On the 10th April 2014, the 12 country delegates mandated by their governments to decide about the start of site negotiations for CTA met in Munich. They took note of the report of the international Site Selection Committee (SSC) and thanked the members of the SSC as well as the CTA consortium for their extensive inputs on the merits of the proposed sites.. The delegates representing Argentina, Austria, Brazil, France, Germany, Italy, Namibia, Poland, Spain, South Africa, Switzerland and the UK decided, based on the 75% majority required, to start the negotiations on the two sites in the southern hemisphere, namely Aar in Namibia and ESO* in Chile, keeping Leoncito in Argentina as a third option. After negotiations finally one site will be selected at the end of the year. With the selection of the potential telescope sites in the southern hemisphere an important step towards the realization of the international Cherenkov Telescope Array has been made.
As far as the northern site of the CTA Observatory is concerned – candidate sites are located in Mexico, Spain and the USA - further considerations are necessary. Therefore, the delegates decided to postpone their decision and to ask the CTA board of agency representatives – the Resource Board - to take this forward.The decision for the negotiations about the northern hemisphere site will be taken as soon as possible.
“We are very happy that this important step has been reached” said B. Vierkorn-Rudolph, chair of the CTA Resource Board. “CTA will be a unique large-scale infrastructure for astronomy - with this decision we now can start the negotiations with the potential site countries in the southern hemisphere and advance the implementation of CTA”. The spokesperson of the CTA Consortium, Professor Werner Hofmann said “The site choice is on the critical path towards implementing CTA; this decision represents a major step forward and we appreciate very much the engagement and support of the funding agencies and the country delegates involved in the decision”.
CTA – the Cherenkov Telescope Array – is a multinational, world-wide project to construct a unique instrument exploring the cosmos at the highest photon energies. Over 1000 scientists and engineers from 5 continents, 28 countries and over 170 research institutes participate in the CTA project. CTA will provide an order-of-magnitude jump in sensitivity over current instruments, providing novel insights into some of the most extreme processes in the Universe. CTA will consist of over 100 Cherenkov telescopes of 23-m, 12-m and 4-m dish size located at one site in the southern and a smaller site in the northern hemisphere. Potential candidate sites have been identified in the northern and southern hemisphere. Extensive studies of the environmental conditions, simulations of the science performance and assessments of costs of construction were conducted. The Site Selection Committee, composed of international experts in the evaluation of sites for astronomical observatories, has reviewed the studies and provided an independent assessment of the various candidate sites.
WSPG/Navy The first Vanguard fails during the December 1957 launch
As the U.S. Navy struggled to build and launch what they hoped would be Earth's first artificial satellite, White Sands Proving Ground was testing the instruments the satellite would carry.
"A tiny needle in the sky with a thread 126 miles long today put man's first stitch in outer space," The Associated Press reported in 1957, in a story the Alamogordo Daily News published on April 11. "An Aerobee-Hi rocket bearing the instruments such as will be used in the earth satellite soared far over the New Mexico desert probing the fringes of space to pave the way for Project Vanguard."
The package was an aluminum "container about the size of a gallon can" that carried instrumentation to return data, via a radio transmitter, on upper atmospheric temperature, pressure and cosmic rays.
Winds delayed the launch at WSPG for a week, but when finally aloft the instrument package worked well, a follow-up AP story, dated April 12, stated. The only negative seemed to be "some disappointment expressed that the Aerobee hadn't gone higher"; a 1956 launch "with a similar payload (had) reached 164 miles."
The Navy also announced they intended to launch an Aerobee, with similar instrumentation, on April 16, the AP reported.
The U.S. began developing Project Vanguard in 1955. Launch was planned for 1957, early in the International Geophysical Year. Success, however, was initially elusive, and the Soviet Union was soon besting the U.S. in the Cold War-era space race. The Soviets launched the first artificial satellite, Sputnik 1, in October 1957; Sputnik 2 went up in November, carrying a canine.
"Well, we lost that race," Astounding Science Fiction Editor John Campbell declared in a January 1958 editorial. "Russian technology achieved an important milestone in human history – one that the United States tried for, talked about a lot, and didn't make. Various commentators have tried to gloss over the facts, ranging from efforts to demean the high accomplishment that Russians achieved, to pooh-poohing the importance of getting there first."
