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Sonntag, 25. September 2016 - 20:45 Uhr

Astronomie - Nach einer Studie von UCL dehnt sich das Universum gleichmäßig aus

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The universe is expanding uniformly according to research led by UCL which reports that space isn’t stretching in a preferred direction or spinning. 

hubble

The new study, published today in Physical Review Letters, studied the cosmic microwave background (CMB) which is the remnant radiation from the Big Bang. It shows the universe expands the same way in all directions, supporting the assumptions made in cosmologists’ standard model of the universe.

First author, Daniela Saadeh (UCL Physics & Astronomy), said: “The finding is the best evidence yet that the universe is the same in all directions. Our current understanding of the universe is built on the assumption that it doesn’t prefer one direction over another, but there are actually a huge number of ways that Einstein’s theory of relativity would allow for space to be imbalanced. Universes that spin and stretch are entirely possible, so it’s important that we’ve shown ours is fair to all its directions.”

The team from UCL and Imperial College London used measurements of the CMB taken between 2009 and 2013 by the European Space Agency's Planck satellite. The spacecraft recently released information about the polarisation of CMB across the whole sky for the first time, providing a complementary view of the early universe that the team was able to exploit. 

The researchers modelled a comprehensive variety of spinning and stretching scenarios and how these might manifest in the CMB, including its polarisation. They then compared their findings with the real map of the cosmos from Planck, searching for specific signs in the data. 

Daniela Saadeh, explained: “We calculated the different patterns that would be seen in the cosmic microwave background if space has different properties in different directions. Signs might include hot and cold spots from stretching along a particular axis, or even spiral distortions.”

universe-web

Collaborating author Dr Stephen Feeney (Imperial College London) added: “We then compare these predictions to reality. This is a serious challenge, as we found an enormous number of ways the Universe can be anisotropic. It's extremely easy to become lost in this myriad of possible universes — we need to tune 32 dials to find the correct one.”

Previous studies only looked at how the universe might rotate, whereas this study is the first to test the widest possible range of geometries of space. Additionally, using the wealth of new data collected from Planck allowed the team to achieve vastly tighter bounds than the previous study. “You can never rule it out completely, but we now calculate the odds that the universe prefers one direction over another at just one in 121,000,” said Daniela Saadeh.

Most current cosmological studies assume that the Universe behaves identically in every direction. If this assumption were to fail, a large number of analyses of the cosmos and its content would be flawed. 

Daniela Saadeh, added: “We’re very glad that our work vindicates what most cosmologists assume. For now, cosmology is safe.”

Quelle: University College London


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Sonntag, 25. September 2016 - 20:30 Uhr

Raumfahrt - Jack Garman, dessen Urteil die Mondlandung sicherte , stirbt mit 72

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On July 20, 1969, moments after mission control in Houston had given the Apollo 11 lunar module, Eagle, the O.K. to begin its descent to the moon, a yellow warning light flashed on the cockpit instrument panel.

“Program alarm,” the commander, Neil Armstrong, radioed. “It’s a 1202.”

The alarm appeared to indicate a computer systems overload, raising the specter of a breakdown. With only a few minutes left before touchdown on the moon, Steve Bales, the guidance officer in mission control, had to make a decision: Let the module continue to descend, or abort the mission and send the module rocketing back to the command ship, Columbia.

By intercom, Mr. Bales quickly consulted Jack Garman, a 24-year-old engineer who was overseeing the software support group from a back-room console.

Mr. Garman had painstakingly prepared himself for just this contingency — the possibility of a false alarm.

“So I said,” he remembered, “on this backup room voice loop that no one can hear, ‘As long as it doesn’t reoccur, it’s fine.’”

At 4:18 p.m., with only 30 seconds of fuel remaining for the descent, Mr. Armstrong radioed: “Houston, Tranquillity Base here. The Eagle has landed.”

Mr. Garman, whose self-assurance and honed judgment effectively saved mankind’s first lunar landing, died on Tuesday outside Houston. He was 72. His wife, Susan, said the cause was complications of bone marrow cancer.

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The Apollo 11 Lunar Excursion Module, photographed from the command module in July 1969. CreditNASA 

Mr. Garman went on to have a distinguished career with NASA. In 1970, he was a member of the team that was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom for bringing home safely the Apollo 13 moon mission, which had been aborted after an onboard explosion. He left the agency in 2000 to join private industry.

But during his decades of research and development that advanced computer technology in the Apollo, space shuttle and space station programs, no single episode defined Mr. Garman’s reputation as much as the pivotal split-second call he made when the Apollo 11 landing was imperiled.

Any alarm on a dashboard 240,000 miles away would have been disquieting. It would be “like having a fire alarm go off in a closet, O.K.?” Mr. Garman said in a 2001 oral history for the Johnson Space Center in Houston. But the category group of this alarm caused a particular stir because it had not occurred in early flight simulations.

“When I heard Neil say 1202 for the first time,” Charlie Duke, the NASAcommunications liaison to the crew, recalled, “I tell you, my heart hit the floor.”

But the 1202 alarm message coming from the Eagle’s onboard computer — seemingly warning of a strained systems condition called “executive overflow” — was one that Mr. Bales, the guidance officer, had encountered before. Mr. Garman himself had helped trigger the alarm in a test during a module trial run, according to collectspace.com.

“I clearly recall helping to come up with a couple of semifatal computer errors,” Mr. Garman said.

He recounted his boss’s reaction during one simulation. “One of these screwy computer alarms — ‘computer gone wrong’ kind of things — happened,” Mr. Garman said, “and he called an abort of the lunar landing and should not have, and it scared everybody to death.”

As a result, he said, Gene Kranz, the flight director, “had asked us to write down every possible computer alarm that could possibly go wrong and what could happen, what might cause it.”

It was one of those false alarms that almost scuttled the Apollo moon landing. Rather than pose a serious problem, it proved to be a self-correcting signal indicating that the mission’s relatively primitive guidance computers were struggling to keep up with the tide of data they were receiving.

“Quite frankly,” Mr. Bales said, “Jack, who had these things memorized, said, ‘That’s O.K.,’ before I could even remember which group it was in.”

Four similar alarms followed within a minute.

“I remember distinctly yelling — by this time yelling, you know, in the loop here — ‘Same type!’” Mr. Garman said.

Barely 2,000 feet above the moon’s surface and descending, Buzz Aldrin, the lunar module pilot, remembered: “I licked my dry lips. This was a time for discipline. But the tension had me rigid in my suit. We had to trust mission control.”

The message was relayed to Armstrong: “We’re go. Same type. We’re go.”

“It was a heart stopper,” Mr. Duke said.

While Mr. Garman credited Mr. Kranz and Mr. Bales with the successful Lunar Excursion Module landing, another colleague, Fred H. Martin, later wrote: “Jack Garman advised the mission controller to inform the astronauts to push on. Jack was convinced, in a split second, that if the computer wasn’t getting to certain computations, such algorithms were not essential and would not materially affect the landing. It was a gutsy call. He was right, and the LEM landed safely.”

John Royer Garman was born on Sept. 11, 1944, in Oak Park, Ill., the son of Leo Garman, a banker, and the former Janet Royer.

In addition to his wife, the former Susan Hallmark, with whom he lived in Friendswood, Tex., near Houston, he is survived by two daughters, Janet Arkinson and Mary Garman Duarte.

Mr. Garman graduated in 1966 from the University of Michigan with a Bachelor of Science degree in engineering physics and a specialty in computing, which intrigued him early on.

“Machines are what enable the human race to move forward and up, and machines have always been physical,” he said. “Computers are the first devices that actually help the mind.”

NASA hired him at 21, making him the director of flight operations for mission planning and analysis in the flight support division. He was later appointed the deputy director of the mission support directorate, the director of information systems services in the space station program office, and the chief information officer at the Johnson Space Center.

After leaving the space agency, he joined OAO Corporation, a custom computer programming service, which was acquired by Lockheed Martin. He retired in 2010.

Reflecting on that critical moment in 1969, when he was able to prevent his superiors from aborting the moon landing, Mr. Garman said, “You don’t realize until years later, actually, how doing the wrong thing at the right time could have changed history.”

Quelle: THE NEW YORK TIMES


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Sonntag, 25. September 2016 - 18:00 Uhr

Astronomie - China errichtet weltweit größtes 500m Radio Teleskop (FAST)

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24.07.2015

China has started assembling the world's largest radio telescope, which will have a dish the size of 30 football pitches when completed, state media reported as Beijing steps up its ambitions in outer space.
The five-hundred-metre Aperture Spherical Radio Telescope (FAST) nestles in a bowl-shaped valley between hills in the southwestern province of Guizhou, images posted online show.
Technicians began attaching 4,450 triangular-shaped panels to the telescope's reflector on Thursday, the official Xinhua news agency reported.
FAST will be the world's largest single-aperture telescope, it said, overtaking the Arecibo Observatory in the US territory of Puerto Rico, which is 305 metres (1000 feet) in diameter.
For years Chinese scientists have relied on "second hand" data collected by others in their research and the new telescope is expected to "greatly enhance" the country's capacity to observe outer space, Xinhua said.
"Having a more sensitive telescope, we can receive weaker and more distant radio messages," it cited Wu Xiangping, director-general of the Chinese Astronomical Society, as saying.
"It will help us to search for intelligent life outside of the galaxy and explore the origins of the universe."
Beijing is accelerating its military-run multi-billion-dollar space exploration programme, which it sees as a symbol of the country's progress. It has plans for a permanent orbiting station by 2020 and eventually to send a human to the moon.
The dish will have a perimeter of about 1.6 kilometres, Xinhua said, and there are no towns within five kilometres, giving it ideal surroundings to listen for signals from space.
The region's karst topography—a landscape of porous rock fissured with deep crevasses and underground caves and streams—is ideal for draining rainwater and protecting the reflector, it added.
Construction on the telescope started in March 2011 and is scheduled to finish next year, Xinhua said.
Quelle: PHYS ORG
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Update: 28.07.2015
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China's supercomputer to support world's largest radio telescope
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Photo taken on July 27, 2015 shows the assembly site of the single-aperture spherical telescope "FAST" in Qiannan of southwest China's Guizhou Province. Assembly of the telescope, with a dish the size of 30 football fields and located deep in the mountains of Guizhou, has got underway. When it is completed in 2016, the five hundred meter aperture spherical telescope (FAST) will be the world's largest, overtaking Puerto Rico's Arecibo Observatory, which is only 300 meters in diameter. (Xinhua/Jin Liwang)
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TIANJIN, July 28 (Xinhua) -- Supercomputer Skyeye-1, capable of a quadrillion computing operations per second, will support space exploration by the world's largest radio telescope based in southwest China's Guizhou Province.
Assembly of the telescope, with a dish the size of 30 football fields and located deep in the mountains of Guizhou, has got underway, according to Dawning Information Industry Co., which participates in its construction.
When it is completed in 2016, the five hundred meter aperture spherical telescope (FAST) will be the world's largest, overtaking Puerto Rico's Arecibo Observatory, which is only 300 meters in diameter.
A radio signal as far as tens of billions of light years away could possibly be caught by the telescope, which will extend China's space tracking scope from moon's orbit to the outside edge of the solar system upon its completion next year.
As FAST needs strong computing system to support massive data storage and processing, Institute of Computing Technology under the Chinese Academy of Sciences(CASICT), Dawning Information Industry Co. and China (Guizhou) Skyeye Group signed agreement last November to jointly build a Qiannan Super Computing Center in Guizhou.
FAST daily peak demand will be above 200 teraflops per second and its first-phase storage demand will be more than 10 petabyte, said Zhang Peiheng, a researcher with the CASICT.
Skyeye-1, with its quadrillion computing operations per second and high-speed network of 100 gigabytes per second, can easily meet the demands of the telescope, said Ren Jingyang, vice president of Dawning Information Industry Co..
The construction of the telescope began in March 2011 in a natural, bowl-shaped valley in the southern part of Guizhou.
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Photo taken on July 27, 2015 shows the assembly site of the single-aperture spherical telescope "FAST" in Qiannan of southwest China's Guizhou Province. Assembly of the telescope, with a dish the size of 30 football fields and located deep in the mountains of Guizhou, has got underway. When it is completed in 2016, the five hundred meter aperture spherical telescope (FAST) will be the world's largest, overtaking Puerto Rico's Arecibo Observatory, which is only 300 meters in diameter. (Xinhua/Jin Liwang)
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Technicians work at the assembly site of the single-aperture spherical telescope "FAST" in Qiannan of southwest China's Guizhou Province, July 27, 2015. Assembly of the telescope, with a dish the size of 30 football fields and located deep in the mountains of Guizhou, has got underway. When it is completed in 2016, the five hundred meter aperture spherical telescope (FAST) will be the world's largest, overtaking Puerto Rico's Arecibo Observatory, which is only 300 meters in diameter. (Xinhua/Jin Liwang)
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Photo taken on July 27, 2015 shows the cable net of the single-aperture spherical telescope "FAST" in Qiannan of southwest China's Guizhou Province. Assembly of the telescope, with a dish the size of 30 football fields and located deep in the mountains of Guizhou, has got underway. When it is completed in 2016, the five hundred meter aperture spherical telescope (FAST) will be the world's largest, overtaking Puerto Rico's Arecibo Observatory, which is only 300 meters in diameter. (Xinhua/Jin Liwang)
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Photo taken on July 27, 2015 shows the cable net of the single-aperture spherical telescope "FAST" in Qiannan of southwest China's Guizhou Province. Assembly of the telescope, with a dish the size of 30 football fields and located deep in the mountains of Guizhou, has got underway. When it is completed in 2016, the five hundred meter aperture spherical telescope (FAST) will be the world's largest, overtaking Puerto Rico's Arecibo Observatory, which is only 300 meters in diameter. (Xinhua/Jin Liwang)
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Photo taken on July 27, 2015 shows the assembly site of the single-aperture spherical telescope "FAST" in Qiannan of southwest China's Guizhou Province. Assembly of the telescope, with a dish the size of 30 football fields and located deep in the mountains of Guizhou, has got underway. When it is completed in 2016, the five hundred meter aperture spherical telescope (FAST) will be the world's largest, overtaking Puerto Rico's Arecibo Observatory, which is only 300 meters in diameter. (Xinhua/Jin Liwang)
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Photo taken on July 27, 2015 shows the cable net of the single-aperture spherical telescope "FAST" in Qiannan of southwest China's Guizhou Province. Assembly of the telescope, with a dish the size of 30 football fields and located deep in the mountains of Guizhou, has got underway. When it is completed in 2016, the five hundred meter aperture spherical telescope (FAST) will be the world's largest, overtaking Puerto Rico's Arecibo Observatory, which is only 300 meters in diameter. (Xinhua/Jin Liwang)
Quelle: Xinhua
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Update: 26.08.2015
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Schlüssel Teile zu großen Radioteleskop hinzugefügt
The installation of reflectors on the world's largest radio telescope has begun, marking the start of a final key stage of the telescope's construction.
Located in a natural valley of Southwest China's Guizhou province, the 500-meter aperture spherical radio telescope, known as the FAST Project, had its first reflecting unit installed in early August.
Wuchang Shipbuilding Industry Group, a company in Hubei province responsible for installing the reflectors, said the reflector surface, with a diameter of 500 meters, consists of 4,450 reflecting units. About 20 units can be installed a day, and the installation is due to be completed by March next year.
FAST is a key national project and received funding of 1.2 billion yuan (190 million U.S. dollars) when construction began in 2011.
Zhang Haiyan, deputy director of the FAST Project's general office, said the telescope will take the place of the 305-meter-diameter Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico as the largest of its kind in the world.
The sensitivity of the telescope will be more than 10 times stronger than that of a 100-meter telescope near Bonn, Germany, Zhang said. Scientists believe more discoveries and breakthroughs are expected after construction is completed in September 2016.
Site selection
Construction of the telescope was first proposed by astronomers from 10 countries, including China, in 1993. A year later, astronomers made several site-selection trips to southwest China, analyzing 400 natural basins.
One in Pingtang county, Guizhou province, was finally chosen for its almost-perfect spherical landform, which saved much effort in digging a hollow for the telescope, said Li Di, a scientist at the National Astronomical Observatories of the Chinese Academy of Sciences.
Zhu Boqin, an engineer who took part in the site survey more than 20 years ago, said the valley in Guizhou was also chosen for its karst formation of soluble rocks that ensures good drainage. This meant that rainwater would not gather to damage the reflecting surface of the telescope.
Additionally, radio interference from the surrounding area is low, since there is only one town within a radius of 25 kilometers, Zhu said.
In 2007, funding for the project was approved by the National Development and Reform Commission. Two years later, the 65 residents of the valley, from 12 families, were moved to a town nearby.
On March 25, 2011, construction of the project officially kicked off, with a planned completion date in 2016.
Leading position
Li, the scientist, said the telescope, once completed, will hold a leading position for two or three decades worldwide and will be an open scientific research platform. "We welcome scientists from around the world to come," he said.
Future research through the telescope will be conducted on pulsars, galaxies, dark matter and cosmology, according to the National Astronomical Observatories.
Nan Rendong, chief scientist of the FAST Project and a researcher with the observatories, said FAST will have an extraordinary impact on astronomy.
"It will certainly revolutionize other areas of the natural sciences," he said.
FAST will enable astronomers to jump-start many science goals, such as the survey of natural hydrogen in distant galaxies, the detection of faint pulsars or listening for possible signals from other civilizations, Nan added.
"Chinese scientists have made numerous contributions in mathematics, computer sciences and particle physics in past years under impoverished conditions. Now, with the most advanced facility supported by the government, a giant step forward should be made," Li said.
Zeng Jun in Guiyang and Xinhua contributed to this story.
Quelle: Xinhua
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Update: 22.11.2015
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China Focus: Construction of China's mega radio telescope enters final stage
Chinese scientists on Saturday tested the installation of the "retina" of the world's largest ever radio telescope to be completed in September next year.
Technicians lifted a 30-tonne feed cabin of the Five hundred meter Aperture Spherical Telescope - or FAST - above a half-finished dish-like reflector measuring 500 meters in diameter and 1.6 kilometers in perimeter.
Once completed, the cabin, home to a feed source which collects signals from the universe, will be suspended 140 to 160 meters above the reflector made up of 4,450 panels.
Each panel is an equilateral triangle with a side length of 11 meters, and has cables fixed to the back of it so that it could adjust angles and positions in synchronization with the source cabin, which is driven by cables, servomechanisms in additional to a parallel robot as a secondary adjustable system.
"If you compare the FAST to an eye, then the feed source is its retina," said Sun Caihong, a chief engineer with the FAST program, "All signals we collect eventually comes here."
Sun said control of high-precision and long-distance movements of the source cabin using steel cables had been a serious challenge for experts, but they managed to narrow down maximum error to less then 10 millimeters.
"This is one of our greatest innovations," he said.
Construction of the FAST began in March 2011 with an investment of 1.2 billion yuan.
The installation of the test feed cabin means the construction of FAST has enter its final stage.
Technicians are still continuing the work that started months ago to assemble the reflector, which is hung over the ground supported by thousands of steel pillars and cables in a valley deep in southwest China's mountainous Guizhou Province.
The Karst formation in the local landscape is good for draining rainwater underground and protecting the reflector, Sun said.
The surrounding area has "radio silence" as there are no towns and cities within a sphere of five km and only one county center within a sphere of 25 km, he said.
Upon completion, the telescope will be the world's largest of its kind, overtaking Puerto Rico's Arecibo Observatory, which is 300 meters in diameter.
It will also be 10 times more sensitive than the steerable 100-meter telescope near Bonn, Germany, according to Zheng Xiaonian, deputy head of the National Astronomical Observatories under the Chinese Academy of Sciences.
"FAST will be the top level facility in the world for at least 20 to 30 years," Zheng said.
Unlike optical telescopes used to observe the universe by visible light, a type of electromagnetic radiation, radio telescope operate in the radio frequency portion of the electromagnetic spectrum where they can detect and collect data on radio sources.
The key science goals of FAST are based on observables between 70MHz and 3 GHz, including the 21 cm HI hyperfine structure line, pulsar emissions and radio continuum.
Earlier reports said it will enable astronomers to jumpstart many science goals. For example, they could survey natural hydrogen in distant galaxies, detect faint pulsars, look for the first star shining, or even hear possible signals from other civilizations.
Quelle: Xinhua
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Update: 16.02.2016
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China's Space Telescope to Displace Humans in Search for Aliens
BEIJING: China will move nearly 10,000 people to make way for the world's largest radio telescope which promises to help humanity search for alien life, state media reported on Tuesday.
The Five-hundred-metre Aperture Spherical Radio Telescope (FAST), nestled between hills in the southwestern province of Guizhou, is due to start operation this year.
Provincial officials have vowed to relocate 9,110 residents living within five kilometres of the listening device by September, the official Xinhua news agency said.
The relocations will "create a sound electromagnetic wave environment", it cited a top regional official named Li Yuecheng as saying.
Residents will receive 12,000 yuan ($1,800) in subsidies for their troubles, with some getting extra support for housing, it said.
FAST, built at a cost of 1.2 billion yuan, will dwarf the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico as the world's largest radio telescope, which is some 300 metres in diameter.
Xinhua earlier cited Wu Xiangping, director-general of the Chinese Astronomical Society, as saying that the telescope's high level of sensitivity "will help us to search for intelligent life outside of the galaxy".
In the past China has relocated hundreds of thousands of people to make way for large infrastructure projects such as dams and canals. Many complain of poor compensation.
The area surrounding the telescope is remote and relatively poor. Xinhua earlier said it was chosen because there are no major towns nearby.
As well as upping investment in astronomy, Beijing is accelerating its multi-billion-dollar space exploration programme, with plans for a permanent orbiting station by 2020 and eventually a manned mission to the moon.
Quelle: The Indian Express
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Update: 13.06.2016
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World's largest radio telescope nears completion

China's gigantic Five hundred meter Aperture Spherical Telescope (FAST) is nearing completion in China's southwestern Guizhou Province and will soon begin searching the skies for phenomena including signs of extraterrestrial life.
Construction of 500m diameter, 1.2 billion yuan (US$185mln) radio telescope began in 2011 and is on course to come online in September, when it will become the world's largest and most sensitive radio telescope.
FAST, viewing the universe by collecting radio frequency radiation, will be capable of detecting very weak signals from space, and could make contributions in areas such as large-scale physics of the universe and  understanding the nature of dark matter.
It will contribute to the international search for intelligent extraterrestrial life (SETI) and could also be used to track spacecraft involved in China's space program.
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Above: Reflective panels being installed in Qiannan (China Daily).
The 1.6km perimeter telescope consists of nearly 4,500 panels and has been constructed in a natural karst depression, providing shielding from electromagnetic disturbances.
It is also helpfully over five kilometres away from the nearest town, thus benefitting from a measure of "radio silence".
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Above: FAST has a fixed spherical shape, but an 'active surface' (Fast.bao.ac.cn).
Eye on the sky
FAST's huge reflector is made up of 4,450 triangle panels measuring 11 metres on each side. A  source cabin is suspended between 140 to 160 metres above the reflector dish, 
The panels have cables fixed to the back, allowing computers to control them, providing an "active surface" that can alter the focal point. This will allow the reflectors to synchronise with the source cabin and enable FAST to receive signals from different directions.
"If you compare the FAST to an eye, then the feed source is its retina," Sun Caihong, a chief engineer with the FAST program, told Xinhua. "All signals we collect eventually come here."
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Above: The feed cabin above the surface of the reflector (China Daily).
Sun said control of high-precision and long-distance movements of the source cabin using steel cables had been a serious challenge for experts, but they managed to narrow down maximum error to less than 10 millimetres.
 
