Sonntag, 17. April 2016 - 19:15 Uhr

Astronomie - Cassini findet bei Saturn interstellaren Staub



Of the millions of dust grains Cassini has sampled at Saturn, a few dozen appear to have come from beyond our solar system. Scientists believe these special grains have interstellar origins because they moved much faster and in different directions compared to dusty material native to Saturn.
Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech
NASA's Cassini spacecraft has detected the faint but distinct signature of dust coming from beyond our solar system. The research, led by a team of Cassini scientists primarily from Europe, is published this week in the journal Science.
Cassini has been in orbit around Saturn since 2004, studying the giant planet, its rings and its moons. The spacecraft has also sampled millions of ice-rich dust grains with its cosmic dust analyzer instrument. The vast majority of the sampled grains originate from active jets that spray from the surface of Saturn's geologically active moon Enceladus.
But among the myriad microscopic grains collected by Cassini, a special few -- just 36 grains -- stand out from the crowd. Scientists conclude these specks of material came from interstellar space -- the space between the stars.
Alien dust in the solar system is not unanticipated. In the 1990s, the ESA/NASA Ulysses mission made the first in-situ observations of this material, which were later confirmed by NASA's Galileo spacecraft. The dust was traced back to the local interstellar cloud: a nearly empty bubble of gas and dust that our solar system is traveling through with a distinct direction and speed.
"From that discovery, we always hoped we would be able to detect these interstellar interlopers at Saturn with Cassini. We knew that if we looked in the right direction, we should find them," said Nicolas Altobelli, Cassini project scientist at ESA (European Space Agency) and lead author of the study. "Indeed, on average, we have captured a few of these dust grains per year, travelling at high speed and on a specific path quite different from that of the usual icy grains we collect around Saturn."
The tiny dust grains were speeding through the Saturn system at over 45,000 mph (72,000 kilometers per hour), fast enough to avoid being trapped inside the solar system by the gravity of the sun and its planets.
"We're thrilled Cassini could make this detection, given that our instrument was designed primarily to measure dust from within the Saturn system, as well as all the other demands on the spacecraft," said Marcia Burton, a Cassini fields and particles scientist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, and a co-author of the paper.
Importantly, unlike Ulysses and Galileo, Cassini was able to analyze the composition of the dust for the first time, showing it to be made of a very specific mixture of minerals, not ice. The grains all had a surprisingly similar chemical make-up, containing major rock-forming elements like magnesium, silicon, iron and calcium in average cosmic proportions. Conversely, more reactive elements like sulfur and carbon were found to be less abundant compared to their average cosmic abundance.
"Cosmic dust is produced when stars die, but with the vast range of types of stars in the universe, we naturally expected to encounter a huge range of dust types over the long period of our study," said Frank Postberg of the University of Heidelberg, a co-author of the paper and co-investigator of Cassini's dust analyzer.
Stardust grains are found in some types of meteorites, which have preserved them since the birth of our solar system. They are generally old, pristine and diverse in their composition. But surprisingly, the grains detected by Cassini aren't like that. They have apparently been made rather uniform through some repetitive processing in the interstellar medium, the researchers said.
The authors speculate on how this processing of dust might take place: Dust in a star-forming region could be destroyed and recondense multiple times as shock waves from dying stars passed through, resulting in grains like the ones Cassini observed streaming into our solar system.
"The long duration of the Cassini mission has enabled us to use it like a micrometeorite observatory, providing us privileged access to the contribution of dust from outside our solar system that could not have been obtained in any other way," said Altobelli.
The Cassini-Huygens mission is a cooperative project of NASA, ESA and the Italian Space Agency. JPL, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the mission for NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington. The Cosmic Dust Analyzer is supported by the German Aerospace Center (DLR); the instrument is managed by the University of Stuttgart, Germany.
Quelle: NASA
Update: 17.04.2016
The international Cassini spacecraft has detected the faint but distinct signature of dust coming from outside our Solar System.
Cassini has been flying around the Saturnian system for 12 years, studying the giant planet and its rings and satellites. It has also found millions of ice-rich dust grains with its Cosmic Dust Analyser, the vast majority of which are from icy satellite Enceladus and which make up one of Saturn’s outer rings.
Amongst the grains detected, 36 stick out from the crowd – and scientists conclude they came from beyond our Solar System.
Alien dust in the Solar System is not entirely unexpected. In the 1990s, the ESA/NASA Ulysses mission made the first in-situ discovery of interstellar dust, later confirmed by NASA’s Galileo spacecraft.
The dust was traced back to the local interstellar cloud: an almost empty bubble of gas and dust we are travelling through with a distinct direction and speed.
“From that discovery, we always hoped we would be able detect these interstellar interlopers at Saturn with Cassini: we knew that if we looked in the right direction, we should find them,” says Nicolas Altobelli, ESA’s Cassini project scientist and lead author of the study reporting the results in Science.
“And indeed, on average, we have captured a few per year, travelling at high speed and on a specific path quite different to that of the usual icy grains we collect around Saturn.”
The tiny dust grains were speeding through at over 72 000 km/h, fast enough to avoid being trapped inside the Solar System by Saturn’s – or even the Sun’s – gravity.
Local interstellar cloud
Importantly, unlike Ulysses and Galileo, Cassini analysed the composition of the dust for the first time, showing them to be made of a very specific mixture of minerals, not ice.
They all had a surprisingly similar chemical make-up, containing major rock-forming elements like magnesium, silicon, iron and calcium in average cosmic proportions. Conversely, more reactive elements like sulphur and carbon were found to be less abundant compared to the average.
“Cosmic dust is produced when stars die, but with the vast range of types of stars in the Universe we naturally expected to encounter a huge range of dust types over the long period of our study,” says Frank Postberg, co-author on the paper and co-investigator of Cassini’s dust analyser, of the University of Heidelberg.
“Surprisingly, the grains we’ve detected aren’t old, pristine and compositionally diverse like the stardust grains we find in ancient meteorites,” says Mario Trieloff, a co-author also at the University of Heidelberg. “They have apparently been made rather uniform through some repetitive processing in the interstellar medium.”
The team speculate that dust in a star-forming region could be destroyed and recondense multiple times as the shockwaves from dying stars passed through, before the resulting similar grains ended up streaming towards our Solar System.
“The long duration of the Cassini mission has enabled us to use it like a micrometeorite observatory, providing us privileged access to the contribution of dust from outside our Solar System that could not have been obtained in any other way,” adds Nicolas.
Quelle: ESA

Tags: Astronomie 


Sonntag, 17. April 2016 - 18:45 Uhr

Astronomie - MUSE am VLT wird bald in der Lage sein, noch schärfere Aufnahmen zu machen


Das Adaptive-Optik-System GALACSI steht zur Montage am VLT bereit

Das Adaptive-Optik-Modul GALACSI, das von Ingenieuren der ESO am Hauptsitz in Garching gebaut wurde, wurde sorgfältig geprüft und hat alle Tests mit Bravour bestanden. Im weiteren Verlauf dieses Jahres wird es nach Chile verschickt und in das Very Large Telescope (VLT) der ESO auf dem Cerro Paranal eingepasst.
GALACSI ist ein Teil des Systems der Adaptiven Optik, das die Leistungsfähigkeit von MUSE erhöht, einem Weitfeld-Integralfeldspektrografen im Bereich sichtbarer Wellenlängen. Durch die Ergänzung mit GALACSI wird bei MUSE die Energiemenge jedes Pixels effektiv verdoppelt - Astronomen steht dadurch ein sehr viel leistungsfähigeres Instrument zur Verfügung. Auch die Leistungsfähigkeit des VLT insgesamt wird so enorm verbessert. Zusätzlich handelt es sich bei GALACSI und den anderen Elementen des Adaptive-Optik-Systems um eine technische Weiterentwicklung, die auch im zukünftigen European Extremely Large Telescope genutzt werden wird.
Systeme Adaptiver Optik  kompensieren Effekte von Turbulenzen in der Atmosphäre, die die Bildqualität von bodengebundenen Teleskopen beeinträchtigen. Beim Durchgang des Lichts von einem Himmelsobjekt durch die Atmosphäre werden die Strahlen verwischt, wodurch das Teleskop nur verschwommene Bilder aufnehmen kann. GALACSI wird auf 4 Natriumlaser zurückgreifen, die von der Mitte eines Einzelteleskops vom VLT ausgehen. Die so erzeugten "künstlichen Sterne" werden auch Leitsterne genannt. Sensoren verfolgen die Bewegung dieser Leitsterne, wenn diese durch die atmosphärischen Turbulenzen zu flimmern scheinen. Ein Computer kann dann eine Korrektur berechnen, die auf den deformierbaren Sekundärspiegel (auch eine neue Ergänzung des VLT) des Teleskops angewendet werden muss. Durch diese Kompensation der Störungen durch die Atmosphäre können besonders scharfe Bilder der realen Himmelsobjekte erhalten werden.
GALACSI wurde im Labor am ESO-Hauptsitz sorgfältig geprüft und wird jetzt nach Chile versandt und wird zu den anderen Instrumenten des Very Large Telescope hinzugefügt.
Quelle: ESO

Tags: Astronomie 


Sonntag, 17. April 2016 - 17:38 Uhr

Luftfahrt - History des Langley Wind Tunnel: Cave of the Winds


Quelle: NASA



Tags: Luftfahrt 


Sonntag, 17. April 2016 - 09:15 Uhr

Raumfahrt - SpaceX CRS-8 ISS Mission: Bigelow Test Habitat mit ISS verbinden



This artist’s concept depicts the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module attached to the International Space Station’s Tranquility module.
Credits: Bigelow Aerospace
The first human-rated expandable structure that may help inform the design of deep space habitats is set to be installed to the International Space Station Saturday, April 16. NASA Television coverage of the installation will begin at 5:30 a.m. EDT.
The Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (BEAM) will be attached to the station’s Tranquility module over a period of about four hours. Controllers in mission control at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston will remove BEAM from the unpressurized trunk of SpaceX’s Dragon spacecraft, using the robotic Canadarm2, and move it into position next to Tranquility’s aft assembly port. NASA astronauts aboard the station will secure BEAM using common berthing mechanism controls. Robotic operations begin at 2:15 a.m. and are expected to be complete by 6:15 a.m.
BEAM launched aboard Dragon on April 8 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. At the end of May, the module will be expanded to nearly five times its compressed size of 7 feet in diameter by 8 feet in length to roughly 10 feet in diameter and 13 feet in length.
Astronauts will first enter the habitat about a week after expansion and, during a two-year test mission, will return to the module for a few hours several times a year to retrieve sensor data and assess conditions.
Expandable habitats are designed to take up less room on a rocket, but provide greater volume for living and working in space once expanded. This first test of an expandable module will allow investigators to gauge how well the habitat performs overall and, specifically, how well it protects against solar radiation, space debris and the temperature extremes of space. Once the test period is over, BEAM will be released from the space station, and will burn up during its descent through Earth’s atmosphere.
BEAM is an example of NASA’s increased commitment to partnering with industry to enable the growth of the commercial use of space. The BEAM project is co-sponsored by NASA's Advanced Exploration Systems Division and Bigelow Aerospace.
The International Space Station serves as the world's leading laboratory for conducting cutting-edge microgravity research and is the primary platform for technology development and testing in space to enable human and robotic exploration of destinations beyond low-Earth orbit, including asteroids and Mars. 
Quelle: NASA
Update:  15.04.2016

Station Gets Ready for BEAM as Crew Researches Life Science

The SpaceX Dragon approaches the International Space Station. The round solar array of the Orbital ATK Cygnus spacecraft is in the left foreground.
The International Space Station will get a new module Saturday when the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (BEAM) is removed from the SpaceX Dragon and installed on the Tranquility module. BEAM will be attached to the station for two years of tests before expandable modules become a permanent feature of future spacecraft.
NASA and its international partners are using the station as an orbital laboratory to learn how the human body adapts to living and working in space. The wide variety of human research taking place on orbit today looked at work performance, vision, heart function, bones and muscles.
British astronaut Tim Peake explored how astronauts perform detailed, interactive tasks using a touchscreen tablet for the Fine Motor Skills experiment. He also joined Commander Tim Kopra for eye checks as scientists study how the lack of gravity affects vision. NASA astronaut Jeff Williams scanned his legs with an ultrasound device for the Sprint exercise study and helped search for gravity sensors in cells to prevent muscle atrophy in space.
Cosmonauts Alexey Ovchinin and Oleg Skripochka researched heart function so doctors can understand how the cardiovascular system adapts during different phases of a spaceflight. Veteran cosmonaut Yuri Malenchenko performed maintenance throughout the orbital lab’s Russian segment. He swapped out GoPro batteries and photographed the condition Zvezda service module panels.
Quelle: NASA
Update: 16.04.2016 / 14.00 MESZ
Anbringen von Bigelow-Test-Habitat an ISS
Quelle: NASA
Update: 17.04.2016
BEAM Successfully Installed to the International Space Station
Following extraction from Dragon, the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (BEAM) was installed to the International Space Station at 5:36 a.m. EDT. At the time of installation, the space station was flying over the Southern Pacific Ocean. It will remain attached to station for two-year test period.
he Bigelow Expandable Activity Module, or BEAM, is attached to the International Space Station early on April 16, 2016.
NASA is investigating concepts for habitats that can keep astronauts healthy during space exploration. Expandable habitats are one such concept under consideration – they require less payload volume on the rocket than traditional rigid structures, and expand after being deployed in space to provide additional room for astronauts to live and work inside. BEAM will be the first test of such a module attached to the space station. It will allow investigators to gauge how well it performs overall, and how it protects against solar radiation, space debris and the temperature extremes of space.
In late May, BEAM will be filled with air and expanded to its full size. Astronauts will enter BEAM on an occasional basis to conduct tests to validate the module’s overall performance and the capability of expandable habitats. After the testing period is completed, BEAM will be released from the space station to eventually burn up harmlessly in the Earth’s atmosphere.
Quelle: NASA

Tags: Raumfahrt 


Samstag, 16. April 2016 - 22:30 Uhr

UFO-Forschung - Nachrecherche zu Foto-Fall Comiso, Italien von 1987



Im Jahre 1987 bekam CENAP ein Schreiben von G.Lucifora welcher beim Besuch seiner Haus-Baustelle 5 Fotos eines unbekannten Flugkörpers machen konnte. Dieser Fall wurde ebenfalls bei der UFO-Forschungsgruppe GEP aufgenommen und untersucht und ist seit dieser Zeit als "Ungeklärter UFO-Fall" in ihren Publikationen. Im letzten Jahr wurde er nochmal in einer Sonderpublikation der GEP aufgeführt und veranlasste uns sich diesem Fall nochmals zuzuwenden zur Aufarbeitung. Dies aber auch, weil wir damals nach kurzer Untersuchung, den Kollegen der GEP die Untersuchung überliesen, da sie schon ein Zeugen-Interview vornahmen, aber dies zu keiner Erklärung führte, auch wenn es Hinweise auf etwaigen Ballon oder militärischen Flugkörper gab.


Begonnen hat es mit diesem Schreiben des Zeugen:

Dazu diese Fotos:

Bei Nachfrage bei "Der Bundesminister der Verteidigung" bekamen wir dieses Schreiben:

Damals vermuteten wir auch ein Fake mit einem "Klingelknopf" , was jedoch durch die GEP-Publikationen in Frage gestellt wurde. 

28 Jahre sind es nun her und bei der CENAP-Nachrecherche ergaben sich neue Indizien zur Aufklärung diesen Foto-Falles von 19.Juni 1987:

Schaut man sich die Karte des Geschehen an, sieht man zu der schon im Brief des Zeugen erwähnten NATO-Basis welche unser Interesse weckte:

Luftaufnahme (von 2004) der Comiso Nato Basis:

History von NATO-Basis Comiso:

Nach dem zweiten Weltkrieg übernahm Italien wieder die Kontrolle und erweiterte den Flugplatz. Von 1965 bis 1973 diente er als vorgeschobener Stützpunkt eines Seeaufklärungsgeschwaders der italienischen Luftwaffe. Zwischen 1954 und 1972 wurde der Flughafen auch kommerziell genutzt. 

Ab dem 24.März 1982 übernahm die US Air Force den Flugplatz als Comiso Air Base. Im Rahmen des NATO-Doppelbeschlusses wurden dort 112 Marschflugkörper (Cruise Missiles) mit atomaren Gefechtsköpfen stationiert, die der 487th Tactical Missile Wing unterstanden. Nach dem Zusammenbruch des Warschauer Pakts wurden die Marschflugkörper 1991 abgezogen und die militärische Nutzung auf ein Minimum reduziert.

Und hier wird es nun in diesem Fall interessant, da nach unserer Recherche sich ergab, dort in den 80igern ständig NATO-Manöver und umfangreiche Übungen durchgeführt wurden, so auch genau zu dem Zeitpunkt der Beobachtung im Juni 1987 welches unter dem Namen "Dragon Hammer" lief:

Hierbei wurden auch Marschflugkörper zu Übungszwecken eingesetzt. Diese können von U-Booten, Schiffen, Flugzeugen oder von Land gestartet werden und fliegen in einer Höhe von 15 bis 100 Metern so niedrig, dass sie nur schwer vom gegnerischen Radar erfasst werden können. Auch für Infrarot-Sensoren sind sie auf Grund ihrer geringen Hitzeemission nur schwer erkennbar.

Ausschlaggebend war auch der Einsatz von Marschflugkörpern und die Suche nach Vergleichsaufnahmen bei der Recherche begann.

Nochmal ein Blick auf die beste Aufnahme des Zeugen:

Starke Vergrößerung des "Objektes":

Bald darauf wurden wir fündig in unserem CENAP-Archiv und der Marschflugkörper Tomahawk erwies sich als Indiz :

Bei der Suche von Foto und Filmaufnahmen diesen Marschflugkörper wurde die Ähnlichkeit des "Flugkörpers von Comiso" dann bestätigt und sprechen die Indizien für Marschflugkörper Tomahawk, welcher der Zeuge zufällig bei Land-Überflug  erwischte:

Vergleicht man nun die Flugaufnahmen der Tomahawk mit den Zeugen-Aufnahmen von Comiso wird das Indiz für diesen Fall zu Near Ifo: Tomahawk!



Update: 16.04.2016


Nachtrag zu oben aufgeführten Recherche welche bei der Ufologie Gemeinschaft GEP/DEGUFO/MUFON als absurd abgetan wurde. Unter anderem wurde die Geschwindigkeit des Marschflugkörpers als Gegenargument aufgeführt. Und so bleibt man weiterhin bei der Good Ufo Bewertung.

Daher stellten wir weitere Recherchen an zur weiteren Unterstützung  unserer These für die Identifizierung: Marschflugkörper Tomahawk. Dabei fanden wir in Publikationen der amerikanischen Streitkräfte weitere Bildmaterialien, welche aufzeigen, es sehr wohl möglich ist tief fliegende Tomahawks zu fotografieren. Wichtig ist dabei, diese Tomahawks sich bei ihren Überlandflügen an landschaftlichen Gegebenheiten und Gebäuden orientierten:

Wie auf dieser Grafik dargestellt, wurden Tomahawks mit Landschaftsdetail programmiert für Flüge unterhalb der Radarerfassung.


Weiter fanden wir Aufnahmen aus den Golf-Kriegen bei welchen Kriegsreporter Aufnahmen von plötzlichen tief fliegenden Tomahawks aufnehmen konnten:

Alle Aufnahmen stammen aus dem Irak-Krieg/USAF

Bei unseren Recherchen wollten wir jedoch auch an zusätzliche Aufnahmen und Daten von Übungs-Einsätzen dieser Tomahawks gelangen. Klar sind solche Suchen nicht in zwei, drei Tagen zu machen, aber mit Ausdauer gelingt es schon... 

Und so kamen wir an Information der US-NAVY und darin enthaltenen Bildmaterialien über die zu Übungszwecken eingesetzte Tomahawk-Variante BQM-74E-Aerial-Target welche zu Ziel- und Schießübungen verwendet wurde.

Vorbereitung zum Start einer BQM-74E 

BQM-74E Aerial Target an Bord von US-NAVY Schiff im Mittelmeer 1986

BQM-74E Aerial Target im Beschuß über Wasser-Oberfläche

Nach Flugübung, erfolgte die Bergung von BQM-74E Aerial Target mit einem Fallschirm

BQM-74E Aerial Target wurden auch zu Übungszwecken eingesetzt bei Überlandflügen zu Testzwecken von Radarerfassung und Programmierung von angepassten Landschafts-Tiefflügen bei welchen auffällige örtliche Landschaftsformationen und Gebäude als Anflugspunkte genutzt wurden. 

Da solche Übungen ebenfalls unabhängig von größeren Manövern durchgeführt wurden (gerade auch zu der Zeit des "kalten Krieges"), spricht sehr viel dafür auch im Fall Comisio es sich um einen Überflug von mehreren  BQM-74E Tomahawks gehandelt hat. Und eine Near-Ifo Bewertung mehr einzubeziehen ist, als die Begrifflichkeit Good Ufo, welche mehr ein Hinweis auf unzureichende Recherchen in diesem Fall ist.


Tags: UFO-Forschung Italien von 1987 Nachrecherche 


Samstag, 16. April 2016 - 20:15 Uhr

Raumfahrt - Sensationelle Aufnahmen von SpaceX FALCON 9 Booster Landung


Remote camera photo from “Of Course I Still Love You” droneship of SpaceX Falcon 9 first stage landing following launch of Dragon cargo ship to ISS on CRS-8 mission. Credit: SpaceX
SpaceX has released a slew of up close photos showing the sensational “super smooth” touchdown last week of a Falcon 9 booster on a tiny droneship at sea located several hundred miles (km) off the East coast of Florida.
“This time it really went super smooth,” Hans Koenigsmann, SpaceX VP of Flight Reliability, told Universe Today in an exclusive post landing interview at the NorthEast Astronomy and Space Forum (NEAF) held in Suffern, NY. “The rest is history almost.”
The dramatic propulsive descent and soft landing of the SpaceX Falcon 9 first stage took place last Friday, April 8 about 9 minutes after blasting off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station at 4:43 p.m. EDT on the Dragon CRS-8 resupply mission for NASA to the International Space Station (ISS).
The breathtaking new photos show the boosters central Merlin 1D engine refiring to propulsively slow the first stage descent with all four landing legs unfurled and locked in place at the bottom and all four grid fins deployed at the top.
Why did it all go so well, comparing this landing to the prior attempts? Basically the return trajectory was less challenging due to the nature of the NASA payload and launch trajectory.
“We were more confident about this barge landing,” Koenigsmann told me at NEAF.
“I knew the trajectory we had [for CRS-8] was more benign, although not super benign. But certainly benigner than for what we had before on the SES-9 mission, the previous one. The [droneship] landing trajectory we had for the previous one on SES-9 was really challenging.”
“This one was relatively benign. It was really maybe as benign as for the Orbcomm launch [in December 2015] where we had the land landing.”
Read my Orbcomm story here about history’s first ever successful land landing of a spent SpaceX Falcon 9 booster.
Timelapse sequence shows dramatic landing of SpaceX Falcon 9 first stage on “Of Course I Still Love You” droneship as captured by remote camera on 8 April 2016. Credit: SpaceX
The diminutive ocean landing platform measures only about 170 ft × 300 ft (52 m × 91 m). SpaceX formally dubs it an ‘Autonomous Spaceport Drone Ship’ or ASDS.
The ocean going barge is named “Of Course I Still Love You” after a starship from a novel written by Iain M. Banks.
It was stationed some 200 miles off shore of Cape Canaveral, Florida surrounded by the vastness of the Atlantic Ocean.
Remote camera photo from “Of Course I Still Love You” droneship of Falcon 9 first stage landing following launch of Dragon cargo ship to ISS on CRS-8 mission on 8 April 2016. Credit: SpaceX
“The CRS-8 launch was one of the easiest ones we ever had.”
The revolutionary rocket recovery event counts as the first successful droneship landing of a rocket in history and is paving the way towards eventual rocket recycling aimed at dramatically slashing the cost of access to space.
The final moments of the 15 story tall boosters approach and hover landing was captured up close in stunning high resolution imagery recorded by multiple remote cameras set up right on the ocean going platform by SpaceX photographer Ben Cooper.
Landing the booster on land rather than at sea was actually an option this time around. But SpaceX managers wanted to try and nail a barge at sea landing to learn more and validate their calculations and projections.
“As Elon Musk said at the post-landing press conference of Friday, we could have actually come back to land- to land this one on land,” Koenigsmann elaborated.
“But we decided to land on the drone ship first to make sure that on the droneship we had worked everything out!”
“And that’s exactly what happened. So I felt this was only going out a little bit on the limb,” but not too much.”
Before the CRS-8 launch, Koenigsmann had rated the chances of a successful landing recovery rather high.
Three previous attempts by SpaceX to land on a barge at sea were partially successful, as the stage made a pinpoint flyback to the tiny droneship, but it either hit too hard or tipped over in the final moments when a landing leg failed to fully deploy or lock in place.
“Everything went perfect with the launch,” Koengismann said. “We just still have to do the post launch data review.”
“I am really glad this went well, especially after the mishap on the last Dragon launch [in June 2015].”
Quelle: UT

Tags: Raumfahrt 


Samstag, 16. April 2016 - 20:00 Uhr

Raumfahrt - NASA "Rocket Girls" sind nicht mehr vergessene Geschichte


Thanks to a new book, these female pioneers who helped the U.S. win the space race are finally getting their due

The women "computers" pose for a group photo in 1953. (Courtesy NASA/JPL-Caltech)
It’s rare that a scientist’s name becomes a household one, no matter how great his or her discovery is. And yet, a handful of brilliant American innovators in rocket science still enjoy name recognition: Werner Von Braun, Homer Hickman, Robert Goddard, among them. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, is where many of the brightest rocket scientists collaborated on the early achievements of the space program, and JPL’s website is quick to hail the men behind the missions. Even lesser-known figures, such as Frank Malina, Jack Parsons and Ed Forman, who founded the lab in the 1930s, are remembered fondly as “rocket boys” and “rocketmen.” What’s missing from an otherwise detailed history online, however, is major part of the story: the rocket girls.
When biologist and science writer Nathalia Holt stumbled, serendipitously, upon the story of one of NASA’s first female employees, she was stunned to realize that there was a trove of women’s stories from the early days of NASA that had been lost to history. Not even the agency itself was able to identify female staffers in their own archival photographs. 
Preview thumbnail for video 'Rise of the Rocket Girls: The Women Who Propelled Us, from Missiles to the Moon to Mars
Rise of the Rocket Girls: The Women Who Propelled Us, from Missiles to the Moon to Mars
Based on extensive research and interviews with all the living members of the team, Rise of the Rocket Girls offers a unique perspective on the role of women in science: both where we've been, and the far reaches of space to which we're heading.
Holt took on the cause and was ultimately able to find a group of women whose work in rocket science dates back to before NASA even existed. In her new book Rise of the Rocket Girls, Holt documents the lives of these women, who were not only pioneers in their profession, but also in their personal lives. The “rocket girls” worked outside of the home when only 20 percent of women did so, had children and returned to work, went through divorce when it was first becoming socially accepted, and witnessed the first wave of feminism, not to mention other social revolutions in the decades that spanned their careers.
Holt spoke to Smithsonian about discovering this lost chapter of history, the choices she made in how to tell their stories, and the state of women in the sciences today.
The book came about when you discovered a special connection to one of the women that you researched, Eleanor Frances Helin. Can you tell that story?
In 2010, my husband and I were expecting our first baby and we were having an incredibly difficult time coming up with names. We were thinking about “Eleanor Frances,” so I Googled the name, as you do these days to make sure there isn’t anything bad out there. The first picture that came up was this beautiful picture in black and white of a woman accepting an award at NASA in the 1950s. It was very shocking to me that there were women who were part of NASA during this time. I had never heard of them.
I found out more about Eleanor Frances. She had an amazing career at NASA. She discovered many meteors and comets. But one of the most surprising things to me was that she wasn’t alone. She was one of many women that worked at the space agency, and so it was because of her that I found out about this really incredible group of women that were at NASA right from the beginning.
I didn’t know I was going to write a book. I just became very interested in who these women were. When I started contacting the archives and going through records at NASA, I found that they had these wonderful pictures of women who worked there during the 1940s, the 1950s, and on through today, yet they didn’t know who the women in the pictures were. They couldn’t identify them, and they had very little contact information at all for anyone from that time. It ended up being quite a lot of work just to hunt down the right women. Once I did find a few of them, it became easier. They’re a group of women who worked together for 40, 50 years and they’re still friends today.
I’m very grateful that we named our daughter Eleanor Frances, who unfortunately passed away a year before our Eleanor was born, but she was a really inspiring person. It would have been nice for her to make a bigger appearance in the book, but it focuses on the core group of women who started out at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) right from the beginning and worked as “computers,” and on how they became the first female engineers at the lab.
The chapters incorporate not only the women’s professional trajectories and accomplishments, but also detail their personal lives, especially their relationships with spouses and partners. How did you balance the science part of the story with those humanizing, personal anecdotes?
In the beginning, I was worried that spending too much time talking about their lives would somehow detract from their contributions, but I wanted to make sure the book was about the women. We’ve had many books that have looked at the early days of NASA, and so I wanted to make sure that I was really celebrating what they did. What I found as I was writing it is that so much of what they were working on at the time mirrored things that were happening in their lives.
One great example I feel like was when they were working on Jupiter-C, an early frontrunner to the first American satellite. This project could have beaten Sputnik possibly, certainly the women feel like that could have happened, but much of it was held back for political reasons. The women had these positions where they were incredibly skilled mathematicians, and yet they weren’t being given full credit and the full ability to show what they could do.
In 1960, only 25 percent of mothers worked outside of the home. So it is important to celebrate the fact that these women were able to have these careers where they had to work a lot of late nights and had very demanding jobs and were really part of the science at JPL – and also we have these stories of them trying to balance their home lives. I think it's very relatable for women and mothers today no matter what your profession is or what you're doing. There's something about seeing that struggle in the ’50s and ’60s and comparing it to today.
Your book opens with the story of the launch of Explorer I, the first American satellite to go in orbit, and closes with the 50th anniversary of that event, in which two of the “Rocket Girls” are excluded. Why did you choose to frame the whole book that way?
The book, overall, is a joyful story because these women ended up having incredibly long careers and getting many of the achievements that they really strived for, but they did not necessarily get the recognition. There are some very sad parts in the book, where you have these two women who were in the control room, who were a vital part of the first American satellite, who were not invited to the big celebration 50 years later.
Despite how much they were able to accomplish and what a vital part they played, their stories were lost to history. Of course, it isn’t just them. There are scientists all over who played a vital role in our lives but haven't gotten the recognition they deserve. This happens to women scientists in all areas. Though, I feel right now like there's a lot of attention. People are interested to learn more about these turning points in history and more about the women that were part of them. So it was important to me, in writing this book, to try to bring as much attention as I could to what these women did because it's incredible. When you look at what they did in these 50-year careers, the number of missions they were part of, it's amazing and inspiring.
In one section, there is a passage in which the women “bristled at the term” “computresses” and called themselves “the sisterhood.” Later, you write that they weren’t called “engineers” until 1970. Can you talk about the ways these women labeled themselves and thought about their role in space research, as opposed to how men or the outside world thought of them?
I was very struck when I first found out that these women were called computers. Of course today we think of computers as devices, so it was interesting to me that there were many, many people, men and women, who worked as computers. Many of the male engineers I spoke to, who worked with the women, called them computresses. It just sounds horrible, and that's certainly how the women felt about it. They hated being called that.
So to overcome that, they gave themselves their own names. They called themselves “Helen's Girls” for a long time because of one very influential supervisor named Helen Ling. Helen did an incredible job bringing women into NASA and was a powerhouse in bringing women engineers into the laboratory. They also called themselves the sisterhood because they were a close group that supported one another. They were really there for one another, and you can see that in the way that they went and had kids and came back: They looked out for each other and made phone calls to make sure women were coming back after having kids. It was a really special group. They really enjoyed each other's company and they really loved their careers at JPL.
It's a big turning point in the book when they become engineers, when they finally get the label they deserve, and, of course, the increased pay that comes with that. Although it didn’t change everything: In the book, I talk about Susan Finley, who is NASA's longest-serving woman. She doesn't have a bachelor's degree, which many of the women didn’t. A few years ago, NASA changed some of the rules, and if you did not have a bachelor's degree, then you had to be an hourly employee, you couldn’t be a salaried employee. And so they actually changed her pay. It was really shocking to me that this kind of thing would happen to someone to who's been there since 1958. It ended up that she was getting so much overtime that they changed the rule for her, so she is on salary now and she's doing fine.
Today, around 18 percent of American engineering students are women, and only 13 percent of engineers working in the U.S. today are women. Can you talk about if and how the field has changed, and how these women set some of that into motion or helped other women who came after them?
The number of women graduating with degrees in computer science has actually fallen in the last 20 years quite significantly. This is a problem. I feel that what Helen did [in keeping women in the lab] is remarkable. You have women not only not pursuing degrees in science and engineering and tech, but even when they do get degrees, you often have women dropping out of the career. Half of all women in STEM fields leave their jobs mid-career. We talk about the problem of sexual harassment in science. We talk about problems of sexism. There are many ideas of what might be going on.
What I really like about this group of women is not just all that they accomplished at a time when they had to deal with difficult sexual harassment and many challenges, but what they found: that by being this group of women with a female supervisor, they were really able to advocate for each other. And there's actually been a lot of research that supports this. Researchers have found that when you have a gender balance in a specialty that tends to be a male dominated field, it reduces sexual harassment for both men and women.
There are some devastating moments when pregnancies or motherhood threaten their careers. Then at one point, JPL lets the women change their working hours to accommodate childcare. The book acts as a fascinating time capsule, capturing what it was like to be a working woman at a time when only 20 percent of women worked outside the home, or when a woman could be fired simply for being pregnant. How did these women make it work?
The institutional policies at JPL were key for this group of women having the long careers that they did. You can see that when you look at what was happening at other NASA centers at the time. They also had groups of computers, many of them women, many of them hired after WWII. (During WWII, there were not enough men to take these jobs, so you had women mathematicians that were able to get in the door at these centers all over the country.) But [despite the circumstances], at these centers, they did things very differently. Many had very strict schedules. The women had to work 8-hour days, they had set breaks, many of them didn’t allow women to talk to one another, they had to work in complete silence. These policies are not only not family-friendly, they're really just not friendly at all. Who would want to work under these conditions?
JPL was always different. It was founded by this crazy group of people called the “suicide squad,” who were trying to push the limits and do crazy experiments. So even though it was an Army lab, it always had this association with Caltech and this university culture that was very different. And because of that, you see a difference in what happened to the women who were computers at JPL. For them, it was never about a set number of hours. It was about getting the job done. They were able to come in earlier in the morning when they needed to, there were times when they had to work all night, they had to work all kinds of crazy hours during missions, but then they were able to modify their hours at other times when they had family needs.
It was also a very social place where they had parties and beauty contests. That seems ridiculous by today's standards, and yet for the women that were part of it, it actually ended up fostering relationships between the women and the men that they worked with. Because of that, many of these women were included on scientific publications that were authored by the men. During that time, it was very unusual for women to be included on these publications. And so these social activities could end up bolstering their careers quite a bit. Many of these factors made JPL a unique place, and really made it ideal for them.
Some of the women were also pioneers in a different kind of domestic arena: divorce. How did various social changes impact the women and their work?
Social changes permeated their culture everywhere. One of these is divorce, one of these is the birth control pill, another is the rise of feminism. These are all really interesting points that impact what's happening with NASA, with our women, and with Margaret Behrens in particular. It is heartbreaking to see her marry so young and be in this horrible marriage. She ends up getting out of it and coming back to the lab, and things change for the better, but it was such a difficult time for her. She really felt like she was the only person in the world getting divorced, even though at that time, divorce rates were going way up.
Sylvia Lundy, too, goes through an experience like this, and it's reflected in the other things happening in her life. She becomes a very important engineer at JPL, directing the Mars program office, and experiencing losses with some of the missions that she wishes were funded. It sounded like a similar emotion, when I spoke with her about it, that she felt about divorce. It's interesting how loss can sometimes feel the same when you're so invested in the science that you're doing.
For the most part, the women had so many different types of experiences. You have women in long, happy marriages, but that had really no family support nearby and felt stranded sometimes. There were women who had strained relationships. There were women who had a lot of family nearby and were able to figure out childcare very easily because of that. There were all different kinds of relationships going on in these women’s lives, and yet they all worked together and were able to make it work. It’s inspiring. 
As recently as 1974, the men and women of JPL worked in separate buildings. Can you talk about some of the specific aspects of sexism and gender segregation these women encountered?
All of the women were in one building, and all of the men were in the other, which seems so crazy by today's standards. Many of the men who worked at JPL at the time, though they weren't making decisions about which offices people worked in, look back and have regrets about how things were done. They kind of can’t believe this is the way that the women were treated, that they weren’t treated as equals during that time. They can look back with some perspective.
And many of them, at the time, were trying to change things right along with the women. It wasn’t like the women were out there alone trying to change their positions. Many of the men were trying to change how the women were involved in decision making, how they were brought in on projects, and how they were put on papers.
The men and women working in different buildings was one thing. The beauty contests, as I mentioned before, were just ridiculous. One of the women, Barbara Paulson, was in the contest when it was Miss Guided Missile. When I went through these pictures, it seemed so absurd. But the interesting thing was that when I talked to her about it, she really felt that this was never about how you looked. It was more just a fun social moment, and it was about popularity. She was the second-runner-up which was a big deal, she got to ride in a convertible around the lab and wave at all her colleagues, and then she was made supervisor just a few years later. So as absurd as all of this seems, there are parts of it that were surprisingly helpful to them.
How can we do a better job bringing women and girls into the hard sciences?
Numerous studies have found that role models are key to increasing underrepresented groups into the sciences. When young people see scientists who look like them, it makes the dream of pursuing careers in STEM attainable. Bolstering the presence of women scientists in education is critical and my hope is that by shedding light on the groundbreaking women of NASA, young women will find in their stories a reflection of themselves and what they aspire to be.
Quelle: Smithsonian

Tags: Raumfahrt 


Samstag, 16. April 2016 - 18:00 Uhr

Luftfahrt-History - 1947: Helicopters at Work


Aus dem CENAP-Archiv:






Quelle: CENAP-Archiv

Tags: Luftfahrt 


Samstag, 16. April 2016 - 17:00 Uhr

Astronomie - VLT Survey Telescope gelingt Aufnahme des Fornax-Galaxienhaufens


Der Fornax-Galaxienhaufen ist einer der nächsten solcher Ansammlungen jenseits unserer Lokalen Gruppe aus Galaxien. Diese neue VLT Survey Telescope-Aufnahme zeigt detailreich die zentralen Teile des Haufens. Im unteren rechten Bildbereich ist die elegante Balkenspiralgalaxie NGC 1365 zu sehen und links davon die große elliptische Galaxie NGC 1399.


Dieses neue Bild des VLT Survey Telescope (VST) am Paranal-Observatorium der ESO in Chile zeigt eine beeindruckende Anhäufung von Galaxien, die als Fornax-Galaxienhaufen bezeichnet wird und sich im Sternbild Chemischer Ofen (lat. Fornax) in der südlichen Hemisphäre befindet. Der Galaxienhaufen beheimatet eine Menagerie aus Galaxien aller Arten und Größen, von denen manche Geheimnisse zu verbergen haben.
Galaxien sind wie es scheint kontaktfreudige Wesen die sich gerne in großen Gruppen versammeln, sogenannten Galaxienhaufen. Tatsächlich ist es die Gravitation, deren Anziehungskraft durch die großen Mengen Dunkler Materie und sichtbaren Galaxien entsteht, die sie in dem Haufen als Einheit eng zusammenhält. Solche Galaxienhaufen können zwischen etwa 100 und 1000 Galaxien enthalten und sich über etwa 5 bis 30 Millionen Lichtjahre erstrecken.
Galaxienhaufen sind nicht klar begrenzt, so dass es schwierig ist, zu bestimmen, wo genau sie beginnen und enden. Astronomen konnten jedoch abschätzen, dass das Zentrum des Fornax-Galaxienhaufens in einer Region liegt, die 65 Millionen Lichtjahre von der Erde entfernt ist. Genauer weiß man dagegen, dass er knapp sechzig große Galaxien enthält, sowie eine vergleichbare Zahl an Zwerggalaxien. Galaxienhaufen wie dieser sind typisch für das Universum und machen den starken Einfluss der Gravitation über große Distanzen deutlich, da sie die enormen Massen vieler einzelner Galaxien in einer Region vereinigen.
Im Zentrum dieses besonderen Haufens, in der Mitte der drei hellen verschwommenen Tropfen, befindet sich etwas, das als cD-Galaxie bezeichnet wird – ein galaktischer Kannibale. cD-Galaxien wie die hier gezeigte NGC 1399 sehen elliptischen Galaxien ähnlich, sind jedoch größer und haben eine ausgedehnte, lichtschwache Hülle [1]. Der Grund dafür ist, dass sie gewachsen sind, indem sie kleinere Galaxien verschluckt haben, die durch die Gravitation in Richtung des Zentrums des Galaxienhaufens gesaugt wurden [2].
In der Tat gibt es Anzeichen dafür, dass dieser Prozess vor unseren Augen stattfindet – wenn man sehr genau hinschaut. Die jüngsten Arbeiten eines Astronomenteams unter der Leitung von Enrichetta Iodice vom INAF – Osservatorio di Capodimonte im italienischen Neapel [3] hat anhand der Daten vom VST der ESO eine sehr schwache Lichtbrücke zwischen NGC 1399 und der kleineren Galaxie NGC 1387 zu seiner rechten zu Tage gebracht. Diese Brücke, die bisher noch nie beobachtet werden konnte (und zu lichtschwach ist, um auf diesem Bild aufzutauchen), ist etwas blauer als beide Galaxien, was darauf hindeutet, dass sie aus Sternen besteht, die in dem Gas entstanden sind, das durch die Anziehungskraft von NGC 1399 von NGC 1387 weggesaugt wurde. Obwohl es insgesamt kaum Hinweise auf anhaltende Wechselwirkungen in dem Fornax-Galaxienhaufen gibt, scheint es, als werde NGC 1399 zumindest weiterhin von seinen Nachbarn gefüttert.
In der unteren rechten Ecke des Bildes befindet sich die große Balkenspiralgalaxie NGC 1365. Sie ist mit dem markanten Balken, der sich quer durch den zentralen Kern der Galaxie erstreckt, und den Spiralarmen, die aus den Balkenenden hervorragen, ein eindrucksvolles Beispiel ihrer Art. Wie bei Haufengalaxien üblich, gibt es bei NGC 1365 auch Dinge, die einem nicht ins Auge stechen. Sie ist als Seyfert-Galaxie klassifiziert und besitzt einen hellen Aktiven Galaktischen Kern, der auch ein supermassereiches Schwarzes Loch in seiner Mitte beinhaltet.
Dieses eindrucksvolle Bild wurde mit dem VLT Survey Telescope (VST) am Paranal-Observatorium der ESO in Chile aufgenommen. Mit einem Durchmesser von 2,6 Metern ist das VST vom heutigen Standpunkt aus beileibe kein großes Teleskop, allerdings ist es speziell dafür entworfen worden, großflächige Durchmusterungen des Himmels durchzuführen. Die OmegaCAM, eine riesige 256-Megapixel-Kamera mit korrigiertem Sichtfeld, die speziell für die Durchmusterung des Himmels entwickelt wurde, macht es zu etwas Besonderem. Mit dieser Kamera kann das VST schnell tiefe und großflächige Bilder des Himmels aufnehmen, und überlässt es den wirklichen großen Teleskopen – wie dem Very Large Telescope (VLT) der ESO – die Details von Einzelobjekten zu untersuchen.
[1] Das Bild deckt nur die zentrale Region des Fornax-Galaxienhaufens ab; er erstreckt sich über eine größere Region des Himmels.
[2] Die zentrale Galaxie ist meistens die hellste Galaxie in einem Haufen, allerdings liegt in diesem Fall die hellste Galaxie, NGC 1316, am Rand des Haufens, etwas außerhalb der Fläche, die von diesem Bild abgedeckt wird. Auch bekannt als Fornax A, stellt sie eine der stärksten Quellen für Radiowellen im Himmel dar. Die Radiowellen, die mit speziellen Teleskopen gesehen werden können, die für diese Art der Strahlung empfindlich sind, entstammen zwei gewaltigen Zipfeln, die sich auf beiden Seiten der sichtbaren Galaxie weit in den Weltraum erstrecken. Die Energie, die die Radioemission antreibt, stammt aus einem supermassereichen Schwarzen Loch, das im Zentrum der Galaxie schlummert und zwei entgegengesetzte Jets aus hochenergetischen Teilchen emittiert. Diese Jets verursachen die Radiowellen, wenn sie das verdünnte Gas in dem Raum zwischen den Galaxien und dem Haufen durchpflügen.
[3] “The Fornax Deep Survey with VST. I. The extended and diffuse stellar halo of NGC1399 out to 192 kpc” von E. Iodice, M. Capaccioli , A. Grado , L. Limatola, M. Spavone, N.R. Napolitano, M. Paolillo, R. F. Peletier, M. Cantiello, T. Lisker, C. Wittmann, A. Venhola , M. Hilker , R. D’Abrusco, V. Pota, und P. Schipani ist im  Astrophysical Journal erschienen.
Der Fornax-Galaxienhaufen ist einer der nächsten solcher Ansammlungen jenseits unserer Lokalen Gruppe aus Galaxien. Diese neue VLT-Survey-Telescope-Aufnahme zeigt detailreich die zentralen Teile des Haufens. Die hellsten Galaxien sind beschriftet.
Quelle: ESO

Tags: Astronomie 


Freitag, 15. April 2016 - 21:30 Uhr

Mars-Chroniken - HIRISE Foto-Updates



An East Watershed for Jezero Crater
Jezero Crater is candidate future landing site that contains sediments deposited by at least three ancient rivers. 
This image was targeted to the eastern headlands of the river flowing in from that direction. In addition to complex erosional patterns, there are some good exposures of ancient bedrock, where we can see evidence for faulting and folding.
Dunes with Interesting Fans 
Furrows on Dunes 
Possible Gypsum-Rich Dunes in North Polar Erg 
Translucent Ice on Dunes Site 
Icy Crater Monitoring 
Sustained Bright Patches in North Polar Region 
Well-Preserved Impact Crater with Central Pit 
Defrosting Barchan Dunes 
Recent Impact Crater within Candidate InSight Landing Ellipse 
Atypical Landform among Dunes in Polar Erg 
Dune Monitoring 
North Polar Region
East Melas Chasma Slope Monitoring 
Low Latitude Dunes with Abundant Sand Dubbed Hazar 
Pits on Mound of North Polar Layered Deposits 
Channel Deposits in Nilosyrtis Region 
North Polar Barchan Dunes 
Translucent Ice at a Northern Site 
Quelle: NASA

Tags: Mars-Chroniken 


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