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Sonntag, 30. März 2014 - 18:03 Uhr

Astronomie - NASA veröffentlichte am Donnerstag ein Bild von einem Kometen C/2013 A1

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The images above show -- before and after filtering -- comet C/2013 A1, also known as Siding Spring, as captured by Wide Field Camera 3 on NASA's Hubble Space Telescope.
Image Credit: 
NASA, ESA, and J.-Y. Li (Planetary Science Institute)
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NASA released Thursday an image of a comet that, on Oct. 19, will pass within 84,000 miles of Mars -- less than half the distance between Earth and our moon.

The image on the left, captured  March 11 by NASA's Hubble Space Telescope, shows comet C/2013 A1, also called Siding Spring, at a distance of 353 million miles from Earth. Hubble can't see Siding Spring's icy nucleus because of its diminutive size. The nucleus is surrounded by a glowing dust cloud, or COMA, that measures roughly 12,000 miles across.

The right image shows the comet after image processing techniques were applied to remove the hazy glow of the coma revealing what appear to be two jets of dust coming off the location of the nucleus in opposite directions. This observation should allow astronomers to measure the direction of the nucleus’s pole, and axis of rotation.

Hubble also observed Siding Spring on Jan. 21 as Earth was crossing its orbital plane, which is the path the comet takes as it orbits the sun. This positioning of the two bodies allowed astronomers to determine the speed of the dust coming off the nucleus.

"This is critical information that we need to determine whether, and to what degree, dust grains in the coma of the comet will impact Mars and spacecraft in the vicinity of Mars," said Jian-Yang Li of the Planetary Science Institute in Tucson, Arizona.

Discovered in January 2013 by Robert H. McNaught at Siding Spring Observatory, the comet is falling toward the sun along a roughly 1 million year orbit and is now within the radius of Jupiter's orbit. The comet will make its closest approach to our sun on Oct. 25, at a distance of 130 million miles – well outside of Earth's orbit. The comet is not expected to become bright enough to be seen by the naked eye.

Quelle: NASA


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Sonntag, 30. März 2014 - 17:48 Uhr

Raumfahrt - Ankunft von ISS-Crew 39/40

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Cosmonauts Alexander Skvortsov and Oleg Artemyev and NASA astronaut Steven Swanson lifted off at 5:17 p.m. EDT on Tuesday from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan and expected to reach the station six hours later.

Instead, their Soyuz capsule reached the station at 7:53 p.m. EDT on Thursday.

“Better late than never,” said Navias, as the Soyuz was making its final approach.

Quelle: D-News

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Russian spaceship Soyuz docks with ISS


The spaceship moored at the docking assembly of the Russian module Poisk at 03:53 in an automatic mode
ЕРА/NASA

KOROLYOV, March 28. /ITAR-TASS/. Russia's manned spaceship Soyuz TMA-12M with a new international crew of a long-duration expedition to the International Space Station (ISS), the ISS-39/40 mission, has docked with the Station on Friday, bringing Russian cosmonauts Alexander Skvortsov and Oleg Artemyev, and American astronaut Steve Swanson to orbit.

"The spaceship moored at the docking assembly of the Russian module Poisk (MIM-2) at 03:53, Moscow time, in an automatic mode," an official at the Flight Control Center (FCC) outside Moscow told Itar-Tass.

The arrivals floated through open hatches into the orbital station at 06:47 and were welcomed aboard by Mikhail Tyurin, Koichi Wakata, and Richard Mastracchio. All the crew members are feeling well, the FCC official added. The ISS crew membership has grown up to six. They all will be working together aboard the Station until May.

The ISS-39/40 mission will work in orbit for the planned 169-day period, during which the crew is to do a large amount of work, receive several resupply spacecraft and carry out extensive scientific research which includes 49 experiments under the Russian program and about 170 ones under the American one. Besides, during a spacewalk scheduled for August, the Russian cosmonauts are to launch a Peruvian minisatellite.

The spaceship Soyuz TMA-12M was launched from Baikonur on March 26 at 01:17, Moscow time. Originally, it was expected that the crew would be brought to the ISS in accordance with a short six-hour diagram. However, due to complications that arose in the operation of the spaceship's orientation syctem, a decision was made to switch over to a 48-hour diagram for docking.

In the history of the operation of the ISS, the first manned spaceship's flight according to a shortened six-hour diagram was made in March 2013 when the Soyuz TMA-08M delivered Russian cosmonauts Pavel Vinogradov and Alexander Misurkin and American astronaut Christopher Cassidy to the orbital station. A launch according to this diagram (spaceship makes only four revolutions around orbit) had been tried out in August 2012 by means of the Progresd M-16M resupply spacecraft.

Quelle: ITAR TASS

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The Soyuz TMA-12M spacecraft is just a few meters away from docking.

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Expedition 39, now a six-member crew, talks to family and mission officials moments after entering the space station for the first time.

New Soyuz Trio Completes Two Day Trip to Station

A new trio of Expedition 39 flight engineers has arrived at the International Space Station after a two-day, 34-orbit trip. Soyuz Commander Alexander Skvortsov was at the controls of the Soyuz TMA-12M spacecraft when it docked automatically to the Poisk docking compartment at 7:53 p.m. EDT. Skvortsov was flanked by Flight Engineers Steve Swanson and Oleg Artemyev during the two day flight.
The crew opened the hatches to the station at 10:35 p.m. after a series of leak and pressure checks between the two spacecraft before . The new station residents entered Poisk and greeted Expedition 39 Commander Koichi Wakata of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency and Flight Engineers Rick Mastracchio of NASA and Mikhail Tyurin of Roscosmos.
After the welcoming ceremony and congratulatory words with family, friends and mission officials, the newly comprised crew conducted a mandatory safety orientation. All six crew members then will have an off-duty day Friday as they relax, having shifted their schedules to accommodate the busy launch and docking activities.
The original plan for the Soyuz to arrive at the station in just four orbits over six hours defaulted to the more traditional 34-orbit plan after the Soyuz spacecraft failed to conduct an engine firing early in the rendezvous sequence following launch to refine its orbit.
The Soyuz crew was safe the entire time as flight controllers replanned their approach and rendezvous. The two day launch-to-docking profile was the normal Soyuz mission profile used for years before Russian space officials began single-day launch to docking efforts in March 2013.
 As is customary, Swanson, Skvortsov and Artemyev will have several days set aside to familiarize themselves with their new home in space. The new trio will also assist the veteran crewmates as they adjust to living and working in space for six months.
Swanson, Skvortsov and Artemyev are scheduled to return home in September as Expedition 40 crew members. They will officially become Expedition 40 when Expedition 39 crew members Wakata, Mastracchio and Tyurin end their mission and undock in their Soyuz TMA-11M spacecraft in May for their return to Earth.
Quelle: NASA

Tags: Ankunft von ISS-Crew 39/40 

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Donnerstag, 27. März 2014 - 23:46 Uhr

Astronomie - Astronomen finden neuen Planeten (Biden) am Rand des Sonnensystems

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This composite of three images shows the movement of 2012 VP113, informally named 'Biden.' The planet moved between each image, as shown by the red, green and blue dots.

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It’s one of the biggest discoveries in modern astronomy – and they’ve dubbed it “Biden.”

Scientists have found a distant dwarf planet, one orbiting beyond what was previously thought to be the farthest reaches of our Solar System.

Officially named 2012 VP113, it’s “affectionally called” Biden, for the “VP” that’s in the planet’s formal name, a statement on the discovery said. 

The vice president’s office did not return a request for comment. 

Discovered by astronomers Scott Sheppard and Chadwick Trujillo, the planet is likely one of thousands of objects thought to make up what’s known as the “inner Oort cloud” at the furthest edge of the Solar System. The findings also suggest the presence of another far larger planet – one that’s perhaps 10 times the size of Earth.

“This is an extraordinary result that redefines our understanding of our Solar System,” said Linda Elkins-Tanton, director of the Carnegie Institution of Science’s Department of Terrestrial Magnetism.

Unlike the vice president, VP113 is no insider: at its closest point to the Sun, the planet still sits 80 times the distance of the Earth to the Sun, or 80 astronomical units (AU) away.

