jungen Sterns ins All hinausgetrieben. Nach rund 10 Millionen Jahre, so die bisherige Überzeugung, sollte das ursprüngliche Gas verschwunden sein.
Jetzt hat ein Astronomenteam aus den Niederlanden, Ungarn, Deutschland und den USA, zu dem auch Thomas Henning vom Max-Planck-Institut für Astronomie gehört, allerdings eine seltene hybride Scheibe gefunden, die zum einen große Mengen an urtümlichem Gas, zum anderen aber bereits Staub enthält, der bei der Kollision solcher Planetesimale entstanden ist. Es handelt sich um eine Art Bindeglied zwischen den frühen und späteren Phasen der Scheibenevolution – der ursprünglichen Scheibe und der späteren Phase der Planetesimalen-Trümmer.
Die Astronomen nutzten sowohl das Weltraumobservatorium Herschel der ESA als auch das Verbundteleskop ALMA in Chile, um die Scheibe rund um den Stern HD 21997 zu untersuchen. Dieser Stern liegt von uns aus gesehen im südlichen Sternbild Chemischer Ofen (Fornax), 235 Lichtjahre von uns entfernt. Er hat das 1,8fache der Sonnenmasse und ist rund 30 Millionen Jahre alt.
Die Herschel- und ALMA-Beobachtungen zeigen einen ausgedehnten Staubring, der den Stern in Entfernungen zwischen 55 und 150 Astronomischen Einheiten (AE, entspricht der durchschnittlichen Entfernung der Erde von der Sonne) umgibt. Die ALMA-Beobachtungen zeigen außerdem einen Gasring – doch überraschenderweise sind die beiden nicht deckungsgleich! Die Leiterin der Studie, Ágnes Kóspál von der ESA, erklärt: »Der innere Rand des Gasrings liegt näher am Zentralstern als der des Staubrings. Wären Gas und Staub durch den gleichen physikalischen Prozess erzeugt worden, nämlich durch die Erosion von Planetesimalen, dann sollte man erwarten, dass beide Ringe deckungsgleich sind. Das ist bei der inneren Scheibe aber eindeutig nicht der Fall.«
Attila Moór von der Konkoly-Sternwarte fügt hinzu: »Unsere Beobachtungen zeigen außerdem, dass frühere Studien die Gasmenge in der Scheibe grob unterschätzt hatten. Aus der Menge an Kohlenstoffmonoxid in der Scheibe können wir nun aber schließen, dass die Gesamtmasse des Gases zwischen 30 und 60 Erdmassen liegen dürfte.« Dieser Wert ist ein weiterer Fingerzeig, dass die Gasscheibe aus demselben urtümlichen Material besteht, aus dem auch der Stern entstanden ist – Gasfreisetzung bei der Kollision von Planetesimalen könnte diese gewaltige Menge unmöglich erklären.
Thomas Henning vom Max-Planck-Institut für Astronomie sagt: »Dass wir um den 30 Millionen Jahre alten Stern HD 21997 urtümliches Gas finden, gibt uns ein Rätsel auf. Sowohl Modellrechnungen als auch frühere Beobachtungen zeigen, dass das Gas in dieser Art von Scheibe rund um einen jungen Stern bereits nach rund 10 Millionen Jahren verschwunden sein sollte.«
Die Astronomen bemühen sich derzeit, weitere Systeme wie HD 21997 für weitergehende Untersuchungen an hybriden Scheiben zu finden, und zu klären, wie sie sich in die gängigen Modelle der Planetenentstehung einfügen – oder wie diese Modelle verändert werden müssen.
Quelle: Max-Planck-Institut für Astronomie Heidelberg
Folgt man dem Lauf des Rheins, sind die Städte Bonn und Köln auf der rechten Seite dieses von der Internationalen Raumstation aufgenommenen Nachtbildes zu erkennen. Das weiter nördlich gelegene Köln beheimatet auch das Europäischen Raumfahrtzentrum, das sich auf dem Gelände des Deutschen Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt befindet. Die hellen Lichter auf der rechten Seite beleuchten die Flugbahn des Flughafens Köln-Bonn, welcher hier zwischen den beiden Städten zu erkennen ist.
Links oben auf dem Bild liegt Aachen an der Grenze zu den Niederlanden und Belgien. Zwischen Aachen und Köln erkennt der Betrachter die Stadt Düren, in der sichtlich eine andersfarbige Straßenbeleuchtung als in den benachbarten Orten verwendet wird.
Dieses Bild ist im Jahre 2012 von einem Astronauten von der Internationalen Raumstation mithilfe eines NightPods aufgenommen worden. Das NightPod-Kamerastativ folgt der Erde, die mit einer relativen Geschwindigkeit von 28800 km/h unter der Station vorbeirauscht, indem ein beliebiges Ziel in der Mitte des Suchers fixiert wird. Gewöhnliche Kameras, die an einem solchen Nightpod angebracht sind, können sich längere Belichtungszeiten zunutze machen, sodass Astronauten schärfere Nachtaufnahmen von Städten aufnehmen können.
Neuartiges Stativ ermöglicht Astronauten atemberaubende Nachtaufnahmen von europäischen Metropolen.
Frams: NASA-TV LIVE
Blick von ISS auf Taifun
Premiere: Olympia Fackel im All
Olympic Torch Highlights Station Spacewalk
Two Russian cosmonauts clad in Orlan spacesuits conducted an out-of-this-world hand-off of the Olympic torch at the start of Saturday’s 5-hour, 50-minute spacewalk to perform maintenance on the International Space Station.
Expedition 37 Flight Engineers Oleg Kotov and Sergey Ryazanskiy opened the hatch to the Pirs docking compartment at 9:34 a.m. EST and floated outside to begin a photo opportunity with the unlit torch.
An icon of international cooperation through sports competition, the Olympic torch arrived at the space station Thursday aboard a Soyuz spacecraft carrying three new crew members – Expedition 38 Flight Engineers Mikhail Tyurin, Rick Mastracchio and Koichi Wakata. On Sunday, the torch will return to Earth aboard another Soyuz spacecraft vehicle along with Expedition 37 Commander Fyodor Yurchikhin and Flight Engineers Karen Nyberg and Luca Parmitano.
