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Sonntag, 28. August 2016 - 17:45 Uhr

Raumfahrt - JUNO SPACECRAFT-Jupiter-Mission Update-4

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25.06.2016

Juno right on target for July 4 rendezvous with Jupiter

Artist’s concept of the Juno spacecraft on approach to Jupiter. Credit: Lockheed Martin
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NASA’s Juno spacecraft, running on solar power more than 500 million miles from the sun, is on final approach for a Fourth of July arrival at Jupiter for a year-and-a-half campaign of exploration.
Engineers this week are preparing the probe for a make-or-break rocket burn late July 4 to swing into orbit around the solar system’s largest planet and become the second craft to ever set up residency there.
Juno will orbit Jupiter until February 2018, passing within 3,100 miles (5,000 kilometers) from Jupiter’s turbulent cloud tops, nearly 10 times closer than planned for any previous flyby or orbiter mission.
The goal of the $1.1 billion mission, which launched from Earth in August 2011, is to survey the deep interior of Jupiter, conduct measurements of its swirling atmosphere and robust magnetic field, and attempt to sort out how the giant world formed at the birth of the solar system.
The July 4 main engine firing will take place with Juno on autopilot. It takes 48 minutes for a radio signal to travel one way from Earth to Jupiter, longer than the 35-minute duration of the orbit insertion burn itself.
“It’s a one-shot deal,” said Scott Bolton, Juno’s principal investigator from the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio. “The whole thing is riding on this JOI — Jupiter Orbit Insertion — activity on July 4. Somebody asked, ‘When does the nail biting start?’ It’s already started. We’re getting close.
“I can’t wait to get there,” Bolton said. “One of the primary goals of Juno is to learn the recipe for solar systems. How do you make the solar system? How do you make the planets in the solar system, and, in fact, not just our solar system, but how do you make the planets we discover in other solar systems?”
With Juno’s rendezvous, Jupiter will get its first long-term visitor since NASA’s Galileo orbiter ended its mission in 2003.
Interplanetary navigators at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California have put Juno right on course for a cosmic bull’s-eye, aiming for a narrow corridor over Jupiter’s north pole to place the spacecraft in the right position for the arrival maneuver.
Mission managers canceled a course-correction planned for May 31, and three follow-up burns scheduled this month are also unnecessary with Juno’s perfect trajectory, according to Rick Nybakken, Juno’s project manager at JPL.
“We have the best interplanetary navigation people in the world here at JPL, and once again they nailed it,” Nybakken told Spaceflight Now in an interview.
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Juno principal investigator Scott Bolton. Credit: NASA/Aubrey Gemignani
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Juno’s last course-correction was on Feb. 3, when the probe fired its thrusters to slightly nudge the spacecraft’s flight path, changing its speed by just 0.7 mph, or 0.31 meters per second.
It turns out that maneuver was good enough to carry Juno through its July 4 encounter with Jupiter. The spacecraft’s optical navigation camera is tracking Jupiter, and the planet is right in Juno’s crosshairs.
“We’ve been seeing Jupiter for several weeks now, so we don’t expect any surprise getting closer,” said Jeff Lewis, Juno’s flight operations lead engineer at Lockheed Martin, which built the spacecraft and sends commands to the probe from a control center near Denver.
As of Thursday, Juno was about 6 million miles (10 million kilometers) from Jupiter. It will close that distance over the next 11 days.
A shield covering Juno’s main engine opened Monday, the first of several key steps over the next couple of weeks to configure the propulsion system for the July 4 burn. Mission control also uplinked the command sequence for Juno’s arrival, allowing the spacecraft to fly itself through the critical insertion burn, if necessary.
But engineers plan to oversee several more days of preparatory activities before handing over control to Juno’s on-board computer June 30.
Next week, the ground team will prime Juno for the engine burn by warming up the craft’s tank of gaseous helium used to pressurize propulsion system. Once that step is complete, Juno will pressurize its propellant system, which consists of a mix of hydrazine and nitrogen tetroxide, liquids at stable temperatures that can be stored for years in space.
The final commands for the July 4 arrival will beamed up to Juno through NASA’s Deep Space Network on June 30, Lewis said.
“It will be completely hands-off from that point, (but) we’ll be ready to do anything, if need be, from the ground,” Lewis said in a recent interview with Spaceflight Now.
All of Juno’s science instruments will be turned off June 29 to focus all of the spacecraft’s energy and computing power on the crucial insertion burn set to begin at 11:18 p.m. EDT July 4 (0318 GMT July 5).
Juno will spin up to 5 rpm for the maneuver, point the engine toward the correct vector, and fire it for 35 minutes. Orbital dynamics experts want to change the spacecraft’s velocity by 1,211 mph (541.7 meters per second), just the right speed adjustment, or delta-v, to put Juno in a wide, egg-shaped 53-day orbit around Jupiter.
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This diagram illustrates the size of the Juno spacecraft with its three huge solar array wings. The large panels are necessary to generate power at Jupiter’s distance. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
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With its three solar array wings stretching as wide as a basketball court, Juno will reach record speeds as Jupiter’s immense gravity pulls the spacecraft toward the gas giant. On July 4, Juno will top out at more than 150,000 mph (more than 250,000 kilometers per hour) relative to Earth, making it the fastest human-made object in history, according to NASA.
Jupiter’s gravity will tug the spacecraft over its north pole, then as close as 2,900 miles (4,667 kilometers) as Juno fires up its engine.
“That’s the key to the speed,” Bolton said of Jupiter’s gravity. “We humans can’t build a rocket quite that fast. It’s hard to do that, so we’re getting the speed by Jupiter pulling us in. It’s all part of celestial forces.”
During Juno’s 35-minute burn, engineers and scientists across the solar system on Earth will monitor the maneuver’s progress by listening for tones broadcast by the spacecraft’s radio. Juno will send home tones at different frequencies as the probe achieves key steps during the insertion sequence.
The direction required for the engine burn means Juno’s high-gain antenna will be pointed away from Earth, so the probe can only send limited status updates with its low-data rate antenna.
The July 4 insertion burn will mark the third time Juno has fired its main engine. Two big deep space maneuvers in 2012 went off without a hitch, setting up for a flyby of Earth in 2013 to slingshot Juno toward Jupiter. That gave officials confidence, but the maneuver at Jupiter will offer new challenges.
“We know how to set up the propulsion system. We know how the engine performs,” Nybakken said. “The only thing new here is how the main engine performs, and the spacecraft performs, in Jupiter’s intense radiation environment.”
Engineers and software coders developed commands for Juno to quickly and automatically respond to any fault caused by radiation during the July 4 arrival burn. If radiation triggers a computer reset and interrupts the orbit insertion engine firing, Juno’s software has an “auto restart” feature to resume the burn within a few minutes, Nybakken said.
Juno will brush by Jupiter’s extreme radiation belt during each of its planned 37 low passes over the planet during its mission, beginning July 4. The radiation dose will build on each orbit, subjecting Juno to greater doses of nasty computer-zapping high-energy electrons toward the end of its 20-month campaign.
The orbiter will fire its main engine again around Oct. 19 to lower the high point, or apojove, of its path around Jupiter to cycle from a 53.5-day orbit to a 14-day orbit for regular science operations.
The spacecraft’s vital electronics are housed in an armored titanium box, or vault, to protect against radiation that could damage computers, sensors and other crucial components.
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An illustration of Jupiter’s magnetosphere, radiation belts and aurorae. Credit: SWRI
“There are two kinds of radiation,” Bolton said. “One is called total dose where I’m just adding it up and eventually something stops working. The other is the instantaneous flux, like a single event upset, so I have really high-speed electrons coming through and they just eat the electronics right then and there. That’s still pretty harsh even in the beginning — the potential for that, at least — but we’re going through even worse regions later.”
Without the titanium shield, Juno likely would not survive even one trip around Jupiter. Scientists predict Juno will be exposed to radiation equivalent to 100 million dental X-rays during the mission.
“Of course, we’re going through that radiation as fast as we can, so we’re hoping to not be exposed too long,” Bolton said. “Almost any of it would kill any of us right away. Even if we were behind all the armor that Juno has, humans wouldn’t do so well.”
Juno’s first dip toward Jupiter is designed to avoid the worst the planet has to offer, but there are still unknowns.
“It’s a spacecraft, not a human, thank God, but it’s still something,” Nybakken told Spaceflight Now. “Obviously, radiation tolerance and the ability to operate in that environment has been a focus area for us from day one, so we’ve been working on this for 10 years.”
Jupiter’s magnetic field traps high-energy particles in belts like Earth’s, but the scale of the gas giant makes it a “planet on steroids,” Bolton said, accumulating hazards to a craft like Juno.
“We’ve armored it up because Jupiter is attacking us,” Nybakken said. “Those energetic particles, the electrons and the protons, are hitting us at the speed of light from all different angles, so it’s a very intense environment. It’s the most dangerous and hostile environment anywhere in the solar system outside of the sun, and we’re going right into the heart of it.”
Quelle: SN
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Update: 28.06.2016
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Jupiter erwartet die Ankunft von Juno

Beeindruckende VLT-Bilder von Jupiter nur wenige Tage vor Ankunft der Juno-Raumsonde vorgestellt