Biden, in fact, was discovered outside what are considered the three main parts of the Solar System: the rocky planets like Earthy that are close to the Sun; the gas giant planets that are further away; and the frozen objects that comprise the so-called “Kuiper belt,” a huge mass of rocks, metals and ice – including Pluto – that swirl around the Solar System beyond the orbit of Neptune.

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In this orbit diagram, the Sun and terrestrial planets are at the center, the four giant planets (Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune) are shown by purple solid circles and the Kuiper Belt is shown by the dotted light blue region. Sedna's orbit is shown in orange, and Biden's orbit is shown in red.

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Outside that belt is what appears to be the edge of the Solar System, where another object, Sedna, was discovered in 2003. At the time, it was not clear whether Sedna was unique: while there’s a distinct boundary to our Solar System at 50 AU, Sedna maintained an orbit of 76 AU.

The discovery of Biden now shows that Sedna is not alone. Together, they make up two known members of the inner Oort cloud and also offer potential insight into how our Solar System came to be.

"The search for these distant inner Oort cloud objects beyond Sedna and 2012 VP113 should continue, as they could tell us a lot about how our Solar System formed and evolved," said Sheppard in a statement.

Sheppard and Trujillo first found Biden by using a new “Dark Energy Camera” on a huge telescope in Chile. They then determined its orbit by using another telescope, located at Carnegie’s Las Campanas Observatory, also in Chile.

The pair believes that as many as 900 other objects with orbits like Biden and Sedna are out there.

"Some of these inner Oort cloud objects could rival the size of Mars or even Earth. This is because many of the inner Oort cloud objects are so distant that even very large ones would be too faint to detect with current technology,” Sheppard said.

The discovery was scheduled to be published this week in the journal Nature.

Quelle: USNews


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Donnerstag, 27. März 2014 - 08:06 Uhr

Astronomie - WISE auf der Suche nach kosmischen Samen welche die Entwicklung der supermassiven Schwarzen Löcher verursacht

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The galaxy NGC 4395 is shown here in infrared light, captured by NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

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How do you grow a supermassive black hole that is a million to a billion times the mass of our sun? Astronomers do not know the answer, but a new study using data from NASA's Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, or WISE, has turned up what might be the cosmic seeds from which a black hole will sprout. The results are helping scientists piece together the evolution of supermassive black holes -- powerful objects that dominate the hearts of all galaxies.
Growing a black hole is not as easy as planting a seed in soil and adding water. The massive objects are dense collections of matter that are literally bottomless pits; anything that falls in will never come out. They come in a range of sizes. The smallest, only a few times greater in mass than our sun, form from exploding stars. The biggest of these dark beasts, billions of times the mass of our sun, grow together with their host galaxies over time, deep in the interiors. But how this process works is an ongoing mystery.
Researchers using WISE addressed this question by looking for black holes in smaller, "dwarf" galaxies. These galaxies have not undergone much change, so they are more pristine than their heavier counterparts. In some ways, they resemble the types of galaxies that might have existed when the universe was young, and thus they offer a glimpse into the nurseries of supermassive black holes.
In this new study, using data of the entire sky taken by WISE in infrared light, up to hundreds of dwarf galaxies have been discovered in which buried black holes may be lurking. Infrared light, the kind that WISE collects, can see through dust, unlike visible light, so it's better able to find the dusty, hidden black holes. The researchers found that the dwarf galaxies' black holes may be about 1,000 to 10,000 times the mass of our sun -- larger than expected for these small galaxies.
"Our findings suggest the original seeds of supermassive black holes are quite massive themselves," said Shobita Satyapal of George Mason University, Fairfax, Va. Satyapal is lead author of a paper published in the March issue of Astrophysical Journal.
Daniel Stern, an astronomer specializing in black holes at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., who was not a part of the new study, says the research demonstrates the power of an all-sky survey like WISE to find the rarest black holes. "Though it will take more research to confirm whether the dwarf galaxies are indeed dominated by actively feeding black holes, this is exactly what WISE was designed to do: find interesting objects that stand out from the pack."
The new observations argue against one popular theory of black hole growth, which holds that the objects bulk up in size through galaxy collisions. When our universe was young, galaxies were more likely to crash into others and merge. It is possible the galaxies' black holes merged too, accumulating more mass. In this scenario, supermassive black holes grow in size through a series of galaxy mergers.
The discovery of dwarf galaxy black holes that are bigger than expected suggests that galaxy mergers are not necessary to create big black holes. Dwarf galaxies don't have a history of galactic smash-ups, and yet their black holes are already relatively big.
Instead, supermassive black holes might form very early in the history of the universe. Or, they might grow harmoniously with their host galaxies, feeding off surrounding gas.
"We still don't know how the monstrous black holes that reside in galaxy centers formed," said Satyapal. "But finding big black holes in tiny galaxies shows us that big black holes must somehow have been created in the early universe, before galaxies collided with other galaxies."
Other authors of the study include: N.J. Secrest, W. McAlpine and J.L. Rosenberg of George Mason University; S.L. Ellison of the University of Victoria, Canada; and J. Fischer of the Naval Research Laboratory, Washington.
WISE was put into hibernation upon completing its primary mission in 2011. In September 2013, it was reactivated, renamed NEOWISE and assigned a new mission to assist NASA's efforts to identify the population of potentially hazardous near-Earth objects. NEOWISE will also characterize previously known asteroids and comets to better understand their sizes and compositions.
NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., manages and operates the NEOWISE mission for NASA's Science Mission Directorate. The WISE mission was selected competitively under NASA's Explorers Program managed by the agency's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. The science instrument was built by the Space Dynamics Laboratory in Logan, Utah. The spacecraft was built by Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp. in Boulder, Colo. Science operations and data processing take place at the Infrared Processing and Analysis Center at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena. Caltech manages JPL for NASA.
Quelle: NASA

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Donnerstag, 27. März 2014 - 07:55 Uhr

Raumfahrt - Durch Engine Snag Forces wird Sojus-TM-12 mit ISS-Crew 39/40 zwei Tage später andocken

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26.03.2014

A Russian Soyuz craft carried three new crew members for the International Space Station into orbit on Tuesday, but an engine glitch delayed their arrival until Thursday.
A 24-second engine burn to adjust the Soyuz' orbital path "did not occur as planned," NASA spokesman Josh Byerly said hours after the spacecraft was launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.
As a result, NASA's Steve Swanson and Russian cosmonauts Alexander Skvortsov and Oleg Artemyev weren't able to take advantage of the six-hour "fast-track" route to the space station. Instead, they'll have to wait until 7:58 p.m. ET Thursday at the earliest to make their rendezvous.
A Soyuz rocket sends a new crew to the International Space Station from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.
That's no biggie. In fact, the two-day trip was routine until last year, and the crew has ample supplies for an even longer trip. "The crew is in no danger whatsoever," NASA spokesman Rob Navias reported from Baikonur.
Navias said the engine burn was aborted due to a problem with the Soyuz's attitude control system, but further details were not immediately available. "Right now we don't understand exactly what happened," a mission manager at Russian Mission Control told the Soyuz crew late Thursday.
Ground controllers planned to download data from the Soyuz and determine whether the glitch was due to a hardware or software problem, Byerly said.
Swanson, Skvortsov and Artemyev are planning to join the three crew members already living on the station: NASA's Rick Mastracchio, Japan's Koichi Wakata and Russia's Mikhail Tyurin. The current routine calls for trios of spacefliers to serve staggered tours of duty lasting roughly six months each.
Quelle: NBC
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Soyuz sets off after station; rendezvous snag delays docking

