Sonntag, 9. Oktober 2016 - 20:15 Uhr

Astronomie - NASA-Kepler liefert Big Picture des Kometen 67P


This animation shows a series of 15 images of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko taken by NASA's Kepler.
This animation shows a series of 15 images of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko taken by NASA's Kepler space telescope from Sept. 17 through Sept. 18. Image credit: The Open University/C. Snodgrass and SETI Institute/E. Ryan
› Full image and caption

On Sept. 30, the European Space Agency concluded its Rosetta mission and the study of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. During the final month of the mission, NASA's planet-hunting Kepler spacecraft had a unique opportunity to provide a "big picture" view of the comet as it was unobservable from Earth. Ground-based telescopes could not see comet 67P, because the comet's orbit placed it in the sky during daylight hours.

From Sept. 7 through Sept. 20, the Kepler spacecraft, operating in its K2 mission, fixed its gaze on comet 67P. From the distant vantage point of Kepler, the spacecraft could observe the comet's core and tail. The long-range global view of Kepler complements the close-in view of the Rosetta spacecraft, providing context for the high-resolution investigation Rosetta performed as it descended closer and closer to the comet.

During the two-week period of study, Kepler took a picture of the comet every 30 minutes. The animation shows a period of 29.5 hours of observation from Sept. 17 through Sept. 18. The comet is seen passing through Kepler's field of view from top right to bottom left, as outlined by the diagonal strip. The white dots represent stars and other regions in space studied during K2's tenth observing campaign.

As a comet travels through space, it sheds a tail of gas and dust. A comet's activity level can be obtained by measuring the reflected sunlight. Analyzing the Kepler data, scientists will be able to determine the amount of mass lost each day as comet 67P travels through the solar system.

NASA Ames manages the Kepler and K2 missions for NASA's Science Mission Directorate. NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California, managed Kepler mission development. Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corporation operates the flight system with support from the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics at the University of Colorado in Boulder.

Quelle: NASA



Sonntag, 9. Oktober 2016 - 19:45 Uhr

Raumfahrt - ISRO plant Crew-Kapsel Rettungstest



Pad Abort to be held at SHARlaunch pad in a month or two


The Crew Module Atmospheric Re-entry Experiment which was test-flown by the ISRO two years ago.— Photo: Thulasi Kakkat


The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) is gearing up to conduct a critical ‘crew bailout test’ to see how fast and effectively the crew module of an intended space mission could punch out from the spacecraft in the event of an emergency.

The test, known as Pad Abort, will be held at the launch pad of SHAR in a month or two, Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC) Director K. Sivan told The Hindu in an interaction on the sidelines of the ongoing expo in connection with the World Space Week celebrations at Ernakulathappan ground here.


The test of the technology to eject the crew module to safety forms part of a gamut of critical technologies being developed by the space agency as it awaits the nod from the government for the ambitious ‘human in space’ programme. “While the overall aim is to master the technology that aims at rescuing the crew if a launch is aborted at any stage, the present test will try out the scenario of aborting a launch at the pad itself,” he said.

Quelle: The Hindu



Sonntag, 9. Oktober 2016 - 19:30 Uhr

Raumfahrt - Paul Allen’s Stratolaunch teams up (again) with Orbital ATK on air-launched rockets



Image: Stratolaunch with Orbital ATK Pegasus XL rockets
An artist’s rendering shows the Stratolaunch twin-fuselage airplane with Orbital ATK’s Pegasus XL air-launch vehicles slung underneath. (Credit: Vulcan Aerospace)


Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen’s Stratolaunch Systems has renewed its partnership with Orbital ATK on a platform that will make use of the world’s biggest airplane to launch rockets into orbit.

Allen started up Stratolaunch five years ago, and since then the venture has been developing a 385-foot-wide, twin-fuselage airplane inside a giant hangar at Mojave Air and Space Port in California. The company, which is part of Allen’s Vulcan Aerospace group, aims to start launching payloads by 2020.

Stratolaunch teamed up with Orbital Sciences Corp. back in 2012, with the idea of having Orbital supply rockets that would be launched from the airplane in mid-flight. Since then, Orbital merged with ATK, and Stratolaunch had to rethink its partnerships amid the changing market for launch services.

Today, the two companies announced that they’ve forged a multi-year, production-based partnership, under which Orbital ATK will provide its Pegasus XL rockets for Stratolaunch’s system.

The rockets will be able to send satellites weighing up to 1,000 pounds into orbit, operating from a wide range of locations and targeting any orbital inclination. Artwork released by Stratolaunch suggests that as many as three rockets can be loaded aboard the airplane in a single flight.