The spacewalk was a high-flying extension of a relay that will culminate with the torch being used to light the Olympic flame at the Feb. 7 opening ceremonies of the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia.
After Kotov and Ryazanskiy completed their photo and video session with the torch outside the station, they stowed it back inside the airlock and proceeded with the remainder of their chores 260 miles above the Earth.
The two spacewalkers translated out to the hull of the Zvezda service module to continue the set up of a combination extravehicular activity workstation and biaxial pointing platform that was installed during an Expedition 36 spacewalk on Aug. 22.
After installing some handrails on the workstation, Kotov and Ryazanskiy loosened a trio of bolts and removed a launch bracket from the pointing platform. A high resolution camera system will be installed on the platform during a spacewalk targeted for December.
The installation of a foot restraint on the mounting seat of the workstation was deferred to a future spacewalk after the spacewalkers noticed some issues with its alignment.
For their final planned task, Kotov and Ryazanskiy deactivated the Radiometria experiment package on Zvezda. Designed to collect information useful in seismic forecasts and earthquake predictions, Radiometria was installed on the station during an Expedition 26 spacewalk in February 2011. After securing the experiment's cables, the spacewalkers headed back to the airlock to wrap up the excursion. The task to fold down and restrain Radiometria's antenna was deferred to a future spacewalk.
The duo closed the Pirs hatch at 3:24 p.m., marking the official end of the spacewalk.
During the spacewalk, Yurchikhin, Parmitano and Nyberg were isolated to their Soyuz TMA-09M spacecraft and Zvezda, while Flight Engineer Mike Hopkins was restricted to the Poisk module and his Soyuz TMA-10M craft. The remaining three crew members -- Mastracchio, Wakata and Tyurin – had access to much of the remaining area of the station, including the Zarya module, their Soyuz TMA-11M vehicle and the Rassvet module to which it is docked, as well as the entirety of the U.S. segment of the station.
Saturday’s spacewalk was the 174th in support of space station assembly and maintenance, the fourth in Kotov's career and the first for Ryazanskiy. Kotov, who was designated EV1 for the spacewalk wore the suit with red stripes. Ryazanskiy, EV2, wore the suit marked with blue stripes.
This was the eighth spacewalk conducted at the station this year. In December, Tyurin will accompany Kotov on his fifth spacewalk.
Nov. 04, 2013 - NASA Sees Strengthening Tropical Storm Haiyan Lashing Micronesia
New satellite images just obtained from NASA’s Atmospheric Infrared Sounder (AIRS) instrument aboard NASA’s Aqua spacecraft and the Indian Space Research Organization’s OceanSAT-2 ocean wind scatterometer provide a glimpse into one of the most powerful storms ever recorded on Earth.
According to the U.S. Navy Joint Typhoon Warning Center, Typhoon Haiyan had maximum sustained winds of 195 mph (314 kilometers per hour), with gusts up to 235 mph (379 kilometers per hour) shortly before making landfall in the central Philippines today. That would make it one of the strongest storms ever recorded. Weather officials in the Philippines reported the storm, known locally as Typhoon Yolanda, came ashore with maximum sustained winds of 147 mph (235 kilometers per hour) and gusts of up to 170 mph (275 miles per hour).
The two AIRS images, acquired at 8:59 p.m. PST on Nov. 7 (left) and 9:17 a.m. PST on Nov. 8 (right), show the powerful storm in infrared. When the image on the left was acquired, the storm was located 214 miles (344 kilometers) south-southeast of Manila. By the time the image on the right was acquired, the fast-moving storm was already centered west of the Philippines, on a forecast track that will take it to Vietnam. The storm’s coldest cloud-top temperatures are indicated by the brightest shades of purple, and show where Haiyan’s heaviest rainfall was occurring.
Another image, from the OSCAT radar scatterometer on the Indian Space Research Organization’s OceanSAT-2 satellite, shows Haiyan’s ocean surface winds at 5:30 p.m. PST on Nov. 6. The wind data were calculated by scientists at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., using an advanced wind retrieval algorithm designed for tropical cyclone conditions. The colors indicate wind speed and arrows indicate wind direction. The wind speeds were measured in 15-by-15-mile (24-by-24-kilometer) boxes that recorded a maximum value of 128 miles, or 206 kilometers, per hour). That’s why these wind speeds are lower than the maximum small-scale winds calculated by the U.S. Navy Joint Typhoon Warning Center.
NASA’s Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN (MAVEN) spacecraft is assembled and is undergoing environmental testing at Lockheed Martin Space Systems facilities, near Denver, Colo. MAVEN is the next mission to Mars and will be the first mission devoted to understanding the Martian upper atmosphere.
During the environmental testing phase, the orbiter will undergo a variety of rigorous tests that simulate the extreme temperatures, vacuum and vibration the spacecraft will experience during the course of its mission. Currently, the spacecraft is in the company’s Reverberant Acoustic Laboratory being prepared to undergo acoustics testing that simulates the maximum sound and vibration levels the spacecraft will experience during launch.
Following the acoustics test, MAVEN will be subjected to a barrage of additional tests, including: separation/deployment shock, vibration, electromagnetic interference/electromagnetic compatibility and magnetics testing. The phase concludes with a thermal vacuum test where the spacecraft and its instruments are exposed to the vacuum and extreme hot and cold temperatures it will face in space.
“The assembly and integration of MAVEN has gone very smoothly and we’re excited to test our work over the next six months,” said Guy Beutelschies, MAVEN program manager at Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company. “Environmental testing is a crucial set of activities designed to ensure the spacecraft can operate in the extreme conditions of space.”
“I’m very pleased with how our team has designed and built the spacecraft and science instruments that will make our measurements,” said Bruce Jakosky, MAVEN principal investigator from CU/LASP. “We’ve got an exciting science mission planned, and the environmental testing now is what will ensure that we are ready for launch and for the mission.”
MAVEN is scheduled to ship from Lockheed Martin’s facility to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in early August where it will undergo final preparations for launch.
MAVEN, scheduled to launch in November 2013, is a robotic exploration mission to understand the role that loss of atmospheric gas to space played in changing the Martian climate through time. It will investigate how much of the Martian atmosphere has been lost over time by measuring the current rate of escape to space and gathering enough information about the relevant processes to extrapolate backward in time.