A veteran Russian space station commander, a rookie cosmonaut and a NASA shuttle flier rocketed smoothly into space aboard a Russian Soyuz ferry craft Tuesday, but the crew ran into problems executing a required rendezvous rocket firing, delaying docking with the International Space Station until Thursday at the earliest.
Soyuz TMA-12M commander Alexander Skvortsov, flight engineer Oleg Artemyev and NASA astronaut Steven Swanson lifted off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 5:17 p.m. EDT (GMT-4; 3:17 a.m. Wednesday local time), kicking off a planned four-orbit six-hour rendezvous with the station.
The fast-track rendezvous procedure replaced a more traditional two-day approach to the lab complex that Soyuz crews followed for most of the 15-year lifetime of the space station. Only four previous crewed missions to the outpost used the four-orbit procedure and flight controllers always hold the two-day profile in reserve if needed.
Skvortsov and his crewmates had hoped to be the fifth crew to carry out a four-orbit rendezvous. They executed the first two rendezvous firings on schedule, but the third firing was not carried out, apparently because the spacecraft was not in the expected attitude, or orientation.
With the rendezvous sequence interrupted, Russian flight controllers defaulted to the more traditional two-day sequence while engineers reviewed telemetry and stood by for additional passes over Russian ground stations to collect more data.
"Right now, we don't understand exactly what happened," a Russian flight controller radioed the crew. "So we'll analyze and review all the telemetry. On the next orbit, there will be a comm pass. ... During this comm pass, we'll download the whole mass of telemetry and we will analyze it and review it and we'll try to figure out what happened."
The two-day rendezvous profile will be familiar to Skvortsov, who followed the same set of procedures during his first flight to the space station in 2010.
Assuming the problem can be resolved in time, Skvortsov will oversee an automated docking at the station's upper Poisk module around 7:58 p.m. Thursday. Josh Byerly, NASA's mission control commentator, said the crew was in no danger, and that more than enough supplies were on board to support a two-day 34-orbit rendezvous.
Whenever they arrive, Skvortsov and his crewmates will be welcomed aboard the space station by Expedition 39 commander Koichi Wakata, cosmonaut Mikhail Tyurin and NASA astronaut Rick Mastracchio.
Wakata and his two crewmates have had the station to themselves since March 11 when Soyuz TMA-10M commander Oleg Kotov, Sergey Ryazanskiy and Mike Hopkins returned to Earth. Wakata and his crewmates are scheduled to follow suit in their Soyuz TMA-11M ferry craft on May 13.
That will clear the way for launch of Soyuz TMA-13M commander Maxim Suraev, a Russian space veteran, and two rookies: European Space Agency astronaut Alexander Gerst and NASA astronaut Reid Wiseman.
The tight choreography between U.S. and Russian flight control centers to keep the space station healthy, adequately supplied and staffed with rotating international crews illustrates how dependent both sides are on each other.
The Russian segment of the space station uses electricity generated by NASA solar arrays, taps into the station's computer network, uses NASA's communications satellites and relies on U.S. gyroscopes and flight controllers at the Johnson Space Center in Houston to keep the outpost properly oriented without having to use precious rocket fuel.
NASA, in turn, relies on the Russians to ferry U.S. and partner astronauts to and from the station aboard Soyuz spacecraft and to provide the rocket power needed for major station maneuvers. And both sides share critical life support systems and launch uncrewed cargo ships to keep the station supplied.
NASA hopes to have one or more commercially developed spacecraft capable of carrying NASA astronauts to and from the station by around 2017. But until then, the agency must rely on the Russians, paying up to $70 million per seat aboard Soyuz spacecraft.
Despite increased superpower tensions over Ukraine and Crimea, "there is this kind of mutual dependency (with the station program) that would make it not in Russia's interest to cut off our access," John Logsdon, professor emeritus of political science and international affairs at George Washington University, said in an interview.
"And it's certainly not in our interest to so alienate Russia that we no longer had access to the station," he said. "So, I think the by far most likely outcome is kind of encapsulating the station from the broader political currents."
In an interview last week in Houston, during training for his May flight to the space station, Wiseman downplayed the current conflict, saying "the politics starts to fall by the wayside" when working with Russian space engineers, flight controllers and cosmonauts on a daily basis.
"Working with my commander and all the Russian trainers over there, these people are not just my colleagues, they're all my friends," he said. "And so sure, we don't want to see political turmoil, and it could ultimately get in the way of our spaceflight.
"But from the operator standpoint looking up, this is absolutely a non issue for us," he said. "I mean, we're three really good friends climbing into a Soyuz to fly into space. All politics aside, there's no doubt it's going to work for us."
While Russian President Vladimir Putin could step in at some point to block U.S. access to Soyuz flights, "it basically would be a catastrophe for the station," Logsdon said. "Cutting off U.S. access to station would be kind of a last-resort action that would reflect a total breakdown of U.S.-Russian relationships."
He does not believe it will come to that. But he said the current conflict may encourage U.S. lawmakers to fully fund NASA's commercial crewed spacecraft program to ensure American access to space as soon as possible.
"This sends a very clear message that the sooner we get off of depending on Russia for transportation, the better off we are," Logsdon said. "It's conceivable the White House will use some of its political clout to make sure commercial crew (program) gets fully funded."
For their part, the Soyuz TMA-12M crew is focused squarely on its upcoming mission.
Skvortsov spent 176 days aboard the space station in 2010, serving as a flight engineer with Expedition 23 and commander of Expedition 24. This time around, he will serve as a flight engineer throughout a planned 169-day stay, serving with the Expedition 39 and 40 crews.
In a pre-flight interview, Skvortsov said his first spaceflight, and the view of Earth from orbit, changed his perspective, making him much more aware of environmental issues.
"It is my firm belief that ecological problems do need addressing," he said. "Unfortunately, there are too many places where mankind is creating damage. Ecological problems ... are something all of us have in common. This planet is our home."
Swanson spent 27 days in space during two shuttle missions in 2007 and 2009. He will serve as a flight engineer during the remainder of Expedition 39, taking over as commander of Expedition 40 when Wakata, Mastracchio and Tyurin depart in May.
Serving as commander means "looking more at the big picture, you know, how we're going to operate as a team," Swanson said. "And then also just the consumables on board, how much oxygen, water, how all that works, keeping all that in mind and just kind of knowing what the ground is always thinking of."
"I think that's kind of your job (as commander), just to be part of that whole, big team, and have that interface with the ground to make sure it's going smoothly."
Swanson is a computer software expert who consider himself a scientist-engineer. He said he's particularly looking forward to operating a wide variety of experiments during his stay aboard the station.
"We have over 170 experiments going on, we've been trained in a lot of them," he said. "They vary, of course, to ones we don't even touch, to ones that we are the technical operator on but we don't do anything but start them up and get them set to go. And there are ones we are the actual subjects for.
"For me, the ones I'm most interested in are the ones that I'm doing. Those have to do with ocular health, what happens to your eyesight (in microgravity) and, of course, also working on muscle atrophy and bone loss."
During the course of their stay aboard the station, Skvortsov, Artemyev and Swanson will oversee the arrival of three uncrewed supply ships -- one Russian Progress, an Orbital Sciences Cygnus and a SpaceX Dragon capsule.
Two Russian spacewalks are planned during Expedition 40, along with two and possibly three U.S. excursions. The details are still be ironed out, but Swanson is expected to participate.
"I've done four so far (during the shuttle program), I've been very privileged, I appreciate that opportunity," Swanson said. "To do it again (will) be great.
"The views are amazing out there. It's hard to describe because it's so different from anything else, but just the idea of going out in your own little space vehicle and working on the station, making it better, and also just relaxing and seeing the whole Earth below you is a fantastic thing."
Artemyev, the only rookie in the Soyuz TMA-12M crew, said he was eager to experience all aspects of spaceflight, especially getting a chance to live and work in the Russian Zvezda command module, which he helped build.
"I've been preparing for this mission for 11 years now," he said. "Now, I'm like that horse leaving the stable who really wants to race! So I'm interested in everything that I will be doing in my new home. ... I'm anticipating seeing the service module in person, because that's the module I was working on when I was an engineer at RSC Energia."
Asked what he might miss during his stay in space, Artemyev said "I can tell you for sure that the part we all miss the most is our family and being far away from family and friends and loved ones."
"That's the hardest thing we do, the feeling that you cannot be with your family or, God forbid, if something happens, you cannot do something for them, you cannot be by their side," he said. "That's the hardest thing by far."
Skvortsov, Swanson and Artemyev are scheduled to return to Earth on Sept. 11. Their replacements -- Barry Wilmore, Alexander Samokutyaev and Elena Serova -- are scheduled for launch Sept. 26. They will join Suraev, Gerst and Wiseman as part of the Expedition 41 crew.
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Soyuz TMA-12M commander Alexander Skvortsov, left, and flight engineer Oleg Artemyev, right, monitor cockpit displays during the climb to space. NASA astronaut Steven Swanson is out of view to Skvortsov's right. (Credit: NASA TV)
Quelle:CBS
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Update: 12.00 MEZ
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BAIKONUR, March 26. /Docking of piloted spaceship Soyuz with the International Space Station (ISS) scheduled for 7.04am Moscow time (3.04am GMT) on Wednesday is delayed for two days due to deviation in attitude control system, head of Russian space agency Roscosmos Oleg Ostapenko told reporters on Wednesday.
Soyuz manned spaceship launched from Baikonur
“Docking of the spaceship with the ISS will be made according to a two-day rendezvous program. This decision is caused by some problems in operation of attitude control system,” he said.
“There is nothing extraordinary,” he noted, adding that docking is planned in the morning on March 28 as of now.
Operations in the first stage of orbiting spaceship Soyuz TMA-12M were carried out as scheduled, the crew is on a flight according to the scheduled program presently, the Roscosmos chief said. “Health of crew is good, parameters of living environment are normal. The crewmembers took off spacesuits and continue the fight in planned mode,” he said.
In reply to the question whether current situation would affect dockings in the future Ostapenko assured reporters that future piloted spaceships Soyuz would dock with the ISS according to a six-hour scheme.
“In any action and not only in the space, but also on the Earth, moreover, in the space, we always consider issues of redundancy in all actions, this is a normal situation, this should be so in everything,” the Roscosmos head said.
“The scheme that exists is practiced and we will fulfill future actions on piloted space program within it,” he noted.
For his part, head of the Cosmonaut Training Centre Sergey Krikalev also assured reporters that nothing “awful happened”, as cosmonauts were feeling well and were working according to the plan. “We have just passed from one scheduled scheme to another one,” he said.
In his words, the crew shifts to standby docking system in case of any even slightest malfunctions, should this be some breakdown of any system or even crew’s failure to go into a communication session with the Earth. Food, fuel and oxygen stocks onboard the spaceship is available for a two-day docking scheme with the orbital station.
Quelle: ITAR TASS
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Update: 27.03.2014
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Soyuz TMA-12M final trajectory correction to take place this night

