A suspected meteorite explosion has been recorded by citizens of the northern Russian city of Murmansk.
Multiple drivers with dashcams out on the streets of the 300,000-people city at 2.10am on Saturday noticed a bright blue trail speed across the night sky, then explode while still in the air.
Most observers identified the object as a meteorite, though officials have neither confirmed it nor said where the fragments are likely to have landed. Others speculated that the object may have been space debris, re-entering the atmosphere.
Emergency services say there were no injuries as a result of the astral event.
While tens of tons of cosmic dust reaches the Earth’s atmosphere each day, the number of meteorites that reach the surface may be about 500 a year, though most are small, and scientists do not have a precise calculation.
The most spectacular meteorite of recent years was over the Urals city of Chelyabinsk last year, when an astral body exploded in the sky with the strength of 40 Hiroshima bombs, temporarily blinding and deafening hundreds of people below.
Quelle: Russia Today
Sen—Space Exploration Technologies will make another attempt Friday, 18 April, to launch its Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon capsule on a resupply run to the International Space Station for NASA.
A launch attempt Monday from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida was canceled an hour before liftoff.
“Preflight checks detected that a helium valve in the stage separation pneumatic system was not holding the right pressure. This meant that the stage separation pistons would be reliant on a backup check valve,” SpaceX said in a statement issued Wednesday.
“No issue was detected with the backup valve and a flight would likely have been successful, but SpaceX policy is not to launch with any known anomalies,” the statement said.
The rocket has been returned to a horizontal position so technicians can replace the faulty valve.
The next launch try will be at 3:25 p.m. EDT/1925 GMT, but the weather could be a problem. Air Force meteorologists are predicting a 60 per cent chance of rain, and thunderstorms could force another delay.
The rocket will carry a Dragon capsule loaded with food, science experiments and gear for the space station, which flies about 250 miles (about 400 km) above Earth.
If the Falcon 9 launches as planned, the capsule would reach the station on Sunday.
As part of the flight, SpaceX plans to test technology it has been developing to recover and reuse its rockets.
The Falcon 9’s first stage carries extra fuel for two more burns after the upper-stage and Dragon capsule separate. The idea is to slow the rocket’s descent and position it for a soft touchdown on the ocean.
The booster also has four landing legs to help stabilize the vehicle.
A Falcon 9 rocket that was supposed to launch Monday has been rescheduled for Friday afternoon.
The launch is now set for 3:25 p.m. Friday after a first-stage helium leak scrubbed the first attempt.
There is a 40 percent chance of favorable weather at launch time, with a chance of showers and thunderstorms that could violate launch constraints.
If there is a second scrub, SpaceX will attempt to launch Saturday, April 19 at 3:02 p.m.
NASA said this is an instantaneous launch time. That means it must happen for the rocket to launch and the Dragon capsule to catch up to the International Space Station within two days.
Despite a computer problem at the International Space Station last week, NASA gave the go-ahead over the weekend for SpaceX to launch its rocket later Monday.
The launch will also dictate when a contingency spacewalk will be performed to replace a failed multiplexer-demultiplexer aboard the ISS.
The rocket will deliver the Dragon capsule, with 2.4 tons of cargo for astronauts, to the space station.
Once there, astronauts there will unload the cargo, which includes research experiments, food and four high-definition cameras that will stream live video of Earth for online viewing.
The Falcon 9 rocket being used in this launch has been modified with new, 60-foot-long legs designed to help the rocket land back on Earth after launch, making the spacecraft reusable for future launches, like the space shuttles before it.
The plan is that after the Dragon capsule separates and heads for the ISS, the first stage of the rocket will make a soft splashdown in the Atlantic Ocean.
SpaceX said it wants to test the landing legs in the ocean first to improve precision, but eventually the private company wants to land the rocket near the launch pad. The company could save millions of dollars by reusing the rocket instead of having to build a new one for each launch.
SpaceX issued the following statement Wednesday morning:
NASA and SpaceX have confirmed Friday, April 18 for the next launch attempt for the Falcon 9 rocket to send the Dragon spacecraft on the company's third commercial resupply mission and fourth visit to the space station. Launch is targeted for 3:25 p.m. ET. The launch will be webcast live at www.spacex.com/webcast beginning at 2:45 p.m. ET.
A launch on Friday results in a rendezvous with the space station on Sunday, April 20 and a grapple at 7:14 a.m. ET.
During Monday’s launch attempt, preflight checks detected that a helium valve in the stage separation pneumatic system was not holding the right pressure. This meant that the stage separation pistons would be reliant on a backup check valve.
No issue was detected with the backup valve and a flight would likely have been successful, but SpaceX policy is not to launch with any known anomalies. We have brought the vehicle back to horizontal and are replacing the faulty valve, as well as inspecting the whole system for anything that may have contributed to the valve not working as designed.
SpaceX successfully launches The Dragon with supplies for International Space Station
The SpaceX company returned to orbit Friday, launching fresh supplies to the International Space Station after more than a month’s delay.
The Dragon cargo ship will reach the orbiting lab on Sunday — Easter morning. That pushes urgent spacewalking repairs to Wednesday; NASA wants a bad computer replaced before something else breaks.
This was the second launch attempt this week for SpaceX.
NASA’s commercial supplier was foiled by a leaky rocket valve Monday. The valve was replaced, and the company aimed for a Friday liftoff despite a dismal forecast. Storms cleared out of Cape Canaveral just in time for the mid-afternoon launch into overcast skies.
The unmanned cargo ship contains 2½ tons of station supplies, including material originally intended for the spacewalking repairs.
A critical backup computer failed outside the space station last Friday. The primary computer is working fine, but numerous systems would be seriously compromised if it broke, too. A double failure also would hinder visits by the Dragon and other vessels.
“It’s imperative that we maintain” backups for these external command-routing computer boxes, also called multiplexer-demultiplexers, or MDMs, said flight director Brian Smith said Friday. “Right now, we don’t have that.”
NASA decided late this week to use the gasket-like material already on board the space station for the repair, instead of waiting for the Dragon. Astronauts trimmed the thermal material Friday to fit the bottom of the replacement computer, and inserted a fresh circuit card.
Much-needed food is also aboard the Dragon, along with a new spacesuit and spacesuit replacement parts. NASA wants all these things at the space station as soon as possible.
The shipment is close to five weeks late. Initially set for mid-March, the launch was delayed by extra prepping, then damage to an Air Force radar and, finally on Monday, the rocket leak.
The space station’s six-man crew watched the launch via a live TV hookup; the outpost was soaring 260 miles above Turkey at the time of ignition. Video beamed down from Dragon showed the solar wings unfurling.
Earlier, as the countdown entered its final few hours, NASA’s space station program manager Mike Suffredini said an investigation continues into the reason for last summer’s spacesuit failure. The helmet worn by an Italian astronaut filled with water from the suit’s cooling system, and he nearly drowned during a spacewalk.
Routine U.S. spacewalks are on hold until engineers are certain what caused the water leak. The upcoming spacewalk by the two Americans on board is considered an exception because of its urgent nature; it will include no unnecessary tasks, just the 2½-hour computer swap.
NASA is paying the California-based SpaceX — Space Exploration Technologies Corp. — and Virginia’s Orbital Sciences Corp. to keep the orbiting lab well stocked. Russia, Japan and Europe also make periodic deliveries.
Unlike the other cargo carriers, the Dragon can bring items back for analysis. Among the science samples going up on the Dragon and slated to return with it in a month: 200 fruit flies and their expected progeny, and germs collected from stadiums and sports arenas, as well as such notables as America’s Liberty Bell and Sue, the T. rex fossil skeleton at Chicago’s Field Museum.
Scientists will study the hearts of the returning flies — as many as 3,000 are expected for the trip home, if the males and females do as they should. The germ samples, once back on Earth, will be compared with duplicate cultures on the ground.
Staying up there — for as long as the space station lives — will be new legs for NASA’s humanoid, Robonaut. The indoor robot has been in orbit for three years, but only from the waist up.
The Angara class of rockets comprises four types of vehicles, with payload capacities ranging between 3.7 tones (light class, intended for low orbits) and 28.5 tonnes
The date of the maiden launch of Russia’s new Angara rocket has been set for June 25, an official with the Russian Space Agency told RIA Novosti Friday.
“The launch is set for June 25, with the 26th as a backup date,” the official said.
He added the rocket would be fired without an orbital payload from the Plesetsk space center, located about 800 kilometers north of Moscow.
The Angara family of rockets, in development since 1995, is planned to be built in light, semi-heavy and heavy versions to lift a variety of payloads between 2 and 40 metric tons into low earth orbit.
The rocket has a liquid-oxygen and kerosene powered first stage and hydrogen-oxygen fueled second stage, so-called “green” fuels that will make the rocket both more ecologically friendly and safer for support personnel than the country’s current largest rocket, the Proton.
Angara is designed to complement the country’s venerable Soyuz rocket, currently the only vehicle in the world capable of launching astronauts to the International Space Station.
Quelle: Ria Novosti
About 500 light-years away in the constellation Cygnus lives a star, which, though smaller and redder than the sun, has a planet that may look awfully familiar.
With a diameter just 10 percent bigger than Earth’s, the newly found world is the first of its size found basking in the benign temperature region around a parent star where water, if it exists, could pool in liquid form.
Scientists on the hunt for Earth's twin are focused on worlds that could support liquid surface water, which may be necessary to brew the chemistry of life.
Statistically speaking, Earth-sized planets orbiting in stars’ so-called habitable zones -- not too far away for water to freeze, not too close for it to vaporize -- should be common, recent studies show.
But observations are difficult to come by. NASA’s Kepler space telescope spent four years staring at about 150,000 target stars looking for slight and repeated dips in their light caused by orbiting planets passing by, or transiting, relative to the telescope’s line of sight.
A planet the size of Earth positioned about as far from a host, sun-like star and as far away as Earth orbits the sun would block just 80- to 100 photons of starlight out of every million -- and do so only once every 365 days, notes astronomer Thomas Barclay, with the Kepler science team at NASA’s Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif.
An Earth-sized planet circling a smaller star is an easier target. The newly found world, designated Kepler-186f, obscures about 400 photons of starlight out of every million as it transits its parent star -- and repeats the cycle every 130 days.
“I wouldn’t say this is the ‘bingo’ planet, but this is really one of the major milestones on the road,” Barclay told Discovery News. “This isn’t an Earth twin, but perhaps it’s an Earth cousin.”
Astronomers have announced the groundbreaking discovery of an Earth-sized exoplanet, called Kepler-186f, orbiting a star within its habitable zone. Although this is an exciting finding — and a historic one at that — calling this world “Earth-like” is a little premature.
In fact, Kepler-186f could be completely alien.
In 2011, Discovery News ran a series of articles predicting what scientific breakthroughs were most likely to occur in 2012. In my article “Big Question for 2012: Will We Find Earth 2.0?,” I speculated that, some time in 2012, NASA’s Kepler space telescope would have had enough time to have detected its first bona fide Earth-sized exoplanet orbiting a sun-like star within the habitable zone — the region surrounding a star where water, on a rocky planetary surface, could exist in a liquid state. On Earth, where there's liquid water, there's life, so the quest to find liquid water on another world is key to our quest to find life elsewhere in the Universe.
Alas, although Kepler did indeed have enough time to gather orbital data for many small worlds with Earth-like dimensions around their host stars, that announcement didn’t come in 2012 (or in 2013) — although there were many near-misses.
Today, a little over two years later, exoplanetary science has caught up with the world’s expectations and finally produced a world that, from 500 light-years distant, appears to be a ripe “Earth 2.0″ candidate.
“Previously, the exoplanet most like Earth was Kepler-62f, but Kepler-186f is significantly smaller,” David Charbonneau, with the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, told Discovery News’ Irene Klotz. “Now we can point to a star and say, ‘There lies an Earth-like planet.’”
Why is Kepler-186f so Special?
During its primary mission, Kepler had a fixed stare on one tiny portion of the sky in the direction of the constellation Cygnus, carefully watching the brightness of 150,000 sun-like stars. Should an exoplanet drift in front of one of those stars, Kepler’s sensitive optics registered it as a very slight dip in brightness, an event known as a “transit.” As these exoplanetary candidates continued to orbit their host stars, Kepler registered more and more transits, leaving astronomers in little doubt that the signal is indeed an orbiting exoplanet and not some other transient dark feature like a “starspot.”
With followup observations by ground-based telescopes, these exoplanetary candidates could then be confirmed and added to the growing tally of confirmed small worlds orbiting other stars. There is little doubt that we are in a “Golden Age” of exoplanetary studies.
To find another planet with all the orbital and physical qualities of Earth, however, is a tall order. The sheer technological precision needed to make these detections is mindboggling, but as Kepler is proving, it is absolutely possible to detect worlds smaller than Earth in orbit around stars hundreds of light-years away.
And Kepler-186f has all the attributes that makes us believe that it is a world not so dissimilar to Earth: it orbits a sun-like star (well, the star Kepler-186 is a little smaller and redder than the sun), is approximately the same physical size as our planet (just 10 percent bigger) and has an orbit of 130-days, putting it right on the outside edge of its star’s habitable zone. But it takes more than a planet’s orbit and size to make it truly “Earth-like.”
As you may have noticed by the vivid artistic renderings of Kepler-186f accompanying today’s announcement, the perceived life-giving potential of Kepler-186f is obvious. The view is from the planet’s surface, looking up at its host star with other planets in the multi-planetary system in tow. On the planet’s surface is an ocean lined with tree-like vegetation. There’s another rendering (pictured top) of a blue world with a thick atmosphere and white fluffy clouds.
The message is clear: ‘This is just like Earth; it’s a planet in another part of the galaxy capable of supporting life as we know it.’
But just as our solar system is a great example of possessing a life-giving world orbiting inside its habitable zone (Earth), there’s two other examples of biologically ‘dead’ planets that orbit inside the sun’s habitable zone: Venus and Mars.
Although we are currently on a quest to work out whether Mars has ever had the potential to support basic forms of life, it’s pretty clear from studies of the Red Planet’s thin atmosphere and radiation-drenched surface that it is not particularly cozy for life. As for Venus (which, coincidentally, is almost the same physical size as Earth), it has an acidic atmosphere that is undergoing a crazy greenhouse effect that literally destroys water molecules. Neither of these “habitable zone” examples are, well, particularly habitable for life as we know it.
So how do we know that Kepler-186f has white fluffy clouds and pine tree-lined coastlines? Hint: We don’t.
We currently have no means to study this fascinating world’s atmosphere, let alone understand whether it has life-giving potential.
“Being in the habitable zone does not mean we know this planet is habitable,” cautions Thomas Barclay, research scientist at the Bay Area Environmental Research Institute at NASA Ames, in a NASA news release. “The temperature on the planet is strongly dependent on what kind of atmosphere the planet has.
“Kepler-186f can be thought of as an Earth-cousin rather than an Earth-twin. It has many properties that resemble Earth.”
In the future, space telescopes are planned to directly image worlds orbiting other stars, potentially measuring high-resolution spectra of atmospheric compositions. Until then, we won’t know whether Kepler-186f is a barren Mars-like world or a choked Venus-like world. Perhaps it’s a completely alien place that cannot even be compered with any other solar system example.
These concerns over the “Earth-like” moniker to one side, the fact that we are even able to have a clue about an alien planet’s life giving potential is profound. Kepler-186f has just become the poster child for interstellar studies and a prime astronomical target for future observing campaigns — it will also likely be mainstream press headline fodder for some time to come. For now, it’s best to take the term “Earth-like” in the spirit and excitement that it inspires — even though it may not be scientifically accurate.
So, for me, for now, Kepler-186f is “Earth-like” enough — it just carries some huge caveats.
Diese neue Aufnahme vom Wide Field Image (WFI) am MPG/ESO 2,2-Meter-Teleskop am La Silla-Observatorium in Chile gibt den Blick auf eine Wasserstoffwolke namens Gum 41 und neugeborene Sterne frei. Im Zentrum des wenig bekannten Nebels geben leuchtkräftige heiße junge Sterne energiereiche Strahlung ab, die den Wasserstoff in der Umgebung dazu bringt in einem charakteristischen roten Farbton zu leuchten.
Diese neue Aufnahme vom La Silla-Observatorium in Chile gibt den Blick auf eine Wasserstoffwolke namens Gum 41 frei. In der Mitte des wenig bekannten Nebels geben leuchtkräftige heiße junge Sterne energiereiche Strahlung ab, die den Wasserstoff in der Umgebung dazu bringt in einem charakteristischen roten Farbton zu leuchten.
Diese Himmelsregion im Sternbild Centaurus (der Zentaur) beherbergt viele helle Nebel, die zu heißen neugeborenen Sternen gehören, die aus Wasserstoffgaswolken entstanden sind. Die intensive Strahlung der jungen Sterne regt den verbliebenen Wasserstoff um sie herum an und bringt so das Gas in einem bestimmten Rotton zum Leuchten, der typisch für Sternentstehungsregionen ist. Ein anderes bekanntes Beispiel dieses Phänomens ist der Lagunennebel (eso0936), eine riesige Wolke mit ähnlich hellen Rottönen.
Der Nebel in diesem Bild befindet sich etwa 7300 Lichtjahre von der Erde entfernt. Der australische Astronom Colin Gum entdeckte ihn auf einer Fotografie, die am Mount Stromlo-Observatorium in der Nähe von Canberra aufgenommen wurde und fügte sie zu seinem Katalog von 84 Emissionsnebeln hinzu, der 1955 veröffentlicht wurde. Gum 41 ist eigentlich ein kleiner Teil eines größeren Objekts mit dem Namen Lambda Centauri-Nebel, der im Englischen auch unter dem exotischeren Namen Running Chicken Nebula bekannt ist (von dem ein anderer Teil Gegenstand von eso1135 war). Gum starb im jungen Alter in einem Skiunfall in der Schweiz im Jahr 1960.
In dieser Aufnahme von Gum 41 erscheinen die Wolken ziemlich dicht und hell, was aber ein Trugschluss ist. Wenn ein hypothetischer Raumfahrer durch diesen Nebel fliegen würde, ist es wahrscheinlich, dass er ihn gar nicht bemerken würde, denn – sogar aus der Nähe – wäre er zu lichtschwach um vom menschlichen Auge wahrgenommen zu werden. Dies erklärt auch, warum dieses große Objekt bis zur Mitte des zwanzigsten Jahrhunderts auf seine Entdeckung warten musste – sein Licht ist stark ausgedünnt und das rote Leuchten ist im visuellen Bereich schlecht sichtbar.
Dieses neue Portrait von Gum 41 – wahrscheinlich eines der bisher besten von diesem schwer fassbaren Objekt – wurde aus Daten des Wide Field Imager (WFI) am MPG/ESO 2,2-Meter-Teleskop am La-Silla-Observatorium in Chile erstellt. Es ist eine Kombination von Bildern, die durch einen Blau-, Rot- und Grünfilter aufgenommen wurden, zusammen mit Aufnahmen mit Hilfe eines speziellen Filters, der dafür entwickelt wurde das rote Leuchten von Wasserstoff herauszufiltern.
Diese Aufsuchkarte zeigt eine Wasserstoffwolke namens Gum 41 mit neugeborenen Sternen im Sternbild Centaurus (der Zentaur). Die Karte zeigt die meisten Sterne, die mit bloßem Auge unter guten Bedingungen sichtbar sind. Die Position des Nebels ist mit einem roten Kreis markiert. Dieses Objekt ist Teil des größeren Lambda Centauri-Nebels. Gum 41 ist sehr lichtschwach und wurde erst in der Mitte des zwanzigsten Jahrhunderts fotografisch entdeckt.
Atop its Soyuz-U booster, EgyptSat-2 is transferred to Site 31/6 at Baikonur on Monday, 14 April. Photo Credit: Roscosmos
“The launch is scheduled at 8.20pm Moscow time (4.20pm GMT) on Wednesday, the satellite is due to separate from the rocket at 8.28pm (4.28pm GMT),” the source said.
This will be the second Egyptian telecommunications satellite equipped with advanced technologies for taking visible-range and infrared photographs. The data will be used in agricultural, geological and ecological research.
The first telecommunications satellite Egypt-sat-1 was launched from spaceport Baikonur on April 17, 2007. However, the contact with it was lost in 2011. Egyptian specialists said then that this was an experimental project with an expected satellite’s service life of no more than three years. Scientists affirm that the new satellite can fulfil its tasks for more than five years.
A Russian Soyuz-U rocket was launched from Site 31/6 at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on Wednesday. In what is expected to the last “non Progress” launch of this variant of Soyuz, an Egyptian spacecraft – known as EgyptSat-2 – enjoyed a ride uphill on the Russian workhorse. Launch occurred on schedule at 16:20 UTC.
NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden, SpaceX president Gwynne Shotwell and Kennedy Space Center director Bob Cabana speak to reporters at launch pad 39A. Photo credit: NASA/Dan Casper
SpaceX signed a 20-year lease Monday to operate and maintain one of Kennedy Space Center's historic launch pads, and the California-based company plans to debut the world's most powerful rocket at the facility next year.
Unter Einsatz des Nebelwolken-Filtereffekt konnte ich nachfolgende Fotos der Sonnenflecken machen:
Michael Russell and Laurie Barge of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., are pictured in their Icy Worlds laboratory, where they mimic the conditions of Earth billions of years ago, attempting to answer the question of how life first arose. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech