Εμφάνιση αναρτήσεων με ετικέτα Earth. Εμφάνιση όλων των αναρτήσεων
Εμφάνιση αναρτήσεων με ετικέτα Earth. Εμφάνιση όλων των αναρτήσεων

Πέμπτη, Φεβρουαρίου 12, 2015

SpaceX launches deep space weather observatory

 A $340 million satellite that aims to alert people to potentially dangerous solar activity and geomagnetic storms blasted off toward deep space Wednesday atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket...

Experts say the DSCOVR - a joint collaboration of the US Air Force, NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) - will help with the preparation and response to "space weather," thereby protecting utilities, consumers and industries.

"The Falcon takes flight, propelling the Deep Space Climate Observatory on a million mile journey to protect our planet Earth," said NASA commentator George Diller as the rocket took off from Cape Canaveral, Florida at 6:03 pm (2303 GMT).

DSCOVR is headed to a destination between the Earth and the sun known as Lagrangian point, or L1. The journey will take 110 days, followed by 40 days of instrument tests.

Space weather is the primary objective of the five-year mission, although the initial idea for the satellite came from former US vice president Al Gore, who dreamed of a spacecraft that would observe Earth and send back live images that would raise environmental awareness of the planet's fragility.

DSCOVR will replace an aging satellite, known as ACE, that is many years past its expiration date. It should provide the same accuracy as its predecessor, officials said.

Its secondary mission is to collect scientific data about aerosol levels, ozone and radiation balance on Earth.

Meanwhile, California-based SpaceX said high seas off the coast of Florida had forced it to abandon another planned attempt at recycling its rocket by flying the first stage of the Falcon 9 to a controlled landing on an ocean platform, known as a drone ship.

SpaceX is embarking on a series of such tests with the goal of one day making rockets as reusable as airplanes, instead of allowing them to fall to pieces into the ocean after launch.

An attempt to land the first stage on a floating barge in January was not successful. Instead of landing upright, the rocket collided with the platform and broke into pieces.

But the company said it intends to keep trying to refine the technology.

  Source:AFP - globaltimes.cn
12/2/15
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Κυριακή, Ιανουαρίου 25, 2015

Mountain-Sized, 500-Meter-Wide Asteroid to Whizz By Earth on Monday

An asteroid, designated 2004 BL86, is set to pass near Earth on Monday, according to NASA.

The 500-meter-wide rock may seem apocalyptic in size, but thankfully it will pass no closer than 1.2 million kilometers of our planet — about three times the distance between Earth and the moon. The agency says it will provide a rare opportunity to get a good look at a near-Earth asteroid.

The next chance will come in 2027, when asteroid 1999 AN10 will fly past Earth.

Due to its orbit around the sun, the asteroid is currently only visible by astronomers with large telescopes who are located in the southern hemisphere.

However, by January 26, its changing position will make it visible to in the northern hemisphere.

"Monday, January 26 will be the closest asteroid 2004 BL86 will get to Earth for at least the next 200 years," Don Yeomans, who is retiring as manager of NASA's Near Earth Object Program Office at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California is quoted as saying in a statement on NASA’s website.

"And while it poses no threat to Earth for the foreseeable future, it's a relatively close approach by a relatively large asteroid, so it provides us a unique opportunity to observe and learn more."

The scientists plan to track the fast-moving space rock using the 230-foot (70 m) dish-shaped Goldstone antenna at NASA's Deep Space Network in California, as well as the 1,000-foot (305 m) Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico. These radio dishes will beam microwave signals at the asteroid, which will then bounce off the target and return to Earth.

"When we get our radar data back the day after the flyby, we will have the first detailed images," said radar astronomer Lance Benner of the JPL, the principal investigator handling the Goldstone radar observations of the asteroid. "At present, we know almost nothing about the asteroid, so there are bound to be surprises."

Asteroid 2004 BL86 was initially discovered on January 30, 2004 by a telescope from the Lincoln Near-Earth Asteroid Research (LINEAR) survey in White Sands, New Mexico.

The asteroid is expected to be observable to amateur astronomers with small telescopes and strong binoculars.

  http://sputniknews.com/science/20150125/1017328213.html
25/1/15
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Παρασκευή, Νοεμβρίου 14, 2014

Philae may not have energy to send results to Earth, says ESA

Europe's robot lab Philae may not have enough power to send to Earth the results of today's drill into the surface of its host comet, mission scientists have said.

"We are not sure there is enough energy so that we can transmit" the data, lander manager Stephan Ulamec said at a press conference webcast from European Space Agency (ESA) ground control in Germany.
Scientists are to decide whether to try a risky drilling procedure to enable an exploration probe to examine samples from the surface of a comet before its batteries run out.

The probe on Wednesday floated away from its planned landing site after harpoons designed to hold it down on the comet failed to deploy.
It is now resting precariously on two out of three legs in the shadow of a cliff on the comet.
  • The lack of light means the probe, dubbed Philae, would not draw sufficient energy to operate on its solar panels as hoped once its batteries run out.
  • The ESA team are also uncertain of its exact position, making it difficult to "hop" the probe into a better position using its landing gear.
The probe was supposed to drill into the surface of the celestial body after landing, but its unstable position and the comet's weak gravitational pull means there is a risk it could bounce off if the drill is deployed.
Despite the landing setbacks, the mission has achieved many breakthroughs, including the first time a spacecraft has followed a comet rather than just whizzing past and the first time a probe has landed on a comet.
Comets are of interest to scientists because they are remnants from the formation of our solar system, over 4.6 billion years ago.
These masses of ice and rock have preserved ancient organic molecules like a time capsule and may provide insight into how planets and life evolved.
Even if Philae is unable to drill into the surface to analyse samples, the Rosetta spacecraft will follow the comet until at least the end of 2015, even as it passes closest to the sun on its orbit.
[http://www.rte.ie]
14/11/1
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Τετάρτη, Νοεμβρίου 12, 2014

The Rosetta comet landing has made history (Space probe, Philae, reaches comet’s surface first time in history)

After 10 years of hard work and one nerve-wracking night, the Rosetta mission has made history by landing on the surface of a comet.

The lander Philae was confirmed to touch down on the surface of the comet more than 300 million miles away at 11:05 a.m. Eastern. Now, scientists expect it to send a panoramic image home and begin analyzing the comet for scientists back on Earth.

Philae is already transmitting scientific data back home, but we're still waiting to see whether the probe is in a stable position. Until we know it's anchored tight, it could roll onto its back and never get back up.

Tensions were high in the European Space Agency's German mission control center, especially as the landing window approached. Because the comet that Philae landed on is so far from Earth, there's a communications delay of 28 minutes. So as the minutes ticked by, the Rosetta team knew that Philae had already either landed or failed — and there was nothing they could do but wait for the data to reach them. Those following the video online were nearly as desperate for news, and Twitter became a sounding chamber of anticipation and excitement.

But a few minutes after 11 a.m., the stern, cautious expressions of the mission control team melted into smiles. And just like that, the world swiveled from anxiety to elation: Philae was on the surface of the comet and ready to do some science.
 [washingtonpost.com]
12/11/14
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For the first time in the history of space exploration a research probe has reached the surface of a comet.
The robotic lander Philae of the European Space Agency separated from the spacecraft Rosetta and landed on the comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko 500 million kilometers away from the Earth.
Philae separated from the Rosetta spacecraft at 11:35 Moscow time.

 The journey from Rosetta to the comet’s surface lasted about seven hours.

Rosetta and Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, which was discovered in 1969 by Soviet astronomers Klim Churyumov and Svetlana Gerasimenko, now lie about half way between the orbits of Jupiter and Mars, rushing towards the inner Solar System at nearly 55,000 kilometers per hour, the ESA said.
Rosetta will follow the comet for more than a year to provide a detailed scientific study of the Solar System body.
[en.itar-tass.com]
12/11/14

Δευτέρα, Νοεμβρίου 10, 2014

Manned Space Capsule With Three ISS Astronauts Lands in Kazakhstan

A manned space capsule of Soyuz TMA-13M spacecraft with a crew of three astronauts from the International Space Station (ISS) has landed in Kazakhstan, the Russian Mission Control Center told RIA Novosti Monday.

Maksim Suraev (Roskosmos), Reid Wiseman (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) and Alexander Gerst (European Space Agency) have returned to the Earth and are currently being evacuated from the descent vehicle.


"Space generation" of fruit flies will land together with the crew. They were raised as part of the study on the impact of zero gravity on the development of highly organized forms of life and are of particular value for science.

Soyuz spacecraft carrying a trio of crew members docked automatically with the International Space Station on May 29. A Soyuz-FG rocket carrying the Soyuz TMA-13M capsule blasted off from the Baikonur space center in Kazakhstan.

During their 167-day stay on board the ISS, the astronauts carried out spacewalks and scientific experiments.

(RIA Novosti)
10/11/14
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Σάββατο, Νοεμβρίου 01, 2014

China's unmanned lunar orbiter returns home, first in nearly four decades

BEIJING, Nov. 1 (Xinhua) -- China succeeded Saturday in the world's first mission to the Moon and back in some 40 years, becoming the third nation to do so after the former Soviet Union and the United States.

The test lunar orbiter, nicknamed "Xiaofei" on Chinese social networks, landed in Siziwang Banner of China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region early Saturday morning.

Search teams have already recovered the orbiter at the designated landing area, about 500 kilometers away from Beijing.


The last documented mission of this kind was by the Soviet Union in the 1970s.

Launched Friday last week, the orbiter traversed 840,000 kilometers on its eight-day mission that saw it round the far side of the Moon and take some incredible pictures of Earth and Moon together.

The re-entry process began at around 6:13 a.m. Saturday morning, with the orbiter approaching Earth at a velocity of about 11.2 kilometers per second.

The high speed led to hefty friction between the orbiter and air and high temperatures on the craft's exterior, generating an ion sheath that cut off contact between ground command and the orbiter.

To help it slow down, the craft is designed to "bounce" off the edge of the atmosphere, before re-entering again. The process has been compared to a stone skipping across water, and can shorten the "braking distance" for the orbiter, according to Zhou Jianliang, chief engineer with the Beijing Aerospace Command and Control Center.

"Really, this is like braking a car," said Zhou, "The faster you drive, the longer the distance you need to bring the car to a complete stop."

  • The "bounce" was one of the biggest challenges of the mission, because the craft must enter the atmosphere at a very precise angle. An error of 0.2 degrees would have rendered the mission a failure.

Wu Yanhua, vice director of China's State Administration of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defense, said the successful test mission has gathered a lot of experimental data and laid a solid foundation for future missions.`.......................http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/china/2014-11/01/c_133757831.htm

1/11/14

Δευτέρα, Οκτωβρίου 20, 2014

Scientists develop new technique of orbiter defense from space debris

A new computer model that will help the scientists to increase orbiter defense from clashing with space junk has been developed in Ireland. The researchers from the country’s oldest university Trinity College reported that “new mathematical methods will help predict emergencies in terrestrial space”. 

According to one of the project initiators, Computer Science School Professor of Statistics, Simon Wilson, due to development in IT sphere they also managed to create new tools that will calculate more accurately impact points of satellite parts that didn’t burn in dense atmosphere.
“Particularly, we are now able to calculate with higher probability whether objects in dense atmosphere will burn or not,” he pointed out. Other details will be kept secret until researchers get international patent. It is known that European Space Agency is interested in the invention.

The main challenge that experts from Trinity College face is not to let the most pessimistic scenario of the Hollywood blockbuster “Gravity”, which came out in 2013, materialize. The plot of the movie describes how all crew members of shuttle “Columbia” die during the routine mission in space exactly because of the collision of spaceship with extraneous objects.

Experts estimate that total weight of space junk exceeds 100,000 tons nowadays.
This entails satellite fragments, rocket stages, inactive spacecrafts and its pieces. All this debris gradually moves on lower orbits, posing a danger for manned missions.
en.itar-tass.com
20/10/14
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Παρασκευή, Οκτωβρίου 03, 2014

Russian scientists develop system for monitoring space junk

Scientists from St. Petersburg Polytechnic University have developed a monitor system to follow space junk.

The system is a set of monitoring meters intended for a spaceship to ensure its safety if established on board, Rector of the St. Petersburg university Andrei Rudskoi told TASS on Thursday.

The space litter monitoring project aroused interest at the Russian Space Agency (Roscosmos). Chief of the Roscosmos agency Oleg Ostapenko has promised support to St. Petersburg Polytechnic University to enable it to test the litter monitoring meters on the orbit.


Space litter poses a threat to the population of the Earth, manned orbital stations, spaceships and orbital satellites. Meters on board the spaceship might warn a space crew about space litter on the spaceship's trajectory, and a space crew might either change route or destroy the space litter before encounter.
 
  http://en.itar-tass.com/non-political/752499 
 2/10/14
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Πέμπτη, Οκτωβρίου 02, 2014

Russian scientists develop system for monitoring space junk

Scientists from St. Petersburg Polytechnic University have developed a monitor system to follow space junk.

The system is a set of monitoring meters intended for a spaceship to ensure its safety if established on board, Rector of the St. Petersburg university Andrei Rudskoi told TASS on Thursday.

The space litter monitoring project aroused interest at the Russian Space Agency (Roscosmos). Chief of the Roscosmos agency Oleg Ostapenko has promised support to St. Petersburg Polytechnic University to enable it to test the litter monitoring meters on the orbit.


Space litter poses a threat to the population of the Earth, manned orbital stations, spaceships and orbital satellites. Meters on board the spaceship might warn a space crew about space litter on the spaceship's trajectory, and a space crew might either change route or destroy the space litter before encounter.

http://en.itar-tass.com/non-political/752499
2/10/14
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Τρίτη, Σεπτεμβρίου 30, 2014

Water on earth originated outside the solar system, scientists prove

Human beings have always obsessed over whether they are alone in the universe. Now scientists say they’ve proved that at least some of the water on Earth has to have originated from outside the solar system (and they add that it’s older than the sun).
The news has set the flying-saucer-sphere abuzz with the thought that other planets in the universe are therefore more likely to have had water, at some stage at least, and to therefore have developed life.
That however is not claimed by the paper published in Science Magazine on September 26, when life forms in Israel were celebration the new Jewish year.
“It isn’t news that water in the solar system is older than the sun,” explains Prof. Morris Podolak of Tel Aviv University’s Department of Geosciences, an expert on planetology and the evolution of comets: it had to be. What is news is that the water on earth cannot have originated in the protoplanetary nebular disk from which the planets, including Earth, formed.
It all started with the big bang
Current thinking is that the universe began with the big bang, which created mainly hydrogen and some helium, Podolak explains. “Things like oxygen and other heavier elements were made in secondary processes, like inside stars, which threw out the material. Our sun is second-generation, made of material that originated with an earlier generation of stars,” he says.
In other words, our sun was formed already including heavier elements such as carbon and oxygen made after the big bang but before the sun’s birth, Podolak explains.
Moreover, the universe has a huge amount of hydrogen, a lot of helium and the third most prevalent element is oxygen, says Podolak. Water consists of hydrogen and oxygen (two hydrogen atoms to one of oxygen, to be accurate).
So the interstellar void in which the solar system, and Earth, formed had water bobbing about that would by definition be older than the sun. We would expect water to be abundant in that void, says Podolak.
The weird thing discovered by the team headed by Ilsedore Cleeves of the University of Michigan’s Astronomy department is that the water on Earth doesn’t have the same chemical signature — deuterium-to-hydrogen enrichment — as primordial water in the solar system. Nor could processes in that disk have created the signature of the water on earth, the team says. So the question is where it came from.
Comet collisions or water-locking rocks
To this day the origin of water on earth remains a mystery. Some believe our oceans are actually the result of a lot of collisions by icy comets with the primordial planet, which eventually brought sufficient ice to create our oceans. Another theory is that the iron and silicate rocks that formed our planet had water in their molecular mesh. The new discovery does not necessarily tie into the comet theory better than the inside-rock-all-this-time theory, says Podolak: Theoretically the primordial water could have combined with silicates to form hydrated minerals.
However water got to earth, it’s older than the sun and solar system — which are believed to be between 4.5 billion and 5 billion years old.
“Identifying the source of Earth’s water is central to understanding the origins of life-fostering environments and to assessing the prevalence of such environments in space,” write the authors, led by Ilsedore Cleeves of the University of Michigan’s astronomy department, who has been researching the origins of planetary systems.
So water is out there in the interstellar void, as a corollary of the universe’s evolution. If our solar system is not unique in this respect, “and there’s no reason to think it is,” says Podolak, then there’s water out there in interstellar space, and theoretically other planetary systems — they have been proven to exist — could have formed with water on board too. And hence, perhaps, maybe, they have life.
Present thinking cannot conceive of life forming in a nonwatery environment, because for molecules to knock about and accidentally create life (if we may oversimplify a tad), they need an environment that enables movement. Think of tossing golf balls into a filled pool as opposed to a sand trap. In the pool, they’ll move around and knock against each other, possibly reacting; in the sand trap they’ll just sit there until a life form from elsewhere lobs them out again.
But it remains a leap to conclude that since there’s water in space, life must exist elsewhere in space too. Maybe it does. Maybe life on Earth is a cosmic accident. Man still has no clear idea how he came about, let alone the proto-ameba that gave birth to all beings, assuming there was only one. For all we know there were multiple proto-amebas and life forms spring up all over the place and some survive and some do not. 