The Soyuz TMA-12M spaceship with a Russian-American crew will carry out a third, and final, trajectory correction this night in order to ensure its successful docking with the International Space Station (ISS) on March 28, the Mission Control Centre said on Wednesday, March 26.
Trajectory correction manoeuvres will be executed using the spaceship’s engines. “Two such manoeuvres were made today successfully. A third one will take place this night. It will be the final one,” the Centre said.
“All manoeuvres are executed automatically. They will not be needed when the ship comes close to the station and the Kurs rendezvous and docking system takes over. It will dock the ship in automatic mode,” the Centre said.
The Soyuz carrier rocket with the spaceship Soyuz TMA-12M carrying a new resident crew to the ISS blasted off from Baikonur at 01:17 Moscow time. Alexander Skvortsov and Oleg Artemyev of Russia, and Steven Swanson of NASA will work aboard the ISS for about five months.
The ship was initially supposed to dock with the ISS in six hours after the liftoff, at 07:04 Moscow time. However the docking was postponed and the ship was sent on a two-day rendezvous manoeuvre.
A two-day delay in the docking of the Soyuz TMA-12M spaceship with the International Space Station (ISS) might have been necessitated by additional system checks, a space industry expert told ITAR-TASS on Wednesday, March 26.
“The docking might have been delayed because there was no certainty that everything was going smoothly. It might have been stopped for additional system checks. No one wants to put people aboard the ship at risk,” the official said. “It may not necessarily have been some malfunction, but this may have raised some suspicions among specialists. If they are not certain, they will delay [the docking],” the expert said.
He noted that a ship was usually taken to orbit automatically, with the Mission Control Centre specialists monitoring the parameters. “Some of the specialists might not have liked the ship orientation parameters. After that the Centre cancelled the third command to the Soyuz thrust engine. Otherwise, if the command had been given to the disoriented craft, it could have been propelled into the wrong orbit,” the expert said.
He stressed that the crew would have been brought back to earth in case of real danger.
The Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos) will finish the investigation into the malfunction of the Soyuz TMA-12M spaceship’s attitude control system on March 27, an informed source told ITAR-TASS.
The switchback from the fast-track six-hour rendezvous with the International Space Station (ISS) to the standard two-day procedure has been preliminarily blamed on a software hitch as a result of which the engines were not ignited the third time. “This is the main lead,” the source said, adding that the ship was scheduled to dock with the ISS at about 04:00 Moscow time on March 28.
Soyuz is now on the way to the ISS. The crewmembers are feeling well and busy doing their routine work, Mission Control Centre Head Sergei Krikalev said. They have enough water and food, and the ship has a sufficient supply of fuel to make a two-day flight before docking with the ISS where they are awaited by Mikhail Tyurin of Russia, Koichi Wakata of Japan, and Richard Mastracchio of NASA.
Quelle: ITAR TASS


2458 Views

Donnerstag, 27. März 2014 - 07:48 Uhr

Astronomie - Eisiger Asteroid Chariklo hat Ringsystem

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An artist's impression of how the rings might look from the surface of Chariklo
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The asteroid Chariklo has been confirmed as the smallest object in the Solar System to display a ring system.
Encircling bands of material are more usually associated with the giant planets, such as Saturn and Uranus.
Chariklo may be just 250km wide but observations made when it passed in front of a distant star reveal the presence of two distinct rings.
Astronomers tell the journal Nature that the rings are 7km and 3km wide, separated by a clear gap of 9km.
They probably comprise ice particles and perhaps small fragments of rock.
"Our best guess for the origin of the rings is that there was a collision on Chariklo and that this collision injected a disc of material around the body," Bruno Sicardy, from the Paris Observatory, France, told BBC News.
Even the Earth may have had such bands early in its history if our theory for the Moon's formation is correct.
This describes an impact that threw material into the sky that then encircled the globe before eventually coalescing into the planet's familiar satellite.
Icy Chariklo, too, may have experienced such a bombardment, but the rings in this case are unlikely to form a moon.
"The rings are very nearby and there are forces called tides, and every time the particles try to accrete and form a satellite, the tidal forces will disrupt them," explained Prof Sicardy. "The fact that they are so close to Chariklo will maintain them as rings."
Chariklo is technically known as a centaur. Like the mythical creature of the same name, it exhibits a half-way character, having the traits of an asteroid but also looking very comet-like.
Today, Chariklo moves beyond the orbit of Saturn. However, it is very probable that it formed much further out in the Solar System and was then perturbed inwards.
The observations that led to the rings' detection were carried out on 3 June 2013 using seven telescopes sited in South America.
Scientists had worked out that Chariklo would pass in front of the star called UCAC4 248-108672 and were therefore able to coordinate the various facilities.
The occultation, as it is known, lasted just five seconds.
Nonetheless, the researchers were able to use the event to better describe the size and shape of Chariklo, as well as pick out the surprising rings.
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This visualisation gives a sense of the size of Chariklo's rings compared to the asteroid itself
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Quelle: BBC

558 Views

Mittwoch, 26. März 2014 - 22:33 Uhr

Luftfahrt - X-43A Scramjet Hypersonic Rekord vor einem Jahrzehnt

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The second X-43A hypersonic research aircraft and its modified Pegasus booster rocket accelerate into the stratosphere after launch from NASA's B-52B launch aircraft over the Pacific Ocean on March 27, 2004

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On March 27, 2004, NASA’s X-43A shattered existing speed records for aircraft with air-breathing engines when the scramjet-powered vehicle reached a speed of Mach 6.83 (4,900 mph) during a brief flight over the Pacific Ocean. The record speed was more than twice as fast as the SR-71 Blackbird, which could cruise at Mach 3.32 (2,193 mph), and bested even the rocket-powered X-15A-2, which reached Mach 6.7 (4,520 mph) in October 1967.