“This phase of the program is particularly important in that it will provide us with a good assessment of the MAVEN system’s capabilities under the simulated extremes of the space environment,” said David Mitchell, MAVEN project manager at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. “Of significance, the spacecraft is entering system level test right on schedule, while maintaining robust cost and schedule reserves to deal with the technical or programmatic surprises that could occur during test or in the run to launch. Tracking on plan is critically important to being ready for launch later this year and the science that MAVEN will deliver one year later.”
MAVEN’s principal investigator is based at the University of Colorado at Boulder’s Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics. The university will provide science operations, science instruments and lead Education/Public Outreach. NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center manages the project and provides two of the science instruments for the mission. Lockheed Martin of Littleton, Colo., built the spacecraft and is responsible for mission operations. The University of California at Berkeley Space Sciences Laboratory provides science instruments for the mission. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., provides navigation support, the Deep Space Network and the Electra telecommunications relay hardware and operations.
NASA’s MAVEN spacecraft recently completed assembly and has started environmental testing. In the Multipurpose Test Facility clean room at Lockheed Martin, technicians installed the orbiter’s two solar arrays prior to a modal test. (Courtesy Lockheed Martin)
DENVER - The Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution spacecraft is now in Cape Canaveral.
MAVEN will be hurled toward Mars in November on a mission largely designed and constructed in Colorado. The project is NASA's first mission to Mars since Curiosity Rover a year ago.
MAVEN is not a lander. It's an orbiter, and its first mission is devoted to understanding the Martian upper atmosphere. The ultimate goal is to determine the impact that the loss of atmosphere had on climate change.
Some of the engineers have been working on this project for more than a decade.
The estimated cost is $453 million - about $300 million has flowed directly into Colorado.
Timing is critical, however. The launch window opens on Nov. 18 and lasts for about 20 days.
The University of Colorado-Boulder has played a part of this project also. Its labs will serve as the hub for all science operations on MAVEN.
Lockheed Martin will man the spacecraft while it's still flying. As many as 210 people worked on this project at Lockheed Martin.
Colorado has the nation's second-largest aerospace economy. There are more than 200 space-related companies that call the state home. More than 166,000 people are employed in space-related jobs.
.A NASA spacecraft has reached its last stop before embarking on a 10-month journey to Mars, arriving Friday at Kennedy Space Center to prepare for a planned November blastoff.
An Air Force C-17 cargo plane delivered the MAVEN orbiter from Colorado to the former shuttle runway around 8 p.m.
MAVEN is short for “Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution.”
The $671 million mission, carrying three suites of instruments, will spend at least a year studying the Red Planet’s upper atmosphere and climate history.
Scientists hope to learn more about why most of Mars’ once thicker, warmer atmosphere was lost, changing a more habitable climate to its current cold, dry state.
After its delivery here, the Lockheed Martin Corp.-built orbiter was headed to KSC’s Payloads Hazardous Servicing Facility for pre-launch testing.
The spacecraft is expected to move to a Cape Canaveral launch pad in early November to be hoisted atop a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket.
The launch must hit a 20-day window between Nov. 18 and Dec. 7, or else wait two years for the proper planetary alignment to return.
NASA says the mission is on track to launch Nov. 18 and begin orbiting Mars in September 2014.
NASA on Tuesday will celebrate the anniversary of its Curiosity rover touching down on the Martian surface.
NASA’s Mars Atmosphere and Volatiles Evolution (MAVEN) spacecraft is seen inside the Payload Hazardous Servicing Facility on Aug. 3. 2013 at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. MAVEN will be prepared inside the facility for its scheduled November launch to Mars.
NASA's next spacecraft going to Mars arrived Friday, Aug. 2, at the agency's Kennedy Space Center in Florida, and is now perched in a cleanroom to begin final preparations for its November launch.
The Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) spacecraft is undergoing detailed testing and fueling prior to being moved to its launch pad. The mission has a 20-day launch period that opens Nov. 18.
The spacecraft will conduct the first mission dedicated to surveying the upper atmosphere of Mars. Scientists expect to obtain unprecedented data that will help them understand how the loss of atmospheric gas to space may have played a part in changing the planet's climate.
"We're excited and proud to ship the spacecraft right on schedule," said David Mitchell, MAVEN project manager at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. "But more critical milestones lie ahead before we accomplish our mission of collecting science data from Mars. I firmly believe the team is up to the task. Now we begin the final push to launch."
Over the weekend, the team confirmed the spacecraft arrived in good condition. They removed the spacecraft from the shipping container and secured it to a rotation fixture in the cleanroom. In the next week, the team will reassemble components previously removed for transport. Further checks prior to launch will include software tests, spin balance tests, and test deployments of the spacecraft's solar panels and booms.
The spacecraft was transported from Buckley Air Force Base in Aurora, Colo., on Friday, aboard a U.S. Air Force C-17 cargo plane. Lockheed Martin Space Systems in Littleton, Colo., designed and built the spacecraft and is responsible for testing, launch processing, and mission operations.
"It's always a mix of excitement and stress when you ship a spacecraft down to the launch site," said Guy Beutelschies, MAVEN program manager at Lockheed Martin. "It's similar to moving your children to college after high school graduation. You're proud of the hard work to get to this point, but you know they still need some help before they're ready to be on their own."
Previous Mars missions detected energetic solar fields and particles that could drive atmospheric gases away from Mars. Unlike Earth, Mars does not have a planet-wide magnetic field that would deflect these solar winds. As a result, these winds may have stripped away much of Mars' atmosphere.
MAVEN's data will help scientists reconstruct the planet's past climate. Scientists will use MAVEN data to project how Mars became the cold, dusty desert planet we see today. The planned one-year mission begins with the spacecraft entering the Red Planet's orbit in September 2014.
"MAVEN is not going to detect life," said Bruce Jakosky, planetary scientist at the University of Colorado Boulder and MAVEN's principal investigator. "But it will help us understand the climate history, which is the history of its habitability."
MAVEN's principal investigator is based at the University of Colorado Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics in Boulder. The university provides science instruments and leads science operations, education and public outreach.