Pegasus rockets already have been used for 42 space launch missions that have put more than 80 satellites into orbit, including NASA’s NuSTAR and IRIS probes. They’re typically launched from Orbital ATK’s carrier airplane, a modified Lockheed L-1011 TriStar.

“We are energized by this evolved partnership with Orbital ATK,” Jean Floyd, CEO of Stratolaunch Systems and executive director of Vulcan Aerospace, said in today’s news release. “Orbital ATK is the world’s most experienced air-launch service provider, and we are proud to leverage that expertise and progressive approach in pursuit of our shared goal of convenient and affordable commercial access to low Earth orbit.”

Scott Lehr, president of Orbital ATK’s Flight Systems Group, said his company is “excited by this collaboration and sees it as a positive first step in a long-term partnership.”

Floyd, a former executive at Orbital ATK, took over at Vulcan Aerospace just last month. When that personnel shift was announced, Allen said Orbital ATK was a “valued partner.” However, Vulcan has suggested there may be other launch partners as Stratolaunch moves into its operational phase.

Quelle: GeekWire


Update: 9.10.2016


Stratolaunch to launch Pegasus rockets


WASHINGTON — Stratolaunch Systems will use the giant aircraft the company is currently developing to launch Pegasus rockets from Orbital ATK as part of a “multi-year” partnership, the two companies announced Oct. 6.

Under the agreement, Orbital ATK will provide “multiple” Pegasus XL rockets, currently launched by its own Lockheed L-1011 aircraft, to Stratolaunch Systems, which will launch them from its own aircraft. An illustration released by Stratolaunch showed three Peagsus XL rockets suspended under the wing of the aircraft.

The companies declined to release details of agreement, including how many Pegasus vehicles Orbital ATK will provide or over what time period. A Vulcan Aerospace spokesperson said the company remains “committed to being fully operational by the end of the decade.”

The announcement suggested the Peagsus XL deal was the first step in a larger partnership between the companies, although the companies did not disclose details about further cooperation. “Orbital ATK is excited by this collaboration and sees it as a positive first step in a long-term partnership,” Scott Lehr, president of Orbital ATK’s Flight Systems Group, said in a statement. Both companies declined to elaborate on what future steps in the partnership might include.

The two companies had previously collaborated on a much larger rocket concept, called Thunderbolt, which would also be flown from Stratolaunch’s plane. That vehicle would have used solid-propellant lower stages provided by Orbital ATK and an upper stage powered by an Aerojet Rocketdyne RL10 engine.

Stratolaunch quietly shelved that effort, though, and indicated since last year it was looking an various options for a smaller vehicle better suited to the growing smallsat launch market. The company had not made any announcements about vehicle selections prior to the Orbital ATK announcement.

“Orbital ATK is the world’s most experienced air-launch service provider, and we are proud to leverage that expertise and progressive approach in pursuit of our shared goal of convenient and affordable commercial access to low Earth orbit,” said Jean Floyd, chief executive of Stratolaunch Systems and a former Orbital executive whose duties there included managing the Pegasus program, in the statement.

Floyd also serves as executive director of Vulcan Aerospace, a division of Vulcan Inc., owned by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen. Floyd replaced Chuck Beames in that position last month, according to an internal memo published by GeekWire Sept. 22.

Beames said during a June media tour of Stratolaunch’s Mojave, California, facility where its aircraft is being assembled that the company was considering multiple launch partners. That is still on the table, according to a Vulcan spokesperson. “We’re continuing to explore opportunities with potential partners and customers who are interested in our Stratolaunch aircraft.”

For Orbital ATK, the deal gives new life to the Pegasus XL, a vehicle that has won little business in recent years beyond contracts for NASA missions despite a broader surge in interest in small satellites. Pegasus last flew in June 2013, placing NASA’s Interface Region Imaging Spectrograph spacecraft into orbit. It’s scheduled to launch NASA’s Cyclone Global Navigation Satellite System (CYGNSS), a group of eight small weather satellites, in November.

CYGNSS and NASA’s Ionospheric Connection Explorer, scheduled for launch in mid-2017, are the only missions currently on the Pegasus manifest. Orbital ATK spokeswoman Trina Helquist said the company will continue to offer Pegasus XL launches from the L-1011 aircraft for NASA, while also seeking additional customers for launches from Stratolaunch’s aircraft. “We will provide cost synergies to NASA if Vulcan orders higher quantities, so it should be advantageous for all parties,” she said.