Als Vorbereitung für die bevorstehende Ankunft der Raumsonde Juno der NASA haben Astronomen mit dem Very Large Telescope der ESO beeindruckende neue Infrarotaufnahmen von Jupiter gemacht. Die Bilder sind Teil einer Kampagne, um hochauflösende Karten vom Riesenplaneten zu erstellen. Diese Beobachtungen helfen nicht nur den Astronomen, den Gasriesen vor Junos Annäherung besser zu verstehen, sondern sie dienen auch als Grundlage für die Entscheidung, welche Aufgaben Juno in den kommenden Monaten erledigen soll.
Das Team von Leigh Fletcher von der University of Leicester in Großbritannien stellt beim National Astronomy Meeting der britischen Royal Astronomical Society in Nottingham neue Bilder von Jupiter vor. Aufgenommen wurden sie mit dem VISIR-Instrument am Very Large Telescope der ESO und sind Teil der gezielten Bemühungen, vor der Ankunft der Juno-Raumsonde der NASA [1] im Juli die Atmosphäre des Jupiters besser zu verstehen.
Für die Kampagne kamen zahlreiche Teleskope in Hawaii und Chile zum Einsatz. Darüber hinaus lieferten auch Amateur-Astronomen aus der ganzen Welt Beiträge. Die Karten geben nicht nur eine Momentaufnahme wieder, sondern zeigen auch, wie sich Jupiters Atmosphäre in den Monaten vor Junos Ankunft bewegt und verändert.
Die Juno-Raumsonde wurde 2011 gestartet und hat seitdem fast 3000 Millionen Kilometer zurückgelegt. Während Beobachtungen von der Erde durch die Erdatmosphäre schwierig sind, kann die Raumsonde frei von solch störenden Einflüssen seltene Aufnahmen von Jupiter machen und damit wichtige Daten sammeln. Angesichts dessen erscheint es überraschend, dass die erdgebundene Kampagne als so wichtig erachtet wurde.
Fletcher erklärt, warum diese Forschungsarbeiten im Vorfeld von Junos Ankunft so wichtig waren: „Diese Karten werden uns bei der Entscheidung helfen, was Juno in den kommenden Monaten beobachten soll. Beobachtungen in verschiedenen Wellenlängenbereichen quer durch das infrarote Spektrum ermöglichen es uns, ein dreidimensionales Bild davon zu bekommen, wie Energie und Materie in der Atmosphäre nach oben transportiert werden.“
Scharfe Bilder durch die sich ständig bewegende Erdatmosphäre aufzunehmen, stellt eine der größten Herausforderungen dar, mit der bodengebundene Teleskope konfrontiert sind. Der flüchtige Blick auf Jupiters eigene turbulente Atmosphäre, in der kühlere Gaswolken für eine ständige Durchmischung sorgen, war dank einer Technik möglich, die als Lucky Imaging bezeichnet wird. Dafür wurden mit VISIR viele aufeinanderfolgende Aufnahmen mit kurzer Belichtungszeit von Jupiter gemacht, so dass am Ende tausende Einzelaufnahmen entstanden sind. Die besten Bilder, auf denen die Auswirkungen der Atmosphäre am geringsten sind, werden ausgewählt und die restlichen verworfen. Diese ausgewählten Bilder werden abgeglichen und kombiniert, um ein außergewöhnliches finales Bild zu bekommen, wie es auch hier zu sehen ist.
Glenn Orton, Leiter der erdgebundenen Kampagne zur Unterstützung von Junos Mission, erläutert näher, warum die Vorbereitungsbeobachtungen von der Erde so wertvoll sind: „Durch die gemeinsamen Bestrebungen eines internationalen Teams aus Amateur- und Berufsastronomen in den letzten acht Monaten haben wir jetzt einen unglaublich umfangreichen Datensatz zur Verfügung. Zusammen mit den neuen Ergebnissen von Juno wird es insbesondere der VISIR-Datensatz Astronomen ermöglichen, die globalen thermischen Strukturen, die Wolkendecke und die Verteilung gasförmiger Komponenten auf Jupiter zu charakterisieren.“
Zwar werden die neuen und mit Spannung erwarteten Ergebnisse erst durch die eigentliche Juno-Mission zustande kommen, der Weg dafür wurde jedoch mithilfe der bodengebundenen Astronomie bereits hier auf der Erde geebnet.
Endnoten
[1] Die RaumsondeJuno wurde nach der Frau des Gottes Jupiter aus der römischen Mythologie benannt. Wie sein planetares Ebenbild verhüllte sich Jupiter selbst in Wolken, um seinen Übermut zu verbergen. Nur Juno war in der Lage, hindurchzuschauen und seine wahre Natur zu erkennen.
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Die zwei Gesichter des Jupiters

Falschfarben-Aufnahmen, die aus VLT-Beobachtungen im Februar und März 2016 erstellt wurden und zwei verschiedene Gesichter von Jupiter zeigen. Die blaueren Bereiche sind kalt und wolkenfrei, die orangenen Bereiche sind warm und bewölkt, farblosere helle Regionen sind warm und wolkenfrei und dunkle Regionen sind kalt und bewölkt (wie der Große Rote Fleck und die bekannten Ovale). Das Wellenmuster über dem Nord-Äquatorialband erscheint orange.
Diese Aufnahme entstand aus VLT/VISIR-Infrarotbildern vom Februar 2016 (links) und März 2016 (rechts). Die orangenen Bilder wurden bei einer Wellenlänge von 10,7 Mikrometern aufgenommen und heben die unterschiedlichen Temperaturen und das Vorhandensein von Ammoniak hervor. Die blauen Bilder bei einer Wellenlänge von 8,6 Mikrometern heben Schwankungen in der Wolken-Opazität hervor.
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Diese Aufnahme vergleicht eine Lucky-Imaging-Aufnahme von VISIR (links) im infraroten Wellenlängenbereich mit einer sehr scharfen Amateur-Aufnahme im sichtbaren Licht aus etwa demselben Zeitraum (rechts).
Quelle: ESO
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JUNO-Sonde-Rückblick:
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Quelle: NASA
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Update: 1.07.2016
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NASA's Juno Spacecraft to Kick into Planned Autopilot for July 4 Jupiter Burn
At about 12:15 pm PDT today (3:15 p.m. EDT), mission controllers will transmit command product "ji4040" into deep space, to transition the solar-powered Juno spacecraft into autopilot. It will take nearly 48 minutes for the signal to cover the 534-million-mile (860-million-kilometer) distance between the Deep Space Network Antenna in Goldstone, California, to the Juno spacecraft. While sequence ji4040 is only one of four command products sent up to the spacecraft that day, it holds a special place in the hearts of the Juno mission team.
"Ji4040 contains the command that starts the Jupiter Orbit insertion sequence," said Ed Hirst, mission manager of Juno from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. "As soon as it initiates -- which should be in less than a second -- Juno will send us data that the command sequence has started."
When the sequence kicks in, the spacecraft will begin running the software program tailored to carry the solar-powered, basketball court-sized spacecraft through the 35-minute burn that will place it in orbit around Jupiter.
"After the sequence executes, Juno is on autopilot," said Hirst. "But that doesn't mean we get to go home. We are monitoring the spacecraft's activities 24/7 and will do so until well after we are in orbit."
Also today, NASA announced a collaboration with Apple that will serve to enhance the agency's efforts to inform and excite the public about dramatic missions of exploration like Juno. "Destination: Juno" is a synergy between two seemingly disparate worlds: popular music and interplanetary exploration. The works resulting from this collaboration showcase exploratory sounds from artists who have been inspired by Juno and other NASA missions, including Brad Paisley, Corinne Bailey Rae, GZA, Jim James featuring Lydia Tyrell, QUIÑ, Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross, Weezer and Zoé.
Apple has captured moments in this journey with a behind-the-scenes documentary spearheaded by the Juno mission's principal investigator, Scott Bolton, and scored by Academy Award winners Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross. The content is available on various Apple platforms. Other Juno-related content, including educational opportunities with Bill Nye on and an "Interactive Guide to NASA's Juno Mission," will roll out over the course of a year and throughout the length of the Juno mission.
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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Update: 10.07.2016
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WV NASA facility helps with Jupiter mission
A NASA facility in Fairmont contributed to a spacecraft’s five-year, 1.8 billion mile trip to the largest planet in the solar system.
Juno, the NASA spacecraft, entered Jupiter’s orbit Monday and will begin collecting information about the giant planet in the coming weeks. The $1.1 billion mission aims to develop an understanding of Jupiter’s origin and interior structure.
Sam Brown, an analyst for NASA’s Independent Verification and Validation Facility, is one of the members who worked on the project, dividing his time between facilities in California, Colorado and the IV&V headquarters in West Virginia.
The decision to place the IV&V headquarters in West Virginia in 1993, Brown said, was based partly on politics and partly on cost. NASA was looking for a place that was independent, he said, but also close to the administration’s headquarters in Washington, D.C.
 
As for the duties of an IV&V analyst, Brown said that his job is to find and fix any problems with critical software that operates the spacecraft.
“We find things that may be problems in the future, we point them out and they get fixed,” Brown said.
NASA’s obligation to catching the bugs in software goes back to the Challenger disaster in 1986, Brown said, where “there were examples of systematic errors made by basically everybody on the project.” The IV&V was founded in Fairmont as a result of the disaster.
Though Juno has no potential for loss of life, the mission is the closest NASA has come to learning more about the giant planet.
In the next few months, NASA will use the spacecraft to measure the movement of particles in the planet’s magnetic field. By doing this, NASA hopes to determine the composition of Jupiter’s core.
On top of these potentially mammoth discoveries, Brown said to, of course, expect “millions of beautiful pictures” taken by the spacecraft.
Juno’s path to discovery will end in about three months, he said, when the spacecraft will be destroyed by Jupiter’s extreme radiation. The goal is to retrieve as much information as possible in the meantime, which Brown said NASA is equipped to do.
The spacecraft is operated by a two-way communications system that allows NASA to precisely maneuver the weight and position of the craft within a meter a second. This is impressive, Brown said, for a craft that can travel up to 165,000 mph.
While NASA knows what they’re doing, Brown said that the potential discoveries for the mission are boundless.
“It’s pretty oblique,” Brown said. “It’s a hardcore science mission.”
Quelle: Charleston Gazette
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Update: 13.07.2016
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NASA’s Juno Spacecraft Sends First In-orbit View

This color view from NASA's Juno spacecraft is made from some of the first images taken by JunoCam after the spacecraft entered orbit around Jupiter on July 5th (UTC).
Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS
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The JunoCam camera aboard NASA's Juno mission is operational and sending down data after the spacecraft’s July 4 arrival at Jupiter. Juno’s visible-light camera was turned on six days after Juno fired its main engine and placed itself into orbit around the largest planetary inhabitant of our solar system. The first high-resolution images of the gas giant Jupiter are still a few weeks away.
"This scene from JunoCam indicates it survived its first pass through Jupiter's extreme radiation environment without any degradation and is ready to take on Jupiter," said Scott Bolton, principal investigator from the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio. "We can't wait to see the first view of Jupiter's poles." 
The new view was obtained on July 10, 2016, at 10:30 a.m. PDT (1:30 p.m. EDT, 5:30 UTC), when the spacecraft was 2.7 million miles (4.3 million kilometers) from Jupiter on the outbound leg of its initial 53.5-day capture orbit.  The color image shows atmospheric features on Jupiter, including the famous Great Red Spot, and three of the massive planet's four largest moons -- Io, Europa and Ganymede, from left to right in the image.
"JunoCam will continue to take images as we go around in this first orbit," said Candy Hansen, Juno co-investigator from the Planetary Science Institute, Tucson, Arizona. "The first high-resolution images of the planet will be taken on August 27 when Juno makes its next close pass to Jupiter."
JunoCam is a color, visible-light camera designed to capture remarkable pictures of Jupiter's poles and cloud tops. As Juno's eyes, it will provide a wide view, helping to provide context for the spacecraft's other instruments. JunoCam was included on the spacecraft specifically for purposes of public engagement; although its images will be helpful to the science team, it is not considered one of the mission's science instruments.
The Juno team is currently working to place all images taken by JunoCam on the mission's website, where the public can access them.
During its mission of exploration, Juno will circle the Jovian world 37 times, soaring low over the planet's cloud tops -- as close as about 2,600 miles (4,100 kilometers). During these flybys, Juno will probe beneath the obscuring cloud cover of Jupiter and study its auroras to learn more about the planet's origins, structure, atmosphere and magnetosphere.
Quelle: NASA
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Update: 30.07.2016
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Five Years Post-Launch, Juno Is at a Turning Point