Perhaps most significant, this was the first time a scramjet engine – a ramjet configuration that allows supersonic airflow through the combustion chamber – was used to accelerate a vehicle in flight.
Having exhausted its small amount of hydrogen fuel, the autonomously operated X-43A, a subscale craft with no onboard crew, performed a series of maneuvers that collected hypersonic aerodynamic data that was telemetered back to a control room at what was then NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center. Finally, the X-43A plummeted into a planned impact zone within the Pacific Missile Test Range. Researchers from both Dryden and NASA’s Langley Research Center, Hampton, Va., eagerly studied this data and compared it with predictive models in the ensuring months.
The flight was part of an ambitious program to advance research in high-speed air-breathing propulsion technologies from laboratory experiments to flight test. The multi-year effort, called Hyper-X, was aimed at conducting flight research in the hypersonic speed regime – above Mach 5, or more than 3,600 mph.
Brad Neal served as lead operations engineer for the program at NASA Dryden, recently renamed in honor of former astronaut and flight research pilot Neil A. Armstrong. Now chief engineer at NASA Armstrong, Neal looks back at the Hyper-X achievements with pride.
“It was the first demonstration of an integrated scramjet in atmospheric flight,” he recalled. “Nothing like that had ever been attempted before.”
An earlier flight in June 2001 was cut short due to a malfunction of the booster rocket used to propel the craft to scramjet ignition speeds. Following the successful second flight, a third and final test of the X-43A on November 16, 2004, achieved a new record speed of Mach 9.68 (6,600 mph).
oel Sitz, currently Deputy Associate Director for Programs at NASA Armstrong, managed flight-testing of the X-43A from July 1998 to December 2004.
"The successful Hyper-X flights were the aeronautical equivalent of landing on the moon,” he said. “We had to overcome tremendous technical and operational challenges.”
Sitz believes the Hyper-X accomplishments have opened up the hypersonic frontier.
“Scramjets have now been proven to work and turbine technology is maturing with materials designed to withstand temperatures at Mach 4, the transition region for converting to ramjet or scramjet propulsion through Mach 10 and beyond,” Sitz noted. A turbine-based, combined-cycle propulsion system could be used to power an aerospace vehicle capable of taking off and landing on a conventional runway, potentially lowering launch costs while increasing mission flexibility. Developing and testing such a system would be a significant scientific and engineering challenge.
“We need to integrate all these propulsion cycles and see what can be discovered,” he concluded.
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Ground crewman perform final closeout checks on the second X-43A hypersonic research vehicle mounted on its Pegasus booster rocket adapter under the right wing of the NB-52B launch aircraft prior to its record-breaking Mach 7 flight.
Image Credit: NASA / Tony Landis
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Hyper-X personnel in a control room await the launch of the X-43A. Front row from left: Randy Voland, LaRC Propulsion; Craig Christy, Boeing Systems; Dave Reubush, NASA Hyper-X Deputy Program Manager; and Vince Rausch, NASA Hyper-X Program Manager.
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A modified Pegasus booster rocket ignites moments after release from the B-52B, beginning the acceleration of the X-43A over the Pacific Ocean in March of 2004. The X-43A vehicle is mounted on the nose of the rocket.
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X-43A Flight Makes Aviation History
NASA made aviation history with the first and second successful flights of a scramjet-powered airplane at hypersonic speeds - speeds greater than Mach 5 or five times the speed of sound. Compared to a rocket-powered vehicle like the Space Shuttle, scramjet (supersonic combustion ramjet) powered vehicles promise more airplane-like operations for increased affordability, flexibility and safety for ultra high-speed flights within the atmosphere and into Earth orbit. Because they do not have to carry their own oxidizer, as rockets must, vehicles powered by air-breathing scramjets can be smaller and lighter - or be the same size and carry more payload.
Researchers have worked for decades to demonstrate scramjet technologies, first in wind tunnels and computer simulations, and now in an airplane in flight. Ultimate applications include future hypersonic missiles, hypersonic airplanes, the first stage of two-stage-to-orbit reusable launch vehicles and single-stage-to-orbit reusable launch vehicles.
High-Risk, High-Payoff Program
The eight-year, approximately $230 million NASA Hyper-X program was a high-risk, high-payoff research program. It undertook challenges never before attempted. No vehicle powered by an air-breathing engine had ever flown at hypersonic speeds before the successful March 2004 flight. In addition, the rocket boost and subsequent separation from the rocket to get to the scramjet test condition had complex elements that had to work properly for mission success. Careful analyses and design were applied to reduce risks to acceptable levels; even so, some level of residual risk was inherent to the program.
Hyper-X research began with conceptual design and wind tunnel work in 1996. Three unpiloted X-43A research aircraft were built. Each of the 12-foot-long, 5-foot-wide lifting body vehicles was designed to fly once and not be recovered. They are identical in appearance, but engineered with slight differences that simulate variable engine geometry, generally a function of Mach number. The first and second vehicles were designed to fly at Mach 7 and the third at Mach 10. At these speeds, the shape of the vehicle forebody served the same purpose as pistons in a car, compressing the air as fuel is injected for combustion. Gaseous hydrogen fueled the X-43A.
The Record-Breaking Flight
After the first flight attempt in June of 2001 failed when the booster rocket went out of control, the second and third attempts resulted in highly successful, record-breaking flights. Mach 6.8 was reached in March of 2004, and Mach 9.6 was reached in the final flight in November of 2004.
At nearly 5,000 mph, the March flight easily broke the previous world speed record for a jet-powered (air breathing) vehicle. The X-43A research vehicle was boosted to 95,000 feet for a brief preprogrammed engine burn at nearly Mach 7, or seven times the speed of sound. During its third and final flight - at nearly Mach 10 - the X-43A research vehicle flew at approximately 7,000 mph at 110,000 feet altitude, setting the current world speed record for an air-breathing vehicle.
The Mach 10 research vehicle featured additional thermal protection, since expected heating was roughly twice that experienced by the Mach 7 vehicle. Carbon-carbon composite material, for instance, was added to the leading edges of the vehicle's vertical fins to handle the higher temperatures.
Both flights began with the stack being carried by a B-52B aircraft from NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center to a predetermined point over the Pacific Ocean, 50 miles west of the Southern California coast. Release altitude from the B-52B was 40,000 feet for both successful flights. At that point, each stack was dropped from the B-52B, and the booster lifted each research vehicle to its unique test altitude and speed.
Other than differences of altitude, speed and distance covered, the Mach 10 flight profile followed that of the Mach 7 flight: The Mach 10 research vehicle separated from the booster and flew under its own power and preprogrammed control. It was separated from the booster rocket by two small pistons. Shortly after separation, its scramjet engine operated for about ten seconds obtaining large amounts of unique flight data for an airframe-integrated scramjet. The engine thrust was very close to its design value in each flight - sufficient to accelerate the vehicle during the Mach 7 flight and to allow the vehicle to cruise at constant velocity in the Mach 10 flight.
In each case, when the scramjet engine test was complete, the vehicle went into a high-speed maneuvering glide and collected nearly ten minutes of hypersonic aerodynamic data while flying to a mission completion point, hundreds of miles due west (450 miles at Mach 7, 850 miles at Mach 10) in the Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division Sea Range off the southern coast of California. Each vehicle splashed into the ocean, as planned, and was not recovered.
Guinness World Records has recognized both the Mach 6.8 and Mach 9.6 accomplishments and has listed the flights on their web site and in the 2006 edition of their book of records. Prior to the 2004 X-43A flights, the previous record was held by a ramjet-powered missile that achieved slightly over Mach 5. The highest speed attained by a rocket-powered airplane, NASA's X-15 aircraft, was Mach 6.7. The fastest air-breathing, crewed vehicle, the SR-71 achieved slightly over Mach 3. The X-43A more than doubled the top speed of the jet-powered SR-71.
2001 Flight and Investigation
The first flight attempt of the X-43A was in June of 2001. Unfortunately, the booster failed and had to be destroyed early in flight. As a result, the research vehicle was not tested because it never reached test conditions. Although no single contributing factor was found, the root cause of the problem was identified as the booster's flight control system. The booster failed due to inaccurate design models that overestimated the capability of the flight control system to operate within predicted flight conditions.
The Hyper-X program has significantly expanded the boundaries of air-breathing flight by being the first to fly a "scramjet" powered aircraft at hypersonic speeds. Numerous actions were taken in response to the findings. Wind tunnel tests were conducted to provide data to reduce atmospheric loads on the booster's control surfaces, more powerful booster fin actuators were added to overcome aerodynamic loads, and propellant was machined out of the Pegasus booster to enable launch at its normal launch altitude of 40,000 feet instead of 23,000 feet - as on the first flight - in order to reduce aerodynamic loads.
How Scramjets Work
A ramjet operates by subsonic combustion of fuel in a stream of air compressed by the forward speed of the aircraft itself, as opposed to a normal jet engine, in which the compressor section (the fan blades) compresses the air. Ramjets operate from about Mach 3 to Mach 6.
A scramjet (supersonic-combustion ramjet) is a ramjet engine in which the airflow through the engine remains supersonic. Scramjets powered vehicles are envisioned to operate at speeds up to at least Mach 15. Ground tests of scramjet combustors have shown this potential, but no flight tests have surpassed the Mach 9.6 X-43A flight. See illustration below.
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Image above: This simplified graphic illustrates how air and fuel mix at supersonic speeds inside a scramjet engine to propel the vehicle to many times the speed of sound. Supersonic speeds are greater than the speed of sound.
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Langley and Dryden - A Joint Effort
The Hyper-X Program, managed by the Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate in Washington, was conducted jointly by the Langley Research Center, Hampton, VA, and the Dryden Flight Research Center, Edwards, CA. Langley was lead center, responsible for hypersonic technology development. Dryden was responsible for flight research, hardware integration, and testing.
NASA's Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate develops tools and technologies that can help transform how the air transportation system operates, how new aircraft are designed and manufactured, and how our Nation's air transportation system can reach unparalleled levels of safety.
ATK GASL (formerly MicroCraft, Inc.), Tullahoma, TN and Ronkonkoma, NY, built the three X-43A research aircraft and engines. Boeing Phantom Works, Huntington Beach, CA, designed the thermal protection and onboard systems. The booster was a modified Pegasus rocket built by Orbital Sciences Corp., Chandler, AZ.
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Quelle: NASA