Goddard manages the project and provides two of the science instruments for the mission. Lockheed Martin built the spacecraft and is responsible for mission operations. The University of California at Berkeley's Space Sciences Laboratory provides science instruments for the mission. NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., provides navigation support, Deep Space Network support, and Electra telecommunications relay hardware and operations.
The Atlas V rocket booster and Centaur upper stage will launch NASA's next Mars orbiter in November. The components arrived at Cape Canaveral on Monday, August 26, 2013.
The Atlas V booster and Centaur upper stage that will launch NASA's next Mars orbiter rolled off a ship this morning at a Cape Canaveral Air Force Station wharf.
The roughly 19-story rocket, when fully fully assembled, is scheduled to launch the Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN mission, or MAVEN, on Nov. 18.
That's the opening of an official 20-day launch window, but mission managers say they have another 15 days available if needed.
The MAVEN spacecraft is undergoing preflight tests at Kennedy Space Center.
The rocket was delivered from Decatur, Ala., aboard United Launch Alliance's Mariner ship.
Mars-Sonde MAVEN wird von NASA der Presse am 27.September 2013 vorgestellt.
Working from their consoles at NASA's Kennedy Space Center, a team of test engineers from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California, better known as JPL, conducted more than a week of evaluations on the antennas and circuitry aboard the spacecraft.
They beamed signals to the low-gain and high-gain antennas on MAVEN and basically treated the machine as though it really were flying on a 10-month journey from Earth to Mars and then studying the upper atmosphere of the Red Planet.
Such work is critical, mission managers said, because there is no way to fix a spacecraft's communications system once it leaves Earth.
"It doesn't matter what we do out there if we can't get the data back to Earth," said Jeff Coyne, Lockheed Martin's Assembly Test and Launch Operations manager for the project.
MAVEN is short for Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution. It is scheduled to launch in November aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V.
"I say this is one of the most important things, because if we can't talk to it . . . ," said Sheryl Bergstrom, manager of JPL's Cape Operations Office at Kennedy.
The testing was standard stuff for the engineers, but nonetheless mind-bending considering that the spacecraft will operate millions of miles from Earth and rely on commands from operators at Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland.
To mimic the distances between the spacecraft and Earth, the electronic signals sent between the two during testing are run through a cabling system that quickly ramps down the power by going through various wiring networks.
"We'll try to squeeze the signal down to its lowest possible point," said Chris Green, an engineer with Exelis who supervised the testing. "It's a machine and we test its actual flight performance -- every scenario of flight configuration it would be in is what we go through in testing."
"We allow the project to get online and do what they would do on a normal day so they can perform all the tasks through us just as if MAVEN was actually in space," said Lorenzo Morgan, one of the engineers operating and evaluating the procedures.
Although every spacecraft goes through intense communications testing, the work is not considered routine because every spacecraft has unique requirements.
"Every mission is different, every mission has its own peculiarities," said Albert Ibarra, also a test engineer for the communications system. "You have to know the details on every spacecraft design and so you become familiar with it as soon as they start putting the spacecraft together."
NASA has an intricate system of antennas in California, Spain and Australia to pick up and transmit signals to its fleet of spacecraft that now reaches out beyond the solar system in the form of Voyager 1.
Called the Deep Space Network and referred to by its acronym, DSN, the system uses antennas almost as big as a football field to communicate with the spacecraft that are using their own much smaller antennas and more limited power sources.
It's the system NASA uses to communicate with all of its interplanetary probes and some of the spacecraft studying Earth, as well. In addition to Voyager 1, whose signal is incredibly weak because of the vast distance it is from Earth, the network is picking up signals from newer spacecraft such as New Horizons, which is speeding toward Pluto. Cassini in orbit around Saturn, Juno on its way to Jupiter and the Curiosity rover operating on Mars all relay their data to Earth on the DSN and get their commands from ground operators through the same network.
Kennedy's portion of the DSN structure is a testing facility called MIL-71, a reference to the time when the space center was known as the Merritt Island Launch Annex. Every time a spacecraft comes to Kennedy for launch preparations, a team of engineers sets up racks of equipment and computer servers before beginning several days of 12-hour shifts to make sure the mission's communications system and interface with the Deep Space Network will work.
With the spacecraft checked out, the team takes its gear back to California and gets ready for launch day, knowing very well that it won't hear anything from the spacecraft until well after liftoff. In the case of MAVEN, the engineers and scientists won't find out if the testing really was successful until 54 minutes after launch from Cape Canaveral when MAVEN makes its initial contact with the DSN.
"When the signal is acquired," said Bergstrom, a veteran of long wait-times for good missions and bad, "that's when we get to breathe."
Let me tell you the current status of MAVEN. I learned this morning that NASA has analyzed the MAVEN mission relative to the Anti-Deficiency Act and determined that it meets the requirements allowing an emergency exception.
MAVEN is required as a communications relay in order to be assured of continued communications with the Curiosity and Opportunity rovers. The rovers are presently supported by Mars Odyssey launched in 2001 and Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter launched in 2005. Launching MAVEN in 2013 protects the existing assets that are at Mars today.
A delay in the launch date by more than a week past the end of the nominal launch period, or a delay of launch to 2016, would require additional fuel to get into orbit. This would have precluded having sufficient fuel for MAVEN to carry out its science mission and to operate as a relay for any significant time. Our nominal launch period runs from 18 November through 7 December, and we can launch as late as about 15 December without a significant impact on our combined science and relay activities. There is no NASA relay orbiter planned post-MAVEN.
Although the exception for MAVEN is not being done for science reasons, the science of MAVEN clearly will benefit from this action. Launching in 2013 allows us to observe at a good time in the eleven-year solar cycle.
We have already restarted spacecraft processing at Kennedy Space Center, working toward being ready to launch on Nov. 18. We will continue to work over the next couple of days to identify any changes in our schedule or plans that are necessary to stay on track.
After a two-day shutdown, processing work will resume on the MAVEN spacecraft, shown here during an illumination test at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. (Courtesy NASA/Kim Shiflett)
Powered by an RD-180 main engine delivering 860,000 pounds of thrust, the first stage is known as the Common Core Booster. It houses tanks to hold 50,000 gallons of chilled liquid oxygen and 25,000 gallons of RP-1 fuel, a highly refined variety of kerosene, for the RD-180 engine's four-minute burn to reach the upper atmosphere.