Quelle: SN




Sonntag, 9. Oktober 2016 - 19:00 Uhr

Astronomie - Große, geheimnisvolle Feuerbälle von sterbenden Stern geschleudert



Massive balls of plasma twice the size of Mercury have been found streaming out of a red giant star called V Hydrae.

NASA's Hubble Space Telescope has seen planet-size cannonballs of hot gas whipping through the space near a dying star, but the origin of these plasma balls remains a mystery.

The high-speed blobs, each double the mass of Mars and twice as hot as the surface of the sun, are moving so fast in space that they would take only half an hour to go between the Earth and the moon (238,900 miles, or 384,472 kilometers), according to a statement from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. The observations suggest that these balls of fire have been appearing every 8.5 years for at least the last four centuries, the statement said.

The gas balls were observed near a red giant called V Hydrae that is about 1,200 light-years away from Earth. Red giants are stars that are nearing the end of their fuel supplies and have begun to puff up and expand. While the fireballs could not have been ejected by the star, it could be that an unseen companion star is responsible for the chaos, according to a new study of this cosmic firing squad.

"According to this [new] theory, the companion would have to be in an elliptical orbit that carries [the companion] close to the red giant's puffed-up atmosphere every 8.5 years," according to the statement. "As the companion enters the bloated star's outer atmosphere, it gobbles up material. This material then settles into a disk around the companion, and serves as the launching pad for blobs of plasma."

If scientists can discover where these balls come from, it could also explain other weird shapes seen in the cloud of gas around dying stars, some of which have been difficult for scientists to explain, the statement said. 

Hot, massive balls of plasma seen near a Red Giant star could be explained by a companion star orbiting close to the Red Giant periodically.

"We knew [V Hydrae] had a high-speed outflow, from previous data, but this is the first time we are seeing this process in action," said lead author on the new work Raghvendra Sahai, a research scientist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California, in the statement. "We suggest that these gaseous blobs produced during this late phase of a star's life help make the structures seen in planetary nebulae."

The new study used Hubble's observations of V Hydrae that took place between 2002 and 2004, and 2011 and 2013. Supplemental observations were performed by the Submillimeter Array in Hawaii, which looked at the star in submillimeter wavelengths and found knotty structures that may have been produced by blobs sent out 400 years ago, the statement said. 

Astronomers had previously speculated that the knotty structures were actually jets of material that emerge from structures called accretion disks, or disks of material that is accelerating around a star. While red giants do not have accretion disks, their companion stars might. Sahai said that the model proposed in the new paper "provides the most plausible explanation" for what the team observed. 

The observations showed another surprise: These clumps aren't fired in the same direction every 8.5 years, possibly because of wobbles in the companion's accretion disk, the statement said. V Hydrae is obscured every 17 years, which could happen when one of the blobs passes in front of the star from Earth's perspective.

"This discovery was quite surprising, but it is very pleasing as well because it helped explain some other mysterious things that had been observed about this star by others," Sahai said.

The results were recently published in The Astrophysical Journal.

Quelle: SC



Freitag, 7. Oktober 2016 - 05:05 Uhr

Astronomie - Haleakala Sonnenteleskop Zulassungen von Gerichten bestätigt


Haleakala solar telescope approvals upheld by courts

                                This Dec. 3, 2015 photo shows the Daniel K. Inouye Solar Telescope, formely known as the Advanced Technology Solar Telescope on Haleakala on Maui.


    This Dec. 3, 2015 photo shows the Daniel K. Inouye Solar Telescope, formely known as the Advanced Technology Solar Telescope on Haleakala on Maui.


Two opinions handed down by the Hawaii Supreme Court today uphold government approvals for a new solar telescope atop Haleakala.

The court ruled that the state Board of Land and Natural Resources followed proper procedure in granting the University of Hawaii a permit to construct an Advanced Technology Solar Telescope, now known as the Daniel K. Inouye Solar Telescope, on Maui. The court also ruled that the management plan UH submitted to the BLNR with its permit application didn’t need an environmental impact statement.

The group Kilakila O Haleakala had challenged BLNR’s approval of the management plan and permit.

Last year, eight people were arrested when protesters tried to stop a construction convoy heading to the solar telescope site. Kahele Dukelow, one of the protest leaders, said opponents are disappointed and considering what their next steps will be. “We only have one alternative now,” she said. “We have to continue to protest in other ways.”