2658 Views

Mittwoch, 26. März 2014 - 22:21 Uhr

Astronomie - NASA unterstützt Forschung welche den Rand des Sonnensystems neu definiert

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These images show the discovery of 2012 VP113 taken about 2 hours apart on Nov. 5, 2012. The motion of 2012 VP113 stands out compared to the steady state background of stars and galaxies.

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The solar system has a new most-distant family member.
Scientists using ground based observatories have discovered an object that is believed to have the most distant orbit found beyond the known edge of our solar system. Named 2012 VP113, the observations of the object -- possibly a dwarf planet -- were obtained and analyzed with a grant from NASA. A dwarf planet is an object in orbit around the sun that is large enough to have its own gravity pull itself into a spherical, or nearly round, shape. 
The detailed findings are published in the March 27 edition of Nature.
“This discovery adds the most distant address thus far to our solar system’s dynamic neighborhood map,” said Kelly Fast, discipline scientist for NASA's Planetary Astronomy Program, Science Mission Directorate (SMD) at NASA Headquarters, Washington. “While the very existence of the inner Oort Cloud is only a working hypothesis, this finding could help answer how it may have formed.”
The observations and analysis were led and coordinated by Chadwick Trujillo of the Gemini Observatory in Hawaii and Scott Sheppard of the Carnegie Institution in Washington. They used the National Optical Astronomy Observatory’s 13-foot   (4-meter) telescope in Chile to discover 2012 VP113. The telescope is operated by the Foundation of Universities for Research in Astronomy, under contract with the National Science Foundation. The Magellan 21-foot (6.5-meter) telescope at Carnegie’s Las Campanas Observatory in Chile was used to determine the orbit of 2012 VP113 and obtain detailed information about its surface properties. 
“The discovery of 2012 VP113 shows us that the outer reaches of our solar system are not an empty wasteland as once was thought,” said Trujillo, lead author and astronomer. “Instead, this is just the tip of the iceberg telling us that there are many inner Oort Cloud bodies awaiting discovery.  It also illustrates how little we know about the most distant parts of our solar system and how much there is left to explore.”
Our known solar system consists of the rocky planets like Earth, which are close to the sun; the gas giant planets, which are further out; and the frozen objects of the Kuiper belt, which lie just beyond Neptune's orbit. Beyond this, there appears to be an edge to the solar system where only one object somewhat smaller than Pluto, Sedna, was previously known to inhabit for its entire orbit. But the newly found 2012 VP113 has an orbit that stays even beyond Sedna, making it the furthest known in the solar system.
Sedna was discovered beyond the Kuiper Belt edge in 2003, and it was not known if Sedna was unique, as Pluto once was thought to be before the Kuiper Belt was discovered in 1992.  With the discovery of 2012 VP113, Sedna is not unique, and 2012 VP113 is likely the second known member of the hypothesized inner Oort cloud.  The outer Oort cloud is the likely origin of some comets.
“The search for these distant inner Oort cloud objects beyond Sedna and 2012 VP113 should continue, as they could tell us a lot about how our solar system formed and evolved," says Sheppard.
Sheppard and Trujillo determine that about 900 objects with orbits like Sedna and 2012 VP113 with sizes larger than 621 miles (1000 km) may exist.  2012 VP113 is likely one of hundreds of thousands of distant objects that inhabit the region in our solar system scientists refer to as the inner Oort cloud.  The total population of the inner Oort cloud is likely bigger than that of the Kuiper Belt and main asteroid belt. 
“Some of these inner Oort cloud objects could rival the size of Mars or even Earth,” said Sheppard. This is because many of the inner Oort cloud objects are so distant that even very large ones would be too faint to detect with current technology.”
2012 VP113’s closest orbit point to the sun brings it to about 80 times the distance of the Earth from the sun, a measurement referred to as an astronomical unit or AU. The rocky planets and asteroids exist at distances ranging between .39 and 4.2 AU. Gas giants are found between 5 and 30 AU, and the Kuiper belt (composed of hundreds of thousands of icy objects, including Pluto) ranges from 30 to 50 AU.  In our solar system there is a distinct edge at 50 AU. Until 2012 VP113 was discovered, only Sedna, with a closest approach to the Sun of 76 AU, was known to stay significantly beyond this outer boundary for its entire orbit. 
Both Sedna and 2012 VP113 were found near their closest approach to the sun, but they both have orbits that go out to hundreds of AU, at which point they would be too faint to discover.  The similarity in the orbits found for Sedna, 2012 VP113 and a few other objects near the edge of the Kuiper Belt suggests the new object’s orbit might be influenced by the potential presence of a yet unseen planet perhaps up to 10 times the size of Earth.  Further studies of this deep space arena will continue.
Quelle: NASA

2559 Views

Mittwoch, 26. März 2014 - 12:10 Uhr

Planet Erde - Erste Bilder von NASA-JAXA Global Rain and Snowfall GPM-Satelliten

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3D view inside an extra-tropical cyclone observed off the coast of Japan, March 10, 2014, by GPM's Dual-frequency Precipitation Radar. The vertical cross-section approx. 4.4 mi (7 km) high show rain rates: red areas indicate heavy rainfall while yellow and blue indicate less intense rainfall.
Image Credit: JAXA/NASA

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NASA and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) have released the first images captured by their newest Earth-observing satellite, the Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) Core Observatory, which launched into space Feb. 27.
The images show precipitation falling inside a March 10 cyclone over the northwest Pacific Ocean, approximately 1,000 miles east of Japan. The data were collected by the GPM Core Observatory's two instruments: JAXA's Dual-frequency Precipitation Radar (DPR), which imaged a three-dimensional cross-section of the storm; and, NASA's GPM Microwave Imager (GMI), which observed precipitation across a broad swath.
"It was really exciting to see this high-quality GPM data for the first time," said GPM project scientist Gail Skofronick-Jackson at NASA's Goddard Spaceflight Center in Greenbelt, Md. "I knew we had entered a new era in measuring precipitation from space. We now can measure global precipitation of all types, from light drizzle to heavy downpours to falling snow."
The satellite's capabilities are apparent in the first images of the cyclone. Cyclones such as the one imaged -- an extra-tropical cyclone -- occur when masses of warm air collide with masses of cold air north or south of the tropics. These storm systems can produce rain, snow, ice, high winds, and other severe weather. In these first images, the warm front ahead of the cyclone shows a broad area of precipitation -- in this case, rain -- with a narrower band of precipitation associated with the cold front trailing to the southwest. Snow is seen falling in the northern reaches of the storm.
The GMI instrument has 13 channels that measure natural energy radiated by Earth's surface and also by precipitation itself. Liquid raindrops and ice particles affect the microwave energy differently, so each channel is sensitive to a different precipitation type. With the addition of four new channels, the GPM Core Observatory is the first spacecraft designed to detect light rain and snowfall from space.
In addition to seeing all types of rain, GMI's technological advancements allow the instrument to identify rain structures as small as about 3 to 9 miles (5 to 15 kilometers) across. This higher resolution is a significant improvement over the capability of an earlier instrument flown on the Tropical Rainfall Measurement Mission in 1997.
"You can clearly see them in the GMI data because the resolution is that much better," said Skofronick-Jackson.
The DPR instrument adds another dimension to the observations that puts the data into high relief. The radar sends signals that bounce off the raindrops and snowflakes to reveal the 3D structure of the entire storm. Like GMI, its two frequencies are sensitive to different rain and snow particle sizes. One frequency senses heavy and moderate rain. A new, second radar frequency is sensitive to lighter rainfall and snowfall.
"Both return independent measurements of the size of raindrops or snowflakes and how they are distributed within the weather system," said DPR scientist Bob Meneghini at Goddard. "DPR allows scientists to see at what height different types of rain and snow or a mixture occur -- details that show what is happening inside sometimes complicated storm systems."
The DPR data, combined with data from GMI, also contribute to more accurate rain estimates. Scientists use the data from both instruments to calculate the rain rate, which is how much rain or snow falls to Earth. Rain rate is one of the Core Observatory's essential measurements for understanding where water is on Earth and where it's going.
"All this new information comes together to help us better understand how fresh water moves through Earth's system and contributes to things like floods and droughts," said Skofronick-Jackson.
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The Dual-frequency Precipitation Radar observes rainfall and snowfall that occurs within clouds in three dimensions, across the surface of Earth and upward into the atmosphere. An extra-tropical cyclone was observed over the northwest Pacific Ocean off the coast of Japan on March 10, 2014.
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An extra-tropical cyclone seen off the coast of Japan, March 10, 2014, by the GPM Microwave Imager. The colors show the rain rate: red areas indicate heavy rainfall, while yellow and blue indicate less intense rainfall. The upper left blue areas indicate falling snow.
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On March 10 the Core Observatory passed over an extra-tropical cyclone about 1,055 miles (1,700 km) east of Japan's Honshu Island. Formed when a cold air mass wrapped around a warm air mass near Okinawa on March 8, it moved NE drawing cold air over Japan before weakening over the North Pacific.
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Quelle: NASA

2647 Views

Mittwoch, 26. März 2014 - 00:05 Uhr

Raumfahrt - LIVE - Start von ISS-Crew 39/40 auf Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan

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21.02.2014

Steven Swanson, Alexander Skvortsov and Oleg Artemyev

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A state medical commission approved the Russian members Thursday of a new expedition to the International Space Station ahead of the launch on March 26, Russia’s space agency Roscosmos said. 
The main crew of Expedition 39/40 comprises Russian cosmonauts Alexander Skvortsov and Oleg Artemyev as well as NASA astronaut Steven Swanson. The backup crew includes Russian cosmonauts Alexander Samokutyayev and Yelena Serova, and NASA astronaut Christopher Cassidy.
Roscosmos said the commission had found the Russian members of both crews physically fit and ready to carry out the six-month mission on board the ISS.
The new crew will replace members of Expedition 37/38 – Russian cosmonauts Oleg Kotov, Sergei Ryazansky and NASA astronaut Michael Hopkins – who are expected to return to Earth on March 12.
Quelle: RIA NOVOSTI
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Update: 8.03.2014
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NASA Astronaut Barry Wilmore Signs Commemorative Book

JSC2014-E-024973 (6 March 2014) --- At the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center in Star City, Russia, Expedition 39/40 backup Flight Engineer Barry Wilmore of NASA (front, left) signs a commemorative book at the center’s museum March 6 as his backup crewmates, Alexander Samokutyaev of Roscosmos (front, center) and Elena Serova of Roscosmos (front, right) look on. Also participating in the back row were prime crew members Steve Swanson of NASA (back, left), Alexander Skvortsov of Roscosmos (back, center) and Oleg Artemyev of Roscosmos (back, right). Swanson, Skvortsov and Artemyev are preparing for their launch to the International Space Station from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan March 26, Kazakh time, in their Soyuz TMA-12M spacecraft for a six-month mission. Photo credit: NASA

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Expedition 39/40 Cake-Cutting Ceremony

JSC2014-E-009481 (21 Jan. 2014) --- This is a close-up view of the Expedition 40 and Soyuz 38 cakes honoring the training staff and Expedition 39/40 crew during a cake-cutting ceremony in the Jake Garn Simulation and Training Facility at NASA's Johnson Space Center. The crew members are NASA astronaut Steve Swanson, Expedition 39 flight engineer and Expedition 40 commander; Russian cosmonauts Alexander Skvortsov and Oleg Artemyev, both Expedition 39/40 flight engineers. Photo credit: NASA

Quelle: NASA

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Update: 20.03.2014

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Image above: Expedition 39 crew members take a break from training at NASA's Johnson Space Center to pose for a crew portrait. Pictured on the front row are Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) astronaut Koichi Wakata (right), commander; and NASA astronaut Steve Swanson, flight engineer. Pictured from the left (back row) are Russian cosmonauts Oleg Artemyev, Alexander Skvortsov, Mikhail Tyurin and NASA astronaut Rick Mastracchio, all flight engineers. Photo credit: NASA

NASA astronaut Steve Swanson takes a turn on a tilt table as part of his conditioning in preparation for launch to the International Space Station with his Expedition 30/40 crewmates.
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On the Russian side of the complex, Flight Engineer Mikhail Tyurin cleaned ventilation screens and conducted routine maintenance on the life-support system in the Zvezda service module.
Tyurin also performed the Seiner ocean-observation study, documenting color blooms in the oceans’ waters for the fishing industry.
Meanwhile at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, the three flight engineers who will return the station to its full six-person crew complement are in the homestretch of preparations for Monday’s launch aboard the Soyuz TMA-12M spacecraft. NASA astronaut Steve Swanson and Russian cosmonauts Alexander Skvortsov and Oleg Artemyev rehearsed rendezvous procedures on a laptop simulator Wednesday and continued physical conditioning for their flight. The trio is scheduled to launch from Baikonur at 5:17 p.m. EDT Monday (3:17 a.m. Tuesday, Kazakh time) and dock to the Poisk mini-research module at 11:04 p.m. NASA Television will provide live coverage of all the events, including the hatch opening at 12:45 a.m. Tuesday.
Quelle: NASA

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Update: 21.03.2014

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New Station Crew Wrapping Up Training for Launch

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Three new Expedition 39 crew members wrapped up training Friday at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan as they prepare for next week’s launch to join Commander Koichi Wakata and Flight Engineers Rick Mastracchio and Mikhail Tyurin aboard the International Space Station.

NASA astronaut Steve Swanson and Russian cosmonauts Alexander Skvortsov and Oleg Artemyev inspected the Soyuz TMA-12M that will carry them on an express, six-hour journey to the station on Tuesday. The trio checked out the seats and the interior configuration of the Soyuz in advance of its being mated with its third stage booster and rolled out to the launch pad.