Technicians planned to add an interstage adapter before hoisting the Atlas 5's Centaur upper stage atop the booster Monday, completing the build-up of the two-stage rocket.
The launch of NASA's Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution, or MAVEN, mission only requires the most basic version of the Atlas 5 rocket. Called the "401" configuration, the Atlas 5 rocket for MAVEN features no solid rocket boosters, a Centaur stage with a single RL10 engine, and a four-meter payload fairing.
ULA can add strap-on boosters, a second RL10 engine and a larger five-meter nose shroud for payloads requiring the extra capability.
The launch of MAVEN will be the seventh Atlas 5 flight of the year, and the sixth from Cape Canaveral's seaside launch pad. ULA workers are in the final stretch of integrating and testing a Delta 4 rocket and its payload, a U.S. Air Force GPS navigation satellite, at Complex 37B for launch Oct. 23, less than 4 miles from the Atlas 5 rocket's launch pad.
Preparations for MAVEN's launch continue despite the partial shutdown of the federal government. After a two-day pause in the spacecraft's processing last week, NASA granted an exemption to resume work on MAVEN, which is in a time crunch to launch in a narrow window between Nov. 18 and mid-December.
Mars missions can only launch when the planets are properly aligned, and the next opportunity to launch MAVEN after December comes in early 2016.
But thanks to its exemption from the government shutdown, MAVEN is on schedule to launch Nov. 18 in a two-hour launch window opening at 1:28 p.m. EST (1828 GMT).
The $671 million mission will reach Mars in September 2014, entering an elliptical orbit dipping into the outermost layers of the Martian atmosphere to sample its composition and measure its response to stimuli from solar activity.
Scientists hope MAVEN will address uncertainties in how Mars evolved from a planet with a warmer, thicker atmosphere with water into the barren world observed today.
Technicians from Lockheed Martin Corp., MAVEN's prime contractor, will load about 3,600 pounds of hydrazine fuel into the spacecraft's propellant tank Oct. 24. The Atlas 5's clamshell-like payload fairing will encapsulate MAVEN on Nov. 5, and workers plan to transport the Mars orbiter to the Atlas 5 launch pad Nov. 7 to top off the 19-story launcher.
After nearly a decade of preparation, the countdown is now at one month for MAVEN, one of the most momentous space missions in which the University of Colorado has ever been involved.
The launch window raises Nov. 18 and extends through Dec. 7, although mission principal investigator Bruce Jakosky, of a professor at CU's Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics, said it could depart for Mars as late as Dec. 15 without a significant impact on its activities.
CU boasts a long history in space, with 19 of 20 CU-affiliated astronauts having flown in space, and its scientists having placed dozens of payloads on NASA's 135 shuttle missions. But the $670 million MAVEN -- Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution -- is stirring an added level of excitement in the university's science community and beyond.
"It's got to be in the top three or top five, something like that," said Bill Possel, LASP's science operations center manager for the MAVEN project, "the fact that CU is in charge of the entire mission."
Jakosky, a geological sciences professor, wrote in an email, "MAVEN will be able to tell us about the history of the climate and what caused the changes and it will not tell us whether life actually existed or still might exist on Mars today.
"MAVEN is about understanding the history of the habitability of Mars by microbes. But we will not determine whether it actually is inhabited by microbes."
He said its significance to the university's space legacy stems from "the fact that we could credibly propose a mission like this, provide two science instruments, do the science operations, all take advantage of this long history and the experience that comes with it," he wrote in an email. "MAVEN is certainly the largest program we've ever led, and the most visible."
Scuttled by politics -- but only briefly
MAVEN was temporarily but seriously jeopardized by the federal government shutdown, which began Oct. 1.
The project was shut down -- all operations put into what scientists call a "safe state" -- but not for long. Jakosky learned Oct. 3 that NASA had given MAVEN an emergency exemption, ruling that other functions it can also perform, such as serving as a data relay station for other Mars-based NASA exploration, made it an essential operation.
"There was a lot of nervousness for us," said Guy Beutelschies, program manager for Lockheed Martin Space Systems, which manufactured the spacecraft at its plant in Littleton, and who is now also in Florida preparing for the launch. "This alignment of Earth and Mars, we would have had to wait over two years before they're in position again."
Possel said he spent the roughly 48 hours that MAVEN appeared threatened by government gridlock "shaking in my boots."
"But I was thrilled to see that we were restarted (Oct. 3)," he said. "At this point, we are looking great for that Nov. 18 launch date."
Possel will be on hand for the launch and should have plenty of company. CU has organized a series of events for the roughly 300 alumni, faculty, staff and others who have registered for university-sponsored activities in Florida.
Those will start with a reception and talk by Jakosky the evening of Nov. 16, followed by a bus tour at the Kennedy Space Center on Nov. 17. Launch morning will kick off with a lecture called "CU in Space," presented by CU astrophysics professor Erika Ellington, before buses leave for Launch Complex 41 for a liftoff slated between 1:29 and 3:29 p.m.
But Buffs-centric space buffs won't have to be in Florida to share in the excitement because a MAVEN launch party is set for the University Memorial Center from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., with activities for visiting K-12 students as well as live-streaming from NASA of MAVEN's departure.
MAVEN headed to Martian orbit
It will take about 10 months for MAVEN to reach the Martian orbit, where it will be gathering data for at least one year. Its stay there could last longer.
"Our primary mission is one Earth year," Jakosky said. "We chose that duration because, in a year of observations, we can collect the data that would allow us to answer the science questions we originally posed.
"After that year is over, we hope to continue to be able to collect data. We can use a longer period of data collection to answer a set of augmented science questions."
Jakosky sees a "very high science value" in the mission being extended, but NASA has not yet committed to doing so.
Collecting the data will be three separate instrument packages. They are the Neutral Gas and Ion Mass Spectrometer, which can measure different isotope rations; the Imaging Ultra Violet Spectrograph, built in Boulder by LASP; and the Particles and Fields package, which contains six different instruments.
One of the six instruments in the Particles and Fields package is known as the Langmuir Probe and Waves, tasked with measuring electron density and temperature, electric fields and extreme ultraviolet observations from the sun.
LASP's Laila Andersson is co-investigator on the Langmuir instrument. She points out that the only previous data on electron temperature in the Martian atmosphere came from the Viking 1 and 2 landings in 1976.
"Since those two landers, we haven't measured the electron temperature in the atmosphere, and all the atmospheric modeling from Mars is based on those measurements," Andersson said. "It is very tricky to model the electron temperatures; therefore getting more observations is important."
Anderrson is one of roughly 150 LASP personnel who have worked on the project -- and will be among the 55 who will be part of the contingent at the Kennedy Space Center for the launch.
CU has many MAVEN partners. They include NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, which manages the project and provided two of the science instruments for the mission. The University of California at Berkeley Space Sciences Laboratory provided science instruments for the mission. NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, at Pasadena, Calif., will provide navigation support, and Centennial-based United Launch Alliance built the Atlas V rocket MAVEN will ride on.
Lockheed's Beutelschies, a CU graduate himself and former member of LASP, said Lockheed has been involved on some level with every NASA Mars mission back to the Viking project.
"But this is the first mission where the university has been our principal investigator, and so getting to work with CU, that makes it special," Beutelschies said.
Asked if there would be any black and gold on board, he joked: "Maybe hidden here and there. Just don't tell anybody."
Quelle: Capella University
Inside the Payload Hazardous Servicing Facility at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida, engineers and technicians install a radome over the antenna for the Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution, or MAVEN, spacecraft. The radome is a coated kapton cover providing thermal protection for the high gain antenna while not interfering with radio frequency transmissions from the spacecraft.
Inside the Payload Hazardous Servicing Facility at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida, engineers and technicians deploy the Solar Wind Electron Analyzer boom on the Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution, or MAVEN, spacecraft. The analyzer will measure the solar wind and electrons in the ionosphere of the Red Planet.
WITH A PRICE TAG OF $250,000, COMMERCIAL SPACE TRAVEL IS NOT A POSSIBILITY FOR THE 99%. SPACE RACE, A NEW MARK BURNETT REALITY SHOW, HOPES TO SEND AN AVERAGE JOE WINNER INTO ORBIT WITH PARTNER VIRGIN GALACTIC.
Maps from the GRAIL spacecrafts reveal more large craters (big circles) and thinner crust (blue) on the moon's nearside (left) than on the farside (right), where the crust is thicker (red).
Heat differences meant impacts left larger, shallower basins on the lunar surface that faces Earth.
Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) is bracing to launch its first Mars mission to become the first Asian country to accomplish it. Photo: NASA
Preparations are afoot for the upcoming “big-bang” Mars Orbiter Mission in October-November, an ambitious venture that would shed light on the possible existence of life on the planet besides boosting space agency ISRO’s brand equity.
The satellite, which would be launched on board Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV-XL), will carry compact science experiments, totalling a mass of 15 kg, according to ISRO officials. There will be five instruments to study Martian surface, atmosphere and mineralogy.
Lyman Alpha Photometer (LAP) is aimed at studying the escape processes of Mars upper atmosphere through Deuterium/Hydrogen, Methane Sensor for MARS (MSM) would look to detect presence of Methane while Martian Exospheric Composition Explorer (MENCA) would study the neutral composition of the Martian upper atmosphere.
MARS Colour Camera (MCC) would undertake optical imaging and TIR imaging spectrometer (TIS) is targetted to map surface composition and mineralogy.
“Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM) spacecraft integration is under progress”, an ISRO official told PTI here today. “The spacecraft has to undergo qualification tests for proving space worthiness once the integration is completed”.
The mission would help ISRO understand the technological challenges of such an exploration, the possible existence of life and future colonisation of Mars, which is the nearest planet which has most resemblance to earth. This would be India’s first mission to a distant planet.
ISRO will launch the mission in October-November. “If launched within the launch window (October 21-November 19, 2013), the spacecraft will travel for least distance to reach Mars”, the official said.
This is the immediate next available opportunity for such a mission as Earth and Mars would be coming closer then.
The PSLV-XL (PSLV-C25) will inject the spacecraft from the spaceport of Sriharikota in the 250 X 23000 km orbit.
After leaving earth orbit in November, MOM spacecraft will cruise in deep space for 10 months using its own propulsion system and will reach Mars (Martian transfer trajectory) in September 2014.
The 1350 kg spacecraft subsequently is planned to enter into a 372 km by 80,000 km elliptical orbit around Mars.
“The primary objective of this challenging mission is to establish the Indian technological capabilities to reach the orbit of Mars”, says ISRO Chairman K Radhakrishnan, also Secretary in the Department of Space. “A number of technological challenges need to be negotiated for a successful Mars mission“.
Critical mission operations and stringent requirements on propulsion, communications and other bus systems of the spacecraft are sure to keep the Bangalore-headquarterd ISRO on tenterhooks.
“One of the technological challenges is to realise related deep space mission planning and communication management at a distance of nearly 400 million km”, an ISRO official said.
The spacecraft has been provided with augmented radiation shielding for its prolonged exposure in the Van Allen belt. Due to the long range of the order of 55-400 million km from Earth to Mars, there is a communication delay of 20 minutes one way itself. For this reason, ISRO has built high level of onboard autonomy within Mars orbiter. For Chandrayaan-1, ISRO had to deal with only four lakh kms.
The robustness and reliability of propulsion system is “one order higher” as after leaving the orbit of Earth the system would require to work after almost 300 days. And during this voyage, the system needs to maintain complete integrity so as to capture the Martian orbit.
Capture of the Mars orbit or the Martian insertion is the critical event that would determine the success of this mission, ISRO officials say.
Besides the Mars Orbiter, ISRO has also planned a series of launches of various satellites both from the country and Kourou, French Guiana, during the current financial year.
India’s communication satellite INSAT-3D is slated to be launch onboard Ariane 5 rocket from French Guiana by the end of this month while the European spaceport would also launch the GSAT-7 during the year.
GSAT-14 would be launched on board GSLV on August 6 to be followed by SPOT-7, earth observation satellite, which would be put in space by a PSLV in December this year, ISRO has said.