The embarrassed Navy quickly "fast-tracked" Vanguard, the website jpl.nasa.gov stated. The first launch in December 1957 was a "fiery" failure and "severely shook the morale of the American public." The booster rose six inches and exploded. While the satellite was blown off a distance, it did continue transmitting its beeps, NASA said.
What "eased" Vanguard's "national embarrassment" was Explorer 1, stated "Rockets of the World: A Modeler's Guide" (Peter Alway, 1993). Launched Feb. 1, 1958, Explorer was the work of Dr. Wernher von Braun, who had developed the German V-2 weapon, and then immigrated to the U.S. after World War II; Dr. James van Allen, whose radiation detection experiments were conducted post World War II at WSPG; and Dr. William Pickering, who headed the Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
"This put von Braun in the race — not with the Russians — but with our second satellite team, the Vanguard group," Erik Bergaust documented in "Wernher Von Braun" (National Space Institute, 1976). "Competition raged" so fiercely between America's Army, Navy, and Air Force, that "comical subterfuge" sometimes resulted, according to "Space: The Next Twenty-Five Years" (John Wiley & Sons, 1987). There were rumors "scientists actually hid a satellite in a closet so that government inspectors wouldn't detect that they were doing unauthorized work that was supposed to be done by the Air Force."
Not long after, the Navy did successfully launch a Vanguard. Nevertheless, Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev continued to ridicule America by pointing out the first Sputnik was the size of a beach ball, and the first successful Vanguard was grapefruit-sized. However, while the Vanguard payload weighed only 3.25 pounds, one of its two tracking transmitters, which was solar powered, did continue to operate until May 1964.
The Soviets not only were conquering the U.S. politically and technologically, but educationally as well. In 1957, "the Russians had about 1,500,000 in all the various (scientific) disciplines," Bergaust said. "The comparable United States figure for mid-1957 was 1,300,000. The Russians were ahead in terms of total scientific and technical manpower."
What also "frightened" the U.S. was "the manifest rocket power displayed by the Soviet launchings," according to "On The Seas And In The Skies: A History of the U.S. Navy's Air Power" (Hawthorn Books, 1970). "Only a stupendous blast-off could have shot the Sputniks into outer space. Such a blast-off more than substantiated Soviet claims that Russia had developed an ICBM that could take the Atlantic in its stride and hit any continent anywhere, with an atomic warhead."
While there were more Vanguard failures than successes, before the program ended in 1959 the successes returned data on Earth-reflected sunlight and magnetic fields; took solar X-rays; and recorded the effects of micrometeoroids.
The argument could be made that the U.S. actually launched satellites a dozen days after Sputnik I when, on Oct. 16, 1957, "artificial meteors" were part of an Aerobee payload, Wayne Mattson and Martyn Tagg wrote in "We Develop Missiles, Not Air!" (ACC/USAF Cultural Resources Publication No. 2, June 1955). The "meteors were released by a special explosive charge at an altitude of 48 miles." Some of them actually orbited "the sun and eventually burned up when they got closer to the sun."
Those "meteors" were ball bearings.
A false-color image of Saturn showing heat coming from the planet's interior (red). Picture taken by Cassini's Composite Infrared Spectrometer. Credit: NASA/JPL/ASI/University of Arizona
Sen—After more than a decade of sending back spectacular visions of Saturn to Earth, managers of the Cassini spacecraft have a new plan for their plucky machine: to send it on a series of swoops that will bring it in between the planet and its rings.
This next phase of the mission will start in 2016, and to drum up excitement for it, NASA is inviting the public to submit their idea for what to call the mission.
A spokesman for the agency said: "Because the spacecraft will be very close to Saturn, the team has been calling this phase 'the proximal orbits'.
"But they think someone out there can conjure up a cooler name. Here's where you come in: you can choose your faves from a list already assembled, or you can submit your own ideas (up to three)."
Ideas on the list include a few references to "tours" such as "Farewell Tour" and "Goodbye Tour" — sadly, there's no "Magical Mystery Tour" yet. Other possibilities could be "Close Shave", "The Plunge" and in true NASA fashion, an acronym pronounced "sassy" (which would be Solstice and Saturn In Situ Exploration, or SASIE.)
While the pictures returned from the close shaves by the ring will surely be spectacular, the Cassini team also has several scientific reasons to do the mission. One is that it will be examining Saturn's magnetic fields and gravity, looking at things such as the "irksome mystery" of how fast the interior of the gas giant is rotating, NASA said.
As for the rings themselves, getting an up-close view will give scientists a better sense of their composition and how much stuff is inside of them, which could reveal more information about how they came to be in the first place.
Cassini's final act will then be a suicide plunge into Saturn's atmosphere so that it doesn't accidentally contaminate the moons Enceladus and Titan — two moons that are considered strong candidates for life.
"It’s inspiring, adventurous and romantic – a fitting end to this thrilling story of discovery," NASA said.
This past week, Cassini made the closest pass to the moon Titan that it plans to do for the rest of the mission. Whilst passing by the foggy moon, the spacecraft examined its upper atmosphere.
Cassini will end its historic mission with 22 breathtaking loops passing through the gap between Saturn and its innermost ring.Cassini will end its historic mission with 22 breathtaking loops passing through the gap between Saturn and its innermost ring.
Technicians attach the Dragon capsule to a Falcon 9 rocket at the SpaceX facility at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla., during preparations for the SpaceX 1 mission.
SpaceX has confirmed it will target its next cargo mission launch to the International Space Station from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, for 10:50 p.m. EDT, Sunday, March 30.
NASA Television launch coverage begins at 9:45 p.m. for the company's third contracted resupply mission to the orbital laboratory. A post-launch news conference will follow at approximately 90 minutes after liftoff. If for any reason the launch is postponed, the next launch opportunity is 9:39 p.m. Wednesday, April 2, with NASA TV coverage beginning at 8:30 p.m.
NASA TV also will air a prelaunch news conference at 1 p.m. Saturday, March 29 at the agency's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. A 2 p.m. briefing on the science and technology cargo being delivered to the space station by SpaceX will follow.
A March 30 launch would result in SpaceX's Dragon spacecraft arriving at the station on Wednesday, April 2 at approximately 7 a.m. NASA TV coverage of rendezvous and berthing will begin at 5:45 a.m. for a 7 a.m. capture. Coverage of Dragon's installation will begin at 9:30 a.m.
ULA, SpaceX reschedule launches after radar outage
After a two-week delay to wait for the U.S. Air Force to restore a critical radar tracker, United Launch Alliance and SpaceX have rescheduled their next rocket missions from Cape Canaveral for April 10 and April 14.Officials put the launches on hold after a component on a rocket tracking radar short-circuited March 24, causing it to overheat and knock the radar offline.
Without the radar, the Air Force's Eastern Range was unable to support launch attempts for the ULA Atlas 5 and SpaceX Falcon 9 rockets then set for March 25 and March 30.
The Eastern Range is a network of communications stations, tracking radars and safety assets along Florida's East Coast and stretching into the Atlantic Ocean under the ground tracks of rockets as they fly into orbit.
The range's job is to keep the public and property safe from launching rockets in case the vehicles fly off course.
The radar responsible for the delays is owned by the Air Force but lies on the property of NASA's Kennedy Space Center.
First up on April 10 is the Atlas 5 launch of a top secret payload for the National Reconnaissance Office, the U.S. government agency which owns and operates imaging and eavesdropping spy satellites.
Liftoff from Cape Canaveral's Complex 41 launch pad is set for a launch window opening at 1:45 p.m. EDT (1745 GMT) and extending 41 minutes.
The April 10 launch will come one week after an Atlas 5 launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California with the military's DMSP F19 weather satellite.A Falcon 9 rocket is scheduled for liftoff April 14 from the nearby Complex 40 pad with a Dragon cargo spacecraft heading to the International Space Station.
The automated spaceship will deliver 2.4 tons of equipment to the space station under contract to NASA.
Launch on April 14 is set for 4:58 p.m. EDT (2058 GMT), and the Dragon spacecraft will arrive at the space station April 16.