The Soyuz carrying Swanson, Skvortsov and Artemyev is scheduled to lift off from Baikonur at 5:17 p.m. EDT Tuesday (3:17 a.m. Wednesday, Kazakh time) and dock to the Poisk mini-research module at 11:04 p.m. NASA Television will provide live coverage of all the events, including the hatch opening planned for 12:45 a.m. Wednesday.

Quelle: NASA

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Update: 24.03.2014

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Rocket Soyuz with piloted spaceship put on Baikonur launching pad

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Russian rocket Soyuz with a piloted spaceship was put on a launching pad at spaceport Baikonur on Sunday morning.
“Delivery and putting of rocket Soyuz-FG with docked piloted spaceship Soyuz TMA-07M passed as scheduled,” an official of Russian space agency Roscosmos said at the southern Russian spaceport. “The gates of an operations and checkout facility opened at 7am local time (1am GMT) on Sunday according to years-long tradition,” the space official said.
A train convoyed by police has brought slowly rocket Soyuz-FG with docked spaceship Soyuz TMA-12M to the launching pad. Logotypes of Roscosmos, Russian aerospace corporation Energia and the national flags of Russia and the United States are placed on the rocket.
After the placement of the rocket on the launching pad launch teams started works according to the plan of the first day of pre-launch operations. 
On Wednesday, March 26, the crew of next long-term ISS-39/40 expedition is to fly to the International Space Station (ISS) for an orbital mission onboard this spaceship. The rocket is to be launched at 1.17am Moscow time on Wednesday (9.17pm GMT on Tuesday). For the days before the launch specialists will conduct final checks of the rocket with manned spaceship Soyuz TMA-12M docked to it and will fuel the booster.
Roscosmos cosmonauts Alexander Skvortsov, Oleg Artemyev and NASA astronaut Steven Swanson will be first to fly to the ISS this year. However, their substitute crewmembers Alexander Samokutyaev, Yelena Serova and NASA astronaut Barry Wilmore will be on standby until the very launch.
Quelle: ITAR TASS

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Expedition 39 Soyuz Rollout
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The sun rises behind the Soyuz launch pad shortly before the Soyuz TMA-12M spacecraft is rolled out by train to the launch pad at the Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan, Sunday, March, 23, 2014. Launch of the Soyuz rocket is scheduled for March 26 (5:17 p.m. U.S. EDT on March 25) and will send Expedition 39 Soyuz Commander Alexander Skvortsov of the Russian Federal Space Agency, Roscosmos, Flight Engineer Steven Swanson of NASA, and Flight Engineer Oleg Artemyev of Roscosmos on a six-month mission aboard the International Space Station.
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Quelle: NASA

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Update: 25.03.2014 

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Soyuz TMA-12M Crew Ready for Six-Hour Fast Ride to Space Station

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Three new crew members—including a hot chili sauce lover from Moscow, a computer scientist from Colorado, and a Latvian engineer who studied in today’s Estonia and once served with the Soviet Army in Lithuania—will rocket toward the International Space Station (ISS) tomorrow, completing the second half of the six-man Expedition 39 and laying the groundwork for Expedition 40, which will run the outpost throughout the summer. Soyuz TMA-12M is scheduled to launch from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 3:17 a.m. local time Wednesday, 26 March (5:17 p.m. EDT Tuesday, 25 March), carrying Russian cosmonauts Aleksandr Skvortsov and Oleg Artemyev and NASA astronaut Steve Swanson. With three previous space missions between them, a cumulative 203 days in orbit and experience of four past spacewalks, they have the right skills for a busy six months aboard the ISS.
The prime crew and their backups—Russian cosmonauts Aleksandr Samokutyayev and Yelena Serova and NASA astronaut Barry Wilmore—completed their final exams inside the Soyuz simulator earlier this month. Both crews reportedly achieved “Excellent” scores. The two crews left the cosmonauts’ training center in Star City, on the forested outskirts of Moscow, and arrived at Baikonur on 13 March to begin preparations for launch, which included familiarization sessions in the simulator, checks of documentation, and fitting of their custom-made Sokol launch and entry suits and molded Soyuz seat liners.
Last week, the final checkout of the Soyuz TMA-12M spacecraft was conducted, and on Saturday, 22 March, it was mated with the rocket. On Sunday, following unanimous authorization from technical management, the vehicle was transferred horizontally out to the pad and raised to the vertical. On Tuesday, clad in their Sokol suits, Skvortsov, Artemyev, and Swanson will arrive at the pad and be helped into their seats aboard Soyuz TMA-12M. Following final checks, Commander Skvortsov’s controls will be activated and the three men will be instructed to close their visors. Internal avionics will be initiated and the on-board flight recorders spooled up to monitor the myriad systems.
Inside the control bunker, the “launch key” will be inserted at T-5 minutes, effectively enabling the ordnance to support Soyuz TMA-12M’s ascent to orbit, and the final phase of the countdown will include the completion of nitrogen purging, the pressurization of propellant tanks, and the topping-off of cryogenics. At T-10 seconds, the turbopumps on the rocket’s central core and its four tapering strap-on boosters will awaken and the engines will steadily build up thrust to full power, producing a retraction of the fueling tower and a liftoff at 3:17 a.m. local time Wednesday (5:17 p.m. EDT Tuesday).
Rising rapidly, the vehicle will pass 1,100 mph (1,770 km/h) within a minute of liftoff, and at T+118 seconds, at an altitude of 28 miles (45 km), the four strap-on boosters will exhaust their propellant and be jettisoned. This will leave the central core and its single RD-108 engine to continue the push toward orbit. By two minutes into the flight, the vehicle will be traveling at more than 3,350 mph (5,390 km/h). The payload shroud and escape tower will be jettisoned shortly afterward, and, some 4 minutes and 58 seconds after leaving Baikonur, the core stage will separate at an altitude of 105 miles (170 km) and the third and final stage will roar to life to boost Skvortsov, Artemyev, and Swanson to a velocity in excess of 13,420 mph (21,600 km/h). By the time the third stage departs the vehicle, nine minutes into the flight, the crew will be in space.
As with the last four crewed ISS missions, Soyuz TMA-12M will follow a “fast rendezvous” profile to reach the space station a mere six hours, and four orbits, after liftoff. Two computer-guided thruster “burns” are scheduled to occur within the first 90-minute orbit of Earth, with several others to follow over the next couple of hours. According to NASA, the spacecraft will dock with the station’s space-facing (or “zenith”) Poisk mini-research module at 11:04 p.m. EDT Tuesday, about five hours and 47 minutes after departing Baikonur. In the aftermath of capture, a complex series of pressure and other checks will be conducted to verify the integrity of the seal between the two space vehicles. Hatch opening is anticipated at 12:45 a.m. EDT Wednesday, almost two hours after docking, and Skvortsov, Artemyev, and Swanson will undoubtedly be engulfed in hugs from the incumbent Expedition 39 crew of Japanese Commander Koichi Wakata, Russian cosmonaut Mikhail Tyurin, and NASA astronaut Rick Mastracchio.
Quelle: AmericaSpace
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Update: 20.00 MEZ

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A new Expedition 39 trio waits at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan for its launch Tuesday night to the International Space Station. The SpaceX Falcon rocket carrying the Dragon commercial cargo craft awaits its launch planned for Sunday evening from Cape Canaveral, Fla.

 

New Flight Engineers Alexander Skvortsov, Steve Swanson and Oleg Artemyev will launch aboard a Soyuz TMA-12M spacecraft at 5:17 p.m. EDT for a six-hour ride to the orbital laboratory. Their rocket rolled out to the launch pad Sunday morning and has been raised into its vertical launch position.
Quelle: NASA
...Weiter geht es ab 21.45 MEZ
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Update: 21.45 MEZ - LIVE-Frams von Start / Quelle: NASA-TV

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Quelle: NASA 

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Update: 26.03.2014

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NASA Astronaut Snaps Soyuz Launch from Orbit


At 5:17 p.m. EDT Tuesday (3:17 a.m. local time, Wednesday), a Soyuz rocket launched from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, sending two Russian cosmonauts and a NASA astronaut on a fast-track ride to the International Space Station.

Quelle: D-News 

 


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