Blogarchiv

Sonntag, 11. Mai 2014 - 11:35 Uhr

Raumfahrt - Letzter Countdown für Orbiter Replikat am Flughafen Calgary welcher zur Columbus State University führt

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A replica of the Orbiter space shuttle is set to depart the Calgary International Airport on Thursday evening
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A replica space shuttle which has been on display above the SpacePort learning centre for the last 14 years is set to blast off from its current home en route to a science centre in the United States.
NASA originally loaned the replica of the Orbiter space shuttle to the airport in 2000. During its time in Calgary, millions of visitors, including students enrolled in the SpacePort school program, have gazed up at the quarter-scale model.
The original, full-sized, Orbiter was built by NASA for vibration and wind-tunnel testing.
The Orbiter replica is scheduled to depart YYC on Thursday evening. The space shuttle will leave the terminal through the viewing area glass in Banff Hall.
The space shuttle is set to touch down at its new home in the Coca-Cola Science Center on the Columbus State University campus in Columbus, Georgia.
Quelle: CTV-News
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Update: 11.05.2014
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The Orbiter, a quarter-scale replica of a NASA spaceship, is en route to the Coca-Cola Science Center at Columbus State University in Georgia after 14 years at the Calgary International Airport.

Calgary airport’s popular space shuttle has taken off, for good.

The Orbiter, a quarter-scale replica of a NASA spaceship, is on its way to the Coca-Cola Science Center at Columbus State University in Georgia following a 14-year stint at Calgary International Airport. Originally built by NASA for testing purposes, the Orbiter made its way north in 2000 to be part of the Calgary Airport Authority’s SpacePort educational program. It was accompanied by a piece of moon rock, which will remain here.

“It’s been a great asset when educating students,” said Jody Moseley, a spokeswoman for the airport authority.

Over the years, the historical artifact was visited by millions of travellers and schoolchildren.

“It’s a nice piece for families when they come to the airport and we’ve enjoyed sharing that with the public.”

Because of its large and fragile nature, the Orbiter was moved through the airport gradually over the past week before it was finally loaded onto a plane. Moseley said people who realized it was on its last journey snapped photos and tweeted about it.

“I think a lot of people were taking the opportunity to say goodbye to it,” she said.

The Orbiter departed for Columbus on Friday.

Quelle: The Calgary Herald

 


2709 Views

Sonntag, 11. Mai 2014 - 11:32 Uhr

Astronomie - Der Yellowstone von Mars

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NASA/JPL-Caltech/Arizona State University

One of Mars’s most prominent features is a volcanic province known as the Tharsis bulge, a near-circular, 2000-kilometer-wide hump (center, depicted in shades of red and brown) near the planet’s equator that is 10 km high in places. Volcanism there is likely fueled by a plume of hot material welling up from deep within the planet. Problem is, computer simulations and lab studies suggest that such a plume wouldn’t develop where the bulge is now—that is, along the relatively sharp boundary between Mars’s thinner crust of the northern hemisphere and the much thicker crust beneath the southern highlands. Using measurements of the planet’s gravitational field and elevations (ranging from low [blue] to high [white]) taken from orbit, researchers have identified a swath of thicker-than-normal crust that may mark the slow but steady migration of the volcano-fueling hot spot from the planet’s south pole (bottom), they will report in a forthcoming Journal of Geophysical Research: Planets. Previous studies have noted a lower-than-normal number of craters along that swath—a hint that volcanism may have smothered ancient pockmarks in that region—but the new findings bolster the notion that the hot spot migrated from where studies suggest it should have formed in the first place. Interestingly, the team notes, the overall pattern of terrain in that region of Mars is similar to that in the western United States, where the higher-than-normal topography of Idaho’s Snake River betrays the presumed path of the hot spot that drove past volcanism, as well as current geothermal activity, in and around Yellowstone National Park.

Quelle: AAAS


2550 Views

Sonntag, 11. Mai 2014 - 10:54 Uhr

Astronomie - Radar Pings von nicht sichtbaren Asteroid 2006 SX 217 bei Erde Vorbeiflug

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This series of images was created when Arecibo in Puerto Rico bounced a radar signal off the asteroid 2006 SX 217. The echo of that signal was then received and decoded by the Green Bank Telescope in West Virginia.

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Asteroids are in the news a lot these days, partially because we’re getting really good at detecting the flying chunks of space rock. But also, we’re pretty good at recording the impact of large meteors that seem to have a “thing” for hitting Russia.

However, as calls for improved detection techniques and asteroid impact mitigation strategies intensify, there’s one particularly worrisome class of asteroid that could hit us, unawares, in our blind spot — from the direction of the sun. But a celestial radar ‘tag team’ is on the case, having bounced radio waves off an asteroid that would have been invisible to optical telescopes.

Although asteroid 2006 SX 217 has a well-known orbit, on April 23, astronomers at the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico took the opportunity to transmit radar pulses at the object as it made a close approach with Earth. Although Arecibo could transmit the radar, problems with the large dish’s receiver meant that the National Science Foundation's Goldstone radio telescope, located in West Virginia, had to step in to help out.

The space rock, which measures approximately a mile wide, came as close as 3 million miles from Earth (around 10 times the Earth-moon distance), but as it was approaching from the direction of the sun, the sun’s glare would have rendered any observation attempts by optical telescopes futile. The radar campaign, however, managed to resolve fantastic detail in the asteroid’s surface features, highlighting its boulder strewn landscape.

After pinging 2006 SX 217, astronomers noticed that the asteroid was abnormally dark and larger than previous estimates suggested.

“This asteroid is really big and its surface is probably about as black as the toner in a copier,” said Arecibo astronomer Ellen Howell, who led the observation campaign. “It’s also slowly rotating, with one side moving toward Earth and the other away.”

Radar observations are critical in efforts to observe and characterize near-Earth asteroids. The resolution of the bounced radio waves not only provides an unparalleled view of asteroids’ surface features, the technique can be used to study Earth-buzzing asteroids even if we are otherwise blinded by the sun.

