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30-01-2004, 23:05
Thread dedicato alle notizie più importanti riguardanti l'astronomia e i programmi spaziali internazionali.

LINK MISSIONI SCIENTIFICHE - Science and Deep Space Missions (Aggiornato: 12 Febbraio 2004)

- ESA - Mars Express (http://forum.hwupgrade.it/showthread.php?s=&postid=3282657#post3282657)

- ESA - Rosetta (http://forum.hwupgrade.it/showthread.php?s=&threadid=622028)

- NASA - Mars Exploration Rover - MER-A 'Spirit (http://forum.hwupgrade.it/showthread.php?s=&threadid=600998&perpage=20&pagenumber=1)

- NASA - Mars Exploration Rover - MER-B 'Opportunity (http://forum.hwupgrade.it/showthread.php?s=&threadid=602684)

- NASA - Deep Impact (http://forum.hwupgrade.it/showthread.php?s=&postid=3290249#post3290249)

- NASA-ESA - Cassini-Huygens (http://forum.hwupgrade.it/showthread.php?s=&postid=3290249#post3290249)

- NASA-ESA - Hubble Space Telescope (http://forum.hwupgrade.it/showthread.php?s=&threadid=602673&perpage=20&pagenumber=1)

- SpaceShipOne - First Piloted Private Flight (http://forum.hwupgrade.it/showthread.php?s=&threadid=710798)

LINK MISSIONI UMANE - Human Space Flight (Aggiornato: 12 Febbraio 2004)

- International - Internation Space Station (http://forum.hwupgrade.it/showthread.php?s=&threadid=612541)

- ESA - Automated Transfer Vehicle (http://forum.hwupgrade.it/showthread.php?s=&threadid=603687)


ESA - European Space Agency (http://www.esa.int):

Envisat completes its ten thousandth orbit around Earth

30 January 2004

Around 7pm CET on 28 January 2004, ESA's Envisat spacecraft completed its ten thousandth orbit of the Earth – travelling a distance of 450 million kilometres since launch, equivalent to taking a trip to Mars.

Envisat orbits our planet every hundred minutes, moving at a velocity of more than seven kilometres per second.

This lorry-sized spacecraft is the most complex environmental satellite ever launched, with ten different instruments mounted on its hull to study Earth's land, oceans and atmosphere.

These instruments were developed and built by scientists and industrial teams from all across Europe.
They include the Advanced Synthetic Aperture Radar (ASAR) that sees through clouds and darkness to continuously return radar pictures and the Medium Resolution Imaging Spectrometer (MERIS) imaging ocean colour and land cover.

Envisat's Advanced Along-Track Scanning Radiometer (AATSR) records global ground and sea surface temperature, while the Radar Altimeter-2 (RA-2) measuring surface height to an accuracy of a few centimetres. A trio of atmospheric instruments map trace gases and pollutants.

Envisat completed its latest milestone as it passed over the equator 800 km above the middle of the Indian Ocean.

During its ten thousandth orbit, as for any of its 14 daily orbits, Envisat was using all of its ten instruments to gather information about the world below it, and the satellite ground segment generated about ten gigabytes of data products.

Next month Envisat will have spent two years in orbit: it was launched on 28 February 2002 by Ariane-5 rocket from the Kourou spaceport in French Guiana.

30-01-2004, 23:11
Arianespace (http://www.arianespace.com) :

Flight 158
January 29: Topping off Rosetta

The countdown for liftoff of Flight 158 reached another milestone this week with the fueling of Europe's Rosetta comet-intercept spacecraft. This activity is taking place in the S3B clean-room facility at the Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana. At the same time, final integration of Ariane 5 vehicle for Flight 158 is proceeding in the Spaceport's launcher integration building.

Rosetta's main scientific objective is to rendezvous with Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko in order to study the comet's nucleus and environment in great detail for a period of nearly two years, during which a lander will be released to the comet's surface.

Fueling of the European Space Agency's Rosetta deep space probe is performed by specially trained launch team members. Rosetta uses a 2.8 x 2.1 x 2.0-meter square spacecraft bus, on which all subsystems and payload equipment are mounted. The payload of scientific instruments are accommodated on one side of the spacecraft, which will permanently face the comet during the operational phase of the mission.

During activity earlier this month at the Spaceport, the Ariane 5's EPS upper stage is raised inside the Launcher Integration Building for integration atop the vehicle. The Ariane 5 is partially visible through the open doors behind the EPS upper stage.


Luca Rox
31-01-2004, 01:56
non so tanto bene l'inglese si puo avere una breve traduzione:muro:

31-01-2004, 10:43
Originariamente inviato da Luca Rox
non so tanto bene l'inglese si puo avere una breve traduzione:muro:

di tutto? :eek:

uff, studiate gente, studiate... anzi basta leggere siti in inglese che si impara dopo un pò... :muro:

31-01-2004, 10:56
Grazie per le info Gio

Io non ho mai studiato l'inglese ma aiutandomi con Babylon imparo,spesso adesso non lo uso neanche.D'altronde il 99% di internet è in inglese

31-01-2004, 11:09
Originariamente inviato da Teox82
Grazie per le info Gio

Io non ho mai studiato l'inglese ma aiutandomi con Babylon imparo,spesso adesso non lo uso neanche.D'altronde il 99% di internet è in inglese

E quello che dico sempre, vabbè che essendo ing. informatico l'inglese lo devo sapere bene, ma d'altra parte praticamente l'ho imparato da me con Internet e film in lingua originale... :)

03-02-2004, 19:31
NASA gets new funds for space shuttles and moon mission

WASHINGTON (AFP) Feb 02, 2004

The new US public budget unveiled Monday gives a big boost to spending on efforts to get the US shuttle back in space and to start moves to get manned missions to the moon and Mars.
Funding for the National Aeronautic and Space Administrtion (NASA) in fiscal 2005 will rise by 5.6 percent to 16.2 billion dollars.

The 866 million dollar increase for the year starting October 1 comes after a decade of stagnation for the space program. Most other government departments saw funding fall. NASA's boost almost rivals defense spending -- the other priority of President George W. Bush -- which was scheduled to rise by seven percent.

Bush's budget presented to Congress would help fund the return to space of the US space shuttle program, which was grounded after the explosion of the Columbia shuttle on February 1, 2003.

Spending on space flight programs was to rise to 6.674 billion dollars compared to 5.875 dollars in 2004, a 13.6 percent increase.

The budget for human space exploration was to reach 8.5 billion dollars, an increase of 13.3 percent over the current 7.5 billion dollars.

Bush last month announced the retirement of the shuttle program in 2010, as he unveiled a far more ambitious program, to include new manned flights to the moon from about 2015. This would be a launchpad for manned missions to Mars further down the road.

NASA is to resume a full program of shuttle launches later this year.

The administration wants construction of the orbiting International Space Station finished by 2010 when the United States will withdraw from the project.

To accomplish that, the remaining shuttles -- Atlantis, Discovery and Endeavor- - will often be on standby simultaneously, with a total of five missions per year before they are consigned to a museum.

NASA will also have to finance the launch of research into the replacement for the shuttle.

"NASA will invest in new space transportation systems that will enable travel to the moon and beyond," said the budget.

The agency will "also engage in research on long duration space flight's impact on human physiology and will develop ways to increase the sustainability of humans in space."

The budget also allows funds for "demonstrations of space nuclear power and advanced propulsion technologies and other breakthrough exploration systems".

Exploration systems will get 1.85 billion dollars in 2005, up from 1.6 billion dollars in 2004.

The total amount to be spent on human exploration of space will rise from 7.5 billion dollars in 2004 to 8.5 billion dollars.

NASA's scientific research, particularly on Earth, is the main loser in the new budget. Its allocation falls to 7.69 billion dollars from 7.83 billion dollars in 2004.

04-02-2004, 12:32
Europe Plans Human Missions to Moon and Mars

By Jane Wardell
Associated Press
posted: 05:10 pm ET
03 February 2004

LONDON (AP) European scientists set out a route map Tuesday for manned missions to Mars that aims to land astronauts on the Red Planet in less than 30 years.

Like U.S. President George W. Bush's proposed mission to Mars, the plan put forward by the European Space Agency involves a "stepping stone'' approach, which includes robotic missions and a manned trip to the Moon first.

"We need to go back to the Moon before we go to Mars. We need to walk before we run,'' said Dr. Franco Ongaro, who heads the ESA's Aurora program for long-term exploration of the solar system, at a meeting of Aurora scientists in London. "These are our stones. They will pave the way for our human explorers.''

The ESA has planned two flagship missions to Mars _ ExoMars would land a rover on the planet in 2009, and Mars Sample Return would bring back a sample of the Martian surface in 2011-14.

Other test missions will include a non-manned version of the flight that would eventually carry astronauts to Mars to demonstrate aerobraking, solar electric propulsion and soft landing technologies.

A human mission to the Moon, proposed for 2024, would demonstrate key life-support and habitation technologies, as well as aspects of crew performance and adaptation to long-distance space flight.

The program is expected to cost about 900 million euros (US$1.13 billion) over the next five years.

Professor Colin Pillinger, the British scientist behind the recent ill-fated Beagle 2 expedition, said it was important to determine whether life existed on Mars before pressing ahead with a manned mission.

"Would it be right for us to tamper with the ecology on another body?'' he asked. "My opinion is that it probably wouldn't.''

The ExoMars rover would use solar arrays to generate electricity and travel several kilometers (miles) across the surface of Mars.

It would have on-board software enabling it to operate autonomously, and, like Beagle 2, a set of scientific instruments designed to search for signs of past or present life.

Mars Sample Return would be a more complex mission requiring five spacecraft _ an interplanetary transfer stage, a Mars orbiter, a descent module, an ascent module and an Earth re-entry vehicle.

The module would contain a drill to collect soil samples and was expected to send back around half a kilogram (one pound) of Martian soil.

Scientists hope the expedition has a better outcome than the Beagle 2 trip. The British built lander, which was due to land on Mars on Christmas Day, has not been heard from since it separated from the ESA's mother ship, Mars Express, in mid-December, despite several efforts to contact it.

Mars Express itself has functioned as intended, orbiting the planet. ESA scientists said last month that it had found the most direct evidence yet of water in the form of ice on Mars, detecting molecules vaporizing from the Red Planet's south pole.

By contrast, NASA's twin rovers are reaching out to scoop and analyze the Martian surface some 6,600 miles (10,560 kilometers) apart, both machines using their robotic arms as intended following a software glitch.

President Bush last month sought to chart a new course for NASA, focusing on a return to the Moon by 2020 in preparation for manned missions to Mars and beyond.

05-02-2004, 12:28
NASA's Moon-Mars Plans Take Shape

By Robert Roy Britt
Senior Science Writer
posted: 06:30 am ET
05 February 2004

Planning for NASA's return to the Moon is now in full swing and officials expect to meet the tight timetable of putting a robot there by 2008. Meanwhile, the focus of robotic Mars missions will soon shift to further prepare for human exploration.

As analysts had expected, a stark financial and resource refocusing is underway at NASA in which robotic efforts will be planned less for pure science and more for supporting future human spaceflight.

The first mission to the Moon will likely be an orbiter that generates NASA's first digital map of the pockmarked world, officials said Wednesday. It will be a reconnaissance craft designed to help prepare for a return of astronauts as early as 2015, as envisioned last month by President George W. Bush.

The second new lunar foray, in 2009, will be with a robotic lander whose goals are not yet clear.

"These missions will not be driven by science," said Ed Weiler, associate administrator for the NASA’s Office of Space Science. "They will be driven by preparations for human landings."

The initial robotic journey back to the Moon will nonetheless yield "a lot of science," Weiler said, but "we are going to the Moon to prepare to go to Mars, where we will do the real science."

Paying for the vision

Some geologists are eager for human exploration of Mars in order to conduct an investigation more thorough than what can be accomplished with robots. Some say only humans will be able to determine whether Mars does or ever did harbor life, and only humans can turn all the pages of the complex book of geology written in Martian rocks.

Critics argue you can send dozens of robots for the price of one manned mission.

Weiler and his colleagues spoke to reporters Wednesday in a conference call, explaining details of the President's 2005 budget request that has just been sent to Congress.

In that request is additional funding for NASA, lifting the agency's budget from $15.38 billion to $16.24 billion. It also details how existing funds will be redirected to support the White House goal of returning astronauts to the Moon and eventually putting people on Mars.

Astronomers and planetary scientists have worried that the president's new vision might cause casualties in robotic and telescopic programs.

"Space science is alive and well," Weiler declared. "We have healthy budget increases. In comparison to the rest of the government we obviously have nothing to complain about."

However, NASA remains firm, he said, on a decision not to service the Hubble Space Telescope. That conclusion was reached based on concern for astronaut safety, not budget issues, the agency maintains. Hubble could last into 2008 but almost surely not beyond.

Back to the Moon

The 2005 NASA spending request -- less than 1 percent of the overall federal budget -- must be approved by Congress and could be picked apart. Space policy analysts say Bush and NASA must convince lawmakers and the public that the added cost of sending people beyond low-Earth orbit is worthwhile.

Space science would get $4.07 billion, up from $3.97 billion in 2004. Earth science would drop from $1.61 billion to $1.49 billion. Biological science research would rise from $985 million to $1.05 billion.

The remainder of the budget would be spent mostly on human spaceflight efforts, including the shuttle program, the space station, and research into a new vehicle capable of flying astronauts to the Moon. Bush has called for a phase-out of the shuttles after space station construction is completed. Then money from both those projects would be diverted to the new vision.

In the new NASA, robotic missions must more closely relate to the overall effort to put people on other worlds.

Weiler pointed out that prior to the Apollo missions, robots photographed the Moon from above and landers explored the surface. A similar but more expedited robotic campaign will be carried out this time.

NASA often plans robotic missions over the course of a decade or so. Now scheduling is on a comparative fast track.

"We've got a pretty good idea of what we want to do with the first Moon mission," Weiler said, adding that he's confident the orbiter can be ready in four years.

"This will be the first digital recon mission of the Moon," he said. In addition to high-resolution photographs, the orbiter will likely work to map lunar resources, such as water ice that is suspected of hiding in permanently shadowed craters. Frozen water would be a key resource for any future Moon base, providing drinking water and, when broken down into hydrogen, fuel for return flights or missions beyond the Moon.

The initial lunar craft might also include a radiation detector. Ironically, NASA knows more about the potentially harmful radiation environment at Mars than it does with the Moon. A follow-up lander mission, in 2009, may or may not include a rover, Weiler said.

New focus at Mars

Mars missions will begin shifting focus early in the next decade, said Orlando Figueroa, one of Weiler's top lieutenants and the NASA official in charge of exploring the Moon and planets.

So far, Mars missions have been geared toward the search for water, as well as understanding the climate, atmosphere and environment as a whole. The new budget provides more money to examine safety issues at the red planet, "so we can begin preparing in a more focused way" for sending humans, Figueroa said.

He added that in 2011, the focus starts to shift from looking for water to looking for organic compounds, signs of life or signatures of the seeds of life.

Money has also now been set aside to prepare for a sample return mission to Mars. That effort, on the drawing boards for some time and once scheduled for launch as early as 2003, had not been adequately funded in terms of dealing with analysis of whatever is brought back. Funding to develop new technology for that effort is now written into the 2005 budget request.

Figueroa said a Mars sample return would launch in 2013 at the earliest. He said it would likely involve a static lander and not a roving craft.

These missions, as well as the current rovers on Mars, will all generate a picture of the red planet that will help officials decide where to send humans, how they will survive, and what they'll need to take with them.

No timetable has been set for putting astronauts on Mars, though. The president called for continual reevaluation of short-term spaceflight goals as technology improves and funding is secured in the years to come.

The White House vision was, at least in part, designed to get a flailing space agency back on track after the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster. Many space policy experts have long said NASA has been largely directionless for three decades and that money was being wasted running circles around Earth.

Robotic failures also plagued the agency in the late 1990s.

Weiler said NASA's back-to-back failures in 1999, of the Mars Climate Orbiter and Mars Polar Lander, were blessings in disguise.

Had those missions succeeded, NASA would not have had the funding necessary to proceed with other missions on the ambitious red planet schedule that had been in place, he said. The failure led to a restructuring of the entire Mars program, with which he is now pleased.

"Sometimes failures are good things," Weiler said.

05-02-2004, 19:35
Europe To Pay Russia To Build
Soyuz Pad At Kourou: Russia

Moscow (AFP) Feb 5, 2004

The European Union will pay Russian space companies 121 million euros (152 million dollars) to fund the launch of Russian Soyuz vessels from the European Space Agency (ESA) launch complex in French Guiana, a Russian space official said late Wednesday.
The first tranche of the payment has already been transferred to Russia, the RIA Novosti news agency quoted the unidentified official as saying.

"The first tranche has already arrived (in Russia), the money has been distributed," said the official with Russia's space agency Rosaviakosmos, although he failed to specify the amount of that first tranche.

Part of the 121 million euros will be used to modernize the Soyuz launchers, under the denomination Soyuz-ST, the official said.

France and Russia signed last November an agreement opening up Russian access to the ESA launch complex at Kourou from 2006.

The agreement gave the legal green light to using the French overseas territory for ESA-Russian cooperation.

ESA ministers agreed to the scheme in May last year. It provides for the building of a new pad at Kourou, at a cost of 314 million euros (361 million dollars), from which to launch the veteran Soyuz rocket.

France has agreed to contribute half of the costs, with other ESA member states to pick up the rest of the tab.

Arianespace, which operates ESA's launchers, will tie up with Russia's Starsem company to use the Soviet-era Soyuz for launching medium-sized payloads to help meet a gap in its own marketing range.

The Soyuz -- the workhorse of space, having been used on some 1,700 satellite launches or manned space missions -- is expected to substitute for the Ariane-4 rocket, which was phased out last year.

All rights reserved. © 2004 Agence France-Presse. Sections of the information displayed on this page (dispatches, photographs, logos) are protected by intellectual property rights owned by Agence France-Presse. As a consequence, you may not copy, reproduce, modify, transmit, publish, display or in any way commercially exploit any of the content of this section without the prior written consent of Agence France-Presse.

06-02-2004, 18:31
Moon Viewed by Europe's SMART-1

Now en route to the Moon, Europe's Small Missions for Advanced Research in Technology (SMART-1) spacecraft snapped images of its destination.

Late last month, SMART-1's Asteroid-Moon Micro-Imager Experiment (AMIE) used several filters to picture the Moon.

The image reveals, clockwise from the top: Mare Serenitatis, Mare Tranquillitatis, Mare Fecunditatis and Mare Nectaris, with Mare Crisium also visible near the limb.

SMART-1 was launched by the European Space Agency in September 2003. It is being nudged moonward by its electric propulsion engine. That hardware was switched off late last month after four months of traveling through the Earth's radiation belts.

The engine will remain dormant for three weeks, giving science teams time to evaluate their instruments.

Following 15 months of cruise, SMART-1 will arrive at the Moon. Onboard the probe are six experiments -- including three remote sensing instruments -- that will be used during the mission's nominal six months in lunar orbit.

It is the first time that Europe has sent a spacecraft to the Moon.


06-02-2004, 18:35
Unlocking the secrets of the universe: Rosetta lander named Philae

5 February 2004

ESA PR 08-2004. With just 21 days to the launch of the European Space Agency's Rosetta comet mission, the spacecraft's lander has been named "Philae". Rosetta embarks on a 10-year journey to Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko from Kourou, French Guiana, on 26 February.

Philae is the island in the river Nile on which an obelisk was found that had a bilingual inscription including the names of Cleopatra and Ptolemy in Egyptian hieroglyphs. This provided the French historian Jean-François Champollion with the final clues that enabled him to decipher the hieroglyphs of the Rosetta Stone and unlock the secrets of the civilisation of ancient Egypt.
Just as the Philae Obelisk and the Rosetta Stone provided the keys to an ancient civilisation, the Philae lander and the Rosetta orbiter aim to unlock the mysteries of the oldest building blocks of our Solar System - comets.

Germany, France, Italy and Hungary are the main contributors to the lander, working together with Austria, Finland, Ireland and the UK. The main contributors held national competitions to select the most appropriate name. Philae was proposed by 15-year-old Serena Olga Vismara from Arluno near Milan, Italy. Her hobbies are reading and surfing the internet, where she got the idea of naming the lander Philae. Her prize will be a visit to Kourou to attend the Rosetta launch.

Study of Comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko will allow scientists to look back 4600 million years to an epoch when no planets existed and only a vast swarm of asteroids and comets surrounded the Sun. On arrival at the comet in 2014, Philae will be commanded to self-eject from the orbiter and unfold its three legs, ready for a gentle touchdown. Immediately after touchdown, a harpoon will be fired to anchor Philae to the ground and prevent it escaping from the comet's extremely weak gravity. The legs can rotate, lift or tilt to return Philae to an upright position.

Philae will determine the physical properties of the comet's surface and subsurface and their chemical, mineralogical and isotopic composition. This will complement the orbiter's studies of the overall characterisation of the comet's dynamic properties and surface morphology. Philae may provide the final clues enabling the Rosetta mission to unlock the secrets of how life began on Earth.

“Whilst Rosetta’s lander now has a name of its own, it is still only a part of the overall Rosetta mission. Let us look forward to seeing the Philae lander, Osiris, Midas and all the other instruments on board Rosetta start off on their great journey this month,” said Professor David Southwood, ESA Director of Science.

11-02-2004, 11:07
Reactor research to power journey to Jupiter's moons

Posted: February 8, 2004

A planned U.S. mission to investigate three ice-covered moons of Jupiter will demand fast-paced research, fabrication and realistic non-nuclear testing of a prototype nuclear reactor within two years, says a Los Alamos National Laboratory scientist.

An artist's concept of Jupiter Icy Moons Orbiter. Credit: NASA/JPL

The roots of this build and test effort have been under way at Los Alamos since the mid-1990s, said David Poston, leader of the Space Fission Power Team in Los Alamos' Nuclear Design and Risk Analysis Group.

NASA proposes using use electrical ion propulsion powered by a nuclear reactor for its Jupiter Icy Moons Orbiter, an element of Project Prometheus, which is scheduled for launch after 2011. However, the United States hasn't flown a space fission system since 1965.

Poston discussed technical requirements for such a fission reactor in two presentations Monday at the Space Technology and Applications International Forum in Albuquerque. Los Alamos is a co-sponsor of the forum. Poston discussed "The Impact of Core Cooling Technology Options on JIMO Reactor Designs" and "The Impact of Power and Lifetime Requirements on JIMO Reactor Designs."

Los Alamos is leading reactor design for the Jupiter Icy Moons Orbiter mission, which would orbit Callisto, Ganymede and Europa to study their makeup, possible vast oceans beneath the ice, their history and potential for sustaining life. Los Alamos is responsible for such key reactor technologies as nuclear fuel, beryllium components, heat pipes and diagnostic instruments, as well as nuclear criticality testing of development and flight reactors.

"Nuclear power has long been recognized as an enabling technology for exploring and expanding into space, and fission reactors offer essentially limitless power and propulsion capabilities," Poston said.

The JIMO mission demands a safe, low-mass, high-temperature reactor that can be developed and qualified quickly, can operate reliably in the harsh environment of space for more than a decade, and can meet a wide range of mission and spacecraft requirements, he said.

A science mission to explore the icy Jovian moons will require kilowatts of electrical power for the scientific payloads and up to 100 kilowatts of electricity for ion propulsion to propel the spacecraft to Jupiter, maneuver within the Jovian system and allow rendezvous with the moons. The reactor also must power advanced science experiments and systems to send data to Earth at high rates.

Despite the lack of U.S. space reactor research in recent decades, Los Alamos has continued to examine technologies and concepts for a rapid and affordable development program. Working with NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center, Los Alamos has resolved many hardware issues at the component and system level.

Los Alamos and NASA-Marshall researchers, working with colleagues from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory and Sandia National Laboratories, have built successively more powerful nuclear electric propulsion reactor components, including a 30-kilowatt reactor core, one-third of a 100-kilowatt system (core plus heat exchanger) and a single module suitable for a 500-kilowatt reactor core. Extensive non-nuclear testing of these and other components continues.

Most researchers have agreed on the best fuels and reactor construction materials for the proposed fast-spectrum, externally controlled JIMO reactor. The major design choice that remains is how best to transport power from the reactor core to the power conversion system.

Los Alamos and NASA are examining three primary options for core cooling: pumped liquid-metal sodium or lithium; sodium or lithium liquid metal heat pipes; and inert helium or helium-xenon gas. Many of these options have been tested for decades for terrestrial reactors, but the reactor for JIMO will be unique, Poston said.

"The power and lifetime potential of space fission reactors is almost limitless when compared to the requirements of future NASA missions," Poston said. "However, it is clear that reactor performance and technical risks are tightly coupled to power and lifetime requirements, so we must thoroughly understand these technical risks before developing the first system. For example, there are fewer technical and development challenges for a 500-kilowatt-thermal reactor than a 1,000-kilowatt-thermal reactor.

"The first step needs to be small enough to ensure success and to put into place the experience, expertise and infrastructure necessary for more advanced systems," Poston concluded. "After that, we can move on to the systems needed for truly ambitious space exploration, such as multi-megawatt nuclear electric propulsion or nuclear thermal rockets. Our near-term efforts must be focused on making the first mission succeed."

Los Alamos National Laboratory is operated by the University of California for the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) of the U.S. Department of Energy and works in partnership with NNSA's Sandia and Lawrence Livermore national laboratories to support NNSA in its mission.

Los Alamos develops and applies science and technology to ensure the safety and reliability of the U.S. nuclear deterrent; reduce the threat of weapons of mass destruction, proliferation and terrorism; and solve national problems in defense, energy, environment and infrastructure.

11-02-2004, 16:01
Lander successfully completes on-ground check-out

ESA press release:

10 Feb 2004 09:10

January 2004 saw the completion of the on-ground check-out activities of the Rosetta Lander at CSG, Kourou, French Guiana.

The check-out team took the Lander through a flawless "Cruise Abbreviated Functional Test". This test successfully demonstrated that all Lander subsystem and payload units were as alive and well as expected. To round off the test series, the electrical configuration was finalized for launch, the primary battery was checked out, and the secondary battery was fully charged. Finally, the harpoons, which in 10.5 years' time will secure the Lander to the comet surface, were mounted.

By now, only a few protective covers and other "remove-before-flight" items still have to be removed (including tip protectors of the harpoons, still present on the picture you see here), and the plug that sets the Lander to the Arm status will be installed late February, when Rosetta is atop its Launch Vehicle.

In addition, the Lander staff graduated from their refresher Safety Training to be cleared for work at the BAF (Ariane 5 Final Assembly Building), where that last "remove-before-flight" and arming task will be performed. No small feat!


11-02-2004, 16:01

11-02-2004, 16:10
interessanti le notizie che posti,nn sn appassionato di astronomia però leggo sempre con interesse le notizie che posti.Grazie x il contributo che dai.

11-02-2004, 16:20
Domanda riguardo alle ipotesi sulla missione verso Giove: ma con la fascia degli asteroidi come pensano di fare?

11-02-2004, 16:24
Originariamente inviato da gpc
Domanda riguardo alle ipotesi sulla missione verso Giove: ma con la fascia degli asteroidi come pensano di fare?
vogliono fare una missione su giove?????!! caspita che figata...

11-02-2004, 16:33
Originariamente inviato da Ser21
vogliono fare una missione su giove?????!! caspita che figata...

Ehm... cinque post più su...

11-02-2004, 17:45
Originariamente inviato da Ser21
interessanti le notizie che posti,nn sn appassionato di astronomia però leggo sempre con interesse le notizie che posti.Grazie x il contributo che dai.


11-02-2004, 17:47
Originariamente inviato da gpc
Domanda riguardo alle ipotesi sulla missione verso Giove: ma con la fascia degli asteroidi come pensano di fare?

era un problema una volta, ora non più... una degli "objectives" di rilievo della missione Pioneer, e poi Vojager, era proprio quella di capire se era possibile superare indenni (sia fisicamente che per le forti radiazioni) la fascia di asterodi tra marte e giove.

11-02-2004, 18:29
Originariamente inviato da GioFX
era un problema una volta, ora non più... una degli "objectives" di rilievo della missione Pioneer, e poi Vojager, era proprio quella di capire se era possibile superare indenni (sia fisicamente che per le forti radiazioni) la fascia di asterodi tra marte e giove.

sai anke come hanno risolto?

11-02-2004, 21:02
Originariamente inviato da TheDarkAngel
sai anke come hanno risolto?

ci sono passati in mezzo... :D

11-02-2004, 23:02
Originariamente inviato da GioFX
ci sono passati in mezzo... :D

[Claudio Bisio Simpatico Umorista]

Sagaci !!!

:D :D :D :D

[/Claudio Bisio Simpatico Umorista]

12-02-2004, 15:40
Originariamente inviato da GioFX
ci sono passati in mezzo... :D

E se fosse stata solo la fortuna del principiante? :D
Ma ricordo male io o nel passaggio di una sonda s'era danneggiata l'antenna principale?

12-02-2004, 16:26
Originariamente inviato da gpc
E se fosse stata solo la fortuna del principiante? :D
Ma ricordo male io o nel passaggio di una sonda s'era danneggiata l'antenna principale?

Pioneer 9... se ricordo bene...

Un passo interessante di un articolo che racconta l'epica avventura di Pioneer 10 (tra pochi giorni scriverò un paio di articoli su Pioneer e Voyager):

After two and a half decades in outer space, Pioneer 10’s antenna had drifted off-point. In 1997, NASA researchers realized they needed to re-point the antenna to Earth to keep in contact with the craft. But the targeting process carried the risk of muting Pioneer 10 permanently. To garner enough power for the maneuver, Pioneer 10’s transmitter had to be shut down. "We were concerned that turning the transmitter’s traveling wave tube off in the deep cold of space, and then back on again, would cause a thermal shock that might shatter the helix [a component that’s critical for transmission] in the tube," explains Larry Lasher, Pioneer project manager at NASA Ames Research Center. But "the hearty spacecraft successfully executed the [maneuvering] procedure in the blind for 90 minutes," he says.

Not bad for a craft originally slated only for a 21-month mission to Jupiter. To reach the giant planet, Pioneer 10 first had to cross the (then) seemingly impenetrable asteroid belt. By the 1960s, when Pioneer's mission was being planned, the orbits of more than 3,000 large asteroids had been determined and thus could be avoided, but tiny particles in the belt were still thought to pose a big threat. Scientists had no way of estimating the number of grain-size particles that might severely damage a craft after multiple collisions. "Only by going there could the danger be properly assessed, " says Ed B. Massey, manager of the Voyager and Ulysses projects, describing the debt later missions owe to Pioneer. "When Pioneer successfully traversed the asteroid belt, it had demonstrated that a concentration of small debris sufficient to harm the spacecraft did not exist."

After three decades that saw Pioneer 10 blaze a trail for all future spacecraft through the asteroid belt, take the first close-up images of Jupiter and its satellites and then head out of the solar system, the spacecraft was officially decommissioned in 1997. But, as Lasher notes, "in retirement Pioneer 10 still served the public as a valuable space resource at no extra cost to the taxpayers." It has been used to train spacecraft controllers in tracking station protocol and continues to be tracked as a part of study in communication technology.

12-02-2004, 16:28
Voyage to Jupiter and Beyond

Also celebrating a milestone birthday this year, turning 25 on September 5, 2002, Voyager 1 overtook Pioneer in February 1998, to become the farthest man-made artifact. Like its pioneering cousin, Voyager 1 defied the odds, surviving for more than six times its original four-year mission length.

Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 set out in 1977, to Jupiter and beyond. The timing took advantage of a rare arrangement of the planets, occurring once every 175 years, which allowed a bargain tour of Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune. To save weight on fuel, the twin spacecraft both employed the "slingshot" method, using the gravity of each planet passed to bend the flight path and increase velocity. Following in the footsteps of Pioneer 10, Voyager 1 traveled to Jupiter and Saturn before embarking on its interstellar mission, while Voyager 2 took the full four-planet tour. The two Voyagers found the first signs of volcanic activity outside Earth, on Jupiter’s moon Io, and discovered that the atmosphere of Saturn consists almost entirely of hydrogen and helium.

The Voyagers’ longevity can be attributed in part to last-minute design changes made following feedback from the Pioneer 10 and 11 missions. (The mission of Pioneer 11, which also flew by Jupiter, ended after its last transmission was received on September 30, 1995.) "The Pioneers discovered that Jupiter’s radiation belt was much more intense than anticipated, and the Voyagers, while more sophisticated than the Pioneers, were also more vulnerable," Massey explains. "Optical glasses and electronic components that would withstand the intense radiation had to be found, and instruments and other space subsystems had to be modified."

Credit must also be given to the original design team’s foresight when preparing the spacecraft for potential mission extensions. Each craft houses on-board backup systems that can be activated from the ground if needed. In April 2002, the team had to call on one of those reserve systems when Voyager 1’s position-sensing capability was in jeopardy, setting a new record for most-distant spacecraft maintenance in the process. "We were switching to a system that had not been used for 20 years, and, while we felt confident, we were not positive that it would work," Massey says. During a temporary changeover, on-board computers became confused about the spacecraft’s location, mistaking the sun for Earth, almost leading to loss of communications with the ground. The team had to instruct Voyager 1 to try to keep itself steady with gyroscopes during the final switch because it couldn’t rely on its computer sun-position sensors. "There was only about a 15-minute interval to analyze the data after the switch and decide whether to continue with the permanent switch," Massey says. But the team had faith that the transition had been successful, and today Voyager 1’s backup is functioning as smoothly as the original did 25 years ago.
Now both Voyagers are also heading out to the heliopause. With more sophisticated instrumentation than Pioneer, they may be used to study interstellar fields, particles and waves, in regions unaffected by the solar wind. To make sense of the data received, however, it’s important for scientists to have a clear understanding of how galactic cosmic rays are modulated by the solar wind. And who better to look to for advice than IMP-8, a spacecraft with almost 30 years of experience collecting data on long-scale solar processes?

12-02-2004, 16:34
Thread interessante... gli regalo un up!

12-02-2004, 16:37
Originariamente inviato da GioFX
Pioneer 9... se ricordo bene...

Un passo interessante di un articolo che racconta l'epica avventura di Pioneer 10 (tra pochi giorni scriverò un paio di articoli su Pioneer e Voyager):

:D No, a parte gli scherzi, ti supplico, non aprire altri thread che non ci sto più dietro sennò, scrivi qui! :p

Comunque le missioni Voyager e Pioneer sono tra quelle che ammiro di più, perchè secondo me sono state progettate con la mentalità giusta.
Chiaro, hanno avuto anche fortuna, ma quelle sonde di paia di palle ne avevano da vendere: sono andate ben oltre alla loro missione iniziale.

12-02-2004, 17:15
Originariamente inviato da gpc

Non preoccuparti, tutti i thread saranno rintracciabili con la parola 'Space', e verranno di volta in volta riportati gli indirizzi nella prima pagina di questo thread.


16-02-2004, 15:29
Weather eye on Europe

12 February 2004

ESA's new Weather Today (http://weathertoday.esa.int) website allows you to access data from space relied upon by weather forecasters across Europe.

Perched in geostationary orbit 36,000 km above Africa's Gulf of Guinea, the seventh ESA-developed Meteosat satellite maintains a constant weather eye on the European continent and its neighbours. Day and night every 30 minutes it routinely acquires a new image combining visual, infrared and water vapour channels.
Meteosat operator Eumetsat – the intergovernmental organisation for the exploitation of European meteorological satellites – processes the data in Darmstadt, Germany, before relaying it on to users via the same satellite working as a telecommunication relay. The latest images can be seen at http://weathertoday.esa.int.

Meteosat-7's sister satellite, Meteosat-6, waits in the wings in geostationary orbit ten degrees to the east – a stand-by spacecraft to guarantee continuity of service.

For the past 26 years millions of people have watched imagery returned by the Meteosat series of satellites incorporated into daily TV weather forecasts. Now, after seven spacecraft, the original Meteosat design is being joined and eventually succeeded by the Meteosat Second Generation (MSG) system.

Like its predecessor, MSG has been designed and developed for Eumetsat by ESA. MSG boasts higher image resolution, four times the number of sensing channels and is able to produce new images every 15 minutes instead of half an hour.

MSG-1, the first spacecraft in this new series, has already been placed in orbit. On 29 January it began routine operations, re-designated as Meteosat-8 to mark it formally becoming part of the Eumetsat family.

Weather Today - ESA (http://weathertoday.esa.int/)

16-02-2004, 15:37
Most Distant Galaxy Hints at Dark Ages

By Robert Roy Britt
Senior Science Writer
posted: 07:00 am ET
16 February 2004

Astronomers seeking to glimpse the very beginnings of the universe announced this weekend they may have spotted the most distant galaxy yet, one that could shed light on the end of the so-called Dark Ages of cosmology that preceded the well-lit universe we know today.

The scientists are unsure of the exact distance to the galaxy but know it is near the limit of what can be found with current telescopes. It is estimated to be 13 billion light-years away, seen at a time when the universe was just 700 million to 750 million years old.

Unlike other distance records in recent years, mostly coming out of the Sloan Digital Sky Survey, this one was a product of the Hubble Space Telescope and the W. M. Keck Observatory in Hawaii.

Jean-Paul Kneib, of Caltech and the Observatoire Midi-Pyrénées, led the work.

Running away

The distance to faraway galaxies is measured by noting how rapidly they are moving away from our own. Because the universe is expanding at an ever-increasing pace, all widely dispersed galaxies retreat from each other at greater speeds the farther apart they are.

Scientists measure all this by noting a galaxy's redshift, the extent to which the wavelengths of its light have been stretched toward the red end of the spectrum during its long travels across the cosmos.

The previous record holder, a Sloan galaxy, is at redshift 6.4.

The newfound galaxy has a redshift of at least 6.6, based on the Hubble imaging, and may be near 7.0 according to a less firm analysis of the Keck observations.

The universe is now about 13.7 billion years old.

Unusual properties of the galaxy could shed light on the end of a theorized era of cosmic time called the Dark Ages. During the Dark Ages, shortly after the Big Bang, hydrogen atoms had gathered to form the first stars, but they had yet to condense and ignite into the thermonuclear furnaces that create light. Scientists don't yet know how long the era lasted.

Unusual properties

The newly spotted galaxy appears not to have a bright emission from hydrogen that is seen in many other faraway galaxies. Further, its intense ultraviolet signal is much stronger than what's seen in more modern galaxies that are undergoing rapid star formation. That suggests the most distant known galaxy may contain mostly massive stars, which is in line with what theorists expect from the first galaxies.

"The unusual properties of this distant source are very tantalizing because, if verified by further study, they could represent those expected for young stellar systems that ended the dark ages," said Richard Ellis, a Caltech astronomer and coauthor of an article on the discovery that will be published in the Astrophysical Journal. He presented the finding today at a meeting in Seattle of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

The discovery was not routine. It involved a trick of light provided by a natural magnifying glass in the heavens.

The primeval galaxy is situated behind a more nearby cluster of galaxies, called Abell 2218. The tremendous gravity of the galaxy grouping bends and amplifies light from the more distant object as it passes through the cluster. The technique, known as gravitational lensing, has been used to spot other object in the early universe.

"We are looking at the first evidence of our ancestors on the evolutionary tree of the entire universe," said Frederic Chaffee, director of the Keck Observatory.

Near the limit

Scientists have been saying for a few years now that they are closing in on the Big Bang with each record-setter. But each new benchmark is now an incremental improvement and increasingly difficult to top.

In a separate talk at the meeting, Xiaohui Fan of the University of Arizona's Steward Observatory in Tucson, discussed the limits of today's telescopes in spotting objects in the primordial universe. Fan was part of the Sloan team that found the previous record-holder.

These distant galaxies are called quasars, short for quasi-stellar radio sources. They were first noticed in the 1950s and '60s and were thought to be nearby stars that behaved strangely.

Current telescopes cannot routinely find quasars beyond redshift 6.5, Fan said. To reach redshift 10 or greater, and peer into the Dark Ages, will require the power of the James Web Space Telescope, due to launch early in the next decade.

There is a lot to learn.

When it was born, the universe contained only hydrogen and helium. All other elements were forged inside stars and in the explosive deaths of the most massive stars, known as supernovas.

"But we see a lot of other elements around those early quasars," Fan said. "We see evidence of carbon, nitrogen, iron and other elements, and it's not clear how these elements got there. There is as much iron, proportionate to the population of those early systems, as there is in mature galaxies nearby."

Theorists have become increasingly impressed with how rapidly stars must have formed as the Dark Ages ended.


Nearby galaxy cluster Abell 2218 acts as a powerful lens, magnifying galaxies beyond it. The lensed galaxies are all stretched along the cluster's center and some of them are multiply imaged. The new apparent record-setter shows up as a faint red pair of images, encircled in the larger version of this image.

17-02-2004, 20:00
New Spaceship Planned, Russian Space Chief Says

By Vladimir Isachenkov
Associated Press Writer
posted: 12:30 pm ET
17 February 2004

MOSCOW (AP) -- Russian engineers have begun design work on a new spacecraft that would be twice as big and spacious as the existing Soyuz crew capsules, the nation's top space official said Tuesday.

The new craft will be able to carry at least six cosmonauts and have a reusable crew section, Russian Aerospace Agency director Yuri Koptev said at a news conference. Soyuz carries three cosmonauts and isn't reusable.

The spacecraft, designed by the RKK Energiya company, will have a takeoff weight of 12-14 metric tons (13-15 tons) -- about twice as much as the Soyuz, which was developed in the late 1960s.

Energiya has also proposed developing a new booster rocket based on its Soyuz booster to carry the new spacecraft to orbit.

Koptev wouldn't say how long it could take to build the spacecraft or how much it would cost, but said that Energiya had done a lot of work on the new vehicle already.

``It has already reached a serious project stage while the Americans are only talking about their spacecraft,'' Koptev said, referring to U.S. plans to build a new spacecraft.

U.S. President Bush's plan of returning astronauts to the moon and flying to Mars and beyond envisages phasing out the shuttle in 2010 and building a new spacecraft, called the Crew Exploration Vehicle, which is set to make its first manned mission no later than 2014.

Koptev said that his agency was willing to consider possible participation in the planned U.S. moon and Mars missions, but hadn't yet received any formal proposals from NASA. At the same time, he reaffirmed his skepticism about Bush's space plan, saying that the U.S. administration would have trouble raising resources for the planned missions.

``There is no explanation whatsoever where the money needed to implement the declared program would come from,'' Koptev said.

He added that more robotic missions to moon and Mars could be useful but sending humans there seemed too costly and inefficient for now.

``It's necessary to switch from emotions to pragmatic assessment: how much it would cost, where the money would come from and what we would get from such manned missions,'' Koptev said.

Koptev said that the prospective Russian spacecraft would be intended for orbital flights, not moon missions.

He said that Russia and other partners in the 16-nation International Space Station were waiting for the United States to clarify how the orbiting outpost would be run after 2010 when U.S. space shuttles will retire.

Koptev said that Russia would be willing to offer its Soyuz spacecraft to ferry astronauts to and from the station after the U.S. shuttles retire, but that would require renegotiating the original documents on the station.

Russian Soyuz and Progress spacecraft have served as the only link to the station since the U.S. shuttle fleet was grounded pending investigation into the destruction of the shuttle Columbia during its return to Earth in February 2003.

Koptev said that his agency has enough funds to send the two Soyuz and two Progress spacecraft necessary to operate the station this year. He said that Russian and European space officials are currently negotiating the possibility of sending a European astronaut on a six-month mission to the station in a Soyuz.

Several European astronauts so far have flown only weeklong missions to the station.

20-02-2004, 13:10
Next shuttle flight delayed; rescue scenario formed

Posted: February 19, 2004

The first post-Columbia shuttle mission will slip from September to March 2005 to give engineers more time to develop in-flight repair procedures and to take advantage of more favorable launch windows, officials said today. The slip also will give NASA and its contractors time to resolve problems with actuators in the shuttle's rudder and speedbrake assembly in the ship's vertical tail fin.

Concerns with space shuttle rudder/speedbrakes is one of the reasons NASA is delaying return-to-flight into 2005. Photo: NASA

NASA's Spaceflight Leadership Council, a panel made up of the agency's top managers, approved the change during a meeting today at the Johnson Space Center in Houston. The panel also approved plans to assign the flight to the shuttle Discovery, targeting launch for no earlier than March 6, 2005.

At the same time, engineers continue to refine plans to have a second shuttle ready for launch on an emergency rescue mission in case something goes wrong during Discovery's flight. In that case, commander Eileen Collins and her crew could be forced to seek "safe haven" aboard the international space station until a rescue flight could be attempted.

NASA plans to process a second shuttle that could be rolled to the pad and launched within 70 days of notification, assuming a three-shift around-the-clock work flow and no waived requirements, sources said. The flow possibly could be shortened to 35 days in a crisis.

The rescue flight, known as STS-300, would be crewed by four of the six astronauts already assigned to mission STS-115, the third flight in NASA's post-Columbia launch sequence. The STS-115 crew is made up of commander Brent Jett, pilot Chris Ferguson, Joe Tanner, Dan Burbank, Steve MacLean and Heidemarie Stefanyshyn-Piper.

STS-300 would provide backup for Collins' flight, known as STS-114, and the second post-Columbia mission, STS-121. Jett, Ferguson and two other STS-115 crew members would be trained to rescue either crew.

The mission would feature a normal rendezvous and docking with the space station. The stranded crew would return to Earth strapped into recumbent seats bolted to the floor of the rescue shuttle's lower deck.

Recumbent seats are needed to prevent balance problems for astronauts returning to Earth after being weightless for more than a month. Seven such seats would be required for Collins' crew, all of them mounted in the middeck area. Studies show all 11 returning astronauts would have time to bail out, if necessary, despite the crowded conditions on the lower deck.

This file image shows three astronauts in recumbent seats. Photo: NASA

"It is our plan to put ourselves in a posture for return to flight, first launch, that the second vehicle will be ready to launch and go to the international space station and pick up the first crew if we had a problem with the vehicle and could not bring it down," said Michael Kostelnik, deputy associate administrator for the shuttle and station programs.

He told reporters today the space station could support a stranded shuttle crew for up to 90 days and possibly longer if required.

"For the first flight, we are going to have the capability to do this and we will have the proper software load and training for that mission such that we'd be in a position to have a crew capable of launching within the time period the station could support an expanded crew and bring down the first crew if we had a problem with the first vehicle," Kostelnik said.

"There's still a lot of planning to be done on this (but) this is the path we're going down for the first flight. Our experience for subsequent flights will be determined by our success and our problems associated with the first flight."

The space station as seen at the completion of the last shuttle assembly mission in December 2002. Photo: NASA

With Discovery now slated for the first post-Columbia mission, the shuttle Atlantis will serve as the STS-300 "launch-on-need" vehicle.

"I don't believe there's an awful lot of extra training or extra things we have to do for a rescue mission," said Bill Parsons, shuttle program manager. "Overall, it would be very similar to an STS-121 mission. It would be going to the international space station, docking, picking up crew, making sure we had the appropriate hardware and things we needed to bring that crew on board and then returning safely."

NASA managers originally said they hoped to launch the first post-Columbia flight this March or April. But last October, the target was pushed back to a launch window that opened around Sept. 12 and closed Oct. 10.

A variety of factors conspired to push the flight into 2005, including work to minimize foam shedding from the shuttle's external fuel tank and development of tile and wing leading edge repair materials and techniques. Other "long poles" include development of a camera and laser sensor package needed for in-flight inspection of the ship's thermal protection system.

Tile repair development is "going as well or better than expected," Parsons said today. Wing leading edge repair is "not as mature as the tile repair, but it is coming along."

NASA now requires shuttles to be launched only in daylight. Photo: NASA

Another complicating factor is a photo documentation requirement to have daylight lighting for both launch and external fuel tank separation to determine whether any large pieces of foam separated from the tank and, if any did, whether the shuttle suffered any damage. The lighting requirement, combined with thermal constraints at the space station, translated into very limited launch windows through early 2005. After the September window, NASA had just three available days in November, none in December and three in January.

NASA now plans to target a launch window that would open around March 6, 2005, and extend into early April. But a Russian Soyuz crew transfer flight is scheduled for launch around April 10 and flight rules forbid launching a shuttle within 13 days of that date. As a result, NASA will have until roughly the end of March to get Discovery off the ground during that window.

The STS-121 mission is tentatively targeted for launch in May 2005.

As Parsons said, developing repair techniques for the reinforced carbon carbon panels that protect the leading edges of the shuttle's wings remains a major concern. But sources say recently discovered problems with actuators in the rudder/speedbrake assembly on the shuttle could prove equally time consuming to resolve.

23-02-2004, 18:31
China announces plans for Shenzhou 6

Posted: Sun, Feb 22 12:58 PM ET (1758 GMT)

Chinese officials said Saturday that nation's next manned spaceflight, Shenzhou 6, would place two people into orbit for several days some time next year. Wang Yongzhi, chief designer of the Shenzhou program, told the Chinese TV network CCTV that Shenzhou 6 was scheduled for launch next year, although he did not specify when in the year the launch would take place. Unlike Shenzhou 5, which carried a single astronaut into orbit for one day, this flight would carry two people who would remain in orbit for between five and seven days. He added that China also planned to launch a "space laboratory" into orbit in 2007 that would be visited by future Shenzhou missions; the lab would be the first step towards a space station. Wang's comments confirm earlier reports and rumors that China would wait until 2005 to carry out its second manned spaceflight. Wang was interviewed after receiving a state science and technology award worth five million yuan (US$605,000) from Chinese President Hu Jintao in Beijing on Friday.

24-02-2004, 11:51
Europe prepares mission to search for life on Mars

Posted: February 23, 2004

Before humans can leave their boot prints on the dusty surface of Mars, many questions have to be answered and many problems solved. One of the most fundamental questions - one that has intrigued humankind for centuries - is whether life has ever existed on Mars, the most Earthlike of all the planets.

An artist's concept shows the ExoMars descent module. Credit: ESA

Through its long-term Aurora Programme of solar system exploration, ESA is already preparing a series of robotic missions that will reveal the Red Planet's secrets and pave the way for a human expedition in decades to come.

A major step towards the realisation of this ambitious robotic programme was completed this week with the selection of two industrial teams to carry out the detailed design of the ExoMars rover and its Pasteur payload of scientific instruments.

The parallel Phase A studies for ExoMars, the first Flagship mission in the Aurora Programme, will be carried out by companies from ESA Member States and Canada.

The teams are:

Prime contractor Astrium UK, with subcontractors Galileo Avionica (Italy), Von Hoerner & Sulger (Germany) and SciSys (UK)
Prime contractor MD Robotics (Canada), with subcontractors Kayser Threde (Germany), Laben (Italy), Carlo Gavazzi (Italy) and Alcatel Space (France)
"The industrial groups will be responsible for producing a detailed design concept for the rover, the first vehicle of its kind to be built by ESA," said Bruno Gardini, Aurora Project Manager.
"In addition to defining the optimum conceptual design for the rover, they will also be expected to consider the unique operational environment on Mars. The studies will also take into account the design of the Pasteur payload and how the scientific instrument package can best be integrated with such a highly mobile vehicle."

This week's announcement follows the September 2003 selection of two industrial teams to carry out a full, end-to-end mission design for ExoMars. Those contracts cover all phases of the mission, from launch, through the long interplanetary voyage to the landing of the rover on the planet.

ESA has also issued an open announcement or 'Call for Ideas', requesting the participation of the scientific community in the ExoMars mission by proposing a well-defined set of instruments for the Pasteur payload.

After receiving some 50 proposals from more than 600 scientists in 30 countries, ESA intends to appoint three scientific Investigator Working Groups to advise on the final composition of the payload and its utilisation on Mars.

"ExoMars will be ESA's first mission to carry an exobiology payload, a set of instruments specifically designed to search for life," said Jorge Vago, ExoMars Study Scientist. "Over the next few months we shall zero in on the final instrument composition and then pass this information on to the industrial contractors," he said. "Our intention is to define a multi-instrument package that will be able to fulfil a number of key tasks."

"It should be able to drill into the surface, retrieve and analyse samples, study the physical environment and look for evidence of biomarkers - clear signs that life has existed on Mars in the past, or even survives to the present day," he added.

ExoMars, which is scheduled for launch in 2009, includes an orbiter and a descent module that will land a large (200 kg), high-mobility rover on the surface of Mars. After delivery of the lander/rover, the ExoMars orbiter will operate as a data relay satellite between the Earth and the vehicle on the Martian surface.

The primary objective of the rover and its state-of-the-art Pasteur payload will be to search for signs of life, past or present, on the Red Planet. Additional measurements will be taken to identify potential surface hazards for future human missions, to determine the distribution of water on Mars and to measure the chemical composition of the surface rocks.

Pasteur will be the most comprehensive scientific package ever to land on Mars, with tools that can extract, handle and analyse samples of Martian soil. The instrument mass of this payload is anticipated to be around 40 kg.

Its unique capability to obtain underground samples at depths of up to two metres will provide an excellent opportunity to gain access to ice-rich soil layers - and possibly the first definitive evidence of primitive Martian life.

24-02-2004, 12:23
Chissa' se in questa missione metteranno qualche sistemino di sicurezza...

26-02-2004, 16:34
Articolo *molto* più interessante di quelli di GioFX :Prrr: :D


Magnetic Fields and Water on Europa

By Cynthia Phillips
from the SETI Institute’s Center for the Study of Life in the Universe
posted: 06:30 am ET
26 February 2004

In four previous articles, we considered the Galilean satellites and the fact that tidal flexing, due to their resonant orbits, provides heat for volcanism on Io and could result in the presence of liquid water beneath Europa’s icy surface. We also summarized the evidence for liquid water at Europa based on geological evidence from images of Europa taken by the Voyager and Galileo spacecraft, and based on thermal models of the interior of Europa. In this article we will consider the magnetic field results from Galileo, and their implications for Europa’s subsurface structure.

The geological evidence is tantalizing, but incomplete -- it suggests that liquid water could be present, but also allows for the possibility that the strange features we see on Europa’s surface could all have formed through the motion of soft ice, without any liquid water at all. The thermal models present a similar picture -- we know that there is about 100 km of material with the density of water at Europa’s surface, but just can’t be sure if it’s completely solid, or if some (or most!) of it is liquid. Theoretical models that look at the behavior of Europa’s interior over time suggest that it’s possible that convection would quickly transport all the heat out of a liquid water layer and cause it to freeze solid, but it’s also possible that a liquid layer could be sustained over geological time.
In the face of all this uncertainty, it would be difficult to say anything more unequivocal than that a liquid ocean at Europa is possible. However, a new line of evidence from an unexpected source, results from Galileo’s study of magnetic fields, has suggested that the "possible" should be replaced with "probable" – we now believe that it is likely that Europa has a liquid ocean beneath its icy surface. How is this possible?

Europa has no magnetic field of its own, but Jupiter has a very strong magnetic field. The Jovian magnetosphere extends out to about 10 Jupiter radii (RJ), between the orbits of Europa (9.4 RJ) and Ganymede (15 RJ). So the satellites Io and Europa actually orbit Jupiter within its magnetic field. However, Jupiter’s magnetic field is not symmetric around the center of Jupiter–it is tilted by almost ten degrees with respect to Jupiter’s spin axis, and is also offset by about 1 R J from the center of Jupiter. Because of this offset as Jupiter rotates, Europa experiences a time-varying magnetic field over a period of 11.23 hours. The field also varies as Europa orbits around Jupiter, but Jupiter’s rotational period (and thus the rotation of its magnetic field) is a much stronger effect.

We know from the laws of electromagnetism that a time-varying magnetic field will induce an electric field. This electric field then causes a current to flow within the interior of Europa, with a direction that changes on a timescale of half the rotational period. This current loop then creates a secondary magnetic field with a direction that’s approximately opposite to the primary magnetic field from Jupiter. This is called an induced magnetic field.

Data from Galileo's magnetometer (an instrument which measures the strength and direction of magnetic fields) showed that Europa has an induced magnetic field that varies in direction and strength in response to Europa's position within Jupiter's strong magnetic field. The periodic variation in direction shows that the field is not due to a permanent internal dipole, meaning that the field is not created in the interior of Europa (unlike the Earth's magnetic field).

The strength and response of the induced field at Europa can tell us about subsurface structure. The results measured by the Galileo magnetometer require a near-surface, global conducting layer. The most likely layer that meets these requirements is a global layer of salty water, with a salt content of no less than ~0.02 times the salinity of Earth’s oceans. The magnetometer results allow a range of solutions with different values for the conductivity of the ocean, the depth below the surface at which it is located, and the ocean layer’s thickness. For example, if we assume a Europan ocean with a conductivity equal to that of the terrestrial oceans, then such a layer would have to be at least several kilometers thick and located no farther than 200 km below the surface of Europa.

The magnetic field data from the Galileo spacecraft put a substantial set of constraints on Europa’s subsurface structure. For example, the data for Europa cannot be explained by localized pockets of salty water, and instead require a nearly complete spherical shell of liquid water. A frozen ice layer, even if it had pockets of briny water, could not produce the observed response because ions in solid ice would be insufficiently mobile.

It is possible that a type of conducting layer other than a global salty ocean could account for the induced magnetic field, but the salty ocean explanation appears the most plausible. In particular, the strength of the observed induced field is not consistent with currents induced in a metallic core; the induced dipole field strength falls off with the cube of the distance and the core is simply too far away to provide the observed field. The data are also not consistent with a field induced in Europa's ionosphere; the ionosphere is too tenuous to support the electrical currents needed to explain the strength of the field. A subsurface layer of a different conducting material, instead of salty water, is possible, but such layers (such as graphite) would be implausible given what we know about Europa’s composition and formation.

Intriguingly, the Galileo magnetometer data suggest that Callisto and Ganymede may also harbor subsurface oceans. These latter oceans likely exist in a layer sandwiched between two phases of water ice, so they would not provide the astrobiologically more interesting rock/water interface (with possibilities for hydrothermal vents) that may be present at the bottom of Europa’s ocean.

The magnetic field results for Europa, therefore, currently provide our best indirect evidence for the presence of liquid water beneath Europa’s icy surface. These results, while intriguing, will not be confirmed until a direct detection of Europa’s ocean is made. Such measurements will require dedicated instruments on a spacecraft that is orbiting Europa. A future article will discuss these measurements (including altimetry, high-resolution gravity, and radar sounding) and the current plans to fly a spacecraft to Europa with instruments to make these and other measurements.

26-02-2004, 17:04
Originariamente inviato da gpc
Articolo *molto* più interessante di quelli di GioFX :Prrr: :D




04-03-2004, 23:44
guardate qua:


la prima foto in assoluto della Terra e della Luna viste da un'altro pianeta (in realtà dall'orbita). Questa foto è stata scattata l'8 maggio 2003 da Mars Global Surveyor.

04-03-2004, 23:46
Originariamente inviato da GioFX
guardate qua:


la prima foto in assoluto della Terra e della Luna viste da un'altro pianeta (in realtà dall'orbita). Questa foto è stata scattata l'8 maggio 2003 da Mars Global Surveyor.

Uno dei due rover dovrebbero scattare una foto della Terra con la camera panoramica, uno dei prossimi Sol...

06-03-2004, 07:54
Molto belle :cool:

08-03-2004, 00:28
certo che è incredibile che qualche piastrella di un rivestimento ceramico abbia avuto questo impatto catastrofico sulle missioni umane nello spazio. O alla Nasa adesso hanno una fifa blu di perdere un'altro equipaggio, per cui non si azzardano a riutilizare gli shuttle oppure fino ad ora hanno corso molti più rischi del dovuto...

08-03-2004, 08:23
Da quello che ho capito io dai vari rapporti seguiti alla tragedia e soprattutto da quello del CAIB, il problema non era tecnologico, quando di organizzazione e mentalità...

I viaggi nello spazio sono rischiosi, e lo sono comunque: la rottura di tre piastrelle di rivestimento ceramico esterno può causare un disastro, perchè tutto è estremo: velocità, costi, potenze in gioco, materiali tirati al limite... eccetera.

Per ridurre questi rischi non c'è che un modo (se vogliamo fare missioni con la tecnologia che esiste, e non aspettare che il progresso superi questi problemi, rendendo ciò che oggi intraprendiamo come "rischiosissimo", facile: però, allora sceglieremo probabilmente di fare cose più rischiose di quelle che facciamo oggi, riportando il discorso al punto di partenza): effettuare una serie di verifiche continue, costanti, noiose, fastidiose di tutto... equipaggiamenti, uomini, procedure, operazioni, le stesse missioni, in una continua revisione.

Naturalemente questo non significa che sia possibile prevenire
ogni possibile rischio, così come nessuno pretende di togliere ogni sasso che intralci le strade del mondo, ma significa che la manutenzione stradale deve essere costante...

Ciò che è mancato è stato questo: si è acquisita, nell'ambiente della NASA, la confidenza che, avendolo fatto decine di volte, era possibile farlo ancora... si è detto, che il problema si era verificato altre volte, e che non era successo nulla... ma questo tipo di ragionamento può andare bene per un televisore che va con una botta, per un PC che funziona a singhiozzo... ma non per l'apparato tecnologico probabilmente più complesso del pianeta!

Sono stato spiegato? :sofico:

08-03-2004, 09:37
Originariamente inviato da jumpermax
certo che è incredibile che qualche piastrella di un rivestimento ceramico abbia avuto questo impatto catastrofico sulle missioni umane nello spazio. O alla Nasa adesso hanno una fifa blu di perdere un'altro equipaggio, per cui non si azzardano a riutilizare gli shuttle oppure fino ad ora hanno corso molti più rischi del dovuto...

Non era una piastrella di ceramica, era un pezzo di rivestimento termico (schiuma) dell'ET.

I rischi sono sempre alti... il problema, come ha detto giustamente Mixar, è che è stata riscontrata una serie di discrepanze a livello organizzativo e di gestione dei centri preposti al volo spaziale, e sottovalutazione di alcuni rischi legati ad eventi già verificatisi in passato (come appunto il distacco di pezzi di rivestimento termico di gomma-schiuma dall'ET).

15-03-2004, 02:04
la notizia sembra di quelle importanti ma non troppo. Cmq se Plutone è un pianeta vero e proprio a buon diritto può esserlo anche Sedna... stando a quanto dice la BBC domani l'annuncio.

Astronomers have discovered a new world circling the Sun farther away than other planets.
Found in an outer Solar System survey by the recently launched Spitzer Space Telescope, it has been called Sedna after the Inuit goddess of the ocean.

Observations show it is about 2,000 km across, and it may even be larger than Pluto which is 2,250 km across.

The Hubble Space Telescope has also seen it. Details will be announced by the US space agency Nasa on Monday.

17-03-2004, 23:37
SOHO spacecraft snaps spectacular Sun shot

Posted: March 16, 2004

Credit: ESA/NASA

On Friday, March 12, the Sun ejected a spectacular "eruptive prominence" into the heliosphere. SOHO, the ESA/NASA solar watchdog observatory, faithfully recorded the event.

This "eruptive prominence" is a mass of relatively cool plasma, or ionized gas. We say "relatively" cool, because the plasma observed by the Extreme-ultraviolet Imaging Telescope (EIT) on board SOHO was only about 80,000 degrees Celsius, compared to the plasma at one or two million degrees Celsius surrounding it in the Sun's tenuous outer atmosphere, or "corona."

At the time of this snapshot, the eruptive prominence seen at top right was over 700,000 kilometres across - over fifty times Earth's diameter - and was moving at a speed of over 75,000 kilometres per hour.

Eruptive prominences of this size are associated with coronal mass ejections (CMEs), and the combination of CMEs and prominences can affect Earth's magnetosphere when directed toward our planet. In this case, the eruptive prominence and associated CME were directed away from Earth.

SOHO is a mission of international co-operation between ESA and NASA, launched in December 1995. Every day SOHO sends thrilling images from which research scientists learn about the Sun's nature and behaviour. Experts around the world use SOHO images and data to help them predict "space weather" events affecting our planet.

25-03-2004, 23:25
New Member States at ESA

25 March 2004
ESA PR 17-2004. In the course of its meeting in Kiruna (Sweden) on 24 and 25 March, the ESA Council approved the accession of Greece and Luxembourg to the ESA Convention.

The two countries are expected to become full members of the Agency by 1 December 2005, after their national approval procedures have been completed.
The Hellenic Republic officially applied to join ESA last October, the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg in December. The ESA Council unanimously approved both applications.

Greece and Luxembourg were granted observer status to attend meetings of ESA’s Council and all its subordinate bodies, to enable them to familiarise themselves with the Agency’s procedures and working practices.

26-03-2004, 06:30
Bene! Altri due a bordo! :)

09-04-2004, 00:39
BREAKING NEWS! Private Spaceship Completes Second Rocket-Powered Test Flight

By Leonard David
Senior Space Writer
posted: 02:25 pm ET
08 April 2004

The privately-backed SpaceShipOne suborbital rocket plane made its second powered flight today.

Built by Scaled Composites of Mojave, California, the piloted vehicle was powered by a hybrid rocket motor to over 105,000 feet. The engine burned for 40 seconds, zipping to Mach 2, or two times the speed of sound, according to a source that witnessed the test flight high above Mojave, California skies.

SpaceShipOne's second successful powered flight was piloted by Peter Siebold.

No details about the flight have been publicly issued by Scaled Composites, although the firm did respond to SPACE.com inquiries that, indeed, the flight had occurred and a de-briefing about the vehicle’s handling during the test is underway.

SpaceShipOne’s first powered flight took place on December 17, 2003. In that test, the motor roared to life for 15 seconds. According to another Scaled Composites source, today's flight was the 13th airborne demonstration of the vehicle.

Extensive testing

The Scaled Composites’ SpaceShipOne project is being led by aircraft designer Burt Rutan, who heads the company. A major contractor for the hybrid motor used in the craft is SpaceDev of Poway, California.

The rocket plane and its carrier mothership, the White Knight, were rolled out in a public ceremony on April 18, 2003. Nearly a year later, the SpaceShipOne has undergone extensive piloted glide tests, and now two powered flights.

Scaled Composites has its eyes on snagging the X Prize, a high-stakes international race to fly a reusable private vehicle to the edge of space and return safely to Earth.

The X Prize Foundation of St. Louis, Missouri will award $10 million to the first company or organization to launch a vehicle capable of carrying three people to a height of 62.5 miles (100 kilometers), return safely to Earth, and repeat the flight with the same vehicle within two weeks.

The clock is running

For the cash prize, however, the clock is running as the $10 million purse expires as of the end of this year.

Twenty-seven contestants representing seven countries have already registered for the X Prize contest, modeled on the $25,000 Orteig Prize for which Charles Lindbergh flew solo from New York to Paris in 1927.

Just yesterday, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) announced it had issued the world's first license for a sub-orbital manned rocket flight.

The license was issued April 1 by the DOT’s Federal Aviation Administration's Office of Commercial Space Transportation to Scaled Composites. This federal paperwork green-lighted a sequence of sub-orbital flights by Scaled Composites for a one-year period.

Safety first

The FAA sub-orbital space flight license is required for U.S. contenders in the X Prize competition. In its 20 years of existence, the FAA's Office of Commercial Space Transportation has licensed more than 150 commercial launches of unmanned expendable launch vehicles.

The license to Scaled Composites is the first to authorize piloted flight on a sub-orbital trajectory, the DOT statement noted.

While the highest criteria to issue a license are public safety, applicants must undergo an extensive pre-application process, demonstrate adequate financial responsibility to cover any potential losses, and meet strict environmental requirements.

13-04-2004, 14:27
NASA's Search for Moon-to-Mars Rockets Has Begun


Voi come fareste? :sofico:

13-04-2004, 14:32
Piuttosto mi chiedo, è vero che il carburante necessario per spostarsi dalla Luna è meno di quello che serve per partire dalla terra, ma i pezzi per i missili, il carburante, le attrezzature e gli uomini... beh, arrivano comunque dalla terra. No? :wtf:

13-04-2004, 14:43
Originariamente inviato da gpc
Piuttosto mi chiedo, è vero che il carburante necessario per spostarsi dalla Luna è meno di quello che serve per partire dalla terra, ma i pezzi per i missili, il carburante, le attrezzature e gli uomini... beh, arrivano comunque dalla terra. No? :wtf:

Beh, in questo caso è da anni che la NASA sta studiando la possibilità di utilizzare lanciatori espandibili per lanciare le unità a "pezzi" per un assemblaggio in orbita... è anche per questo che sono in corso di rinnovamento tutti i principali lanciatori espandibili americani, come anche quelli russi...

cmq, per l'ipotetico progetto di un Heavy Launch Vehicle rimando a questo interessante thread su space.com:


13-04-2004, 14:50
Originariamente inviato da GioFX
Beh, in questo caso è da anni che la NASA sta studiando la possibilità di utilizzare lanciatori espandibili per lanciare le unità a "pezzi" per un assemblaggio in orbita... è anche per questo che sono in corso di rinnovamento tutti i principali lanciatori espandibili americani, come anche quelli russi...

cmq, per l'ipotetico progetto di un Heavy Launch Vehicle rimando a questo interessante thread su space.com:


Hm, sì ok, ma quello che era il mio dubbio era un altro...
Cioè, se devo costruire una navicella che vada dalla luna a marte, e il fatto di farla sulla luna dà vantaggi per il fatto che la gravità è minore e quindi la "spesa" in termini di carburante per l'uscita dal campo gravitazionale è minore, in ogni caso i pezzi devo portarli dalla terra, per cui il problema resta... :fagiano:
Discorso diverso sarebbe assemblare in orbita una nave che poi venga riutilizzata per ogni viaggio e resti sempre in orbita. Insomma, non è che l'Enterprise dopo ogni viaggio veniva ricostruita :sofico: :D

13-04-2004, 14:56
Originariamente inviato da gpc
Hm, sì ok, ma quello che era il mio dubbio era un altro...
Cioè, se devo costruire una navicella che vada dalla luna a marte, e il fatto di farla sulla luna dà vantaggi per il fatto che la gravità è minore e quindi la "spesa" in termini di carburante per l'uscita dal campo gravitazionale è minore, in ogni caso i pezzi devo portarli dalla terra, per cui il problema resta... :fagiano:

certo che sarebbe meno dispendioso in termini di carburante partire dalla Luna. In questo senso cmq si intende preparare una base stabilmente abitata sulla Luna e un sistema per lanciare da lì una navetta per Marte. Il problema sarebbe cmq che si dovrebbe acquistare la necessaria accelerazione di fuga con almeno un'orbita attorno alla Terra. E' anche a questo che si sta pensando, se valga la pena o meno utilizzare la Luna (ad oggi è assai poco probabile) come base di lancio per le missioni umane su Marte.

Al contrario, se si parte dalla Terra, occorrerà un nuovo super-lanciatore, come il russo Energia.

Discorso diverso sarebbe assemblare in orbita una nave che poi venga riutilizzata per ogni viaggio e resti sempre in orbita. Insomma, non è che l'Enterprise dopo ogni viaggio veniva ricostruita :sofico: :D

LOL! :D, come la maglietta di Ken Shiro!

13-04-2004, 14:58
April 12: Historic day for space program

Posted: April 12, 2004

Today is a great day in the history of spaceflight, marking the 43rd anniversary of the first human spaceflight and the 23rd anniversary of the first flight of the Space Shuttle. Our Russian partners celebrate this day as Cosmonautics Day. In keeping with tradition, NASA Administrator Sean O'Keefe sent congratulations on behalf of the agency to Russian Federal Space Agency Head Anatolii Perminov.

On April 12, 1961, Cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin became the first human to travel in space, when he was launched on the historic "Vostok 1" flight. Since that day, Russia has celebrated April 12th as Cosmonautics Day.

In his letter of congratulations, Administrator O'Keefe said, "My warmest congratulations to you and the people of the Federal Space Agency (FKA) on Cosmonautics Day 2004! The people of FKA can be justifiably proud of the heritage of success that we all celebrate on Cosmonautics Day.

"As the world celebrates the 43rd anniversary of the historic flight of Yuri Gagarin, we are reminded of the tremendous contributions space exploration has made to humanity. These contributions are many and varied, ranging from exploits in human space flight to robotic discoveries across the solar system.

"Closer to home, exploration has yielded unprecedented insights into the Earth's systems from orbiting satellites to incredible advancements in biological and physical research. It is no coincidence NASA and FKA have substantial ongoing cooperation in each of these areas, as our agencies continue to work closely together to push back the frontiers of space for the benefit of all.

"I am proud that our courageous spacefarers, such as astronaut Michael Foale and cosmonaut Alexander Kaleri, who are on-orbit on the International Space Station, and Gennady Padalka and Mike Fincke who are in the final stages of preparation for the next journey of discovery on the Station, continue to build upon the legacy of Yuri Gagarin and expand our reach into the unknown."

The first flight of the Space Shuttle took place on April 12, 1981. The Space Shuttle Columbia (STS-1) blasted off on its historic mission on the 20th anniversary of Gagarin's groundbreaking flight. The Columbia's 54-hour, 36-orbit mission tested the vehicle, which has since been used as the basis of our international human space flight partnerships. Scientific cooperation with the Soviet Union dates back to the very beginnings of space flight. The first cooperative human space flight project between the United States and the Soviet Union took place in 1975. The Apollo-Soyuz Test Project was designed to test the compatibility of rendezvous and docking systems for American and Soviet spacecraft and to open the way for future joint manned flights.

Since 1993, the U.S. and Russia have worked together on a number of other space flight projects. The Space Shuttle began visiting the Russian Mir space station in 1994, and in 1995 Norm Thagard became the first U.S. astronaut to take up residency on Mir. Seven U.S. astronauts served with their Russian counterparts aboard the orbiting Mir laboratory from 1995 to 1998. The experience gained from the Mir cooperative effort, as well as lessons learned, paved the way for the International Space Station.

In-orbit construction on the Station began in November 1998, and it has been staffed non-stop with international crews since November 2000. The first Station crew, made up of U.S. commander Bill Shepherd and cosmonauts Yuri Gidzenko and Sergei Krikalev, was launched on board a Russian Soyuz spacecraft. The crew returned to Earth on the Space Shuttle Discovery in March 2001.

Since the Space Shuttle Columbia accident on February 1, 2003, crew exchange and resupply of the Station have depended on Russian Soyuz and Progress vehicles. The cooperation between the U.S. and Russia has grown into a mutually supportive effort. With the combined efforts of the other 14 International Space Station partner nations, the unique orbiting laboratory has become a symbol of peaceful international cooperation.

13-04-2004, 15:05
Originariamente inviato da GioFX
certo che sarebbe meno dispendioso in termini di carburante partire dalla Luna. In questo senso cmq si intende preparare una base stabilmente abitata sulla Luna e un sistema per lanciare da lì una navetta per Marte. Il problema sarebbe cmq che si dovrebbe acquistare la necessaria accelerazione di fuga con almeno un'orbita attorno alla Terra. E' anche a questo che si sta pensando, se valga la pena o meno utilizzare la Luna (ad oggi è assai poco probabile) come base di lancio per le missioni umane su Marte.

Al contrario, se si parte dalla Terra, occorrerà un nuovo super-lanciatore, come il russo Energia.

Ehm... sì... ma forse non mi spiego...
Diciamo, tanto per capirci, per per ogni chilo da portare in orbita dalla terra ci vogliano 10 chili di carburante. Dalla luna invece solo 2kg. Toh cifre sparate a caso al 100%.
Quindi per far partire 1000kg di navicella dalla terra ho bisogno di 10*1000=10.000 chili di carburante.
Per farla partire dalla luna dovrò prima portare tutti i pezzi sulla luna, e 1000 chili sono e 1000 chili restano, più portare anche il carburante che dovrà essere impiegato per farla partire dalla luna... ovvero (1000+1000*2)*10=30.000 chili di carburante.

E' questo il mio dubbio. O mi sono perso qualcosa per strada? :fagiano:

13-04-2004, 15:36
Originariamente inviato da gpc
Ehm... sì... ma forse non mi spiego...
Diciamo, tanto per capirci, per per ogni chilo da portare in orbita dalla terra ci vogliano 10 chili di carburante. Dalla luna invece solo 2kg. Toh cifre sparate a caso al 100%.
Quindi per far partire 1000kg di navicella dalla terra ho bisogno di 10*1000=10.000 chili di carburante.
Per farla partire dalla luna dovrò prima portare tutti i pezzi sulla luna, e 1000 chili sono e 1000 chili restano, più portare anche il carburante che dovrà essere impiegato per farla partire dalla luna... ovvero (1000+1000*2)*10=30.000 chili di carburante.

E' questo il mio dubbio. O mi sono perso qualcosa per strada? :fagiano:

gp... il ragionamento che hai fatto è perfetto, la cosa che "ti perdi per strada" è che il rapporto payload/carburante varia in funzione del carico stesso, cioè si usano lanciatori e carburanti differenti a seconda del tipo e del peso del carico... lanciare un mega vettore da assemblare in orbita costerebbe meno che lanciare lo stesso supervettore da Terra, chiaro? :fagiano: :p

l'unica cosa che frena questa possibilità sono questioni commerciali/politiche, e soprattutto difficoltà tecniche per una simile operazione.

E' che ora si ritrovano senza super-lanciatori (dato che il vecchio Delta IV andrà in pensione), e già siamo anni luce dal Saturn V...

13-04-2004, 15:49
Ho capito... forse... più o meno... cioè sì ok, ma non ho capito il perchè... :D :D
Vabbè fa nulla, mi fido :O :D

13-04-2004, 16:40
Originariamente inviato da gpc
Ho capito... forse... più o meno... cioè sì ok, ma non ho capito il perchè... :D :D

:muro: :O

Vabbè fa nulla, mi fido :O :D

Ecco bravo! :D :p

13-04-2004, 16:42
La navicella per Marte avrà propulsione nucleare,il discorso carburante cambia

13-04-2004, 16:48
Originariamente inviato da Teox82
La navicella per Marte avrà propulsione nucleare,il discorso carburante cambia

Credo che, in ogni caso, per staccarsi da qualunque corpo celeste, luna compresa, ci sia bisogno della propulsione chimica.

13-04-2004, 16:51
Attualmente credo proprio di sì... in futuro, chissà...

13-04-2004, 18:50
Originariamente inviato da Teox82
La navicella per Marte avrà propulsione nucleare,il discorso carburante cambia

Um no, non è ancora deciso... anzi, al momento è da scartare... l'unico progetto attualmente in essere, Prometheus, più volte stoppato a ripartito, riguarda le lune di Giove, per il resto NASA sta studiando con il Dipartimento dell'Energia e la U.S. Navy un nuovo sistema di propulsione con reattore a fissione.

14-04-2004, 06:35
Ti dirò... attualmente io sono tra quelli che preferibbe aspettare lo sviluppo di un sistema di propulsione "nucleare" per la missione umana su Marte, piuttosto che partire "adesso" (si parla comunque del 2030, eh! :cool: ) con le tecnologie attuali.

29-04-2004, 00:25
U.S. Snubbed China's Offer for Space Cooperation: 'Technology Not Mature'

By Tariq Malik
SPACE.com Staff Writer
posted: 09:30 am ET
28 April 2004

CAPE CANAVERAL, FL -- Despite joining the elite club of nations to have successfully launched humans into space, China remains an outsider with the United State, reaching out to other spacefaring countries, an expert on Chinese space exploration said Tuesday.

The Chinese National Space Administration was surprised to receive a cold reaction from the U.S. after the successful flight of taikonaut Yang Liwei in October 2003, said Joan Johnson-Freese, an expert on China’s space efforts.

“The Chinese were shocked to find that now that they had a manned space program the U.S. would not work with them,” Johnson-Freese said during the 41st Space Congress underway here. “They were told their ‘technology was not mature.’”

For over a decade, China has fueled its human space flight program to the collective tune of $2.2 billion. That figure comes from Zhou Xiaofei, Manager of the Manned Spaceflight Department within the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation.

Zhou revealed the cost number at an International Space Law Seminar 2004, which opened on Apr 26 in Beijing, and was reported by China's People's Daily Online.

A sizeable amount of those dollars, Zhou said, were used on construction of various facilities, including new structures at the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center, for an astronaut training center, and at the Beijing Spaceflight Center. These facilities not only provide necessary conditions for assembly, test and experiment, but also serve as the foundation for "sustainable development" of China's manned spaceflight project, he reported.

Other funds were detailed to development of the Shenzhou piloted spacecraft, Zhou added, such as the carrier rocket and seven major systems for the project. A hefty chunk of funding was spent on four unpiloted Shenzhou shakeout missions before their first human flight of a Shenzhou V took place last October.

Despite this investment, and China's cautious approach to the launching of its manned missions, the U.S. remained unmoved. Questions over whether China’s space effort is a civilian program, or a military endeavor that could eventually threaten the U.S., were reportedly responsible for the U.S.’s uncooperative reaction.

“China is at least two decades behind the U.S. in military technology and ability,” Johnson-Freese said. But it is possible to develop military space technology through a manned program, there were discussions over whether China’s piloted Shenzhou spacecraft could serve as a reconnaissance platform, she added.

Yang’s historic flight carried him around the Earth 14 times during his 21-hour flight aboard the Shenzhou 5 spacecraft. The flight’s success made China only the third nation to loft a human into space.

Anticipating future space cooperation with the U.S., China fitted the Shenzhou craft with a docking ring capable of linking up with the International Space Station (ISS) and has at least one launch site, Jiuquan, located at near the same latitude as NASA’s Cape Canaveral, which would allow similar launch profiles, Johnson-Freese said. She added that the wall between China and U.S. space officials prompted at least one Chinese space official to tears.

The cool reception from the U.S. prompted China to turn to other nations and coalitions like the European Space Agency (ESA), where the country has sunk $259 million in the multinational Galileo project. China is also spending $170 million for a moon rover, she added.

Johnson-Freese, who also chairs the National Security Decision Making Department of the U.S. Naval College, routinely tours China to view its launch sites and other space capabilities. China, she said, sees its budding manned space program as a sign of economic development and a way of impressing nearby neighbors like Pakistan and Iran.

Chinese space officials are now planning an October 2004 launch for Shenzhou 6, a two-person mission to last up to seven days, Johnson-Freese said. The Chinese space agency also plans to begin recruiting female taikonuts in 2005.


04-05-2004, 09:43
Panel: NASA Needs New Heavy-Lift Launch Vehicles

By Tariq Malik
SPACE.com Staff Writer
posted: 06:00 am ET
29 April 2004

CAPE CANAVERAL, FL -- In order to support future space exploration, both manned and unmanned, NASA will have to rely on new, expendable launch vehicles capable lofting much more cargo than current rockets, a panel of aerospace experts said Wednesday.

An incremental approach to rocket design could develop boosters to rival the immense Saturn 5 launch vehicle that sent Apollo astronauts to the moon. But NASA could take the same step-by-step approach with its space shuttle launch vehicle with the advantage of already having a human-rated system to build on.

"There are benefits to a shuttle-derived launch system," explained Michael Khan, vice president of space programs for the Brigham City, Utah-based ATK Thiokol Inc. "Everything is already human-rated and the workforce is already in place."

Khan spoke during a panel discussion on the future of expendable launch vehicles held here at the 41st Space Congress.

Khan outlined a plan that starts with the replacement of the space shuttle’s position in the current launch configuration with a cargo module capable of carrying 160,000 pounds (72,000 kilograms) into low Earth orbit by 2008. The system could then be gradually upgraded with a larger external tank and booster to loft 200,000 pounds (90,750 kilograms) by 2015, leading to an in-line ultra-heavy launch vehicle.

A mid-size booster developed the same way could serve the future Crew Exploration Vehicle (CEV) that will transport astronauts once the space shuttle is retired.

ATK Thiokol has already tested a larger, five-segment solid rocket boosters that, if adopted into NASA’s booster/external tank shuttle launch system, could increase the amount of material the shuttle could loft into space by up to 22,928 pounds (10,400 kilograms).

"We need performance and we need reliability and safety," said Stephen Francois, manager of NASA’s launch services program, of future launch systems, during the panel discussion. "Where the crew is concerned, safety is paramount."

Meanwhile, aerospace juggernauts Boeing and Lockheed Martin are each planning heavy-lift versions of their respective rocket workhorses. Boeing is preparing for a summer test of its Delta 4 Heavy booster under its Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) program. Lockheed Martin is also developing a heavy-lift version of its Atlas launch vehicle for 2006.

"It’s a pretty exciting time for all of us," said Dan Collins, vice president of Boeing’s Delta program, adding that new launch vehicles will play a critical role in the human exploration of the moon, Mars and beyond included in President Bush’s space vision announced earlier this year. "How we plan to get there will obviously affect what launch vehicles are used, but we don’t know what the mission is yet."

04-05-2004, 09:46
Timing & Alignment: Oddities of the Full Moon

By Joe Rao
SPACE.com's Night Sky Columnist
posted: 07:00 am ET
30 April 2004

In February this column discussed how long a Full Moon lasts and whether the Moon is ever really full (it isn't). These are not the only things about Earth's only natural satellite that often go unnoticed, misinterpreted or just cause general confusion.

The next Full Moon on Tuesday, May 4, will offer an eclipse to skywatchers in much of Asia and parts of Europe and Africa. Not all Full Moons are accompanied by an eclipse, of course. That's because the orbit of the Moon around Earth is tilted slightly with respect to the orbit of Earth around the Sun. So only when all three bodies align perfectly can there be an eclipse.

There are also interesting questions of timing. Last November I received several e-mails asking this question:

"You say that a lunar eclipse can only occur at Full Moon. But this month’s eclipse will occur on the 8th and my calendar says that Full Moon falls on the 9th. Why is this so?"

Just about all calendar manufacturers and newspapers base the dates of the lunar phases on the calculations of the U.S. Naval Observatory. Accurate Moon phase data is in fact, available from their Astronomical Applications Department covering the years from 1700 to 2035.

There is one thing, however, that some publishers overlook. All the dates and times provided by the Naval Observatory are given in "Universal Time" (abbreviated UT) which is sometimes referred to, now colloquially, as "Greenwich Mean Time" (abbreviated GMT). The two terms are often used loosely to refer to time kept on the Greenwich meridian (longitude zero). If the times are not converted to your local time zone, you can sometimes end up being one day off on the date of a particular phase.

In the case of last November’s lunar eclipse, the date and time of Full Moon according to the Naval Observatory was Nov. 9 at 1:13 UT. That’s why some calendars and newspapers said the Full Moon would occur on Nov. 9. But they weren’t careful to make the proper conversion for North American time zones. In this case, for Philadelphia, as an example, Full Moon occurred at 8:13 p.m. EST on Nov. 8, since Greenwich time runs five hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time. So in Philadelphia, the Full Moon (and the eclipse) occurred before midnight of the previous day.

If you live in North America and want to check to see if the calendar now hanging on your wall has made the proper time conversions for the lunar phases, flip to October and see what day it says that the Full Moon will occur. If it says Oct. 28, 2004 then the manufacturer probably didn’t bother to convert from UT. For most of North America (except those who live in the Canadian Maritime Provinces), Full Moon officially occurs on the evening of Oct. 27, when, incidentally, another total lunar eclipse will take place.

June is the month for proms and weddings and many no doubt have already consulted their calendars to time special events such as these to coincide with that month’s Full Moon. Most Americans will have the Full Moon occurring on the evening of Wednesday, June 2, 2004. But for those who live in the Eastern time zone, Full Moon officially occurs at 12:20 a.m. Eastern Daylight Time on Thursday, June 3.

Since the majority of people who venture outside do so during convenient evening hours, those who gaze skyward on Wednesday night, June 2, will be looking at a Moon that will indeed appear very much "full."

Most Easterners who consult calendars and local newspapers, however, will see June 3 listed as the night of Full Moon. But when they look skyward that Thursday evening, they will be looking not at a full Moon, but at a waning gibbous Moon! The advertised "Full Moon" will have long since passed and the Moon for that Thursday night will actually be nearly a full day past the time it turned full and as such, should look noticeably out of shape.

13-05-2004, 15:39
China Planning Autumn 2005 Space Mission

By Associated Press
posted: 10:00 am ET
12 May 2004

BEIJING (AP) -- China plans to launch a pair of astronauts into orbit in autumn 2005 in its second manned space mission, the official Xinhua News Agency reported Wednesday.

The flight will last five to seven days, Xinhua said, citing Qi Faren, the space program's chief designer.

It was the first time the Chinese government disclosed the size of the planned crew of the Shenzhou 6 capsule. Earlier reports said the launch would be some time in 2005.

The flight would come two years after China made history as the third nation to launch a human into space on its own, firing lone astronaut Yang Liwei into orbit. In October of last year, Yang circled the Earth 14 times and landed by parachute in China's
northern grasslands.

The Xinhua report didn't give any other details of the timing of the next flight or identities of its crew. Earlier reports said 14 astronauts - all military pilots - were in training.

Qi said the crew of the Shenzhou 6 will move into the orbital module of the segmented craft to conduct experiments, Xinhua said. By contrast, Yang stayed in his seat throughout his flight.

Qi made the remarks at a symposium in southeastern China, Xinhua said.

After the Shenzhou 6 flight, plans call for another launch before 2010 that will include China's first space walk, the report said.

17-05-2004, 00:42
Gravity Probe B continues toward science operations

Posted: May 15, 2004

As of Day #24 of the mission, all spacecraft subsystems are functioning properly on Gravity Probe B, a NASA experiment to test two predictions of Albert Einstein's Theory of General Relativity. The orbit is stable and meets our requirements for next month's transition into the science phase of the mission, upon completion of the spacecraft initialization and orbit checkout. Furthermore, Gravity Probe B has successfully achieved several important milestones over the past week.

All four gyroscopes have now been digitally suspended for over a week. At launch, the gyros were unsuspended. Once on orbit, each gyro was first suspended in analog mode, which provides coarse control of the gyro's suspended position within its housing. Analog mode is used primarily as a backup or safe mode for suspending the gyros. Each gyro was then suspended digitally. The digital suspension mode is computer-controlled; it puts less torque on the gyros than analog mode and enables their position to be controlled with extremely high precision.

At the end of last week, the Gravity Probe B team practiced Low Temperature Bakeout (LTB), in which discs of sintered titanium (very tiny titanium balls, smaller than cake sprinkles) are "warmed up" a few Kelvin, thereby attracting helium molecules to them. This process will remove any remaining helium from the gyro housings after full gyro spin-up. Last week's practice LTB procedure had the added benefit of imparting a very small amount of spin-up helium gas to the gyros. Following the practice LTB, the SQUID gyro read-out data revealed that gyro #1, gyro #3, and gyro #4 were slowly spinning at 0.001, 0.002, and 0.010 Hz, respectively (1 Hz = 60 rpm). Amazingly, the Gyro Suspension Systems (GSS) were able to measure gas spin-up forces at the level of approximately 10 nano-newton (10-8 N). This means that the GP-B science team is able to interpret data from gyro spin rates four to five orders of magnitude smaller than what was planned for the GP-B science experiment.

Earlier this week, the GP-B spacecraft flew "drag free" around gyro #1, maintaining translation control of the spacecraft to less than 500 nanometers. The term, "drag-free" means that the entire spacecraft literally floats in its orbit -- without any friction or drag -- around one the gyros. Pairs of proportional micro thrusters put out a steady and finely controlled stream of helium gas, supplied by the Dewar, through its porous plug. Signals from the Gyro Suspension System (GSS) control the output of the micro thrusters, balancing the spacecraft around the selected gyro. The initial Drag Free Control (DFC) checkout lasted 20 minutes, as planned. Then, a two-hour DFC session was tested, during which the spacecraft roll rate was increased and then returned to its initial rate, maintaining drag-free status throughout the test. Achieving DFC indicates that we are on track to meet the science mission control requirements.

Last, but not least, early this week, the Attitude & Translation Control system (ATC) successfully used data from the on-board star sensors to point the spacecraft towards the guide star, IM Pegasi. This was the final step before initiating the dwell scan process, a series of increasingly accurate scans with the on-board telescope that enable the ATC to lock onto the guide star. Two days ago, the telescope's shutter was opened, and a first dwell scan was completed. We are now in the final stages of repeating the dwell scan to home in on the guide star and lock onto it.

The Initialization & Orbit Checkout phase of the Gravity Probe B mission remains on track for completion within 60 days after launch, at which time the 13-month science data collection will begin. This will be followed by a two-month final calibration of the science instrument assembly.

NASA's Gravity Probe B mission, also known as GP-B, will use four ultra-precise gyroscopes to test Einstein's theory that space and time are distorted by the presence of massive objects. To accomplish this, the mission will measure two factors -- how space and time are warped by the presence of the Earth, and how the Earth's rotation drags space-time around with it.

NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., manages the Gravity Probe B program for NASA's Office of Space Science. Stanford University in Stanford, Calif., developed and built the science experiment hardware and operates the science mission for NASA. Lockheed Martin of Palo Alto, Calif., developed and built the GP-B spacecraft.

Launch review (http://www.spaceflightnow.com/delta/d304/status.html)

17-05-2004, 00:45
Private Rocket SpaceShipOne Makes Third Rocket-Powered Flight

By Leonard David
Senior Space Writer
posted: 03:55 pm ET
13 May 2004

Chalk up another booming flight of the privately-backed SpaceShipOne, the piloted rocket plane designed to soar to the edge of space and glide to a runway landing.

With pilot Mike Melvill at the controls -- following release from the White Knight turbojet-powered launch aircraft high above the Mojave, California desert -- SpaceShipOne punched through the sky today boosted by a hybrid propellant rocket motor.

Scaled Composites of Mojave is the builder of SpaceShipOne, an effort led by aviation innovator, Burt Rutan. The financial backer of the project is Microsoft mogul, Paul Allen.

In a post-flight statement from the company, the SpaceShipOne team reported that their space plane flew to 212,000 feet altitude, almost 41 miles. NASA awards astronaut status to anyone who flies above 50 miles in altitude.

"This flight marks an additional milestone for Paul G. Allen, Burt Rutan and the innovative aerospace design team in their ongoing efforts to complete the first non-government manned space flight. The test is part of Scaled Composites' Tier One program, funded by Allen, Microsoft co-founder and CEO of Vulcan Inc.," according to the statement.

Today's flight builds upon a progression of 13 shakeout tests, mostly un-powered drop glides along with two engine-thrusting runs. The White Knight took off with SpaceShipOne at around 10:30 a.m. EDT today with the rocket plane landing an the ground a little after 12 noon.

"The SpaceShipOne team will announce the results of this test flight once it has completed an analysis of the data," explained the Scaled Composites release, adding: "The future's looking up...way up!"

Hot pursuit

SpaceShipOne's first powered mission took place on December 17, 2003, with the hybrid motor firing for 15 seconds. A second powered flight occurred on April 8th of this year. In that trek, the motor burned for 40 seconds. A major contractor for the hybrid motor used in the rocket plane is SpaceDev of Poway, California.

Routine recording of multiple video streams on board White Knight and on SpaceShipOne are expected to help in pilot and engineering evaluation of the flight.

Ecliptic Enterprises Corporation of Pasadena, California provides the critical camera gear. They are also supplier of the RocketCam™ line of onboard video systems used on rockets, spacecraft and other remote platforms.

The step-by-step SpaceShipOne missions are keyed to winning the Ansari X Prize, a $10 million purse offered by the X Prize Foundation of St. Louis, Missouri. For the cash prize, however, the clock is running as the $10 million purse expires January 1, 2005.

The Ansari X Prize money is to be awarded to the first company or organization to launch a vehicle capable of carrying three people to a height of 62.5 miles (100 kilometers), then return safely to Earth, and repeat the flight with the same vehicle within two weeks.

Twenty-seven teams from around the globe are vying for the Ansari X Prize contest. The competition is modeled on the $25,000 Orteig Prize - won by Charles Lindbergh after winging his Spirit of St. Louis airplane solo from New York to Paris in 1927.

Federal go-ahead

On April 1, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) announced it had issued to Scaled Composites the world's first license for a sub-orbital manned rocket flight.

The license came via the DOT's Federal Aviation Administration's Office of Commercial Space Transportation. This federal paperwork gave Scaled Composites the go-ahead to fly a string of sub-orbital flights for a one-year period - the first license to authorize piloted flight on a sub-orbital trajectory.

XCOR Aerospace, also of Mojave, California, announced in April it had received a Reusable Launch Vehicle mission license from the FAA's Office of Commercial Space Transportation. That license is the first for a reusable launch vehicle (RLV) that is launched and recovered from the ground. Additionally, XCOR is now authorized to test RLV technologies prior to suborbital passenger travel. The company is not in the competition for the Ansari X Prize.

XCOR's launch license is for a technology test vehicle. The license does not yet cover passenger operations. It does, however, permit revenue-generating payload flights after initial tests are completed. "A significant feature of the license is that it allows the pilot to do an incremental series of flight tests -- without preplanning each trajectory," said XCOR Government Liaison Randall Clague in a press statement.

Mojave mojo

Given all the rocket plane activity at the Mojave Airport, steps have been taken to have the facility certified as a spaceport.

Stuart Witt, General Manager of the Mojave Airport, envisions the site busily handling the horizontal launchings and landings of reusable spacecraft.

Witt said the FAA's Office of Commercial Space Transportation is reviewing an application to license Mojave Airport as an inland spaceport. In fact, the airport is already a natural center for research and development and certification programs, such as the rocket plane work of Scaled Composites and XCOR Aerospace.

Many see Mojave Airport as a magical nexus for safe, smooth coordination of general aviation activity and private aerospace development.

Mojave Airport, also tagged the nation's Civilian Flight Test Center, is situated away from major metropolitan areas, while being located near Edwards and China Lake military test ranges.

"Certainly Mojave is a premier location due to its proximity to the Edwards Air Force Base restricted areas," Burt Rutan told SPACE.com .

Adds Aleta Jackson, an XCOR Aerospace executive: "We look forward to flying our licensed spacecraft from the Mojave Spaceport." The town of Mojave -- as well as the County of Kern -- plan to help support the spaceport, such as designating land use that is compatible with an active spaceport, she said.

19-05-2004, 01:22
la Cina rilancia... vogliono anche una stazione spaziale...

Beijing, , May. 18 (UPI) -- China announced Tuesday it will build a permanently manned space station before 2020, the government's official news agency Xinhua reported.

The chief designer of China's manned space program, Wang Yongzhi, said his country has invested $2.18 billion dollars during the past 11 years in its manned space program.

Wang, a 72-year-old academician of the Chinese Academy of Engineering, has been chief designer of China's manned space program since 1992.

Last October his agency achieved manned space flight.

He said China would build a permanently manned space station during the next 15 years.

a quanto pare si cancella la luna e si focalizza sulla stazione spaziale... l'esatto contrario della strategia USA

China Cancels Moon Plans to Focus on Space Station
BEIJING (Reuters) - China plans to build its own manned space station by around 2020 but has shelved plans to put a man on the moon for financial reasons, state media quoted the chief designer of the nation's space program as saying.

Wang Yongzhi, godfather of the mission that completed its first manned flight successfully last year, said the permanent station would take about 15 years to complete, the official Xinhua news agency said, citing a Beijing newspaper.

"China will also conduct a lunar orbiting program," Wang told a gathering of high school students on Sunday, the Beijing News reported.

But contrary to previously announced plans, the 72-year-old said the lunar probe would not land a man on the moon.

China rocketed ex-fighter pilot Yang Liwei into orbit around Earth in October, becoming only the third nation in space after the former Soviet Union and the United States and fueling bigger dreams of galactic exploration.

Officials of the highly secretive program have made vague reference to a future space station but the timeline projected by Wang was believed to be the most specific to date.

China has welcomed international cooperation in its space station.

It was unclear if plans to forge ahead on its own were influenced by recent signs the United States might not want China to join the 16-nation, $95 billion International Space Station.

Chinese space officials were "shocked" the United States had not done more to welcome them into the small community of space-faring nations, a leading U.S. expert said last month after a trip to China.

The United States harbors concerns that the army-run Chinese program could some day pose a threat to U.S. dominance in military satellite communications.

19-05-2004, 08:49
La Cina che mette su da sola una stazione spaziale? Hmmmm... mi puzza...

19-05-2004, 08:54

19-05-2004, 20:03
Vabbè la libertà di espressione, ma proprio l'ASPS... :rolleyes:

20-05-2004, 10:06
Originariamente inviato da Mixmar
Vabbè la libertà di espressione, ma proprio l'ASPS... :rolleyes:

Si suppone che siano campi elettromagnetici causati dal magma sotterraneo!

ma la verità è che le equazioni di Maxwell sono carenti nella parte delle correnti in alta frequenza nei circuiti aperti,
i campi magnetici in alta frequenza tra circuiti aperti non sono del tutto chiari x spiegazioni: http://groups.google.it/groups?q=laplace+dipolo&hl=it&lr=&ie=UTF-8&selm=8io9o2%24j5t%241%40news.flashnet.it&rnum=1
la fase, la frequenza, le correnti, la lunghezza dei dipoli con correnti in alta frequenza generano strani fenomeni come quello del paese in fiamme!

insomma la fisica e la natura non sono del tutto chiare!


almeno leggi questo link! non esiste una persona che sia riuscita a spiegare p=E/c da dove arriva asenza arrampicarsi sui vetri!
..........scusa eh! ma se manco sai cosa c'è nel link....mi pare un po eccessivo! e poi io dei baronati di ricerca italiani non ho fiducia! li considero alla stregua dei mafiosi! :O

31-05-2004, 20:05
Vega rocket one step nearer

Posted: May 30, 2004

An important step forward has just been made in the development of the European Space Agency's Vega launcher. After several months work at the Guiana Propellant Plant at Europe's Spaceport, the inert casting of the main Vega motor has been successfully carried out.

An artist's view of Vega on the launch pad. Credit: ESA-J. Huart

"The objectives have been fully attained," is how Massimo Epifani, an engineer from Avio S.p.A. based in Colleferro, Italy, described the inert casting exercise that began in April at the Guiana Propellant Plant (UPG). Avio S.p.A., the company responsible for Vega's P80 first stage motor, sent a team to French Guiana to supervise this important step in the development of Europe's small launcher.

The Vega Programme

Altogether seven ESA Member States are involved in the Vega Programme in which Italy, the largest contributor, plays a major role. The objective is to build a small single body launcher with three solid propulsion stages and an upper stage powered by liquid propulsion. The P80 is the only stage to be prepared at the Spaceport as all the others arrive from Europe by ship, complete and ready to be integrated.

Vega, 30 meters tall and with a diameter of 3 meters, will be able to place a 1.5 tonne payload into polar orbit. Once launched in 2006 this 'small' launcher will be the perfect complement to the large Ariane 5 and the medium-class Soyuz that will commence operating from Europe's Spaceport in 2007.

The P80 first solid propulsion stage is the result of a specific development programme. The new technology being used not only benefits Vega but also the Ariane-5 programme as it will be used in future Ariane-5 versions. This cycle of experience, leading to innovation, resulting in added value, is a cornerstone of the Launchers' Programme and ensures long-term development and progress.

An artist's view of Vega blasting off. Credit: ESA-J. Huart

Vega's P80 first stage is 10.5 metres tall and can hold 88 tonnes of propellant. Once it is eventually integrated with the other three stages: Zefiro 23, Zefiro 9 and the AVUM, Vega will be ready for its first launch. At liftoff the P80 will provide Vega with 300 tonnes of thrust for 106.7 seconds.

Inert casting trial

This operation involves the casting of a non-explosive mixture - hence the term inert - with the same density and characteristics as the solid propellant that the first stage engine will use. The reason for the trial is that it enables all the P80 production and casting procedures to be safely validated before the final casting with real propellant.

The campaign began last December as soon as all the elements arrived at the UPG. It involved setting up all the equipment, carrying out a test run, then dismantling and reassembling the casting mandrel to ensure that everything was ready.

The green light was given at the end of March and the casting was made on 7 April. This entailed 'cooking' the P80 for 10 days in a pit, then allowing it to cool before extracting the mandrel to leave behind a perfect cast. Now this is being carefully tested to enable the team to see how well it has been made and to check for any defects.

The success of these tests means that the first casting of the P80 motor can take place as scheduled next year, ready for the first firing tests of the P80 at the test bench facilites at Europe's Spaceport.

04-06-2004, 01:15
allora siamo vicini al primo volo commerciale in orbita? giugno sarà un mese memorabile per la ricerca spaziale... Cassini su Saturno e questo!

Space is the final frontier for cheap flights
By Roger Highfield, Science Editor
(Filed: 03/06/2004)

Plans to launch a new era of space exploration with the first privately-funded manned space flight were announced yesterday.

If the organisers are successful, they believe a test flight this month will mark a giant leap, opening up the final frontier to private enterprise and heralding much easier access to space for future generations.
White Knight, the mothership, with SpaceShipOne slung underneath

The pilot, who is yet to be announced, will become the first person to earn astronaut wings in a non-government-sponsored craft and the first civilian to fly a spaceship out of the atmosphere.

For three minutes the pilot will become an astronaut: he will be weightless and see a black sky and thin blue atmospheric line on the horizon.

The rocket plane, called SpaceShipOne and developed by Scaled Composites, will set off at 6.30am on June 21 in California - if all goes to plan and if the weather permits.

The organisers are inviting the public to view, up close, the take-off and landing as well as the overhead rocket boost into space.

A mothership, White Knight, will take off with SpaceShipOne slung underneath. An hour later, after climbing to about 50,000 feet just east of Mojave, White Knight will release the spaceship.

The spaceship pilot then fires his rocket motor for about 80 seconds, reaching Mach 3 in a vertical climb and encountering G-forces up to four times the gravity of Earth. SpaceShipOne will then coast to its goal of a sub-orbital flight 62 miles above the Mojave Civilian Aerospace Test Centre, a commercial airport in the California desert, before falling back to Earth.

In sub-orbital flights the mission does not reach the speeds needed to sustain continuous orbiting of Earth.

The view from such a flight is similar to being in orbit, but the cost and risks are far less.

After three minutes as an astronaut the pilot will put the craft's wing and tail into a high-drag configuration that will slow the spaceship in the upper atmosphere and automatically align it along the flight path. On re-entry, he will reconfigure the craft back to a glider and spend 15 to 20 minutes gliding back to Earth, touching down like an airplane on the same runway from which he took off.

The project's organisers, the investor and philanthropist Paul G Allen and the aviation legend Burt Rutan of Scaled Composites, say the flights will encourage others to "usher in a new, low-cost era in space travel".


04-06-2004, 06:18

07-06-2004, 23:57
Venus' Atmosphere to be Probed During Rare Solar Transit

By Robert Roy Britt
Senior Science Writer
posted: 06:30 am ET
07 June 2004

People in many locations around the world will watch Venus cross the Sun Tuesday for the first time in 122 years in a highly anticipated skywatching event could generate a little science, too.

While the spectacle holds little significance for most astronomers, one researcher plans to use it as an opportunity to examine an unexplored region of our sister planet's atmosphere. The effort will also refine skills for probing the skies of planets beyond our solar system.

Venus last crossed the face of the Sun, an event known as a transit, in 1882.

The geometry is much like that of a solar eclipse: Venus (instead of the Moon) will be directly between Earth and the Sun. Because the two planets orbit the Sun in slightly different planes, this perfect alignment is rare. Transits of Mercury, on the other hand, are much more common.

Tuesday's transit will be visible across all of Europe and much of Asia and Africa. Many skywatchers in eastern portions of the United States will have a chance to see the final moments of the passage. Experts warn that proper viewing techniques must be employed, such as approved solar filters, self-made pinhole cameras or by projecting the event against a wall. [Viewing Tips]

No one should look directly at the Sun without a safe filter, as serious eye damage can result.

To get a good view, Timothy Brown of the National Center for Atmospheric Research is trekking to Spain's Canary Islands off the coast of Africa. There he will use a large telescope and a recently developed technique that should reveal chemicals in Venus' atmosphere by analyzing sunlight that passes through it.

Space missions have already provided a good view of the Venusian atmosphere. It is made mostly of carbon dioxide, so thick it shrouds our view of the surface. But there are other substances in the air there, and Brown said there is a void of data at between 40 and 53 miles (65 and 85 kilometers) above the scorching surface. So that's where he'll concentrate.

"I hope to make a substantial addition to knowledge of an atmospheric region not well observed in the past," Brown said. "But also the experiment will be a source of great inspiration and motivation for investigating the atmospheres of extrasolar planets."

Brown and colleagues developed the method to make the first discovery, in 2001, of an atmosphere around a planet orbiting another star. In that case, they couldn't even see the planet -- it had been discovered by noting the wobble it induced on its host star. When Venus crosses in front of the Sun for more than six hours, it will be readily visible - without a telescope -- as a tiny black dot on the solar surface, at least for those who plan a safe way of seeing it.