Its design is similar to the 305-metre Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico, the future of which is uncertain. 
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Above: The inhabited FAST telescope site before construction (Fast.bao.ac.cn).
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The nearly-complete FAST radio telescope in April 2016 (Fast.bao.ac.cn).
Quelle: gbtimes
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Terrestrially, the world's largest single aperture radio telescope, FAST, will come online in September in China's southwestern province of Guizhou.
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Above: China's gigantic 500m Aperture Spherical Telescope (FAST) in Guizhou (Fast.bao.ac.cn).
Quelle: gbtimes
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Update: 3.07.2016
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World's largest radio telescope completes installation
GUIYANG, July 3 The world's largest-ever radio telescope completed installation as the last piece of 4,450 panels was fitted in the center of the big dish on Sunday morning, a landmark step for its planned operation in September.
The hoisting of the last triangular-shaped panel to the reflector, as large as 30 football pitches, began at 10:47 a.m. and lasted about an hour.
About 300 people, including constructors, experts, science fiction enthusiasts and reporters, witnessed the installation in a karst valley in Pingtang County of the southwestern province of Guizhou.
Quelle: Xinhua
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Insight: Installation complete on world's largest radio telescope
The aerial photo taken on July 3, 2016 shows the Five-hundred-meter Aperture Spherical Telescope (FAST) in Pingtang County, southwest China's Guizhou Province. Installation was completed on the world's largest radio telescope on Sunday morning as the last of 4,450 panels was fitted into the center of the big dish. Scientists will then begin debugging and trial observation of the FAST. (Xinhua/Liu Xu)
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GUIYANG, July 3 Installation was completed on the world's largest radio telescope on Sunday morning as the last of 4,450 panels was fitted into the center of the big dish.
Hoisting of the last triangular panel to the reflector, which is the size of 30 football fields, began at 10:47 a.m. and lasted about an hour. It was a landmark step for the telescope's planned launch of operations in September.
About 300 people, including builders, experts, science fiction enthusiasts and reporters, witnessed the installation at a karst valley in Pingtang County in the southwestern province of Guizhou.
"The telescope is of great significance for humans to explore the universe and extraterrestrial civilizations," said Liu Cixin, a renowned science fiction writer, at the site.
"I hope scientists can make epoch-making discoveries," said Liu, who won the 2015 Hugo Award for Best Novel.
Scientists will then begin debugging and trial observation of the Five-hundred-meter Aperture Spherical Telescope (FAST), said Zheng Xiaonian, deputy head of the National Astronomical Observation (NAO) under the Chinese Academy of Sciences, which built the telescope.
The project has the potential to search for more strange objects to better understand the origin of the universe and boost the global hunt for extraterrestrial life, said Zheng.
Zheng said the radio telescope will be the global leader for the next 10 to 20 years.
In the first two or three years after its completion, the telescope will undergo further adjustment, and during that period Chinese scientists will use it for early-stage research. After that, it will be open to scientists worldwide, said Peng Bo, director of the NAO Radio Astronomy Technology Laboratory.
Scientists can also carry out remote control and observation in other cities such as Beijing, more than 2,000 kilometers from the telescope site, said Peng.
Upon completion, the telescope will dwarf Puerto Rico's Arecibo Observatory, which is 300 meters in diameter. It will also be 10 times more sensitive than the steerable 100-meter telescope near Bonn, Germany, he said.
"Most of the technology and materials are domestically made," said Wang Qiming, chief technologist of the FAST project.
Among the 7 FAST receivers, five were domestically made and another two were co-produced by Chinese, Australian and American institutions.
Work on the 1.2-billion-yuan (180 million U.S. dollars) FAST project began in 2011.
EYE ON THE SKY
Radio telescopes have made major astronomical discoveries, such as pulsars, quasars and cosmic microwave background radiation. Among the 10 Nobel Prizes in physics awarded for discoveries related to cosmology and space, six were attributed to radio telescopes.
"As the world's largest single aperture telescope located at an extremely radio-quiet site, its scientific impact on astronomy will be extraordinary, and it will certainly revolutionize other areas of the natural sciences," said Nan Rendong, chief scientist with the FAST Project.
FAST will enable astronomers to get a jump-start on many scientific goals, including surveying neutral hydrogen in distant galaxies and detecting faint pulsars.
Scientists also expect breakthroughs on pulsars, the highly magnetized, rotating neutron stars that emit a beam of electromagnetic radiation. So far more than 2,000 pulsars have been detected.
"Pulsars can help scientists study gravitational waves," Chen added.
As China joins international efforts in gravitational wave detection, FAST will help improve the chances of detecting low frequency gravitational waves, said Wu Xiangping, an academician of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, who predicted great breakthroughs in this area in the years ahead.
For ordinary people, perhaps the most exciting goal of FAST is the search for alien life.
In two or three years, scientists could find amino acids, the foundation block of life. There is a great chance that people will someday find life on other planets or galaxies, said Li Di, an NAO researcher.
"FAST's potential to discover an alien civilization will be 5 to 10 times that of current equipment, as it can see farther and darker planets," said Peng Bo.
"THANK THE ALIENS"
It has been more than two decades since Chinese scientists proposed building FAST in Guizhou.
In 1994, site surveying started on geo-morphological features and the distribution of karst depressions, climate, engineering environment, social environment, and radio interference.
Engineer Zhu Boqin worked on the site selection 20 years ago. He recalled that after more than two hours trudging on the rugged mountain road, about 150 kilometers south of the provincial capital Guiyang, he was impressed by the sight of a large, round depression embraced by verdant hills.
It was home to 65 people from 12 families in a closed-off world called "Green Water Village." Lacking electricity, the villagers had a clear view of the starlit sky at night.
Zhu said that though the villagers did not understand the radio telescope, they were excited when scientists explained that they would use it to search for intelligent beings on other planets. Formed by the dissolution of soluble rocks, such as limestone, dolomite, and gypsum, the karst formations create naturally spherical depressions. This saved efforts in digging hollows for the dish, said Li Di.
The three hills around the depression formed an equilateral triangle, creating a perfect holder for the dish, Li said.
The karst formation is also good for draining rainwater and protecting the reflector, Zhu said. Moreover, the surrounding area has "radio silence" as there are no towns within a 5-km radius, and only one county seat within 25 km.
The site was eventually chosen for the FAST Project.
Residents were moved away to towns in 2009, where they enjoy better living standards. Villagers in nearby communities admired their luck, saying they should "thank the aliens."
"I never thought the first time I would move would be to make way for a telescope," said Yang Chaolan, 62, who now lives in a government-funded two-story building in the seat of Kedu Township.
Her son, Yang Tianyou, 29, plans to open a restaurant or supermarket in hopes that growing tourism will bring him fortune.
According to a government plan, 9,110 residents living within five kilometers of the telescope will be resettled in Pingtang County and Luodian County in four settlements by the end of September.
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The last triangular panel to the reflector of the Five-hundred-meter Aperture Spherical Telescope (FAST) is being installed in Pingtang County, southwest China's Guizhou Province, July 3, 2016. Installation was completed on the world's largest radio telescope on Sunday morning as the last of 4,450 panels was fitted into the center of the big dish. Scientists will then begin debugging and trial observation of the FAST. (Xinhua/Ou Dongqu)
The photo taken on July 3, 2016 shows the Five-hundred-meter Aperture Spherical Telescope (FAST) in Pingtang County, southwest China's Guizhou Province. Installation was completed on the world's largest radio telescope on Sunday morning as the last of 4,450 panels was fitted into the center of the big dish. Scientists will then begin debugging and trial observation of the FAST. (Xinhua/Ou Dongqu)
The last triangular panel to the reflector of the Five-hundred-meter Aperture Spherical Telescope (FAST) is being installed in Pingtang County, southwest China's Guizhou Province, July 3, 2016. Installation was completed on the world's largest radio telescope on Sunday morning as the last of 4,450 panels was fitted into the center of the big dish. Scientists will then begin debugging and trial observation of the FAST. (Xinhua/Ou Dongqu)
The last triangular panel to the reflector of the Five-hundred-meter Aperture Spherical Telescope (FAST) is being transported in Pingtang County, southwest China's Guizhou Province, July 3, 2016. Installation was completed on the world's largest radio telescope on Sunday morning as the last of 4,450 panels was fitted into the center of the big dish. Scientists will then begin debugging and trial observation of the FAST. (Xinhua/Liu Xu)
The last triangular panel to the reflector of the Five-hundred-meter Aperture Spherical Telescope (FAST) is being installed in Pingtang County, southwest China's Guizhou Province, July 3, 2016. Installation was completed on the world's largest radio telescope on Sunday morning as the last of 4,450 panels was fitted into the center of the big dish. Scientists will then begin debugging and trial observation of the FAST. (Xinhua/Liu Xu)
The last triangular panel to the reflector of the Five-hundred-meter Aperture Spherical Telescope (FAST) is being installed in Pingtang County, southwest China's Guizhou Province, July 3, 2016. Installation was completed on the world's largest radio telescope on Sunday morning as the last of 4,450 panels was fitted into the center of the big dish. Scientists will then begin debugging and trial observation of the FAST. (Xinhua/Liu Xu)
The aerial photo taken on July 3, 2016 shows the Five-hundred-meter Aperture Spherical Telescope (FAST) in Pingtang County, southwest China's Guizhou Province. Installation was completed on the world's largest radio telescope on Sunday morning as the last of 4,450 panels was fitted into the center of the big dish. Scientists will then begin debugging and trial observation of the FAST. (Xinhua/Liu Xu)
Combined photo shows picture of night view of the Five-hundred-meter Aperture Spherical Telescope (FAST) at a karst valley in Pingtang County of southwest China's Guizhou Province taken on Sept. 1, 2014 (up) (Photo provided by the National Astronomical Observatories of Chinese Academy of Sciences) and picture of the nearly-done project of FAST taken on June 27, 2016 (Photo by Xinhua photojournalist Ou Dongqu). Installation was completed on the world's largest radio telescope on Sunday morning as the last of 4,450 panels was fitted into the center of the big dish. Scientists will then begin debugging and trial observation of the FAST. The project has the potential to search for more strange objects to better understand the origin of the universe and boost the global hunt for extraterrestrial life. (Xinhua)
Combined photo shows pictures of the construction site of the Five-hundred-meter Aperture Spherical Telescope (FAST) at a karst valley in Pingtang County of southwest China's Guizhou Province taken respectively on May 25, 2009 (L, up), Sept. 6, 2011 (R, up), Aug. 5, 2012 (L, Center), May 2, 2014 (R, Center), Jan. 16, 2015 (L, down) and July 3, 2016. (The first five pictures are provided by the National Astronomical Observatories of Chinese Academy of Sciences and the last is taken by Xinhua photojournalist Ou Dongqu). Installation was completed on the world's largest radio telescope on Sunday morning as the last of 4,450 panels was fitted into the center of the big dish. Scientists will then begin debugging and trial observation of the FAST. The project has the potential to search for more strange objects to better understand the origin of the universe and boost the global hunt for extraterrestrial life. (Xinhua)
Quelle: Xinhua
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Update: 25.09.2016 
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World's largest radio telescope begins operations 
 

GUIYANG, The world's largest radio telescope was put into use on Sunday in a mountainous region of southwest China's Guizhou Province.

Shortly after noon, in a karst valley in Pingtang County, hundreds of astronomers and astronomy enthusiasts witnessed the official launch of the Five-hundred-meter Aperture Spherical Telescope's (FAST) mission to explore space and hunt for extraterrestrial life.

Work on the nearly 1.2-billion-yuan (180 million U.S. dollars) project started in 2011, 17 years after it was proposed by Chinese astronomers.

The installation of the telescope's main structure -- a 4,450-panel reflector as large as 30 football pitches -- was finished in early July.

"(The telescope) will certainly generate enthusiasm, bring people into science, and make China important in the world of science," Joseph Taylor, a Nobel Prize-winning astronomer at Princeton University, told Xinhua.

The astronomer was awarded the Nobel Prize in physics in 1993 for discovering indirect proof of gravitational waves with the assistance of Puerto Rico's Arecibo Observatory, home to a radio telescope that is 350 meters in diameter.

Taylor expects FAST to be a "productive" project, even if he is unsure whether any of its discoveries will lead to a Nobel Prize.

In fact, FAST has already had a good start. In a recent trial observation, it received a set of high-quality electromagnetic waves sent from a pulsar about 1,351 light-years away, said Qian Lei, an associate researcher with the National Astronomical Observation (NAO) under the Chinese Academy of Sciences, which built the project.

FAST's tasks include observation of pulsars as well as exploration of interstellar molecules and interstellar communication signals.

To ensure the telescope's performance, more than 8,000 locals are being resettled from their homes to make way for the project, which requires radio silence within a 5-kilometer radius. Visitors to the zone must turn off their mobile phones.

The telescope's leading engineer Wang Qiming said the telescope, designed and built by Chinese scientists, will remain the global leader for the next 10 to 20 years.

Yan Jun, head of the NAO, said China will roll out more "world-class" telescope projects in five to 10 years.

Quelle: Xinhua

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China's giant telescope may lead to "discoveries beyond wildest imagination": U.S. expert

 
 

Photo taken on Sept. 24, 2016 shows the 500-meter Aperture Spherical Telescope (FAST) in Pingtang County, southwest China's Guizhou Province. The FAST, world's largest radio telescope, measuring 500 meters in diameter, was completed and put into use on Sunday. (Xinhua/Ou Dongqu)

WASHINGTON, China's 500-meter Aperture Spherical Radio Telescope (FAST) may help better understand the origin and structure of the universe and accelerate and even revolutionize the search for life beyond Earth, a renowned U.S. alien intelligence expert said Saturday.

FAST, the world's largest single-dish telescope with a diameter of a half kilometer, is expected to go online on Sunday. It is located at the Dawodang depression, a natural basin or "karst" in Pingtang County in the mountainous southwestern Chinese province of Guizhou.

The telescope, nicknamed Tianyan, or the Eye of Heaven, can accurately image twice as much the sky as the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico, which had previously been the world's largest single-dish radio telescope, with double sensitivity and five to 10 times the surveying speed.

Douglas Vakoch, president of METI International, an organization promoting messaging outer space in the search for extraterrestrial intelligence, noted that astronomers worldwide will be invited to use the facility through a competitive review of observing proposals.

"By opening FAST to use by the broader international community, China is demonstrating its commitment to fostering astronomy as a global scientific enterprise," he told Xinhua, saying it may lead to "discoveries beyond our wildest imagination."

As for FAST's scientific missions, Vakoch said it will be used to look for the signatures of complex organic molecules in interstellar space, which will show how widely the basic building blocks of life are distributed throughout the cosmos.

"For over a half century, astronomers have been using radio telescopes to answer the haunting question, 'Are we alone?' But astronomers face a daunting challenge: the signals they seek are so weak that an incredibly sensitive telescope is needed to detect them," he said.

"FAST's innovative design and huge collecting area give it unsurpassed speed and sensitivity, making it vital to the search for extraterrestrial intelligence in the coming decades," said Vakoch. "We can expect China to become a world leader in the search for extraterrestrial intelligence because of its demonstrated commitment in building FAST."

However, FAST will not initially be outfitted with the signal processing capabilities to search for aliens, he said. This technology will be added at a later stage, and when that happens, FAST will be able to scan the heavens for signals that "can't be created by nature, but only by advanced civilizations," Vakoch said.

Based on the recent history of radio telescopes, he also predicted that FAST will lead to "a dramatic increase in the number and variety of pulsars discovered." Pulsars, one of FAST's main scientific objectives, are dense, rotating stars that act as cosmic clocks, emitting pulses with remarkable regularity.

This could also provide scientists with the capability to detect gravitational waves, or ripples in space-time, from pairs of massive black holes, since FAST has the potential to precisely measure tiny changes of the pulsing rates of pulsars as the gravitational waves pass by.

Vakoch highlighted FAST's role in underpinning China's space program, noting that China has made great breakthroughs in space exploration, such as putting humans into Earth orbit and having taikonauts to dock with an orbiting module as a first step toward developing a Chinese space station.

"With the opening of FAST, China continues to demonstrate that it is a world leader in space exploration, now from an Earth-based observatory as well as from space," he added. "Astronomers around the world can be grateful to China for creating an observatory that may lead to discoveries beyond our wildest imagination."

Quelle: Xinhua

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FAST telescope is put into operation

CCTV.com

 

China has completed the installation of its 500-meter Aperture Spherical Telescope, known as FAST.  It's the largest such radio telescope in the world.  FAST lies at a karst valley in Pingtang County of southwest China's Guizhou Province. Scientists and reporters are gathering at the completion ceremony.  The telescope was independently designed and built by China. 

FAST's concept was initiated in 1994 and the construction took more than five years. Adjustment will take 2 to 3 years. Experts say FAST has the potential to search for remote objects to better understand the origin of the universe, and boost the global hunt for extraterrestrial life.

Quelle: CCTV

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10, 9, 8 ... China prepares to flick the switch on world’s biggest telescopic eye on the sky

 

World’s largest single-aperture radio telescope, with diameter of 500 metres, expected to help make major contributions to the understanding of the universe

fast-g

China plans to switch on the world’s largest radio telescope on Sunday as it focuses much of its growing scientific ambitions on unlocking the fundamentals of the universe.

Along with other massive facilities that Beijing plans to build, the telescope, which as a diameter of 500 metres, could entice international researchers to the country as it tries to catch up with the United States in generating discoveries.

Officially named the Five-hundred-metre Aperture Spherical Telescope (FAST), the facility in Guizhou will replace the telescope at Puerto Rico’s Arecibo Observatory as the world’s largest single-aperture radio telescope.

It will be an extremely good telescope for studying some areas of astronomy, especially for the study of pulsars and the distribution of galaxies in the local universe
DONALD CAMPBELL, CORNELL UNIVERSITY ASTRONOMY PROFESSOR

Covering an area roughly the size of 30 soccer fields, it will scour a much bigger swathe of the sky than Arecibo for radio signals – including those possibly sent out by any aliens.

“It will be an extremely good telescope for studying some areas of astronomy, especially for the study of pulsars and the distribution of galaxies in the local universe,” said Donald Campbell, professor of astronomy at Cornell University and former director of the Arecibo Observatory.

Campbell said the telescope would make “significant contributions” to understanding the structure and history of the universe.

China is yet to announce a research plan for the telescope, but an early-stage study focused on six topics, including galaxy structure and the formation of stars, according to the study’s website.

The National Astronomical Observatories said the FAST team would not take media inquiries before the telescope’s launch on Sunday.

 
 

 

In its push to generate as much basic science as the US by 2020, Beijing has spared no effort in upgrading research facilities.

The new telescope cost 1.2 billion yuan (HK$1.4 billion) to build, and an additional 1.8 billion yuan to relocate more than 9,000 residents from its site, state-run Xinhua reported.

The relocation was to make sure that no one lived within 5km of the telescope.

To protect it from radiation interference, people would not be allowed to use electronic devices, including mobile phones and digital cameras, if they entered the area, China Central Television reported.

The Chinese government is willing to spend big money on basic research, which is good news for us
UNIVERSITY OF HONG KONG SCIENTIST STEPHEN NG CHI-YUNG

“The Chinese government is willing to spend big money on basic research, which is good news for us,” University of Hong Kong scientist Stephen Ng Chi-yung said. “It creates a lot of opportunities for astronomers all over the world.”

Ng, who has been using telescopes in the US and Australia for his astrophysical research, said scientists from Hong Kong and elsewhere might head to China in the future to use its advanced facilities.

James Cordes, also from Cornell, said he had been invited by fellow astronomers in China to use the FAST in his research on pulsars, gravitational waves and fast radio bursts.

China also plans to build a 110-metre, fully steerable radio telescope in Qitai, in Xinjiang province, which will surpass the US’ Green Bank Telescope in West Virginia to become the largest of its kind in the world.

Ng said the steerable radio telescope would be able to survey the part of the sky not covered by the FAST, which cannot be moved because the reflector is too heavy.

We do not think of astronomy as a competition ... I’m happy to see China is part of the community
DONALD CAMPBELL, CORNELL UNIVERSITY ASTRONOMY PROFESSOR

The site in Xinjiang was chosen in 2011, and a major research project for its construction was launched in April last year. It is unclear when construction will start. It is unclear when construction will start.

Although the FAST will be one of the most advanced radio telescopes on earth, scientists say they need a wide range of telescopes covering different parts of the sky and radio frequencies to study the universe.

“We do not think of astronomy as a competition,” Campbell said. “It’s the extensive collaboration throughout the world between astronomers using different telescopes. I’m happy to see China is part of the community.”

Quelle: South China Morning Post


Tags: Astronomie 

3873 Views

Sonntag, 25. September 2016 - 16:00 Uhr

UFO-Forschung - Flugsicherung schlägt Alarm: Zahl der Drohnen-Vorfälle im Flugverkehr verdreifacht

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In Deutschland häufen sich Zwischenfälle mit Drohnen im Flugverkehr. Die "Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung" (FAS) berichtet, die Deutsche Flugsicherung habe im laufenden Jahr schon mehr als 40 Vorfälle registriert.

Das seien bereits jetzt rund drei Mal so viele wie im gesamten Jahr 2015. Die steigende Zahl der von Hobbypiloten betriebenen Drohnen bringe eine schwerwiegende Behinderung des Flugverkehrs mit sich, hieß es unter Berufung auf eine Statistik.

In einigen Fällen konnten demnach Passagierflugzeuge den Drohnen erst im allerletzten Moment ausweichen. In die Statistik sind dem Bericht zufolge Beeinträchtigungen von Rettungshubschraubern nicht einmal eingerechnet.

Mehr Pflichten für Drohnenpiloten 

Das Bundesverkehrsministerium plant nach "FAS"-Recherchen zwar nun eine Kennzeichnungspflicht für Drohnen ab 500 Gramm, außerdem sollen private Drohnenflüge in mehr als 100 Metern Höhe verboten werden. Der Flugsicherung gehen diese Pläne aber nicht weit genug: Sie fordert der Zeitung zufolge eine Registrierungspflicht für Drohnenbesitzer nach dem Vorbild der USA. Dort müssen seit Ende August Drohnenpiloten ihren Namen in einer Datenbank hinterlegen.

Bereits seit Juni 2015 dürfen Drohnen nicht mehr benutzt werden, wenn der Abstand zum Zaun eines der 16 internationalen deutschen Verkehrsflughäfen weniger als 1,5 Kilometer beträgt. Darüberhinaus ist die erlaubte Flughöhe in der Nähe von Flughäfen auf 30 bis 50 Meter begrenzt. Ansonsten können Drohnen bisher theoretisch in bis zu 762 Metern (2500 ft) Höhe über Grund fliegen, sofern es sich um einen unkontrollierten Luftraum (Klasse G) handelt.

Quelle: t-online

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Anmerkung:

Auch wir als UFO-Forscher haben es mit leichter Zunahme von "UFO-Meldungen" in den letzten Jahren zu tun welche auf Drohnen zurück zu führen waren. Als wir von CENAP in der Anfangszeit darauf hinwiesen und gerade bei den Drohnen über Atomkraftwerken in Frankreich es klar stellten wurde es von der Ufologie wie immer bei Stimulis aller Art nicht ernst genommen. Daher kann man immer noch solche Ufologen durch das Land tingeln sehen welche über "eine außerirdische Präsenz" faseln und auf Dummenfang sind! 

Tip: Einfach realistisch bleiben und die Dinge hinterfragen und nicht Alles glauben was Ufologen in ihren UFO-Dateien haben, da auch dort eine Unzahl von irdischen Flugkörpern ruhen und als "Good UFO" -Fall deklariert werden. Aber nur schlecht untersuchte Fälle sind, bei welchen nicht konsequent den "üblichen Verdächtigen" nachgegangen wurde. Und es bleibt da immer ein "Geschmäckle" der Leser und Freunde wegen, welche die UFO-Thematik dann ganz anders sehen würden...

CENAP-Michelstadt


1049 Views

Sonntag, 25. September 2016 - 10:00 Uhr

Astronomie - Treffen Sie die Frau, welche Pionierarbeit bei der Suche nach Aliens leistete

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Meet the Woman Who Pioneered Our Search for Aliens

PHOTO COURTESY OF JILL TARTER

 

When Jill Tarter enrolled in the engineering program at Cornell, she was the only woman in her classes. Since then, the radio astronomer has become the public face of the systematic search for extraterrestrial life—and had Jodie Foster play her in a movie.

I've known of Jill Tarter since my earliest university classes. The real-life radio astronomer who served as inspiration for Jodie Foster's character, Ellie Arroway, in the 1997 film Contact, Tarter is the public face of the search for extraterrestrial intelligence. Interviewing her requires carefully concealing fangirlish squeals from the physics student I used to be; in certain circles, she is an icon. As part of the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) Institute, Tarter was one of the first scientists to embark on an ongoing, methodical search for extraterrestrial intelligence, using an enormous telescope array to scan the skies for alien signals.

"I am the chief cheerleader for SETI and the Allen Telescope Array," Tarter tells me over the phone, introducing herself with practiced flair. Her voice is earthy. She's careful when she speaks, drawing out the spaces between words, and her descriptions are a mix of metaphor and jargon, technically precise while still accessible. The overall impact is grounded and reassuring. It's easy to understand why she's such an effective advocate for the SETI Institute; her solid presence—and impressive academic background—counters ridicule about the search for "little green men."

Read more: Talking to a Leading UFO Researcher About Alien Megastructures

Tarter was an only child, taking after both her parents. "All of the pictures that we have of me as a young child are just full of fish and fancy dresses together," Tarter says. "I would be in this white, starched, ironed pinafore dress with little white socks, Mary Janes, and ribbons in my hair and holding this great big fish that I had caught with my father."

When she was eight years old, her father tried to push her to stop mixing rugged outdoors hobbies and fashion. Perched on the washing machine to be at eye level, she remembers bursting out, "What do you mean, I have to choose?" She wore him down with a mix of protests and ("highly manipulative") tears. Tarter fondly recalls her father conceding, "If you're willing to work very hard, there's no reason you can't do anything you decide you want to do." Taking him up on the challenge, she replied, "I want to be an engineer."

Photo courtesy of Jill Tarter

The path was long and hard. When Tarter attended Cornell University for her bachelor's degree in the early 1960s, she was the only woman in a class of 300 engineers, and the dorms were gender-segregated. She now laughs that the men's dorms were tucked against the Engineering Quad, but her home was over a mile away—as far across campus as it could possibly get. Adding to the aggravation, campus policy required she wear a skirt as soon as she crossed over the lake. "In the winter of Ithaca, when something is falling out of the sky every day, and it's cold and uncomfortable, you had to wear a skirt and make that trek," Tarter says. "It was highly ridiculous.

 

Students were locked in their dorms each night from 10 PM until 6 AM the next morning. "We were 'protecting' our women," Tarter explains. The men used this time to collaborate on homework, splitting the problem sets, but as the only woman in her program, Tarter "sat in splendid isolation and did them all by myself." 

(While the locked doors may have indirectly helped her hone her physics skills, they were still frustrating. For one thing, Tarter loved to ice skate, and living next to a frozen lake all winter should have been ideal. Instead, "I'd be awake and ready to go," she remembers, "and the doors are still locked!")

Photo courtesy of Jill Tarter

Tarter has seen enormous gains for women in science since she was in college—along with a purely numerical improvement, we have a diversity of incredibly successful role models who challenge the stereotypes of what a scientist looks like. Undergraduate science classes approach gender parity, though the numbers drop in graduate school and while climbing the ranks as a professional scientist. 

For a long time, Tarter hoped that was enough. "I thought that all the old bastards died off," she confesses. "Recent events have indicated that it hasn't perhaps changed as much as I thought it had." Her voice loses its characteristic vigor; she did her graduate studies at UC Berkeley, and she still lives nearby. When we spoke, the university was still shaken by a series of sexual harassment allegations and lackluster administrative response, including revelations about decades of abuse by noted exoplanet researcher Geoff Marcy.

"Men of power—people of power, but statistically that's overwhelmingly men—prey on people who are not very powerful," Tarter says. "People who depend on them." In graduate school, that dependence between professor and student lasts a long time, with potential career-shaping ramifications. To see graduate students at her former university being preyed on by their advisors? "It's really a bad situation." (When Tarter went to graduate school at UC Berkeley, there were only a handful of other women in her class. On the first day, the chairman invited them into his office. "He welcomed us warmly," she recalls, "and told us how lucky we were that all the smart men had been drafted to Vietnam.")

"It isn't as rosy as I thought it was," she says. "People are still keeping secrets. Transparency is the only thing that's going to turn this around."

 

 

He welcomed us warmly and told us how lucky we were that all the smart men had been drafted to Vietnam.

Tarter's irritation with school extended beyond casual sexism, extending to the process of education itself. Her classes turned her love for engineering into rote repetition. "I really hated that the ideal solution to a new problem was to use a known solution," Tarter remembers. "There was no incentive to innovate." This was particularly frustrating as she'd fought so hard to develop excellent problem-solving skills while locked in isolation in her dorm. "I wanted to use them!"

This impatient curiosity is what tempted her to begin risking her career to search for aliens. While at UC Berkeley, Tarter was initially lured to to a small research collaborative hidden away on campus that would grow into the SETI Institute. The head researcher needed Tarter to program an obsolete PDP-8/S computer. He also gave her a copy of "Project Cyclops," a NASA paper summarizing preliminary ideas of how to detect artificial signals from space. She was hooked. "For millennia, we've asked the priests and philosophers what we should believe about whether there's life out there," Tarter says. "Suddenly, we've got some tools! Telescopes, computers, and engineers who can try to find out."

Searching for aliens is one of the most creative problems in science. Astronomy, and the tools to go with it, is focused on scanning the sky for signals created by nature. Looking for extraterrestrials is something else entirely. "We're looking for something that's obviously engineered," explains Tarter. "That requires a different set of parameters." The technology to approach that problem is wide open, "with lots of opportunity to do new things that nobody else is going to be doing."

Tarter programmed the computer, and refocused on her postdoctoral studies. But she kept thinking about Project Cyclops, which took its name from the proposed telescope array that would then be used to search for aliens. Tarter physically tracked down the head of the Committee on Interstellar Communication on campus, and told him, "I've got more than 40 hours in a week. If you'd like some help, I'd like to volunteer."

Jodie Foster playing Ellie Arroway, the character based on Tarter, in "Contact"

The search has dramatically transformed from those early days. "Over my career, there have been two extraordinary game changers," Tarter says. "One is exoplanets. The other is extremophiles."

When Tarter was a student, our theory of planet formation relied on a complex dance of binary star systems interacting in just the right way to produce hypothetical alien worlds. If the theory were correct, planets would be rare. But with the discovery of more and more of exoplanets—or planets outside our solar system—we are realizing that planets are a natural product of star formation. In the new theory, we think leftover gas and dust are condensing into planets around nearly every star. "We now know this extraordinary fact that there are more planets than stars in the Milky Way galaxy," Tarter says. 

 

 

The acknowledgment of all those worlds shifted our strategy for searching for aliens. If planets are everywhere, why not just look at the nearest stars and assume they've got planets around them?

The other big change is in our understanding of where life can thrive. "What I learned as a student was that life had to exist within a very narrow range of parameters," Tarter says. "Between the boiling and freezing point of water; where there was enough sunlight but not very high energy radiation; pH not too basic and not too acidic; and all that." But then we started finding life in all sorts of hostile places—the boiling acid of deep-sea vents, within the Earth's crust, even in the cooling ponds of nuclear power plants. "There is certainly a lot more potentially habitable real estate out there that we had ever conceived early on in the SETI project," says Tarter.

Photo courtesy of the SETI Institute

For the next generation of scientists eager to look for life beyond Earth, Tarter advises teamwork and resilience. 

"Don't stay alone" is her immediate advice. Studying locked in her dorm robbed Tarter of the experience of working with others. "I was never a part of a team until I had to lead one!" she says. "If you learn early how to work with others that have skills that are different—sometimes complementary, sometimes overlapping—you can use that to make an end product even more brilliant." If you've found a strong network, Tarter advises, you'll have people that have your back.

Because you also "need to grow a thick skin," says Tarter. But not everything should be ignored. "If something happens, don't be quiet," she continues. "This is the hard part."

For More Stories Like This, Sign Up for Our Newsletter

 

 

More broadly, Tarter believes it's critical to think about systemic barriers against diversity in science. "You have to be thoughtful about it," Tarter starts, then pauses. "You actually literally have to think a lot about it. You need to take deliberate action, not just figure it's all going to go away." This is hard-won wisdom. "I did that a little bit," Tarter admits. "My generation struggled a lot to get where we wanted to go. We were just happy to be there and enjoy our success."

Getting through school and into the professional workforce was an enormous filtering process, and she thought it would surely be enough. "We would be the exemplars," Tarter says she had assumed. "We were just going to change the world's opinions by how well we did and not being denied." She laughs remembering her naïvety. "It didn't work so well. It didn't work so well at all."