The Indian space agency also planned to undertake GSLV Mark III experimental mission in January next year and launch the country’s second navigation satellite IRNSS-1D in March.
IRNSS-1A, the first in the series of seven navigation satellites under the Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System (IRNSS), was launched onboard PSLV C22 from Sriharikota on July 2.
Quelle: The Hindu
Indien startet nächste Woche offiziell die ISRO-Mars-Mission
Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) will unveil the Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM) on Wednesday, kick-starting its much-anticipated mission to Mars.
Mom is scheduled to be launched during October 21-November 19 using the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle-C25 (PSLV-C25) and will carry five payloads.
An official note issued here on Friday said: “The spacecraft, with all the payloads, has completed the Thermo-Vacuum Test that extensively tests the spacecraft under simulated environment space. At the same time, PSLV-C25 launch campaign has also commenced at the Satish Dhawan Space Centre, Sriharikota and the first stage with the strap-ons has been assembled.”
The spacecraft will be placed in an elliptical orbit, the nearest point of which from Mars' surface will be 500 km and the farthest point will be 80,000 km.
The 1,350-kg spacecraft will carry five instruments/payloads totalling a mass of 15-kg selected by the Advisory Committee for Space Sciences (ADCOS), to study the Martian surface, atmosphere and mineralogy.
Checking for methane, mapping the Martian surface and sending data from the optical imaging payload are among the important activities of the mission.
Scientists working with the Mars Orbiter Mission Space craft which was unveiled at ISRO Satellite Centre (ISAC) in Bangalore on Wednesday.
Scientists of Mars Orbiter Mission working on the spacecraft, at ISAC. Photo: V Sreenivasa Murthy
India’s Mars Orbiter Mission is slated to be launched on October 28 after a national committee of experts gave the go ahead for the Rs 450 crore ambitious venture after threadbare deliberations.
The committee held deliberations over two days on Thursday and Friday last and reviewed the status after senior Indian Space Research Organisation scientists gave an in-depth presentation on the mission.
Primary objectives of the mission are to demonstrate India’s technological capability to send a satellite to orbit around Mars and conduct meaningful experiments such as looking for signs of life, take pictures of the red planet and study Martian environment.
“The committee has given the go ahead”, an ISRO official said here today.
Former ISRO Chairman U.R Rao, noted space expert Roddam Narasimha and Professors of Indian Institute of Science Bangalore were among those part of the eminent panel.
The October 21-November 19 launch window has now been pushed forward by a week, and it now starts on October 28 though final date of the window remains the same (Nov19).
“We would like to utilise the first available opportunity”, the official said, adding, the launch can be expected on the afternoon of October 28, weather permitting.
The Rs 150-crore Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM) spacecraft is currently undergoing vibration and acoustic tests at ISRO Satellite Integration and Testing Establishment here, and is slated for shipment from here on September 30 to the Sriharikota spaceport after a pre-shipment committee review on September 26.
Launch campaign has already commenced in Sriharikota spaceport from where the 1,350-kg MOM spacecraft is slated to be launched by the Rs 110 crore Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV-C25).
The first stage of the PSLV-C25 with strap-ons has already been assembled, with the rocket ready for satellite integration by October 10.
The satellite will carry compact science experiments, totalling a mass of 15 kg. There will be five instruments to study Martian surface, atmosphere and mineralogy.
After leaving the earth’s orbit, the spacecraft will cruise in deep space for about ten months using its own propulsion system and will reach Martian transfer trajectory in September 2014.
The spacecraft subsequently is planned to enter into a 372 km by 80,000 km elliptical orbit around Mars.
The main theme of MOM appears to be to seek to reveal whether there is methane, considered a “precursor chemical” for life, on the red planet.
Methane sensor, one of the five payloads (scientific instruments) on board the spacecraft, would look to detect the presence of Methane.
At the crack of dawn on Wednesday, the Mars orbiter spacecraft ceremoniously rolled out of its nest here and took the first baby step of its 400-million-km journey. But before its grand voyage, it is first headed for the Sriharikota launch centre in coastal Andhra Pradesh.
Amidst chants of prayer and loads of good wishes and in the presence of large gathering of scientists, ISRO Satellite Centre Director S.K. Shivakumar flagged off the mother of the Indian Space Research Organisation’s ventures — the Mars Orbiter Mission or MOM — at 6 a.m from the second advanced satellite integration and testing campus, ISITE, at Marathahalli.
The spacecraft, sent by road in a safe cocoon, will reach the Satish Dhawan Space Centre at Sriharikota on Thursday afternoon and undergo further tests and checks until its launch, ISRO spokesman Deviprasad Karnik told The Hindu.
“It has been one satisfying day for our team,” said Mars project director S.Arunan, describing the mission’s kick-off from Bangalore. “We achieved it in a short time [after the project was approved in September 2012] within a tight deadline. Today, all those sleepless months did not matter.”
MOM, carrying five ISRO instruments, is a Rs. 450-crore Indian space dream that is devised to study the atmosphere, surface and chemicals of Mars, just 372 km from the red planet’s surface.
ISRO Chairman K. Radhakrishnan earlier said the scientists aimed to launch the spacecraft from Sriharikota around 4.30 p.m. on October 28. After days of complex manoeuvring, the spacecraft is slated to be slung off Earth’s orbit on November 30 and it will begin its 300-day journey to Mars. It is expected to reach the Martian zone in mid-September 2014 and orbit it for at least six months.
Mars missions become possible once in 26 months based on the positions of Earth and Mars. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration of the U.S. is also sending its MAVEN (Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution) mission on November 18.
In Bangalore, the spacecraft cleared the mechanical solar panel and antenna movements and vibration and acoustic tests, Mr. Karnik said. On reaching Sriharikota, it would go through electrical and other checks. A week ahead of the launch, it would be sent away for being fitted into the launch vehicle. The launcher, PSLV-C25, is an extended XL version, currently being readied for the mission.
As the mission unfolds, Mr. Arunan’s team is bracing itself for many more sleepless nights and nail-biting moments.
Quelle: The Hindu
BANGALORE: While the US government shutdown has inconvenienced millions of Americans, it's also worrying Isro scientists working on India's ambitious space programme to Mars.