"This is among the rarest of astronomical events," says SPACE.com's Night Sky Columnist Joe Rao. "Between the years 2000 BC and 4000 AD there are only 81 Venusian transits."

The next one occurs in 2012.

07-06-2004, 23:59
Meteor Lights Up Sky in Washington State

By Tim Klass
Associated Press Writer
posted: 05:19 pm ET
03 June 2004

SEATTLE (AP) -- A meteor about the size of a computer monitor flashed across the Northwest sky early Thursday, setting off booms that stunned witnesses.

"There was some question as to whether it was a piece of space junk burning up, but it was not,'' said Geoff Chester, a spokesman for the Naval Observatory in Washington, D.C. "As far as I've been able to figure out, it was simply a rock falling out of the sky, as they are wont to do on occasion.''

Chester said it was a type of meteor called a bolide, one that appears like a fireball in the sky, and was about the size of a small piece of luggage or a computer monitor.

Nothing unusual was detected on National Weather Service radar, and authorities also ruled out aircraft problems or military flight tests.

Toby Smith, a University of Washington astronomy lecturer who specializes in meteorites, said the skybursts were reported over a wide area around 2:40 a.m.

Witnesses along a 60-mile swath of the Puget Sound region from the Tacoma area to Whidbey Island and as far as 260 miles to the east said the sky lit up brilliantly, and many reported booms as if from one or more explosions.

"It made a pretty big bang,'' said Petty Officer Andrew Davis at Whidbey Island Naval Air Station, 40 miles north of Seattle.

08-06-2004, 08:38
Originariamente inviato da GioFX
Venus' Atmosphere to be Probed During Rare Solar Transit

Sto fotografando... :cool:

Chissà se vengono bene... :sperem:

08-06-2004, 09:04
Originariamente inviato da gpc
Sto fotografando... :cool:

Chissà se vengono bene... :sperem:

Io non vedo una sega... :(

08-06-2004, 09:06
Originariamente inviato da GioFX
Io non vedo una sega... :(

Come no?
Strano... io vedo un bel puntone...
Adesso vado a vedere a che punto siamo e vado a fare un altro paio di foto... spero che non vengano mosse però, quando la macchina richiude l'otturatore vibra il telescopio... :muro:
Comunque anche proiettando l'immagine su un pannello bianco si vede bene ;)

08-06-2004, 09:18
Originariamente inviato da gpc
Come no?
Strano... io vedo un bel puntone...
Adesso vado a vedere a che punto siamo e vado a fare un altro paio di foto... spero che non vengano mosse però, quando la macchina richiude l'otturatore vibra il telescopio... :muro:
Comunque anche proiettando l'immagine su un pannello bianco si vede bene ;)

e che da qui non vedo il sole, dovrei uscire... :D

dopo postale le foto, mi raccomando! http://www.skyscraperpage.com/forum/images/smilies/tup.gif

08-06-2004, 10:03
Originariamente inviato da GioFX
e che da qui non vedo il sole, dovrei uscire... :D

dopo postale le foto, mi raccomando! http://www.skyscraperpage.com/forum/images/smilies/tup.gif

Sono già a far sviluppare :cool:

Ti costeranno però per lo meno dieci thread contro il governo da NON aprire :D

...non vedi il sole? :mbe: lavori in una miniera? :D

08-06-2004, 10:37
Originariamente inviato da gpc
Ti costeranno però per lo meno dieci thread contro il governo da NON aprire :D


...non vedi il sole? :mbe: lavori in una miniera? :D

:asd: :p

08-06-2004, 11:29
Originariamente inviato da GioFX

Ok, da ora se apri qualche post sul governo sei un maledetto comunista bugiardo :D :sofico:

Oh, è un servizio fotografico un po' monotematico :p per cui ne metto solo alcune...
Questa foto è stata fatta questa mattina alle otto (ero ancora assonnato :D ) direttamente col telescopio:


Questa invece proiettando l'immagine su un pannello:


Queste sono state fatte dopo durante la mattinata, fino all'ultima che è circa delle 11...




Ho fatto un prova anche a fotografare la luna... boh non è venuta un gran che, ma eccola qui:


08-06-2004, 11:44
fikissimo... che tele hai gp? come fai le foto?

08-06-2004, 12:05
Originariamente inviato da GioFX
fikissimo... che tele hai gp? come fai le foto?

Per queste ho usato un telescopio russo, un riflettore se non erro... niente di particolare, ne avevo anche trovato la descrizione su internet, forse te lo ricordi.
Metto il filtro solare, attacco la reflex al posto dell'oculare e basta, null'altro.

08-06-2004, 12:46
Originariamente inviato da gpc
Per queste ho usato un telescopio russo, un riflettore se non erro... niente di particolare, ne avevo anche trovato la descrizione su internet, forse te lo ricordi.
Metto il filtro solare, attacco la reflex al posto dell'oculare e basta, null'altro.

si, vero... ora mi ricordo che ne parlasti... cme sono venute bene direi. ;)

08-06-2004, 12:50
Originariamente inviato da GioFX
si, vero... ora mi ricordo che ne parlasti... cme sono venute bene direi. ;)

Ma sì guarda, temevo peggio...
Il problema per me è la messa a fuoco: la mia macchina ha le due mezze lune per verificare il fuoco, e non so perchè quando l'attacco al telescopio non riesco mai a vederle tutte e due contemporaneamente, una resta sempre nera, così non so mai se è bene a fuoco o meno.
Comunque ho visto che per fare queste foto una 100 Asa è poco, sarebbe stata meglio una 200 o una 400 perchè dovevo tenere l'esposizione molto lunga...

08-06-2004, 12:54
Originariamente inviato da gpc
Il problema per me è la messa a fuoco: la mia macchina ha le due mezze lune per verificare il fuoco, e non so perchè quando l'attacco al telescopio non riesco mai a vederle tutte e due contemporaneamente, una resta sempre nera, così non so mai se è bene a fuoco o meno.

mmmm, può essere lo specchio superiore... hai provato a darci una pulitina?

Comunque ho visto che per fare queste foto una 100 Asa è poco, sarebbe stata meglio una 200 o una 400 perchè dovevo tenere l'esposizione molto lunga...

si si, meglio una 200 almeno, è assai più facile beccare tutte le sfumature con una sensibilità più elevata.

08-06-2004, 13:02
Originariamente inviato da GioFX
mmmm, può essere lo specchio superiore... hai provato a darci una pulitina?

No, è proprio un limite di quel tipo di sistema che lo rende rognoso... :rolleyes:

si si, meglio una 200 almeno, è assai più facile beccare tutte le sfumature con una sensibilità più elevata.

Avevo chiesto qui e mi avevano detto una 50Asa... meno male che non gli ho dato retta :p

08-06-2004, 13:11
Originariamente inviato da gpc
Avevo chiesto qui e mi avevano detto una 50Asa... meno male che non gli ho dato retta :p

a si? :eek:

dipende dall'oggetto che vuoi fotografare, dalla luminosità dell'ambiente e dal valore della luce riflessa... ma è molto raro fotografare corpi celesti con solo 50 ASA...

08-06-2004, 13:29
ciao, anch'io ho fatto qualche foto ma c'e' qualcosa che non mi convince...forse ho sbagliato qualche impostazione. ditemi voi...


08-06-2004, 14:10
Originariamente inviato da GioFX
a si? :eek:

dipende dall'oggetto che vuoi fotografare, dalla luminosità dell'ambiente e dal valore della luce riflessa... ma è molto raro fotografare corpi celesti con solo 50 ASA...

Beh, il sole non è esattamente un corpo celeste qualunque :p
Il fatto è che il filtro che ho io ha la stessa trasparenza di un rotolo di carta stagnola :D ed in effetti il sole diventa veramente poco luminoso... tant'è che faccio moltissima fatica a salire di ingrandimenti perchè diventa inguardabile.

Ma prima o poi lo estorco un altro telescopio...:rolleyes: :D

08-06-2004, 14:55
Originariamente inviato da gpc
Per queste ho usato un telescopio russo, un riflettore se non erro... niente di particolare, ne avevo anche trovato la descrizione su internet, forse te lo ricordi.
Metto il filtro solare, attacco la reflex al posto dell'oculare e basta, null'altro.
comunista :asd: :asd:

08-06-2004, 18:41
Originariamente inviato da Korn
comunista :asd: :asd:


21-06-2004, 00:06
SpaceShipOne to launch Monday over California


Posted: June 2, 2004

Scaled Composites, the aerospace company run by legendary designer Burt Rutan, announced Wednesday that it will attempt the first manned suborbital flight of its SpaceShipOne vehicle on June 21.

In a statement released Wednesday morning the company announced the SpaceShipOne is scheduled to fly to an altitude of 100 kilometers - the widely-accepted boundary of space - on the morning of June 21, on a flight that will take off and land from Mojave Airport in California.

SpaceShipOne has performed three powered test flights, on December 17 of last year and on April 8 and May 13 of this year. On the May 13 flight SpaceShipOne reached a peak altitude of over 64 kilometers, leading to speculation that the next flight would shoot for 100 km.

SpaceShipOne, developed by Scaled Composites with funding provided by billionaire Paul Allen, is a small winged vehicle capable of carrying three people. It is carried aloft underneath a specially-designed carrier aircraft called White Knight. At an altitude of about 15,000 meters SpaceShipOne is released from White Knight and fires a hybrid-propellant rocket engine. The engine burn, 80 seconds long for the full-scale mission, propels SpaceShipOne on a suborbital trajectory.

During the descending phase of the flight, with the vehicle reaching speeds in excess of Mach 3, SpaceShipOne raises its tail section to put it into a more stable configuration before lowering it again. The vehicle then glides to a landing at the same airport where it took off.

"Since Yuri Gagarin and Al Shepard's epic flights in 1961, all space missions have been flown only under large, expensive government efforts. By contrast, our program involves a few, dedicated individuals who are focused entirely on making spaceflight affordable," said Rutan. "Without the entrepreneur approach, space access would continue to be out of reach for ordinary citizens. The SpaceShipOne flights will change all that and encourage others to usher in a new, low-cost era in space travel."

"Every time SpaceShipOne flies we demonstrate that relatively modest amounts of private funding can significantly increase the boundaries of commercial space technology," said Allen, best known as the co-founder of Microsoft. "Burt Rutan and his team at Scaled Composites have accomplished amazing things by conducting the first mission of this kind without any government backing."

SpaceShipOne is a leading contender to win the $10-million Ansari X Prize for the first privately-developed suborbital reusable vehicle able to carry three people to 100 km twice within two weeks. The June 21 flight will not be one of the two qualification flights for the prize, as the vehicle will not carry the additional passengers, or their equivalent mass, as required by the rules. According to the Scaled statement, "Based on the success of the June space flight attempt, SpaceShipOne will later compete for the Ansari X Prize."

Wednesday's announcement was an unusual revelation from the company. Scaled has conducted its previous test flights, including both the three previous powered flights as well as a series of unpowered glide tests, in secrecy, announcing the flights only after they took place. When the FAA's Office of Commercial Space Transportation issued Scaled a launch license for SpaceShipOne in April, it granted the company a waiver from a requirement to provide public notice for its launches, because such notice "may have the unintended effect of drawing spectators to the launch area thereby increasing risk to public safety and the safety of property."

Instead, the June 21 will be open to the public, and Scaled will be encouraging the public to attend. "Who is invited?" asks Scaled in a "frequently asked questions" document included with the release announcing the launch. "Everyone, especially children. They will want to tell their children that they were there to see the event that triggered the industry of private space tourism."

19-08-2004, 21:43
DC Agle (818) 354-5011
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif

Donald Savage (202) 358-1727
NASA Headquarters, Washington, D.C.

NEWS RELEASE: 2004-207 August 19, 2004

NASA Mission Returns With a Piece of the Sun

In a dramatic ending that marks a beginning in scientific research, NASA's Genesis spacecraft is set to swing by Earth and jettison a sample return capsule filled with particles of the Sun that may ultimately tell us more about the genesis of our solar system.

"The Genesis mission -- to capture a piece of the Sun and return it to Earth -- is truly in the NASA spirit: a bold, inspiring mission that makes a fundamental contribution to scientific knowledge," said Steven Brody, NASA's program executive for the Genesis mission, NASA Headquarters, Washington.

On September 8, 2004, the drama will unfold over the skies of central Utah when the spacecraft's sample return capsule will be snagged in midair by helicopter. The rendezvous will occur at the Air Force's Utah Test and Training Range, southwest of Salt Lake City.

"What a prize Genesis will be," said Genesis Principal Investigator Dr. Don Burnett of the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, Calif. "Our spacecraft has logged almost 27 months far beyond the moon's orbit, collecting atoms from the Sun. With it, we should be able to say what the Sun is composed of, at a level of precision for planetary science purposes that has never been seen before."

The prizes Burnett and company are waiting for are hexagonal wafers of pure silicon, gold, sapphire, diamond and other materials that have served as a celestial prison for their samples of solar wind particles. These wafers have weathered 26-plus months in deep space and are now safely stowed in the return capsule. If the capsule were to descend all the way to the ground, some might fracture or break away from their mountings; hence, the midair retrieval by helicopter, with crew members including some who have performed helicopter stunt work for Hollywood.

"These guys fly in some of Hollywood's biggest movies," said Don Sweetnam, Genesis project manager at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. "But this time, the Genesis capsule will be the star."
The Genesis capsule -- carrying the agency's first sample return since the final Apollo lunar mission in 1972, and the first material collected beyond the Moon -- will enter Earth's atmosphere at 9:55 am Mountain Time. Two minutes and seven seconds after atmospheric entry, while still flying supersonically, the capsule will deploy a drogue parachute at 33 kilometers (108,000 feet) altitude. Six minutes after that, the main parachute, a parafoil, will deploy 6.1 kilometers (20,000 feet) up. Waiting below will be two helicopters and their flight crews looking for their chance to grab a piece of the Sun.

"Each helicopter will carry a crew of three," said Roy Haggard, chief executive officer of Vertigo Inc. and director of flight operations for the lead helicopter. "The lead helicopter will deploy an eighteen-and-a-half foot long pole with what you could best describe as an oversized, Space-Age fishing hook on its end. When we make the approach we want the helicopter skids to be about eight feet above the top of the parafoil. If for some reason the capture is not successful, the second helicopter is 1,000 feet behind us and setting up for its approach. We estimate we will have five opportunities to achieve capture."

The helicopter that does achieve capture will carry the sample canister to a clean room at the Michael Army Air Field at the U.S. Army Dugway Proving Ground, where scientists await their cosmic prize. The samples will then be moved to a special laboratory at NASA's Johnson Space Center, Houston, where they will be preserved and studied by scientists for many years to come.

"I understand much of the interest is in how we retrieve Genesis," added Burnett. "But to me the excitement really begins when scientists from around the world get hold of those samples for their research. That will be something."

JPL, a division of the California Institute of Technology, manages the Genesis mission for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington. Lockheed Martin Space Systems, Denver, developed and operates the spacecraft. Los Alamos National Laboratory and NASA's Johnson Space Center contributed to Genesis payload development, and the Johnson Space Center will curate the sample and support analysis and sample allocation.

More detailed background on the mission is available at http://genesismission.jpl.nasa.gov .


03-09-2004, 11:44

Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station are now closed to all personnel as the spaceport braces for Hurricane Frances. Emergency management officials will return to KSC and CCAFS after the storm passes to reactivate the operations center, followed by the damage assessment and recovery teams.

The hurricane's predicted path shows landfall south of the Cape midday Saturday. The forecast track takes Frances across the Florida peninsula and into the Gulf of Mexico very slowly over the weekend.

"KSC houses some of the jewels of America's space flight program," said Associate Administrator for Space Operations Bill Readdy. "We've taken every precaution to secure our spacecraft and facilities and to keep our workers safe. In 40 years of space flight operations at Cape Canaveral, we've never sustained a direct hit from a hurricane, but we've always been prepared," he said.

Tutti e tre gli obriter sono nell'OPF (Orbiter Processing Facilty), in grado di resistere a 105 mph di venti sostenuti e di raffiche... con Frances si prevedono venti fino a 140 mph.


03-09-2004, 11:50
Kennedy Space Center Closed as NASA Watches Storm

NASA is taking the threat from Hurricane Frances seriously.

The powerful storm is moving toward Florida's east coast and could affect NASA's Kennedy Space Center (KSC) this weekend. As of today, KSC is closed, and its nearly 12,000 workers have been sent home to make preparations with their families. The center is tentatively scheduled to reopen Tuesday, Sept. 7.

KSC workers have spent the past several days taking steps to protect the Space Shuttle fleet, spacecraft hardware, and facilities against damage. For the center, most major systems have been powered down, sandbags have been laid around building doors and heavy equipment moved into the massive, white Vehicle Assembly Building. Hardware has been covered with plastic or tarps and smaller pieces of equipment have been raised off the ground.

Meanwhile, NASA is keeping a close watch over Frances with its unique vantage points -- the International Space Station and Earth-orbiting satellites -- to track this dangerous storm. Return to this page for the latest news updates and images from space.

NASA Press Release: http://www.nasa.gov/home/hqnews/2004/aug/HQ_04285_ksc_frances.html

Image above: In the Orbiter Processing Facility, Space Shuttle orbiter Atlantis' wheels are raised into their bays in preparation for the expected impact of Hurricane Frances on Saturday. Other preparations at KSC include powering down the Space Shuttle orbiters and closing their payload bay doors. Workers are also taking precautions against flooding by moving spacecraft hardware off the ground and sandbagging facilities. Photo Credit: NASA

Image above: In the Orbiter Processing Facility, workers prepare to close the payload bay doors on Space Shuttle orbiter Atlantis in preparation for the expected impact of Hurricane Frances on Saturday. Photo Credit: NASA

Image above: Workers in the Orbiter Processing Facility unwrap plastic for use in covering equipment as part of preparations for the expected impact of Hurricane Frances on Saturday. Photo Credit: NASA

Image above: In the Space Station Processing Facility, workers cover with plastic the Multi-Purpose Logistics Module Donatello in preparation for the expected impact of Hurricane Frances on Saturday. Other modules and equipment are being covered as well. They are also taking precautions against flooding by moving spacecraft hardware off the ground and sandbagging facilities. Photo Credit: NASA

06-09-2004, 18:58
1620 GMT (12:20 a.m. EDT)

NASA has released the first damage assessment for the Kennedy Space Center:

"Emergency crews are on site at Kennedy Space Center in Florida and are providing the first information on conditions there following Hurricane Frances. They report that key buildings such as the Launch Control Center and the massive, white Vehicle Assembly Building are still standing.

"The emergency crews see some exterior damage to the VAB, where Space Shuttles are readied for launch. There are a significant number of panels missing from the exterior. The Shuttles themselves rode out the storm in their hangars, known as Orbiter Processing Facilities. We do not yet have information on conditions there."

06-09-2004, 23:14
Cape battered by Hurricane Frances; Ivan threatens

Posted: September 6, 2004

Hurricane Frances battered the Kennedy Space Center with sustained winds of more than 70 mph, ripping off an estimated 40,000 square feet of siding on the cavernous Vehicle Assembly Building and partially destroying the roof of a critical heat shield tile facility needed for NASA's shuttle return to flight effort.

Recovering from the impact of Frances could delay NASA's first post-Columbia shuttle flight, now targeted for March, officials said today. But center Director Jim Kennedy said the damage, while the worst in spaceport history, was not a disaster "by any stretch of the imagination" and that it was too soon to say what impact it might have on the agency's return-to-flight efforts.

"It's way too early for us to state that we do or don't have a problem," he said. "But as you know, we were working hard to protect the shuttle return-to-flight date of March and we'll just have to see how that goes."

More important than the shuttle's eventual launch date is the potential impact of Hurricane Ivan, a powerful storm that some computer models show tracking toward Florida's east coast. Given the damage caused by the category 1 winds of Hurricane Frances, Kennedy sees Ivan as a potential "doomsday scenario" that could affect the future of America's manned space program.

"I don't want to speculate on what possible worse damage we could have with a category 2, 3, 4, 5 direct hit," Kennedy said. "It would certainly be significant to the future of human spaceflight."

NASA closed the space center last Thursday, sending 12,000 contractors and 2,000 civil servants home to make their own preparations for Frances. The agency's three space shuttles, mounted on jacks in their Orbiter Processing Facility hangars, were powered down, their cargo bay doors closed and their landing gear raised and stowed.

Sandbags and plywood panels were used to shore up vulnerable doors and windows while NASA trucks and cranes were moved inside the protection of the Vehicle Assembly Building.

A disaster assessment-response team, or DART, began surveying damage today and a teleconference with senior NASA managers is planned tomorrow to review the results.

A preliminary inspection shows NASA's three multi-billion-dollar space shuttles - Discovery, Atlantis and Endeavour - came through the hurricane unscathed, as did critical hardware bound for the international space station as well as an astronomy satellite scheduled for launch next month.

But the Vehicle Assembly Building, or VAB, suffered major damage to its protective skin and a facility that manufactures and repairs heat-shield tiles for the shuttle fleet lost at least part of its roof.

"The tile facility, which is located out in the general area of the OPFs and the VAB, has taken significant loss," Kennedy said. "We believe the roof is partially gone, it has extensive water damage within the facility. That could possibly be a very difficult situation to deal with because tile manufacturing is to some extent on the critical path for return to flight."

The Vehicle Assembly Building is a national icon, a massive, 525-foot-tall cube originally built to assemble 36-story Saturn 5 moon rockets. Today, NASA uses the facility to build up space shuttle boosters atop mobile launch platforms, to attach the shuttle's solid-fuel external tank and the orbiter itself prior to rollout to the launch pad.

The only flight hardware in the VAB when Frances struck were two external tanks, both protected by dense scaffolding and access platforms, and two booster "aft skirts" that are the first pieces mounted to the launch platform.

Engineers estimate the VAB lost about 1,000 4-by-10 foot aluminum panels on its south and east sides, starting about 100 feet up and extending to a height of 350 feet or so. "And that would include typically not only the outer panel, but the insulation and in some cases, a sub panel behind it to where it's like an open window to the VAB," Kennedy said.

Repairing the VAB is "certainly a high priority for us," he said. "As you think about things that are time critical, the VAB repair is one. Not only because we need the VAB to process hardware, but I am concerned about Ivan and 40,000 square feet of open window exposed to Ivan.

"I will tell you the preliminary input of the facilities folks was they really didn't know how, with five days notice before Ivan arrives, how we could do much in temporary repair. ... They have great concern about how they might be able to do that with just a few days' time."

Hurricane Charley, which skirted the northern boundary of the Kennedy Space Center last month, caused some $700,000 damage. The cost to recover from Frances, which was barely a category 1 storm when it hit Brevard County, is not yet known.

"I don't consider this to be a disaster by any stretch of the imagination," Kennedy said. "How big the bump in the road (for return to flight) is to be determined. It's a bump in the road for sure. You may or may now know that with Hurricane Charley, which just kissed the northern tip of Kennedy Space Center with the south eyewall as it passed across Volusia County, we took a $700,000 damage. This one is going to be significantly more than that. But how significant, I don't know so how big the bump in the road is, we don't know."

All in all, he said, "the initial feeling was that we had dodged a big bullet."

"If you think about what we believed we might have to deal with five, six, seven days ago, was a hurricane category 4, with the possibility of growth to a five and a direct hit to the Kennedy Space Center," he said. "I was significantly worried about the future of human space flight based upon that doomsday scenario.

"So when they drove on site today and saw most of the buildings intact, very few trees down, most of the power lines still up ... it wasn't the appearance of a war zone like we have seen on (in hurricane newscasts). It wasn't like that. So I feel very fortunate it's as minimal as it is."

As for Hurricane Ivan, Kennedy said his team of forecasters, led by John Madura, believe the storm has the potential to pose the same sort of doomsday scenario he worried about last week.

"Some of the models show it coming up close to the space coast of Florida," Kennedy said. "John Madura's one of the best and when he's worried, I'm worried."

08-09-2004, 14:26
Kennedy Space Center damage estimate updated

Posted: September 7, 2004

The Kennedy Space Center, reeling from widespread wind and water damage caused by Hurricane Frances, will remain closed to normal work until Monday at the earliest while engineers complete a detailed damage assessment.

The Vehicle Assembly Building lost hundreds of side panels, creating holes in the facility's structure. Photo: Steven Young/Spaceflight Now

Updating initial damage reports Monday, center Director James Kennedy said today that Frances ripped off some 820 panels measuring 4-by-16 feet each on the east and south sides of the Vehicle Assembly Building, an area covering more than 52,000 square feet. About 20 percent of that total included lost sub-surface insulation panels, leaving gaping "windows" into the building's interior that are open to the elements.

"That concerns us a lot," he said. "The facilities engineering people today don't think that between now and the possible arrival of (Hurricane) Ivan as early as next Saturday there is anything they can do to plug those holes.

"So we will probably be, for the next period of time, including Ivan if she comes ashore, sitting there with an open window to the world in the VAB."

The sides of the building were not the only sites of damage. A 30-member team inspecting the roof of the cavernous structure had to beat a hasty retreat when they discovered "it was very insecure," Kennedy said.

"It was soggy, it was weak and they did not want to run the risk of falling through the roof of the VAB," he told reporters.

Netting is being strung up inside the building just below the roof to catch any debris that might fall until repairs can be made.

Workers pile up the VAB debris. Photo: Steven Young/Spaceflight Now

A nearby tile processing facility, where the shuttle's thermal protection system tiles and blankets are manufactured and processed, suffered extensive damage, losing about a quarter of its roof.

"Our shuttle TPS facility was hit hard," Kennedy said. "It makes the thermal protection system tiles and blankets and that facility has what I would estimate at about 25 percent of its roof ripped off. This is very critical to any kind of a schedule we might hope to achieve on shuttle. The tile production, the TPS production was on the critical path."

NASA managers are looking into whether the work can be temporarily moved to Palmdale, Calif., where the shuttle fleet was built, or possibly to Houston until the building can be rebuilt.

Loss of the tile facility alone could hamper NASA plans for launching the shuttle Discovery next March on the first post-Columbia shuttle mission.

Many observers believed that date was going to be difficult to meet even before Frances struck, because of technical issues associated with implementing safety upgrades. Little reserve time was left in the processing schedule and it's not yet clear how repairs to the VAB and the tile facility might affect that work.

Kennedy declined to speculate.

"I'm not going to estimate when we might return to flight," he said. "It's very much to be determined, the impact that the facility damage will have on our ability to return to flight. We'll be working with the shuttle program people over the coming weeks to help assess that."

While damage to the VAB and the tile facility were the focus of attention today, other facilities suffered as well. A three-story computer facility near the VAB and orbiter processing facilities lost a large portion of its roof, but computer hardware on the third floor had been covered last week and appears to have survived intact.


Less important but visually dramatic, the roof of the grandstand at the KSC press site, where the world's media covered the Apollo moonshots and shuttle launchings, was ripped off as well. And a visitor's center building housing a refurbished Saturn 5 moon rocket also suffered heavy damage, losing 25 to 30 percent of its roof.

"The truth of the matter is many, many buildings have siding and roofing damage, water leaking situations and there's going to be an awful lot of work to repair the damage that's been done," Kennedy said.

Even so, he was relieved the damage wasn't more extensive. Last week, Kennedy was worried that Frances, then a category 3 hurricane, could make a direct hit on the space center.

"We are very fortunate to have had the limited damage that we've experienced from hurricane Frances," he said today. "There was a time a week ago when some of us worried about the future of human spaceflight, at least, with the potential of the loss of orbiter vehicles, with the loss of international space station hardware.

"I'm proud to tell you that although we've had some minor issues with hardware, the hardware being processed for the shuttle and the station is secure and in good shape."

08-09-2004, 14:35
Su SDC il nostro più importante fornitore di notizie, shuttle_guy, che lavora per la United Space Alliance ha fatto sapere che i lavoratori non torneranno al KSC prima di lunedì prossimo, di fatto quindi perdendo in tutto 2 settimane di lavoro necessarie per far tornare a volare lo shuttle entro a marzo...

I now have the info. on return to work no earlier than Monday. That means this storm has cost us atleast 2 weeks of Shuttle processing in a schedule that had force fit a 6 month OPF schedule into 3 months.

Message to Employees - 9/7/04

NASA has announced that the Kennedy Space Center will remain closed to all but essential personnel until Monday, September 13, 2004 pending the clearance of facilities and worksites across the center. USA facilities in Florida will also remain closed, and USA-Florida employees should not report for work, onsite or offsite, before Monday unless specifically called on by their management. Access will be strictly controlled by the Emergency Operations Center, onsite.

While conditions in the surrounding communities are slowly improving, significant hazards and inconveniences remain. A good number of homes in Brevard County are still without power and some flooding persists in low-lying areas with the potential for additional heavy rain. Traffic lights remain out and gasoline remains in extremely short supply in many areas. Potable water and ice are also in short supply. Employees are advised to monitor local media for updates and to use extreme caution when re-entering the area.

13-09-2004, 17:30

Da Guardian.co.uk (http://education.guardian.co.uk/higher/sciences/story/0,12243,1302857,00.html):

Space probes feel cosmic tug of bizarre forces

Robin McKie, science editor
Sunday September 12, 2004
The Observer

Something strange is tugging at America's oldest spacecraft. As the Pioneer 10 and 11 probes head towards distant stars, scientists have discovered that the craft - launched more than 30 years ago - appear to be in the grip of a mysterious force that is holding them back as they sweep out of the solar system.

Some researchers say unseen 'dark matter' may permeate the universe and that this is affecting the Pioneers' passage. Others say flaws in our understanding of the laws of gravity best explain the crafts' wayward behaviour.

As a result, scientists are to press a European Space Agency (Esa) meeting, called Cosmic Visions, in Paris this week for backing for a mission that would follow the Pioneers and pinpoint the cause of their erratic movements.

The strange behaviour of the Pioneers - which swept by Jupiter and Saturn in the Eighties - was discovered by John Anderson and Slava Turyshev of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena and Michael Martin Neito of the Los Alamos National Laboratory.

They had been tracking the probes using the giant dishes of Nasa's Deep Space Network. By the time the two spaceships had swept beyond Pluto, they noted there were persistent anomalies in their trajectories. Every time they looked the Pioneers were in the wrong place. The effect was not large, but it was significant. Something more than the Sun's gravity appeared to have a grip on the craft.

The reasons for the anomaly have caused a rift among physicists, however. Some believe the effect may simply be flaws with the probes. Gas from fuel tanks may be leaking from them, slowing their passages, say some astronomers. 'Unless there is really good evidence to the contrary, we should stick to simple ideas like these and not go around blaming strange new types of particle or flaws in general relativity,' said Professor Martin Barstow, of Leicester University.

But this view has been rejected by Anderson. 'It's hard to imagine such a leak happening on both probes at the same time in such a way as to produce an identical acceleration,' he said.

And most scientists back him. 'The effect is real,' said Bernard Haisch of the California Institute for Physics and Astrophysics.

One proposal put forward is that Newton's idea that the force of gravity weakens as distance increases may be incorrect over very large spaces, and may drop off over very long distances.

'It is time to settle the Pioneer issue with a new deep-space mission that will test for, and decide on, the anomaly,' Anderson, Turyshev and Nieto state in Physics World .

By fitting a Pioneer follow-up probe with new measuring equipment, navigational device and communications gear, it should be possible to discover if the probes are in the grip of a new force of nature.

19-09-2004, 22:53
Teets: America must reach for space dominance

Posted: September 18, 2004

On the anniversary of the first man-made object reaching the moon, the Department of Defense's executive agent for space urged America to strive for dominance in space.

Undersecretary of the Air Force Peter B. Teets, who also serves as the director of the National Reconnaissance Office, used the occasion of a Soviet Union mission to highlight what he believes to be the three keys for the United States to achieve space dominance.

"I believe that, today, it is fair to say the United States is the leading space nation in the world, but it certainly hasn't always been that way," he said Sept. 14 at the Air Force Association's 2004 Air and Space Conference and Technology Exposition here.

"Forty-five years ago today, the Soviet probe Luna 2 reached the moon. It didn't land on the moon; it (crashed). But, it was still the first man-made object to touch the surface of another world," Mr. Teets said.

That probe, launched Sept. 12, 1959, hit the moon near the Sea of Serenity, where Apollo 15 touched down 15 years later. The relation between that Soviet probe and current U.S. space supremacy lies in America's approach to space research and technology, Mr. Teets said.

"At the time, the United States and the Soviet Union were taking their first faltering steps on the road to space," he said. "We called it the ŒSpace Race,' and it was not a foregone conclusion that we would win."

The Soviets chose to "take the low road," in terms of technology, while the Americans opted for the "high road," Mr. Teets said. The United States used finely tuned, one-of-a-kind spacecraft and rockets that performed very well, but were extremely delicate, he said.

"(The Soviets) took a lower-tech road ... in some ways it was like a brute-force road, with mass-produced spacecraft and rockets that were less sophisticated but were very much more operationally responsive," he said.

Mr. Teets said it is a mistake to assume that one approach is always better than the other.

"Even though we have superiority in many aspects of space capability, we don't have space dominance, and we don't have space supremacy," he said. "The fact is, we need to reach for that goal. It is the ultimate high ground."

Mr. Teets said the United States needs strong and enduring commitments in three areas to meet that goal: developing a professional space cadre, having a strong and well-funded industrial base, and maintaining a position at the leading edge of space technology.

"The first, and unquestionably the most important, is the development and maintenance of a strong professional cadre of military and civilian government personnel," he said.

"If we do that right, I believe the rest will fall into place," he said. "If we do that, we'll have professional acquirers, people who have experience in the development of leading-edge high-tech systems, extremely well-qualified and trained military officers who can operate the systems that give us such an edge in our warfighting capabilities.

"There can be no doubt that we enjoy the benefits today, in major ways, of our national security space systems," Mr. Teets said.

The second area of attention is the space technology industrial base, he said.

"We need a strong and consistently funded industrial base able to produce quality space systems and products," Mr. Teets said. "We can't have a rollercoaster effect where we're asking our industrial partners to build up one year only to crater the next year. We can't have them developing the talented work force necessary for production of high-tech space systems, and ... the following year ask them to lay those same people off.

"It's important for us to have a certain amount of consistency and constancy in our investments in important space systems," he said.

Mr. Teets referred to recent problems with the acquisition system to illustrate his point:

"There was a period of time ... when we let some of the industrial base start to wither. At the same [time]," he said, "people who had been involved in the space system for many years started to take retirement, so it kind of [had] a double whammy effect."

The final piece needed to achieve space dominance, Mr. Teets said, is continued governmental investment in leading-edge space-system research in technology.

"We are at the forefront of space technology. We need to remain there," he said. "I know certain European countries have picked up the challenge and started to invest more heavily in leading-edge technology; certainly China has shown some of the same inclinations. We need to maintain a strong and vital space system research and technology endeavor going forward. That's what will keep us on the leading edge."


20-09-2004, 20:48
Originariamente inviato da GioFX
Teets: America must reach for space dominance

Posted: September 18, 2004

On the anniversary of the first man-made object reaching the moon, the Department of Defense's executive agent for space urged America to strive for dominance in space.

Undersecretary of the Air Force Peter B. Teets, who also serves as the director of the National Reconnaissance Office, used the occasion of a Soviet Union mission to highlight what he believes to be the three keys for the United States to achieve space dominance.

"I believe that, today, it is fair to say the United States is the leading space nation in the world, but it certainly hasn't always been that way," he said Sept. 14 at the Air Force Association's 2004 Air and Space Conference and Technology Exposition here.

"Forty-five years ago today, the Soviet probe Luna 2 reached the moon. It didn't land on the moon; it (crashed). But, it was still the first man-made object to touch the surface of another world," Mr. Teets said.

That probe, launched Sept. 12, 1959, hit the moon near the Sea of Serenity, where Apollo 15 touched down 15 years later. The relation between that Soviet probe and current U.S. space supremacy lies in America's approach to space research and technology, Mr. Teets said.

"At the time, the United States and the Soviet Union were taking their first faltering steps on the road to space," he said. "We called it the ŒSpace Race,' and it was not a foregone conclusion that we would win."

The Soviets chose to "take the low road," in terms of technology, while the Americans opted for the "high road," Mr. Teets said. The United States used finely tuned, one-of-a-kind spacecraft and rockets that performed very well, but were extremely delicate, he said.

"(The Soviets) took a lower-tech road ... in some ways it was like a brute-force road, with mass-produced spacecraft and rockets that were less sophisticated but were very much more operationally responsive," he said.

Mr. Teets said it is a mistake to assume that one approach is always better than the other.

"Even though we have superiority in many aspects of space capability, we don't have space dominance, and we don't have space supremacy," he said. "The fact is, we need to reach for that goal. It is the ultimate high ground."

Mr. Teets said the United States needs strong and enduring commitments in three areas to meet that goal: developing a professional space cadre, having a strong and well-funded industrial base, and maintaining a position at the leading edge of space technology.

"The first, and unquestionably the most important, is the development and maintenance of a strong professional cadre of military and civilian government personnel," he said.

"If we do that right, I believe the rest will fall into place," he said. "If we do that, we'll have professional acquirers, people who have experience in the development of leading-edge high-tech systems, extremely well-qualified and trained military officers who can operate the systems that give us such an edge in our warfighting capabilities.

"There can be no doubt that we enjoy the benefits today, in major ways, of our national security space systems," Mr. Teets said.

The second area of attention is the space technology industrial base, he said.

"We need a strong and consistently funded industrial base able to produce quality space systems and products," Mr. Teets said. "We can't have a rollercoaster effect where we're asking our industrial partners to build up one year only to crater the next year. We can't have them developing the talented work force necessary for production of high-tech space systems, and ... the following year ask them to lay those same people off.

"It's important for us to have a certain amount of consistency and constancy in our investments in important space systems," he said.

Mr. Teets referred to recent problems with the acquisition system to illustrate his point:

"There was a period of time ... when we let some of the industrial base start to wither. At the same [time]," he said, "people who had been involved in the space system for many years started to take retirement, so it kind of [had] a double whammy effect."

The final piece needed to achieve space dominance, Mr. Teets said, is continued governmental investment in leading-edge space-system research in technology.

"We are at the forefront of space technology. We need to remain there," he said. "I know certain European countries have picked up the challenge and started to invest more heavily in leading-edge technology; certainly China has shown some of the same inclinations. We need to maintain a strong and vital space system research and technology endeavor going forward. That's what will keep us on the leading edge."


sembra quasi una preghiera, piuttosto che una "sfida"! ;)

29-09-2004, 20:14
Tense Moments During Trailblazing Private Space Flight

By Leonard David
Senior Space Writer
posted: 29 September 2004
11:28 am ET

"Now that was fun."
Pilot Mike Melvill

MOJAVE, CALIFORNIA – In a white-knuckle flight that could nonetheless herald a new era of space tourism, a privately built, three-person rocket ship successfully flew to space and back today.

The craft, SpaceShipOne, made an unscripted series of rolls near the top of its flight. The engine was shut down early. The flight terrified some who watched from the ground and on a live webcast. However, pilot Mike Melvill seemed unfazed.

"That was a really good ride. I feel like I nailed it," Melvill said after he landed. "But right up at the top I got a surprise when it really spun up and did a little victory roll."

The event was the first of two flights scheduled to capture the $10 million Ansari X Prize.

The X Prize money goes to the first privately built vehicle that can haul a pilot and two passengers -- or the equivalent weight -- to the edge of space, then repeat the feat within two weeks, in this case by Oct. 13. SpaceShipOne’s design team, Scaled Composites, based here at the Mojave Spaceport, said before the flight that they were ready to turn the vehicle around for reflight, perhaps making the second run Oct. 4.

Trouble at the top

Under clear desert skies here, SpaceShipOne was under the controls of a single pilot, but it was weighted as if three people were aboard.

Slung underneath the White Knight carrier aircraft, SpaceShipOne and Melvill headed down the runway just after daybreak and lifted off to the cheers of thousands of gathered well-wishers. The joined vehicles made a slow spiraling ascent high above the desert landscape. The White Knight then released SpaceShipOne. After dropping and gliding a few seconds, Melvill ignited the vehicle’s hybrid rocket motor.

The target was 62.5 miles (100 kilometers) altitude -- a sky-high goal required by the X Prize Foundation of St. Louis, Missouri in order to vie for the cash prize. The altitude is generally considered to be the threshold of space.

The unofficial altitude reached was 358,000 feet. That's 67.8 miles (109.1 kilometers). An earlier report put the altitude at 330,000 feet.

On the way up, SpaceShipOne went into an unexpected roll, twirling at a pace of several times per minute. Melvill shut down its main engine sooner than expected.

"Uh oh, uh oh"

The spinning did "not appear to be scripted maneuver," according to the official narration of the flight. The craft started spinning a minute after burn started, officials said.

"Uh oh, uh oh, he is in the roll," was how the event was described to viewers when the spinning started.

During its first launch in June, Melvill said the craft rolled 90 degrees to the left, then 90 degrees to the right following motor ignition. "It has never ever done that before," he explained.

It is not yet clear what the problem was, however. Melvill did indeed turn the spaceship into an airplane, as planned, and then glided down.

SpaceShipOne returned later in the morning and landed on the same runway.

"Now that was fun," Melvill said afterward. "I shut the engine down at 11 seconds before it would have shut down automatically. So we would have gone a long way higher than we really did."

Things didn't seem so glorious from below.

"My heart stopped here on the ground," said Erik Lindbergh, grandson of famous flyer Charles Lindbergh. Erik Lindbergh is on the board of the X Prize.

Could have gone higher

Melvill said the control issues were building up, leading him to shut down the engine. "I knew I had done the 100 kilometers with room to spare," he said.

"We were asking him [Melvill] to go-ahead and abort and shut it off where he wouldn't have gone a 100 kilometers," SpaceShipOne's chief designer, Burt Rutan. "He stayed in there just for a handful of seconds more."

Despite the control issues, Rutan said the ship is ready to go for the next X Prize flight.

"We will be analyzing why we got the roll near the end," Rutan said. "Will it delay whether we fly on Monday or not, I don't know that … we have to look at the data."

If there's no needed delay, the ship can easily be turned around for a Sunday or Monday flight, Rutan said.

Space Tourism to come?

Aside from the obvious dangers in spaceflight that today's mission highlighted, the flight promises to boost hopes of putting regular folks in space. Curious onlookers and space tourism promoters were on hand for the historic flight.

The White Knight carrier plane was emblazoned with the logo of Virgin Galactic, which earlier this week announced it would contract for a variant of SpaceShipOne to carry paying tourists into space.

Robert Bigelow, billionaire hotel magnate and space tourism promoter, said this about SpaceShipOne this morning: "I'm impressed with the sheer speed of the vehicle." It goes over Mach 3 (Mach 1 is the speed of sound) and is privately built. "That's an accomplishment in itself besides all the other things it'll do today."

Bigelow this week announced a new prize of $50 million for the first private group that can build an orbiting, passenger-carrying spacecraft.

Wayne Stacy, 36, a coach and sports science professor from Simpson College in Indianola, Iowa, just came to the Mojave to watch a bit of history.

"I missed class for this, but the students did not seem to mind," Stacy said. He saw first SpaceShipOne spaceflight on television in June. "It was just amazing. I just had to be here to see what is one of the most significant events of our time." Stacy thinks the space tourism industry "is already going. But we need events like this to create awareness outside the space community."

Verification required

Whether or not the vehicle officially reached qualifying altitude will be verified by independent methods, said X Prize Foundation head Peter Diamandis in a pre-flight interview with SPACE.com.

At least three independent methods, two radar tracking systems, and an onboard "gold box" will be used to verify flight conditions and altitude, Diamandis said. There appears little doubt the threshold was exceeded.

"One down and one to go," Diamandis said after today's flight.

More than a dozen teams around the globe are building, testing, and flying hardware to compete for the Ansari X Prize, an offer that expires at year’s end. The X Prize Foundation hopes to jump-start the space tourism industry through competition among entrepreneurs and rocket experts.

29-09-2004, 20:20
Mars Express latest findings give hints about water loss in the Martian atmosphere

27 September 2004
Recent results from the ASPERA-3 instrument on board Mars Express confirm that a very efficient process is at work in the Martian atmosphere which could explain the loss of water.

Water is believed to have once been abundant on the Red Planet. Professor Rickard Lundin, leader of the ASPERA-3 team, describes these findings in a paper published in the latest issue of Science.

Mars is bombarded by a flood of charged particles from the Sun, commonly called the ‘solar wind’ and consisting of electrons and alpha particles. The solar wind erodes the atmosphere of Mars, and is believed to have stripped away a large amount of water that was present on the planet about 3800 million years ago.

Geological evidence, as recently confirmed by images from the High Resolution Stereo Camera (HRSC) onboard Mars Express, indicates that water flows and even an ocean in the northern hemisphere shaped the surface of Mars.

Today, water still exists on the Red Planet, but less than in the past. Observations made earlier this year by the OMEGA instrument on Mars Express showed that Mars has vast fields of perennial water ice, stretching out from its south pole.

The ASPERA-3 instrument on board Mars Express aims to answer the question of whether the solar wind interaction with the upper atmosphere of Mars contributes to the depletion of water. It is measuring a process called ‘solar wind scavenging’, or the slow ‘invisible’ escape of volatile gases and liquid compounds which make up the atmosphere and hydrosphere of a planet.

Using plasma spectrometers and a special imager to detect energetic neutral atoms, ASPERA-3 is making global and simultaneous measurements of the solar wind, the inflow of energetic particles, and also the ‘planetary wind’, which is the outflow of particles from the Martian atmosphere and ionosphere.

Aspera 3 has established that the solar wind penetrates through the ionosphere and very deeply into the Martian atmosphere down to an altitude of 270 kilometres. This seems to be the reason for the acceleration processes that cause the loss of atmosphere on Mars.

29-09-2004, 20:22
Rover Report Card: Prospect of Mars Life More Likely

By Leonard David
Senior Space Writer
posted: 28 September, 2004
7 a.m. ET

Rolling, rolling, rolling. Keep those Mars rovers rolling. You can almost hear the crack of a Martian whip.

Since January, NASA’s Spirit and Opportunity robots have been wheeling and dealing with the red planet. Last week they had their driving licenses renewed for an additional six months. The science results already have changed how researchers view Mars, and the mission could be far from over.

The rovers steadily worked through a primary three-month mission that ended in April. Then the Mars twosome added another five months of "bonus exploration" during the first extension of their respective duties.

The overall health of the robotic explorers points to more travel, more science and more discovery, mission officials say. All the better to piece together a more solid story about the history and present state of the red planet – and whether or not it has been, or is today, a home for life.

Cold conditions

Spirit at the Gusev Crater site is partway up the west spur of highlands tagged the Columbia Hills, a drive of more than 2 miles (3 kilometers) from its landing spot.

On the other side of the planet, at Meridiani Planum, Opportunity is inside the stadium-size Endurance Crater, wheeling itself toward the base of a stack of exposed rock layers labeled Burns Cliff – a location that is a potential exit route on the crater's south side.

If power were the only limiting factor, the solar-energized rovers could chalk up multiple years of service. "But chances are that something else will get us before then," said Mark Adler, Mars Exploration Rover Mission Manager at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California.

Both rovers face ever-colder conditions as winter sets in on Mars. "Anybody that has a machine knows. Things break sooner or later," Adler said. "But life is good…and we’re going to keep driving them as long as they last."

Heat shield inspection

Next on Opportunity’s agenda is to wheel itself up and out of Endurance Crater.

The plan is to steer the robot by a nearby hunk of discarded hardware – a heat shield that protected the rover and airbag landing system as they plunged through the martian atmosphere last January.

"If the heat shield broke, we may be able to see a cross-section of the heat-shield material and observe the char depth to compare that with what we predicted," Adler told SPACE.com. "For science, we expect that the heat shield dug a pretty good trench on impact."

Opportunity could use its Microscopic Imager to inspect in detail the heat shield, Adler said. Once done at that site, the rover is to bolt out across the "big Meridiani parking lot," he added.

Spirit’s mission is being geared to explore rock outcrops in the Columbia Hills – a far different place than months of driving across the plains of Gusev Crater.

"And that’s sort of the bottom line," Adler said. "In my opinion, it’s worthwhile to keep funding the rovers because the discoveries keep coming as long as they can go explore new terrain. I hope our sponsors will agree with that. It’ll be very hard to stop operating these rovers as long as they can continue to roll."

Emerging picture

In looking back on the months of Mars exploration, what is the most striking, surprising new view of Mars obtained by the rovers?

"That's hard to say this early in the game. I think it's going to take a long time for the science community to fully digest our results," said Steve Squyres of Cornell University in Ithaca, New York and principal investigator for the Mars Exploration Rover project.

But Squyres added: "What's emerging to me is a picture of Mars as a planet that's made of basaltic rock, and with groundwater that's dilute sulfuric acid. The acid interacts with the rock, dissolving things out of it, and then can evaporate away and leave interesting sulfate salts behind. When you have a little interaction and a little evaporation, you get the kind of deposits -- like a little bit of magnesium sulfate salt in the soil -- that we see at Gusev. When you have a lot of interaction and a lot of evaporation, you get the kind of sulfate-rich evaporate beds we see at Meridiani."

Taking this into consideration, the life on Mars issue, Squyres said, means grappling with a key notion. "I think that we've got to start considering how easy it might or might not be for life to take hold in this kind of sulfur-rich, low-pH [measure of acidity] environment."

Supporting suspicion

And given the data amassed to date by the twin robots, is the prospect now more likely that Mars was, or is now, an abode for life?

"I think so," Squyres responded. "We've always suspected that there were places on Mars where liquid water has been present at the surface for significant periods of time, but now we have some actual in-situ evidence to support that suspicion," he told SPACE.com.

Squyres underscored the significance of the kinds of mineral deposits that the Opportunity rover has found at Meridiani, including evaporites and concretions – the kinds of materials that can be good at long-term preservation of evidence for life.

"So our results don't just provide evidence that there were habitable environments, they also suggest a possible search strategy for evidence that there might once have been
life," Squyres said.

Martian time scale

Thanks to rover science data relayed so far, the outlook for life on Mars is a resounding yes, but with a caveat, explained Ronald Greeley, a leading planetary scientist at the Department of Geological Sciences at Arizona State University in Tempe. "This is still a long way from saying that the ‘spark’ of life ever took place."

Consider the exploration of Mars by spacecraft, beginning with the NASA Mariner 4 flyby of Mars in 1965. Greeley recounted that every new mission provides increasing information to support the idea of a "wet" Mars.

From polar processes, channels and valley networks, to the recent observations of small young gullies and measurements of water – the water history of the red planet is being revealed in step-by-step fashion.

Now the twin Mars rovers show that the rocks at both sites have been formed and altered by extensive water, Greeley said. "While water is certainly at or near the surface in many areas today, what we do not know is the time scale for the formation and alteration of the rocks seen at the rover sites."

Greeley said that, in his mind, placing constraints on the martian time scale is the biggest need facing Mars researchers now. "The next level of understanding of the features seen on the surface -- and the related environments -- is dependent on this time scale. The only way to get at this issue is to have suites of samples returned to Earth from key places on Mars," he said.

Saga of water

So far, the most striking aspect of Mars rover work is the saga of water on the planet.

Not necessarily ‘floods’ of water, but sufficient amounts to alter the rocks. This is true even at the Gusev site, Greeley added, where the basaltic rocks show several lines of evidence of modification by water. This could be from water in the atmosphere, interactions by ground water – that is to say, subsurface water that percolates through the rocks and soils -- or surface water, he said.

"For the most part, the Mars Exploration Rover results confirm the pre-mission interpretations of remote sensing data for Gusev crater and Sinus Meridiani. This gives confidence that the Mars community can exploit the great wealth of present and future remote sensing data as the exploration program moves forward," Greeley concluded.

Life on Mars, past or present, remains an open question. That’s the view of Joy Crisp, JPL project scientist for the Mars Exploration Rover effort,

"We already knew that there was liquid water around in the past, so I'm not sure that the rover mission has really changed the prospects for past life," Crisp noted. "The mission has not changed the prospects for current life. Today, Mars is still the harsh place we thought it was."


Through Mars rover science, research teams have found a specific rock deposit that preserves a record of a past environment that could have been favorable for life.

"And that could have preserved evidence of fossil life, if life was around when the rocks were deposited or later soaked in liquid water," Crisp said.

To the extent that water and life go together -- which they do -- the rovers have enhanced the case that "Mars had the right stuff in the past in terms of liquid water," said Ray Arvidson, Mars Exploration Rover Deputy Principal Investigator from Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri.

"Certainly, all the ingredients to make the biogeochemical compounds would have been there," Arvidson stated.

"It bodes well for all the right stuff, in terms of a Mars environment and materials for life to get started and to evolve. And whether it happened or not, I think we need to go down and explore with the right tools," Arvidson concluded.

05-10-2004, 00:48
Non ci siamo dimenticati qualcosa? SpaceShipOne (http://www.scaled.com/projects/tierone/)
ha vinto l'X-prize! Anche il secondo volo è andato...



SpaceShipOne Wins $10 Million Ansari X Prize in Historic 2nd Trip to Space
By Leonard David
Senior Space Writer
posted: 04 October 2004
10:56 am ET

Updated 12:32 p.m. ET

MOJAVE, CALIFORNIA – Human flight took a significant step forward today as the privately built SpaceShipOne flew into suborbital space for the second time in five days, securing the $10 million Ansari X Prize.

With pilot Brian Binnie at the controls, SpaceShipOne rocketed to an unofficial height of 368,000 feet, setting a new altitude record for the craft and proving that private industry can build a viable vehicle for sending paying passengers to space.

"This is a milestone for humanity," said John Spencer, president of the Space Tourism Society in Los Angeles.

Shortly after SpaceShipOne became airborne this morning, Spencer told SPACE.com the flight represents "the kickoff of the space tourist industry."

Seconds after being released from the White Knight carrier plane somewhere above 46,000 feet, Binnie ignited SpaceShipOne’s hybrid rocket motor, boosting the craft above the target point of 62 miles (100 kilometers) required by the X Prize Foundation of St. Louis, Missouri in order to win the cash prize.

The top altitude was confirmed by radar while SpaceShipOne was gliding back to Earth. The craft touched down like a regular airplane at 11:14 a.m. ET.

On a roll

The Ansari X Prize is a $10 million purse for the first privately built vehicle that can safely haul a pilot and the equivalent weight of two passengers to the edge of space -- then repeat the feat within two weeks.

Last week, SpaceShipOne, under the controls of pilot Mike Melvill, coasted above the 62-mile (100-kilometer) altitude point and successfully completed the first of the back-to-back X Prize flights.

That Sept. 29 flight -- dubbed X1 -- saw SpaceShipOne soar to a reported 337,500 feet. Melvill’s rocket ride was not without incident. The craft rolled nearly 30 times in an unplanned manner as it shot faster than a bullet out of Earth’s atmosphere.

Melvill was able to dampen out the roll, re-enter the atmosphere, and make a controlled glide and landing at the Mojave Spaceport. This flight was deemed by a team of judges as a successful first flight for the Ansari X Prize.

Today's clinching flight went off without any apparent hitches. It reached 69.7 miles (112.2 kilometers), well above the minimum target.

"This was a sweet ride," said noted science fiction writer Jerry Pournelle. "I've been around since they were stuffing people into Mercury capsules. This is great stuff."

SpaceShipOne was under the control of a single pilot in both flights, but it was weighted as if two additional people were aboard.

There is significant additional performance in the craft's hybrid rocket motor, its designers say, enough to propel it on an even higher suborbital trajectory.

"We might have gotten to 370,000 feet if my mother-in-law hadn't spilled about a pound of coffee on me this morning," Binnie said after stepping out of the space plane. "A little accident added to the drama of the day."

The competition

SpaceShipOne's apparent success is not expected dull enthusiasm of other rocketeers building suborbital vehicles, predicted Peter Diamandis, head of the X Prize Foundation, in a pre-flight interview with SPACE.com.

"If the Ansari X Prize is won…I think you’ll see the first Canadian, the first Russian, the first British, the first Romanian…all the X Prize teams outside the United States will continue their work to become the first of their nation to carry out a first private flight into space," Diamandis said. "I think that’s still huge news."

Brian Feeney, who leads a rival X Prize effort called the da Vinci group, wished the SpaceShipOne team well this morning just prior to the flight, and he vowed not to stop his own effort.

"Even if the prize is won today, we will fly," Feeney told SPACE.com. "We're moving our program as fast as we can. We'll announce a launch date in a short period of time."

Brian Binnie

Feeney was wearing a gold-colored outfit to promote GoldenPalace.com, the sponsor of his Canadian team. But Feeney's mission has been a largely volunteer effort, while SpaceShipOne is backed by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen.

"Not everyone has a billionaire available to them," Feeney said this morning.

Next step

With today's flight, Binnie became just the second civilian pilot to earn his astronaut wings, along with Melvill. The 51-year-old Binnie is a program business manager and test pilot at Scaled Composites, the firm that built SpaceShipOne.

That firm is led by Burt Rutan. And he has plans.

The company made a deal last week to build a new rocket plane for British entrepreneur Richard Branson, who will market space tourism flights to the public under the name Virgin Galactic.

"What you've seen here is a research and development program to look at new ideas on how manned spacecraft can really be significantly safer … and there will be new ideas out there," Rutan said after today's flight. "We will be developing new ideas also on SpaceShipTwo."


05-10-2004, 09:20
SpaceShipOne soars to $10 million X Prize

Posted: October 4, 2004; Updated with post-flight quotes

MOJAVE, Calif. - SpaceShipOne, flown by veteran test pilot Brian Binnie, rocketed into space history today, climbing higher than 62 miles for the second time in five days to win the $10 million Ansari X Prize for designer Burt Rutan and financial backer Paul Allen.

"It was very exciting, very exciting," Binnie said after the flight, standing in front of SpaceShipOne on the runway at Mojave Airport. "I thank God I live in a country where this is possible."

Carried to an altitude of nearly 50,000 feet by the sleek twin-engine White Knight carrier jet - another innovative Rutan design - SpaceShipOne was released at 1549 GMT (10:49 a.m. EDT) to begin its historic climb to sub-orbital space. Seconds later, Binnie ignited the craft's hybrid rocket motor and the spaceplane shot skyward on a near-vertical trajectory.

During the first X Prize flight last Wednesday, SpaceShipOne began rolling rapidly 50 seconds into powered flight at a velocity of 2.7 times the speed of sound. Pilot Mike Melvill, 63, shut down the craft's engine 11 seconds early in agreement with advice from the ground, reaching an altitude of 337,600 feet, or 63.9 miles, more than enough to meet the X Prize requirement.

He quickly damped out the rolls using the ship's maneuvering jets and completed a picture-perfect return to Earth.

This time around, the rocketplane remained stable throughout its climb out of the discernible atmosphere, coasting to an altitude of roughly 368,000 feet, or 69.7 miles, before falling back toward the Mojave Desert. The previous altitude record for an aircraft was 354,300 feet, or 67 miles, set by X-15 pilot Joe Walker in 1963.

"It's hard to describe," Binnie told reporters. "It's a fantastic experience and it culminates when the motor shuts down and you realize you are no longer encumbered, there is a darkness outside the windows and it is contrasted starkly by this bright pearl that is the greater California area, which is the view from up there. ... It's a fantastic view, it's a fantastic feeling. There's a freedom there and a sense of wonder that, I'll tell you what, you all need to experience."

Just before reaching the high point of the trajectory today, Binnie, 51, rotated, or "feathered," SpaceShipOne's main wing sharply upward in a procedure designed to produce enormous aerodynamic drag on re-entry. The feathered wing, another Rutan innovation, caused the spaceplane to re-enter the atmosphere belly first in a so-called "care free" orientation similar to that of a badminton shuttlecock.

The procedure worked flawlessly last Wednesday, helping damp out what remained of SpaceShipOne's unplanned rolling motion, and it worked flawlessly again today. After enjoying three-and-a-half minutes of weightlessness at the top of his ballistic trajectory, Binnie endured more than 5 "Gs" as SpaceShipOne plunged back into the denser atmosphere.

The 24-minute flight ended with a flawless landing at the Mojave airport at 1613 GMT (11:13 a.m. EDT), where Rutan, Microsoft co-founder Allen, Virgin Atlantic's Richard Branson and a throng of X Prize officials, sponsors, VIPs, journalists and well wishers waited.

"The last thing I said to Brian before we closed up the door around 6 o'clock this morning was to use the driver, keep your head down and swing smooth," Rutan said after landing. "I'd like to say to Brian right now: Nice drive."

An X Prize trophy and a check for $10 million will be presented to Allen and Rutan during a Nov. 6 ceremony in St. Louis.

Today's flight was a triumphant moment for Allen, who pumped more than $20 million into the project, and for Rutan, whose relentless assault on the high frontier will long stand as a testament to the sort of daring, innovative engineering and sheer determination that marked the early days of American aviation.

As usual, Rutan took the opportunity to make a dig at NASA, which he refers to as "that other space agency."

"Quite frankly, I think the big guys, the Boeings, the Lockheeds, the nay-say people at Houston, they probably ... think we're a bunch of home builders who put a rocket in a Long Easy," he said, referring to one of his recreational aircraft designs. "But if they ... got a look at how this flight was run and how we developed the capabilities of this ship and showed its safety, I think they're looking at each other now and saying, 'We're screwed.'"

Said Allen: "It's very hard for me to express how proud I feel of Burt and his team, the pilot, the guys in mission control and the other people at Scaled who made this happen. It's really an incredible feat of technology.

"I've been involved with technology for a while but this is really amazing," he said. "This is rocket science. This is real first-class, top-line rocket science executed with an incredible degree of precision. This flight couldn't have been any smoother."

If X Prize founder Peter Diamandis is right, Rutan's accomplishment and the efforts of other X Prize participants will spur the same sort of competition and innovation that fueled the development of the commercial airline industry. Except this time around, the goal is outer space.

"We've let the genie out of the bottle," he said in an interview Sunday. "We're at the beginning of an industry here. We're going to have investors coming in, there's a multi-billion-dollar market that's beginning and Wall Street and the venture capital community can see that.

"When capital comes in, there'll not only be one ship flying, there will be a dozen different ships, the price will go down, reliability will go up and we'll begin an industry. It happened in aviation, it happened in the personal computer marketplace, there's no reason in the world why it's not going to happen here in the personal spaceflight market."

The identity of the pilot for today's launch was not revealed until a few hours before the flight. A graduate of the U.S. Navy Test Pilot School, Binnie has more than 4,600 hours of flying time in 59 different aircraft, including the F/A-18, the A-7E, the White Knight and SpaceShipOne. He holds master's degrees in aeronautical engineering and fluid mechanics and is a veteran of 33 combat missions in Operation Desert Storm.

Binnie, whose fighter pilot call sign was "B-squared," was at the controls last December when he made the first supersonic flight in SpaceShipOne. Encountering a roll oscillation during landing, one of the craft's landing gear collapsed.

Melvill flew SpaceShipOne into sub-orbital space during a June test flight and he was at the controls last week for the first of the two X Prize launches. Given his experience dealing with the unexpected roll during that flight, Melvill seemed a natural choice to make the second flight today. But as usual, Rutan did not immediately explain his choice of pilots.

To win the Ansari X Prize, SpaceShipOne had to make two flights in two weeks carrying the weight of three passengers to demonstrate a commercially viable turnaround time.

In both cases, only a pilot was on board. The total required weight - 270 kilograms, or 595 pounds - was made up of the pilot, video documentation equipment and personal items selected by the staff at Rutan's company, Scaled Composites, and the X Prize foundation, including Rutan's college slide rule, a teddy bear that will be auctioned off for charity and seedlings.

And, on the first flight, the ashes of Rutan's mother. Otherwise, Rutan said, "we are not flying things that will end up on eBay and be sold or dealt with in any commercial nature at all," Rutan said before the first flight. "There's only a couple of things that are charity related, the rest are things the person who flies it has signed an agreement with us that he will not sell it, that it is for him and his family."

With public transport, in space or otherwise, comes government regulation and in this case, that falls to the Federal Aviation Administration. Rutan has complained in the past about the slow pace and high cost of the regulatory process, which he says disuades investors.

But FAA Administrator Marion Blakey told CBS News she believes the process will, in fact, be streamlined as the industry develops and the technology matures.

"Regulation absolutely will get more efficient," she told CBS News. "For one thing, we learn a lot, we're working closely in partnership with industry and we're getting their feedback. But there's no question about the fact that as you have more launches, you begin to see things that are not a problem and you set those aside.

"And the regulations themselves, in terms of things like the environmental requirements, will be streamlined better, we'll do things simultaneously with other agencies, building on work that's already been done. i think all of this is going to get a lot simpler and smarter. And from the regulator's standpoint, that's what we've got to do."

Blakey is bullish on the future of commercial manned spaceflight, saying the success of SpaceShipOne will make many people realize "you actually could write a check and go pretty soon, that's a big deal."

"Yes, it will only be available to folks with a fair amount of money initially," she said. "But I think competition in this country is going to drive the price and cost down. Things like the X Prize put a lot of momentum behind it because year after year, there are going to be more competitors out there putting people into space."

The Ansari X Prize was funded through Jan. 1 with a so-called "hole-in-one" insurance policy. The premium was financed with private donations and corporate sponsorships. The prize was created to "jump-start the space tourism industry through competition among the most talented entrepreneurs and rocket experts in the world," according to a foundation fact sheet.

Major sponsors include the Ansari family, the Champ Car World Series, 7-Up, M&Ms, First USA and other organizations. Allen's company, Mojave Aerospace Ventures, plans to license the technology developed by Scaled Composites to Richard Branson, owner of the Virgin Group.

Virgin Galactic plans to open next year and begin launching commercial rocket flights for private citizens in 2007. Tickets are expected to run around $200,000 initially, although Rutan said last week he expects the price to drop dramatically as more companies enter the commercial spaceflight arena.

"I have a hell of a lot bigger goal than they do," Rutan said today of NASA and the large aerospace companies. "And you know what that goal is? I absolutely have to develop a manned space tourism system for Sir Richard Branson that's at least a hyundred times safer than anything that's ever flown man into space and probably a lot more. I have to do that.

"What you see here is a research and dev program to look at new ideas on how manned spacecraft can really be significantly safer. And that was with this new type of hybrid motor, which is significantly safer, and that was with our feathered re-entry, which is a significantly safer way to fly to space. And there'll be new ideas out there.

"We will be developing new ideas also in SpaceShipTwo," he said. "We are going to build on a research program and I believe that coming right out of the bag, the first space tourism business will be considerably safer than the original airliners that started flying people a long time ago. I'm very confident in that now."

Diamandis agreed.

"When I was a kid, the Apollo era was going on and the expectation was that we'd all have a chance to go," Diamandis said. "But of course, that never was the mission of NASA, to take the public into space. it's the mission of private industry. But now that we've jump started this private industry with Scaled Composites and many of the other 26 Ansari X Prize teams, we are going to see industry making it possible for all of us to go into space.

While initial flights will be sub orbital, Diamandis believes commercial manned flights to low-Earth orbit are just around the corner.

"We're going to bridge that gap from sub orbital to orbital flight and I think that's going to happen well within 10 years," he said. "But once we're in orbit, we're two thirds of the way to anywhere. And we'll have private teams building ships to go to the moon and to go to Mars.

"It's in our genes. We are explorers in our hearts. And all we have to do is get the roads to space built and that's what we're doing right here in Mojave, we're building the roads, the personal, private roads to space."

Asked if she might sign up for a commercial space flight someday, Blakey laughed, saying "I'd love to fly on this thing because I love to fly. But I have a feeling it's going to be a while before I'll have the cash to get involved. So will I be in the line? Yes, but I'll be probably pretty far back."

07-10-2004, 19:15
metti qualche notizia anche in italiano,non tutti leggono tanto bene l'inglese.
http://www.giornaletecnologico.it/news/200410/05/41617a4f04513/ ciao.

08-10-2004, 16:13


08-10-2004, 16:30
Originariamente inviato da Maury




08-10-2004, 16:33

Ecco in quel caso l'inglese mi va bene :sofico: :oink:

09-10-2004, 16:02
Da BBC.co.uk (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/3725864.stm):

Anniversary launch for 'nanosats'

Fifty mini-satellites are to be sent into space to celebrate the launch of the first ever satellite, Sputnik 1.

The "nanosats", each weighing 1kg, will blast into orbit on board an Ariane rocket in 2007, said Arianespace.

Each satellite will represent a nation, and will do small-scale research experiments during two years in orbit.

The former Soviet Union's Sputnik 1 was the size of a basketball and became the first human-made object to leave Earth's atmosphere on 4 October, 1957.

"Just like 50 years ago, when the first man-made Earth satellite was launched, these nanosatellites will signal a new era for scientists worldwide," said Jean-Yves Le Gall, chief executive officer for Arianespace.

The company markets launch services for the European Space Agency (Esa).

"Arianespace is very proud to be participating in this commemoration," he added. "Supporting science and research is an integral part of our assigned mission."

Space race

Compared with Sputnik which weighed 83kg, nanosatellites weigh under 10kg and can be sent up in clusters in low-Earth orbit, which is less than 2,000km above the planet's surface.

Increased miniaturisation of electronic and mechanical components has made it possible to construct much smaller and lighter satellites.

These satellites can significantly reduce the cost of access to space for many nations and can be used in groups, or swarms, for Earth observation.

UK satellite company Surrey Satellite Technology Limited has developed small satellites, like SNAP-1 which was launched in June 2000.

It weighed 6.5kg and carried micro-miniature GPS navigation, camera technology, onboard computing, propulsion and attitude control technologies.

Commercial telecommunications satellites are costly, commonly as big as buses, and can weigh up to eight tonnes.

At the time of Sputnik 1's historic launch, which was described as "the simplest kind of baby moon", the US and the Soviet Union were in a race to space.

Some voiced concerned about its launch because its orbit would take it over the US seven times.

Others speculated that its launcher rocket could be capable of carrying a nuclear weapon thousands of kilometres.

Sputnik 1 was followed a month later by Sputnik 2, which carried the first living creature, a dog called Laika, into space.

In December 1957, a US rocket carrying a test satellite exploded. The US successfully launched its first satellite, Explorer, in February 1958.

The mission for 2007 was announced at the International Astronautical Federation (IAF) congress in Vancouver, Canada.

21-10-2004, 09:09

The Problem with Gravity: New Mission Would Probe Strange Puzzle
By Robert Roy Britt
Senior Science Writer
posted: 18 October 2004
06:33 am ET

Imagine the weight of a nagging suspicion that what held your world together, a constant and consistent presence you had come to understand and rely on, wasn't what it seemed. That's how scientists feel when they ponder gravity these days.

For more than three centuries, the basics of gravity were pretty well understood.

Newton described the force as depending on an object's mass. Though it extends infinitely, gravity weakens with distance (specifically, by the inverse square of the distance). Einstein built on these givens in developing his theory of relativity.

Then more than a decade ago a researcher noticed something funny about two Pioneer spacecraft that were streaming toward the edge of the solar system. They weren't where they should have been.

Something was holding the probes back, according to calculations of their paths, speed and how the gravity of all the objects in the solar system -- and even a tiny push provided by sunlight -- ought to act on them.

Now scientists have proposed a new mission to figure out what's up with gravity.

Staggering possibilities

Pioneer 10 and 11 launched in 1972 and 1973. Today each is several billion miles away, heading in opposite directions out of the solar system.

The discrepancy caused by the anomaly amounts to about 248,500 miles (400,000 kilometers), or roughly the distance between Earth and the Moon. That's how much farther the probes should have traveled in their 34 years, if our understanding of gravity is correct. (The distance figure is an oversimplification of the actual measurements, but more on that in a moment.)

Scientists are quick to suggest the Pioneer anomaly, as they call it, is probably caused by the space probes themselves, perhaps emitting heat or gas. But the possibilities have been tested and modeled and penciled out, and so far they don't add up.

Which leaves open staggering possibilities that would force wholesale reprinting of all physics books:

* Invisible dark matter is tugging at the probes
* Other dimensions create small forces we don't understand
* Gravity works differently than we think

Devoted to the problem

Slava Turyshev at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory is one of a handful of scientists who wrestle mentally with the Pioneer anomaly every day. He is not paid to work specifically on the problem, so he has to juggle the disturbing thought with his regular research, which involves other aspects of gravity and, significantly, whether theories that explain the glue of the whole universe might one day match neatly with those describing the invisible, subatomic world.

"I have been working on [the Pioneer anomaly] for more than 11 years now, and was never funded to do this job," Turyshev tells SPACE.com. "I guess this says a lot about my devotion to solve this mystery."

Data from the Galileo and Ulysses spacecraft suggest the anomaly may have affected them, too. But neither has been far enough from the Sun -- the dominant source of gravity in the solar system -- to firmly distinguish any possible discrepancy from noise in the data, Turyshev says. Galileo was crashed into Jupiter last year, and Ulysses will never go farther than it has.

That leaves two data points -- one from each Pioneer craft. Turyshev pointedly considers the pair as one data point, so as not to inflate the case for strange new physics. He looked at the two Voyager spacecraft, also exiting the solar system, but says their design involved "numerous attitude-control maneuvers" that "can overwhelm the signal of a small external acceleration."

NASA engineers have made their last communications with the Pioneer probes, so the two table-sized robots are carrying the unsolved mystery silently to the stars.

New mission proposed

The Pioneer anomaly was discovered by John Anderson, also of JPL, in the 1980s. For years he didn't publish what he'd noticed. Then he discussed it with physicist Michael Martin Nieto at the Los Alamos National Laboratory. Nieto says he "almost fell off my chair."

Nieto jumped into the investigation, and the two were later joined by Turyshev. They dug deeper into the data, even tracking down retired NASA scientists for some of it.

Unraveling the enigma will require a new mission, the researchers say. NASA, however, doesn't have such a project on its agenda and has not expressed much interest in one. Europeans, for reasons both historic and having to do with a current strong desire to better grasp gravity, seem more interested in investigating the problem.

So Anderson's team recently proposed to the European Space Agency a "mission to explore the Pioneer anomaly" using the latest accelerometers and advanced navigation methods. All possible sources of onboard radiation would be eliminated in "the most precisely tracked spacecraft ever to go into deep space," the group writes in the September issue of Physics World magazine.

The idea has "very high chances" of being chosen for future study, Turyshev thinks. If funded, it could launch as early as 2015.

If the mission were to find a natural, cosmic cause to the Pioneer anomaly, the revelation would rank right up there with other apple-on-the-head moments in the history of physics.

"If the anomaly is due to some new physical mechanism, this discovery would have a truly fundamental impact," Turyshev said.

Exotic candidates

One candidate is dark matter. This unknown stuff seems to infuse the universe and, though invisible, has a collective gravitational impact greater than all known matter, including stars and planets. Dark matter is inferred to exist because, without it, galaxies would fly apart. Every galaxy must be loaded with the stuff, astronomers conclude, based on how stars are bound to orbit the centers of the galaxies.

But dark matter's effects have been presumed to operate across large expanses, both within and between galaxies. There is no evidence of it controlling anything on a scale so small as our solar system.

Another idea is that gravity tugs slightly harder at things farther away. That radical suggestion, if proved true, would force a modification of Einstein's general theory of relativity and might eliminate dark matter as a player.

Yet one more exotic possibility: Dimensions exist beyond the four we know (three directions and time). Models of string theory propose that higher dimensions could provide weak forces that act in ways we don't yet comprehend.

No fancy theory in existence, however, properly explains the Pioneer data.

Drifting journeys

The Pioneer anomaly is not actually a measure of how far the Pioneer probes did or didn't travel.

Instead, scientists bounced microwave signals off each probe and noticed an unexpected drift in the Doppler frequency as the probes got farther away. The technique is akin to noting the sound change in a siren as an ambulance races first toward you, and then away from you. The Doppler effect is a shortening or lengthening of sound waves (or microwaves, or any waves) forced by an object's movement.

The drift showed that the Pioneers were being accelerated toward the Sun (or, rather, decelerated in their movement away from the Sun) by a tiny but inexplicable amount. The level of drift is equal to a gravitational effect 10 billion times weaker than the pull of Earth.

Though tiny, the signal is clear, other scientists agree.

Despite 11 years of devotion to the mystery, Turyshev is the first to admit that the "most obvious explanation" would be an unknown onboard effect. Perhaps excessive internal heat or leaks of propulsion gas are providing a wee bit of thrust that adds up over the years.

Yet despite a lot of testing, "no unambiguous, onboard systematic problem has been discovered," he said. "This inability to explain the anomalous acceleration of the Pioneer spacecraft with conventional physics has contributed to the growing discussion about its origin."

Even if the anomaly is caused by the Pioneer probes themselves, figuring it out will be useful says Turyshev, who is the proposal leader for the U.S. group.

"Finding it would help us to build a better spacecraft for the needs of fundamental physics," he said. "These craft would much more stable, quieter and would allow us to go even deeper in our quests of studying the fabric of fundamental and gravitational physics."

10-12-2004, 23:08
The Heavy: Triple-sized Delta 4 rocket to debut

Posted: December 7, 2004

After years of development and 366 days standing on the launch pad, Boeing's behemoth Delta 4-Heavy rocket flies its maiden mission Friday to showcase its proficiency and character in hauling hefty cargos to space.

Although the demonstration flight lacks a real satellite payload -- fitted instead with an instrumented dummy craft -- the rocket's launch carries enormous importance for upcoming U.S. national security spacecraft looking for rides to orbit after retirement of the costly Titan 4 vehicle.

What's more, a successful debut is crucial to establishing a solid first impression of the heavy-lifter that may one day launch astronauts in NASA's proposed Crew Exploration Vehicle.

The Delta 4-Heavy rocket is ready for its inaugural flight. Credit: Boeing photo by Carleton Bailie

The 23-story rocket is scheduled for liftoff at 2:31 p.m. EST (1931 GMT) from pad 37B at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida. The day's available launch window extends two hours and 56 minutes to 5:27 p.m. EST (2227 GMT).

The rocket was erected on the seaside pad last December where it has since undergone an exhaustive program of tests and countdown rehearsals that built a database of knowledge for engineers and the launch team.

The Cape's Complex 37 is the same site used in the 1960s to fly unmanned Saturn 1 and 1B rockets that helped prepare for mankind's voyage to the moon. The site was rebuilt for the Delta 4 era, successfully supporting the previous three liftoffs in the next-generation vehicle family.

Those initial missions in 2002 and 2003 all flew in the Delta 4-Medium configuration with two stages. The lower stage, called the Common Booster Core, features the Rocketdyne RS-68 main engine that generates 650,000 pounds of thrust. The cryogenic upper stage has the Pratt & Whitney RL10B-2 powerplant.

The Delta 4-Heavy debuting this week is engineered from the foundation built by the Medium models, but is much larger and far more complex.

"The Delta 4-Heavy launch represents a remarkable American technological achievement," said Dan Marin, Boeing's director of Delta 4 Air Force programs.

The Heavy is created by taking three Common Booster Cores -- the liquid hydrogen-fueled motor that forms the Medium's first stage -- and strapping them together to form a triple-body rocket, and then adding the powerful upper stage.

An illustration of the Delta 4-Heavy rocket and payload. Credit: Boeing

"If you look at where the increased complexity of the Heavy vehicle is, it really plays into how these three large boosters interact and how the control system accommodates that interaction and keeps the rocket flying straight and true," said Boeing's Delta program manager, Dan Collins. "That's something we've worked since day 1 on this program -- so well over six years of the very best design people in the business making sure we understand those dynamics and how they play out."

The Delta 4-Heavy is capable of delivering 48,000 pounds of cargo into low-Earth orbits, including that of the International Space Station, 28,000 pounds into geosynchronous transfer orbit used by communications satellites, 22,000 pounds for Trans Lunar Injection routes to the moon and 17,600 pounds on Mars-bound trajectories.

The Air Force has ordered two Heavy rockets that will loft the final Defense Support Program missile-launch detection satellite next fall and sometime later a classified payload for the National Reconnaissance Office, which is the government agency responsible for the U.S. fleet for spy satellites.

During creation of the Delta 4 under the military's Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle program, a healthy commercial satellite market was supposed to help offset development costs for the Air Force. But that dream fizzled and the potential to launch the first Heavy with a commercial cargo financing the trip went nowhere, prompting the government to purchase a test flight before the DSP and NRO craft are entrusted to the booster.

"The original strategy for demonstrating the Heavy capability was to utilize the perceived burgeoning commercial market. In 1998, this vehicle would have been a big player in what was projected back in those times. So the Air Force was in a great position. They were going to be able to benefit from the commercial launches," Collins said.

"When that commercial launch market started to go away and signs that it wasn't going to allow the demonstration to happen, the Air Force stepped in and said 'hey, we've got some important payloads to go. We want to get data before we put those on top of the rocket.' So they came in and purchased an amendment to the development of the contract for this mission."

In December 2000, the Air Force awarded a $141 million contract for the Delta 4-Heavy demonstration launch.

Boeing's 23-story tall Delta 4-Heavy rocket is scheduled for launch Friday. Credit: Boeing photo by Carleton Bailie

Beyond the two operational missions already slated, the Heavy's future manifest has no reservations yet.

The Air Force is preparing another batch of launch orders to be competed between Delta 4 and Lockheed Martin's Atlas 5. But program manager Lt. Col. James Planeaux says it is not yet known how many, if any, Heavy missions will be up for grabs.

Lockheed Martin, which had skipped plans to field its version of the Atlas 5-Heavy, changed course and is developing the vehicle that will resemble the Delta 4-Heavy with three booster cores tied together.