Photo courtesy of Jill Tarter

Quelle: Broadly


1090 Views

Sonntag, 25. September 2016 - 09:45 Uhr

Raumfahrt - ISRO´s Mangalyaan im Mars-Orbit Teil-4

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4.11.2015

Aus dem ISRO-FOTO-Archiv von MOM:

Eos Chaos area, part of the gigantic Valles Marineris Canyon of Mars

Spectacular 3D view of Arsia Mons, a huge volcano on Mars

Pictures from Mars Colour Camera (MCC) onboard India’s Mars Orbiter Spacecraft

Pictures from Mars Colour Camera (MCC) onboard India’s Mars Orbiter Spacecraft

Pictures from Mars Colour Camera (MCC) onboard India’s Mars Orbiter Spacecraft

Pictures from Mars Colour Camera (MCC) onboard India’s Mars Orbiter Spacecraft

Pictures from Mars Colour Camera (MCC) onboard India’s Mars Orbiter Spacecraft

Pictures from Mars Colour Camera (MCC) onboard India’s Mars Orbiter Spacecraft

Pictures from Mars Colour Camera (MCC) onboard India’s Mars Orbiter Spacecraft

Pictures from Mars Colour Camera (MCC) onboard India’s Mars Orbiter Spacecraft

Pictures from Mars Colour Camera (MCC) onboard India’s Mars Orbiter Spacecraft

Pictures from Mars Colour Camera (MCC) onboard India’s Mars Orbiter Spacecraft

Pictures from Mars Colour Camera (MCC) onboard India’s Mars Orbiter Spacecraft

Part of Hesperia Planum region, taken by Mars color camera

Region around Comas Sola crater was taken by Mars color camera

Pictures from Mars Colour Camera (MCC) onboard India’s Mars Orbiter Spacecraft

Pictures from Mars Colour Camera (MCC) onboard India’s Mars Orbiter Spacecraft

Impact crater located SW of Huygens crater

Impact crater located SW of Huygens crater

Gale crater as seen by Mars Colour Camera on board Mars Orbiter Mission

3D portrayals of Ophir Chasma terrain.

Ophir Chasma terrain.

Taytay Crater - Image from Mars Color Camera

Shield Volcano Tharsis Tholus

Quelle: ISRO

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Update: 25.09.2016

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MOM completes two years of Mars orbit

 
MOM has successfully demonstrated India's technological capability for interplanetary exploration. This was actually the mission's primary objective.
 MOM has successfully demonstrated India's technological capability for interplanetary exploration. This was actually the mission's primary objective.

Chennai: The low-cost Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM) which was originally meant for six months is completing two years of orbiting Mars on Saturday. The MOM’s performance and longevity have brought cheer to Isro scientists who designed, built and launched the spacecraft in a record time of less than two years. “We are extremely happy with the overall performance of the mission. It was originally meant for only six months of operation. Because of fuel being available we were able to keep the mission for a longer time,” Isro chairman A.S. Kiran Kumar told DC.

The Rs 450 crore Mars Orbiter Mission was launched with the PSLV-C25 rocket from Sriharikota on November 5, 2013. After travelling 666 million kilometres for around 300 days, it entered into the Mars orbit on September 24, 2014. India created history as the first nation to reach Mars on a maiden attempt. The five payloads collect data on geology, morphology, atmospheric processes and surface temperature of Mars.

“The ‘eclipse’ will come sometime next year during which the spacecraft will go to another side of the red planet. If we don’t take any action on the current orbit we will get into long duration eclipse where the battery on the satellite will not be able to provide the requisite power for satellite operation. We are planning to do a course correction manoeuvre sometime in January next year,” Kiran Kumar said.

M.Annadurai, director, Isro Satellites Centre said, “The experience gained in MOM realisation is now helping to get the newer satellites faster, better and cheaper. We are almost rolling out one satellite per month,” he said.

Quelle: DECCAN CHRONICLE


Tags: Raumfahrt 

1933 Views

Samstag, 24. September 2016 - 22:15 Uhr

Astronomie - NASA Webb Telescope bekommt seine Gestalt - Update-6

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4.04.2016

Sunshield Membrane Coatings
The James Webb Space Telescope's primary science comes from infrared light, which is essentially heat energy. To detect the extremely faint heat signals of astronomical objects that are incredibly far away, the telescope itself has to be very cold and stable. This means we not only have to protect JWST from external sources of light and heat (like the sun and the earth), but we also have to make all the telescope elements themselves very cold so they don't emit their own heat energy that could swamp the sensitive instruments. The temperature also must be kept constant so that materials aren't shrinking and expanding, which would throw off the precise alignment of the optics.
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To accomplish all of this, JWST deploys a tennis-court sized Sunshield made of five thin layers of Kapton E with aluminum and doped-silicon coatings to reflect the sun's heat back into space. The Kapton is a commercially available polyimide film from Dupont, while the coatings are applied to a specialized JWST specification.
The Layer 1 membrane (facing the sun) is 0.002" thick, the other four layers are each 0.001". The higher emissivity doped-silicon coating is ~50 nanometers thick, and is applied to the sun-facing side of the two hottest layers (Layer 1 & 2) to maximize stoppage of the sun's heat. Doping is a process whereby a small amount of conductive material is mixed in during the silicon coating process, so that the coating is electrically conductive. The highly-reflective aluminum coating is ~100 nm thick and is applied to all the other surfaces, helping to "bounce" the remaining energy out the gaps between the layers.
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Flight Layer 2 membrane of the James Webb Space Telescope sunshield during shape testing, in Jan 2016. All 5 flight membranes will be complete by late 2016. Image credit: Northrop Grumman.
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Early shape testing of sunshield membranes. Credit: Northrop Grumman
The size, position, spacing and shape of the Sunshield layers are also very important - more information on these aspects can be found on our sunshield page.
Quelle: NASA
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Update: 21.04.2016
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Constructing James Webb Space Telescope’s Twin for Goddard’s ‘Biggest’ Thermal Test

 
The James Webb Space Telescope Core-2 model in a cleanroom at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.
Credits: NASA/Goddard/Desiree Stover
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Crouching low beneath the underbelly of the behemoth James Webb Space Telescope “observatory core” test model, surrounded by critical test hardware, a technician toiled for hours wrapping the replica’s surfaces in delicate thermal blankets and strips of Mylar.
The observatory core model will stand in for the real thing in an upcoming test at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. Dubbed Core-2, the test will verify that Webb can regulate its core body temperature to the correct specifications, which would be impossible without the blankets created and applied by Goddard technician Andrew Peterson and his team.
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Technician Andrew Peterson installs thermal blankets to the underside of the James Webb Space Telescope test model.
Credits: NASA/Goddard/Desiree Stover
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Webb is an infrared telescope, which means errant heat from the sun, or even a tiny bit from the observatory’s own electronics, could blind it as it peers into the darkness, looking for the most distant galaxies in the universe.
The team must test the observatory in its fully deployed configuration. After launch, Webb will unfold and expand over the course of two weeks. Cooling down to stable operating temperature will take much longer, and most of the heat flow through the observatory happens in its core region—a sort of Grand Central Station for heat flow on Webb.
There’s just one big problem.
Webb is so enormous that it won’t all fit in NASA’s testing chambers. Webb will have to fold up even to fit in the rocket that will take it to space. Fully deployed, Webb will be as wide and as long as a tennis court and about 4 stories tall. The telescope would be almost 20 feet too wide to fit in Goddard’s thermal vacuum chamber, the Space Environment Simulator. Even the famous Chamber A at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston is too small.  Moreover, even with a chamber big enough to hold Webb fully-deployed, it is infeasible to recreate the entire temperature environment it will see when operating with a difference of about 500 degrees Fahrenheit between its ‘hot’ and ‘cold’ sides.
The solution? An identical twin of just Webb’s core, which contains the juncture between all four of Webb’s modules – the spacecraft bus, sunshield, mirrors and instrument module.
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This graphic shows how the modules of the James Webb Space Telescope connect in the fully deployed observatory.
Credits: NASA/Goddard/Paul Geithner
As many as 15 technicians at a time labored on the model, working to make it as identical to the actual telescope as possible.
“I’ve been here 10 years, and I think this is the biggest thermal test we’ve ever had,” said Chris Matthews, Goddard mechanical integration technician. His team put the model together and transported it to the test chamber.
Building the core in its deployed form made what would already have been a complicated process even more challenging. It was important that they follow the same procedures as they would for the actual observatory – this was their dress rehearsal, and they had to make sure the core test model accurately reflects how the real thing will behave in space.
The extra effort to build a full-scale, flight-like model is worth it because it’s the only way to test Webb’s core region and measure heat flow through it, and managing heat flow and controlling temperature is one of Webb’s biggest requirements. In flight, nearby heat sources – like instrument module control electronics emitting around 200 watts only a few feet away – could blind Webb’s sensitive infrared sensors, which are designed to observe distant objects in the universe by detecting their heat output. A stargazing astronomer in New York City will not see many stars – the bright surrounding lights will drown out their faint glow. The concept is much the same with Webb and heat. Proper management of heat flow is key: Every bit of unwanted heat passing the wrong way through Webb’s core and ending up where it shouldn’t would make the telescope’s job that much harder, if not impossible.
More than 500 tiny sensors affixed to the replica will monitor each piece’s temperature during the test.
There isn’t much room for error. Goddard thermal engineer Paul Cleveland said the mirrors can’t operate as intended if more than 15 milliwatts of extra heat energy reach them. By comparison, a 100-watt light bulb uses 100,000 milliwatts when it is turned on.
During the test, Cleveland and his team will expose the test model to 48 days’ worth of temperature extremes, dipping as low as minus 423 F. How the twin core reacts will tell the Webb team what they can expect from the real thing.
“This is the only time we’re really testing the thermal center of Webb,” Cleveland said. “This is our chance to make sure we got it right.”
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The Core-2 model being lowered into the Space Environment Simulator chamber at Goddard.
Credits: NASA/Goddard/Desiree Stover
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Cleveland and the team will find out soon: the Core-2 test started mid-April.
With Webb’s twin finished, the same team will turn their sights to constructing the actual flight hardware in the next several months.
Quelle: NASA
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Update: 26.04.2016
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Watch us build the Webb Telescope at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center!
Quelle: NASA
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Update: 27.04.2016
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James Webb's mirror is revealed

Revealed for the first time in all its glory - the main mirror of the James Webb Space Telescope, which will be launched in 2018.
JWST is regarded as the successor to Hubble, and will carry technologies capable of detecting the light from the first stars to shine in the Universe.
Paramount in that quest will be a large primary reflecting surface.
And with a width of 6.5m, JWST's will have roughly seven times the light-collecting area of Hubble's mirror.
It is so big in fact that it must be capable of folding. Only by turning the edges inwards will the beryllium segments fit inside the telescope's launch rocket.
The observatory is currently under construction at the US space agency's Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland.
When in recent months engineers stuck down the segments to their support structure, each hexagon had a cover on it.
Only now, as the engineers prepare to move to the next stage of assembly, have those covers been removed to reveal the full mirror.
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Shortly, the secondary mirror, which is at the top of the black extension poles will be collapsed into a flat configuration.
Then, the whole edifice will be flipped 180 degrees. This will permit the engineering team to attach JWST's instruments behind the main mirror.
These can be seen in a raised cage off to the left.
Leaving such a sensitive surface exposed even for a short time may appear risky. The fear would be that it might get scratched. But the European Space Agency's JWST project scientist, Pierre Ferruit, said that was unlikely.
"The main danger is to get some accumulation of dust. But it's a cleanroom so that accumulation is very slow," he told BBC News.
"They need to rotate the telescope to get access to the back, and the protective covers were only resting on the mirror segments, so they had to be removed before the rotation.
"When the mirror is upside down, the exposure to dust will be much less, and I doubt anyone will be allowed to walk underneath."
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Once the integration of mirror and instruments is complete, the telescope will be sent for environmental testing. It will be shaken and blasted with sound to mimic the rough rocket ride to orbit.
Assuming that goes well, the whole train - mirror and instruments - will ship to Nasa's Johnson Space Center in Texas for some final deep-chill testing.
This will be conducted in the giant cryo-vacuum chamber built to accommodate the 1960s Apollo hardware.
Once that work is done, engineers must attach the spacecraft bus, which incorporates elements such as the flight computers and communications system. Finally, James Webb will be given an immense deployable visor - the structure that will shield its delicate observations from the Sun's light and heat.
JWST is a joint venture between the US, European and Canadian space agencies.
Each of the partners has supplied instruments for the observatory. A key additional role for Europe is to launch the telescope. An Ariane rocket will be used. It will be the launcher's most valuable ever payload.
The full life-cycle cost of the JWST project is expected to approach $10bn once all the partners' contributions are taken into account.
Quelle: BBC
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Update: 30.04.2016
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James Webb Space Telescope's Golden Mirror

Inside the clean room at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, the golden James Webb Space Telescope is viewed from overhead with its secondary mirror booms stowed. This is the position the secondary mirror will be in during launch. In the next few months, engineers will install other key elements, and take additional measurements to ensure the telescope is ready for space.
The telescope's mirrors are covered in a microscopically thin layer of gold, which optimizes them for reflecting infrared light, which is the primary wavelength of light this telescope will observe. To ensure the mirror is both strong and light, the team made the mirrors out of beryllium. Each mirror segment is about the size of a coffee table and weighs approximately 20 kilograms (46 pounds). A very fine film of vaporized gold coats each segment to improve the mirror's reflection of infrared light. The fully assembled mirror is larger than any rocket, so the two sides of it fold up. Behind each mirror are several motors so that the team can focus the telescope out in space.
The James Webb Space Telescope is the scientific successor to NASA's Hubble Space Telescope. It will be the most powerful space telescope ever built. Webb will study many phases in the history of our universe, including the formation of solar systems capable of supporting life on planets similar to Earth, as well as the evolution of our own solar system. It’s targeted to launch from French Guiana aboard an Ariane 5 rocket in 2018. Webb is an international project led by NASA with its partners, ESA (European Space Agency) and the Canadian Space Agency.
Quelle: NASA
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Update: 8.05.2016
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UNVEILED WEBB TELESCOPE MIRRORS MESMERIZE IN ‘GOLDEN’ GLORY

All 18 gold coated primary mirrors of NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope are seen fully unveiled after removal of protective covers installed onto the backplane structure, as technicians work inside the massive clean room at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland on May 3, 2016. The secondary mirror mount booms are folded down into stowed for launch configuration. Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com
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NASA GODDARD SPACE FLIGHT CENTER, MD – It’s Mesmerizing ! That’s the overwhelming feeling expressed among the fortunate few setting their own eyeballs on the newly exposed golden primary mirror at the heart of NASA’s mammoth James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) – a sentiment shared by the team building the one-of-its-kind observatory and myself during a visit this week by Universe Today.
“The telescope is cup up now [concave]. So you see it in all its glory!” said John Durning, Webb Telescope Deputy Project Manager, in an exclusive interview with Universe Today at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center on Tuesday, May 3, after the covers were carefully removed just days ago from all 18 primary mirror segments and the structure was temporarily pointed face up.
“The entire mirror system is checked out, integrated and the alignment has been checked.”
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Up close side-view of newly exposed gold coated primary mirrors installed onto mirror backplane holding structure of NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope inside the massive clean room at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland on May 3, 2016. Aft optics subsystem stands upright at center of 18 mirror segments between stowed secondary mirror mount booms. Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com
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It’s a banner year for JWST at Goddard where the engineers and technicians are well into the final assembly and integration phase of the optical and science instrument portion of the colossal observatory that will revolutionize our understanding of the cosmos and our place it in. And they are moving along at a rapid pace.
JWST is the scientific successor to NASA’s 25 year old Hubble Space Telescope. It will become the biggest and most powerful space telescope ever built by humankind after it launches 30 months from now.
The flight structure for the backplane assembly truss that holds the mirrors and science instruments arrived at Goddard last August from Webb prime contractor Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems in Redondo Beach, California.
The painstaking assembly work to piece together the 6.5 meter diameter primary mirror began just before the Thanksgiving 2015 holiday, when the first unit was successfully installed onto the central segment of the mirror holding backplane assembly.
Technicians from Goddard and Harris Corporation of Rochester, New York then methodically populated the backplane assembly one-by-one, sequentially installing the last primary mirror segment in February followed by the single secondary mirror at the top of the massive trio of mirror mount booms and the tertiary and steering mirrors inside the Aft Optics System (AOS).
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Up close view shows cone shaped Aft Optics Subsystem (AOS) standing at center of Webb telescopes 18 segment primary mirror at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland on May 3, 2016. ISIM science instrument module will be installed inside truss structure below. Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com
Everything proceeded according to the meticulously choreographed schedule.
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“The mirror installation went exceeding well,” Durning told Universe Today.
“We have maintained our schedule the entire time for installing all 18 primary mirror segments. Then the center section, which is the cone in the center, comprising the Aft Optics System (AOS). We installed that two months ago. It went exceedingly well.”
The flight structure and backplane assembly serve as the $8.6 Billion Webb telescopes backbone.
The next step is to install the observatory’s quartet of state-of-the-art research instruments, a package known as the ISIM (Integrated Science Instrument Module), in the truss structure over the next few weeks.
“The telescope is fully integrated and we are now doing the final touches to get prepared to accept the instrument pack which will start happening later this week,” Durning explained.
The integrated optical mirror system and ISIM form Webb’s optical train.
“So we are just now creating the new integration entity called OTIS – which is a combination of the OTE (Optical Telescope Assembly) and the ISIM (Integrated Science Instrument Module) together.”
“That’s essentially the entire optical train of the observatory!” Durning stated.
“It’s the critical photon path for the system. So we will have that integrated over the next few weeks.”
The combined OTIS entity of mirrors, science module and backplane truss weighs 8786 lbs (3940 kg) and measures 28’3” (8.6m) x 8”5” (2.6 m) x 7”10“ (2.4 m).
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Gold coated primary mirrors newly exposed on spacecraft structure of NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope inside the massive clean room at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland on May 3, 2016. Aft optics subsystem stands upright at center of 18 mirror segments between stowed secondary mirror mount booms. Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com
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After OTIS is fully integrated, engineers and technicians will spend the rest of the year exposing it to environmental testing, adding the thermal blanketry and testing the optical train – before shipping the huge structure to NASA’s Johnson Space Center.
“Then we will send it to NASA’s Johnson Space Center (JSC) early next year to do some cryovac testing, and the post environmental test verification of the optical system,” During elaborated.
“In the meantime Northrup Grumman is finishing the fabrication of the sunshield and finishing the integration of the spacecraft components into their pieces.”
“Then late in 2017 is when the two pieces – the OTIS configuration and the sunshield configuration – come together for the first time as a full observatory. That happens at Northrup Grumman in Redondo Beach.”
Webb’s optical train is comprised of four different mirrors. We discussed the details of the mirrors, their installation, and testing.
“There are four mirror surfaces,” Durning said.
“We have the large primary mirror of 18 segments, the secondary mirror sitting on the tripod above it, and the center section looking like a pyramid structure [AOS] contains the tertiary mirror and the fine steering mirror.”
“The AOS comes as a complete package. That got inserted down the middle [of the primary mirror].”
Each of the 18 hexagonal-shaped primary mirror segments measures just over 4.2 feet (1.3 meters) across and weighs approximately 88 pounds (40 kilograms). They are made of beryllium, gold coated and about the size of a coffee table.
In space, the folded mirror structure will unfold into side by side sections and work together as one large 21.3-foot (6.5-meter) mirror, unprecedented in size and light gathering capability.
The lone rounded secondary mirror sits at the top of the tripod boom over the primary.
Quelle: UT
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Update: 24.05.2016

Science Instruments of NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope Successfully Installed

With surgical precision, two dozen engineers and technicians successfully installed the package of science instruments of the James Webb Space Telescope into the telescope structure. The package is the collection of cameras and spectrographs that will record the light collected by Webb’s giant golden mirror.
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In this rare view, the James Webb Space Telescope team crane lifted the science instrument package for installation into the telescope structure.
Credits: NASA/Chris Gunn
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This side shot shows a glimpse inside a massive clean room at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland where the James Webb Space Telescope team worked meticulously to complete the science instrument package installation.
Credits: NASA/Desiree Stover
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Inside the world’s largest clean room at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, the team crane-lifted the heavy science instrument package, lowered it into an enclosure on the back of the telescope, and secured it to the telescope.
“Our personnel were navigating a very tight space with very valuable hardware,” said Jamie Dunn, ISIM Manager (ISIM stands for ‘Integrated Science Instrument Module’). “We needed the room to be quiet so if someone said something we would be able to hear them. You listen not only for what other people say, but to hear if something doesn’t sound right.”
Before the procedure, the engineers and technicians had trained with test runs, computer modeling and a mock-up of the instrument package. This is a critical mission operation.
“This is a tremendous accomplishment for our worldwide team,” said John Mather, James Webb Space Telescope Project Scientist and Nobel Laureate. “There are vital instruments in this package from Europe and Canada as well as the US and we are so proud that everything is working so beautifully, 20 years after we started designing our observatory.”
Now that the instruments, mirrors, and telescope structure have been assembled, the combination will go through vibration and acoustic tests in order to ensure the whole science payload will withstand the conditions of launch.
“Designing and building something of this magnitude and complexity, with this amount of new technology, is far from routine,” said Dunn. “While every project has their share of ups and downs, the JWST team has had to work through a lot over the life of this project.  The character and dedication of this team is extraordinary, they’ve always recovered brilliantly, and they’ve made many personal sacrifices to get us to this point.”
The James Webb Space Telescope is the scientific successor to NASA's Hubble Space Telescope. It will be the most powerful space telescope ever built. Webb will study many phases in the history of our universe, including the formation of solar systems capable of supporting life on planets similar to Earth, as well as the evolution of our own solar system. It’s targeted to launch from French Guiana aboard an Ariane 5 rocket in 2018. Webb is an international project led by NASA with its partners, ESA (European Space Agency) and the Canadian Space Agency.
Quelle: NASA
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Update: 25.05.2016
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NASA's James Webb Space Telescope Reaches Major Milestone in Path to Launch with the Completion and Delivery of Optical Telescope Element
REDONDO BEACH, Calif., May 24, 2016 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Northrop Grumman Corporation's (NYSE: NOC) delivery of the fully integrated Optical Telescope Element (OTE) for NASA's James Webb Space Telescope marks another major milestone toward the October 2018 launch of the largest telescope ever built for space.
Northrop Grumman delivered the OTE in March to NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. Northrop Grumman is under contract to Goddard and leads the industry team that designs and develops the Webb Telescope, its sunshield and spacecraft. Northrop Grumman has completed the integration, testing and delivery of the telescope.
The Webb telescope's 18 hexagonal gold coated beryllium mirrors are supported by the telescope structure. The OTE hardware is made of the most precise graphite composite material system ever created, and contributes to the Webb Telescope's ability to provide an unprecedented exploratory view into the formation of the first stars and galaxies formed over 13.5 billion years ago.
A photo accompanying this release is available at
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The precision manufacturing and integration of the 21.5 foot telescope structure allow it to withstand the pressure and weight of the launch loads when stowed inside the 15-foot-diameter fairing of the Ariane 5 rocket. The cutting-edge design and transformer like capabilities of the telescope structure allow it to fold-up and fit inside the launch vehicle, and then deploy once the Webb telescope reaches its ultimate destination, one million miles away from earth. Furthermore, throughout travel and deployment, the telescope simultaneously maintains its dimensional stability while also operating at cryogenic or extremely cold temperatures, approximately 400 degrees below zero Fahrenheit. The telescope is the world's first deployable structure of this size and dimensional stability ever designed and built.
"The significant milestone of completing and delivering the OTE to NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, marks the completion of the telescope, and attests to the commitment of our hardworking team," said Scott Texter, telescope manager, Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems. "The telescope structure is one of the four main elements of this revolutionary observatory. The other elements include: the spacecraft, sunshield and the Integrated Science Instrument Module (ISIM), the latter of which is also complete. All of the elements require a collaborative team effort. We are all committed to the cause and excited about the upcoming phases of development as we prepare for launch in October 2018."
The next step in the progress of the telescope structure includes its integration with the ISIM to combine the OTE and ISIM, referred to as the OTIS. The OTIS will undergo vibration and acoustic testing by the end of this year, and then travel to NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston, to undergo optical testing at vacuum and operational cryogenic temperatures, around 40 kelvin. The OTIS will be delivered to Northrop Grumman's Space Park facility in Redondo Beach, towards the end of 2017, where it will be integrated with the sunshield and spacecraft.
The James Webb Space Telescope is the world's next-generation space observatory and successor to the Hubble Space Telescope. The most powerful space telescope ever built, the Webb Telescope will observe the most distant objects in the universe, provide images of the first galaxies formed and see unexplored planets around distant stars. The Webb Telescope is a joint project of NASA, the European Space Agency and the Canadian Space Agency.
Quelle: NORTHROP GRUMMAN CORPORATION
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Update: 19.07.2016
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NASA Seeks Picometer Accuracy
Team Develops New Tool to Assure Ultra-Stable Space Telescopes
Finding and characterizing dozens of Earth-like planets will require a super-stable space telescope whose optical components move or distort no more than a few picometers — a measurement smaller than the size of an atom. It also will require next-generation tools with which to assure that level of stability.
With NASA funding, a team of scientists at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, has begun working with an Arizona-based company to develop a highly sophisticated laboratory tool — a high-speed interferometer — capable of assuring picometer-level stability, a feat not yet accomplished.
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At a Goddard cleanroom, technicians unveil the James Webb Observatory’s segmented mirror in preparation for an alignment test this summer. The tool used to determine the segments’ alignment has inspired Goddard technologists to create another that offers picometer accuracy for next-generation observatories. (Photo Credit: Chris Gunn)
Credits: NASA/Chris Gunn
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To date, NASA has yet to launch an observatory with such demanding stability requirements. However, the scientific community is studying the possibility. Last year, the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy endorsed the High-Definition Space Telescope. It found that with proper stability and instrumentation, a 33-39 foot (10-12 meter) telescope could find and characterize Earth-like planets. Another study group evaluating a similar concept known as the Large Aperture Ultraviolet-Optical-Infrared Space Telescope, or LUVOIR, has reached similar conclusions.
“If the agency wants to search for and analyze Earth-like planets in other solar systems, the telescope it designs and builds will have to be orders of magnitude more stable than anything launched to date, including the James Webb Space Telescope,” said Babak Saif, a Goddard optics specialist.
New Tool to Assure Picometer-Level Stability
To help NASA reach this next level of precision, Saif and his Goddard colleague, Lee Feinberg, have begun working with 4-D Technology, of Tucson, Arizona, to develop the instrument.
Like all interferometers, the instrument would split light and then recombine it to measure tiny changes, including motion. With this tool, technicians would measure distortions in mirror segments, mounts, and other supporting telescope structure primarily during thermal, vibration, and other types of environmental testing.
Displacements and movement occur when materials used to build the optics shrink or expand due to wildly fluctuating temperatures, such as those experienced when traveling from Earth to the frigidity of space or when exposed to fierce launch forces more than six-and-a-half times the force of gravity.
If optics must conform to a specific prescription to carry out a challenging mission, even nearly imperceptible, atomic-size movements caused by thermal and dynamic changes could affect their ability to gather and focus enough light to distinguish a planet’s light from that of its parent star — to say nothing of scrutinizing that light to discern different atmospheric chemical signatures, Saif said.
Leveraging Instrument Developed for Webb Testing 
The effort leverages a similar instrument that 4-D Technology created to test the optics of the Webb Observatory, which will be the most powerful observatory ever built once it launches in October 2018. From its orbit 930,000 miles from Earth, it will study every phase in the history of our universe, from the first luminous glows after the Big Bang to the evolution of our own solar system. Among many other firsts, Webb will carry a 21-foot primary mirror made of 18 separate ultra-lightweight beryllium segments that unfold and adjust to shape after launch.
To carry out its job, the Webb Observatory also must be highly stable. However, the movement of its materials is measured in nanometers — the unit of measure that scientists use to determine the size of atoms and molecules.
“What we did was measure the surface of each mirror after each environmental test to see if we could see changes,” Saif said. “I started questioning, what if something behind the mirror moves. Just measuring the surface isn’t enough.”
To assure nanometer-level stability — 4-D Technology worked with the Webb Observatory team at Goddard to develop a dynamic laser interferometer that instantaneously measured displacements in the mirror segments as well as those in their mounts and other structural components, despite vibration, noise, or air turbulence.
“The high-speed interferometer actually enables you to do nanometer dynamics for large structures,” Saif said. “This is absolutely new. The instrument is four orders of magnitude more sensitive than other measurement tools and it measures the full surface of the mirrors.” That instrument now is used in laboratories, manufacturing areas, clean rooms, and environmental-testing chambers operated by the project’s major contractors.
LUVOIR-Type Mission Ups the Ante
However, a next-generation LUVOIR-type mission will demand even greater stability, and consequently an instrument capable of quickly measuring picometer displacements, which are two orders of a magnitude smaller than an atom. Although it is possible to calculate picometer movements with existing tools, the physics are non-linear and the resulting calculations might not accurately reflect what actually is going on, Saif said.
“Every subsystem needs to be designed on a picometer level and then tested at picometers,” Saif explained. “You need to measure what you’re interested in and the instrument needs to calculate these motions quickly so that you can understand the dynamics.”
The team is developing the tool with $1.65 million in funding from NASA’s Cosmic Origins Strategic Astrophysics Technology program. It expects to complete the work in four years.
Quelle: NASA
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Update: 24.09.2016
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A Mechanical Harmony to NASA's Webb Telescope Sunshield

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NASA's Webb telescope sunshield, opened for inspection. In this photo, engineers and scientists examine the sunshield layers on this full-sized test unit.
Credits: Northrop Grumman Corporation/Alex Evers

NASA's James Webb Space Telescope has a giant custom-built, kite-shaped sunshield driven by mechanics that will fold and unfold with a harmonious synchronicity 1 million miles from Earth.

 

Like a car, many mechanical pieces in the Webb telescope's sunshield will work together to open it from its stored folded position in the rocket that will carry it into space.

 

According to car manufacturers, a single car can have about 30,000 parts, counting every part down to the smallest screws. Like getting all of the parts in a car to operate together, the mechanical parts of the sunshield have to work in the same way.

 

The sunshield support structure contains well over 7,000 flight parts, including springs, bearings, pulleys, magnets, etc. In addition, the sunshield has hundreds of custom fabricated pieces. Most mechanical pieces were developed exclusively for the sunshield, with a few from existing designs.

 

There are about 150 mechanism assemblies that have to function properly to fully deploy the sunshield. Within those mechanism assemblies, there are numerous small parts that work in harmony. The smaller parts include about 140 release actuators, approximately 70 hinge assemblies, eight deployment motors, scores of bearings, springs and gears, about 400 pulleys and 90 cables. These mechanisms release the sunshield membranes from their folded and stowed launch configuration, deploy the supporting structures, and unfold and tension the membrane layers. In addition there are hundreds of magnets and clips to manage the membrane shape and volume during deployment, and many sensors to tell engineers that each deployment step has been completed.

 

"The process of opening or deploying the sunshield in space is a multi-step process," said James Cooper, Webb telescope sunshield manager at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.

Each step of the deployment will be manually initiated from engineers on Earth. That sequence runs automatically to its completion (with automated stoppage in case of a fault), then the system waits for the next command.

 

It will be like conducting an orchestra from a million miles away. "Thousands of components work together to deploy the sunshield," Cooper said.

The mechanisms that separate each of the sunshield's five layers do so with precision. Near the center of the sunshield each layer is separated by only a couple inches, but the layer-to-layer gap increases as you move away from the center, to about a foot between layers around the edges. It will take nearly two days to fully deploy the sunshield system when in orbit.

The Webb telescope state-of-the-art composite structure that supports the sunshield “operates with Swiss watch-like precision," said Paul Geithner, Webb telescope technical manager at Goddard. "The engineering of the sunshield is an intricate system with a simple but not easy-to-do purpose."

 

The stowed sunshield fits inside of a 5-meter (16.4-foot) rocket fairing, folded up against the sides of the telescope. When deployed in space it’s about the size of a tennis court (about 21 meters by 14.5 meters, or 68.9 feet by 47.5 feet).

 

"There has never been a composite structure this large and complex (for a NASA mission)," Cooper said.

Quelle: NASA


Tags: Astronomie 

2815 Views

Samstag, 24. September 2016 - 20:45 Uhr

Planet Erde - Zeitreise in ein friedliches Syrien vor 40 Jahren

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14.06.2013 / Update 24.09.2016

Nachfolgende Aufnahmen von Rundreise in Syrien vor 40 Jahren, welche uns gerade in diesen Wochen bewusst macht, was Frieden bedeutet! 

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Wüstenlandschaft in Syrien

Wüstenlandschaft in Syrien

Syrien

Felsenkloster in Syrien

Felsenkloster in Syrien

bei Damaskus

Damaskus

Damaskus

Damaskus

Damaskus

Glasbläser bei der Arbeit in Damaskus

Damaskus

Damaskus

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Fotos: ©-hjkc


Tags: Syrien Damaskus Planet Erde Syria 

3573 Views

Samstag, 24. September 2016 - 19:02 Uhr

Astronomie - Helle Feuerkugel über England

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ctesm36wgaa06vo

uk-meteor-a

uk-meteor-aa

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Video der hellen Feuerkugel hier: 

http://youtu.be/RZvvmBTq7gE?a -

Quelle; UK Meteor Network


1104 Views

Samstag, 24. September 2016 - 17:45 Uhr

UFO-Forschung - The 1975 UFO events over Strategic Air Command Bases

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One of the more interesting UFO events from the 1970s involved unknown aircraft making incursions into US Air Force base controlled areas. Most of the information comes from message traffic and other military documents from that time frame and it describes the USAF being concerned about “unknown helicopters” attempting to infiltrate air base security. UFO proponents have interpreted these events as not involving helicopters but intelligently controlled craft of non-human origin.

I am aware that there are some witness statements in UFO archives made years after these events. For the purpose of this article, I will only address the actual official documents because they are likely to be the most accurate and not tainted by witness beliefs or faded memories.

The Loring base encounter

The first base to experience these incursions involved an isolated USAF base near the Canadian border in the northern part of Maine. Thanks to Barry Greenwood, I was able to obtain the specific messages documented in the book “Clear Intent”. The mes- sages are not always clear and some of it is confusing. Still, I was able to reconstruct a rough time line of events:1

October 27, 1975 - A Security patrolman, Staff Sergeant Lewis, observed an aircraft that appeared to be flying low over the nuclear weapons storage facility near the northern perimeter of the base. He observed it until 2015. After informing the tower, radar oper- ators reported tracking a target 10-13 miles East-northeast of the base between 2050 and 2103.

October 28, 1975 - At 1945 EST, the unknown aircraft was again seen by Lewis, and several other security personnel, about 1km north of the weapons storage area. It was observed until 2145 EST. The lights on the aircraft sometimes went out and witnesses reported seeing a flashing strobe and red navigation lights. A Maine National Guard helicopter was sent to intercept but they were unable to locate the aircraft.

October 29, 1975 - At 0050 EST, another sighting was made to the north of the base. The first observer saw it for about a minute. The second observer heard the report by the first observer and then saw the aircraft to the north. He saw it for 5-10 minutes until it disappeared below the tree-line. No radar contact was made. At 0300 EST (0800Z) another sighting was made. Again the helicopter was sent aloft and, again, they were unable to locate the intruder. According to the message, despite seeing both the helicopter and unknown, ground personnel were unable to direct the alert helicopter to intercept the intruder. The helicopter could not see the unknown from their position.

October 31/November 1, 1975 - Between 2314 and 0140 EST (1 November) three sightings were made:

  1. Personnel at a location 4 miles to the northwest of the base saw a “helicopter” with a red rotating beacon apparently hovering over the northwest section of the base at 2314. The aircraft flashed a white light for 4-5 seconds. It disappeared around 2329.

  2. The second event involved two security patrolmen sometime between 0001 and 0015 EST. One at east gate saw a rapidly mov- ing aircraft heading west. They reported hearing the noise of the rotor, saw the tail rotor, and also saw a red rotating light. The second sighting was from the west gate, which saw the same aircraft.

  3. At 0140, several personnel in the tower reported hearing a helicopter but never saw anything visually.

An alert helicopter was also launched that night but they were never able to identify any unknown aircraft when vectored to the locations of these sightings.

Sighting analysis

It is important to note that the messages have little in the way of details. Directions are missing, for the most part, and there are no witness statements to evaluate. We are left guessing about specifics.

The first thing one has to evaluate is the weather conditions. The message traffic indicates that sky conditions were clear on the nights the observations were made but this is not quite the case. Weather observations from nearby Caribou, Maine2 were:

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I think it is important to note that the two nights that the “helicopter” was not observed, the evening of the 29th and 30th, the weather was Mostly Cloudy/Overcast (29th) and Overcast/Light snow showers (30th). This indicates that either the “helicopter” could only fly under clear skies or the “helicopter” was something that was being obscured by the clouds.

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This brings us to the possible explanation that the “helicopter” may have been actu- ally astronomical objects being misperceived. The first night’s observations involved sky conditions which were less than ideal. There were clouds in the region, which could result in astronomical objects “disappearing” suddenly. It is important to note that Loring AFB is in an isolated portion of the country where the skies are dark. Even today, the conditions where the weapons storage was are equivalent to my NH dark sky site. Low clouds tend to be black at night until they appear over a lighted area like a city. To a casual observer witnessing stars disappear behind clouds, they can appear to vanish without warning.

So, what could SSGT Lewis have seen that triggered all of this. Lewis reported that the “helicopter” was near the northern perimeter. The message also states “An un- identified A/C had been sighted after dark at an altitude of approximately 100 meters immediately north of the Loring, ME AFB northern perimeter”.3 What is defined as the northern perimeter? If it is the northern limit of the base, it could have been anything from northwest to northeast.4 A clue of what direction the object may have been observed in is the statement by the radar operators that it was to the East-northeast. Did Lewis observe the object to the northeast? It seems possible and there was an interesting astronomical object in that direction.

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Around 1920 EST, the planet Mars had risen in the East-northeast. At 1945, Mars was 2-3 degrees over the horizon at an azimuth of about 58 degrees. For observers on the ground, it would appear to be just above the trees and very low. At magnitude -0.86, it would have been brighter than other stars in the sky at the time and its orange hue would make it stand out. It could have been misinterpreted as an aircraft that was approaching the weapons storage area. At this point the clouds might have played a role and obscured Mars. Mars would have disappeared. The radar operators, being asked if there were any targets in the area, might have found one that appeared to be in the same direction. This could have been any kind of airborne object (possibly a large bird) or just a false return due to atmospheric conditions.

One would think that the observers would be familiar with Mars but there are several factors that could have played a role. The first was that EST went into effect on the 26th. Prior to that date, the planet would have risen an hour later. The two nights prior to this event, skies were either overcast or scattered clouds. The change in time could have misled the observers into thinking that this was something different than what they normally saw at this time.

The repetition of the events the next night tends to point towards an astronomical object as well. Why did the “helicopter” appear at the same time, and in the same direction, as the night before?

The “helicopter” appeared to disappear after two hours, The observers then saw the intruder again at 0050. An Airman first class re- ported seeing the object from the weapons security area access point. According to him, it was showing multiple lights (red, green, and white). He lost sight of it after about a minute. Another airmen also reported seeing the intruder for a few minutes prior to it going below the tree line. This observation could have been the bright star Vega, which set in the North-northwest at 0130 EST. At 0050 EST, it was 3 degrees above the horizon.

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The last sighting that morning was at 0300. Very little information is available other than it was visible over the weapons storage area from CSC (central security control). The direction implies a Northeastern direction. Venus had risen around 0200 EST and was about 9 degrees above the eastern horizon at 0300 EST. One has to remember, it was believed the “helicopter” was coming from Canada and it could have been believed that the rising Venus was coming from Canada preparing to intrude again. The helicopter was sent up again to intercept and, once again, failed to find the intruder.

The nights of the 29th and 30th were cloudy and no more helicopters were seen. However, on the 31st, the skies did clear and the “helicopter” returned. The first sighting at 2314, was made 4 miles northwest of the base from an old Nike Missile battery called the Blotner site.5 A law enforcement officer saw a UFO hovering over the northern perimeter of the base. From his location, he would have to look towards the southeast to see the UFO in that location. Rising in the southeast was the bright star Sirius. No personnel on base appear to have noticed this “helicopter” even when told where to look. This tends to confirm the “helicopter” was much farther away from the observer and was probably Sirius.

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The second event that night was a rapidly moving aircraft that was seen at both the east and west gates of the base by security per- sonnel. One of the observers felt they saw a tail rotor and red rotating beacon. They also heard the sound of the main rotor. It was described as moving “at a high rate of speed”. Despite the fact that this “helicopter” flew over the base from east to west, nobody else seems to have noticed it and the radar missed this “incursion”. It is possible that they may have just seen a bright meteor.

The third event involved unidentified airmen, who heard the sound of a helicopter near the control tower. No visual observations were made. This may have been a case of the airmen hearing a noise and thought it was a helicopter. Without the visual component, it is hard to say if there was any physical object. It is possible they heard the alert helicopter. There seems to be no way to confirm this.

More helicopters?

Ithink it is important to note that several of these observations involved the witnesses thinking they heard the noise of a helicopter. Either they heard such a noise or, by the power of suggestion, believed they saw a helicopter. Remember, the security guards were at a heightened state of alert after the first night. They were probably told to be aware of helicopters intruding. When told to look for helicopters, the airmen probably felt that the objects they saw were helicopters and gave them “helicopter-like” characteristics, which would include the perception that they may have heard the noise of a helicopter.

In his book, UFOs: The public deceived, Phil attempted to link a mysterious unmarked helicopter that was flying from Rockwood, Maine as a possible source for the intrusions.6 According to his sources, the helicopter was possibly carrying photographic equip- ment. Klass states that this was documented in a Loring AFB memo that discussed a phone conversation on November 14, 1975, that was released to UFOlogists. I did not find it in the documents I acquired on line and from Barry Greenwood (although I may have missed it). Klass pursued this by talking to residents of the Rockwood area, who gave descriptions of secretive operations by the crew and support team. Assuming his information is correct, there could be a possibility that this helicopter might have been involved but it seems unlikely. Rockwood is roughly 120 miles to the SW of Loring AFB and it seems likely that the helicopter was flying in the general area of Rockwood and not as far away as Loring AFB.

Klass also suggested that the object might be astronomical in nature. As evidence, he presented some news stories from Bangor about civilian patrolmen misidentifying the star Sirius as another one of those “helicopters” in mid-November. I found the Bangor papers mentioned by Klass on line but the stories are not clear as to what the source was except for a professor, who identified the sighting on a subsequent night as Sirius.7 I would not be surprised if Venus or Mars may also have been misidentified. It is interesting topointoutthattheBangorpaperonthe17threportedthatLoringAFBtrackedthatUFOonradar!8 ThisindicatestheLoringradar operators had difficulty differentiating between contacts generated by physical objects and false returns.

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Alert!

Because of the perceived intrusions at Loring AFB, the USAF Strategic Air Command issued an alert to all the northern tier SAC

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bases on the evening of 29 October. Security teams were asked to be aware of possible helicopter intrusions into their airspace.

It is no surprise that security personnel, who were now asked to be more attentive, would produce reports of potential intruders.

Wursmith AFB

At 2220 EST , on 30 October 1975, Wursmith AFB reported an unknown aircraft had been seen approaching the base over the

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back gate and was seen from the motor pool. The transmitted message stated the observation was made from the back gate

and they saw the unidentified aircraft over the base. Local Radar reported tracking some aircraft and one appeared to be near the Weapons Storage Area (WSA). A tanker in the area reportedly had tracked several unknown aircraft in the area using their radar. However, none of these contacts (the ones identified by the tanker) appeared to be in the vicinity of the weapons storage area.

We don’t have much in the way of information regarding this sighting. We are told it was seen over “the back gate”. Exactly which direction that was is hard to say because there appears to be several possible “back gates”. The one that seems most likely is the one

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near the WSA, which was on the northern side of the base. That gate was to the North-northwest.

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The specifics of the sighting are hard to follow since the original OPREP-3 form seemed to be contradicted by the actual message that was transmitted. Because OPREP-3s need to be transmitted within a certain time frame, the initial report can sometimes be inaccurate. Therefore, I would consider the message to be the more accurate representation of what transpired. Still, it leaves a lot to be desired as far as specifics go. If the message was correct and the observer was at the back gate looking towards the base we have different directions than somebody seeing the object rise above the back gate. The exact location of the “back gate” is some- thing that is hard to determine but it appears to be near the northwest port of the base. This means they would have been looking in an East-southeast to South-southeast direction. If we are looking for an astronomical source, the bright star Rigel was rising in the East-Southeast and Mars was to the East-Northeast.

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The source of the guard’s sighting may have not been astronomical. The message mentions that it is believed that the guard saw a KC-135 tanker flying in the area.12 This aircraft also had some sightings of unknown aircraft.

Because of the visual sighting by the base guard, the base asked for the KC-135 to help identify it. They reported tracking a target on their radar. It was 8-1/2 miles to the northeast of the base, over Lake Michigan, but no visual sighting was related to this contact. Twenty minutes later, the plane reported a visual on two aircraft “in trail” to the northeast of the base heading south at about 150 knots. These “aircraft” appeared to leave the area to the southeast and return to the region of the base. After about 20-25 minutes, the plane lost visual contact as the formation flew off to the southeast.13

Klass noted that the tanker aircraft’s radar was designed for navigation and not tracking other aircraft.14 He suggested that the aircraft supposedly seen by the tanker radar was probably a large ship in the waters of Lake Huron. The visual sightings are un- confirmed and could have been any lights or aircraft in the region. It is important to note that nobody on base saw these visuals approach the base.

It appears that the Wursmith AFB sighting from the ground were probably a misidentification of a star or aircraft. The KC-135 sight- ings, while interesting, probably were just a misidentified radar target and unrelated sightings of other aircraft in the area. The bottom line is there really does not appear to be much to this sighting but further west there were more sightings of suspicious objects near nuclear weapons.

Malmstrom AFB

About a week later, Malmstrom AFB in Montana, had a four day period where all sorts of aerial intruders were seen by security

15 personnel on the ground. The NORAD command director’s log recorded the events :

7 Nov 75 (1035Z) Received a call from the 341 st Strategic Air Command Post (SAC CP) saying that the following missile locations reported seeing a large red to orange to yellow object: M-1, L-3, LIMA, and L-6. The general object location would be 10 miles south of Moore, Mon- tana, and 20 miles east of Buffalo, Montana. Commander Deputer [sic] for Operations (DO) informed.

7 Nov 75 (1203Z) SAC advised that the LCF at Harlow, Montana, observed an object which emitted a light which illuminated the site driveway.

7 Nov 75 (1319Z) SAC advised K-1 saw a very bright object to their east is now southeast of them and they are looking at it with 10 x 50 binoculars. Object seems to have lights (several) on it, but no distinct pattern. The orange/gold object overhead also has small lights on it. SAC also advises female civilian reports having seen an object bearing south from her position 6 miles west of Lewiston.

7 Nov 75 (1327Z) L-1 reports that the object to their northeast seems to be issuing a black object from it, tubular in shape. In all this time, surveillance has not been able to detect any sort of track except for known traffic.

7 Nov 75 (1355Z) K-1 and L-1 report that as the sun rises, so do the objects they have visual.
7 Nov 75 (1429Z) From SAC CP: As the sun rose, the UFOs disappeared. Commander and DO notified.

8 Nov 75 (0635Z) - A security camper team at K-4 reported UFO with white lights, one red light 50 yards behind white light. Personnel at K-1 seeing same object.

8 Nov 75 (0645Z) - Height personnel picked up objects 10-13,000 feet, Track J330, EKLB 0648, 18 knots, 9,500 feet. Objects as many as seven, as few as two A/C.

8 Nov 75 (0735Z) - J330 unknown 0753. Stationary/seven knots/12,000. One (varies seven objects). None, no possibility, EKLB 3746, two F-106, GTF, SCR 0754. NCOC notified.

8 Nov 75 (0820Z) - Lost radar contact, fighters broken off at 0825, looking in area of J331 (another height finder contact). 8 Nov 75 (0905Z) - From SAC CP: L-sites had fighters and objects; fighters did not get down to objects.

8 Nov 75 (0915Z) - From SAC CP: From four different points: Observed objects and fighters; when fighters arrived in the area, the lights went out; when fighters departed, the lights came back on; to NCOC.

8 Nov 75 (0953Z) - From SAC CP: L-5 reported object increased in speed - high velocity, raised in altitude and now cannot tell the object from stars. To NCOC.

8 Nov 75 (1105Z) - From SAC CP: E-1 reported a bright white light (site is approximately 60 nautical miles north of Lewistown). NCOC notified.

9 Nov 75 (0305Z) - SAC CP called and advised SAC crews at Sites L-1, L-6 and M-1 observing UFO. Object yellowish bright round light 20 miles north of Harlowton, 2 to 4,000 feet.

9 Nov 75 (0320Z) - SAC CP reports UFO 20 miles southeast of Lewiston, orange white disc object. 24th NORAD Region surveillance check- ing area. Surveillance unable to get height check.

9 Nov 75 (0320Z) - FAA Watch Supervisor reported he had five air carriers vicinity of UFO, United Flight 157 reported seeing meteor, “arc welder’s blue” in color. SAC CP advised, sites still report seeing object stationary.

9 Nov 75 (0348) - SAC CP confirms L-1, sees object, a mobile security team has been directed to get closer and report.

9 Nov 75 (0629Z) - SAC CP advises UFO sighting reported around 0305Z. Cancelled the flight security team from Site L-1, checked area and all secure, no more sightings.

10 Nov 75 (0215Z) - Received a call from SAC CP. Report UFO sighting from site K-1 around Harlowton area. Surveillance checking area with height finder.

10 Nov 75 (0153Z) - Surveillance report unable to locate track that would correlate with UFO sighted by K-1.

Analysis

There is a lot to swallow in these sightings. The first thing is to check the weather for the four nights in question. These are the observations of Great Falls and Lewiston.

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his indicates that the weather was clear enough that astronomical sources might have come into play. Are these observations of astronomical objects? A clue seems to be the statement at 1429Z, on November 7th, “As the sun rose, the UFOs disappeared”18 and at 1355Z, on the same date, “..as the sun rises, so do the objects..”. 19 These comments should be red flags for any UFO investigator that what they are dealing with are astronomical objects.

The argument against astronomical objects is that there were radar contacts. However, this is no guarantee that the radar contacts were the same as the visual sightings. A lot of things generate radar contacts other than actual physical objects. For the purposes of this analysis, I am considering the radar contacts not the same as the visual and they are probably anomalous in nature. One must note that many of the radar contacts were slow traveling indicating the might have been weather related or driven by the wind.

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On the morning of 7 November, the first observation at 1035Z (0335 MST) is important. From the sites M-1, L-3, and L-6, which were in the vicinity of Buffalo and Moore Montana. A direction of south of Moore and east of Buffalo indicates that the direction was towards the East or East-southeast. In the east, was the planet Venus at magnitude -4.4! It had risen shortly after 0300 MST. At that magnitude, it is possible for Venus to produce enough light to create shadows and appear to illuminate a driveway.

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At 1327Z, L-1 was looking towards the northeast. The bright star Arcturus was in the East and it was probably scintillating giving the impression that something might have been ejected. It is important to note that clouds started to enter the area and may have been the “black object” seen near Arcturus. They also used the word “seems”, which is subjective term indicating that it might have been a simple misperception by the observer.

What this indicates is the first night’s reports were probably due to the planet Venus and, possibly, the star Arcturus.

On 7/8 November, airmen started reporting a UFO around 0635Z (2335 MST on the 7th). Directions are hard to come by in this report. However, the bright star Sirius had risen around 0615Z in the southeastern sky. By 0635, it was in the East-southeast about 2 degrees above the horizon. One indicator that the object was at a low angle of elevation is this statement at 0905Z, where the Lima sites were stating that the jets did not get down to the low altitude of the UFOs they were seeing. At 0905Z, Sirius was at an elevation of about twenty degrees in the South. At 1105Z, E-1 reported seeing a bright light. No other specifics for this but Venus had risen an hour before. Based on the previous night’s sightings, it is very possible that Venus was the culprit for this observation.

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The next night (November 8/9) sightings were visible from the Lima and Mike sites again. By 2000 MST, they reported sighting a light north of the town, Harlowtown, which was south of the observers. High in the southern sky was the bright planet Jupiter. Fomalhaut was also visible to the south but it is not a very bright first magnitude star. The subsequent sighting is towards the Southeast of Lewistown. About this time, a United Flight reported seeing a bright meteor. However, this was not the same object as they reported it as being stationary. Mars was above the Eastern horizon. This may have been the source of the stationary “Orange white disc object”.

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There was one more set of sightings on the night of the 9/10th November. Both reports were around 1900 MST. All we know is that K-1 reported seeing a UFO. Jupiter was in the Southeast. Considering the fact that most UFOs were being reported in the East and Southeast, it seems probable that Jupiter was the source of the UFO report.

The UFO reports ceased at this point. There may have been several reasons:

  1. They learned that what they were seeing were astronomical objects

  2. Weather began to interfere

  3. New personnel took over the night shifts

  4. The moon, which was waxing, began to wash out the sky. While the objects were the same brightness, the lack of a dark sky made the objects appear less prominent.

There are plenty of clues that what was seen on most of the nights/mornings were probably astronomical objects. Like Loring, the observers could see the planes fly by the UFOs but the pilots did not see them. While there were radar contacts, none of these were confirmed to be the same as the visual sightings and the planes could not locate these targets either.

Minot AFS

The final gem in the 1975 SAC flyover wave, is this report:

10 Nov 75 (1125Z) - UFO sighting reported by Minot Air Force Station, a bright star-like object in the west, moving east, about the size of a car. First seen approximately 1015Z. Approximately 1120Z, the object passed over the radar station, 1,000 feet to 2,000 feet high, no noise heard. Three people from the site or local area saw the object. NCOC notified.20

A star-like object moving towards the east is indicative of a bright satellite. The largest satellites in orbit at the time was the aban- doned Skylab and Salyut space stations. While the Salyut station was not in the region, Skylab was. In fact, it made a pass over the central United States around 1125Z.

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Using Heavensat and Skylab Two-line elements, I came up with this plot of Skylab’s path across the sky from Minot, North Dakota. It came out of the Earth’s shadow around 1125Z to the South-southeast of Minot AFS and then moved East. Its maximum altitude was about 20 degrees. Ted Molczan, using a database of skylab observations, determined it would have had an approximate magnitude around +2. He also pointed out that this was a rough approximation and he could not rule out the possibility that it might have been brighter, or fainter, than this estimate.18 Most satellite observers are aware that a certain part of the satellite can create glints and bright reflections if the sun strikes their surface in the correct way. Even if it were only magnitude +2, the object was pretty bright in that region of the sky. Venus was the only bright object that was visible to the southeast. All other stars in Skylab’s path were not as bright or only as bright as +2.

We don’t know the locations of the observers who reported this but if they were to the north of the radar site (Minot AFS was south of Minot AFB), Skylab would have appeared to have flown over the radar station at a low altitude. The only problem is the report that the object was in the west at 1015Z. One must recall that the entry is based upon a verbal report and there may be errors. It may have been that a UFO was seen in the west at 1015Z and then another UFO was seen at 1120Z moving east. At 1015Z, the planet Jupiter was beginning to set in the west (setting around 1100Z). The two sightings could have been merged into one.

The highly trained observer argument

Proponents will complain that highly trained individuals could never mistake planets and stars for UFOs but they would be wrong for several reasons. The history of UFO reports has shown that “trained” individuals, like police officers and pilots, can, and do, mistake planets and stars for something exotic. Additionally, calling security personnel “highly trained”, is not entirely accurate. They are highly trained in maintaining security and doing their job related to that. However, they are not “highly trained” in under- standing astronomical objects or identifying lights in the sky at night. In my opinion, these airmen were doing their jobs as best they could because they were reporting potential threats. Unfortunately, their imaginations may have gotten the best of them and they transformed astronomical objects into something sinister/exotic.

Conclusions

There seems to be a good possibility that all of this started with a simple misperception of the planet Mars. Once the security personnel believed that Mars was a helicopter, it did not take much convincing to alert the upper chain of command. As other bases were alerted to “helicopters” possibly making intrusions, their guards started to see any “nocturnal light” as potential threats. Planets, stars, and satellites appear to explain a good portion of these sightings.

Quelle: SUNlite 5/2016


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