The Rs 450 crore Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM), scheduled for lift-off at 4.15pm on October 28, could be without Nasa's communication and navigation support. US space agency Nasa has asked 97% of its 18,000-strong workforce to go on unpaid leave. This has left many of its stations worldwide unmanned. The Isro mission is banking on such stations to track the spacecraft.
If the programme misses the October 28-November 19 launch window, India may have to ground the mission for at least two years.
Nasa had agreed to provide reimbursable communication and navigation support to Indian Space Research Organisation for MOM during the launch and post-launch phases when the spacecraft is out of coverage area of its navigation system.
Nasa was to help in accurate determination/ reconfirmation of orbit and position of spacecraft. "Nasa is currently closed due to a lapse in government funding. I am in furlough status; therefore, I am unable to respond to your message at this time," was the auto-reply from Nasa spokesperson to TOI's queries on this matter. Last month, he had told TOI about Nasa support to MOM.
An Isro spokesperson said: "It is too early to comment about this." Nasa support will cost Isro about Rs 70 crore.
Sources in Isro explained that the launch window is crucial as Mars and Earth will not be in positions suitable for such a programme till the end of 2015 or beginning of 2016. Prof UR Rao, chairman of the national committee of experts which cleared the project, declined to comment, saying it's a "political" matter.
But he said: "The launch window is important. We're trying to launch the spacecraft in the beginning of the window. If not November 19, we have time till early December. But once that is lost, we'll have to wait for two years."
He said traditionally, Isro avoids launching from Sriharikota during October and November. "It is generally avoided as it is cyclone season. But given the fact that such an opportunity will not be available for years if missed, we scheduled the launch and are hoping that weather does not play spoilsport."
The spacecraft which left Bangalore on Wednesday, reached launch site Sriharikota on Thursday evening. With components of the launch vehicle PSLV C 25 already at the launch site, integration of the spacecraft will begin on October 10.
Quelle: The Times of India
New Delhi: First the good news. India's satellite for its maiden mission to Mars, the Mangalyaan and its rocket launch vehicle, the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV), are fully tested and ready.
But the bad news is that a cyclone lashing through the Pacific Ocean could slow things down. A final decision on whether the launch can take place on October 28 as per plan will be made only on Saturday when the final review is over.
The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) said this as it conducted its final mission readiness review for Mangalyaan. The unmanned scientific satellite mission has cost India Rs. 450 crore.
India's Mars mission delayed by a week
Chennai, India's Mars Orbiter Mission, scheduled for launch Oct 28, has been delayed and the fresh date will be announced later, said the space agency chief.
"Of the two ships Nalanda and Yamuna, only Yamanua has reached Fiji. Nalanda has not reached there. It is expected to reach Fiji only around Oct 21. So the Mars mission will not happen Oct 28. As the launch window is between Oct 28-Nov 19, we will decide on the revised date after the ship reaches Fiji," Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) chairman K.Radhakrishnan told IANS.
He said the delay will be by a week and by Oct 22, the launch date is expected to be known.
The ship has terminals to track the rocket, which has a coasting period of around 20 minutes beyond the visibility of existing ground stations.
Radhakrishnan said the rocket has been assembled and the satellite integration is on now.
"In two days it will be over and then there will be checks on the rocket and satellite systems," he said.
India's Mars Orbiter Mission which was slated to be launched on October 28 has been postponed by a week due to bad weather and the new launch date will be decided on October 22.
'Nalanda', the ship which will track the movement of the satellite from the South Pacific Ocean, couldn't reach its designated spot due to bad weather.
Isro spokesperson Deviprasad Karnik said, "Two ships, Yamuna and Nalanda were to reach Fiji the land closest to their designated spots in the Pacific Ocean but Nalanda has been delayed due to bad weather. Our scientists and engineers have reached the island."
He said ships will be used to track the ignition of the fourth stage and separation of the spacecraft. "Unlike previous missions, by the fourth stage ignition the vehicle would have gone outside the range of our ground stations which is why we have to use ships," Karnik said.
Isro leased the ships from the Shipping Corporation of India and equipped them for tracking. The ships left Visakhapatnam in mid-September. Isro has sought Nasa's help to communicate and navigate the satellite when it reaches blind spots of their tracking systems.
Quelle: The Times of India
Nachfolgende Fotos von PSLV-C25-Spacecraft Integration
Spacecraft Movement for Testing
Spacecraft Testing - View 1
India is set to fly it’s first ever mission to another planet with the Mars mission slated for launch on November 5. The spacecraft named the Mars Orbiter Mission will take about nine months to move from the earth’s orbit to that of Mars and is estimated to reach the Martian orbit in September 2014. It is the Indian Space Research Organisation’s (ISRO) first quest to find signs of life on Mars and learn some lessons possibly. Across the world, only five other space agencies have been able to send missions to the neighbouring planet — and about half of the 45-odd missions sent up have failed to even reach Mars.
India’s Mars mission carries a `450-crore price tag, way below what Nasa, the European Space Agency, Japan and China spent on their journeys to Mars. ISRO says indigenisation kept costs down. The decision to use the reliable Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) also helped. The mission launch will mark the PSLV’s silver jubilee. The orbiter will ride an advanced variant of the rocket, the PSLV-XL — the rocket type that took India to the moon in 2008. Unlike other Mars missions which had a straight flight trajectory, India’s orbiter will first be placed in an elliptical earth orbit because of the rocket’s weight constraints.If this feat is accomplished it’ll be a giant leap in India’s 50-year-old space programme. Former ISRO chairman Krishnaswamy Kasturirangan describes the Mars mission as part of India’s planetary exploration strategy. So India’s first step to another planet is exciting not just because it’s a first, but because it is one that will keep the scientist community on edge for all of nine months, until the spacecraft actually reaches its spot around Mars. When the Mars rocket takes off next week, it will carry with it not just a spacecraft, but the dreams of thousands of curious scientists looking for answers to some basic questions on our existence.
The excitement is really building toward India's first-ever attempt at an interplanetary spacecraft! Launch day is quickly approaching for the Mars Orbiter Mission. Liftoff is still scheduled for Tuesday, November 5, 2013, at 14:38 IST (09:08 UTC / 01:08 PST). The latest news from the mission is that a launch rehearsal was successfully completed today. Isn't that rocket beautiful: