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Sonntag, 26. Juli 2015 - 21:00 Uhr

Raumfahrt - Earthrise Space Foundation (ESF) testet Mond-Rover auf Cape Canaveral

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Sagan performing mobility tests in NASA Lunar Regolith Bin. (Credit: ESF)
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KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, FLA. (ESF PR) – Earthrise Space Foundation (ESF) recently ventured out to Cape Canaveral to perform a series of tests on Sagan in NASA’s very own Lunar Regolith Bin.
The Swamp Works Facility is located in the former Apollo Flight Crew Training Building and hosts the largest indoor replication of a lunar-like landscape, packed with over 120 tons of BP-1 simulant (space dirt). The Lunar Regolith Test Bin was first created to help engineers and scientists test new mining technologies, and has continued to aid researchers in a multitude of extraterrestrial surface projects ever since.
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NASA test engineer Joe Beardall with Sagan rover. (Credit: ESF)
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ESF interns partnered with scientists in their visual test series, to assess the functionality of NASA’s Electrodynamic Dust Shield Technology (EDS). This type of research began back in the Apollo Era, when Astronauts first landed on the Moon.
Lunar soil was found to be very dusty and sticky due to the charging effects of solar winds. The particles were also jagged, leading them to scratch spacesuits, as well as face shields and other materials. It became such a problem, the mission almost ended in failure. Official reports stated that Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin were glad the mission didn’t last longer than three days because they were concerned their suits would not be able to seal back up due to the accumulation of dust.
Over time, NASA found they could use electrostatics to move particles around. EDS technology uses an electric curtain concept that has been shown to lift and transport particles using dielectrophorectic forces on a wide variety of soils. By printing a basic pattern on materials, researchers are able to send high voltage signals through varying waves to control the direction of soils, as long as they are out of sync with each other.
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Sagan with NASA engineered Electrodynamic Dust Shield lens. (Credit: ESF)
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The dust shield placed over Sagan’s camera lenses was transparent indium tin oxide painted on glass. Dust mitigation is a critical issue to tackle when competing in the Google Lunar XPRIZE, because if Sagan cameras are clouded with lunar regolith, he cannot transmit clear HD video.
In the end, all visual tests were successful and Swamp Works Manager, Jack Fox said, “We were pleased with the performance of our electrodynamic dust shield and we are grateful to the team for allowing us to integrate it onto their systems.”
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Vertical incline tests in Lunar Regolith Bin. (Credit: NASA/ Jack Fox)
After optics were assessed and completed, the team began its mobility test series. Standard roving motions were performed, as well as successful tork turns and the ability to dive into the depths of a crater and back out again. Sagan’s traction was nominal and had no slippage issues throughout the duration of the tests. For about an hour, the team pushed it’s rover to the limits, integrating software issues that might arise, as well as preforming incline tests on the tilt table that was built by the team a few years back.
This collaboration with NASA Kennedy has benefited our development stages greatly, and “is very exciting to see the work of students become a reality!” Ruben Nunez, President and CEO of the Earthrise Space Foundation. “Sagan has been designed with components that can be space qualified in order to send him to the Moon, and we look forward to fulfilling a lunar mission in the future.”
About Earthrise Space Foundation
Earthrise Space Foundation (ESF) is a Florida-based 501 (c)(3) non-profit corporation dedicated to developing space technology in collaboration with industry and academic institutions. ESF’s is creating a key set of lunar spacecraft infrastructure which will provide a platform for the delivery of commercial payloads to the lunar surface. All ESF efforts involve significant numbers of students and young professionals through paid internships, providing them with hands on experience building real spacecraft, and preparing them for future employment in the entrepreneurial space industry.
Quelle: Parabolic Arc.

Tags: Raumfahrt 

1646 Views

Sonntag, 26. Juli 2015 - 13:20 Uhr

Raumfahrt - Start von Long March 3B mit 2 Navigation Satelliten

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A Long March 3B rocket lifted off from the Xichang space center at 1229 GMT (8:29 a.m. EDT) Saturday with two Beidou navigation satellites. Credit: Xinhua
Two Chinese satellites lifted off Saturday on top of a Long March 3B rocket and rode into orbit nearly 14,000 miles above Earth to expand the country’s space-based navigation network.
The Long March 3B rocket lit its hydrazine-burning first stage and four strap-on boosters at 1229 GMT (8:29 a.m. EDT) Saturday and soared away from the Xichang launch center in southwestern China’s Sichuan province, according to the state-run Xinhua news agency.
Liftoff occurred at 8:29 p.m. Beijing time, or around sunset at the mountainous Xichang launch base.
A Yuanzheng upper stage injected the two Beidou satellites into a near-circular orbit about 22,000 kilometers, or 13,700 miles, above Earth more than three hours after liftoff. They are orbiting at an inclination of 55 degrees, according to tracking data released by the U.S. military.
China’s Yuanzheng space tug, flying for the second time on a Long March launch vehicle, put the tandem payloads into an on-target orbit near their final operating positions. Long March rockets deployed previous Beidou satellite models into highly elliptical orbits, and the spacecraft had to use their own fuel to reach their final locations high above Earth.
With the orbit achieved Saturday, the nearly one-ton Beidou satellites will not have to travel far to reach their intended operating posts at 13,300 miles altitude.
The satellites launched Saturday are the second and third units to reach orbit in a new 35-satellite constellation China is developing to provide global navigation coverage by 2020.
Saturday’s launch put the first two of at least 27 satellites into medium Earth orbit, and a Long March mission in March placed the first of three Beidou spacecraft expected to go into an inclined orbit approximately 22,300 miles up. Five Beidou satellites will be stationed in low-inclination geosynchronous orbits 22,300 miles above the equator.
When complete, the Beidou system will join the U.S. Air Force’s Global Positioning System, Russia’s Glonass satellite network, and Europe’s Galileo fleet — which is still being deployed — as the world’s four navigation services with global reach.
The Beidou fleet’s expansion to worldwide service comes after it achieved initial operating capability with regional reach over the Asia-Pacific in December 2012.
Beidou managers say the constellation will provide positioning services with an accuracy of 10 meters, or about 33 feet, speed estimates within less than one foot per second, and time measurements within 10 nanoseconds.
Highlighting the Beidou network’s civilian applications, Chinese officials say the satellite fleet will aid in air, car and marine transportation, disaster relief, hydrological monitoring, and weather forecasting.
The Chinese military will also be a prime user of Beidou navigation data.
The third-generation Beidou satellites now launching feature advanced signal structure, inter-satellite links, and more accurate on-board clocks.
At least one more Beidou launch is scheduled later this year.
Saturday’s blastoff marked the third Chinese space launch of 2015, and the 37th mission worldwide to reach orbit this yea
Quelle: SN
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Tags: Raumfahrt 

1418 Views

Sonntag, 26. Juli 2015 - 12:45 Uhr

Luftfahrt - Der Einsatz von unbemannten Flugzeugen Systeme (UAS) für zivile Anwendungen wird sich voraussichtlich bis 2023 verdreifachen

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The use of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) is rising rapidly worldwide. Long known only for their military applications, UAS are increasingly being deployed by civilian governments for use in scientific research, climate change research, and humanitarian relief operations.
As detailed in a recent article from Northern Sky Research, the number of UAS dedicated to civilian applications is expected to triple by 2023. The U.S. leads the world in civilian government use of UAS. For example, NASA's Armstrong Flight Research Center operates a Northrop Grumman Global Hawk for high-altitude, long-duration Earth science missions. The Global Hawk has contributed greatly to NASA's study of climate change due to its unique ability to operate in the upper stratosphere.
NASA's Science Mission Directorate has teamed with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the Department of Energy to use the Global Hawk for Earth observation research. Initial operational capability for Global Hawk science missions began in 2010.
A portable ground control station is functioning and has supported operations originating outside the continental United States. A permanent ground control station located at NASA's Wallops Flight Facility in Wallops Island, Virginia, was used to support the Hurricane and Severe Storm Sentinel multi-year study from 2012 - 2014 over the Atlantic Ocean. Future hurricane studies in partnership with NOAA are planned in both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans using the Global Hawk.
As detailed in Fast Company magazine, NASA also uses a General Atomics Predator UAS christened Ikhana, to track forest fires and also to test tracking technology that will eventually allow UAS to share the skies with conventional aircraft.
The ability of UAS to autonomously fly long distances, remain aloft for extended periods of time, and carry large payloads brings a new capability to the science community. The unmanned vehicles are effective for measuring, monitoring and observing remote locations of Earth not feasible or practical with piloted aircraft, most other robotic or remotely operated aircraft, or space satellites. The use of UAS to facilitate communications to underserved regions around the world is also anticipated to be a strong growth area.
According to NSR: "The use of UAS for communication relay is well understood, and architectural studies have been conducted for integrating stratospheric UAS with LEO and GEO communication satellites for localized high quality service. Despite none of these studies leading to implementation, the announcements and investment by Internet companies such as Facebook and Google in High Altitude Long Endurance (HALE) UAS for data connectivity globally has generated renewed interest in this concept."
Clearly UAS are incredibly versatile machines that deliver benefits far beyond their use in national defense. As their civilian government and commercial use continues to expand, they will improve the lives of millions of people around the globe.
Quelle: SD

Tags: Luftfahrt 

1438 Views

Sonntag, 26. Juli 2015 - 12:30 Uhr

Astronomie - Vestas Kalium-zu-Thorium-Verhältnis enthüllt Heiße Ursprünge

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Studies of materials on the surface of Vesta offer new evidence that the giant asteroid is the source of howardite, eucrite and diogenite (HED) basaltic meteorites, supporting current models of solar system evolution and terrestrial planet formation, a new paper by Planetary Science Institute researcher Tom Prettyman says.
Prettyman, a senior scientist at the Planetary Science Institute, and co-authors determined the globally averaged concentrations of radioactive elements potassium (K) and thorium (Th) on Vesta's surface using data from the Gamma Ray and Neutron Detector (GRaND) instrument aboard NASA's Dawn spacecraft.
PSI Postdoctoral Research Scientist Yuki Yamashita and Senior Scientist Bob Reedy were coauthors on the paper "Concentrations of Potassium and Thorium within Vesta's Regolith" that appears in the Icarus Special Issue on Vesta's Composition.
"The K and Th content is important because together these elements provide constraints on the composition of materials from which Vesta was made and conditions in the early solar system," Prettyman said. The K/Th ratio of Vesta is very similar to that of the HED meteorites and distinct from other basaltic meteorites, which strongly supports connection between Vesta and the HEDs.
The solar system originated from a molecular cloud that collapsed to form the Sun and a rotating disk of gas and dust from which the planets grew. Vesta is thought to be a planetary "embryo," a leftover planetary building block that survived more or less intact to the present day. Because it underwent magmatic processes, similar to the inner planets, Vesta is also regarded as "the smallest terrestrial planet."
As the gas and dust cooled, elements condensed to form solid compounds. Each element has a representative condensation temperature. Volatile elements evaporate/condense at lower temperatures, whereas refractory elements condense at higher temperatures.
Potassium, a moderately volatile element, would have condensed at relatively low temperatures - about 700C - to form potassium feldspar. However, thorium condenses at much higher temperatures, 1300C. After accretion from the protoplanetary disk, Vesta was heated by the decay of short-lived radionuclides to the point of large-scale melting.
K and Th would likely have remained in constant proportions as Vesta cooled from its initial melted state to form a layered interior consisting of an iron-rich core, a mantle composed of iron- and magnesium-rich minerals, and basaltic crust richer in calcium and aluminum. In this process, K and Th were almost entirely concentrated in the crust. Thus, the K/Th ratio of the primordial material that made Vesta is likely very similar to that of Vesta's crust and regolith as viewed by GRaND.
All of the inner planets are depleted in moderately volatile elements, such as K, and have low K/Th ratios in comparison to the solar photosphere, which is thought to be representative of the composition of the solar nebula. Measurements of Vesta's K/Th ratio by GRaND show that this inner main belt asteroid is also depleted in K relative to Th. In fact, of the inner solar system bodies for which K/Th has been measured, Vesta is second only to the moon in K-depletion.
"Vesta was probably made early from material that condensed at high temperature, which limited the accumulation of K," Prettyman said. "However, the mechanisms for depletion of moderately volatile elements are still not fully understood."
Alternatives for depletion of K on Vesta include degassing of more volatile elements from high-temperature magmas and disruption and re-accretion of Vesta following a giant impact, similar to the formation of the Earth-Moon system. For various reasons, neither of these scenarios is favored.
The dearth of moderately volatile elements throughout the inner solar system remains one of the long-standing, unresolved problems of cosmochemistry. This paper provides another piece of the puzzle in this complex story and further evidence that the HED meteorites hail from Vesta.
Quelle: SD

Tags: Astronomie 

1568 Views

Samstag, 25. Juli 2015 - 23:45 Uhr

Planet Erde - Helle Meeresplankton Wolken im südlichen Ozean

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New research using NASA satellite data and ocean biology models suggests tiny organisms in vast stretches of the Southern Ocean play a significant role in generating brighter clouds overhead. Brighter clouds reflect more sunlight back into space affecting the amount of solar energy that reaches Earth’s surface, which in turn has implications for global climate. The results were published July 17 in the journal Science Advances.
The study shows that plankton, the tiny drifting organisms in the sea, produce airborne gases and organic matter to seed cloud droplets, which lead to brighter clouds that reflect more sunlight.
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Satellites use chlorophyll’s green color to detect biological activity in the oceans. The lighter-green swirls are a massive December 2010 plankton bloom following ocean currents off Patagonia, at the southern tip of South America.
Credits: NASA's Earth Observatory
"The clouds over the Southern Ocean reflect significantly more sunlight in the summertime than they would without these huge plankton blooms," said co-lead author Daniel McCoy, a University of Washington doctoral student in atmospheric sciences. "In the summer, we get about double the concentration of cloud droplets as we would if it were a biologically dead ocean."
Although remote, the oceans in the study area between 35 and 55 degrees south is an important region for Earth's climate. Results of the study show that averaged over a year, the increased brightness reflects about 4 watts of solar energy per square meter.
McCoy and co-author Daniel Grosvenor, now at the University of Leeds, began this research in 2014 looking at NASA satellite data for clouds over the parts of the Southern Ocean that are not covered in sea ice and have year-round satellite data. The space agency launched the first Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS), instrument onboard the Terra satellite in 1999 to measure the cloud droplet size for all Earth's skies. A second MODIS instrument was launched onboard the Aqua satellite in 2002.
Clouds reflect sunlight based on both the amount of liquid suspended in the cloud and the size of the drops, which range from tiny mist spanning less than a hundredth of an inch (0.1 millimeters) to large drops about half an inch (10 millimeters) across. Each droplet begins by growing on an aerosol particle, and the same amount of liquid spread across more droplets will reflect more sunlight.
Using the NASA satellite data, the team showed in 2014 that Southern Ocean clouds are composed of smaller droplets in the summertime. But that doesn't make sense, since the stormy seas calm down in summer and generate less sea spray to create airborne salts.
The new study looked more closely at what else might be making the clouds more reflective. Co-lead author Susannah Burrows, a scientist at the Pacific Northwest National Lab in Richland, Washington, used an ocean biology model to see whether biological matter could be responsible.
Marine life can affect clouds in two ways. The first is by emitting a gas, such as dimethyl sulfide released by Sulfitobacter bacteria and phytoplankton such as coccolithophores, which creates the distinctive sulfurous smell of the sea and also produces particles to seed marine cloud droplets.
The second way is directly through organic matter that collects at the water's surface, forming a bubbly scum that can get whipped up and lofted into the air as tiny particles of dead plant and animal material. 
By matching the cloud droplet concentration with ocean biology models, the team found correlations with the sulfate aerosols, which in that region come mainly from phytoplankton, and with the amount of organic matter in the sea spray.
"The dimethyl sulfide produced by the phytoplankton gets transported up into higher levels of the atmosphere and then gets chemically transformed and produces aerosols further downwind, and that tends to happen more in the northern part of the domain we studied," Burrows said. "In the southern part of the domain there is more effect from the organics, because that's where the big phytoplankton blooms happen."
Taken together, these two mechanisms roughly double the droplet concentration in summer months.
The Southern Ocean is a unique environment for studying clouds. Unlike in other places, the effects of marine life there are not swamped out by aerosols from forests or pollution. The authors say it is likely that similar processes could occur in the Northern Hemisphere, but they would be harder to measure and may have a smaller effect since aerosol particles from other sources are so plentiful.
The research was funded by NASA, the U.S. Department of Energy and a graduate fellowship from the Air Force Office of Scientific Research.
Quelle: NASA

Tags: Planet Erde 

1652 Views

Samstag, 25. Juli 2015 - 09:25 Uhr

Raumfahrt - NEW HORIZONS Ankunft bei Pluto - Update-13

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22.07.2015

NASA Views Complex World: New Horizons Pluto Science Update Set for July 24

A newly discovered mountain range lies near the southwestern margin of Pluto’s Tombaugh Regio (Tombaugh Region), situated between bright, icy plains and dark, heavily-cratered terrain. This image was acquired by New Horizons’ Long Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI) on July 14, 2015 from a distance of 48,000 miles (77,000 kilometers) and received on Earth on July 20. Features as small as a half-mile (1 kilometer) across are visible.
Credits: NASA/JHUAPL/SWRI
Members of NASA’s New Horizons team will hold a science update at 2 p.m. EDT Friday, July 24, to reveal new images and discuss latest science results from the spacecraft’s historic July 14 flight through the Pluto system.
The briefing will be held in the James E. Webb Auditorium at NASA Headquarters, located at 300 E St. SW in Washington. NASA Television and the agency's website will carry the briefing live.
The briefing participants are:
Jim Green, director of Planetary Science at NASA Headquarters
Alan Stern, New Horizons principal investigator at Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) in Boulder, Colorado
Michael Summers, New Horizons co-investigator at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia
William McKinnon, New Horizons co-investigator at Washington University in St. Louis
Cathy Olkin, New Horizons deputy project scientist at SwRI
Quelle: NASA
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Update: 24.07.2015
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Stunning Nightside Image Reveals Pluto’s Hazy Skies

Pluto sends a breathtaking farewell to New Horizons. Backlit by the sun, Pluto’s atmosphere rings its silhouette like a luminous halo in this image taken by NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft around midnight EDT on July 15. This global portrait of the atmosphere was captured when the spacecraft was about 1.25 million miles (2 million kilometers) from Pluto and shows structures as small as 12 miles across. The image, delivered to Earth on July 23, is displayed with north at the top of the frame.
Credits: NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI
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Speeding away from Pluto just seven hours after its July 14 closest approach, the New Horizons spacecraft looked back and captured this spectacular image of Pluto’s atmosphere, backlit by the sun. The image reveals layers of haze that are several times higher than scientists predicted.
Just seven hours after closest approach, New Horizons aimed its Long Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI) back at Pluto, capturing sunlight streaming through the atmosphere and revealing hazes as high as 80 miles (130 kilometers) above Pluto’s surface. A preliminary analysis of the image shows two distinct layers of haze –one about 50 miles (80 kilometers) above the surface and the other at an altitude of about 30 miles (50 kilometers).
“My jaw was on the ground when I saw this first image of an alien atmosphere in the Kuiper Belt,” said New Horizons Principal Investigator Alan Stern of the Southwest Research Institute (SwRI), Boulder, Colorado. “It reminds us that exploration brings us more than just incredible discoveries--it brings incredible beauty.”
Studying Pluto’s atmosphere provides clues as to what’s happening below. “The hazes detected in this image are a key element in creating the complex hydrocarbon compounds that give Pluto’s surface its reddish hue,” said Michael Summers, a New Horizons co-investigator from George Mason University, Fairfax, Virginia.  
Models suggest that the hazes form when ultraviolet sunlight breaks apart methane gas, a simple hydrocarbon known to reside throughout Pluto’s atmosphere. The breakdown of methane triggers the buildup of more complex hydrocarbon gases, such as ethylene and acetylene, which were also discovered at Pluto by New Horizons. As these hydrocarbons fall to the lower, colder parts of the atmosphere, they condense as ice particles, forming the hazes. Ultraviolent sunlight chemically converts hazes into tholins, the dark hydrocarbons that color Pluto’s surface.
Scientists had previously calculated that temperatures would be too warm for hazes to form at altitudes higher than 20 miles (30 kilometers) above Pluto’s surface. With New Horizons detecting hazes at up to 80 miles (130 kilometers), “We’re going to need some new ideas to figure out what’s going on,” said Summers.
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Backlit by the sun, Pluto’s atmosphere rings its silhouette in this image from NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft. Hydrocarbon hazes in the atmosphere, extending as high as 80 miles (130 kilometers) above the surface, are seen for the first time in this image, which was taken on July 14. New Horizons’ Long Range Reconnaissance Imager captured this view about seven hours after the craft’s closest approach, at distance of about 225,000 miles (360,000 kilometers) from Pluto. Inset: False-color image of hazes reveals a variety of structures, including two distinct layers, one at 50 miles (80 kilometers) above the surface and the other at about 30 miles (50 kilometers).
Credits: NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI
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New Horizons Discovers Flowing Ices on Pluto

New Horizons discovers flowing ices in Pluto’s heart-shaped feature. In the northern region of Pluto’s Sputnik Planum (Sputnik Plain), swirl-shaped patterns of light and dark suggest that a surface layer of exotic ices has flowed around obstacles and into depressions, much like glaciers on Earth.
Credits: NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI
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NASA’s New Horizons mission has found evidence of exotic ices flowing across Pluto’s surface, at the left edge of its bright heart-shaped area. New close-up images from the spacecraft’s Long-Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI) reveal signs of recent geologic activity, something scientists hoped to find but didn’t expect.
“We’ve only seen surfaces like this on active worlds like Earth and Mars,” said mission co-investigator John Spencer of SwRI. “I'm really smiling.”
The new close-up images show fascinating detail within the Texas-sized plain (informally named Sputnik Planum) that lies within the western half of Pluto’s heart-shaped region, known as Tombaugh Regio. There, a sheet of ice clearly appears to have flowed—and may still be flowing—in a manner similar to glaciers on Earth.
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In the northern region of Pluto’s Sputnik Planum, swirl-shaped patterns of light and dark suggest that a surface layer of exotic ices has flowed around obstacles and into depressions, much like glaciers on Earth.
Credits: NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI
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Meanwhile, New Horizons scientists are using enhanced color images (see below) to detect differences in the composition and texture of Pluto’s surface. When close-up images are combined with color data from the Ralph instrument, they paint a new and surprising portrait of Pluto in which a global pattern of zones vary by latitude. The darkest terrains appear at the equator, mid-tones are the norm at mid-latitudes, and a brighter icy expanse dominates the north polar region. The New Horizons science team is interpreting this pattern to be the result of seasonal transport of ices from equator to pole.
This pattern is dramatically interrupted by the bright “beating heart” of Pluto.
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Four images from New Horizons’ Long Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI) were combined with color data from the Ralph instrument to create this enhanced color global view of Pluto. (The lower right edge of Pluto in this view currently lacks high-resolution color coverage.) The images, taken when the spacecraft was 280,000 miles (450,000 kilometers) away, show features as small as 1.4 miles (2.2 kilometers), twice the resolution of the single-image view taken on July 13.
Credits: NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI
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The “heart of the heart,” Sputnik Planum, is suggestive of a reservoir of ices. The two bluish-white “lobes” that extend to the southwest and northeast of the “heart” may represent exotic ices being transported away from Sputnik Planum. 
Additionally, new compositional data from New Horizons’ Ralph instrument indicate that the center of Sputnik Planum is rich in nitrogen, carbon monoxide, and methane ices. “At Pluto’s temperatures of minus-390 degrees Fahrenheit, these ices can flow like a glacier,” said Bill McKinnon, of Washington University in St. Louis, deputy leader of the New Horizons Geology, Geophysics and Imaging team. In the southernmost region of the heart, adjacent to the dark equatorial region, it appears that ancient, heavily-cratered terrain (informally named “Cthulhu Regio”) has been invaded by much newer icy deposits.
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This annotated image of the southern region of Sputnik Planum illustrates its complexity, including the polygonal shapes of Pluto’s icy plains, its two mountain ranges, and a region where it appears that ancient, heavily-cratered terrain has been invaded by much newer icy deposits. The large crater highlighted in the image is about 30 miles (50 kilometers) wide, approximately the size of the greater Washington, DC area.
Credits: NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI
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The newly-discovered range of mountains rises one mile (1.6 kilometers) above the surrounding plains, similar to the height of the Appalachian Mountains in the United States. These peaks have been informally named Hillary Montes (Hillary Mountains) for Sir Edmund Hillary, who first summited Mount Everest with Tenzing Norgay in 1953.
“For many years, we referred to Pluto as the Everest of planetary exploration,” said New Horizons Principal Investigator Alan Stern of the Southwest Research Institute, Boulder, Colorado. “It’s fitting that the two climbers who first summited Earth’s highest mountain, Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay, now have their names on this new Everest.”
View a simulated flyover using New Horizons’ close-approach images of Sputnik Planum and Pluto’s newly-discovered mountain range – Hillary Montes, in the video below.
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New Horizons Reveals Pluto’s Atmospheric Pressure Has Sharply Decreased

New Horizons has found that Pluto’s atmosphere has an unexpectedly low surface pressure. Observations with the New Horizons’ REX radio experiment, made about one hour after closest approach to Pluto on July 14, reveal that the atmospheric surface pressure is about half the value previously inferred from Earth-based observations.
Credits: NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI
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Pluto’s atmosphere may be changing before our eyes. Measurements with NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft have revealed that Pluto’s atmosphere has an unexpectedly low surface pressure compared to that derived from previous observations. One explanation for the low pressure is that about half of Pluto’s atmosphere may have recently frozen onto the planet’s surface. If confirmed, it could indicate that further decreases in pressure may soon be in store.
The pressure measurement is the first ever obtained for the surface of Pluto. It was made by REX, the spacecraft’s radio experiment, about one hour after New Horizons’ closest approach to Pluto on July 14.  In a carefully-planned observation that had never before been attempted, two radio dishes on Earth--part of NASA’s Deep Space Network-- beamed radio waves precisely timed to reach Pluto just as New Horizons passed behind the dwarf planet.
The radio waves traveled through Pluto’s atmosphere en route to the spacecraft and were bent, or refracted, by the atmospheric gases. The amount of bending -- which appears as a shift in the frequency of the radio waves -- revealed that the gas pressure at Pluto’s surface was only 1/100-thousandth that of the pressure on the surface of Earth. That’s about half the amount calculated from previous Earth-based observations.  
“For the first time we have ground truth, measuring the surface pressure at Pluto, giving us an invaluable perspective on conditions at the surface of the planet,” said New Horizons researcher Ivan Linscott of Stanford University. “This crucial measurement may be telling us that Pluto is undergoing long-anticipated global change.”
New Horizons is expected to transmit a wider variety of REX measurements of Pluto’s atmospheric pressure in the next few weeks.
Last Updated: July 24, 2015
Editor: Lillian Gipson
Quelle: NASA
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Update: 25.07.2015
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NASA’s New Horizons Team Finds Haze, Flowing Ice on Pluto
Flowing ice and a surprising extended haze are among the newest discoveries from NASA’s New Horizons mission, which reveal distant Pluto to be an icy world of wonders.
“We knew that a mission to Pluto would bring some surprises, and now -- 10 days after closest approach -- we can say that our expectation has been more than surpassed,” said John Grunsfeld, NASA’s associate administrator for the Science Mission Directorate. “With flowing ices, exotic surface chemistry, mountain ranges, and vast haze, Pluto is showing a diversity of planetary geology that is truly thrilling."
Just seven hours after closest approach, New Horizons aimed its Long Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI) back at Pluto, capturing sunlight streaming through the atmosphere and revealing hazes as high as 80 miles (130 kilometers) above Pluto’s surface. A preliminary analysis of the image shows two distinct layers of haze -- one about 50 miles (80 kilometers) above the surface and the other at an altitude of about 30 miles (50 kilometers).
“My jaw was on the ground when I saw this first image of an alien atmosphere in the Kuiper Belt,” said Alan Stern, principal investigator for New Horizons at the Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) in Boulder, Colorado. “It reminds us that exploration brings us more than just incredible discoveries -- it brings incredible beauty.”
Studying Pluto’s atmosphere provides clues as to what’s happening below.
“The hazes detected in this image are a key element in creating the complex hydrocarbon compounds that give Pluto’s surface its reddish hue,” said Michael Summers, New Horizons co-investigator at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia. 
Models suggest the hazes form when ultraviolet sunlight breaks up methane gas particles -- a simple hydrocarbon in Pluto’s atmosphere. The breakdown of methane triggers the buildup of more complex hydrocarbon gases, such as ethylene and acetylene, which also were discovered in Pluto’s atmosphere by New Horizons. As these hydrocarbons fall to the lower, colder parts of the atmosphere, they condense into ice particles that create the hazes. Ultraviolent sunlight chemically converts hazes into tholins, the dark hydrocarbons that color Pluto’s surface.
Scientists previously had calculated temperatures would be too warm for hazes to form at altitudes higher than 20 miles (30 kilometers) above Pluto’s surface.
“We’re going to need some new ideas to figure out what’s going on,” said Summers.
The New Horizons mission also found in LORRI images evidence of exotic ices flowing across Pluto’s surface and revealing signs of recent geologic activity, something scientists hoped to find but didn’t expect.   
The new images show fascinating details within the Texas-sized plain, informally named Sputnik Planum, which lies within the western half of Pluto’s heart-shaped feature, known as Tombaugh Regio. There, a sheet of ice clearly appears to have flowed -- and may still be flowing -- in a manner similar to glaciers on Earth.
“We’ve only seen surfaces like this on active worlds like Earth and Mars,” said mission co-investigator John Spencer of SwRI. “I'm really smiling.”
Additionally, new compositional data from New Horizons’ Ralph instrument indicate the center of Sputnik Planum is rich in nitrogen, carbon monoxide, and methane ices.
“At Pluto’s temperatures of minus-390 degrees Fahrenheit, these ices can flow like a glacier,” said Bill McKinnon, deputy leader of the New Horizons Geology, Geophysics and Imaging team at Washington University in St. Louis. “In the southernmost region of the heart, adjacent to the dark equatorial region, it appears that ancient, heavily-cratered terrain has been invaded by much newer icy deposits.”
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Pluto’s Breathtaking Farewell to New Horizons
Pluto sends a breathtaking farewell to New Horizons. Backlit by the sun, Pluto’s atmosphere rings its silhouette like a luminous halo in this image taken by NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft around midnight EDT on July 15. This global portrait of the atmosphere was captured when the spacecraft was about 1.25 million miles (2 million kilometers) from Pluto and shows structures as small as 12 miles across. The image, delivered to Earth on July 23, is displayed with north at the top of the frame.
Image Credit: NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI
Last Updated: July 25, 2015
Editor: Tricia Talbert
Quelle: NASA

 

Tags: Raumfahrt 

1763 Views

Samstag, 25. Juli 2015 - 08:15 Uhr

Raumfahrt-History - 1945: ROCKET TO THE MOON

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Aus dem CENAP-Archiv:

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Quelle: MECHANIX ILLUSTRATED, CENAP-Archiv



Tags: Raumfahrt 

1556 Views

Samstag, 25. Juli 2015 - 08:00 Uhr

Mars-Chroniken - NASA-Rover Curiosity Inspiziert Außergewöhnliches Grundgestein

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A rock outcrop dubbed "Missoula," near Marias Pass on Mars, is seen in this image mosaic taken by the Mars Hand Lens Imager on NASA's Curiosity rover. Pale mudstone (bottom of outcrop) meets coarser sandstone (top) in this geological contact zone, which has piqued the interest of Mars scientists.
Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS
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Approaching the third anniversary of its landing on Mars, NASA's Curiosity Mars rover has found a target unlike anything it has studied before -- bedrock with surprisingly high levels of silica. Silica is a rock-forming compound containing silicon and oxygen, commonly found on Earth as quartz.
This area lies just downhill from a geological contact zone the rover has been studying near "Marias Pass" on lower Mount Sharp.
In fact, the Curiosity team decided to back up the rover 46 meters (151 feet) from the geological contact zone to investigate the high-silica target dubbed "Elk." The decision was made after they analyzed data from two instruments, the laser-firing Chemistry & Camera (ChemCam) and Dynamic Albedo of Neutrons (DAN), which show elevated amounts of silicon and hydrogen, respectively. High levels of silica in the rock could indicate ideal conditions for preserving ancient organic material, if present, so the science team wants to take a closer look.
"One never knows what to expect on Mars, but the Elk target was interesting enough to go back and investigate," said Roger Wiens, the principal investigator of the ChemCam instrument from the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico. ChemCam is coming up on its 1,000th target, having already fired its laser more than 260,000 times since Curiosity landed on Mars Aug. 6, 2012, Universal Time (evening of Aug. 5, Pacific Time).
In other news, an engineering test on the rover's sample-collecting drill on July 18 is aiding analysis of intermittent short circuits in the drill's percussion mechanism, in preparation for using the drill in the area where the rover has been working for the past two months. The latest test did not result in any short circuits, so the team plans to continue with more tests, performed on the science targets themselves.
Before Curiosity began further investigating the high-silica area, it was busy scrutinizing the geological contact zone near Marias Pass, where a pale mudstone meets darker sandstone.
"We found an outcrop named Missoula where the two rock types came together, but it was quite small and close to the ground. We used the robotic arm to capture a dog's-eye view with the MAHLI camera, getting our nose right in there," said Ashwin Vasavada, the mission's project scientist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. MAHLI is short for Mars Hand Lens Imager.
The rover had reached this area after a steep climb up a 20-foot (6-meter) hill. Near the top of the climb, the ChemCam instrument fired its laser at the target Elk, and took a spectral reading of its composition.
"ChemCam acts like eyes and ears of the rover for nearby objects," said Wiens.
The rover had moved on before the Elk data were analyzed, so a U-turn was required to obtain more data. Upon its return, the rover was able to study a similar target, "Lamoose," up close with the MAHLI camera and the arm-mounted Alpha Particle X-ray Spectrometer (APXS).
Curiosity has been working on Mars since early August 2012. It reached the base of Mount Sharp last year after fruitfully investigating outcrops closer to its landing site and then trekking to the mountain. The main mission objective now is to examine successively higher layers of Mount Sharp.
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A rock fragment dubbed "Lamoose" is shown in this picture taken by the Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) on NASA's Curiosity rover. Like other nearby rocks in a portion of the "Marias Pass" area of Mt. Sharp, Mars, it has unusually high concentrations of silica. The high silica was first detected in the area by the Chemistry & Camera (ChemCam) laser spectrometer. This rock was targeted for follow-up study by the MAHLI and the arm-mounted Alpha Particle X-ray Spectrometer (APXS).
Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS
Quelle: NASA

Tags: Mars-Chroniken 

1831 Views

Freitag, 24. Juli 2015 - 22:30 Uhr

UFO-Forschung - IFO-Universität: Himmelslaternen entzünden Häuser - Familie muss zahlen

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Himmelslaternen kurz vor Start

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Es sollte so romantisch sein und endet nun für ein Brautpaar im finanziellen Fiasko: Bei ihrer Hochzeit vor sechs Jahren in Dieburg hatten Himmelslaternen zwei Gebäude in Brand gesetzt. Für den Schaden von rund 300.000 Euro muss die Familie nun selbst aufkommen, urteilte ein Gericht.
Fünf Tage später – und es wäre vermutlich nicht passiert: Im Sommer 2009, eine knappe Woche bevor in Hessen Himmelslaternen verboten wurden, ließ eine Hochzeitsgesellschaft die Papierlampions in den Abendhimmel von Dieburg steigen. Einer der 20 Flugkörper setzte zwei Nachbargebäude in Brand. Das wird nun teuer für den Bräutigam und die Mutter der Braut.
Das Oberlandesgericht in Frankfurt gab einer Klage der Versicherung auf Schadenersatz grundsätzlich statt. Die Forderung, der sich der Bräutigam und seine Schwiegermutter gegenübersehen, beläuft sich auf 300.000 Euro. Wie viel die beiden am Ende zahlen müssen, entschied das Gericht laut dem am Freitag veröffentlichten Urteil noch nicht.
Ordnungsamt warnte
Bodenlos leichtsinnig waren die Initiatoren der Aktion nicht einmal vorgegangen. Sie hatten sich kurz vor der Feier immerhin sowohl beim örtlichen Ordnungsamt als auch bei der Deutschen Flugsicherung in Langen erkundet, ob die Himmelslaternen erlaubt seien. Verboten waren die Mini-Heißluftballons da noch nicht. Aber das Ordnungsamt warnte vor der Brandgefahr.
Das Oberlandesgericht kam zu dem Ergebnis: Auch wenn es kein generelles Verbot gab, sind die Mutter der Braut und ihr Schwiegersohn schuld an den Bränden. Denn die beiden hätten die Verkehrssicherheitspflicht verletzten. Die Frau hätte die Laternen demnach nicht kaufen dürfen. Er hätte verhindern müssen, dass die Leuchtkörper aufsteigen.
Als preiswerte Alternative für Feuerwerke in Mode
Als das Unglück 2009 geschah, waren die fliegenden Laternen als romantische und preiswerte Alternative für Feuerwerke gerade groß in Mode. Feuerwehren forderten rasch ein Verbot, weil die Brandgefahr zu groß sei. Dem folgte dann auch Hessen.
Die Leuchten wurden vor mehr als 2.000 Jahren in China erfunden. Heute bestehen sie in der Regel aus Reispapier mit Drahtskelett. Ein in Wachs getränktes Stück Stoff in der Öffnung wird entzündet. Die heiße Luft, die entsteht, bringt die Lampions zum Schweben.
Quelle: hessenschau.de

Tags: UFO-Forschung 

1789 Views

Freitag, 24. Juli 2015 - 20:15 Uhr

Raumfahrt - Russland verlängert die Lebensdauer der Internationalen Raumstation ISS bis 2024

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The Russian government has agreed to prolong life of the International Space Station (ISS) until 2024, the head of Russia's space agency Roscosmos Igor Komarov said.
"The government has approved our joint proposal [of partner countries] on the extension of ISS life until 2024," Komarov said early on Thursday, adding that political disagreements between the partner states have not affected the ISS program.
On Thursday the Russian Soyuz TMA-17M spacecraft successfully brought Russian cosmonaut Oleg Kononenko, Japanese astronaut Kimiya Yui and NASA astronaut Kjell Lindgren to the ISS.
They are joining he current ISS Expedition 44 comprising Russian cosmonauts Commander Gennady Padalka and Mikhail Kornienko, and NASA astronaut Scott Kelly.
The ISS program is a joint project among five participating space agencies: the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), Russia's Roscosmos, the European Space Agency (ESA), Japan's Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) and the Canadian Space Agency (CSA).
The station is divided into two sections - the Russian Orbital Segment (ROS) and the United States Orbital Segment (USOS).
The ISS is the ninth space station to be inhabited by crews. It has been continuously occupied for over 14 years since the arrival of Expedition 1 in November 2000.
Russian Soyuz rockets are currently the only provider of human transport to the ISS.
Quelle: SD

Tags: Raumfahrt 

1578 Views


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