Quelle: D-News


2369 Views

Freitag, 9. Mai 2014 - 22:41 Uhr

Raumfahrt - NASA´s Magnetospheric Multiscale, or MMS-Spacecraft

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All four stacked Magnetospheric Multiscale, or MMS, spacecraft with solar arrays are ready to move to the vibration chamber at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., where they will undergo environmental tests.
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Mission Update:

Engineers at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., accomplished another first. Using a large overhead crane, they mated two Magnetospheric Multiscale, or MMS, observatories – also called mini-stacks -- at a time, to construct a full four-stack of observatories.
 

Next, the MMS four-stack will be carefully transported from their Goddard cleanroom to a special vibration facility — housed within the same immense integration and testing facility — where they will be secured to a large shaking table and subjected to vibration tests. These tests help to ensure the structural integrity of the stacked spacecraft prior to shipment to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, Fla.
 

The vibration tests determine whether the four MMS spacecraft can withstand the extreme vibration and dynamic loads they will experience inside the fairing of the Atlas V launch vehicle on launch day. It’s during the first moments after lift-off that the spacecraft is exposed to the most stress.
 

The MMS mission consists of four spacecraft outfitted with identical instruments. The mission will fly through near-Earth space to study how the sun and Earth's magnetic fields connect and disconnect, an explosive process that can accelerate particles through space to nearly the speed of light. This process is called magnetic reconnection and occurs throughout all space.
 

MMS is a Solar Terrestrial Probes Program, or STP, mission within NASA’s Heliophysics Division. STP program missions improve our understanding of fundamental physical processes in the space environment from the sun to Earth, to other planets, and to the extremes of the solar system boundary.  Goddard is building the MMS spacecraft and the Fast Plasma Instrument for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington.
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NASA Administrator and Media to See MMS Mission Progress

NASA Administrator Charles Bolden will get a firsthand look at work being done on the Magnetospheric Multiscale (MMS) spacecraft during a visit to the agency's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, on Monday, May 12.

Bolden will visit Goddard's Integration and Test Facility where the four MMS spacecraft are undergoing testing. The spacecraft will be in a rare four-stack arrangement inside a clean room after completing vibration testing. The clean room itself will be temporarily altered to allow a close-up view of the approximate 20-foot high collection of four observatories in their launch configuration.

A media opportunity will begin at 9 a.m. EDT. In addition to Bolden, MMS project personnel will be available to answer questions about the mission, ground testing and preps for launch.

During its two-year mission, MMS will explore the mystery of how magnetic fields around Earth connect and disconnect, explosively releasing energy -- a process known as magnetic reconnection. The four MMS spacecraft will provide the first three-dimensional views of this fundamental process that occurs throughout our universe.
Quelle: NASA

Tags: NASA´s Magnetospheric Multiscale or MMS-Spacecraft 

2455 Views

Freitag, 9. Mai 2014 - 22:30 Uhr

Raumfahrt - Start von SpaceX Falcon 9 mit sechs Kommunikationssatelliten für Orbcomm verschoben auf 22.Mai

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3.05.2014

SpaceX will launch a Falcon 9 rocket on Saturday. The rocket will be carrying six communications satellites for Orbcomm, a New Jersey-based company. (VIDEO STILL/NASA)

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SpaceX set to launch rocket next Saturday

Another rocket launch is a week away.

SpaceX will launch a Falcon 9 rocket next Saturday. The rocket will be carrying six communications satellites for Orbcomm, a New Jersey-based company. The satellites are small, and they provide two-way data messaging services.

The window for next Saturday's launch is between 9:39 a.m. and 10:33 a.m.

A Falcon 9 rocket, which is similar to the one launched two weeks ago, will be blasting off from pad No. 40 at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.

Just like the previous launch, the Falcon 9 rocket will have launch legs to land the first stage rocket off Brevard County's coast in the Atlantic Ocean.

SpaceX is still trying to gather more information on the last splashdown in the Atlantic. Last week, SpaceX released a grainy video feed of the touchdown in the ocean.

SpaceX tried to clean up the images, but it didn't have much luck. A video has been posted to the company's website hoping the public can help out.

"Try to crowd source -- see if people out there can actually make it look even better because I know there are people out there that are really good at fixing video streams," said Elon Musk, founder and CEO of SpaceX.

Musk hopes the rocket legs will allow SpaceX to land the rocket on land at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station by the end of the year -- a move that could save the company millions of dollars by making the rocket reusable.

On Friday, SpaceX successfully launched and landed its prototype rocket in Texas.

Quelle: NEWS13

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Update: 8.05.2014

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Quelle: SpaceX

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Update: 9.05.2014

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Forecast good for SpaceX launch

The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket was raised to its vertical position this morning in anticipation of this afternoon's planned launch.
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The forecast looks good for SpaceX's planned 9:47 a.m. Saturday launch of a Falcon 9 rocket carrying a six-pack of commercial satellites from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.
There's a 70 percent chance of favorable conditions during the launch window extending to 10:41 a.m., according to the Air Force's 45th Weather Squadron.
SpaceX planned to test-fire a Falcon 9 rocket's main engines today at Launch Complex 40. There was no word by early evening on whether the test was complete and successful.
If the launch slips to Sunday, the forecast improves slightly to 80 percent "go."
The mission is the first of two planned this year for Orbcomm Inc., a New Jersey-based public company specializing in machine-to-machine communications that track the location and health of heavy equipment, truck trailers, rail cars and ships operating around the world.
This upcoming launch will attempt to place the first six Orbcomm Generation 2, or OG2, satellites in low Earth orbit. Eleven more satellites will follow late this year to fill out a constellation of 17.
"We're just a few hours away from the launch of our first OG2 satellite, and are eager to kick off a new chapter for Orbcomm," Chief Financial Officer Robert Costantini told investors Thursday during a conference call reporting quarterly financial results.
Quelle: Florida Today

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Update: 22.30 MESZ

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SpaceX postpones planned Saturday launch

SpaceX has postponed this weekend's planned launch of a Falcon 9 rocket carrying six commercial satellites for Orbcomm, likely for a couple of weeks.

The company ran into problems while preparing to test-fire a Falcon 9 rocket's main engines, the last major pre-launch milestone.

The so-called static-fire test had been planned Thursday, then was stopped today while the rocket was being fueled.

The launch had been targeted for 9:47 a.m. Saturday, with Sunday as a backup.

"We will keep you posted on when the next launch attempt will take place but it's likely to be later this month," Orbcomm reported on its Web site.

During a conference call on Thursday with investors, Orbcomm CEO Marc Eisenberg said he believed May 26 would be the next potential launch opportunity if the mission was unable to launch this weekend.

That would follow two United Launch Alliance missions coming up soon: the launch of a GPS satellite on a Delta IV rocket planned next Thursday, and of a National Reconnaissance Office satellite on an Atlas V rocket, planned May 22.

When the Falcon 9 is ready, SpaceX will attempt to loft the first six of 17 Orbcomm Generation 2, or OG2, satellites into low Earth orbit.

Quelle: Florida Today

 

 


2547 Views

Freitag, 9. Mai 2014 - 12:33 Uhr

Raumfahrt - Ukraine Krise trifft US-Raumfahrtindustrie

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Since the break up of the Soviet Union, the space industries of Russia, Ukraine, and the US have become increasingly integrated and codependent.

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In February, when Russian troops moved into the Crimea peninsula to support pro-Russian nationalists, the main European and US response was to impose trade and financial sanctions on individuals and companies closely connected to the Crimea-separatist movement or to the Russian government.
But the move generated an unanticipated result: a major (if short-term) shock to the billion-dollar space industry. US-built satellites and components are now denied export licenses for launch in Russia, NASA has suspended all non-international space station (ISS) contact with Russia, and the long-term supply of rocket engines to two major US launch companies is suddenly at risk.
Antares
“Over the past 20 years the US and Russian/Ukrainian space launch vehicle industries have become steadily more integrated,” says Jonathan McDowell, a launch analyst and astrophysicist at Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. The United Launch Alliance (ULA), a joint venture between Lockheed Martin and Boeing, relies on RD-180 Russian engines for its Atlas V heavy-lift vehicle. The Orbital Sciences Corporation's Antares medium-lift launcher (image right), which provides cargo supplies to International Space Station (ISS), uses a similar Russian engine that is no longer made. Moreover, the lower stage of Antares is built in the politically unstable eastern Ukraine.
At least five commercial and research satellites depend on US parts, and one Canadian military satellite (M3MSat) has had its launch from Kazakhstan scrubbed due to sanctions. More cancellations are expected. “There will be some launch delays while the US and European [manufacturers] ramp up to cover the shortfall,” says McDowell. Ironically, the short-term effect on the Russian space industry will be minimal, since many launches were paid in advance.
A new US industry?
SpaceX, which supplies ISS with its Falcon 9 launcher, doesn’t use Russian engines. But as of early May, the company was using sanctions to sue ULA and the Department of Defense in order to break a recently signed multibillion dollar no-bid contract to launch 37 military and intelligence satellites.
SpaceX believes they could win some of the launches in a fair competition with ULA. “The Atlas V cannot possibly be described as providing ‘assured access to space’ for our nation when supply of the main engine depends on President Putin’s permission,” said SpaceX CEO Elon Musk in testimony to Congress.
Under a court injunction passed last week, ULA and the US Air Force are prohibited from making deals with their Russian engine supplier. ULA has enough engines in stock for the next 30 months, but has another 11 on order and cannot get spare parts. Atlas could be grounded by 2017.
Concern over the US dependence on Russian engines has reached Congress. The 29 April draft of the 2015 defense authorization bill by the House Armed Services strategic forces subcommittee has $220 million set aside for the development of a US engine to replace the RD-180. The project, which has already received some support in the Senate, is expected to cost $1.2 billion by the time it is complete.
Orbital Sciences is also seeking new engines: In a conference call in early April with investors, CEO David W. Thompson said that their engine supply was sufficient for the next three years but not for any subsequent missions or new customers. Thompson stated that the company was looking at three suppliers for its engines, two Russian and one US. “There is some additional product R&D that would be required over the next couple of years if we switch over to one of those new approaches, but it’s fairly modest,” said Thompson. “Certainly nothing of the magnitude of the original development costs.”
The instability in Ukraine has also led Orbital Sciences to evaluate an alternative supplier for its first stage, despite protests from Ukrainian manufacturer Yuzhnoye that there will be no production interruptions from their factory. Currently, the company has three first-stage structures at its US facilities and another two set to ship soon. And on 29 April, Orbital Sciences announced it was merging with ATK, which manufactures solid-fuel motors for the second stage of Antares.
Thompson said that the main attraction of the deal was bringing more production in-house, and that ATK has a promising replacement for the first-stage engine. A final decision over which engine goes in the first stage will shortly be made next month, with first flight in 2017.
McDowell summarized the situation: “The main practical effect of this [Ukraine] crisis will be to subsidize development of new US rocket engines and to expand the US and European launch market's capacity.”
Quelle: physicstoday

2629 Views

Freitag, 9. Mai 2014 - 11:51 Uhr

Mars-Curiosity-Chroniken - Curiosity-News Sol 594-609

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This image was taken by Mastcam: Right (MAST_RIGHT) onboard NASA's Mars rover Curiosity on Sol 594 (2014-04-08 11:12:35 UTC). 
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This image was taken by Mastcam: Right (MAST_RIGHT) onboard NASA's Mars rover Curiosity on Sol 594 (2014-04-08 11:19:15 UTC). 
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This image was taken by Mastcam: Right (MAST_RIGHT) onboard NASA's Mars rover Curiosity on Sol 594 (2014-04-08 13:28:23 UTC). 
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This image was taken by ChemCam: Remote Micro-Imager (CHEMCAM_RMI) onboard NASA's Mars rover Curiosity on Sol 594 (2014-04-08 12:50:50 UTC).
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This image was taken by Navcam: Right B (NAV_RIGHT_B) onboard NASA's Mars rover Curiosity on Sol 594 (2014-04-08 11:06:55 UTC). 
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This image was taken by Mastcam: Left (MAST_LEFT) onboard NASA's Mars rover Curiosity on Sol 595 (2014-04-09 11:01:37 UTC). 
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This image was taken by Mastcam: Right (MAST_RIGHT) onboard NASA's Mars rover Curiosity on Sol 595 (2014-04-09 11:02:00 UTC). 
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This image was taken by Mastcam: Right (MAST_RIGHT) onboard NASA's Mars rover Curiosity on Sol 595 (2014-04-09 11:23:13 UTC). 
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This image was taken by Mastcam: Right (MAST_RIGHT) onboard NASA's Mars rover Curiosity on Sol 595 (2014-04-09 11:44:22 UTC). 
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This image was taken by Mastcam: Left (MAST_LEFT) onboard NASA's Mars rover Curiosity on Sol 595 (2014-04-09 12:03:38 UTC).
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This image was taken by Mastcam: Left (MAST_LEFT) onboard NASA's Mars rover Curiosity on Sol 595 (2014-04-09 12:38:03 UTC). 
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This image was taken by Mastcam: Left (MAST_LEFT) onboard NASA's Mars rover Curiosity on Sol 595 (2014-04-09 12:39:04 UTC). 
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This image was taken by Mastcam: Right (MAST_RIGHT) onboard NASA's Mars rover Curiosity on Sol 595 (2014-04-09 12:42:09 UTC). 
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This image was taken by Mastcam: Right (MAST_RIGHT) onboard NASA's Mars rover Curiosity on Sol 595 (2014-04-09 12:55:35 UTC). 
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This image was taken by Mastcam: Right (MAST_RIGHT) onboard NASA's Mars rover Curiosity on Sol 595 (2014-04-09 12:56:53 UTC). 
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This image was taken by Mastcam: Right (MAST_RIGHT) onboard NASA's Mars rover Curiosity on Sol 595 (2014-04-09 13:06:17 UTC). 
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This image was taken by Navcam: Right B (NAV_RIGHT_B) onboard NASA's Mars rover Curiosity on Sol 595 (2014-04-09 14:51:47 UTC). 
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This image was taken by Mastcam: Left (MAST_LEFT) onboard NASA's Mars rover Curiosity on Sol 597 (2014-04-11 11:08:07 UTC). 
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This image was taken by Mastcam: Left (MAST_LEFT) onboard NASA's Mars rover Curiosity on Sol 597 (2014-04-11 13:47:06 UTC).
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This image was taken by Navcam: Right B (NAV_RIGHT_B) onboard NASA's Mars rover Curiosity on Sol 597 (2014-04-11 13:33:28 UTC). 
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This image was taken by Navcam: Right B (NAV_RIGHT_B) onboard NASA's Mars rover Curiosity on Sol 597 (2014-04-11 15:32:29 UTC). 
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This image was taken by Navcam: Left B (NAV_LEFT_B) onboard NASA's Mars rover Curiosity on Sol 597 (2014-04-11 15:33:00 UTC). 
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This image was taken by Rear Hazcam: Right B (RHAZ_RIGHT_B) onboard NASA's Mars rover Curiosity on Sol 597 (2014-04-11 13:05:24 UTC). 
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This image was taken by Front Hazcam: Left B (FHAZ_LEFT_B) onboard NASA's Mars rover Curiosity on Sol 597 (2014-04-11 13:40:37 UTC). 
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Using an onboard focusing process, the Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) aboard NASA's Mars rover Curiosity created this product by merging two to eight images previously taken by the MAHLI, located on the turret at the end of the rover's robotic arm.
Curiosity performed the merge on April 15, 2014, Sol 601 of the Mars Science Laboratory Mission, at 22:40:02 UTC. The focus motor count position was 13890. This number indicates the lens position of the first image that was merged.
The onboard focus merge is sometimes performed on images acquired the same sol as the merge, and sometimes uses pictures obtained on an earlier sol. Focus merging is a method to make a composite of images of the same target acquired at different focus positions to bring all (or, as many as possible) features into focus in a single image. Because the MAHLI focus merge is performed on Mars, it also serves as a means to reduce the number of images sent back to Earth. Each focus merge produces two images: a color, best-focus product and a black-and-white image that scientists can use to estimate focus position for each element of the best focus product. Thus, up to eight images can be merged, reducing the number of images returned to Earth to two. 
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Using an onboard focusing process, the Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) aboard NASA's Mars rover Curiosity created this product by merging two to eight images previously taken by the MAHLI, located on the turret at the end of the rover's robotic arm.
Curiosity performed the merge on April 15, 2014, Sol 601 of the Mars Science Laboratory Mission, at 22:55:28 UTC. The focus motor count position was 12948. This number indicates the lens position of the first image that was merged.
The onboard focus merge is sometimes performed on images acquired the same sol as the merge, and sometimes uses pictures obtained on an earlier sol. Focus merging is a method to make a composite of images of the same target acquired at different focus positions to bring all (or, as many as possible) features into focus in a single image. Because the MAHLI focus merge is performed on Mars, it also serves as a means to reduce the number of images sent back to Earth. Each focus merge produces two images: a color, best-focus product and a black-and-white image that scientists can use to estimate focus position for each element of the best focus product. Thus, up to eight images can be merged, reducing the number of images returned to Earth to two. 
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NASA's Mars rover Curiosity acquired this image using its Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI), located on the turret at the end of the rover's robotic arm, on April 15, 2014, Sol 601 of the Mars Science Laboratory Mission, at 16:43:23 UTC.
When this image was obtained, the focus motor count position was 12790. This number indicates the internal position of the MAHLI lens at the time the image was acquired. This count also tells whether the dust cover was open or closed. Values between 0 and 6000 mean the dust cover was closed; values between 12500 and 16000 occur when the cover is open. For close-up images, the motor count can in some cases be used to estimate the distance between the MAHLI lens and target. For example, in-focus images obtained with the dust cover open for which the lens was 2.5 cm from the target have a motor count near 15270. If the lens is 5 cm from the target, the motor count is near 14360; if 7 cm, 13980; 10 cm, 13635; 15 cm, 13325; 20 cm, 13155; 25 cm, 13050; 30 cm, 12970. These correspond to image scales, in micrometers per pixel, of about 16, 25, 32, 42, 60, 77, 95, and 113.
Most images acquired by MAHLI in daylight use the sun as an illumination source. However, in some cases, MAHLI's two groups of white light LEDs and one group of longwave ultraviolet (UV) LEDs might be used to illuminate targets. When Curiosity acquired this image, the group 1 white light LEDs were off, the group 2 white light LEDs were off, and the ultraviolet (UV) LEDS were off. 
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NASA's Mars rover Curiosity acquired this image using its Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI), located on the turret at the end of the rover's robotic arm, on April 15, 2014, Sol 601 of the Mars Science Laboratory Mission, at 17:04:03 UTC.
When this image was obtained, the focus motor count position was 13027. This number indicates the internal position of the MAHLI lens at the time the image was acquired. This count also tells whether the dust cover was open or closed. Values between 0 and 6000 mean the dust cover was closed; values between 12500 and 16000 occur when the cover is open. For close-up images, the motor count can in some cases be used to estimate the distance between the MAHLI lens and target. For example, in-focus images obtained with the dust cover open for which the lens was 2.5 cm from the target have a motor count near 15270. If the lens is 5 cm from the target, the motor count is near 14360; if 7 cm, 13980; 10 cm, 13635; 15 cm, 13325; 20 cm, 13155; 25 cm, 13050; 30 cm, 12970. These correspond to image scales, in micrometers per pixel, of about 16, 25, 32, 42, 60, 77, 95, and 113.
Most images acquired by MAHLI in daylight use the sun as an illumination source. However, in some cases, MAHLI's two groups of white light LEDs and one group of longwave ultraviolet (UV) LEDs might be used to illuminate targets. When Curiosity acquired this image, the group 1 white light LEDs were off, the group 2 white light LEDs were off, and the ultraviolet (UV) LEDS were off. 
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This image was taken by Mastcam: Right (MAST_RIGHT) onboard NASA's Mars rover Curiosity on Sol 601 (2014-04-15 14:34:41 UTC). 
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This image was taken by Mastcam: Right (MAST_RIGHT) onboard NASA's Mars rover Curiosity on Sol 601 (2014-04-15 14:49:31 UTC). 
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This image was taken by Mastcam: Right (MAST_RIGHT) onboard NASA's Mars rover Curiosity on Sol 601 (2014-04-15 14:50:50 UTC). 
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This image was taken by Mastcam: Right (MAST_RIGHT) onboard NASA's Mars rover Curiosity on Sol 601 (2014-04-15 14:59:28 UTC). 
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This image was taken by Mastcam: Left (MAST_LEFT) onboard NASA's Mars rover Curiosity on Sol 601 (2014-04-15 15:10:36 UTC). 
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This image was taken by Navcam: Right B (NAV_RIGHT_B) onboard NASA's Mars rover Curiosity on Sol 601 (2014-04-15 17:05:15 UTC). 
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This image was taken by Front Hazcam: Left B (FHAZ_LEFT_B) onboard NASA's Mars rover Curiosity on Sol 601 (2014-04-15 17:04:41 UTC). 
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This image was taken by Mastcam: Right (MAST_RIGHT) onboard NASA's Mars rover Curiosity on Sol 602 (2014-04-16 17:00:19 UTC). 
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This image was taken by Mastcam: Right (MAST_RIGHT) onboard NASA's Mars rover Curiosity on Sol 603 (2014-04-17 15:13:06 UTC). 
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This image was taken by Mastcam: Right (MAST_RIGHT) onboard NASA's Mars rover Curiosity on Sol 603 (2014-04-17 15:13:24 UTC). 
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This image was taken by Mastcam: Right (MAST_RIGHT) onboard NASA's Mars rover Curiosity on Sol 603 (2014-04-17 15:18:56 UTC). 
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This image was taken by Navcam: Right B (NAV_RIGHT_B) onboard NASA's Mars rover Curiosity on Sol 603 (2014-04-17 16:30:46 UTC). 
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This image was taken by Navcam: Right B (NAV_RIGHT_B) onboard NASA's Mars rover Curiosity on Sol 603 (2014-04-17 17:29:49 UTC). 
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This image was taken by Mastcam: Right (MAST_RIGHT) onboard NASA's Mars rover Curiosity on Sol 604 (2014-04-18 17:57:38 UTC). 
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This image was taken by Mastcam: Right (MAST_RIGHT) onboard NASA's Mars rover Curiosity on Sol 604 (2014-04-18 18:04:17 UTC).
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This image was taken by Mastcam: Right (MAST_RIGHT) onboard NASA's Mars rover Curiosity on Sol 604 (2014-04-18 18:06:40 UTC).
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NASA's Mars rover Curiosity acquired this image using its Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI), located on the turret at the end of the rover's robotic arm, on April 19, 2014, Sol 605 of the Mars Science Laboratory Mission, at 19:54:39 UTC.
When this image was obtained, the focus motor count position was 14002. This number indicates the internal position of the MAHLI lens at the time the image was acquired. This count also tells whether the dust cover was open or closed. Values between 0 and 6000 mean the dust cover was closed; values between 12500 and 16000 occur when the cover is open. For close-up images, the motor count can in some cases be used to estimate the distance between the MAHLI lens and target. For example, in-focus images obtained with the dust cover open for which the lens was 2.5 cm from the target have a motor count near 15270. If the lens is 5 cm from the target, the motor count is near 14360; if 7 cm, 13980; 10 cm, 13635; 15 cm, 13325; 20 cm, 13155; 25 cm, 13050; 30 cm, 12970. These correspond to image scales, in micrometers per pixel, of about 16, 25, 32, 42, 60, 77, 95, and 113.
Most images acquired by MAHLI in daylight use the sun as an illumination source. However, in some cases, MAHLI's two groups of white light LEDs and one group of longwave ultraviolet (UV) LEDs might be used to illuminate targets. When Curiosity acquired this image, the group 1 white light LEDs were off, the group 2 white light LEDs were off, and the ultraviolet (UV) LEDS were off. 
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This image was taken by ChemCam: Remote Micro-Imager (CHEMCAM_RMI) onboard NASA's Mars rover Curiosity on Sol 605 (2014-04-19 18:29:44 UTC).
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This image was taken by Navcam: Right B (NAV_RIGHT_B) onboard NASA's Mars rover Curiosity on Sol 605 (2014-04-19 20:17:14 UTC). 
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This image was taken by Front Hazcam: Left B (FHAZ_LEFT_B) onboard NASA's Mars rover Curiosity on Sol 605 (2014-04-19 20:16:53 UTC). 
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This image was taken by Mastcam: Right (MAST_RIGHT) onboard NASA's Mars rover Curiosity on Sol 606 (2014-04-20 18:35:00 UTC). 
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This image was taken by Mastcam: Right (MAST_RIGHT) onboard NASA's Mars rover Curiosity on Sol 606 (2014-04-20 22:21:29 UTC).
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This image was taken by Mastcam: Right (MAST_RIGHT) onboard NASA's Mars rover Curiosity on Sol 606 (2014-04-21 03:12:06 UTC). 
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This image was taken by Navcam: Right B (NAV_RIGHT_B) onboard NASA's Mars rover Curiosity on Sol 606 (2014-04-20 19:57:32 UTC). 
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This image was taken by Navcam: Right B (NAV_RIGHT_B) onboard NASA's Mars rover Curiosity on Sol 606 (2014-04-20 20:39:06 UTC). 
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This image was taken by Rear Hazcam: Left B (RHAZ_LEFT_B) onboard NASA's Mars rover Curiosity on Sol 607 (2014-04-21 19:05:15 UTC).
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This image was taken by Front Hazcam: Left B (FHAZ_LEFT_B) onboard NASA's Mars rover Curiosity on Sol 607 (2014-04-21 19:04:41 UTC). 
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This image was taken by Mastcam: Right (MAST_RIGHT) onboard NASA's Mars rover Curiosity on Sol 608 (2014-04-22 20:50:21 UTC). 
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This image was taken by Mastcam: Right (MAST_RIGHT) onboard NASA's Mars rover Curiosity on Sol 609 (2014-04-23 21:08:41 UTC). 
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This image was taken by Mastcam: Right (MAST_RIGHT) onboard NASA's Mars rover Curiosity on Sol 609 (2014-04-23 21:12:53 UTC). 
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Tags: Mars-Rover Curiosity-News Sol 594-609 

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Freitag, 9. Mai 2014 - 09:41 Uhr

Luftfahrt - NASA und DLR beginnen mit ACCESS II Alternativ Düsentreibstoff Flugtests

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NRC’s CT-133 research aircraft exits the hangar for a morning of final prep and fueling for flights later in the day.

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NASA took to the skies today -- along with international partners the German Aerospace Center (DLR) and National Research Council of Canada (NRC) -- to begin a series of flight tests to gather critical data that may aid in the development of cleaner aircraft fuels.
The flight tests over Palmdale, California, called Alternative Fuel Effects on Contrails and Cruise Emissions II (ACCESS II), include NASA's DC-8 and HU-25C Guardian, DLR's Falcon 20-E5, and NRC's CT-133 research aircraft.
NASA's DC-8 leads the flight formation as the "guinea pig" of this experiment. Its engines will burn various fuel blends, while the Falcon and CT-133 measure emissions and observe contrail formation from the DC-8.
Flying as high as 40,000 feet, the DC-8's four CFM56 engines burn either traditional jet fuel JP-8 or a 50-50 blend of JP-8 and renewable alternative fuel of hydro processed esters and fatty acids produced from camelina plant oil.
"This is a great example of how NASA works with partners around the globe to solve the challenges common to the international aviation community such as understanding emission characteristics from the use of alternative fuels which presents a great potential for significant reductions in harmful emissions," said Jaiwon Shin, NASA's associate administrator for aeronautics research.
Measurements taken during ACCESS I in 2013, showed soot levels were 40 to 60 percent lower in the emissions from burning blended fuels than those of JP-8, according to Bruce Anderson, NASA's principal investigator for the ACCESS program.
"We saw big changes in soot emissions from the DC-8, but we weren't able to make clear ties between the type of fuel burned and formation of contrails," said Anderson. "So for ACCESS II we really want to dig into that."
ACCESS II flights run through May 23.
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NASA’s DC-8 research aircraft, once in flight, provides the emissions and contrails for the other aircraft to “sniff” and store data.
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The HU-25 Guardian aircraft from NASA’s Langley Research Center undergoes final prep.
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DLR’s Falcon 20-E5, with NRC’s CT-133 in the background.
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It’s a tight fit inside the DLR’s Falcon with racks of instrumentation lining the fuselage walls.
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Flight crew boards the HU-25C Guardian in preparation for ACCESS II tests.
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NASA Aeronautics Set to Premiere High-Flying Sequel
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It's the season for sequels. Not only in Hollywood, but over the high desert of California as well.
For the second time in as many years, NASA researchers beginning in early May will take to the skies with a DC-8 and other aircraft to conduct a series of flight tests designed to study the effects on emissions and contrail formation of burning alternative fuels in jet engines.
And just like a good movie sequel, this year's Alternative Fuel Effects on Contrails and Cruise Emissions flight tests, known as ACCESS II for short, will feature a number of new plot twists to keep the research story interesting and moving forward.
Among them are new science instruments, new flight profiles to follow and a decidedly new international flavor to the effort thanks to the direct participation of research aircraft and scientists from Germany and Canada.
"We’re going to have quite a few people speaking German. We’ll have some Canadians present and the pilot for the Canadian aircraft is Australian, so it should be a real international crowd out there," said Brian Beaton, NASA's ACCESS II integration manager.
ACCESS II involves flying NASA's workhorse DC-8 as high as 40,000 feet while its four CFM56 engines burn either JP-8 jet fuel, or a 50-50 blend of JP-8 and renewable alternative fuel of hydro processed esters and fatty acids produced from camelina plant oil.
Meanwhile, a trio of instrumented research aircraft will take turns flying behind the DC-8 at distances ranging from 300 feet to more than 10 miles in order to take measurements on emissions, and to study contrail formation as the different fuels are used.
The aircraft will include NASA's HU-25C Guardian jet based at NASA's Langley Research Center in Virginia, a Falcon 20-E5 jet owned by the German Aerospace Center, and a CT-133 jet provided by the National Research Council of Canada.
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The HU-25C Guardian aircraft will look like this when it flies behind NASA's DC-8 as seen in this image from ACCESS I flights in 2013.
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"We are excited to be working with our international partners in this very important research that could lead to worldwide environmental benefits and enable the growth in global air travel forecast for the decades ahead," said Ruben Del Rosario, manager of NASA's Fixed Wing Project.
The story so far
Measurements taken during ACCESS I in 2013 of the burned blended fuel showed soot emissions were reduced by 40 to 60 percent compared to JP-8 fuel by itself, according to Bruce Anderson, NASA's principal investigator for the ACCESS program.
"We saw big changes in soot emissions from the DC-8, but we weren't able to make clear ties between the type of fuel burned and formation of contrails. So for ACCESS II we really want to dig into that," Anderson said.
Understanding more about contrail formation is important because they are considered an essential variable in discussions about climate change.
While it is known that contrails are ice particles that form when water vapor from jet exhaust condenses and freezes on some source of nuclei, there are a number of different models to suggest what the source of the nuclei might be, Anderson said.
The source could be soot from the jet engine exhaust, so the use of alternate fuels might reduce contrail formation. The source could be from the sulfur that is present in jet fuels, so a low-sulfur or non-sulfur fuel might make a difference. And still other models suggest that just the presence of normal background aerosols in the atmosphere is enough to trigger contrails.
"It could be any or all of those things. Some people say there’s so much water vapor in the exhaust of an aircraft that any particles at all will seed the formation of ice," Anderson said.
To help test at least one of those possibilities, for ACCESS II the DC-8 will fly with both a low sulfur and high sulfur grade of JP-8 jet fuel.
A new twist
Another significant addition to this year's ACCESS II, as compared to the original in 2013, is the plan to fly the research aircraft into the turbulent, twisting air that streams for miles behind the DC-8’s wingtips.
"Before, it was a mission rule to avoid flying into the wingtip wake vortices because of the potential structural hazards for the research chase plane that accompany this," Beaton said.
To safely relax this rule, NASA performed detailed studies of the DC-8 wake vortices at various altitudes and flight conditions with the Guardian following at close in trail.
Extensive analysis and computer simulations were run to provide the pilots with guidance in selecting trailing distances where it’s safe to fly through the vortices – which occur with every aircraft -- to collect observations of exhaust composition and contrail characteristics.
The analyses suggest that at 14 miles separation, the HU-25C Guardian can cross the DC-8’s wake vortices and expect a roller-coaster kind of ride, but with no danger of airframe damage.
"Our goal is to not do aerobatics," Beaton said.
Instead, the goal is to collect data and sample the number particles and amount of carbon dioxide trapped within the vortices and compare that to the amount of fuel burned.
Instruments aboard the German Falcon 20 will pay particular attention to the chemistry at play, while the Canadian CT-133's research emphasis will be on the aerodynamics and physics of the wingtip wake vortices themselves – data that will complement the measurements NASA's Guardian is to record, Anderson said.
End credits
As in the original ACCESS flown during 2013, the ACCESS II flights will be staged from NASA's Armstrong Aircraft Operations Facility in Palmdale, Calif., and mostly take place within restricted airspace near Edwards Air Force Base, Calif.
Also, if weather conditions permit, NASA's Guardian jet will take advantage of "targets of opportunity" and – in coordination with air traffic controllers and airliner pilots – take measurements while trailing airliners flying in the Southern California region from a safe distance of five miles or more.
ACCESS follows a pair of Alternative Aviation Fuel Experiment studies conducted in 2009 and 2011 in which ground-based instruments measured the DC-8's exhaust emissions as the aircraft burned alternative fuels while remaining parked on the ramp at the Palmdale facility.
Within NASA, ACCESS II is a joint project involving researchers at Armstrong, Langley, and the Glenn Research Center in Cleveland. The research supports NASA aeronautics' strategic vision, which has as a goal to enable transition of industry to low-carbon fuels and alternative propulsion systems.
As part of the international team involved with this research, NASA will share its findings with the 24 member nations that make up the International Forum for Aviation Research, which NASA currently chairs.
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Quelle: NASA

2490 Views

Freitag, 9. Mai 2014 - 09:00 Uhr

Raumfahrt - Der Vater von Beagle 2 Mars-Lander: Colin Pillinger stirbt mit 70

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PARIS — British planetary scientist Colin Pillinger, whose single-minded determination all but forced the European Space Agency to launch the ill-fated Beagle 2 lander to Mars in 2003, is dead at 70, according to the Open University, where he was a long-time professor. The cause was a cerebral hemorrhage.
Pillinger, with his mad-scientist’s hair and sideburns, was Beagle 2’s ubiquitous public face and the project’s prime mover. The mission had several near-death experiences in development and it was with some resentment that ESA agreed to carry the lander on the larger Mars Express orbiter mission. 
Beagle 2 began and was maintained on a shoestring budget. But it ultimately elicited the kind of public support, in Britain and around the world, that few missions ever achieve.
ESA’s Mars Express has produced spectacular pictures of Mars for a decade. But for a time, Mars Express was almost an afterthought as Beagle 2’s fate — a likely crash on Mars — captured the world’s attention during Christmas 2003.
ESA and British officials said afterward that while Beagle 2 never functioned as a mission to search for martian life, it was an unqualified success in raising public awareness for science and technology, and specifically for space exploration.
Pillinger’s sharply drawn personality was key to Beagle 2 and helped turn a technical failure into a public relations success. ESA has since made the search for life a prime goal of its ExoMars missions, planned for launch in 2016 and 2018.
In an interview with ESA as Mars Express and Beagle 2 were approaching Mars orbit in 2003, Pillinger was asked what advice he would give to a student considering space research as a career. His answer:
“Do it! It is absolutely phenomenal training for anybody, even if they never get involved in another space mission in their lives. The training you get, and the thought processes you develop, will stand you in good stead whatever you do in later life, whether you are a bricklayer or a barrister!”
Quelle: SpaceNews
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Tributes paid by The Open University to “inspirational” planetary scientist Professor Colin Pillinger

The Open University (OU) is paying tribute to one of its leading scientific academics Professor Colin Pillinger, who has died at the age of 70.
The Emeritus Professor worked for the OU for 35 years in Planetary and Space Sciences and was head of the Planetary & Space Science Research Institute (PSSRI) until 2005. He was already known in global planetary circles but became a household name when he built a probe to search for Martian life – the Beagle 2 spacecraft, just one highlight of a lifetime dedicated to planetary research.
Awarded a CBE in 2003 Professor Pillinger also had the auspicious accolade of having an asteroid named after him the following year
Professor Pillinger was highly respected by the global planetary science community and was a frequent commentator on space activity.
Former colleagues described him as “enthusiastic, inspirational and never-failing in his drive to promote planetary sciences and the science that would come from missions to the Moon and Mars”.
Professor in Planetary Sciences Monica Grady, who worked with him for 35 years said: “He was my PhD supervisor, and one of the most influential figures in my life, both academically and as a friend. We collaborated on a great variety of projects, and were talking about new things to work on when I saw him last week. I will miss him, as I’m sure that many others will as well.”
Martin Bean, Vice-Chancellor, The Open University, said: “Professor Pillinger was not only an inspiration to us here at the OU, but to people across the world with his infectious enthusiasm for science and discovery. His expertise continues to inform current space and scientific research – such as the work by the OU on Europe’s Rosetta comet landing craft.
“I have no doubt that Colin’s legacy will be to inspire and stimulate study in this field for many decades to come. Here at the OU we are immensely proud of our association with such a much-valued and much-loved scientist.”
Prof David Southwood, President of the Royal Astronomical Society, said: “Colin was driven by science but especially the will to establish whether Mars had, has or could have sustained life. That will was expressed in enthusiasm, wit and tireless work and was infectious. He touched many lives and careers. He will be much missed."
Imran Khan, Chief Executive of the British Science Association, said: "Colin Pillinger was a true ambassador for science; not only did his work capture the public's imagination, he was incredibly warm and generous with his time, especially in inspiring younger generations of scientists to follow in his footsteps. I'm sure the thoughts of everyone who had the privilege of meeting him will be with his friends and family at this time."
Professor Pillinger was elected to Fellowship of the Royal Society in 1993 for the major contributions he has made to geochemistry and cosmochemistry. Since his early work on the Apollo lunar samples, he had been a specialist in the occurrence and isotopic composition of carbon, nitrogen and hydrogen in extraterrestrial materials. This has led him to the investigation of the possibilities of life beyond Earth, and particularly the search for life on Mars.
The probe Beagle 2, named after Charles Darwin’s HMS Beagle, was carried piggyback to the Red Planet on a European satellite, but contact was lost after it was deposited for landing in December 2003.
The Beagle 2 mission however succeeded in turning Professor Pillinger into an international star overnight and his expertise and charismatic West Country charm was in continual demand by media who saw him as the commentator of choice for numerous space and scientific discoveries.
Professor Pillinger was married to wife Judith and has two children Shusanah and Nicholas.
Quelle: The Open University

2359 Views

Freitag, 9. Mai 2014 - 08:45 Uhr

Astronomie - NASA erzeugt stellaren Staub im Labor

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A grain of lab-grown stellar dust as imaged by NASA Ames' Scanning Electron Microscope.

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Sometimes, to better understand astrophysical phenomena, you can’t beat recreating the extreme space environment in the laboratory. And in the case of the mysterious mechanisms behind stellar dust formation, you sometimes just have to build a special oven to ‘cook up’ the extreme conditions near a dying star.

Scientists of NASA’s Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif., have, for the first time, reproduced tiny particles of dust that are known to accumulate around red giant stars. Dust is usually a mild annoyance here on Earth, but stellar dust is very special stuff — it forms the building blocks for planets.
Using the Cosmic Simulation Chamber (COSmIC), Ames scientists have been able to create the same dust that is ejected into the interstellar medium (the tenuous dust and gas occupying the space between the stars) as a star approaches the end of its life. Our sun, for example, will puff up into a red giant star after it has run out of hydrogen fuel in its core (in a few billion years time) and starts the violent process of losing its outer layers, pumping dusty material into space.
However, until now, the production mechanisms behind these small dust grains have been a mystery and impossible to recreate in a laboratory setting.
“The harsh conditions of space are extremely difficult to reproduce in the laboratory, and have long hindered efforts to interpret and analyze observations from space,” said Ames space science researcher Farid Salama. “Using the COSmIC simulator we can now discover clues to questions about the composition and the evolution of the universe, both major objectives of NASA’s space research program.”
The key to COSmIC is its extreme-low pressure chamber at its heart. Able to simulate the stellar environment down to densities billions of times less than that of Earth’s atmosphere, jets of cold argon gas seeded with hydrocarbons are sprayed into the vacuum. The extreme cold, high radiation environment can then be simulated, blasting the whole system with an electrical discharge.
After the gas mixture was exposed to the mini space environment analogue, the researchers detected the production of tiny grains of dust that carry similar characteristics as the dust generated by dying stars. Using an electron scanning microscope, these primordial dust grains were studied (pictured top).
“During COSmIC experiments, we are able to form and detect nanoparticles on the order of 10 nanometers size, grains ranging from 100 to 500 nanometers and aggregates of grains up to 1.5 micrometers in diameter, about a tenth the width of a human hair, and observe their structure with SEM (Ames’ Scanning Electron Microscope), thus sampling a large size distribution of the grains produced,” said Ella Sciamma-O’Brien, of the BAER Institute and Ames research fellow.
In space, this dust becomes a critical part of the structure of the interstellar medium and, over millions to billions of years, accumulates around stars to form the building blocks of planets. Understanding planetary formation processes is becoming critical, especially during this ‘golden age’ of exoplanetary science.
“Today we are celebrating a major milestone in our understanding of the formation and the nature of cosmic dust grains that bears important implications in this new era of exoplanets discoveries,” said Salama.
Quelle: D-News

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