Five years after departing Earth, and a month after slipping into orbit around Jupiter, NASA's Juno spacecraft is nearing a turning point. On July 31 at 12:41 p.m. PDT (3:41 p.m. EDT), Juno will reach the farthest point in its orbit of Jupiter for the first time, known as “apojove,” 5 million miles (8.1 million kilometers) from the giant planet. After that point, Jupiter's gravitational grip on Juno will cause the spacecraft to begin falling back toward the planet for another pass, this time with its scientific eyes wide open.

 

The spacecraft is currently executing the first of two long orbits prior to beginning its science mission. Each capture orbit is nearly two months long -- quite the wait for the mission's eager team of scientists -- but it's nothing compared to the long wait the team endured on the trek to Jupiter.

 

Juno launched on Aug. 5, 2011. The spacecraft took a long, looping path around the inner solar system to set up an Earth flyby, in which our planet's gravity flung the spinning probe onward toward Jupiter.

 

"For five years we've been focused on getting to Jupiter. Now we're there, and we're concentrating on beginning dozens of flybys of Jupiter to get the science we're after," said Scott Bolton, Juno principal investigator at Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio.

Diagram shows the Juno spacecraft's orbits
This diagram shows the Juno spacecraft's orbits, including its two long, stretched-out capture orbits. The spacecraft's position on July 31 is indicated at left.
Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Juno arrived at Jupiter on July 4, firing its main rocket engine as planned for 35 minutes. The flawless maneuver allowed Jupiter's gravity to capture the solar powered spacecraft into the first of two 53.4-day-long orbits, referred to as capture orbits. Following the capture orbits, Juno will fire its engine once more to shorten its orbital period to 14 days and begin its science mission.

 

But before that happens, on Aug. 27, Juno must finish its first lap around Jupiter, with a finish line that represents the mission's closest pass over the gas giant. During the encounter, Juno will skim past Jupiter at a mere 2,600 miles (4,200 kilometers) above the cloud tops.

 

Juno's science instruments were turned off during orbit insertion, to simplify spacecraft operations during that critical maneuver. In contrast, all the instruments will be collecting data during the Aug. 27 pass, which serves as a trial run before the mission gets to work collecting the precious data it came for.

 

"We're in an excellent state of health, with the spacecraft and all the instruments fully checked out and ready for our first up-close look at Jupiter," said Rick Nybakken, Juno project manager at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California.

 

With its powerful suite of science instruments, Juno will probe Jupiter's deep structure, atmospheric circulation and the high-energy physics of its magnetic environment. What Juno finds there will reveal important clues to Jupiter's formation and evolution, along with insights about how our planetary system and others are built.

 

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. Caltech in Pasadena manages JPL for NASA.

Quelle: NASA

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Update: 12.08.2016

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MARBLE MOVIE RAW IMAGES

 
 

Every year there is a period of time that Jupiter is too close to the sun for earth-based astronomers to observe.  This year that time co-incides with Juno’s initial large orbits of Jupiter.  Ordinarily we would not take images with JunoCam during this time however in the absence of our amateur ground-based support we are collecting RGB images 4 times per hour.  We call this the “marble movie” because Jupiter is so small in the image.  We have enough resolution to see if something major happens, like the disappearance of the Great Red Spot, or the fading of the South Equatorial Belt.  We are also imaging Jupiter through our methane filter.

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marble-movie-thumb

Quelle: NASA

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Update: 26.08.2016

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NASA's Juno to Soar Closest to Jupiter This Saturday

 Dual view of Jupiter
This dual view of Jupiter was taken on August 23, when NASA’s Juno spacecraft was 2.8 million miles (4.4 million kilometers) from the gas giant planet on the inbound leg of its initial 53.5-day capture orbit.
Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS

This Saturday at 5:51 a.m. PDT, (8:51 a.m. EDT, 12:51 UTC) NASA's Juno spacecraft will get closer to the cloud tops of Jupiter than at any other time during its prime mission. At the moment of closest approach, Juno will be about 2,600 miles (4,200 kilometers) above Jupiter's swirling clouds and traveling at 130,000 mph (208,000 kilometers per hour) with respect to the planet. There are 35 more close flybys of Jupiter scheduled during its prime mission (scheduled to end in February of 2018). The Aug. 27 flyby will be the first time Juno will have its entire suite of science instruments activated and looking at the giant planet as the spacecraft zooms past.

 

"This is the first time we will be close to Jupiter since we entered orbit on July 4," said Scott Bolton, principal investigator of Juno from the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio. "Back then we turned all our instruments off to focus on the rocket burn to get Juno into orbit around Jupiter. Since then, we have checked Juno from stem to stern and back again. We still have more testing to do, but we are confident that everything is working great, so for this upcoming flyby Juno's eyes and ears, our science instruments, will all be open."

 

"This is our first opportunity to really take a close-up look at the king of our solar system and begin to figure out how he works," Bolton said.

 

While the science data from the pass should be downlinked to Earth within days, interpretation and first results are not expected for some time.

 

"No other spacecraft has ever orbited Jupiter this closely, or over the poles in this fashion," said Steve Levin, Juno project scientist from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. "This is our first opportunity and there are bound to be surprises. We need to take our time to make sure our conclusions are correct."  

 

Not only will Juno's suite of eight science instruments be on, the spacecraft's visible light imager -- JunoCam will also be snapping some closeups. A handful of JunoCam images, including the highest resolution imagery of the Jovian atmosphere and the first glimpse of Jupiter's north and south poles, are expected to be released during the later part of next week.

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. Caltech, in Pasadena, California, manages JPL for NASA.

Quelle: NASA

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Update: 28.08.2016

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Speeding Towards Jupiter's Pole

pia20895-hires

 

Jupiter's north polar region is coming into view as NASA's Juno spacecraft approaches the giant planet. This view of Jupiter was taken on August 27, when Juno was 437,000 miles (703,000 kilometers) away.

NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., 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. JPL is a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena.

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NASA's Juno Successfully Completes Jupiter Flyby

NASA's Juno mission successfully executed its first of 36 orbital flybys of Jupiter today. The time of closest approach with the gas-giant world was 6:44 a.m. PDT (9:44 a.m. EDT, 13:44 UTC) when Juno passed about 2,600 miles (4,200 kilometers) above Jupiter's swirling clouds. At the time, Juno was traveling at 130,000 mph (208,000 kilometers per hour) with respect to the planet. This flyby was the closest Juno will get to Jupiter during its prime mission. 

"Early post-flyby telemetry indicates that everything worked as planned and Juno is firing on all cylinders," said Rick Nybakken, Juno project manager at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. 

There are 35 more close flybys of Jupiter planned during Juno's mission (scheduled to end in February 2018). The August 27 flyby was the first time Juno had its entire suite of science instruments activated and looking at the giant planet as the spacecraft zoomed past.

"We are getting some intriguing early data returns as we speak," said Scott Bolton, principal investigator of Juno from the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio. "It will take days for all the science data collected during the flyby to be downlinked and even more to begin to comprehend what Juno and Jupiter are trying to tell us."

While results from the spacecraft's suite of instruments will be released down the road, a handful of images from Juno's visible light imager -- JunoCam -- are expected to be released the next couple of weeks. Those images will include the highest-resolution views of the Jovian atmosphere and the first glimpse of Jupiter's north and south poles.

"We are in an orbit nobody has ever been in before, and these images give us a whole new perspective on this gas-giant world," said Bolton. 

The Juno spacecraft launched on Aug. 5, 2011, from Cape Canaveral, Florida, and arrived at Jupiter on July 4, 2016. 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. Caltech in Pasadena, California, manages JPL for NASA.

Quelle: NASA

 


Tags: Raumfahrt 

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Samstag, 27. August 2016 - 22:30 Uhr

Raumfahrt - Abdocken von SpaceX Dragon Spacecraft an ISS

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26.08.2016 / 8.00 MESZ

SpaceX Dragon Spacecraft Leaving Space Station Friday: Watch It Live
 
A SpaceX Dragon spacecraft hangs outside the International Space Station's Cupola module. The craft was there during the company's eighth resupply mission to the station, photographed by NASA astronaut Tim Kopra in April.
Credit: NASA

Early Friday morning (Aug. 26), SpaceX's robotic Dragon cargo spaceship will separate from the International Space Station, ferrying essential science specimens on a nearly 6-hour journey back to Earth.

You can watch the spacecraft leave the station live online on Space.com, courtesy of NASA TV. NASA's coverage begins at 5:45 a.m. EDT (0945 GMT), and astronauts are scheduled to release the spacecraft from the station's robotic arm at 6:10 a.m. EDT (1010 GMT). 

Afterward, in a deorbit burn and landing process that will not be aired on NASA TV, the uncrewed Dragon will move a safe distance away from the station, then fire its engines to head back to Earth at 10:56 a.m. EDT (1456 GMT), finally splashing down in the Pacific Ocean west of Baja California at 11:47 a.m. EDT (1547 GMT).

The craft arrived at the space station last month, bringing nearly 5,000 lbs. (2,270 kilograms) of tools and supplies to the space station astronauts. It also bore in its trunk the first International Docking Adapter, which NASA astronauts Jeff Williams and Kate Rubins installed on the station last week. The adapter will allow future spacecraft, including a crewed version of the Dragon, to autonomously dock with the station instead of needing to be grappled by the robotic arm.

"Dragon delivered numerous science experiments July 20 that the Expedition 48 crew immediately unloaded and began working on," NASA officials said in a blog post. "Two of those experiments set to return on Friday include the Heart Cells study and Mouse Epigenetics. That research explored how microgravity affects human heart cells and alters gene expression and DNA in mice."

On Sept. 6, Williams and Russian cosmonauts Oleg Skripochka and Alexey Ovchinin will leave the space station in a Russian Soyuz spacecraft and head back to Earth after a five-and-a-half-month stay. 

Quelle: SC

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CRS-9 Dragon prepares for homecoming to conclude successful mission

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SpaceX’s CRS-9 Dragon spacecraft is preparing to depart from the International Space Station (ISS) on Friday, following a highly successful Commercial Resupply Services (CRS) mission to the orbital outpost. Known as End Of Mission (EOM) operations, Dragon’s safe return will be marked by a splashdown in the Pacific Ocean later in the day.


SpaceX CRS-9 EOM:

Dragon’s journey into space began just over a month ago, following a flawless launch from SLC-30 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.

2016-08-17-231421While Dragon was beginning her pursuit of the ISS, the first stage was completing the second successful landing on the LZ-1 pad back at the Cape.

A few days later, Dragon entered the Station’s back yard and prepared to be caught by the Space Station Remote Manipulator System (SSRMS).

ISS Commander Jeff Williams and Flight Engineer Dr. Kate Rubins – working in the Robotic Work Station (RWS) in the Cupola lab – extended the “big arm” toward Dragon’s grapple fixture, before carefully translating the cargo-laden craft into Node-2 Harmony’s nadir port.

With the hatch opened later that day, the ISS crew began removing the array of supplies – totaling of 1,790 kg (3,946 lb) – inside the Dragon’s pressurized section.

This included 370 kilograms (816 lb) of supplies and provisions for the crew, 280 kg (617 lb) of spare and replacement parts for the space station, one kilogram (2.2 lb) of computer equipment, 127 kg (279.9 lb) of hardware to support EVAs and 54 kilograms (119 lb) of equipment for the Russian segment of the station.

Another 930 kilograms (2,050 lb) of cargo capacity is dedicated to scientific research, including a Biomolecule Sequencer which will attempt to sequence DNA in an attempt to demonstrate whether this is possible in the space environment.

2016-06-23-002650In Dragon’s trunk section was a key payload that will help her big sister – Dragon 2 – dock with the ISS when the United States regains its domestic crew launch capability via the Commercial Crew Program (CCP) missions.

The International Docking Adapter (IDA) is a piece of hardware designed to convert the US Segment’s old Shuttle-era docking ports to a new docking system, thus allowing them to accept the upcoming commercial crew vehicles which will all use the updated docking system design.

The CRS-9 Dragon provided the ride uphill for IDA-2, allowing it to be removed from her trunk and installed during a robotics operation and via EVA-36 – conducted by Williams and Rubins.

To kick off the homecoming, the long sequence of events – that will ultimately lead to Dragon safely bobbing the Pacific Ocean – began on Thursday with the unberthing of Dragon from the Node 2 Nadir CBM, via the release of 16 bolts around the CBM berthing collar on the ISS side, performed in four sets of four bolts to ensure even unloading on the CBM interface.

2016-08-25-234030Dragon was then pulled away from the ISS via the use of the SSRMS.

Dragon was manouvered to the release position approximately 30 feet below the ISS. She was left in this position for the night – known as the parking position.

Friday’s ops will begin with Dragon in the release position, ahead of the time for Dragon and the ISS to part ways.

Rubins, aided by Takuya Onishi of JAXA, will squeeze the trigger on the Rotational Hand Controller (RHC) on the RWS to release the snares holding the SSRMS Latching End Effector (LEE) to the Dragon Flight Releasable Grapple Fixture (FRGF) – effectively “letting go” of Dragon.

Click here for more Dragon Articles: https://www.nasaspaceflight.com/tag/dragon/

This is expected to occur at 10:10 UTC – although the timing can vary, based on communications and lighting conditions.

CRS-2 Dragon and the SSRMS, vla L2With the SSRMS retracted safely clear, Dragon will then conduct a departure burn to depart to vicinity of the ISS, edging away from the orbital outpost, with two small thruster firings to push down the R-Bar.

A larger burn will then conducted to send Dragon outside of the approach ellipsoid, at which point SpaceX controllers in MCC-X will take full control of the mission.

Following the completion of departure burns, Dragon will conduct a free-flying phase on-orbit for just under five hours, during which time she will complete a critical action – the closure of the GNC bay door, to which the FRGF is mounted – before conducting a de-orbit burn at around 14:56 UTC.

Dragon Flying on orbit, via L2The 10 minute deorbit burn will be conducted by the spacecraft’s Draco thrusters.

The umbilical between Dragon and its Trunk will be disengaged, prior to the Trunk separating from the Dragon capsule.

As the spacecraft enters Entry Interface (EI) she will be protected by her PICA-X heat shield – a Thermal Protection System (TPS) based on a proprietary variant of NASA’s phenolic impregnated carbon ablator (PICA) material – designed to protect the capsule during Earth atmospheric re-entry, and is even robust to protect Dragon from the high return velocities from Lunar and Martian destinations.

Dragon under chutesOnce at the required velocity and altitude, Dragon’s drogue parachutes will be deployed, followed by Dragon’s main parachutes, easing the vehicle to a splashdown in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of California at around 15:47 UTC.

Three main recovery boats will soon arrive on station, with fast boats racing to meet the Dragon shortly after she hits the water, allowing for the recovery procedures to begin. The vehicle will be powered down and then hooked up to the recover assets.

Dragon will be transported to the port of Los Angeles, prior to a trip to Texas for cargo removal.

The cargo return – otherwise known as the downmass capability – is one of Dragon’s star roles following the retirement of the Shuttle fleet.

Although the spacecraft doesn’t get close to the capability of the orbiters, she will still return with 3,000 pounds of science samples from human research, biology and biotechnology studies, physical science investigations and education activities.

Known as late loading, the ISS crew were busily loading the final items into Dragon’s pressurized section during Thursday.

(Images: via NASA, SpaceX, L2’s SpaceX Dragon Mission Special Section and L2 renders by Nathan Koga. The full gallery of Nathan’s (SpaceX Dragon to MCT, SLS, Commercial Crew and more) L2 images can be *found here*))

Quelle: NS

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Update: 21.30 MESZ

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SpaceX Dragon Splashes Down with Crucial NASA Research Samples

NASA TV screenshot of SpaceX Dragon spacecraft departing ISS on Aug. 26, 2016.
This image, captured from NASA Television's live coverage, shows SpaceX's Dragon spacecraft departing the International Space Station at 6:10 am EDT Friday, Aug. 26, 2016, after successfully delivering almost 5,000 pounds of supplies and scientific cargo on its ninth resupply mission to the orbiting laboratory.
Credits: NASA Television

SpaceX's Dragon cargo spacecraft splashed down in the Pacific Ocean at 11:47 a.m. EDT Friday, Aug. 26, southwest of Baja California with more than 3,000 pounds of NASA cargo, science and technology demonstration samples from the International Space Station.

 

The Dragon spacecraft will be taken by ship to a port near Los Angeles, where some cargo will be removed and returned to NASA immediately. Dragon then will be prepared for a return trip to SpaceX's test facility in McGregor, Texas, for processing.

 

When it arrived at the station July 20, Dragon delivered the first of two international docking adapters (IDAs) in its external cargo hold, or “trunk.” The IDAs will be used by commercial spacecraft now in development for transporting astronauts to the station as part of NASA's Commercial Crew Program. The initial adapter was installed during an Aug. 19 spacewalk by Expedition 48 Commander Jeff Williams and Flight Engineer Kate Rubins of NASA. The second adapter is being built and will be delivered on a future Dragon cargo resupply mission.

 

Among the experiment samples returning Friday are those from the Heart Cells study, which is looking at how microgravity affects human heart cells. The U.S. National Laboratory investigation is studying how microgravity changes the human heart, and how those changes vary between individuals. Deep space missions including the journey to Mars will require long periods of space travel, which creates increased risk of health problems such as muscle atrophy, including possible atrophy of the heart muscle. Heart cells cultured aboard the space station for one month will be analyzed for cellular and molecular changes. Results could advance the study of heart disease and the development of drugs and cell replacement therapy.

 

Samples will also be returned from two rodent-based investigations, the Mouse Epigenetics and Rodent Research-3-Eli Lillyexperiments. The mouse model is useful for showing how much shorter stays by mice in the low-Earth environment can be used to infer how similar conditions may affect future human exploration.

 

In Mouse Epigenetics, researchers are exploring altered gene expression and DNA by tracking changes in the organs of male mice that spend one month in space, and examining changes in the DNA of their offspring. In Rodent Research-3-Eli Lilly, scientists are looking at rapid loss of bone and muscle mass in the legs and spine, and comparing it to what is experienced by people with muscle wasting diseases or with limited mobility on Earth and testing an antibody known to prevent muscle wasting in mice on Earth. This U.S. National Laboratory experiment is sponsored by pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly and Co. and the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space.

 

Also returning are samples from the Multi-Omics experiment. This research is analyzing the composition of microbes in the human digestive system and how they may affect the human immune system. Researchers may be able to identify bacterial or metabolic biomarkers that could be useful for astronaut health management, and therefore future human exploration of the solar system.

 

Dragon is currently the only space station resupply spacecraft able to return a significant amount of cargo to Earth. The spacecraft lifted off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida July 18 carrying almost 5,000 pounds of supplies and scientific cargo on the company’s ninth commercial resupply mission to the station.

 

The International Space Station is a convergence of science, technology and human innovation that demonstrates new technologies and makes research breakthroughs not possible on Earth. The space station has been occupied continuously since November 2000. In that time, more than 200 people and a variety of international and commercial spacecraft have visited the orbiting laboratory. The space station remains the springboard to NASA's next great leap in human space exploration, including the journey to Mars.

Quelle: NASA

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Update: 27.08.2016

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Splashdown! SpaceX Dragon Capsule Returns to Earth from Space Statio


SpaceX's Dragon cargo spacecraft traveled home from the International Space Station today (Aug. 26) and made a successful splashdown in the Pacific Ocean at 11:47 a.m. EDT (1547 GMT). (The pictured craft arrived at the station in April, 2014.)
Credit: NASA

SpaceX's Dragon cargo spacecraft has safely splashed down in the Pacific Ocean off of Baja California, Mexico. The vessel returned to Earth with more than 3,000 lbs. (1,360 kilograms) of cargo and science experiments, including 12 mice.

The crewless spacecraft was released from the International Space Stationearlier this morning by NASA astronaut Kate Rubins and Japanese astronaut Takuya Onishi using the station's robotic arm. The spacecraft returned to Earth at 11:47 a.m. EDT (1547 GMT) today (Aug. 26), NASA officials said in a statement

crs-9-splashdown

"Good splashdown of Dragon confirmed, carrying thousands of pounds of @NASA science and research cargo back from the @Space_Station," SpaceX officials tweeted

Space station astronauts packed the capsule with NASA cargo, equipment and research samples making the journey home. After a successful landing in the Pacific Ocean, the spacecraft was retrieved by SpaceX employees and taken by ship to a port near Los Angeles, where some of the cargo was removed to be sent to NASA.  

The Dragon space capsule arrived at the space station July 20 carrying experiments, science equipment, tools and supplies for the space station crew. Dragon also delivered a very important piece of hardware: the first of two international docking adapters (IDAs), which will let future spacecraft dock directly with the U.S. segment of the space station. 

Among the science materials that returned to Earth in the capsule are 12 mice kept on the space station for 30 days. Now that the animals have returned, researchers plan to analyze DNA from the mice's organs, as well as DNA of the spacefaring animals' offspring. The results of this study will help researchers better understand the effects of microgravity on DNA expression. 

Astronauts on the space station had a busy week preparing the Dragon space capsule for its return to Earth, and their work is far from over. 

Thursday (Sept. 1), Rubins and Expedition 48 Commander Jeff Williams will head out on another spacewalk to retract a thermal-control radiator that is no longer operable and to install at least one high-definition camera onto the station's exterior. Retracting the radiator will help protect it from space debris and preserve it as a spare for the station, NASA officials said in a briefing. 

Williams, who recently set a new American record for most days in space, will return home Sept. 6 with Russian cosmonauts Oleg Skripochka and Alexey Ovchinin.

Quelle: SC

 

 

 

 


1362 Views

Samstag, 27. August 2016 - 13:45 Uhr

Raumfahrt - EnEx ENCELADUS EXPLORER - DLR-MISSION

27.08.2016

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COUNTDOWN 28

Ohne Wasser - kein Leben: Dieses Prinzip gilt für die Erde, aber vermutlich auch für andere Himmelskörper. Wasser, das seit Millionen Jahren verborgen unter einer dicken Eisschicht liegt, kann uns etwas über die Entstehung und Entwicklung von Leben verraten. Wenn man so eine Probe bergen will, muss man allerdings darauf achten, dass keine Mikroorganismen von der Oberfläche eingeschleppt werden und die Probe sowie das Unterwasserbiotop verunreinigen.

Erstmals überhaupt ist es im Rahmen des Enceladus Explorer (EnEx)-Projekts des Raumfahrtmanagements des DLR gelungen, mit einer Einschmelzsonde - dem sogenannten IceMole (englisch für "Eis-Maulwurf") - eine kontaminationsfreie, subglaziale Wasserprobe zu entnehmen und an die Oberfläche zu bringen. Was nun an den antarktischen "Blood Falls" auf der Erde gelungen ist, soll später einmal auch auf dem Saturnmond Enceladus möglich sein.

Der antarktische Erfolg gibt dem gesamten EnEx-Projekt Auftrieb. Das Ende März 2015 abgeschlossene Verbundvorhaben erreichte mit dem erfolgreichen Test in der Antarktis seinen Höhepunkt. Das Zusammenspiel unterschiedlichster Technologien für den Einsatz unter extremen Umweltbedingungen wurde in EnEx erfolgreich getestet, eine Weiterentwicklung wird im Rahmen der "EnEx - Enceladus Explorer"-Initiative des DLR Raumfahrtmanagements erfolgen.

Außerdem in Ausgabe 28: Interview mit dem Chef der österreichischen Agentur für Luft- und Raumfahrt, Harald Posch, Stephan Andreae, der damalige Kurator der "Outer Space"-Ausstellung in der Bundeskunsthalle, blickt auf die Sonderschau zurück, der DLR-Astronom Manfred Gaida erklärt sein Kulturprojekt "LunaSol-Weg", ein Bericht zum erfolgreichen Start der WADIS-2-Mission, die Gewinnerschulklasse in der Kategorie "Land" des "Beschützer der Erde"-Wettbewerbs stellt ihr Projekt vor, ein Artikel zur Mission "Futura" von Samantha Cristoforetti, die die Experimente von Alexander Gerst fortsetzt, ein Interview mit Günter Ruyters und Markus Braun zu ihrem Buchprojekt "SpringerBriefs in Space Life Sciences" und ein Bericht zum KERAMIS-Projekt, das Kommunikationssatelliten flexibler machen soll.

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Die EnEx-Initiative



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zum BildAuf dem Saturnmond Enceladus werden von Vulkanen Eisfontänen ins All geschossen
 

Die Suche nach außerirdischem Leben auf dem Saturnmond Enceladus ist Ziel der Raumfahrtmission Enceladus Explorer. Wissenschaftler und Ingenieure entwickeln daher in der EnEx Enceladus Explorer Initiative neue Technologien, um diese Mission zu ermöglichen.

Der im Durchmesser nur etwa 500 Kilometer große Mond Enceladus ist für die Suche nach Leben ein besonders vielversprechender Kandidat: Für Schlagzeilen sorgte der kleine Eismond bereits 2005, als mit Hilfe der Raumsonde Cassini auf der südlichen Halbkugel aktive Eisgeysire entdeckt wurden.

Durch diesen erstmals nachgewiesenen Eisvulkanismus (Kryovulkanismus) im Saturnsystem werden Eispartikel von der Mondoberfläche etwa 500 Kilometer weit ins All geschleudert. Voraussetzung für diesen Prozess ist die Existenz flüssigen Wassers unter der Eisoberfläche, das durch Spalten und Risse im Eispanzer des Mondes nach oben gedrückt wird. Aufgrund des extrem geringen Umgebungsdruckes an der Oberfläche verdampft und gefriert das vormals flüssige Wasser sofort und entweicht daher in Form von Eispartikeln.

Interessant für die Suche nach außerirdischem Leben ist nicht nur die Existenz flüssigen Wassers unter der Eisoberfläche, sondern auch das Vorhandensein organischer Verbindungen in den Eisfontänen. Nach unseren heutigen astrobiologischen Vorstellungen sind auf Enceladus somit die Grundvoraussetzungen für die Entstehung von Leben gegeben. Mögliche organische Lebensformen können jedoch aufgrund der lebensfeindlichen Umgebungsbedingungen kaum auf der Oberfläche des Enceladus zu finden sein, sondern sind eher in den Flüssigwasservorkommen unterhalb des Eispanzers zu erwarten. Die Dicke des Eispanzers kann dabei wenige Meter bis hin zu einigen Kilometern betragen.

Unter dem eisigen Panzer von Enceladus könnten lebende Mikroorganismen existieren

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Der Eismond Enceladus

Technisch stellt dies eine große Herausforderung dar. Ein Lösungsansatz hierfür ist die Raumfahrtmission "EnEx - Enceladus Explorer". Derzeit gehen die Wissenschaftler von folgendem Szenario aus: Mikroorganismen, die sich in den Wasserreservoirs unterhalb der Eisdecke möglicherweise entwickelt haben, werden auch in dem durch Spalten und Risse hochgedrückten Wasser, das durch die Kryovulkane entweicht, mitgerissen.

Sobald während dieses Aufstiegs der Umgebungsdruck auf ein bestimmtes Maß abgefallen ist, zerplatzen die Mikroorganismen - zurück bleiben die in den Fontänen nachgewiesenen organischen Verbindungen. Würde es gelingen, aus dem "Schlot" eines Kryovulkans eine Probe des aufsteigenden und immer noch flüssigen Wassers zu nehmen, wären die darin enthaltenen Mikroorganismen möglicherweise noch lebendig.

Es könnte möglicherweise bereits ausreichen, einen Kryovulkan in einer Tiefe von "nur" etwa 100 Metern für die Probennahme "anzustechen". Hierzu wird eine Einschmelzsonde benötigt, die sich dreidimensional im Festkörper Eis bewegen kann. Sie muss eine flüssigwasserführende Eisspalte über eine Distanz von mehr als 100 Metern hinweg ebenso zuverlässig orten können wie Hohlräume, denen sie ausweichen muss. Auf Basis dieser Informationen muss sie dann völlig autonom ihren Weg von der Oberfläche bis zum Ziel planen und verfolgen können.

Ein wichtiges Etappenziel auf dem Weg dorthin konnte bereits erreicht werden: Im Rahmen der EnEx-Initiative wurde die Einschmelzsonde EnEx-IceMole (englisch für "Eis-Maulwurf") entwickelt. Mit dieser Sonde gelang es Wissenschaftlern im November 2014 weltweit erstmalig, in der Antarktis Wasserproben ohne Kontamination unter der Eisschicht zu entnehmen und an die Oberfläche zu bringen. Was an den antarktischen "Blood Falls"auf der Erde nunmehr bereits gelungen ist, soll später in ähnlicher Weise auch auf dem Saturnmond Enceladus realisiert werden.

Die Entwicklung dieser neuen Raumfahrttechnologien erfolgt in den vom DLR Raumfahrtmanagement geförderten Projekten der EnEx-Initiative. Projektpartner sind die FH Aachen, die RWTH Aachen, die Universität der Bundeswehr München, die TU Braunschweig, die Universität Bremen und die Bergische Universität Wuppertal. Langfristiges Ziel der Initiative ist die Realisierung der Enceladus Explorer Raumfahrtmission.

Quelle: DLR

 

 

 

 


1218 Views

Samstag, 27. August 2016 - 12:45 Uhr

Astronomie - Zukünftiges Radioteleskop Brains Pass erste Tests von Huge Supercomputer

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The Chinese supercomputer Tianhe-2, the second fastest in the world, successfully tested processing software that will help analyze data from the gargantuan Square Kilometer Array telescope.
Credit: Yutong Lu via ICRAR

This future giant telescope has got brains! A proto-version of the Square Kilometer Array's software system worked well when tested on the world's second-fastest supercomputer, International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research representatives (ICRAR) said.

The Square Kilometer Array (SKA) is a multi-antenna radio telescope expected to be built in 2018 in parts of South Africa and Australia. Once it is operational in 2020, the instrument will effectively be "the world's largest science project," its ICRAR builders have said. The SKA telescope's software will turn the raw observations of stars and galaxies into data that astronomers can analyze.

"Each of the two SKA telescopes will produce enough data to fill a typical laptop hard drive every second," ICRAR said in a statement. The test was co-led by Andreas Wicenec, head of data intensive astronomy at ICRAR, and Tao An, from the Shanghai Astronomical Observatory in China.

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Getting SKA's data analyzed will be a computer-intensive process, considering that the low-frequency part of the telescope alone has more than 250,000 antennas, officials said. So tests are being run on China's Tianhe-2 supercomputer, which was the fastest computer in the world until June.


An artist's illustration of the low-frequency radio antennas to be built in Australia as part of the Square Kilometer Array radio telescope project.
Credit: Australia SKA Office 

The prototype software, called the SKA Science Data Processor, was first run on 500 computing nodes of the supercomputer, then 1,000 nodes. (In this case, a "node" refers to individual computers in a cluster.) The long-term aim is to handle up to 60 million data items across at least 8,500 nodes of the supercomputer.

To help with the huge volume of data, the processor has a novel feature to make the processing go faster. The framework is "data-activated," meaning that individual bits of data are linked to software that can automatically start the applications necessary to process them. This means that data is processed immediately, allowing new tasks to be triggered instead of waiting idle.

When completed, SKA is expected to spread across at least 1,864 miles (3,000 kilometers) in Australia and South Africa. The telescope's work is expected to improve scientists' understanding of how the universe — and the laws of fundamental physics — behave.

Quelle: SC


1220 Views

Samstag, 27. August 2016 - 12:16 Uhr

Raumfahrt - Wo bisher kein Bergmann war: Asteroiden

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Where No Miner Has Gone Before 

It’s one small step for man, one giant leap for asteroid prospectors.

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On September 8, NASA is embarking on a new mission to investigate the origins of the universe. Launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida, a small spacecraft, the OSIRIS-REx, will journey 509 million miles to an asteroid called Bennu. Named for an Egyptian deity linked to the sun and creation, Bennu has likely gone untouched for the past four billion years, offering us a valuable glimpse into the early days of our solar system.

The spacecraft will orbit the asteroid for approximately 19 months. Once it has mapped Bennu’s surface, the Osiris-rex will inch closer to the asteroid. Then its eleven-foot robotic arm will reach out and collect a two-ounce sample to bring back to Earth in 2023.

A seven-year journey to fetch a candy bar–sized sample of rock hasn’t sparked the kind of global excitement reserved for, say, the prospect of blasting Sir Richard Branson off the planet and into deep space. But there’s a bigger game at play here: The precious minerals and metals in asteroids may be worth billions of dollars to galactic prospectors, and NASA’s mission is paving the way for an outer-space gold rush.

Illustration by Adrian Forrow

Asteroid mining hasn’t even begun, and it’s already being privatized: Several for-profit companies are currently jockeying for position in the fledgling industry. Planetary Resources, founded in 2009 in Redmond, Washington, counts Branson and Google co-founder Larry Page among its investors. James Cameron, the director of Avatar and Titanic, serves as an adviser. A Silicon Valley–based company named Deep Space Industries, founded in 2013, is also at the forefront of the industry.

 

The initial goal for both companies is to mine asteroids for water, an essential commodity for long-duration space travel. If humans ever travel into deep space—to Mars, for example—we will need water for life support and fuel. But it’s prohibitively expensive to take all of the necessary water supplies with us from Earth. A company that can develop the technology to find and extract water from an asteroid could set up the H2O equivalent of a gas station in outer space—a potential gold mine.

From there, space prospectors plan to move on to asteroids with high iron content and others that contain rare metals—the raw materials that will allow us to set up not just gas stations, but entire communities in space.

“In the same way we moved into the frontiers of this planet and lived off of the land, fished and hunted, and built log cabins and all kinds of things using local resources, that is really what we are looking to repeat in space,” says Chris Lewicki, the CEO of Planetary Resources. The company, which last year launched a test craft from the International Space Station, believes it could be excavating asteroids before the decade is out. Its competitor, Deep Space Industries, has a similarly grand vision of the future. “In 30 years’ time, the vision is to be building cities in space,” says CEO Daniel Faber.

Illustration by Adrian Forrow

Governments are also rushing to get in on the interstellar action. In June, the tiny European nation of Luxembourg pledged to invest $227 million to help develop the new industry. “We intend to become the European center for asteroid mining,” says Étienne Schneider, the country’s deputy prime minister. If that seems laughable, consider this: Luxembourg is one of the world’s largest satellite manufacturers. The Société Européenne des Satellites, now SES, based in the village of Betzdorf, generates billions of dollars in revenue each year. In the hopes that asteroid mining could yield similar profits, Luxembourg is partnering with both Planetary Resources and Deep Space Industries, and is working to attract additional partners as well.

“A lot of people are just beginning to realize that this is not going to happen far off in the future—it’s happening right now,” says Lewicki.

There’s a reason that a nation like Luxembourg is investing in private companies rather than mining asteroids on its own. In 1967, as the space race was in full swing, world leaders anticipated the possibility that countries would fight over galactic resources. To avoid interplanetary conflicts, the United Nations crafted the Outer Space Treaty, which essentially designates the solar system as communal property. The agreement has all the excitement of the fine print on a bank loan: “Outer space, including the Moon and other celestial bodies, is not subject to national appropriation by claim of sovereignty, by means of use or occupation, or by any other means.”

But even if countries can’t claim moons or asteroids as their own territory, there’s nothing stopping private companies from mining them for profit. Last year, President Barack Obama signed the Commercial Space Launch Competitiveness Act, essentially making it legal for U.S. companies to collect, own, and sell any materials acquired from an asteroid. China and the European Space Agency, meanwhile, are racing to the Moon—not simply to conduct science, but to search for valuable resources frozen beneath its surface.

Illustration by Adrian Forrow 

The gold-rush approach to outer space raises a host of legal, economic, and environmental questions, and the U.N. plans to take up the issue of asteroid mining next year. If past experience is any indication, however, the privatization of space mining will inevitably lead to the abuse and monopolization of planetary resources. Science fiction has long predicted the consequences of such for-profit plundering; in the sci-fi classic Dune, for example, industrial control of a rare resource called “melange” underpins a complete monopoly on all interstellar travel. Every land grab in history has created winners and losers, and Obama has approved the for-profit mining of asteroids without placing any regulatory checks on the excesses and abuses that are sure to follow.

“A lot of people see this as an ethical issue,” says J.L. Galache, astronomer at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. “They think the solar system should be left pristine, like a national park or monument, while others see it as resources to be used.”

For now, though, it’s unlikely that environmental concerns about a few space rocks will halt the rush to cash in on a crewed mission to Mars. Outer space seems far too vast to be despoiled—just as the Earth itself once did. After all, there are thousands of near-Earth asteroids like Bennu, and millions more farther out. “Will anyone really notice if a few 500-meter asteroids are missing?” asks Galache. “Probably not.”

Quelle: New Republic


1085 Views

Samstag, 27. August 2016 - 12:11 Uhr

Astronomie - NASA´s WISE, Fermi Mission findet überraschend Blazar Verbindung

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pia20912-hires-1

ir-gamma-ray-connex-1

An analysis of blazar properties observed by the Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) and Fermi's Large Area Telescope (LAT) reveal a correlation in emissions from the mid-infrared to gamma rays. The relationship allows astronomers to identify potential new gamma-ray blazars by studying WISE infrared data. Credit: NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center/Francesco Massaro, Univ. of Turin
› Larger image-Astronomers studying distant galaxies powered by monster black holes have uncovered an unexpected link between two very different wavelengths of the light they emit, the mid-infrared and gamma rays. The discovery, which was accomplished by comparing data from NASA's Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) and Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope, has enabled the researchers to uncover dozens of new blazar candidates.

Francesco Massaro at the University of Turin in Italy and Raffaele D'Abrusco at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge, Massachusetts, show for the first time that the mid-infrared colors of blazars in WISE data correlate to an equivalent measurement of their gamma-ray output.

"This connection links two vastly different forms of light over an energy range spanning a factor of 10 billion," said Massaro. "Ultimately, it will help us decipher how supermassive black holes in these galaxies manage to convert the matter around them into vast amounts of energy."

Blazars constitute more than half of the discrete gamma-ray sources seen by Fermi's Large Area Telescope (LAT). At the heart of a blazar lies a supersized black hole with millions of times the sun's mass surrounded by a disk of hot gas and dust. As material in the disk falls toward the black hole, some of it forms dual jets that blast subatomic particles straight out of the disk in opposite directions at nearly the speed of light. A blazar appears bright to Fermi for two reasons. Its jets produce many gamma rays, the highest-energy form of light, and we happen to be viewing the galaxy face on, which means one of its jets is pointing in our direction.

From January to August 2010, NASA's WISE mapped the entire sky in four infrared wavelengths, cataloging more than half a billion sources. In 2011, Massaro, D'Abrusco and their colleagues began using WISE data to investigate Fermi blazars.

"WISE made it possible to explore the mid-infrared colors of known gamma-ray blazars," said D'Abrusco. "We found that when we plotted Fermi blazars by their WISE colors in a particular way, they occupied a distinctly different part of the plot than other extragalactic gamma-ray sources." 

The scientists detail new aspects of the infrared/gamma-ray connection in a paperpublished in The Astrophysical Journal on Aug. 9. They say the electrons, protons and other particles accelerated in blazar jets leave a specific "fingerprint" in the infrared light they emit. This same pattern is also clearly evident in their gamma rays. The relationship effectively connects the dots for blazars across an enormous swath of the electromagnetic spectrum.

About 1,000 Fermi sources remain unassociated with known objects at any other wavelength. Astronomers suspect many of these are blazars, but there isn't enough information to classify them. The infrared/gamma-ray connection led the authors to search for new blazar candidates among WISE infrared sources located within the positional uncertainties of Fermi's unidentified gamma-ray objects. When the researchers applied this relationship to Fermi's unknown sources, they quickly found 130 potential blazars. Efforts are now underway to confirm the nature of these objects through follow-up studies and to search for additional candidates using the WISE connection.

"About a third of the gamma-ray objects seen by Fermi remained unknown in the most recent catalog, and this result represents an important advance in understanding their natures," said David Thompson, a Fermi deputy project scientist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. 

NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, manages and operates WISE for NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington. The spacecraft was put into hibernation mode in 2011 after twice scanning the entire sky, thereby completing its main objectives. In September 2013, WISE was reactivated, renamed NEOWISE and assigned a new mission to assist NASA's efforts to identify potentially hazardous near-Earth objects.

NASA's Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope is an astrophysics and particle physics partnership, developed in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Energy and with important contributions from academic institutions and partners in France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Sweden and the United States.

Quelle: NASA

 


1189 Views

Samstag, 27. August 2016 - 11:42 Uhr

Raumfahrt - Shannon Walker wurde fünf Mal in 14 Jahren benannt, bevor sie ins All flog

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1. There's no one path to becoming an astronaut. All astronauts have degrees in science, engineering, or medicine, but other than that, there's no one path to NASA. The one thing everyone has in common is we've all exceled in our chosen field. My degrees are in physics and space physics, and I did well enough in university that I actually started working at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, as a robotics flight controller right after college. Seventeen years and a PhD later, I was selected as an astronaut candidate.

 

2. Astronaut selection is even more competitive than you think. Getting hired by NASA is like getting through the world's strictest HR screen. We're actually going through the selection process now: We've had 18,000 people apply and we'll probably select around eight new astronauts. You need to be extremely good at what you do, but there's also a lot of luck involved. You might be extremely qualified and still looked over, depending on what NASA needs during that cycle — maybe we're short on medical doctors or test pilots, so we're looking for someone with that background rather than, say, an engineer. Even if you're exactly what they're looking for at that exact moment, you still have pass through two rounds of interviews and undergo extensive medical testing to make sure you're healthy enough to do the job. Plus, NASA only hires every couple of years, because it takes an actual act of Congress to hire astronauts. So if you're passed over once, it could be years before you get another chance. I made it to the final stage of the interview process five times over a period of 14 years before I was finally selected as an astronaut in 2004.

 
 

3. You will spend 90 percent of your time on earth. In the heyday of the shuttle program, we were flying 40 or 50 people into space a year. These days, we're flying four Americans a year, tops. We've got about 45 active astronauts, so you're going to maybe fly once every 10 years. Being in space is amazing — it's the reason we all become astronauts — but you also have to love what you're doing on the ground, since that's how you'll spend most of your time.

4. For the first few years, you'll feel like you're in school again.When you're first selected, you go through about two years of training before you're even eligible for your first space flight. Most of that training is in the classroom: You're listening to lectures, taking tests, and learning all the systems on the space station. Even though everyone is coming in with high-level degrees and very technical backgrounds, it still takes about two years to learn the basics. Then, once you're assigned to a flight, it can be anywhere from two to three years of training just for one space station mission. Training for my first flight took about three years, which is like going through an entire degree program just for one flight.

 
 
 

5. You have to be in the best shape of your life. Mental fitness is obviously important to being an astronaut, but so it physical fitness. For example, space walks are extremely physically demanding. We train for them in a giant swimming pool and we wear this suit that weighs about 300 pounds. Each training session is about six hours long, which is longer than it takes most people to run a marathon — and during those six hours, you're underwater, dragging around this suit, with the resistance of the water holding you back. It's probably one of the hardest parts of training. Even if you're not assigned to a mission, you have to do this space walk training once every few months.

6. You're never in charge of your own schedule. If you've been assigned to a space flight, that means for three years, someone else is telling you when you have to show up at work, what you're going to do that day, when you're going to get on a plane and travel to another country. Once you're in space, overnight while you're sleeping, the ground team is making your schedule for the next day, and you have to do what's on that schedule. If you can't let go of being in control of your own life, then you're not going to do well as an astronaut.

 
 
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7. Being an astronaut is more of a lifestyle than a job. You don't always get to choose when you work: While you're waiting for a flight assignment, you might have technical assignments like working in the control center. The space station operates on Greenwich Mean Time (five hours ahead of Central Time at the Johnson Space Center) and we have people in the control center 24-hours a day, so you may be working in the middle of the night, because that's when the crew is awake and doing their work on the space station. You also don't get to choose where you live: The Johnson Space Center is where our training takes place, so all American astronauts live in the Houston area. We also train in Japan, Russia, Germany, and Canada, where we have international partners, so astronauts will likely spend time living in those places too.

8. You're a government worker, so you're paid a government salary. Which is to say, you're not going to get rich. In the old days, all astronauts used to get Corvettes, but they don't do that anymore. We also don't get hazardous duty pay when we go into space, because that's not how the government classifies space travel, but we do get a small stipend for incidentals since the trip is considered "government travel." I think I made $354 extra [for those] for my six months in space.

 
 

9. Learning Russian is pretty much mandatory. Right now, the Russians are our main partner and we're launching on Russian space crafts, so all the training is in Russian. I started learning the Russian language when I was in my 40s, and it was extremely hard. On the space station, officially, the language is English. But everyone has different language skills, so you have to meet in the middle somewhere and talk in whatever pieces of language make sense. When we're talking to our control centers, we're speaking English; if we're talking to the Russian control center, then we need to speak in Russian.

10. The job can be very hard on families. These days, a typical flight on the space station is six months. Before your flight, you're training for two or three years, during which time you're working long hours and training in other countries. Then you're in space for six months, and when you come back, you still have about six months' worth of post-flight stuff to do — reconditioning [retraining your body to adjust back to life on earth], public appearances, and so on. It's at least four years that you're not around. So for a family, that's really hard. If you have kids, you need to have a partner who can be independent and get along without you. We don't have cell phones in space, but we do have email capability and voiceover telephone capability, so if the satellites are hooked up properly, you can call them.

 
 
 

11. It's impossible to know what zero gravity feels like until you're in space. There is no real "zero gravity chamber" on earth. A lot of the simulators have the look of what you will encounter as you're launching into space, but you just can't understand what it's like until you're there. That's true of a lot of things in space — like, for example, washing your hair. There's no running water in space, so you have to dot shampoo and water from drink bags into your hair very carefully. You can't use too much, otherwise it won't stick to your hair [because there's no gravity] and it goes everywhere. You can use dry shampoo to hold off on washing your hair as often, but you do have to wash it eventually, because you're exercising daily. There's also no hair dryer, so once you're done, you have this Medusa-like head of wet hair that's going all over the place, since your hair doesn't lay flat without gravity. Your taste preferences also change in space. Without gravity, you end up with more fluid in your head, which feels a little like having a cold where you can't taste as well. So many astronauts like spicier foods in space than they would on earth, because everything else seems less flavorful.

12. Being in space is taxing on the body. The body works amazingly well in space, but there are some key differences. We're required to exercise every day to prevent muscle atrophy, but we don't use the same muscles you do to get around on earth: You're never sitting down in a chair or walking around on your feet. When you come back, it's quite an adjustment. You may be physically strong, but your body has almost forgotten how to do simple things, like walk. Your inner ear also gets messed up. It's the part of your ear that gives you your sense of balance, and it operates off of gravity. If you haven't had gravity for a while and you come back, you can feel very dizzy for quite a long time. It takes several months before you feel normal again.

 
 

13. You have to be good at basically everything. In addition to your own specialty, you have to know how to do a little of everything. Mechanical skills are important, since a lot of the work we do is assembling experiments or doing maintenance on the space station. You have to understand a wide range of technology. Public speaking is part of our job, too, as we have to explain our discoveries to everyone from school groups to Congressmen to magazine journalists. And then there's the fitness requirement, learning a second language, and being at the top of your own individual field.

14. You have to put aside your own individual ambitions to be a team player. Let's say you came to NASA as a scientist with a chemistry background. You may be the best chemist in the world, but if your mission doesn't involve any chemistry experiments, you'll have to do biology experiments or material science experiments instead. You're here to do the work of a team, not the work you're personally most interested in. You're also living very closely with your crewmembers on the space station, and everybody has to depend on each other. You have to get along with everyone and understand how other people will respond in emergency situations, because if something goes wrong, you have to deal with it as a crew.

Shannon Walker is a NASA astronaut. Her first space mission was Expedition 24 on the International Space Station in 2010.

Quelle: Cosmopolitan

 


1110 Views

Samstag, 27. August 2016 - 11:30 Uhr

Astronomie - NASA-WISE, Fermi-Missionen enthüllt eine überraschende Blazer Verbindung

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pia20912-hires

ir-gamma-ray-connex

An analysis of blazar properties observed by the Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) and Fermi's Large Area Telescope (LAT) reveal a correlation in emissions from the mid-infrared to gamma rays. The relationship allows astronomers to identify potential new gamma-ray blazars by studying WISE infrared data. Credit: NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center/Francesco Massaro, Univ. of Turin
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Astronomers studying distant galaxies powered by monster black holes have uncovered an unexpected link between two very different wavelengths of the light they emit, the mid-infrared and gamma rays. The discovery, which was accomplished by comparing data from NASA's Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) and Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope, has enabled the researchers to uncover dozens of new blazar candidates.

Francesco Massaro at the University of Turin in Italy and Raffaele D'Abrusco at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge, Massachusetts, show for the first time that the mid-infrared colors of blazars in WISE data correlate to an equivalent measurement of their gamma-ray output.

"This connection links two vastly different forms of light over an energy range spanning a factor of 10 billion," said Massaro. "Ultimately, it will help us decipher how supermassive black holes in these galaxies manage to convert the matter around them into vast amounts of energy."

Blazars constitute more than half of the discrete gamma-ray sources seen by Fermi's Large Area Telescope (LAT). At the heart of a blazar lies a supersized black hole with millions of times the sun's mass surrounded by a disk of hot gas and dust. As material in the disk falls toward the black hole, some of it forms dual jets that blast subatomic particles straight out of the disk in opposite directions at nearly the speed of light. A blazar appears bright to Fermi for two reasons. Its jets produce many gamma rays, the highest-energy form of light, and we happen to be viewing the galaxy face on, which means one of its jets is pointing in our direction.

From January to August 2010, NASA's WISE mapped the entire sky in four infrared wavelengths, cataloging more than half a billion sources. In 2011, Massaro, D'Abrusco and their colleagues began using WISE data to investigate Fermi blazars.

"WISE made it possible to explore the mid-infrared colors of known gamma-ray blazars," said D'Abrusco. "We found that when we plotted Fermi blazars by their WISE colors in a particular way, they occupied a distinctly different part of the plot than other extragalactic gamma-ray sources." 

The scientists detail new aspects of the infrared/gamma-ray connection in a paperpublished in The Astrophysical Journal on Aug. 9. They say the electrons, protons and other particles accelerated in blazar jets leave a specific "fingerprint" in the infrared light they emit. This same pattern is also clearly evident in their gamma rays. The relationship effectively connects the dots for blazars across an enormous swath of the electromagnetic spectrum.

About 1,000 Fermi sources remain unassociated with known objects at any other wavelength. Astronomers suspect many of these are blazars, but there isn't enough information to classify them. The infrared/gamma-ray connection led the authors to search for new blazar candidates among WISE infrared sources located within the positional uncertainties of Fermi's unidentified gamma-ray objects. When the researchers applied this relationship to Fermi's unknown sources, they quickly found 130 potential blazars. Efforts are now underway to confirm the nature of these objects through follow-up studies and to search for additional candidates using the WISE connection.

"About a third of the gamma-ray objects seen by Fermi remained unknown in the most recent catalog, and this result represents an important advance in understanding their natures," said David Thompson, a Fermi deputy project scientist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. 

NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, manages and operates WISE for NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington. The spacecraft was put into hibernation mode in 2011 after twice scanning the entire sky, thereby completing its main objectives. In September 2013, WISE was reactivated, renamed NEOWISE and assigned a new mission to assist NASA's efforts to identify potentially hazardous near-Earth objects.

NASA's Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope is an astrophysics and particle physics partnership, developed in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Energy and with important contributions from academic institutions and partners in France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Sweden and the United States.

Quelle: NASA


990 Views

Samstag, 27. August 2016 - 11:00 Uhr

Raumfahrt - Wo bisher kein Bergmann war: Asteroiden im Visier

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Where No Miner Has Gone Before 

It’s one small step for man, one giant leap for asteroid prospectors.

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On September 8, NASA is embarking on a new mission to investigate the origins of the universe. Launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida, a small spacecraft, the OSIRIS-REx, will journey 509 million miles to an asteroid called Bennu. Named for an Egyptian deity linked to the sun and creation, Bennu has likely gone untouched for the past four billion years, offering us a valuable glimpse into the early days of our solar system.

The spacecraft will orbit the asteroid for approximately 19 months. Once it has mapped Bennu’s surface, the Osiris-rex will inch closer to the asteroid. Then its eleven-foot robotic arm will reach out and collect a two-ounce sample to bring back to Earth in 2023.

A seven-year journey to fetch a candy bar–sized sample of rock hasn’t sparked the kind of global excitement reserved for, say, the prospect of blasting Sir Richard Branson off the planet and into deep space. But there’s a bigger game at play here: The precious minerals and metals in asteroids may be worth billions of dollars to galactic prospectors, and NASA’s mission is paving the way for an outer-space gold rush.

Illustration by Adrian Forrow

Asteroid mining hasn’t even begun, and it’s already being privatized: Several for-profit companies are currently jockeying for position in the fledgling industry. Planetary Resources, founded in 2009 in Redmond, Washington, counts Branson and Google co-founder Larry Page among its investors. James Cameron, the director of Avatar and Titanic, serves as an adviser. A Silicon Valley–based company named Deep Space Industries, founded in 2013, is also at the forefront of the industry.

 

The initial goal for both companies is to mine asteroids for water, an essential commodity for long-duration space travel. If humans ever travel into deep space—to Mars, for example—we will need water for life support and fuel. But it’s prohibitively expensive to take all of the necessary water supplies with us from Earth. A company that can develop the technology to find and extract water from an asteroid could set up the H2O equivalent of a gas station in outer space—a potential gold mine.

From there, space prospectors plan to move on to asteroids with high iron content and others that contain rare metals—the raw materials that will allow us to set up not just gas stations, but entire communities in space.

“In the same way we moved into the frontiers of this planet and lived off of the land, fished and hunted, and built log cabins and all kinds of things using local resources, that is really what we are looking to repeat in space,” says Chris Lewicki, the CEO of Planetary Resources. The company, which last year launched a test craft from the International Space Station, believes it could be excavating asteroids before the decade is out. Its competitor, Deep Space Industries, has a similarly grand vision of the future. “In 30 years’ time, the vision is to be building cities in space,” says CEO Daniel Faber.

Illustration by Adrian Forrow

Governments are also rushing to get in on the interstellar action. In June, the tiny European nation of Luxembourg pledged to invest $227 million to help develop the new industry. “We intend to become the European center for asteroid mining,” says Étienne Schneider, the country’s deputy prime minister. If that seems laughable, consider this: Luxembourg is one of the world’s largest satellite manufacturers. The Société Européenne des Satellites, now SES, based in the village of Betzdorf, generates billions of dollars in revenue each year. In the hopes that asteroid mining could yield similar profits, Luxembourg is partnering with both Planetary Resources and Deep Space Industries, and is working to attract additional partners as well.

“A lot of people are just beginning to realize that this is not going to happen far off in the future—it’s happening right now,” says Lewicki.

There’s a reason that a nation like Luxembourg is investing in private companies rather than mining asteroids on its own. In 1967, as the space race was in full swing, world leaders anticipated the possibility that countries would fight over galactic resources. To avoid interplanetary conflicts, the United Nations crafted the Outer Space Treaty, which essentially designates the solar system as communal property. The agreement has all the excitement of the fine print on a bank loan: “Outer space, including the Moon and other celestial bodies, is not subject to national appropriation by claim of sovereignty, by means of use or occupation, or by any other means.”

But even if countries can’t claim moons or asteroids as their own territory, there’s nothing stopping private companies from mining them for profit. Last year, President Barack Obama signed the Commercial Space Launch Competitiveness Act, essentially making it legal for U.S. companies to collect, own, and sell any materials acquired from an asteroid. China and the European Space Agency, meanwhile, are racing to the Moon—not simply to conduct science, but to search for valuable resources frozen beneath its surface.

Illustration by Adrian Forrow 

The gold-rush approach to outer space raises a host of legal, economic, and environmental questions, and the U.N. plans to take up the issue of asteroid mining next year. If past experience is any indication, however, the privatization of space mining will inevitably lead to the abuse and monopolization of planetary resources. Science fiction has long predicted the consequences of such for-profit plundering; in the sci-fi classic Dune, for example, industrial control of a rare resource called “melange” underpins a complete monopoly on all interstellar travel. Every land grab in history has created winners and losers, and Obama has approved the for-profit mining of asteroids without placing any regulatory checks on the excesses and abuses that are sure to follow.

“A lot of people see this as an ethical issue,” says J.L. Galache, astronomer at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. “They think the solar system should be left pristine, like a national park or monument, while others see it as resources to be used.”

For now, though, it’s unlikely that environmental concerns about a few space rocks will halt the rush to cash in on a crewed mission to Mars. Outer space seems far too vast to be despoiled—just as the Earth itself once did. After all, there are thousands of near-Earth asteroids like Bennu, and millions more farther out. “Will anyone really notice if a few 500-meter asteroids are missing?” asks Galache. “Probably not.”

Quelle: New Republic


1044 Views

Samstag, 27. August 2016 - 10:00 Uhr

Raumfahrt - NASA’s Next-Gen Ships Run on Last-Gen Chips

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800x-1-1

NASA’s Next-Gen Ships Run on Last-Gen Chips

The future of spaceflight will be powered by a processor you wouldn’t want in your phone.

Earlier this summer, NASA announced that ARM Holdings’ A53 will be the microprocessor core design at the heart of the agency’s next generation of spacecraft. By the time the microprocessors are delivered in 2020, however, they’ll be so outmoded you wouldn’t want them in your phone. The A53 was introduced in 2014 and is already old by industry standards. ARM calls it “suitable for entry-level smartphones.” But most entry-level smartphones don’t have to avoid midair collisions or execute pinpoint landings.

Of course, as any user of an iPhone can attest, even the smartest of smartphones can hitch up and come to a screaming halt. In space, where tech support can’t hear you scream, Moore’s Law is less important than sheer durability.

The spacecraft for NASA’s Orion program is meant to take humans to Mars and into deep space, where the temperature gets as low as -455F and the radiation is deadly, at speeds as fast as 20,000 mph. Bigger than the Apollo, which took man to the moon, it will carry as many as six astronauts, but has only about 316 cubic feet of space in its cabin. That doesn’t leave much room for spare parts—the program isn’t budgeting space for a chip factory or Genius Bar—so the chips Orion uses can’t fail, ever. “We can’t just send a repairman out there,” says Gary Cox, Orion’s manager of avionics, power, and wiring.

 

NASA says it rigorously tests every chip that might end up in one of its craft, putting them through their paces within the electronics they’re meant to run. It can take six months just to agree on the tests, says Cox, who helped design avionics for the International Space Station.

ARM’s advantage is its relatively low power consumption compared with its level of computing power. The A53 is also ubiquitous. More than half a billion of the processors have shipped around the world, a record for 64-bit models, and hundreds of companies use them in everything from phones to cars. So even before NASA’s screening process, the design has been tested thoroughly in a wide range of circumstances. James McNiven, general manager of the company’s CPU and media processing divisions, says the A53 met NASA’s need to balance “performance and efficiency.”

The A53 should be able to process images before transmitting them, which NASA’s current processors can’t. A53-based chips will need to use terrain-following radar to recognize ground contours based on visual data, and improvise changes, like a revised flight path, if something goes wrong.

“Safety is the ultimate arbiter,” says Martin Reynolds, an analyst for researcher Gartner. “These programs will run for two decades. There aren’t many things in the modern world that are still used after 20 years, except by the military and NASA.”

Orion, which looks a lot like an Apollo spacecraft, will first go into space equipped with processors NASA bought a decade ago. The chips aboard the ISS, the space agency’s other big internet-era effort, look even more archaic. The space station, arguably human history’s most complex engineering project, coasts along at 17,500 mph partly controlled by computers running Intel 386 processors. Those chips made their debut in 1985. Cox says a handful of ISS computers are being updated, but the rest won’t need replacement for the foreseeable future. “If you have good reliability,” he says, “you don’t need to upgrade.”

Quelle: Bloomberg

 


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