Sonntag, 26. Juni 2016 - 16:54 Uhr

Raumfahrt- Fakten zu Cygnus-Cargo-Raumschiff


Quelle: Orbital ATK

Tags: Raumfahrt 


Sonntag, 26. Juni 2016 - 16:37 Uhr

Astronomie - Wissenschaftliches JAXA Ballon Experiment B16-02 zum erfassen von Mikroorganismen in der Stratosphäre


JAXA released the first scientific balloon in Japan Fiscal Year 2016 from the Taiki Aerospace Research Field, which is a base for cooperation between the host town and JAXA, at 3:43 a.m. on June 8 (Wed.), 2016. The purpose of this experiment is to capture microorganisms in the stratosphere. The balloon used this time is a large-size one with a maximum expansion volume of 15,000 cubic meters (33.5 meters in diameter), and it ascended at a speed of 300 meters/minute. 
The balloon entered in a state of horizontal floating at an altitude of 28 km over the Pacific Ocean some 35 km east from the Taiki Aerospace Research Field at one hour and 40 minutes after its release. At 5:50 a.m., the balloon and an instrument to collect microorganisms were detached by a radio command and they landed softly on the ocean about 30 km east from the Taiki Field. They were recovered by a boat at 6:28 a.m.
* We so far have a few reports about the existence of microorganisms in the upper Earth atmosphere (in the stratosphere and mesosphere) through collecting microorganisms. Understanding the kinds of organisms in the upper atmosphere and clarifying their distribution are very important to learn about the upper end of the Earth’s biosphere. The experiment this time aimed at capturing microorganisms while the instrument to collect them was detached from the balloon and descending by a parachute. After collection, microorganisms and particle specimens in the instrument are to be analyzed.
Quelle: JAXA

Tags: Astronomie 


Sonntag, 26. Juni 2016 - 13:00 Uhr

Mars-Chroniken - Rover Curiosity auf der Suche nach Wasser-Stellen bei Mount Sharp


NASA Weighs Use of Rover to Image Potential Mars Water Sites
Ever since it was announced that there may be evidence of liquid water on present-day Mars, NASA scientists have wondered how best to further investigate these long, seasonally changing dark streaks in the hope of finding evidence of life – past or present – on the Red Planet.
“It’s not as simple as driving a rover to a potential site and taking a scoop of soil,” said Jim Green, NASA’s director of planetary science. “Not only are these on steep slopes, we need to ensure that planetary protection concerns are met. In other words, how can we search for evidence of life without contaminating the sites with bugs from Earth?”
This selfie of NASA's Curiosity Mars rover shows the vehicle at a drilled sample site called "Okoruso," on the "Naukluft Plateau" of lower Mount Sharp. The scene combines several images taken with the rover's Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) on May 11, 2016, during the 1,338th Martian day, or sol, of the rover's work on the Red Planet.
Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS
Pending approval of a mission extension, NASA's Curiosity Mars rover will continue to climb to progressively higher and younger strata on Mount Sharp, investigating how long the ancient, water-rich environments found so far persisted as Mars dried out. Reaching those destinations would bring the rover closer to locations where dark streaks are present on some slopes. On the way, the route would allow the one-ton rover to capture images of the potential water sites from miles away and see if any are the seasonally changing type.
The features of interest have been observed by NASA’s High-Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera on the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO). They appear as dark lines that appear to ebb and flow over time. Planetary scientists think these gullies or recurring slope lineae (RSLs) may appear seasonally as a form of briny water at or near the surface of the Red Planet under warmer conditions.
There are two RSL candidates that may be within Curiosity’s reach, on the side of the 3.1 mile (5 kilometer) Mount Sharp. The rover’s Remote Micro-Imager (part of ChemCam) would be the main instrument for imaging the possible sites. The goal would be to study the regions over time to see if there are any changes and to rule out other causes for the changes, such as dry avalanches.
How close could the rover safely get to an RSL? “That’s exactly the question that needs to be addressed early in the process,” said Catharine Conley, NASA’s planetary protection officer. “Kilometers away—it’s unlikely that it would be an issue. In terms of coming much closer, we need to understand well in advance the potential for Earth organisms to come off the rover, and that will tell us how far away the rover should stay.”
Conley notes that while the Martian environment is considered harsh for many organisms, that’s not necessarily the case for all of them—particularly microbes that might be hiding within the nooks and crannies of a robotic explorer.
The darkish streaks are considered “special regions” on Mars, where extra precautions must be taken to prevent contamination because of the suspected presence of liquid water, considered a prerequisite for life.
The Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) spacecraft launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida on Nov. 26, 2011, arriving on the Red Planet on Aug. 6. 2012. NASA’s most ambitious Mars mission to date, its goal was to study the Martian environment and determine if Mars is, or was, suitable for life. A decision on the rover’s potential extended mission is expected in the next several months. 
Quelle: NASA

Tags: Mars-Chroniken 


Sonntag, 26. Juni 2016 - 09:45 Uhr

Raumfahrt - Start von Atlas V mit MUOS-5


Atlas V to Launch the Fifth Mobile User Objective System (MUOS-5)
Atlas V MUOS-5 Mission ArtworkRocket/Payload: An Atlas V 551 will launch the U.S. Navy’s fifth Mobile User Objective System (MUOS-5) satellite, built by Lockheed Martin.
Date/Site/Launch Time: No earlier thanThursday, May 12, from Space Launch Complex-41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida.
Mission Description: The fifth Mobile User Objective System (MUOS-5) satellite is the latest addition to a network of orbiting satellites and relay ground stations that is revolutionizing secure communications for mobile military forces. Users with operational MUOS terminals can seamlessly connect beyond line-of-sight around the world and into the Global Information Grid. MUOS’ new commercial, cellular-based capabilities include simultaneous, crystal-clear voice, video and mission data, over a secure high-speed Internet Protocol-based system.  
Launch Notes: MUOS-5 will mark the ULA’s fourth launch of 2016 and the 63rd Atlas V since the vehicle’s inaugural launch in August 2002. MUOS-5 will be the seventh mission to launch in the 551 configuration; other missions launched in this configuration include four previous MUOS missions as well as the New Horizons mission to Pluto and the Juno mission to Jupiter.
Quelle: ULA

Next Atlas 5 flight delayed after launch "anomaly"

United Launch Alliance is delaying the next flight of an Atlas 5 rocket, company officials said Friday, pending analysis of what caused the first stage of an Atlas 5 launched Tuesday to shut down early, forcing the booster's less-powerful second stage to fire more than a minute longer than expected to compensate.
Even with the first stage shortfall, the rocket successfully boosted an Orbital ATK cargo ship loaded with more than 7,200 pounds of supplies and equipment into the proper orbit, putting the robotic freighter on course for capture and berthing Saturday at the International Space Station.
It was the 62nd launch of an Atlas 5, all of them successful, dating back to August 2002, and the 68th flight of an RD-180 first stage engine, a powerplant at the heart of an ongoing political controversy over use of the Russian-built engine in a rocket used to launch U.S. spy satellites and other high-priority payloads.
While Tuesday launching is considered a success, ULA has opted to delay the next Atlas 5 flight -- launch of a military communications satellite -- by at least one week, from May 5 to May 12, to given engineers more time to resolve the first stage performance shortfall.
The RD-180 used Tuesday ignited on time at 11:05 p.m. EDT (GMT-5) and boosted the rocket out of the dense lower atmosphere. Generating 860,200 pounds of thrust, the RD-180 is the most powerful first-stage engine currently in use aboard U.S. rockets.
Pre-flight predictions provided by ULA predicted engine shutdown four minutes and 15 seconds after liftoff.
A Russian-built RD-180 engine during a test firing. NASA
But telemetry from the rocket, relayed via NASA television by ULA engineer Marty Malinowski, indicated the RD-180 shut down between five and seven seconds early. The Aerojet Rocketdyne RL10C engine powering the Centaur second stage then ignited for what was expected to be a 13-minute 38-second "burn."
At about 17 minutes and 16 seconds into flight, Malinowski reported "about a minute remains in this first burn of Centaur," indicating he was expected a normal shutdown close to the pre-flight prediction.
A minute-and-a-half later -- nearly 40 seconds past the predicted shutdown time -- Malinowski reported the "Centaur continues to perform very well." He finally called shutdown 19 minutes and 23 seconds after liftoff, about one minute and 14 seconds later than predicted.
"The team is evaluating the occurrence as part of the standard post-flight data analysis," according to a ULA statement released Thursday. "The Atlas 5's robust system design, software and vehicle margins enabled the successful outcome for this mission."
Asked about the apparent performance shortfall at a post-launch briefing, Vern Thorp, a senior ULA manager, called the ascent "pretty nominal" and indicated it was not unusual for actual burn times to differ from pre-launch predictions.
"The pre-launch predictions of exactly when the events are going to occur are based on a preliminary trajectory, typically it's been developed a few weeks before the launch," he said. "So it's not unusual for things to vary a little bit based on the actual conditions of launch.
"What I do know is that Centaur nailed the orbit, and like every mission, we're going to go do a very, very detailed post-flight review, we always do, always have done that, to make sure everything performed properly. From everything we've seen so far, the mission was pretty nominal."
But a discrepancy of more than a minute is unusual and, as ULA later confirmed, an "anomaly," one that left the Centaur without enough propellant to successfully drive the spent second stage into the atmosphere at the targeted re-entry point.
Instead, the stage re-entered farther downrange than expected, causing any surviving debris to fall outside of the predicted impact zone.
"The Centaur components that typically survive re-entry would have re-entered outside of the predicted landing location," a ULA spokeswoman confirmed. "The components that may have survived re-entry were predicted to come down in an uninhabited area of ocean east of the planned landing location."
Quelle: CBS
Update: 10.04.2016
Next Atlas V Launch Now Delayed Indefinitely
The United Launch Alliance (ULA) said very late yesterday that the launch of the next Atlas V rocket is now delayed indefinitely.  ULA is investigating what went wrong on the launch of Orbital ATK's OA-6 Cygnus spacecraft on March 22.
Orbital ATK's OA-6 cargo mission to the International Space Station (ISS) was successful thanks to the Atlas V's Centaur upper stage, which was able to compensate for the under performance of the first stage.  The first stage's RD-180 engine shut down 6 seconds early.  The Centaur fired about one minute longer than planned to make up the difference in thrust needed to place Cygnus in the proper position for its ultimate rendezvous with ISS. 
This was the first problem for the Atlas V in 62 launches.
ULA soon announced that it was delaying the next Atlas V launch -- of a military communications satellite, MUOS-5 -- for one week, from May 5 to May 12, while it investigated what happened.  On March 31, the company said it had traced the anomaly to the first stage fuel system.
Late yesterday, ULA said in an emailed statement that the launch postponement is "indefinite:" 
Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla. (April 8, 2016) -- The Atlas V MUOS-5 launch is delayed and indefinite on the Eastern Range due to ongoing evaluation of the first stage  anomaly experienced during the OA-6 mission. ULA successfully delivered the OA-6 Cygnus spacecraft to the International Space Station (ISS) on March 22. The MUOS-5 spacecraft and launch vehicle are secure at their processing facilities. 
Somewhat ironically, ULA's announcement came shortly after a signature success by its competitor, SpaceX, which not only launched its own cargo mission to ISS, but landed the Falcon 9 first stage on a drone ship at sea.
Quelle: Space and Technology Policy Group
Update: 28.04.2016
ULA assembling Atlas V rocket at Cape Canaveral
United Launch Alliance has begun stacking its most powerful Atlas V rocket at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station while continuing to investigate the cause of last month's early shutdown by the rocket's main engine.
The company on Friday raised an Atlas V booster vertical on a stand inside the processing tower at Launch Complex 41.
This week it has begun strapping five solid rocket boosters to the first stage that will help propel a 7.5-ton Navy communications satellite from the launch pad.
No date has been announced yet for the launch of the fifth Mobile User Objective System satellite, or MUOS-5, which was once targeted for May 5.
SpaceX 'Red Dragon' capsules could launch to Mars by 2018
ULA put the mission on hold indefinitely following the March 22 launch of an Orbital ATK Cygnus spacecraft packed with International Space Station supplies.
During that flight, the Atlas V rocket’s Russian RD-180 main engine shut down six seconds too early, nearly jeopardizing the mission.
The Aerojet Rocketdyne RL10C engine powering the Centaur upper stage extended its burn by a minute to ensure a successful launch.
ULA has so far has said only that the main engine problem involved the “first stage fuel system and its associated components.”
The next launch will be the 63rd by an Atlas V, and the seventh of its most powerful version.
Update: 30.04.2016

Mixture ratio valve the culprit in Atlas 5 anomaly, next launch this summer

CAPE CANAVERAL — With the performance hit on the Atlas 5 rocket’s most recent flight last month now isolated to a faulty valve, preparations to resume the manifest are underway as United Launch Alliance workers stack the next booster for blastoff this summer.
The Mixture Ratio Control Valve (MRCV) governing the blend of RP-1 kerosene fuel and liquid oxygen flowing into the main engine of the Atlas 5 rocket “caused a reduction in fuel flow during the boost phase of the flight,” officials announced today.
During the March 22 launch, the first stage shut down six seconds early and the Centaur upper stage had to improvise by burning a minute longer to achieve the planned orbit.
The payload — Orbital ATK’s commercial Cygnus cargo freighter — successfully reached the proper orbit and did its rendezvous with the International Space Station to deliver over 7,000 pounds of supplies for the resident crew.
Engineers continue to evaluate the details surrounding the valve problem, and ULA is developing inspections for the Mixture Ratio Control Valve and actuator, expected to be complete in early May, to implement on the next vehicle.
“We observed nothing unusual in the mixture ratio commands until late in the first stage flight,” officials said.
FOD, or debris, impeding the valve’s operation has been ruled out as unlikely and non-credible.
The time to understand what caused the anomaly has delayed the next Atlas on the manifest from its original May 5 launch date until late June.
That upcoming rocket, designated AV-063, will launch the 15,000-pound mobile communications satellite, named MUOS No. 5, into space for the U.S. Navy.
Stacking of the vehicle began last Friday with the first stage being hoisted atop the mobile launch platform at the Vertical Integration Facility at Complex 41. The five solids were mounted this week and the Centaur upper stage will be added soon.
The payload will be installed a week before flight to complete the 206-foot-tall launcher.
Putting the first stage up vertically will allow additional inspections of the Mixture Ratio Control Valve and confirm associated components are ready for launch.
The launch will complete the planned globe-spanning constellation of five Mobile User Objective System spacecraft for a new voice, video and data relay network based on cellular telephone technology.
Built by Lockheed Martin, MUOS No. 5 will go into service providing legacy UHF communications to users in the Indian Ocean region and serve as an in-orbit spare for the Navy’s new “rugged smartphone” system.
Four previous MUOS satellites launched since 2012 by Atlas rockets — serving the Pacific, U.S., Atlantic and Indian Oceans — form the worldwide cellular phone network.
MUOS No. 5 will be capable of relocating itself within the geosynchronous belt to replace any of its four sister-satellites if ever needed.
Getting the massive payload to the intended dropoff point — an elliptical orbit of 2,373 by 22,237 statute miles at 19.1 degrees inclination — requires the very powerful Atlas 5 rocket in its 551 configuration. That means a vehicle with five strap-on solid rocket boosters for a total liftoff thrust of two-and-a-half million pounds.
The Centaur upper stage will fire three different times to heave the payload ever higher in the three-hour ascent.
The Atlas 5 schedule continues to show all 8 additional launches planned this year despite the MUOS delay, including the time-sensitive departure of NASA’s OSIRIS-REx asteroid sample-return expedition on Sept. 8.
MUOS 5 and a classified deployment for the National Reconnaissance Office are planned this summer, followed by OSIRIS-REx and a commercial Earth-imaging satellite in September, launch of a missile-warning satellite for the Air Force, a next-generation civilian weather satellite, a commercial broadband Internet-from-space craft and another NRO mission at year’s end.
United Launch Alliance’s next launch will be the Delta 4-Heavy on June 4, some time between 2 and 7 p.m. EDT (1800-2300 GMT), to deploy the National Reconnaissance Office’s NROL-37 spy satellite mission.
Quelle: SN
Update: 15.06.2016
Ready to Go: Lockheed Martin-Built MUOS-5 Secure Communications Satellite Encapsulated for June 24 Launch
MUOS-5 Completes Constellation for U.S. Navy’s New Network
Photo courtesy of United Launch Alliance 
CAPE CANAVERAL AIR FORCE STATION, Fla., June 8, 2016 – The fifth Mobile User Objective System (MUOS) satellite built by Lockheed Martin (NYSE: LMT) for the U.S. Navy was encapsulated in its protective launch vehicle fairing on June 4. It is scheduled to launch June 24 aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket.
Click here to download MUOS-5 satellite images. 
MUOS-5 is the latest addition to a network of orbiting satellites and relay ground stations that is revolutionizing secure communications for mobile military forces. Users with MUOS terminals will be able to seamlessly connect beyond line-of-sight around the world and into the Global Information Grid. MUOS’ capabilities include simultaneous, crystal-clear voice, video and mission data over a secure high-speed Internet Protocol-based system.
“Like its predecessors, MUOS-5 has two payloads to support both these new Wideband Code Division Multiple Access (WCDMA) waveform capabilities, as well as the legacy Ultra High Frequency (UHF) satellite system, used by many mobile forces today,” said Mark Woempner, program director of Lockheed Martin’s Narrowband Communications mission area. “On orbit, MUOS-5 will augment the constellation as a WCDMA spare, while actively supporting the legacy UHF system.”
The MUOS-5 satellite joins four MUOS satellites already on orbit and four operational ground stations, providing near-global coverage including communications deep into polar regions. More than 55,000 currently fielded radio terminals can be upgraded to be MUOS-compatible, with many of them requiring just a software upgrade.
Once fully operational, MUOS will provide users with 16 times more communications capacity than the legacy system it will eventually replace.
Lockheed Martin manufactured MUOS-5 at its Sunnyvale, California facility. In March, the satellite shipped to the Cape, where it was pre-launch processed and finally encapsulated at Astrotech Space Operations, a wholly owned subsidiary of Lockheed Martin.
The Navy's Program Executive Office for Space Systems and its Communications Satellite Program Office, San Diego, California, are responsible for the MUOS program.
Quelle: Lockheed Martin
Update: 22.06.2016

Nice forecast for Friday Atlas V launch

The MUOS-5 satellite was lifted and mated to a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station's Launch Complex 41. Launch is targeted for 10:30 a.m. Friday. ULA
The forecast looks promising for a Friday morning launch of United Launch Alliance’s most powerful Atlas V rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.
There’s an 80 percent chance of acceptable weather for the planned 10:30 a.m. liftoff, at the opening of a 44-minute window at Launch Complex 41.
Thunderstorms are expected after later in the day, but there’s only a small chance that cumulus clouds could get in the way of a launch.
The Atlas V, with five solid rocket motors strapped to its booster, is scheduled to roll out of its processing tower to the launch pad Thursday morning.
Atop the 206-foot rocket is the Navy’s fifth Mobile User Objective System satellite, or MUOS-5.
The 15,000-pound satellite will support a critical communications link armed forces rely upon when on the move or in harm’s way.
It will also serve as a spare to a four-satellite constellation that promises more advanced, smart phone-like features once ground radios are upgraded over the next year or two.
ULA is launching its first Atlas V since March, when the rocket's main engine shut down six seconds early. The company says it has fixed a valve problem believed to have kept fuel from flowing properly.
Quelle: Florida Today
Update: 23.06.2016
Count Down: U.S. Navy, Lockheed Martin to Launch MUOS-5 Secure Communications Satellite June 24
The MUOS-5 satellite will complete the U.S. Navy’s Mobile User Objective System (MUOS) secure communications network once it is launched from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida, between 10:30 a.m. and 11:14 a.m. EDT on Friday, June 24.
CAPE CANAVERAL AIR FORCE STATION, Fla., The U.S. Navy and Lockheed Martin (NYSE: LMT) are ready to launch the fifth Mobile User Objective System (MUOS) secure communications satellite, MUOS-5, here on Friday, June 24, aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket. The launch window is between 10:30 a.m. and 11:14 a.m. EDT.
Californians may be particularly interested in the Florida launch of the MUOS-5 satellite. The Navy's Program Executive Office for Space Systems and its Communications Satellite Program Office responsible for the MUOS program are based in San Diego. Lockheed Martin assembled and tested all five MUOS satellites at its Sunnyvale, California facility.
For the Navy, MUOS-5 completes a network of orbiting satellites and relay ground stations that is revolutionizing secure communications for mobile military forces. Users with MUOS terminals will be able to seamlessly connect beyond line-of-sight around the world and into the Global Information Grid, as well as into the Defense Switching Network. MUOS’ capabilities include simultaneous, crystal-clear voice, video and mission data over a secure high-speed Internet Protocol-based system.
“Users of the legacy satellite communications system can ‘talk,’ but they are limited to conversations between users under the footprint of the same satellite,” explains Mark Woempner, director of Lockheed Martin’s Narrowband Communications Systems. “MUOS is a game-changer for our forces, establishing a global military cellular network through which they can reach out to each other – and exchange mission data – almost anywhere around the world.”
MUOS-5 joins a network of four already-on-orbit MUOS satellites and four operational relay ground stations, providing near-global coverage, including communications reach deep into polar regions.
Like its predecessors, the MUOS-5 satellite has two payloads to support both these new Wideband Code Division Multiple Access (WCDMA) waveform capabilities, as well as the legacy Ultra High Frequency (UHF) satellite system. MUOS-5 will augment the constellation as a WCDMA spare, while actively supporting the legacy UHF system, currently used by many mobile forces today.
Once fully operational, the MUOS network will provide users with 16 times more communications capacity than the legacy system it will eventually replace. More than 55,000 currently fielded radio terminals can be upgraded to be MUOS-compatible, with many of them requiring just a software upgrade.
Quelle: Lockheed Martin
Update: 24.06.2016 / 7.15 MESZ
Quelle: ULA
Update: 17.00 MESZ
Quelle: ULA
Update: 25.06.2016
United Launch Alliance Successfully Launches MUOS-5 Satellite for the U.S Air Force and U.S. Navy
MUOS-5 completes the five-satellite constellation and acts as an on-orbit spare
Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla., (June 24, 2016) – A United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket successfully launched the MUOS-5 satellite for the U.S. Navy. The rocket lifted off from Space Launch Complex-41 June 24 at 10:30 a.m. EDT. 
MUOS-5 is the final satellite in the five-satellite constellation, which provides warfighters with significantly improved and assured communications worldwide. 
“We are honored to deliver the final satellite in the MUOS constellation for the U.S. Navy,” said Laura Maginnis, ULA vice president, Custom Services. “Congratulations to our navy, air force and Lockheed Martin mission partners on yet another successful launch that provides our warfighters with enhanced communications capabilities to safely and effectively conduct their missions around the globe.” 
The mission was ULA’s fifth launch in 2016 and 108th launch since the company formed in 2006. MUOS-5 was the seventh mission to be launched aboard an Atlas V Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) 551 configuration vehicle, which includes a 5-meter diameter payload fairing and five solid rocket boosters. The Atlas booster for this mission was powered by the RD AMROSS RD-180 engine and the Centaur upper stage was powered by the Aerojet Rocketdyne RL10C-1 engine.
“I am so proud of the team for all their hard work and commitment to 100 percent mission success,” Maginnis said. “It is amazing to deliver our second national security payload from the Cape in just two weeks. I know this success is due to our amazing people who make the remarkable look routine.”
ULA's next launch is the Atlas V NROL-61 mission for the National Reconnaissance Office, scheduled for July 28 from Space Launch Complex-41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida.
The EELV program was established by the U.S. Air Force to provide assured access to space for Department of Defense and other government payloads. The commercially developed EELV program supports the full range of government mission requirements, while delivering on schedule and providing significant cost savings over the heritage launch systems.
With more than a century of combined heritage, United Launch Alliance is the nation’s most experienced and reliable launch service provider. ULA has successfully delivered more than 100 satellites to orbit that provide critical capabilities for troops in the field, aid meteorologists in tracking severe weather, enable personal device-based GPS navigation and unlock the mysteries of our solar system. 
Quelle: ULA
Update: 26.06.2016
Quelle: ULA

Tags: Raumfahrt 


Samstag, 25. Juni 2016 - 22:00 Uhr

Raumfahrt - Erfolgreicher Start für Chinas Long March-7



TIANJIN,-- A container carrying China's new-generation Long March-7 rocket is lifted at the port in north China's Tianjin, May 7, 2016. The Long March-7 rocket departed for its launch base in Hainan on Sunday from Tianjin. It has taken researchers eight years to develop the medium-sized rocket, which can carry up to 13.5 tonnes to low Earth orbit, said Li Hong, director of the Carrier Rocket Technology Research Institute with the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation.

China's new-generation Long March-7 rocket departed for its launch base in Hainan on Sunday from north China's port of Tianjin.
It has taken researchers eight years to develop the medium-sized rocket, which can carry up to 13.5 tonnes to low Earth orbit, said Li Hong, director of the Carrier Rocket Technology Research Institute with the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation.
"The Long March-7 launch scheduled for late June will be of great significance as it will usher in China's space lab mission," said Yang Baohua, deputy manager of the company.
China also plans to launch the heavy lift Long March-5 to transport cargo for the planned space station.
China's second orbiting space lab, Tiangong-2, will also be launched this fall, and it is scheduled to dock with manned spacecraft Shenzhou-11 in the fourth quarter.
Yang said that the Long March-7 carrier is more environmentally friendly than earlier Long March models. The rocket will become the main carrier for space launches.
Quelle: Xinhua
Update: 9.05.2016
China's Long March 7 rocket is on its way to launch site
China's next-generation Long March 7 rocket has departed for the Wenchang Space Launch Centre ahead of its debut space flight next month.
Li Hong of China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC), the main contractor for the Chinese space program, told Chinese state media that the medium-sized rocket took eight years to develop and is capable of carrying up to 13.5 tonnes to low Earth orbit.
The first flight of the 53-metre-tall Long March 7 will take place in late June, according to CASC’s Yang Baohua, and will test the design and performance indicators.
Above: Long March 7 (courtesy of China Aviation News/Huang Zengguang).
The 600 tonne, 3.35m diameter rocket will carry a scaled-down version of a new Chinese re-entry capsule for human spaceflight, chief designer of China's human space program Zhou Jianping revealed in March.
The capsule is part of work to develop two next-generation multi-purpose crewed spacecraft, believed to have masses of around 14 and 20 tonnes respectively, as China looks to step up its space exploration capabilities.
Above: Long March 7 components being manufactured in Tianjin (CASC).
The Long March 7 has been designed to launch cargo resupply ships - named Tianzhou - to the future Chinese space station.
The core module of the space station will be launched by the heavy-lift Long March 5, another next-generation rocket which is by far the country’s largest. It is expected to make its maiden flight in September or October.
Once proven, the Long March 7 and its variants are expected to become the main launch vehicle for Chinese space missions, replacing the likes of the Long March 3B.
The first Long March 7 rocket for flight was manufactured in the port city of Tianjin in north China and is being transported by the specially-designed Yuan Wang 21 ship.​
Lower launch costs
Professor Huang Jun at the Beijing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics told gbtimes last year that this new generation of Chinese launch vehicle series uses universal modularised design which can be easily combined into new rocket variants for various missions.
“The reliability and launch preparation time are improved and the launching cost will be lowered,” Huang said.
While China’s current Long March series rockets are fuelled by highly toxic hydrazine propellant, the new Long March 5, 6 and 7 launch vehicles mainly use a mix of kerosene and liquid oxygen to reach orbit.
The new propellant, also used by the SpaceX Falcon 9, provides greater specific impulse, with the by-products being water and carbon dioxide.
The coastal location of the new Wenchang Space Launch Centre allows the new, large launch vehicles to be delivered by sea from Tianjin.
China’s rail system, which is used to transport the established Long March rockets to the three interior launch centres, would be unable to cope with the new 5m diameter Long March 5 and 3.35m Long March 7.
Due to the Hainan climate, the Long March 5 and 7 have been designed to be able to launch despite moderate rain.
Above: Long March 7 manufacture in Tianjin in February 2016 (CASC).
Orbital launches from Wenchang will take advantage of the Earth’s greater rotational speed at lower latitudes compared with China’s other bases, which in effect lowers fuel requirements.
Moving some launches over the sea also means less incidents of space debris raining down on inhabited areas.
The centre took six years to construct at a cost of an estimated five billion yuan (US$800 million) and is another crucial component in China’s plans.
Quelle: gbtimes
Update: 19.05.2016
China to debut new rocket and spaceport next month
A ground model of China’s new Long March 7 rocket passed a test campaign at the Wenchang space base last year. Credit: CCTV
China plans to launch its first Long March 7 rocket, a new kerosene-fueled booster capable of carrying supplies to the country’s planned space station, by the end of June on a test flight that will reportedly loft an unpiloted prototype of a future crew capsule.
The Long March 7’s maiden flight will not only test the new rocket and a next-generation human-rated spacecraft. It will also mark the first use of a new island spaceport in the South China Sea.
Rocket components slated for the Long March 7’s inaugural flight left port at Tianjin, China, on May 8, heading to the launch base on Hainan Island off China’s southern coast, the official state-run Xinhua news agency reported.
The shipment arrived at Hainan on May 14, according to China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp., the Chinese space program’s government-owned prime contractor.
China is developing a new fleet of launchers to replace its antiquated Long March rockets, which burn a toxic mixture of hydrazine and nitrogen tetroxide propellants. The new rockets consume kerosene and liquid oxygen, a more environmentally friendly combination.
Flights from the Hainan spaceport, named the Wenchang Satellite Launch Center, will drop spent rocket stages over the ocean instead of on land. Built between 2009 and 2014, the launch center sits at 19 degrees north latitude, closer to the equator than any other Chinese rocket base, giving China better access to place satellites in geostationary orbit.
China also plans to use the new spaceport for interplanetary missions, including the Chang’e 5 robotic lunar probe, which aims to return samples from the moon as soon as next year.
The country’s other launch centers will continue to be the starting points for human spaceflight missions and polar-orbiting satellites.
With the first Long March 7 rocket delivered to its launch base, technicians plan to complete assembly and testing of the rocket ahead of its late June liftoff.
Trucks transport containers with Long March 7 rocket hardware from a port on Hainan Island to the Wenchang Satellite Launch Center last weekend. Credit: CASC
Chinese officials said the rocket hardware and ground facilities are in good condition, and everything is on schedule for the Long March 7’s maiden flight next month. Research and development tasks on the medium-class rocket are complete, and engineers successfully put a full-scale model of the Long March 7 through a mock launch campaign at Wenchang last year.
Hotfire tests of the Long March 7’s engines are also complete.
The 53-meter (174-foot-tall) rocket carries four liquid-fueled strap-on boosters, each powered by a single kerosene-fed YF-100 engine. The Long March 7’s first stage is propelled by two of the YF-100 powerplants, each producing about 270,000 pounds of thrust at sea level.
Collectively, the engines will give the rocket more than 1.6 million pounds of thrust at liftoff.
Four smaller YF-115 engines, burning the same kerosene/liquid oxygen mixture, are mounted on the Long March 7’s second stage.
The Long March 7 also features self-monitoring computers and waterproofed components to withstand the wet, tropical conditions at the Wengchang launch base. China’s existing spaceports are located in drier climates.
The main objective of the Long March 7’s first flight is to fully verify the rocket’s design, confirm its performance, and conduct research and space technology tests, according to China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp. or CASC.
Chinese aerospace technicians are pictured with a nose cone for one of the Long March 7 rocket’s strap-on boosters. Credit: Xinhua
The mission will also test a “reduced scale” re-entry vehicle for a future Chinese crew capsule, Xinhua reported in March.
Chinese officials say the Long March 7 can place up to 13.5 metric tons (nearly 30,000 pounds) into low Earth orbit, and 5.5 metric tons (about 12,100 pounds) into a sun-synchronous polar orbit up to 700 kilometers (435 miles) in altitude.
Development of the Long March 7 rocket officially started in 2011, CASC said on its website,
This could be a banner year for China’s space program, with the debut of the Wenchang space center and the Long March 7 planned in June, followed by the maiden flight of the heavy-lift Long March 5 launcher from Wenchang before the end of 2016.
The Long March 5 rocket will loft up to 25 metric tons, or 55,000 pounds, to low Earth orbit, enough to place heavy modules in orbit for China’s planned space station. The heavy-lifter can put up to 14 metric tons, or nearly 31,000 pounds, into geostationary transfer orbit, the destination favored by most communications satellites.
That is roughly equivalent to the capacity of United Launch Alliance’s Delta 4-Heavy rocket, and two-and-a-half times China’s current lift capability.
China plans to replace its current outdated rockets — based on decades-old designs — with a new fleet of Long March 5, 6 and 7 boosters.
The Long March 6 is the smallest of the bunch, capable of catapulting small satellites into low-altitude orbits. It successfully flew for the first time in September 2015, demonstrating the YF-100 engine during a real launch.
China’s next-generation human-tended space lab is set for launch in September, followed in October by the liftoff of the country’s first astronaut mission since 2013. The two-person crew aboard the Shenzhou 11 spacecraft will visit the newly-launched Tiangong 2 laboratory and stay in orbit for 30 days, China’s longest-duration space mission to date.
Tiangong 2 will receive China’s first automated Tianzhou space station supply ship, which will deliver cargo and fuel, filling the role of Russia’s Progress freighter.
The Tianzhou cargo ships will be regular payloads on Long March 7 rockets to service China’s space station, an orbiting research lab planned for completion around 2020.
Quelle: SN
Update: 22.06.2016
China to launch new carrier rocket June 25-29
WENCHANG, June 22, 2016 (Long March-7 carrier rocket is transferred vertically to the launch pad in Wenchang, south China's Hainan Province, June 22, 2016. China plans to launch its new generation Long March-7 carrier rocket between Saturday and Wednesday from a new launch ground in Wenchang. The Long March-7 is a medium-sized rocket using liquid propellant that can carry up to 13.5 tonnes to low-Earth orbit. It will transport cargo for China's planned space station and is expected to become the main carrier for space launches. (Xinhua/Zeng Tao)
WENCHANG, Hainan, June 22 (Xinhua) -- China plans to launch its new generation Long March-7 carrier rocket between Saturday and Wednesday from a new launch ground in south China, according to the manned space engineering office on Wednesday.
The rocket was vertical when taken to the launch pad in journey that took three hours this morning.
The Long March-7 is a medium-sized rocket using liquid propellant that can carry up to 13.5 tonnes to low-Earth orbit. It will transport cargo for China's planned space station and is expected to become the main carrier for space launches.
The rocket arrived at Wenchang in south China's Hainan Province in May for final assembly and testing.
This will be the first launch from Wenchang, the fourth launch site in China. Its construction was completed in November 2014.
According to the local tourism department, all hotels are fully booked until Sunday. The city can only provide accommodation for 80,000 people and suggested tourists avoid the maiden launch, as there will be more in the future.
Long March-7 carrier rocket is transferred vertically to the launch pad in Wenchang, south China's Hainan Province, June 22, 2016. China plans to launch its new generation Long March-7 carrier rocket between Saturday and Wednesday from a new launch ground in Wenchang. The Long March-7 is a medium-sized rocket using liquid propellant that can carry up to 13.5 tonnes to low-Earth orbit. It will transport cargo for China's planned space station and is expected to become the main carrier for space launches. (Xinhua/Zeng Tao)
Long March-7 carrier rocket is transferred vertically to the launch pad in Wenchang, south China's Hainan Province, June 22, 2016. China plans to launch its new generation Long March-7 carrier rocket between Saturday and Wednesday from a new launch ground in Wenchang. The Long March-7 is a medium-sized rocket using liquid propellant that can carry up to 13.5 tonnes to low-Earth orbit. It will transport cargo for China's planned space station and is expected to become the main carrier for space launches. (Xinhua/Zeng Tao)
Long March-7 carrier rocket is transferred vertically to the launch pad in Wenchang, south China's Hainan Province, June 22, 2016. China plans to launch its new generation Long March-7 carrier rocket between Saturday and Wednesday from a new launch ground in Wenchang. The Long March-7 is a medium-sized rocket using liquid propellant that can carry up to 13.5 tonnes to low-Earth orbit. It will transport cargo for China's planned space station and is expected to become the main carrier for space launches. (Xinhua/Zeng Tao)
Long March-7 carrier rocket is transferred vertically to the launch pad in Wenchang, south China's Hainan Province, June 22, 2016. China plans to launch its new generation Long March-7 carrier rocket between Saturday and Wednesday from a new launch ground in Wenchang. The Long March-7 is a medium-sized rocket using liquid propellant that can carry up to 13.5 tonnes to low-Earth orbit. It will transport cargo for China's planned space station and is expected to become the main carrier for space launches. (Xinhua/Zeng Tao)
Long March-7 carrier rocket is transferred vertically to the launch pad in Wenchang, south China's Hainan Province, June 22, 2016. China plans to launch its new generation Long March-7 carrier rocket between Saturday and Wednesday from a new launch ground in Wenchang. The Long March-7 is a medium-sized rocket using liquid propellant that can carry up to 13.5 tonnes to low-Earth orbit. It will transport cargo for China's planned space station and is expected to become the main carrier for space launches. (Xinhua/Zeng Tao)
Quelle: Xinhua

China’s newest space rocket, Long March 7, ready for blast-off

Public will be allowed for the first time to watch the lift-off from viewing areas around Wenchang Satellite Launch Centre on Hainan

China’s latest Long March rocket arrived on the launch pad on Wednesday morning on Hainan island three days before the ­scheduled maiden mission of both the rocket and the site.
This launch will be different from others carried out by China because the public will be able to view it in person for the first time.
Eight designated viewing areas covering 40 hectares have been chosen around the ­Wenchang Satellite Launch Centre, including public parks and a private hotel beach, and can ­accommodate about 25,000 ­spectators.
China Central Television ­(CCTV) revealed the launch window of the Long March 7 would be open until Wednesday if Saturday’s weather turned bad, which is not uncommon on tropical Hainan.
CCTV said the 600-tonne rocket began the three-hour rail journey of several kilometres from the ­assembly complex to the launch site.
It will be carrying a test model of China’s next-generation manned spacecraft, together with several small satellites. The rocket’s future role will be to deliver supplies to China’s planned space station.
“The launch will open a new chapter in the history of Chinese space exploration,” a space scientist involved in the development of the new Long March rockets said.
“The blast of flames, rise of vapour, the chest-pounding noise and the trembling of the ground under people’s feet ... it will be a life-changing experience for many people.”
Wenchang is one of four space launch centres in China. The Jiuquan satellite launch centre is located in the heart of the Gobi desert, while Xichang is hidden away in the remote mountains of Sichuan.
The site at Taiyuan, in ­Shanxi, remains closed to the public for most of its launches ­owing to military operations.
Mainland space scientists had first proposed setting up a space launch centre in Hainan decades ago. Because the island lies closer to the equator, it can save fuel consumption by more than 10 per cent compared with the other launch sites.
It is also convenient because the large rocket components can be transported easily by ship from China’s rocket manufacturing centre in Tianjin to Hainan, while rocket debris will fall into the ocean instead of over populated inland areas.
However, the government ­delayed the plan because of fears that Hainan could be an easy target for a foreign invasion.
The island’s tropical weather, which includes frequent ­typhoons, and technical concerns over humidity and salt erosion added to the authorities’ ­concerns.
The Wenchang satellite launch centre will play a critical role in many of China’s future space activities, such as the building of a space station, which is due to be completed in about 2020.
Quelle: South China Morning Post
Update: 25.06.2016
China launches new generation carrier rocket
WENCHANG, June 25, 2016 A Long March-7 carrier rocket lifts off from Wenchang Satellite Launch Center, south China's Hainan Province, June 25, 2016. (Xinhua/Li Gang)
WENCHANG, Hainan, June 25 China on Saturday successfully blasted off its new generation carrier rocket Long March-7 from a new space launch center in Wenchang, Hainan province.
In a cloud of white smoke, the rocket, carrying a scaled-down version of "a reentry module of a multi-function spacecraft," ascended against a the dark sky, trailing a vast column of flame.
Wang Hongyao, deputy chief commander of the mission, declared the launch a success minutes later.
He said the rocket's payload separated from the rocket 603 seconds after blast-off, and entered an oval orbit with a low point, or perigee, of 200 kilometers, and a high point, or apogee, of 394 kilometers.
The re-entry module is expected to return to Earth on Sunday afternoon.
The Long March-7 is a medium-sized, two-stage rocket that can carry up to 13.5 tonnes to low-Earth orbit. Experts say it will become the main carrier for China's future space missions.
Earlier reports said the rocket now uses kerosene and liquid oxygen as fuel, rather than the highly toxic propellant, making it more environmental friendly and less expensive.
Saturday's launch is the first by the Wenchang site, and the 230th of China's Long March carrier rocket family.
Its mission is to verify the design and performance of the new carrier rocket, to evaluate mission execution capacity of the Wenchang launch site, and to check coordination and compatibility of project-related systems.
Quelle: Xinhua
At 20:00:07 local time (12:00:07 UTC) on 25 June 2016, a Chang Zheng-7 (CZ-7, or Long March 7) launch vehicle with a YZ-1A upper stage blasted off from Pad 201 at the China Wenchang Space Centre (CWSC) on Hainan Island in southern China. After 603 seconds of flight, the rocket successfully placed its payloads, including a scaled ballistic capsule for the future next-generation crew vehicle, into a 200 km by 394 km Low Earth Orbit (LEO).
The historical mission came after years-long planning, development, constructing and testing, and marks the beginning of a new era in China’s space endeavour, with the simultaneous introduction of new spacecraft R&D facilities, a new spaceport, and an entire new family of launch vehicles based on common rocket engines. Once fully operational, these new elements will further expand China’s space launch capability, allowing heavier payload including space station modules and deep space probes to be lofted into orbit.
The introduction of the CZ-7 is also an important milestone in China’s effort to build a permanent space station on LEO – an ambitious programme initiated in 1992 and to be implemented in three stages over a timespan of 30 years. The first stage of the plan, with the aim to send human into space aboard the Shenzhou spacecraft vehicle, was concluded in 2006 after four unmanned test flights and two crewed missions. Currently the programme is in its second stage, aimed to develop and perfect advanced spaceflight techniques and technologies required for building an Earth-orbiting space station.
The CZ-7 will initially be used to launch the Tianzhou cargo ship to resupply China’s space station in orbit. However, once its technology matures the launch vehicle will be used to support other launch missions, including a man-rated version to launch the next-generation multi-purpose crew vehicle, which is currently in initial design stage.
The CZ-7 Launch Vehicle
In 2008, China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology (CALT) revealed that Shenzhou 7 was to be the last mission launched by the basic variant CZ-2F launch vehicle, and two new improved variants were being developed to support follow-up missions in China’s human spaceflight programme – a modestly improved variant the CZ-2F/G featuring a new navigation package, and a radically upgraded variant the CZ-2F/H featuring a newly developed rocket engine burning a bi-propellant with kerosene as fuel and liquid oxygen (LOX) as oxidiser.
While the CZ-2/G entered service in 2011 for the launch of the Tiangong 1 space station module, and the subsequent Shenzhou 8, 9 and 10 missions. The CZ-2F/H project evolved into a completely new design, which was later given a new designation the CZ-7. The launch vehicle will share many technologies originally developed for the CZ-5 heavy-load launch vehicle, and is also built by the new rocket fabrication facility in Tianjin.
The basic variant CZ-7 is in a configuration of two-stage core vehicle with four strap-on liquid rocket boosters, powered by the newly developed YF-100 and YF-115 liquid rocket engines, both burning kerosene as fuel and liquid oxygen (LOX) as oxidiser. Without using an upper stage, the CZ-7 is able to place 13.5 t payload to a 400 km Low Earth Orbit (LEO), or 5.5 t payload to a 700 km Sun Synchronous Orbit (SSO).
Initially the CZ-7 will only be used to launch the Tianzhou cargo ship, but its designers hopes that the launch vehicle will eventually replace most designs in China’s existing Chang Zheng (Long March) launch vehicle family, including the CZ-2 series primarily intended for LEO missions from Jiuquan, the CZ-3 series for GEO missions from Xichang, and the CZ-4 series for SSO missions from Taiyuan. However, the launch vehicle will face some fierce competitions from its rivals, including the heavier CZ-5 from the same designer, and the (potentially more flexible) CZ-6A proposed by the Shanghai-based SAST.
The Launch Pad
Pad 201, from which the CZ-7 took off, is one of the two launch pads in the newly constructed Wenchang Space Launch Centre. Construction of the launch centre began in September 2009, and the launch complex facilities including launch pads, mobile launcher platforms, and vehicle assembly buildings became operational in 2014. A month-long simulated CZ-7 launch campaign using a non-flying ground test vehicle was conducted in late 2014.
The launch vehicle is delivered in segments by a specially designed Yuan Wang seagoing cargo ship from Tianjin on the east coast of China mainland to the Port of Qinglan on Hainan Island, where the segments are then transported by road to the launch centre. The segments are first examined in the horizontal checkout building, before being assembled and integrated with the payloads inside the 15-storey, 99.4 m-high steel-reinforced concrete Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB). Days before the launch, the assembled launch vehicle stack is rolled out in a vertical position atop a Mobile Launcher Platform, which moves on a rail track between the VAB and launch pad.
At the pad are a fixed umbilical tower, underground flame deflector trenches and ducts, and four lightning rods. Once the Mobile Launcher Platform carrying the launch vehicle stack arrives at the pad, the umbilical tower will move its swing arms and rotating platforms to embrace the vehicle, to allow the ground crew to inspect vehicle and carry out fuelling operation. The launch pads at Wenchang are the first in China to feature the Sound Suppression System, which sprays large volumes of water over the launcher platform and into the flame deflector trenches below it to dampen sound waves generated by the rocket engines, and also discouraged fires that might be caused by the rocket exhaust.
Future Missions
The CZ-7 test launch mission is only the first of a series of high-profile launch missions planned to take off from Wenchang over the next few years:
The heavier CZ-5 launch vehicle is due to make its debut flight in late September or early October this year;
A second CZ-7 launch is scheduled for early 2017, carrying China’s first cargo ship Tianzhou 1 for a test resupply mission with the Tiangong 2 laboratory module;
The Chang’e 5 lunar sample return mission is due to be launched by a CZ-5 in the second-half of 2017;
The CZ-5B will launch Tianhe 1, the core module of the Chinese Space Station, in 2018, followed by two laboratory modules and a space telescope module, all using the CZ-5B, between 2018 and 2022;
Quelle: CSR



Tags: Raumfahrt 


Samstag, 25. Juni 2016 - 18:00 Uhr

Astronomie - Brexit großer Schlag für UK Wissenschaft, sagen britischen Top-Wissenschaftler



Leave vote sparks concerns over losing £1bn a year in funding and closing doors on researchers from EU countries 
Senior scientists in Britain have reacted with dismay to the nation’s collective decision to walk away from a European Union that hands them nearly £1bn a year for research, and sends to their laboratories some of the most brilliant minds in the world.
The leave vote prompted immediate concerns for the future of staff and students from non-UK member states already at work in Britain, and the impact the result could have on the ability of leading institutions to attract the best overseas talent to the country.
Paul Boyle, vice-chancellor of Leicester University, called the “shocking result” a “dark day for UK science” and called for every effort to be made to counter any impression that the UK had become less welcoming to international researchers. He called on the science community to start campaigning immediately to protect the science budget.
A May report from the UK data group, Digital Science, stressed that scientific research in Britain was propped up by EU funding to a “concerning level”, and in evidence to a Lords committee, the pro-European science minister, Jo Johnson, made clear there was no guarantee that a post-Brexit government would be willing or able to make up any shortfall if the EU funds collapsed.
“As a community we’re going to need a strong voice to ensure that a key part of the UK national economy – science and high tech – really has a long term future here,” said Ewan Birney, co-director of the European Bioinformatics Institute in Cambridge.
When discussions get underway to thrash out the terms of the severance, he said Britain should try to negotiate access to the EU’s massive Horizons 2020 research programme, though other demands may well take priority.
It may be some time before any impact of the vote on Britain’s appeal to foreign scientists becomes fully apparent, but Birney and many scientists are not upbeat about the signal it sends.
“This is a big blow for the hiring of talented people across the EU,” Birney said.
“The overall mood which Brexit sends - that foreign nationals are not welcome - will I think be a deterrent to the top people coming here. This is not just about that individual, but also his or her life – spouse, close family, boyfriends or girlfriends visiting or even staying for a bit.
“More than the practicalities though is the sense of not being wanted. I know many people who have made their life in the UK without changing nationality and feel bad this morning, and I really feel for them,” he said.
“On the positive side, I believe we can work through this and fundamentally science works internationally – to be successful, whatever the configuration, we have to think internationally.”
Paul Nurse, the Nobel prize winner and director of the Francis Crick Institute, said Britain’s scientists would have to work hard to counter the isolationism of Brexit if UK science was to continue to prosper. “This is a poor outcome for British science and so is bad for Britain,” he said. “Science thrives on the permeability of ideas and people, and flourishes in environments that pool intelligence, minimises barriers and are open to free exchange and collaboration.”
Another Nobel laureate and president of the Royal Society, Venki Ramakrishnan, said EU money has been an essential supplement to UK research funds, and that government must now ensure that the budget for UK science does not fall.
The UK relies heavily on researchers from EU member states. A report from the Royal Society found that more than 31,000 people, making up 16% of Britain’s university researchers are drawn from non-UK EU countries.
Anne Glover, the Dean for Europe at Aberdeen University, said she was “personally heart broken” at the result of the referendum and had “great concern for the future of British science, engineering and technology.”
“Our success in research and resulting impact relies heavily on our ability to be a full part of European Union science arrangements and it is hard to see how they can be maintained upon a Brexit,” she said.
Lord Rees, the astronomer royal, called the decision to leave “deeply depressing”.
“Support for the EU was strong, especially among the young, the universities, the technical community, and a majority of our business and professional leaders,” he said. “Despite all that, we are landed with a frightening scenario.”
Quelle: theguardian
Update: 25.06.2016
Britain’s quitting the EU, but will it be forced out of EU space programs?
PARIS — The British vote June 23 to leave the European Union is likely to occur gradually over two years, but it raises multiple immediate questions about the consequences for Europe’s space programs and Britain’s role in them.
Not all of these questions can be answered definitively. British and European Union officials have said it will take time to fix a precise schedule for the separation. During this time it may be possible for Britain the European Commission to negotiate trade and security treaties that would blunt the impact of the withdrawal. Here are some of the issues confronting British and European space policy after the vote:
— More than three-quarters of Britain’s space spending is sent to the 22-nation European Space Agency, which is not a European Union organization. ESA Director-General Johann-Dietrich Woerner has said that for ESA programs, Brexit should have little or no impact.
ESA already includes two full members – Norway and Switzerland – that are not in the EU, with Canada as an ESA associate member.
— The European Commission owns Europe’s Galileo positioning, navigation and timing network, Galileo, and here things may get complicated.
A British company, Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd. (SSTL), is prime contractor for Galileo’s payload electronics. Twenty-two Galileo satellites have been ordered from OHB SE of Bremen, Germany. Most of them have been built and all were contracted well before the Brexit issue.
The question concerns future Galileo satellites. The European Commission, through ESA, is managing a competition for a fresh set of Galileo spacecraft that, in principle, will look almost identical to those built by OHB and SSTL.
ESA has set a deadline of July 19 for industry to bid on the next Galileo satellite series. OHB Chief Executive Marco R. Fuchs has said his company is bidding the same OHB-SSTL team that won the previous order, although he concedes the consequences of Brexit have been a concern.
Norway is part of the Galileo program after having signed a security treaty with the European Union. Whether such a treaty would suffice to permit a non-EU member from having a role as central as SSTL’s in Galileo is unclear.
For the moment, Britain remains in the EU, but the Galileo satellites to be contracted will be delivered and launched toward the end of the decade, presumably after Brexit occurs.
An ESA official said June 24 that the agency has received no Brexit-related instructions with respect to the coming Galileo tender and that the procurement is progressing as before.
Galileo’s PRS access policy
— Britain has been an active participant in the Galileo system’s Public Regulated Service, which is similar to the U.S. GPS network’s M-code in providing protected, encrypted signals reserved for military and government customers.
Norway’s security treaty was not sufficient to allow Norway access to PRS. Like the United States, whose Defense Department wants access to PRS to diversify signal sources and raise system resiliency, Norway is now awaiting an EU decision on whether it can offer PRS to its government and military.
— The European Union also owns the Copernicus environment-monitoring program, which like Galileo is funded through the European Commission’s Multi-year Financial Framework.
The current seven-year financial commitment runs to 2020, with a mid-term review scheduled for late this year. With Britain now starting what apparently will be a two-year countdown on exit, what will Britain’s role be in the final years of this program?
The industrial side
The British government and the British industrial space sector have set ambitious goals to increase Britain’s share of worldwide space commerce to 10 percent by 2023, against 6.5 percent now.
Britain’s space sector has been growing much faster than the overall British economy in recent years and in 2013 was estimated at 11.8 billion British pounds, or nearly $19 billion at 2013 exchange rates, with an direct employment base of more than 35,000.
Multiple companies in the United States, Canada, France, Germany, Italy and elsewhere have created British divisions, thereby gaining access to ESA and European Union space project funding.
To the extent that these investments were based on projections of future ESA budgets and Britain’s share in them – 325 million euros ($369 million) in 2016 – these decisions remain as valid today as yesterday.
But with the European Union’s role in space affairs growing, and with its two flagship infrastructure programs – Galileo and Copernicus – designed as forevermore-type commitments, the industrial calculus will be complicated.
Will the continued ESA membership and whatever UK-EU treaties are negotiated be enough to justify a non-UK company’s current UK strategy? That is not clear.
Britain is best known as an economy driven by services, especially financial services. But Airbus UK is mainly a hardware builder and is the dominant corporate space presence in Britain.
If it now becomes more difficult for Airbus to justify funneling European Union work to the company’s Stevenage or Portsmouth plants, how much of that work over time will be shifted to Germany or France or Spain?
Questions from a satellite fleet operator 
Satellite fleet operators are also raising issues. Paris-based Eutelsat, for example, has made Britain the home of Eutelsat’s Quantum flexible-payload satellite program, which is funded from ESA mainly by British money.
Eutelsat’s Broadband for Africa project, with Facebook as a partner, is also headquartered in Britain, as is Eutelsat’s Global Government division.
Matt Child, Eutelsat’s vice president for government services, said in April that the company already had begun thinking about Brexit issues. Among the questions:
The ease of establishing companies and relocating employees?
Monetary policy and the exchange-rate mechanism?
Institutional relationships, i.e. ESA, ESA [the European Defense Agency, part of the EU]?
EU trade and technology transfer?
Attractiveness to international companies who currently see the UK as the gateway to Europe?
Child did not pretend to know the answers.
Quelle: SN
Brexit Could Make Space Boffins All Topsy Wopsy, Innit?
THE UNITED KINGDOM has opted out of the European Union. The Brexit is a pig’s breakfast, a trough full of implications. And in one sloppy corner is the UK’s future as a spacefaring nation.
Analysts, economists, and experts galore are still trying to sort out exactly what the Brexit1 means. But many predict things will be bad. Scientists are especially fearful: After all, closed borders aren’t exactly the best way to encourage the free movement of ideas. Space transcends political boundaries, but access to it is still subject to decisions made here on Earth.
Europe is home to 22 national space agencies, all gathered under the collective European Space Agency. “There’s one thing I don’t think people understand well, and that is the ESA was actually set up long before the EU was,” says James Hough, associate director of the Institute for Graviational Research at the University of Glasgow. Which means, happily, that the Brexit vote does nothing to change the UK’s status as a member of the ESA.
However, the United Kingdom contributes nearly 10 percent of the ESA’s annual funding—about 322 million euros. Since the Brexit votes came in, the pound (Britain never switched over to the euro) has plummeted, belly first, into oblivion. As of press time, it is at a 30-year low. Meanwhile, the euro is doing fine. This means collaborating with European science projects is suddenly more expensive. “The ESA budgets are done in euros, which means the UK’s cost in pounds to participate in these programs will increase when you factor in exchange rates,” says Christian Sallaberger, an adjunct professor of aerospace studies at the University of Toronto, and former employee of the ESA.
Same goes for the UK’s ability to pay its subscription for Big Science projects like CERN, the European Southern Observatory, and the Extreme Light Infrastructure. These are places where physicists and astronomers do work on subatomic particles, look deep into space, and understand the nature of light. If that doesn’t mean much to you, these gigantic, collaborative science facilities are increasingly the places that deliver big prizes, like the Nobel.
Those economic problems could hurt the UK’s domestic launches as well. The UK Space Agency is primarily funded through tax dollars. If the Brexit pushes the UK into a recession—too early to call, but plenty of experts are doing so anyway—that pool of money will shrink. Then, it will be up to UK lawmakers to figure out how to divvy things up. And given that the Brexit’s success was at least partly a referendum on decreased social services, those lawmakers might have a tough time arguing to maintain current science spending levels at the expense of other programs.
And that’s just for public spaceflight. “Space is just like any other industrial sector,” says Sallaberger. The continent’s private spaceflight is dominated by big companies like Airbus and Thales Alenia. Border restrictions and reneged trade deals impact a company’s bottom line. “Back when there were no borders, it was easy for that workforce to move back and forth between the UK and EU,” he says. Any extra cost will factor into those companies’ decisions to do business in the UK.
The border problem is going to affect scientists everywhere. “Research is very global in nature,” says Hough. He says he worries about his European colleagues in the UK, and also his colleagues’ opportunities abroad. “The area that this really affects the most is Horizon 2020,” he says. This is a continent-wide effort providing more than €80 billion for science. UK scientists could see their grant proposals fizzle depending on how tight their mother country decides to close its borders. “You might start seeing British researchers pull their names from projects, because we would not want our colleagues in Europe to suffer because of this crazy decision in the UK,” says Hough.
It’s still too soon to say exactly what this crazy decision in the UK will do for space. First, the nation needs to get through the weekend and sleep off its hangover.
1 Just to be clear: Britain is not synonymous with the United Kingdom. The former is an island (formally known as Great Britain), and British people are the inhabitants of that island—the Welsh, Scottish, English. The United Kingdom is Great Britain plus Northern Ireland. The Irish are not British. Sorry. I’m fine using “Brexit” because, c’mon, that’s genius branding. However I will not bow to the pressure of using “British” as a collective noun for all UK citizens.
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Quelle: WIRED

Tags: sagen britischen Top-Wissenschaftler Astronomie 


Samstag, 25. Juni 2016 - 17:15 Uhr

UFO-Forschung - Würden Aliens uns wirklich töten im 'Independence Day'-Style?


A hostile alien race returns to Earth in the new movie "Independence Day: Resurgence."
Credit: Courtesy Twentieth Century Fox. TM & © 2016 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation
In the new movie "Independence Day: Resurgence," opening in theaters today (June 24), Earth will once again gear up for an epic fight with a hostile alien race. The premise will set up some awesome action sequences, but how realistic is the idea that if aliens were to visit Earth, their one goal would be to destroy us? What do the experts think?
Twenty years ago, the new movie's predecessor, "Independence Day," featured Will Smith and Jeff Goldblum cracking wise while using a computer virus (presumably written in an Earth-based computer language) to disable an alien ship and save humanity. In the new movie's timeline, Earth's nations have since created a huge, planetary-wide defense program to shield our planet, but it may not be enough to defend humanity when the aliens return. 
Renowned physicist Stephen Hawking has said repeatedly that he's afraid of aliens wiping out the human race the way a human would wipe out a colony of ants.
In 2015, Hawking co-launched an initiative called Breakthrough Listen, which will search for alien communication signals out in the cosmos, and eventually broadcast signals from the human race, with the goal of enabling communication across the universe.
"We don't know much about aliens, but we know about humans," Hawking said at the Breakthrough announcement. "If you look at history, contact between humans and less intelligent organisms have often been disastrous from their point of view, and encounters between civilizations with advanced versus primitive technologies have gone badly for the less advanced. A civilization reading one of our messages could be billions of years ahead of us. If so, they will be vastly more powerful, and may not see us as any more valuable than we see bacteria."
Are the aliens benign?
Alien invasions of Earth are nothing new in sci-fi. One of the most famous examples is "War of the Worlds," an H.G. Wells 19th-century classic that was adapted into a Tom Cruise movie in 2005. In that film, aliens inexplicably begin bursting from underneath city pavement to incinerate humans.  
But some films portray aliens as benign, such as 1997's "Contact," based on a 1980s book written by Carl Sagan. A signal begins spouting prime numbers, which Jodie Foster's SETI (search for extraterrestrial intelligence) team tries to decode. Their efforts at talking with the aliens turn a little strange, but there definitely is no invasion. 
This hopeful view is something that science communicator Ann Druyan, Sagan's widow, shared at the Breakthrough event in 2015. (It's also the belief held by astronomer Jill Tarter, former director of the Center for SETI Research, whom Foster's character in "Contact" was based on.) Druyan is also involved in the Breakthrough initiative.
"We may get to a period in our future where we outgrow our evolutionary baggage and evolve to become less violent and shortsighted," Druyan said. "My hope is that extraterrestrial civilizations are not only more technologically proficient than we are but more aware of the rarity and preciousness of life in the cosmos."
Active SETI debate
Three spacecraft currently heading out of the solar system — the Pioneer probe and the two Voyager probes — contain maps that point the way back to Earth. And there continue to be initiatives to put messages for aliens on spacecraft. When the NASA New Horizons probe finishes its Pluto and possible Kuiper Belt work, some people are hoping to create a crowdsourced message for aliens to upload to its hard drive.
Some researchers, however, aren't sure it's such a good idea to shift SETI efforts from just listening to actually sending out signals — a method some call "active SETI."
"Active SETI advocates broke with the conventional wisdom of the SETI pioneers, which was to listen but not transmit. This change may have been driven by the impatience of younger SETI people after 40 years of unsuccessful searches," Michael Michaud, author of the book "Contact with Alien Civilizations: Our Hopes and Fears About Encountering Extraterrestrials" (2007, Copernicus), said in a 2014 interview with 
"But active SETI is not science," added Michaud, a former U.S. Foreign Service Officer for the U.S. Department of State. "It is an attempt to provoke a response from an alien society whose capabilities and intentions are not known to us." 
But Earth's sheer distance from other civilizations might serve as a shield against aliens that don't exactly want us around. 
Douglas Vakoch, director of interstellar-message composition at the SETI Institute, said in 2010, "Even if they tend to be hateful, awful folks, can they do us any harm at interstellar distances?" 
Quelle: SC

Tags: UFO-Forschung 


Samstag, 25. Juni 2016 - 17:00 Uhr

Raumfahrt - Manueller Docking-System-Test mit Progress 62 innerhalb des russischen Segment der ISS


A Russian cargo ship currently docked to the International Space Station will undock for a short test flight on Friday, July 1. NASA Television coverage will begin at 1:15 a.m. EDT.
The Progress 62 cargo ship will automatically undock from the Pirs Docking Compartment of the space station and manually be guided in to re-dock. The maneuver will begin with undocking at 1:36 a.m. and take approximately 30 minutes, with re-docking planned for 2:10 a.m.
This activity will test a newly installed manual docking system inside the station’s Russian segment. The resupply ship will back away to a distance of about 600 feet (about 183 meters) from the station, at which point Expedition 48 cosmonauts Alexey Ovchinin and Oleg Skripochka of the Russian space agency Roscosmos will take manual control of the spacecraft. They will use a workstation in the Zvezda Service Module to “fly” the Progress back to a linkup with Pirs.
The system test will include verification of software and a new signal converter incorporated in the upgraded manual docking system for future use in both Progress and piloted Soyuz vehicles in the unlikely event the “Kurs” automated rendezvous in either craft encounters a problem.
Progress 62 arrived at the station Dec. 23, 2015 with more than three tons of food, fuel and supplies, and will undock for the final time at 11:48 p.m. Saturday, July 2. The spacecraft, loaded with trash, will be deorbited by Russian flight controllers to burn up in the Earth’s atmosphere over the Pacific Ocean.
Quelle: NASA

Tags: Raumfahrt 


Samstag, 25. Juni 2016 - 15:30 Uhr

Raumfahrt - ISS-ALLtag: Mondaufgang-Blick


Quelle: NASA

Tags: Raumfahrt 


Samstag, 25. Juni 2016 - 13:00 Uhr

Raumfahrt - JUNO SPACECRAFT-Jupiter-Mission Update-3



Amateurs prepare big-picture perspective to support Juno mission
Some of the world’s leading amateur and professional astronomers are meeting on 12-13 May to prepare for a campaign of ground-based global observations in support of NASA’s Juno mission to Jupiter. Juno arrives on 4th July this year and will investigate Jupiter through a series of long elliptical orbits with close flybys of the giant planet. To put these observations into perspective and to understand Jupiter’s atmospheric dynamics, the Juno project on behalf of NASA has requested the collaboration of amateur astronomers back on Earth.  High-resolution observations obtained by amateur astronomers will allow Juno mission scientists to characterise the state and evolution of Jupiter’s atmosphere over the course of the mission, which is due to end in February 2018.
A workshop to coordinate ground-based support for Juno from amateurs is being held at the Observatoire de la Côte d’Azur in Nice, France, and organised as part of Europlanet 2020 Research Infrastructure’s networking activities.  The 29 participants include 13 planetary scientists and 16 amateur astronomers from 13 countries in Europe and around the world, including Romania, Slovenia, USA, Japan and the Philippines.
“The collaborative effort between Juno and amateurs is linked to JunoCam, the mission’s visual camera,” explained Ricardo Hueso, chair of the workshop’s scientific organising committee.  “JunoCam, JIRAM and MWR will obtain close up views in the visible, infrared and radio of Jupiter’s upper clouds over relatively small areas of the planet, some of them around the size of the atmospheric storms that we see as the oval features in Jupiter’s cloud bands. This opens an exciting opportunity for amateurs to provide a unique dataset that will be used to plan the high-resolution observations from JunoCam, and will advance our knowledge of the atmospheric dynamics of Jupiter.”
Juno is the first mission dedicated to Jupiter exploration since the Galileo mission in the 1990s. One of its primary goals is to study Jupiter’s gravitational field, inner structure and deep atmospheric composition in order to understand the origin and evolution of the planet.
Jupiter has the fastest rotation of any planet in our Solar System, with its day lasting less than 10 hours. Amateur astronomers at different locations around the globe are able to observe Jupiter continuously and monitor how events, such as storms or cloud stripes, evolve through the planet’s atmosphere. For nearly a decade, amateur astronomers collaborating from America, Europe and Asia have created high-resolution maps of Jupiter’s upper atmosphere, which are updated every few days. Over most of the 20 months of the Juno mission, the amateur contributors will observe the same areas of the planet repeatedly and obtain a long-term global view of changes in the atmosphere, such as the intensity of the winds and the activity of storms in the planet.
Christopher Go, a leading amateur astronomer from the Philippines, said, “I’ve been imaging Jupiter since 2004 and have worked for many years to develop collaborations between amateur and professional astronomers.  Amateurs have the advantage in that they don’t have to apply for telescope time, and the equipment now available means that we can make very high-quality observations. I am delighted that the amateur community has been invited to collaborate on Juno and excited at the opportunity to make an important contribution to the mission.”
Glenn Orton from JPL, who is responsible for coordinating Juno observations with Earth-based observations of Jupiter’s atmosphere, said, “Amateur observations can provide continuous monitoring of the atmosphere, creating a fluid documentation of the evolution of atmospheric features. This is particularly important during the active-mission phase because Juno’s remote-sensing observations will cover all latitudes from pole to pole, but they will be confined to narrow strips of longitude, except close to the poles themselves.”
Scientists expect to characterize the state of Jupiter’s atmosphere from high-resolution observations obtained by amateur astronomers. By comparing images of Jupiter obtained from different locations on Earth over time, they can observe the same areas of the planet repeatedly and obtain information such as the intensity of the winds and the activity of storms in the planet. The image on the left was obtained using a 40 cm diameter telescope and a fast black and white camera equipped with colour filters by Damian Peach during a trip to Barbados. The image on the right was obtained by Christopher Go from the Philippines using similar equipment. Credit: D. Peach/C. Go
Amateur astronomers regularly analyze their own observations and many participate in studies of the atmosphere of Jupiter. This image shows a nearly full map of Jupiter compiled by the Italian amateur astronomer, Marco Vedovato, from observations obtained by Tiziano Olivetti in Thailand, Christopher Go in the Philippines, and Alexei Pace in Malta. Full maps like this are only possible through the collaboration from observers around the world. The composition of these images by other amateurs like Marco Vedovato helps scientists in their effort to characterize the dynamic atmosphere of Jupiter. Credit: M. Vedovato/T. Olivetti/C. Go/A. Pace
Quelle: euroPLANET
Update: 28.05.2016
Juno Mission fühlt Jupiter Gravitations Hug
When we send spacecraft into the solar system, they feel the gravitational pull of the sun and the planets. Space scientists will even use the gravity of the planets to sling-shot their robotic spacecraft into deep space.
In the case of NASA's next mission to Jupiter, which has been coasting through space since its launch on Aug. 5, 2011, it has used Earth as a valuable gravity boost and been guided on its orbit by the sun's gravitational field. But as of tomorrow, the most dominant gravity Juno will feel will be Jupiter's and it will stay that way until its mission ends."Today the gravitational influence of Jupiter is neck and neck with that of the sun," said Rick Nybakken, Juno project manager at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., in a NASA news release. "As of tomorrow, and for the rest of the mission, we project Jupiter's gravity will dominate as the trajectory-perturbing effects by other celestial bodies are reduced to insignificant roles."
In other words, Jupiter is all there is for Juno from here on in; the gravities of other celestial bodies, particularly the sun, will fade into nothing more than a distant whimper and Jupiter will now be in the orbital driving seat.
This gravity "handover" is the beginning of some big changes for Juno. On July 4 it will commence its orbital insertion maneuver around the gas giant, carrying out a jarring 35 minute main engine burn that will slow the speeding spacecraft down by 1,212 mph (or 542 meters per second), allowing Jupiter's gravity to guide Juno into its new orbital home. But this isn't a comfortable new home -- the orbit of Jupiter is wrought with radiation hazards and, though Juno has some complex shielding, this will inevitably take its toll and ultimately puts a shelf-life on the mission's duration.
Its primary mission will see Juno orbit Jupiter 37 times, coming within 3,100 miles of the planet's cloud tops. The mission will make incredibly precise measurements of the planet's atmosphere and magnetic field, probing into the underlying physics of Jupiter's supercharged auroras. This is all in an effort to understand how this planetary giant formed and evolved into its current state.
But as with all missions deep within the solar system, we're also looking back on ourselves, trying to piece together the giant jigsaw puzzle about how Earth formed in the way that it did and, ultimately, add another layer of understanding as to how life -- particularly life intelligent enough to propel robots across interplanetary space -- was sparked.
Since NASA's Galileo mission, which ended in 2003, we haven't had a spacecraft at the gas giant. Now that's soon to change and it's exciting to anticipate what incredible science Juno will uncover.
Quelle: See-er
Update: 5.06.2016
A planet on steroids. How Juno could solve the riddle of Jupiter
The largest planet in the solar system may finally give up its secrets thanks to a new probe
A few days from now, a US spacecraft carrying a 200kg titanium vault crammed with delicate electronic equipment and fitted with a vast array of solar panels will sweep over the poles of Jupiter before entering into orbit around the giant planet. The craft, named Juno, has travelled almost three billion kilometres since it was launched in 2011. For the next two years, the huge spaceship will skim over Jupiter’s thick atmosphere while trying to avoid the planet’s huge belts of deadly radiation in a bid to uncover the secrets of this mysterious, remote world.
The $1.1bn (£757,837m) mission is designed to peer deep into the thick layers of gases that make up the planet’s atmosphere and return data that could be crucial to understanding the birth not just of Jupiter but of all the planets in our solar system, including Earth.
It will be an extraordinarily delicate task, however. Juno will have to travel extremely close to Jupiter’s powerful magnetic field and radiation belts, and these could easily destroy its instruments. “That is why we have fitted the spacecraft with a titanium vault – to protect the probe’s electronics,” said Juno’s principal investigator, Scott Bolton of the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio, Texas. “This is a mission with fantastic potential,” he added. “The trouble is that Jupiter is a planet on steroids. Everything about it is massive and that poses real problems for Juno. It will have to weave its way round Jupiter on a very, very delicate path.”
Jupiter is more massive than all the other objects – planets, moons, asteroids and comets – in the solar system, with the exception of the Sun itself. It is also believed to be the first planet created when the solar system formed 4.6 billion years ago. “It appeared first and was then able to scoop up most of the loose material that was sweeping round the Sun then. That is how it got to be so big,” said Bolton.
Understanding Jupiter’s creation is therefore crucial to understanding the formation of the rest of the solar system. However, the planet, which is 317 times bigger than the Earth, is not easy to study. Its magnetic field is the most powerful of any known planet and catches high-energy particles as they fly through space, trapping them in two vast radiation belts that surround it. These are similar to Earth’s Van Allen belts but are many millions of times more intense. Any satellite that strayed into them would find its electronic circuits fried.
“That makes life very difficult for Juno,” said Bolton. “We need to get close to Jupiter to be able to probe its atmosphere – but that means getting close to its radiation belts. We are going to have to fly very carefully or its instruments will be destroyed by radiation.”
This is only one of the many headaches that the spaceship’s designers have had to overcome, however. Juno will also have to carry out its tricky interplanetary manoeuvres on an incredibly tight power budget: the craft’s solar panels will be able to generate a few hundred watts of electricity, sufficient to power a couple of electric light bulbs, and not much more.
In the past, spacecraft sent to study planets far from the Sun have used generators powered by radioactive isotopes. “However, when we were designing and building Juno in the early 21st century, Nasa had temporarily run out of isotopes and so we have had to rely on solar power,” said Bolton.
And given Jupiter’s distance, that is a tricky issue. The planet orbits at 780m km from the Sun. The Earth, by comparison, orbits a mere 150m km from the Sun, which means that sunlight here is 25 times more powerful than it is at Jupiter.
Just after launch, when Juno was still close to the Earth, its giant solar panels – some of the biggest fitted to a planetary probe – could generate around 12 kilowatts of power. Now, as it approaches deep space near Jupiter, that has dropped to just over 400 watts.
Nevertheless, Bolton said he was confident that Juno could operate at such power levels. “The spacecraft is extremely efficient. Its instruments have been designed to run on that kind of power,” he said.
As to those instruments, they have been built to study Jupiter’s atmosphere in unprecedented detail, and to solve several key puzzles about the giant planet.
In 1995 Galileo – the only spacecraft that has orbited Jupiter to date – dropped a 339kg probe into the planet’s atmosphere. As it descended, the probe transmitted details about the various elements it encountered – and found several unexpected features. In particular, it found that most of the elements, such as carbon and nitrogen, in Jupiter’s atmosphere exist at enriched levels with one key exception – oxygen was found to be at surprisingly low levels.
“We had expected to see oxygen, in the form of water which contains oxygen, but saw very little,” said Bolton. “There are two explanations for this. One is that we simply do not understand Jupiter properly at all. The alternative explanation is that we were really, really unlucky and picked the one part of the planet that had no water in it. We’d hit Jupiter’s Sahara desert – through sheer bad luck.”
Juno is designed to discover which of these ideas is correct. “We need to find what the rest of Jupiter has got in it. That is what Juno is about,” added Bolton. “We are going to look all over the place and at much greater depths than we did in 1995.”
This task will be achieved not by dropping a probe but by relying on Juno’s microwave antennae. “Jupiter emits microwaves. It glows with them,” said Bolton.
“And, crucially, microwaves interact with water. That is why your microwave oven heats up wet spaghetti. Similarly, in Jupiter’s atmosphere microwaves are interacting with water and by studying what microwaves are being emitted, we can work out how much water – and oxygen – exists and at what depths.”
Juno is designed to make 37 orbits of Jupiter over its scheduled 20-month lifetime and will skim within 3,000 miles of the top of the planet’s atmosphere while trying to dodge its radiation belts, and all on a power budget of a few hundred watts.
“It is going to be a very risky mission but a worthwhile one,” added Bolton. “Frankly, if Juno survives two years of that kind of treatment before its electronics get burned up we will be very happy.”
Juno is now on the home stretch on its route to Jupiter. “For the rest of the mission, we project that Jupiter’s gravity will dominate as the trajectory-perturbing effects of other celestial bodies are reduced to insignificant roles,” said Rick Nybakken, Juno’s project manager.
On 4 July the spacecraft will finally reach its target. “And that is when the really tricky stuff starts,” added Bolton.
Quelle: theguardian
Update: 8.06.2016
Juno’s Mission to Jupiter May Also Reveal Clues about Exoplanets
NASA’s interplanetary probe is cruising toward an encounter with our local gas giant this summer. As the data starts flowing in, we may also learn about Jupiter’s many cousins across the galaxy
A new spacecraft is en route to the king of planets. NASA’s Juno mission will arrive at Jupiter July 4 to study our solar system’s largest world up close and personal. Once its primary mission starts around November, Juno will spend at least a year and a half examining the planet's interior and weather. But some scientists are interested not in what Juno can tell us about Jupiter but in what it could reveal about planets much farther away. They hope that in gathering such detailed information about our own gas-giant planet, Juno will help reveal how giant worlds beyond our own solar system were born and behave.
Scientists have already discovered hundreds of Jupiter-size planets circling other stars, and suspect those are just the tip of the iceberg. Some are known as “hot Jupiters,” because their tight orbits around their parent stars raise them to scorching temperatures. Other Jupiters circle in highly eccentric—that is, oblong—orbits, which is again unlike our own neighborhood. No one knows why some planets end up in such eccentric or close orbits whereas others—like Jupiter—revolve in relatively circular paths and from farther distances.
One theory is that planets start in different orbits and migrate over time. Juno will look for hints that Jupiter may have formed somewhere else than it is now by determining if there is less water and oxygen inside the planet than is likely if its building blocks came from its current location in the solar system. If so, the planet may have formed farther out from the sun where the environment is colder and later traveled inward. Such a finding would have implications for models predicting the formation of other gas giants in other systems. It is unlikely, however, that Jupiter has migrated very far, Juno principal investigator Scott Bolton of the Southwest Research Institute says, and he cautioned that the spacecraft will not be able to do a direct test of orbital migration, because whatever scientists learn about Jupiter’s interior, several formation scenarios may still be in play. “One theorist may update the model based on that [new] data by moving Jupiter out,” he says, “but somebody else may change the [formation] conditions and keep Jupiter where it's at.” [See a slide show of Juno’s mission to Jupiter]
Scientists have similar questions about whether most of the gas-giant exoplanets they see formed in their current locations or moved around. Hot Jupiters, for example, do not seem likely to have formed where they are because at such proximity to stars, most of the planet-building material would have been scarce, theories suggest. Likewise, researchers have trouble understanding how gas giants can form extremely far away from their stars because of a similar lack of building blocks. Juno's data could therefore help scientists better understand how exoplanetary systems got their layouts, says Jack Lissauer, a staff scientist at NASA Ames Research Center. Any evidence that Jupiter has migrated could support the idea that other giant planets are also likely to migrate.
Such investigations will be just part of Juno’s efforts to learn more about what Jupiter is made of. Despite 400 years of telescopic observations of the giant planet and 40 years of periodic close-up spacecraft studies, researchers still understand little about Jupiter's formation history. Basic mysteries on whether the planet has a core—and if it does have one, the size—as well as how much water the Jovian interior holds stymie scientists.
Unlike past spacecraft sent to Jupiter, Juno is equipped with a microwave radiometer, an instrument that can measure how water vapor contributes to refracting the atmosphere at microwave frequencies, to look beneath the cloud tops to study water content and weather processes. The spacecraft will also measure Jupiter's magnetic and gravity fields with greater precision than its predecessor, Galileo, which studied the planet and its moons between 1995 and 2003, because it will circle the planet in a polar orbit that allows it to get closer  to the planet.
Juno’s measurements of Jupiter’s magnetic field could also give insights into the planet’s internal structure. Scientists hope to learn whether deep down a core of heavy elements exists or whether the hydrogen and helium atmosphere goes “all the way down” until the elements compress at the center, Bolton says. Such a core could be helping to generate Jupiter’s magnetic field, but is not required. Scientists can also tackle the question of a core via Juno’s measurements of the planet’s gravitational field because gravitational structure can reflect the convection of heat deep inside, where the pressure is so high that compressed hydrogen acts like a molten metal.
If there is no core at all, Jupiter may have formed similarly to the sun—that is to say it may have gradually coalesced from the “protoplanetary nebula” of gas and dust that birthed our solar system. If researchers do find a core, however, that might indicate that heavy elements floating around when the solar system formed first coalesced into planet-size chunks, which then could have attracted floating gas molecules to create the giant planets Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune.
Of course, just because scientists may get clues into how Jupiter formed does not mean they will necessarily know how other gas-giant exoplanets formed, but it is likely that our own giant planet is fairly representative, Bolton says. Jupiter, for instance, is mostly composed of hydrogen and helium, which are the elements that make up most of our solar system as well as most interstellar clouds that collapse to form other solar systems.
For the foreseeable future Juno’s observations will provide the best possible look at what a giant planet's atmosphere is made of, said Raymond Jeanloz, an astronomy professor at the University of California, Berkeley, who studies planetary interiors. For exoplanetary researchers, however, Juno has a key limitation: It is only looking at a single world. There are thousands of known exoplanets too far away for a spacecraft to visit. Scientists are looking forward to two forthcoming space telescopes to measure the atmospheres of many giant planets: the James Webb Space Telescope and the Wide-Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST). "We are right now just barely getting our first glimpses at atmospheres” with current telescopes, says Heather Knutson, an assistant professor at the California Institute of Technology who studies exoplanetary atmospheres. “With JWST, we will see everything in beautiful detail.” WFIRST's advantage is it will be able to view planets without the overwhelming shine of their stars drowning their own light out, due to a “coronograph” that blocks the stars’ light, she adds.
Juno will spend its first 107 days at Jupiter completing two long orbits to calibrate its instruments and then maneuver to adjust its orbital period to 14 days. The probe will then complete at least 33 of these orbits, which will allow mission scientists to eventually create a full map of Jupiter's cloud tops and also probe beneath their surface. Funding could extend the mission slightly but the intense radiation environment of Jupiter will gradually damage Juno’s instruments and eventually force scientists to deliberately plunge the spacecraft into Jupiter before it is debilitated to the point it cannot be controlled. This measure will prevent any accidental impacts on icy and potentially life-friendly moons nearby, such as Europa, protecting them from chemical contamination by propellants as well as Earth microbes that may have hitched a ride on the spacecraft.
Quelle: ScientificAmerican
Update: 9.06.2016

NASA’s Juno Mission 26 Days from Jupiter


NASA's Juno mission is now 26 days and 11.1 million miles (17.8 million kilometers) away from the largest planetary inhabitant in our solar system -- Jupiter.  On the evening of July 4, Juno will fire its main engine for 35 minutes, placing it into a polar orbit around the gas giant. It will be a daring planetary encounter: Giant Jupiter lies in the harshest radiation environment known, and Juno has been specially designed to safely navigate the brand new territory.
We're currently closing the distance between us and Jupiter at about four miles per second," said Scott Bolton, principal investigator for Juno from the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio. "But Jupiter's gravity is tugging at us harder every day and by the time we arrive we'll be accelerated to 10 times that speed -- more than 40 miles per second (nearly 70 kilometers per second) -- by the time our rocket engine puts on the brakes to get us into orbit."
The Juno mission team is using these last weeks to evaluate and re-evaluate every portion of the Jupiter orbit insertion (JOI) process, finding very low probability events and running them to ground -- determining which, if any, need to be addressed. Two scenarios have been identified for further work. The first is a variation in how Juno would come out of safe mode—a protective mode if the spacecraft were to encounter an anomaly or unexpected condition. A second item involves a minor software update. 
"We are in the last test and review phases of the JOI sequence as part of our final preparations for Jupiter orbit insertion," said Rick Nybakken, project manager of Juno for NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. "Throughout the project, including operations, our review process has looked for the likely, the unlikely and then the very unlikely. Now we are looking at extremely unlikely events that orbit insertion could throw at us."
Quelle: NASA
Update: 12.06.2016
Juno Overview
Unlocking Jupiter's Secrets
Juno will improve our understanding of the solar system's beginnings by revealing the origin and evolution of Jupiter.
Specifically, Juno will…
Determine how much water is in Jupiter's atmosphere, which helps determine which planet formation theory is correct (or if new theories are needed)
Look deep into Jupiter's atmosphere to measure composition, temperature, cloud motions and other properties
Map Jupiter's magnetic and gravity fields, revealing the planet's deep structure
Explore and study Jupiter's magnetosphere near the planet's poles, especially the auroras – Jupiter's northern and southern lights – providing new insights about how the planet's enormous magnetic force field affects its atmosphere.
The Giant Planet Story is the Story of the Solar System
Juno's principal goal is to understand the origin and evolution of Jupiter. Underneath its dense cloud cover, Jupiter safeguards secrets to the fundamental processes and conditions that governed our solar system during its formation. As our primary example of a giant planet, Jupiter can also provide critical knowledge for understanding the planetary systems being discovered around other stars.
With its suite of science instruments, Juno will investigate the existence of a solid planetary core, map Jupiter's intense magnetic field, measure the amount of water and ammonia in the deep atmosphere, and observe the planet's auroras.
Juno will let us take a giant step forward in our understanding of how giant planets form and the role these titans played in putting together the rest of the solar system.
Jupiter's Origins and Interior
Artist concept of a young star system similar to our own.
Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech
T. Pyle (SSC) Theories about solar system formation all begin with the collapse of a giant cloud of gas and dust, or nebula, most of which formed the infant sun. Like the sun, Jupiter is mostly hydrogen and helium, so it must have formed early, capturing most of the material left after our star came to be. How this happened, however, is unclear. Did a massive planetary core form first and gravitationally capture all that gas, or did an unstable region collapse inside the nebula, triggering the planet's formation? Differences between these scenarios are profound.
Even more importantly, the composition and role of icy planetesimals, or small proto-planets, in planetary formation hangs in the balance – and with them, the origin of Earth and other terrestrial planets. Icy planetesimals likely were the carriers of materials like water and carbon compounds that are the fundamental building blocks of life.
Unlike Earth, Jupiter's giant mass allowed it to hold onto its original composition, providing us with a way of tracing our solar system's history. Juno will measure the amount of water and ammonia in Jupiter's atmosphere and determine if the planet actually has a solid core, directly resolving the origin of this giant planet and thereby the solar system. By mapping Jupiter's gravitational and magnetic fields, Juno will reveal the planet's interior structure and measure the mass of the core.
How deep Jupiter's colorful zones, belts, and other features penetrate is one of the most outstanding fundamental questions about the giant planet. Juno will determine the global structure and motions of the planet's atmosphere below the cloud tops for the first time, mapping variations in the atmosphere's composition, temperature, clouds and patterns of movement down to unprecedented depths.
Deep in Jupiter's atmosphere, under great pressure, hydrogen gas is squeezed into a fluid known as metallic hydrogen. At these great depths, the hydrogen acts like an electrically conducting metal which is believed to be the source of the planet's intense magnetic field. This powerful magnetic environment creates the brightest auroras in our solar system, as charged particles precipitate down into the planet's atmosphere. Juno will directly sample the charged particles and magnetic fields near Jupiter's poles for the first time, while simultaneously observing the auroras in ultraviolet light produced by the extraordinary amounts of energy crashing into the polar regions. These investigations will greatly improve our understanding of this remarkable phenomenon, and also of similar magnetic objects, like young stars with their own planetary systems.
Learn more about the motivation behind Juno at the mission website.
Juno's Mythical Connection
In Greek and Roman mythology, Jupiter drew a veil of clouds around himself to hide his mischief. It was Jupiter's wife, the goddess Juno, who was able to peer through the clouds and reveal Jupiter's true nature. The Juno spacecraft will also look beneath the clouds to see what the planet is up to, not seeking signs of misbehavior, but helping us to understand the planet's structure and history.
Mission Timeline
Launch - August 5, 2011
Deep Space Maneuvers - August/September 2012
Earth flyby gravity assist - October 2013
Jupiter arrival - July 2016
Spacecraft will orbit Jupiter for 20 months (37 orbits)
End of mission (deorbit into Jupiter) - February 2018
The Juno mission is the second spacecraft designed under NASA's New Frontiers Program. The first is the Pluto New Horizons mission, which flew by the dwarf planet in July 2015 after a nine-and-a-half-year flight. The program provides opportunities to carry out several medium-class missions identified as top priority objectives in the Decadal Solar System Exploration Survey, conducted by the Space Studies Board of the National Research Council in Washington.
JPL manages the Juno mission for the principal investigator, Scott Bolton, of Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio. The Juno mission is part of the New Frontiers Program managed at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala. Lockheed Martin Space Systems, Denver, built the spacecraft. Launch management for the mission is the responsibility of NASA's Launch Services Program at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. JPL is a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena.
Quelle: NASA

Why NASA sent 3 defenseless Legos to die on Jupiter

Special LEGOs of the Roman gods Jupiter and Juno, and one modeled after the likeness of Galileo Galilei.
In less than two years, NASA will send three unique Lego Minifigures to their fiery deaths in Jupiter’s atmosphere.
It will make the only other set in the universe — a prized possession at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory — much more valuable.
But fear not, the two Lego men and one Lego woman will be sacrificed in the name of science. The aluminum figurines of astronomer Galileo, Roman god Jupiter and goddess Juno are aboard a deep-space probe that’s been heading to the gas giant for the last five years.
The spacecraft, named after Juno, will peer through Jupiter’s cloudy atmosphere in an attempt to understand the origins of the largest planet in our solar system. When the probe completes its mission in 2018, it will fly into Jupiter and burn up.
Juno’s Principal Investigator Scott Bolton came up with the idea to include the Minifigures aboard the spacecraft to inspire and connect children with the mission. He thought Lego would make the perfect partner because of the toy manufacturer’s commitment to education.
“It was just me making a cold call,” Bolton said.
NASA and Lego have collaborated before. They’ve sent Legos to the International Space Station and to Mars. But the trip to Jupiter will be the furthest a Lego man or woman has ever traveled in our universe.
Lego created two sets of figures specifically for the mission. One was a backup in case the first set broke. While the same size as store-bought Minifigures, these Legos are made out of aluminum to protect them from the harshness of space. “They had to be made of the same material the spacecraft is made of,” Bolton said.
NASA secured the trio beneath the spacecraft’s thermal protection.
In Roman mythology, Jupiter would use clouds to hide his mischief, but his wife, Juno, would peer through his screen from atop Mount Olympus. Lego Juno holds a magnifying glass, while Jupiter holds a lightning bolt. The third figurine represents Galileo Galilei, the Italian astronomer, who determined that the Earth revolves around the sun, and not the other way around. Galileo, in part, determined this after observing Jupiter’s four moons orbiting the gas giant.
His Lego carries a telescope and a globe.
Bolton said he would love to see the three Minifigures become commercially available. He loans JPL’s backup set to museums and takes them on school tours, he said. Lego also sent a three-foot Lego duplicate of the Juno spacecraft to Bolton and JPL.
On July 4, when Juno fires its engines to enter Jupiter’s orbit, the three backup Legonauts will be in NASA JPL’s mission control room to make sure everything goes right.
And maybe they’ll breathe a little sigh of relief too.
Quelle: The San Gabriel Valley Tribune
Update: 14.06.2016
NASA Spacecraft Closing in on Jupiter, Media Briefing to Discuss July 4 Arrival
NASA will host a media briefing at 2 p.m. EDT on Thursday, June 16, to discuss the agency’s Juno spacecraft and its July 4th arrival at Jupiter.
The briefing will be held in the James Webb Auditorium at NASA Headquarters, 300 E Street SW, Washington, and broadcast live on NASA Television and the agency's website.
The solar-powered spacecraft will perform a suspenseful Jupiter orbit insertion maneuver -- a 35-minute burn of its main engine -- which will slow Juno by about 1,200 mph (542 meters per second) so it can be captured into the gas giant’s polar orbit. Juno will loop Jupiter 37 times during 20 months, skimming to within 3,100 miles (5,000 kilometers) above its swirling cloud tops.
Juno will provide answers to ongoing mysteries about Jupiter’s core, composition and magnetic fields, and provide new clues about the origins of our solar system.
The briefing participants will be:
·      Diane Brown, Juno mission program executive, NASA Headquarters, Washington
·      Scott Bolton, Juno principal investigator, Southwest Research Institute, San Antonio
·      Rick Nybakken, Juno project manager, Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), Pasadena, California
·      Heidi Becker, radiation monitoring investigation lead, JPL
·      Alberto Adriani, Juno co-investigator, Instituto di Astrofisica e Planetologia Spaziali, Rome
Media may ask questions during the event on site and by phone. Members of the public also can ask questions on social media using #AskNASA.
To participate in the briefing by phone, media must email their name, media affiliation and phone number to Laurie Cantillo at by 1 p.m. Thursday.
Quelle: NASA
Update: 16.06.2016

We’ve been to Jupiter before but haven’t looked into its mysterious soul

The $1.1 billion Juno mission has just one chance to get into orbit at the gas giant.

At first blush Jupiter may seem like a rather dull planet. A failed star. A ball of gas. A large, red storm. Sure, it's big, but what more is there? And we’ve been there before—lots of times, in fact. Beginning with Pioneer 11 and 12, NASA has flown seven probes by the gas world. One mission, Galileo, studied the Jovian system for nearly a decade from 1995 to 2003. So why is the space agency sending yet another probe, Juno, to once again visit the Solar System's giant?

We're still studying Jupiter because despite all of these missions, NASA has literally only scratched the surface. Its inner structure remains largely a mystery—and an intriguing one, too. The planet is essentially made of gas piled upon more gas. And like a big stack of pillows, as more gas is added on top, the bottom layers become more and more compressed as gravity pulls down on the gas. This creates extremely dense conditions inside the planet. Jupiter, after all, is only a little bit larger than Saturn—but it has three times the mass. Scientists have almost no idea how hydrogen will behave at the extreme pressures deep beneath Jupiter's outer layers toward its core. Indeed, does Jupiter even have a core? We simply don’t know.
The Juno spacecraft, launched in 2011 and arriving at Jupiter on July 4 this year, will be able to scrutinize the planet's gravity field and peer beneath its upper cloud layer. This should help offer some clarity about Jupiter’s interior. During a presentation in May at the Lunar and Planetary Institute in Houston, mission scientist Fran Bagenal discussed just how strange that interior might be.
Metallic hydrogen
The exterior of Jupiter is gaseous and cold, with a temperature of about -150 degrees Celsius. The temperature and density increase rapidly as one goes into the planet, and when the temperature reaches about 1,700 degrees Celsius, hydrogen is forced into a liquid because of the accompanying pressure at that depth. Just a little bit further down—still only about 20 percent of the distance from the surface to the center—the temperature becomes high enough that the bonds of the hydrogen molecules begin to break down. And from there, down to the center of the planet where temperatures reach about 20,000 degrees Celsius, things get really weird.
It’s not clear what the combination of pressure and temperature (four or five times hotter than the surface of the Sun) will do to hydrogen. To get a sense of the pressure on atoms at the center of Jupiter, Bagenal conjured an image of an elephant standing on one foot. Now imagine 1,000 elephants standing on top of that one elephant. And even that doesn’t approximate the pressure in the interior of Jupiter, which is 100 million times the atmospheric pressure on Earth. That one elephant would need to be standing in a stiletto heel.
“We don’t really know how hydrogen behaves at those pressures,” she said. “We are sort of making it up. We are working at a realm where we don’t have experimental evidence. So we have to rely on theorists to tell us what happens.”
Scientists have taken hydrogen to a couple million times the pressure of the planet’s surface in Earth-based experiments, and at these high pressures the bonds of molecular hydrogen break to create a conductive fluid of protons and electrons known as metallic hydrogen. This fluid might be something like the liquid mercury in thermometers. But what happens at the much higher pressures inside Jupiter?
Does Jupiter have a core, or not?
Bagenal said this truly represents the cutting edge of science. When Juno launched five years ago, theorists generally believed Jupiter had a core of heavier elements such as oxygen and carbon beneath a layer of metallic hydrogen. However, physicists working with quantum mechanical models of hydrogen say they now expect the heavier elements to be all mixed up in the metallic hydrogen soup. Bagenal hopes the answers to this mystery lie in studying the gravitational field of Jupiter.
The spacecraft
Named after the Roman goddess who was both sister and wife to Jupiter, the $1.1 billion Juno mission launched aboard an Atlas V rocket with five solid rocket boosters attached. The spacecraft now approaching Jupiter weighs about 3,600kg and is 3.5 meters long and 3.5 meters wide. It features huge solar panels, measuring a total of 60 square meters, because the solar output is about 25 times weaker at Jupiter than Earth.
In addition to the gravity science experiment mentioned by Bagenal, the mission carries eight other instruments, including a magnetometer and spectrograph. Aside from understanding the planet's mysterious interior, scientists also hope to gather data that will allow them to piece together the formation and evolution of Jupiter as the largest planet in the Solar System and understand the precise mechanism that generates its large magnetic field. Understanding Jupiter’s development should lead to a better overall picture of the Solar System’s formation.
Scientists are not sure how long the spacecraft will survive in the harsh radiation environment generated by Jupiter. Most of Juno’s electronics are housed inside a vault with a thick titanium casing, because the spacecraft will pass repeatedly through the planet’s lethal radiation belts as it travels over the poles. Mission scientists hope to get 33 orbits out of the spacecraft, but Bagenal said they’re not sure its sensitive equipment will last that long. At the end of its mission Juno will maneuver into an orbit that will slowly degrade and eventually allow the spacecraft to be swallowed by Jupiter’s gaseous maw. It will collect no more data in this death spiral, but at least Juno will be kept away from any Jovian moons that might harbor life–such as Europa. At least for the time being, we will continue to attempt no landing there.
For NASA the most critical date in the mission is coming soon: on July 4, Juno will commence its orbital insertion maneuver. Right now, Juno is approaching Jupiter at about 6 km/s relative to the planet. At approximately 10:30pm Pacific time on July 4, the spacecraft will begin a 35-minute burn to slow down and—hopefully—slide into orbit around Jupiter. If all goes well, the spacecraft will begin peering into the clouds of the planet shortly thereafter.
Quelle: ars technica
Update: 25.06.2016


oday (6/24), at exactly 9:57 and 48 seconds a.m. PDT, NASA's Juno spacecraft was 5.5 million miles (8.9 million kilometers) from its July 4th appointment with Jupiter. Over the past two weeks, several milestones occurred that were key to a successful 35-minute burn of its rocket motor, which will place the robotic explorer into a polar orbit around the gas giant.
"We have over five years of spaceflight experience and only 10 days to Jupiter orbit insertion," said Rick Nybakken, Juno project manager from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. "It is a great feeling to put all the interplanetary space in the rearview mirror and have the biggest planet in the solar system in our windshield."  
On June 11, Juno began transmitting to and receiving data from Earth around the clock. This constant contact will keep the mission team informed on any developments with their spacecraft within tens of minutes of it occurring. On June 20, the protective cover that shields Juno's main engine from micrometeorites and interstellar dust was opened, and the software program that will command the spacecraft through the all-important rocket burn was uplinked. 
One of the important near-term events remaining on Juno's pre-burn itinerary is the pressurization of its propulsion system on June 28. The following day, all instrumentation not geared toward the successful insertion of Juno into orbit around Jupiter on July 4 will be turned off. 
"If it doesn't help us get into orbit, it is shut down," said Scott Bolton, Juno's principal investigator from the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio. "That is how critical this rocket burn is. And while we will not be getting images as we make our final approach to the planet, we have some interesting pictures of what Jupiter and its moons look like from five-plus million miles away."
The mission optical camera, JunoCam, imaged Jupiter on June 21, 2016, at a distance of 6.8 million miles (10.9 million kilometers) from the gas giant.  In the image, just to the right of center is Jupiter, with its distinctive swirling bands of orange, brown and white. To the left of Jupiter (from right to left) are the planet's four largest moons -- Europa, Io, Callisto and Ganymede. Juno is approaching over Jupiter's north pole, affording the spacecraft a unique perspective on the Jovian system. Previous missions that imaged Jupiter on approach saw the system from much lower latitudes, closer to the planet's equator.
JunoCam is an outreach instrument -- its inclusion in this mission of exploration was to allow the public to come along for the ride with Juno. JunoCam’s optics were designed to acquire high-resolution views of Jupiter’s poles while the spacecraft is flying much closer to the planet.  Juno will be getting closer to the cloud tops of the planet than any mission before it, and the image resolution of the massive gas giant will be the best ever taken by a spacecraft.  
All of Juno’s instruments, including JunoCam, are scheduled to be turned back on approximately two days after achieving orbit.  JunoCam images are expected to be returned from the spacecraft for processing and release to the public starting in late August or early September. 
"This image is the start of something great," said Bolton. "In the future we will see Jupiter's polar auroras from a new perspective. We will see details in rolling bands of orange and white clouds like never before, and even the Great Red Spot. 
The Juno spacecraft launched on Aug. 5, 2011, from Cape Canaveral, Florida.
JPL manages the Juno mission for the principal investigator, Scott Bolton, of Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio. Juno is part of NASA's New Frontiers Program, which is managed at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, for NASA's Science Mission Directorate. Lockheed Martin Space Systems, Denver, built the spacecraft. The California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, California, manages JPL for NASA.
Quelle: NASA


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