They hoped the decision would be similar to the court’s ruling last year that invalidated a permit to build the Thirty Meter Telescope on the Big Island’s Mauna Kea. That project has been the focus of more intense protests. Opposition to both telescopes cite concerns that the projects will desecrate sacred land.

State Attorney General Doug Chin said his office will look into whether the rulings have any impact on future matters before the state land board, including the Thirty Meter Telescope.

Attorneys representing the group that challenged the solar telescope’s permit, Kilakila O Haleakala, didn’t immediately comment. Officials with the Daniel K. Inouye Solar Telescope also didn’t immediately comment.

“We are still reviewing the full decisions, but we look forward to ‘first light’ when the Daniel K. Inouye Solar Telescope will open a new era of discovery, here in Hawaii, about the sun and its daily impacts on all life on Earth,” university President David Lassner said in a statement.

External construction of the Maui telescope is complete, with only internal work remaining, according to the university. The $340-million project is scheduled to be operational in 2019. Construction of the $1.4 billion Thirty Meter Telescope remains stalled pending a new contested case hearing scheduled to begin later this month.



Donnerstag, 6. Oktober 2016 - 21:49 Uhr

Astronomie - Sonnenfleck AR-2599 durch Herbst-Nebelfilter


Irgendwie von Sommer-Feeling in den Herbst gekommen und schon sind die ersten Hochnebel über dem Odenwald und man kann sie zur Sonnenfleck-Fotografie nutzen. Nachfolgend die ersten Bilder der Herbst-Saison:







Fotos: ©hjkc


Donnerstag, 6. Oktober 2016 - 18:30 Uhr

Raumfahrt-History - NASA-flickr-Archiv: Apollo-17 Teil-5



































































Fotos: NASA








Donnerstag, 6. Oktober 2016 - 16:00 Uhr

Raumfahrt-History - NASA-flickr-Archiv: Apollo-17 Teil-4












































Fotos: NASA






Donnerstag, 6. Oktober 2016 - 12:00 Uhr

Astronomie - VISTA bringt hinter Staub versteckte Sterne zum Vorschein



Junge Sterne lassen den Nebel Messier 78 in diesem neuen Bild in bläulichem Licht erscheinen, während rote neugeborene Sterne aus ihrem Kokon aus kosmischem Staub hervorschauen. Für unsere Augen wären die meisten dieser Sterne hinter Staub versteckt, aber das Visibile and Infrared Survey Telescope for Astronomy (VISTA) der ESO kann auch nahinfrarotes Licht beobachten, das vom Staub nicht absorbiert wird. Damit ermöglicht das Teleskop Astronomen, die stellaren Bedingungen in dieser Region genauer unter die Lupe zu nehmen.

Messier 78, auch kurz M78 genannt, ist ein gut erforschtes Beispiel für einen Reflexionsnebel. Er befindet sich ungefähr 1600 Lichtjahre von der Erde entfernt im Sternbild Orion, direkt links oberhalb der drei Sterne, die den Gürtel des Orion bilden und oft als Orientierungshilfe am Himmel dienen. In diesem Bild ist Messier 78 der bläuliche Nebel in der Mitte; der andere Reflexionsnebel rechts daneben trägt den Namen NGC 2071. Als Entdecker von Messier 78 im Jahr 1780 gilt der französische Astronom Pierre Méchain. Heutzutage ist das Objekt jedoch hauptsächlich als 78. Eintrag im gleichnamigen Katalog des französischen Astronom Charles Messier bekannt, der den Nebel im Dezember 1780 in seinen Katalog aufnahm.

Beobachtet man Messier 78 mit Instrumenten wie dem Wide Field Imager der ESO am La Silla-Observatorium im sichtbaren Licht, erscheint es als leuchtende, azurblaue Fläche, die von dunklen Bändern umgeben ist (siehe eso1105). Kosmischer Staub reflektiert und streut das Licht, das von den jungen, bläulichen Stern im Herzen von Messier 78 stammt, weshalb das Objekt als Reflexionsnebel bezeichnet wird.

Die dunklen Bänder, die sich um den Nebel schlängeln, sind dicke Wolken aus Staub, die das sichtbare Licht blockieren, das von dahinterliegenden Objekten stammt. Diese dichten, kalten Regionen sind die Hauptgeburtsstätten für neue Sterne. Wird das Licht aus Messier 78 und seines Nachbarn beispielsweise mit dem Atacama Pathfinder Experiment (APEX) zwischen Radiowellen und infrarotem Licht im Submillimeter-Wellenlängenbereich beobachtet, kommt das Leuchten von Staubkörnern in Gebieten zutage, die kaum wärmer sind als ihre extrem kalte Umgebung (siehe eso1219). Irgendwann werden sich in diesen Regionen aus den Staubkörnern immer größere Klumpen gebildet haben, die sich schließlich infolge ihrer eigenen Gravitation zusammenziehen und aufheizen, wodurch neue Sterne entstehen.

Zwischen dem sichtbaren Licht und dem Submillimeter-Wellenlängenbereich befindet sich der nahinfrarote Teil des elektromagnetischen Spektrums, aus dem Astronomen mit Teleskopen wie dem Visible and Infrared Survey Telescope for Astronomy (VISTA) wichtige Informationen gewinnen können. Trotz des Staubes, der das sichtbare Licht größtenteils reflektiert und blockiert, kann VISTA die Sterne im Inneren von Messier 78 beobachten, die den Nebel leuchten lassen. Im Zentrum des Nebels in der Mitte des Bildes scheinen zwei blaue Überriesensterne mit den Namen HD 38563A und HD 38563B. Im Nebel rechts daneben ist auch der Überriese HD 290861 zu erkennen, der NGC 2071 erleuchtet.

Abgesehen von großen, blauen, heißen Sternen sind dank VISTA im kosmischen Staub, der sich über diese Himmelsregion verteilt, auch viele Sterne zu sehen, die gerade erst entstehen und deren rötliche und gelbe Farben in diesem Bild klar erkennbar sind. Diese farbenfrohen jungen Sterne finden sich in den Bändern aus Staub um NGC 2071 und entlang der Staubspur, die von Messier 78 zur linken Seite des Bildes führt. Einige von ihnen sind T Tauri-Sterne. Obwohl sie vergleichsweise hell sind, sind sie noch nicht heiß genug, um die Kernfusion in ihrem Innern in Gang zu bringen. In einigen zehn Millionen Jahren werden auch sie ausgewachsen sein und gemeinsam mit ihren Sterngeschwistern die Region um Messier 78 zum Leuchten bringen.


Vergleich von Teilen der Messier-Region im sichtbaren und infraroten Licht


Diese Vergleichsausschnitte zeigen, wie unterschiedlich Teile der Sternentstehungsregion in Orion bei verschiedenen Wellenlängen erscheinen. In den Infrarot-Aufnahmen vom VISTA-Teleskop (untere Reihe) ist der Staub deutlich lichtdurchlässiger als auf den Bildern des MPG/ESO-2,2-Meter-Teleskops (obere Reihe) im sichtbaren Licht.

Quelle: ESO


Donnerstag, 6. Oktober 2016 - 12:00 Uhr

Astronomie - Erstaunliche Spiralen bei protoplanetare Scheibe um den jungen Stern Elias 2-27



Dieses wunderschöne Bild wurde mit dem Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) aufgenommen und zeigt eine protoplanetare Scheibe um den jungen Stern Elias 2-27, der etwa 450 Lichtjahre von uns entfernt ist. ALMA hat schon viele protoplanetare Scheiben entdeckt, aber diese hier sticht durch die beiden ausgeprägten Spiralarme hervor, die fast wie eine Miniaturversion einer Spiralgalaxie aussehen.

Schon früher haben Astronomen deutliche Anzeichen von spiralartigen Strukturen an der Oberfläche protoplanetarer Scheiben beobachtet. Aber es war bislang unklar, ob diese Strukturen tief aus dem inneren Teile der Scheibe kommen, wo die Planetenbildung stattfindet. ALMA war nun erstmals in der Lage, tief in die Zentralebene der Scheibe vorzudringen und hat dabei klare Anzeichen für spiralförmige Dichtewellen gefunden.

In unmittelbarer Nähe zum Stern fand ALMA eine flache Staubscheibe, die sich bis zu einer Entfernung entsprechend etwa der Umlaufbahn des Neptun in unserem Sonnensystem ausdehnt. Über diese Distanz hinaus, quasi unserem Kuipergürtel entsprechend, fand ALMA ein schmales Band mit deutlich geringerer Staubdichte, was ein Anzeichen für die Entstehung von Planeten sein könnte. Vom äußeren Rand dieser Lücke ausgehend beginnen die zwei ausladenden Spiralarme, die sich bis zu einem Abstand von über 10 Milliarden Kilometern vom Stern hin erstrecken. Die Entdeckung von Spiralwellen bis hin zu so extremen Abständen könnte Auswirkungen auf unser Verständnis der Planetenbildung haben.

Quelle: ESO


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