A spokesperson with the Air Force's 45th Space Wing on Friday said the Eastern Range is expected to be ready to support both launches. He did not say whether the Air Force had repaired the damaged radar or activated a backup system to restore the lost tracking capability.
The next SpaceX cargo mission to the International Space Station under NASA's Commercial Resupply Services contract is scheduled to launch Monday, April 14, from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.
The company's Falcon 9 rocket, carrying its Dragon cargo spacecraft, will lift off at approximately 4:58 p.m. EDT. NASA Television coverage of the launch begins at 3:45 p.m. If for any reason the launch is postponed, the next launch opportunity is Friday, April 18 at approximately 3:25 p.m.
The mission, designated SpaceX-3, is the third of 12 SpaceX flights contracted by NASA to resupply the space station. It will be the fourth trip by a Dragon spacecraft to the orbiting laboratory.
The spacecraft will be filled with almost 5,000 pounds of scientific experiments and supplies. The Dragon will remain attached to the space station's Harmony module until mid-May and splash down in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Baja California with more than 3,000 pounds of experiment samples and equipment returning from the station.
NASA will host a prelaunch news conference at 1 p.m., Sunday, April 13, at the agency's Kennedy Space Center in Florida, followed by a SpaceX science and technology cargo news conference at 2 p.m. Both briefings, which are subject to a change in time, will be carried live on NASA TV and the agency's website. A post-launch briefing will be held approximately 90 minutes after launch.
If launch occurs April 14, NASA TV will provide live coverage Wednesday, April 16, of the arrival of the Dragon cargo ship to the International Space Station. Grapple and berthing coverage will begin at 5:45 a.m. with grapple at approximately 7 a.m. Berthing coverage begins at 9:30 a.m.
Veggie Will Expand Fresh Food Production on Space Station
Outredgeous red romaine lettuce plants grow inside in a prototype Veggie flight pillow. The bellows of the hardware have been lowered to better observe the plants. A small temperature and relative humidity data logger is placed between the pillows small white box, centra
A plant growth chamber bound for the International Space Station inside the Dragon capsule on the SpaceX-3 resupply mission may help expand in-orbit food production capabilities in more ways than one, and offer astronauts something they don’t take for granted, fresh food.
A review today concluded with managers giving a "go" for SpaceX to proceed with a 4:58 p.m. Monday launch of cargo to the International Space Station.
The weather forecast at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station looks pretty good.
There's a 70 percent chance of conditions that would allow a Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon capsule to blast off from Launch Complex 40, according to Air Force meteorologists.
However, after a nice weekend, an approaching cold front on Monday increases the potential for thick clouds, thunderstorms or electrified anvil clouds near the launch site.
If there's no launch Monday, the next possible attempt would be four days later (Friday, April 18). Forecasted conditions then drop to a 40 percent chance of favorable launch weather.
SpaceX is launching its third ISS resupply mission under a $1.6 billion NASA contract.
Kennedy Space Center will host prelaunch media briefings on Sunday starting at 9 a.m. You can watch them live on NASA TV.
Quelle: Florida Today
The often-delayed launch of SpaceX Dragon cargo ship to the International Space Station, set for Monday afternoon, may be delayed yet again after a problem crept up with a computer module on the station.
The Multiplexer-Demultiplexer, or MDM, stopped responding to commands, NASA said in a statement Friday evening. The unit, mounted outside the ISS, backs up the main MDM in robotic-arm operations — such as the one that will be needed to attach the Dragon to the station upon its scheduled arrival Wednesday. From the statement:
The primary MDM operating aboard the space station is functioning normally and there is no immediate impact to space station operations. The computer outage does not pose a risk to the six crew members aboard the space station. ISS teams are assessing next steps to attempt to bring the computer back online or replace it. Replacing the backup MDM, if needed, would require a spacewalk. ... NASA is continuing to work toward a Monday launch of the SpaceX cargo resupply mission pending further evaluations by the ISS Program.
The Dragon was set to launch from Cape Canaveral, Fla., March 16 atop a Falcon 9 rocket when an alert was raised about possible contaminants in the Dragon's unpressurized exterior cargo space — its so-called "trunk." With that issue cleared, Dragon was go for a March 30 launch, but that was delayed by an electrical fire at a U.S. Air Force radar station needed to track the rocket, leading to the current April 14 date.