www.haaretz.com
29/9/14

Πέμπτη, Σεπτεμβρίου 11, 2014

UN Says Ozone Layer Might Recover by 2050

The Earth's protective ozone layer may fully recover in the next few decades thanks to harmonized international action against ozone depleting substances, a new assessment by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) reads.
"There are positive indications that the ozone layer is on track to recovery towards the middle of the century. The Montreal Protocol - one of the world's most successful environmental treaties - has protected the stratospheric ozone layer and avoided enhanced UV radiation reaching the earth's surface," said UN Under-Secretary-General and UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner in a press-statement Wednesday.

Scientific Assessment of Ozone Depletion 2014 carried out by 300 scientists has found out that actions taken under the Montreal Protocol are enabling the return of the ozone layer to benchmark 1980 levels, as they led to a significant decrease in substances causing greenhouse effect. Moreover, according to UNEP, the Protocol will have prevented 2 million cases of skin cancer annually by 2030, averted damage to human eyes and immune systems, and protected wildlife and agriculture.
However, the report also warns that the rapid increase in certain substitutes for these substances, which are themselves also potent greenhouse gases, has the potential to undermine the gains.
The stratospheric ozone layer is a fragile shield of gas that protects the Earth from harmful ultraviolet rays of the sun. The Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer is an international treaty designed to protect the ozone layer by phasing out the production of numerous substances that are responsible for its depletion.
The treaty entered into force in 1989 and is ratified by 196 countries, including Russia. Without the Montreal Protocol and associated agreements, atmospheric levels of ozone depleting substances could have increased tenfold by 2050, according to UNEP.
[en.ria.ru]
11/9/14
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  • La couche d’ozone stratosphérique est toujours convalescente, mais les scientifiques espèrent sa guérison avant 2050 dans la plupart des régions et une résorption complète du célèbre « trou dans la couche d’ozone » au-dessus de l’Antarctique vers la fin du siècle.

L’Organisation météorologique mondiale (OMM) et le Programme des Nations unies pour l’environnement (PNUE) ont rendu publiques, mercredi 10 septembre, les conclusions de leur dernier rapport sur la couche d’ozone.

Encourageantes, celles-ci entérinent le succès du protocole de Montréal, adopté en 1987 par la communauté internationale pour protéger l’ozone stratosphérique.

Considéré comme un polluant lorsqu’il s’accumule au niveau du sol, l’ozone revêt au contraire une importance cruciale au sommet de l’atmosphère, où il joue le rôle de filtre à ultraviolets (UV).

UNE STABILISATION DEPUIS LE DÉBUT DES ANNÉES 2000

Les mesures prises dans le cadre du protocole de Montréal ont permis de bannir la plupart des composés chlorés et bromés responsables du célèbre « trou d’ozone » en Antarctique.

Mis à jour tous les quatre ans, le rapport indique que leur concentration atmosphérique a baissé de 10 % à 15 % par rapport au pic de la fin des années 1990.

Seul un composé, le tétrachlorure de carbone (CCl4), atteint des concentrations trop élevées par rapport aux émissions déclarées par les Etats.

Globalement, l’effet positif est cependant déjà tangible puisque les scientifiques notent une stabilisation du fragile bouclier anti-UV depuis le début des années 2000.

« On voit même l’ozone augmenter un peu dans la haute stratosphère, au niveau des latitudes moyennes de l’hémisphère Nord, explique Sophie Godin-Beekmann, chercheuse au CNRS et coauteure du rapport rendu par le PNUE et l’OMM. Au-dessus de l’Antarctique, on n’observe pas encore de franche remontée.»..........................................http://www.lemonde.fr/pollution/article/2014/09/10/la-couche-d-ozone-en-bonne-voie-de-guerison_4485413_1652666.html

11/9/14

Σάββατο, Αυγούστου 16, 2014

Can Insects Feed a Hungry Planet?

Earth’s population is ballooning every day, which increasingly presents a host of challenges, from housing to resource depletion to food.

The issue of feeding billions of people on a warming planet—along with related concerns such as food waste, water usage and greenhouse gas emissions—continues to be explored.

It has been widely established that factory farming contributes to climate change and even that eating less beef will benefit the environment. But what about eating … bugs. Bugs?


Two billion people around the globe eat insects. Major areas of consumption include Latin America, Southeast Asia and Central Africa. As new ways are examined to feed a rapidly expanding global population, and with a minimal environmental impact, will entomophagy—the consumption of insects as food—be taken seriously in other parts of the world?

Folks at Ensia—Anna Egelhoff, John Sisser and Todd Reubold—put together this infographic to address that very question:..............................http://ecowatch.com

15/8/14
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Κυριακή, Αυγούστου 10, 2014

Reusable moon lander

China is preparing for the launch of an experimental recoverable moon orbiter, said the State Administration of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defense on Sunday.

The orbiter arrived in Xichang in Southwest China's Sichuan Province via air on Sunday and was transported to the Xichang Satellite Launch Center, according to a statement from the administration.


The launch will take place before the end of this year. 


The plan is for the orbiter to be launched into lunar orbit and return to Earth. 

It is one of the test models for China's new lunar probe Chang'e-5, which will be tasked with landing on the moon, collecting samples and returning to Earth.

China launched the Chang'e-3 lunar probe with its moon rover, Yutu, in late 2013. Chang'e-3 successfully landed on the moon and Yutu operated well until its control mechanism failed in January.

Sources: Xinhua - globaltimes.cn
11/8/14
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Τετάρτη, Αυγούστου 06, 2014

Rosetta space probe makes historic rendezvous with comet

European scientists announced the historic rendezvous on Wednesday between a comet and the Rosetta spacecraft after a 10-year, six billion-kilometre (3.7-billion-mile) chase through the solar system.

The scout Rosetta has now become the first envoy to orbit one of these wanderers of the solar system in deep space, the European Space Agency (ESA) said.

Scientists and spectators at ESA’s mission control in Darmstadt, Germany, cheered after the spacecraft successfully completed its final thrust to swing alongside comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko.


ESA chief Jean-Jacques Dordain says the probe’s rendezvous with 67P is an important milestone in Rosetta’s life.

The goal of the mission is to orbit 67P from a distance of about 100 kilometres (60 miles) and observe the giant ball of dust and ice as it hurtles toward the sun. If all goes according to plan, Rosetta will drop the first ever lander, a robot chemistry lab, onto a comet in November.

Scientists hope this will help them learn more about the origins of comets, stars and planets.

Orbital entry was triggered by a small firing of her thrusters, lasting just six minutes and 26 seconds, starting at 0900 GMT on Wednesday, it said.

“This burn will tip Rosetta into the first leg of a series of three-legged triangular paths about the comet,” it said.

Top officials from ESA will be were at mission control in Darmstadt, Germany, waiting for the signals to start and stop this crucial final operation to be safely received by ground monitoring stations, 22 minutes later.

The “pyramidal” orbits will put the craft at a height of about 100 kilometres (60 miles) above the comet, said Sylvain Lodiot, Rosetta’s flight operations manager. Each leg of the triangle will be around 100 kilometres and take Rosetta between three and four days to complete.

The arrival will mark a key moment of the boldest project ever undertaken by ESA—a 1.3-billion-euro ($1.76-billion) investigation into one of the enigmas of the solar system.

Comets are believed by astrophysicists to be ancient ice and dust left from the building of the solar system around 4.6 billion years ago. This cosmic rubble is the oldest, least touched material in our stellar neighbourhood.

Understanding its chemical ID identity and physical composition will give insights into how the planets coalesced after the sun flared into light, it is hoped.

t could also determine the fate of a theory called “pan-spermia,” which suggests comets, by smashing into the infant Earth, sowed our home with water and precious organic molecules, providing us with a kickstart for life.

Navigational feat

Rosetta was poised to meet up with Comet “C-G” more than 400 million kilometres from where it was launched.

Getting there has been an unprecedented navigational exploit. Launched in March 2004, the three-tonne craft has had to make four flybys of Mars and Earth, using their gravitational force as a slingshot to build up speed.

It then entered a 31-month hibernation as light from the distant Sun became too weak for its solar panels. That period ended in January with a wake-up call sent from Earth.

The spacecraft is named after the famous stone, now in the British Museum, that explained Egyptian hieroglyphics, while its payload Philae is named after an obelisk that in turn helped decipher the Rosetta stone.

The four-kilometre comet is named after two Ukrainian astronomers who first spotted it in 1969.

(FRANCE24 with AP and AFP)

http://www.france24.com/en/20140806-rosetta-space-probe-comet-meeting-solar-system/
6/8/14
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Τρίτη, Αυγούστου 05, 2014

Soviet-era satellite burns up in atmosphere after 34 years of service

The Kosmos-1151, a Soviet-era satellite appears to have burned up upon reentry into the Earth’s atmosphere, Russian Aerospace Defense Forces spokesman Colonel Alexei Zolotukhin said Tuesday.

“The data analysis … has proven that the Kosmos-1151 spacecraft left its orbit,” Zolotukhin said.


According to experts, parts of the satellite burned up in the dense layers of atmosphere over the Antarctic.

The Kosmos-1151 was launched into orbit on January 23, 1980. The expected lifetime of a satellite in orbit is about half a year.

[indian.ruvr.ru]
5/8/14
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Σάββατο, Μαΐου 17, 2014

Pentagon plans multi-billion dollar project to combat space junk

Later this month the US Pentagon plans to award a massive contract to one of the two most influential American contractors for a project that, if all goes according to plan, will be able to identify space debris before it becomes a threat to the Earth.
Lockheed Martin Corp. and Raytheon Co. are competing for the $6 billion contract to design and construct Space Fence, a radar system that will eventually be able to track large bodies of space matter. The plan is being put into place so that the government can not only better predict the bodies that may come into contact with Earth (such as the asteroid that exploded over Chelyabinsk, Russia, for instance) but also to better protect satellites that could be destroyed while in orbit.

There’s a lot of stuff up there, and the impact of the new space fence will be able to track more objects and smaller objects,” Joan Johnson-Freese, a professor of national security affairs at the US Naval College, told the Sydney Morning Herald, adding that the technology “is a necessity, but not sufficient…We need to move on to an active plan for removal.”
  • The National Aeronautics and Space Administration has estimated that 500,000 chunks of man-made material floats around the Earth.
 Any one of those could damage or completely knock out the 1,200 operational satellites owned by various nations that are responsible for providing Internet access, banking functions, cell phone connections, Global Position System mapping, and other necessities.
  • The debris smashes together so fast – a combined speed of 22,000 miles per hour, six times the speed of a high-velocity bullet – that the collision is accompanied by a massive shockwave, according to the Wall Street Journal.
It literally shakes the satellite apart,” Felix Hoots, a distinguished engineer at the Aerospace Corporation, a government-funded space research group, told the paper. “The [fence] is going to give us a lot more data and see a lot more objects than we’ve seen before.”
US Air Force general William Shelton said during a speech earlier this year that the military issued more than 10,000 warnings of close calls to American and international satellite operators. The risk is growing, though, as a generation of satellites enters old age and break down. China intentionally destroyed one of its own satellites with a rocket in 2007, for example, sending 2,500 more pieces into space.
If maybe a two-to-three-centimeter sized object can be lethal to fragile satellites, we’ve got a lot of traffic in space that we need to be worried about and we just can’t track it right now,” he told the Journal.
rt.com
17/5/14
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