The current USAF forecast gives a 70 percent chance that weather will be favorable for launch Monday.
Quelle: Waco Tribune
A backup computer that controls “some systems associated with robotics” on the International Space Station is not “responding to commands”, NASA said in a late-night statement Eastern time Friday (April 11).
The crew is safe, there’s no “immediate” change to space station operations, and because the primary computer is working, there’s also no alteration to the SpaceX Dragon launch to the station on Monday – which requires the robotic Canadarm2 for berthing. NASA added, however, that there are “further evaluations” going on, meaning the date could change depending on what controllers figure out.
If the computer does need to be replaced, crew members of Expedition 39 will need to do at least one spacewalk, the agency added. NASA is allowing contingency spacewalks in American spacesuits to go forward as the agency addresses problems raised in a report about a life-threatening spacesuit leak in July.
Below the jump is the statement NASA put out tonight concerning the situation.
A computer "black box" in the International Space Station's solar power truss that provides redundancy for robotic arm operations stopped responding to commands Friday, NASA said in a statement. If the component cannot be coaxed back to normal operation, the planned Monday launch of a SpaceX Dragon supply sh
It's not just the red planet Mars which is wowing astronomers this month. The dwarf planet Ceres and the brightest minor planet (4) Vesta lie a mere two degrees apart, just 15 degrees (a fist held at arm's length from knuckle-to-knuckle spans 10 degrees) northeast of Mars (to the upper left from the Northern Hemisphere) among the stars of Virgo.
Both asteroids are at their best this month, coming to opposition (opposite the Sun in the sky) within days of each other, Vesta first on 13 April, followed by Ceres on 15 April. Vesta is the third biggest asteroid behind Ceres and (2) Pallas, with a diameter of 525 km (326 miles). Vesta contains more mass than Pallas though and it's easily the brightest of all the asteroids; it can get as bright as magnitude +5.1 but this month it peaks at a still very respectable +5.8, in theory rendering it visible to the naked eye at the darkest of sites in the best conditions.
It is worth having a go at trying to image it as it will be around 0.7 arcseconds in apparent diameter; ace astrophotographer Damian Peach has succeeded in recording a disc. Visual observers can see it easily in binoculars and its nightly retrograde motion against the background stars can be sketched or imaged easily enough. Its precise position on opposition night is RA 13h 52m 02.4s, Dec +02° 08' 33".
Ceres is the largest object in the Asteroid Belt by far with a diameter of 950 km (590 miles) and accounting for a third of the mass of the belt. It can be as bright as +6.7 but this month it shines at best at magnitude +6.9. Ceres comes to opposition at a distance from the Earth of 1.644 AU (Astronomical Unit; the Earth-Sun distance), or 245.9 million km (152.8 million miles), some 61 million kilometres further away than Vesta, which accounts for it being nearly two magnitudes fainter. Ceres is slightly bigger in apparent diameter at 0.85 arcseconds and is an easy binocular object. Its precise position at opposition is RA 13h 57m 44.9s, Dec +02° 54' 11".
The two remain in tandem in Virgo, four to six degrees northwest of zeta Virginis (magnitude +3.4) through into the summer. From the UK, the pair culminate in April due south around 1:30am BST some 40 degrees above the southern horizon. They can be observed above 20 degrees altitude from about 9:30pm until about 5am, when morning twilight and low altitude starts becoming a problem.
The pair continue to creep ever-closer as the weeks pass, with Vesta reaching its second stationary point on 1 June, followed swiftly by Ceres on 7 June. Their direct, easterly motion through Virgo brings them to a very close conjunction on 5 July, when they will be a mere 10 arcminutes apart, the closest that anyone will ever have observed them before. By this time the pair will be 1.5 degrees south of zeta, Vesta shining at magnitude +6.2 and Ceres +7.4, but still a fine sight in binoculars and telescopes around 11pm as darkness falls.
Beautiful streamlined islands and narrow gorges were carved by fast-flowing water pounding through a small, plateau region near the southeastern margin of the vast Vallis Marineris canyon system.
Images captured on 7 December 2013 by ESA’s Mars Express show the central portion of Osuga Valles, which has a total length of 164 km. It is some 170 km south of Eos Chaos, which lies in the far eastern section of Valles Marineris.
Osuga Valles is an outflow channel that emanates from a region of chaotic terrain at the edge of Eos Chaos to the west (top in the main images). Such landscape is dominated by randomly oriented and heavily eroded blocks of terrain. Another example is seen at the bottom of this scene, filling the 2.5 km-deep depression into which Osuga Valles empties.
Osuga Valles lies about 170 km south of Eos Chaos, which is in the far eastern portion of the vast Valles Marineris canyon system. This region was imaged by Mars Express on 7 December 2013 during orbit 12 624. The smaller rectangle above outlines the region highlighted in the associated Mars Express images.
Catastrophic flooding is thought to have created the heavily eroded Osuga Valles and the features within it. Streamlines around the islands in the valley indicate that the direction of flow was towards the northeast (bottom right in the main colour, topographic and 3D images shown here) and sets of parallel, narrow grooves on the floor of the channel suggest that the water was fast flowing.
Differences in elevation within the feature, along with the presence and cross-cutting relationships of channels carved onto the islands, suggest that Osuga Valles experienced several episodes of flooding. The perspective view, which is oriented with the direction of the water flow towards the top of the image, shows the details of the grooved valley floor and the channels carved into the islands more clearly.
Close to the northern-most (far right) part of the channel in the main images, two large irregular-shaped blocks appear to have broken away from the surrounding terrain, but do not seem to have experienced as much erosion as the rounded islands.
The floodwater eventually emptied into the deep depression of chaotic terrain at the bottom of the main images, but it is not yet known whether the water drained away into the subsurface or formed a temporary lake.
Data from the nadir channel and one stereo channel of the High Resolution Stereo Camera on Mars Express have been combined to produce this anaglyph 3D image, which can be viewed using stereoscopic glasses with red–green or red–blue filters.
The image was created using data acquired on 7 December 2013 during orbit 12 624. The image resolution is about 17 m per pixel and the image centre is at about 15ºS / 322ºE.
Next Antares launch from Wallops could be delayed
Orbital Science Corp.'s next cargo mission from Wallops Island to the International Space Station is officially May 6 — but that launch might be postponed a month or more because of a wide range of issues, officials say.
First, a fire at Cape Canaveral in Florida knocked out some of its radar tracking ability, said Orbital spokesman Barron "Barry" Beneski from his Dulles office.
Then, in a sort of domino effect, that radar loss delayed two launches from the Cape, including one by SpaceX, the other company that makes commercial resupply runs to the space station for NASA.
California-based SpaceX is currently set to launch Monday, but must stay at the station for at least 28 days to accommodate various science experiments.
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After that comes a scheduled crew rotation at the station, Beneski said, which will leave the ISS without a full complement in the second half of May.
Finally, while the station is understaffed, it will also encounter something called a "beta solar angle cutout," meaning its orbit orientation won't be "optimally aligned" with the sun, he said, leaving it temporarily under-powered.
"They know this is going to happen," Beneski said. "It's no emergency."
So if SpaceX launches as planned, NASA Wallops says, the next available date for Orbital to launch its Antares rocket and Cygnus space freighter would be sometime after June 9, with a rendezvous and berthing two days later.
If SpaceX doesn't launch, Beneski said, it is possible that Orbital will still launch as planned, while SpaceX would be bumped back.
In the meantime, both Orbital and NASA Wallops Flight Facility say they continue to work toward a May 6 afternoon launch for the Antares, but will change the date as needed.
"So keep your eyes on Florida," said Beneski.
Quelle: Daily Press
SPACE STATION TRANSITS THE MOON: Two nights ago, astrophotographers Pete Lawrence and Ian Sharp stood in Sharp's back garden in Ham UK waiting for a spaceship to pass in front of the Moon. When it happened, their eyes barely registered the event. High-speed cameras, however, recorded a beautiful view of the ISS speeding over the Sea of Tranquillity:
"Thanks to Pete Lawrence for alerting me to this," says Sharp, who took the picture using a 5-inch refractor. "Pete made the 5 mile trip to setup here and we both imaged the event separately and successfully."
Rendlesham’s holy relics and prophets