NASA is studying the Delta 4, Atlas 5, space shuttle-derived concepts and completely new space vehicles to launch missions in the agency's Vision for Space Exploration that aims to return astronauts to the moon and ultimately send the first humans to Mars.

"The biggest help we're being at this point is by providing (NASA) information about the system, what its growth possibilities are, where its limitations are, so that they have the best set of data to match up with planning an overall exploration program," Collins said of Boeing's ongoing discussions with NASA.

"We're working hard with them but really in an information exchange situation and helping them get educated and smart on what the existing Delta capabilities are and then how Delta can grow."

Collins said a key aspect in selecting a launch vehicle is the infrastructure -- manufacturing factories, processing hangars and pads -- already available to support the exploration vision.

"The reason that's a key is a big part of the job ahead of NASA is making the exploration program fit within a budget."

Boeing designers foresee a host of engine, upper stage and other upgrades to the existing Delta 4-Heavy design that would increase the rocket's payload-carrying capacity into low-Earth orbit for NASA. One configuration would ferry 100,000 pounds -- that's double the ability of the current system.

Futuristic Delta 4 ideas that would require construction of new launch pad and ground infrastructure envision monster rockets with five-to-seven Common Booster Cores strapped together in a cluster. Some concepts built with lightweight materials and sporting an advanced main engine could loft upwards of 200,000 pounds of cargo.

But the current focus is proving the Delta 4-Heavy is trustworthy and reliable. Friday's demonstration flight will last nearly six hours from liftoff until deployment of the instrumented satellite mockup into geosynchronous orbit.

This dramatic view from the launch pad looks up to the towering Delta 4-Heavy rocket. Credit: Boeing photo by Carleton Bailie

The 13,383-pound DemoSat craft is a 6-foot tall, 4.5-foot diameter shiny aluminum barrel filled with 60 brass rods for ballast. Sensors on the satellite will collect data on the vibrations, temperatures and pressures during ascent, plus measure the shock felt at separation.

"It is tuned to demonstrate capabilities of the rocket," Collins said. "The Air Force and the Delta team have gotten together and designed the generic DemoSat to answer questions for many missions. It will do a very good job of that, but it isn't tied specifically to one certain payload. It is really tied to a broader sense of demonstrating the capabilities and getting data points from some of the critical aspects of the environment within the payload fairing."

Sensors placed throughout the rocket will obtain the crucial information on the vehicle's actions during launch.

"(There is) a huge amount of telemetry and special instrumentation on this vehicle, being the inaugural mission, looking to get all of the data that we can in order to understand exactly how the rocket has performed," Collins added.

Hitching a ride on the side of DemoSat will be a pair of 35-pound, six-sided nanosatellites nicknamed Ralphie and Sparky. Built in collaboration between Arizona State University, New Mexico State University and the University of Colorado at Boulder, the canister-like nanosats were originally supposed to launch aboard a space shuttle mission in 2003. But the Columbia accident and grounding of the shuttle fleet led to the Air Force proposing an alternate route to orbit on Delta 4.

The missions of Ralphie and Sparky to conduct imaging, micropropulsion and intersatellite communications experiments will last a few days, controlled via ground stations linked by the Internet, before the craft tumble into the atmosphere.

The payload for the Delta 4-Heavy rocket's demonstration launch includes a satellite simulator and two nanosats. The craft are mounted atop the black cone-shaped adapter that mounts to the rocket as seen in this image. Credit: U.S. Air Force

Getting to space all begins with 1.9 million pounds of rumbling thrust blasting the Delta 4-Heavy rocket ever so slowly off the ground. It will take more than 15 seconds for the vehicle to clear the launch pad tower.

About 50 seconds into flight, the center Common Booster Core's engine is throttled back to its minimum power level of 58 percent thrust to conserve fuel that becomes important later. The starboard and port boosters continue firing at full throttle -- 102 percent thrust -- through the launch's first four minutes before emptying their liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen propellant tanks and shutting down the RS-68 engines. The 15-story boosters will peel away and plummet into the Atlantic Ocean.

"A lot of the risk is burnt down at that point in time when we get back the single-core flying," Collins said, noting that the rocket will resemble a Delta 4-Medium from this point forward.

Once the outer boosters are shed, the center stage finally throttles back up to 102 percent for more than a minute of propulsion, consuming that fuel supply saved during the period of reduced thrust. The stage is jettisoned five minutes, 41 seconds after liftoff, leaving the rocket's upper stage and payload to continue the journey to orbit.

The upper stage is a bit larger than ones flown previously on Delta 3 and Delta 4-Medium missions. It features wider liquid hydrogen and lengthened liquid oxygen tanks to carry additional propellants, enabling the RL10 engine to fire longer.

About 12 minutes, 48 seconds into flight, the upper stage completes its first burn to achieve a low-altitude parking orbit of 100 by 135 nautical miles above Earth. It is here that Ralphie and Sparky are deployed, each testing low-shock separation systems for possible future applications.

An artist's concept shows the nanosats separating from DemoSat and the Delta 4-Heavy rocket's upper stage. Credit: Boeing

After an eight-minute pause, the upper stage is re-ignited to reach a geosynchronous transfer orbit with a high point of 19,651 nautical miles, low point of 148 nautical miles and inclination of 27.3 degrees north and south of the equator.

The stage will coast in this orbit, eventually reaching the apogee where the RL10 engine is fired for a third time starting at T+plus 5 hours, 37 minutes. This three-minute burn circularizes the orbit and lowers the inclination to 10 degrees.

About five hours and 50 minutes after leaving Cape Canaveral, DemoSat is released from the Delta 4-Heavy rocket to fly 19,623 nautical miles above the planet, completing the launch.

"It takes quite a while to get there. It is a long mission for us," Collins said.

"It ends up a pretty good long day by the time it takes us about six hours to get everything (fueled for launch) and ready to go, and then it takes another six hours to go run the mission. But I'm sure when we get to successful (DemoSat) separation, everybody will not feel tired at all!"

07-01-2005, 12:46
Arianespace will launch the Skynet military satcoms

Posted: January 4, 2005

EADS Astrium Ltd. has chosen Arianespace to launch the British Ministry of Defense's Skynet 5A and Skynet 5B military communications satellites.

Colin Paynter, Managing Director of EADS Astrium Ltd., and Jean-Yves Le Gall, CEO of Arianespace, today announced the signature of two launch contracts, for the Skynet 5A and 5B satellites.

These two satellites will be boosted into geostationary transfer orbit by Ariane 5 launchers from the Guiana Space Center, Europe's Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana. Launches are scheduled for the second half of 2006 and the second half of 2007.

Skynet 5A and 5B, secure high-speed communications
Skynet 5A and 5B will be launched by Arianespace on behalf of EADS Astrium, which in turn will deliver the satellites in orbit to the commercial organisation Paradigm Secure Communications. Paradigm is contracted to provide secure communications services for the British armed forces, NATO and a number of other countries.

The Skynet 5 satellites, built by EADS Astrium, will weigh approximately 4,700 kilograms at launch.

Europe's Ariane launcher has already orbited the Skynet 4B, 4C, 4E and 4F satellites for the British Ministry of Defense.

Ariane 5, supporting defense and security
The Ariane 5 launcher is key to the development of a common European defense and security policy, for which the space segment is essential. Skynet 5A and 5B are the 24th and 25th military payloads entrusted to the European launch vehicle.

Arianespace to launch Pleiades satellites
French space agency CNES has awarded Arianespace a launch contract for two Pleiades Earth observation satellites.

The two Pleiades satellites will be placed in heliosynchronous orbit by Soyuz launchers from the Guiana Space Center in Kourou, French Guiana. The first satellite is to be launched in 2008 and the second in 2009.

Successors to Spot satellites
The Pleiades satellites comprise the high-resolution optical imaging component in the Franco-Italian Orfeo system. Italy is supplying the radar component. The satellites will perform both civil and military missions, providing continuity with the services available via the Spot satellites.

EADS Astrium is prime contractor and platform manufacturer for the satellites, which weigh about one metric ton each. Alcatel Space will supply the high-resolution and image telemetry systems. The size, image resolution, orbital agility and ground transmission capabilities of the Pleiades satellites represent a significant technological advance.

Arianespace to launch Corot satellite
French space agency CNES has awarded Arianespace a launch contract for the Corot stellar observation satellite.

The Corot satellite is a veritable space observatory designed to study stars and search for new planets. With a payload of 630 kg, the satellite will be launched by the maiden flight of the Soyuz 2-1b launch vehicle in mid-2006 from the Baikonur cosmodrome. This launch is part of the Guiana Space Center (CSG) Soyuz program and will be executed under the responsibility of Arianespace. For launch operations Arianespace will draw on Starsem expertise.

Corot, a world first in astronomy
This scientific mission will mark a world first, with two missions: study the internal structure of stars and detect plants outside our solar system.

The Corot satellite uses the Proteus multimission platform built by Alcatel Space. Corot will placed into a polar orbit at an altitude of 850 kilometers.

12-02-2005, 23:43

Guyana, lanciato il razzo Ariane 5.
Messi in orbita due satelliti

EVRY (FRANCIA) - Il razzo Ariane 5 Eca lanciato ieri dal Centro spaziale di Kourou, nella Guyana francese, ha messo in orbita i due satelliti che aveva a bordo. L'annuncio è stato dato dalla società Arianespace, nella sua sede di Evry (nella Francia centrale).

Un portavoce della società ha spiegato che tutto è andato come previsto: il satellite per telecomunicazioni Xtar-Eur, che coprirà una regione che va dalla costa del Brasile al Sudest asiatico, e il microsatellite Sloshsat-Flevo, progettato per esperimenti sulla dinamica dei fluidi in microgravità, si sono separati dallo stadio superiore del razzo alla quota prevista.

Quello di ieri era il secondo lancio - il primo coronato da successo - di un vettore Ariane 5 Eca, in grado di trasportare un carico utile di 10 tonnellate (contro le 6 della versione generica). L'11 dicembre 2002 i responsabili del volo erano stati costretti a distruggere in volo il primo Ariane 5 Eca, poco dopo il decollo, a causa di un difetto al sistema di raffreddamento di un ugello.

La partenza da Kourou è avvenuta alle 18.03 ora locale (le 22.03 in Italia), in condizioni di bel tempo. Il conto alla rovescia era stato temporaneamente interrotto - il lancio è avvenuto circa un'ora dopo il previsto - a causa della necessità di verificare alcune misurazioni di un rilevatore di pressione. Quello di ieri era il 165esimo lancio di un razzo Ariane e il 21esimo di un Ariane 5.

Il presidente francese Jacques Chirac ha espresso "la sua grande soddisfazione dopo il successo" del lancio di Ariane 5. Ciò costituisce, ha detto, "una tappa essenziale" per "garantire l'accesso dell'Europa allo spazio". Chirac ha fatto anche i complimenti a "tutti i gruppi dell'industria europea che, con il loro impegno esemplare, hanno superato le difficoltà incontrate al primo tentativo, due anni fa". Quindi, ha concluso, "è stato superato un traguardo essenziale per garantire all'Europa accesso allo spazio. Questo successo è di buon auspicio per i prossimi voli di Ariane 5 che avranno luogo quest'anno".

(13 febbraio 2005)


12-02-2005, 23:46

The heavy-lift Ariane 5 enters commercial service with an on-target flight

Arianespace's increased-performance Ariane 5 ECA is now in full commercial service following today's successful mission from the Spaceport in French Guiana, which deployed a multi-element payload in orbit.

Climbing on the power of its up-rated Vulcain 2 cryogenic main engine and its increased-thrust solid propellant boosters, Flight 164's Ariane 5 left the ELA-3 launch zone and climbed into clear skies.

The launch vehicle's impressive ascent, which was video streamed live on the www.arianespace.com Website, clearly showed the first phase of flight, including separation of Ariane 5's two solid boosters approximately 2 min. 21 sec. into the flight.

The primary payload for today's mission was the XTAR-EUR a governmental X-band telecommunications satellite. XTAR-EUR will be operated by XTAR - a joint venture of Loral Space & Communications and HISDESAT, S.A., Its telecommunications relay services will be offered to government users in the United States, Spain and other friendly and allied nations. The spacecraft was produced by Space Systems/Loral and uses the company's 1300 satellite bus.

Eric Zhaler, President and Chief Operating Officer of Loral Space & Communications, said the XTAR-EUR joint venture partners had such confidence in Arianespace and Ariane 5 ECA that no insurance was taken for the spacecraft. Speaking at a Washington, D.C. live video broadcast of Flight 164, Zahler warmly thanked Arianespace for the successful launch - which will enable XTAR-EUR to begin the introduction of commercial X-band telecommunications relay capacity.

Flight 164 also deployed Sloshsat, a small cube-shaped spacecraft developed to study fluid dynamics in microgravity conditions by monitoring the behavior of water in an instrumented tank. This 125-kg. satellite was developed by the European Space Agency and Holland's NLR National Aerospace Laboratory, and carries 33.5 liters of de-ionized water.

An instrumentation payload called Maqsat-B was carried as well on Ariane 5, with the goal of logging parameters during the Ariane 5 ECA's flight and recording video images using a pair of cameras. Maqsat-B was designed to remain mounted to the Ariane 5 launcher throughout the mission. Germany's Kayser-Threde produced the Maqsat B2 system, while France's CNES space agency and Astrium of Europe developed the fluid loop and heat pipe which are included in the cylinder-shape payload.

Also incorporated in Maqsat-B is the dual-camera DVCAM system that was designed to image Ariane 5's liftoff and separation sequences using cameras outside and inside the payload fairing. The DVCAM system was developed by a team of CNES, Dassault and Arianespace.

Arianespace CEO Jean-Yves Le Gall thanked the Ariane industrial team involved in today's flight and confirmed that Arianespace will have a busy year of missions in 2005. He announced the next Ariane 5 launch will be April 14, which will carry the French Syracuse 3A military telecommunications satellite and Indonesia's Telkom 2 telecom spacecraft. This upcoming mission will use an Ariane 5 Generic launcher version.

The heavy-lift Ariane 5 ECA version that was qualified today has a payload lift capability to geostationary transfer orbit (GTO) of 9,600 kg., compared to 6,700-kg. for the baseline Ariane 5 Generic.

Upgrades to the Ariane 5 ECA include a more powerful Vulcain 2 cryogenic main engine (which has its thrust increased by 20 percent from the Ariane 5 Generic's Vulcain engine); the use of a cryogenic upper stage powered by the HM7B engine (which was the engine used in the Ariane 4's third stage); and the incorporation of solid rocket boosters with a increased propellant load in the S1 segment for more thrust at liftoff and a lighter-weight nozzle

This evening's liftoff was briefly delayed due to a problem with a pressure sensor reading. The countdown resumed within the remaining time for the launch window, and Ariane 5 successfully roared away from the ELA-3 launch complex at 6:03 p.m. (local time at the Spaceport), trailing the bright flames and exhaust from the Vulcain 2 and solid boosters.

Flight 164's multi-payload deployment sequence began with XTAR-EUR's release approximately 26 min. later at an altitude of 897 km. The jettisoning of the SYLDA dispenser system followed by about 2 min., with the separation of Sloshsat completing the deployment sequence approximately 3 minutes later.

16-04-2005, 20:04
Michael Griffin takes the helm as NASA administrator

Posted: April 14, 2005

Michael D. Griffin reported to work today as NASA's 11th Administrator. Administrator Griffin becomes the leader of the agency on the day the Expedition 11 crew is set to launch to the International Space Station. The Administrator was confirmed late Wednesday night by the U.S. Senate. An official swearing-in ceremony will be scheduled later.

Michael Griffin appears at Senate hearing. Credit: NASA/Renee Bouchard

"I have great confidence in the team that will carry out our nation's exciting, outward-focused, destination-oriented program," said Griffin. "In the coming days, I'll be spending a good deal of my time reviewing our progress toward returning the Space Shuttle safely to flight. I will also be reviewing the activities of our mission directorates and our various supporting functions. I share with the agency a great sense of privilege that we have been given the wonderful opportunity to extend humanity's reach throughout the solar system."

During his confirmation hearing Tuesday before the U.S. Senate, the Administrator stated his priorities, consistent with the President's Vision for Space Exploration will be: * Fly the Space Shuttle as safely as possible until its retirement, not later than 2010 * Bring a new Crew Exploration Vehicle into service as soon as possible after the Space Shuttle is retired * Develop a balanced overall program of science, exploration and aeronautics at NASA, consistent with the redirection of the human spaceflight program to focus on exploration * Complete the International Space Station in a manner consistent with our international partner commitments and the needs of human exploration * Encourage the pursuit of appropriate partnerships with the emerging commercial space sector * Establish a lunar return program having the maximum possible utility for later missions to Mars and other destinations

President George W. Bush nominated Griffin as NASA Administrator in March, while he was serving as the Space Department Head at Johns Hopkins University's Applied Physics Laboratory in Baltimore.

Griffin was President and Chief Operating Officer of In-Q-Tel, Inc., before joining Johns Hopkins in April 2004. He also served in several positions within Orbital Sciences Corporation, Dulles, Va., including Chief Executive Officer of Magellan Systems, Inc.

Earlier in his career, Administrator Griffin served as Chief Engineer at NASA and as Deputy for Technology at the Strategic Defense Initiative Organization. He has served as an adjunct professor at the University of Maryland, Johns Hopkins University and George Washington University.

He taught courses in spacecraft design, applied mathematics, guidance and navigation, compressible flow, computational fluid dynamics, spacecraft attitude control, astrodynamcis and introductory aerospace engineering. He is the lead author of more than two dozen technical papers, as well as the textbook, Space Vehicle Design.

A registered professional engineer in Maryland and California, the Administrator is a fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA). He is a recipient of the NASA Exceptional Achievement Medal, the AIAA Space Systems Medal and the Department of Defense Distinguished Public Service Medal, the highest award given to a non-government employee. He is a certified flight instructor with instrument and multiengine ratings

He received a bachelor's degree in Physics from Johns Hopkins University; a master's degree in Aerospace Science from Catholic University of America; a Ph.D. in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Maryland; a master's degree in Electrical Engineering from the University of Southern California; a master's degree in Applied Physics from Johns Hopkins University; a master's degree in Business Administration from Loyola College; and a master's degree in Civil Engineering from George Washington University.

07-05-2005, 14:20
Boeing, Lockheed to form launch joint venture

Posted: May 2, 2005

The Boeing Company and Lockheed Martin Corporation have entered into an agreement to create a joint venture that will combine the production, engineering, test and launch operations associated with U.S. government launches of Boeing Delta and Lockheed Martin Atlas rockets. The joint venture, named United Launch Alliance, will reduce the cost of meeting the critical national security and NASA expendable launch vehicle needs of the United States.

"It has become increasingly clear that an alliance of launch capabilities is essential to meet the space communications, surveillance and reconnaissance needs of the 21st century, and to assure access to space," said Lockheed Martin Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer Robert J. Stevens. "This combination will permit our national customers to achieve their mission objectives while reflecting current budget pressures and providing the government with full cost visibility."

"Both of our companies have developed versions of the Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) in collaboration with the Air Force and have flown them successfully," said Boeing President, Chief Executive Officer and Chief Financial Officer James A. Bell. "By joining together we are convinced that we can provide the customer with assured access to space at the lowest possible cost while ensuring enhanced reliability by eliminating duplicate infrastructure and bringing experts from both companies to focus on mission assurance."

United Launch Alliance will be structured as a 50-50 joint venture between Boeing and Lockheed Martin -- combining services currently provided separately by Boeing Integrated Defense Systems' Expendable Launch Systems division and by Lockheed Martin's Space Systems Company -- for launches of each company's respective rockets. Based upon initial estimates, annual savings to the government resulting from the combination are expected to be approximately $100 - $150 million.

Michael C. Gass, vice president and general manager of Lockheed Martin Space Transportation, has been appointed United Launch Alliance president and chief executive officer and Daniel J. Collins, vice president Boeing Expendable Launch Systems will serve as chief operating officer. In addition, a Boeing executive will be appointed chief financial officer and a Lockheed Martin executive will be named controller at a later date. These leaders will report to a six-member board of directors, with each company appointing three directors.

"The Lockheed Martin and Boeing employees who will be part of this new launch provider understand the enduring needs of our Air Force and NASA customers for mission success," said Gass. "They bring together a remarkable record of accomplishment in launching national-security and scientific space payloads."

"The continued performance of Boeing and Lockheed Martin employees as a new team going forward -- from the engineering center to the factory floor to the launch pad -- will offer even greater reliability and mission assurance to the customer," said Collins.

The agreement, which is subject to government and regulatory approval in the United States and internationally, also stipulates that the companies will immediately request an order from the U.S. District Court suspending all activity in the pending civil litigation related to a previous competition for launches under the Air Force EELV program. Simultaneous with the closing of the transaction, the parties will dismiss all claims against each other.

"The mission of this joint venture is to reliably meet critical launch needs, so it is imperative that the two teams come together as one with all lingering issues resolved," said Stevens. "When agreement was reached to form this alliance, both parties agreed that they were ready to move forward with a clean slate and an undistracted focus on mission success."

Under the terms of the joint venture, Boeing's Delta and Lockheed Martin's Atlas rockets will continue to be available as alternatives on individual launch missions. This will ensure that government customers are able to make decisions that meet the goal of assured access to space with two families of launch vehicles. Upon vehicle selection, the United Launch Alliance team will carry out the mission, including vehicle integration and payload processing.

Lockheed Martin's International Launch Services (including Proton) and Boeing Launch Services (including Sea Launch) are not included in the joint venture. These entities will continue to sell launch services to non-U.S. government customers. Additionally, work the companies are performing independently in support of NASA-sponsored Space Shuttle-Derived Launch Vehicle concepts for future space exploration initiatives will be excluded from this joint venture.

United Launch Alliance headquarters will be established in Denver with most engineering and administrative activities consolidated at that location's existing Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company facilities. Major assembly and integration operations will be located primarily at Boeing's manufacturing and assembly facility in Decatur, Ala. As part of the joint venture, Boeing's and Lockheed Martin's launch facilities at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida and Vandenberg Air Force Base in California will provide flexibility for meeting the requirements for East and West Coast launches.

United Launch Alliance is expected to have about 3,800 total employees at sites in Colorado, Alabama, Florida, California and Texas. It is anticipated that consolidation of the two organizations eventually will result in the elimination of some undetermined number of positions. A range of services will be made available to support those employees transferring to new locations to work with United Launch Alliance.

Completion of the transaction is expected in late 2005 at which time United Launch Alliance operations would begin.

Morgan Stanley served as financial advisor to Boeing and JP Morgan served as financial advisor to Lockheed Martin.

07-05-2005, 14:40
Has orbiter found NASA's lost Mars Polar Lander?

Posted: May 5, 2005

The loss of Mars Polar Lander in December 1999 was a traumatic experience not only for those of us intimately involved in the mission, but also for the U. S. Mars Exploration Program. Following the failure, exhaustive reviews of what happened and why led to major shifts in the way planetary exploration was implemented. Without telemetry, the cause of the failure could only be surmised. It would be extremely important if, through some observation, it were possible to confirm the failure mode.

Credit: NASA/JPL/Malin Space Science Systems
High res image: http://www.msss.com/mars_images/moc/2005/05/05/candidate_mpl.jpg

Shortly after the loss of Mars Polar Lander (MPL), the Mars Global Surveyor Mars Orbiter Camera (MOC) was employed to acquire dozens of 1.5 m/pixel images of the landing uncertainty ellipses, looking for any evidence of the lander and its fate. The criteria we used in searching for MPL required a bright feature of irregular or elongated shape (the parachute) within about 1 kilometer (0.62 miles) of a location that included a dark area (rocket-disturbed martian dirt) and a small, bright spot near its center (the lander). In 2000, we found one example (see figure) that met these criteria, but in the absence of any substantive, corroborating evidence, the interpretation that this was MPL and its parachute were considered to be extremely speculative.

Observations by MGS MOC in 2004 of the Mars Exploration Rover (MER) landing sites provided guidance for a re-examination of the previously identified MPL candidate. For example, the material from which the MPL and MER parachutes are made is similar, and its brightness in MOC images can be calculated, at least in a relative sense, as a function of sun angle. The brightness of the candidate "parachute" in the MPL candidate location image turns out to be consistent with it being the same material. The brightness difference of the ground disturbed by rocket blast at the MER sites is similar to the brightness difference seen in the MPL candidate image, again adjusted for the difference in illumination and viewing angles. These consistencies lend credibility to this tentative identification.

If these features really are related to the MPL landing, what can we surmise about that landing from the image? First, we can tell that MPL's descent proceeded more-or-less successfully through parachute jettison and terminal rocket firing. The relative location of the candidate parachute and lander is consistent with the slight west-to-east wind seen in dust cloud motion in the area around the date of landing. The blast-disturbed area is consistent with the engines continuing to fire until the vehicle was close to the ground. How close is not known. The larger MER retrorockets fired at about 100 m altitude and continued firing until the engines were about 20-25 m above the surface; the candidate MPL disturbance is roughly the same size, but whether this means the engines were firing as close to the ground as the MER rockets cannot be determined. These interpretations are consistent with the proposed MPL mode of failure: the engines fired at the correct time and altitude and continued firing until the flight software checked to see if an electronic message indicated that the landing leg contact switch had been set. Since the initial leg deployment several kilometers above the surface apparently induced sufficient motion to trigger this message, the software stopped the engines as soon as the check was made, about 28-30 seconds into the 36-40 second burn. MPL was probably at an altitude of about 40 m, from which it freely fell. This is equivalent to a fall on Earth from a height of about 40 feet. The observation of a single, small "dot" at the center of the disturbed location would indicate that the vehicle remained more-or-less intact after its fall.

What is important about having a candidate for the Mars Polar Lander site? It gives the MOC team a place to target for a closer look, using the compensated pitch and roll technique known as "cPROTO." Examples of cPROTO images and a description of this capability, developed by the MGS team in 2003 and 2004, were discussed in a MOC release on 27 September 2004. Without a candidate for targeting a cPROTO image, it would take more than 60 Earth years to cover the entire Mars Polar Lander landing ellipse with cPROTO images, because the region spends the better part of each Mars year covered with carbon dioxide frost, part of each winter is spent in darkness, and, because of several uncertainties involved with the technique, it often takes two, three, or more tries before a cPROTO image hits a specific target. Now that a candidate site for Mars Polar Lander has been identified, we have a cPROTO target, which may permit us to obtain an image of about 0.5 meters per pixel (allowing objects approximately 1.5-2.5 meters in size to be resolved) during southern summer this year. At the present time (May 2005), the landing site is just beginning to lose its cover of seasonal carbon dioxide frost.

16-05-2005, 20:06
NASA Chief Pushes for Shuttle's Replacement

By Marcia Dunn
AP Aerospace Writer
posted: 13 May 2005
1:08 a.m. ET

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) -- NASA's new boss made an impassioned case Thursday for speeding up development of a new spacecraft so that the United States will not lose access to space when the shuttle is retired, but warned something else will have to be sacrificed.

Administrator Michael Griffin told a Senate subcommittee in Washington that to cover the cost of the shuttle replacement's accelerated debut, he may be forced to delay some space station and exploration research.

“We can't do everything on our plate, and we have to have priorities and first things first,'' he said.

Griffin wants to fly the proposed new spacecraft as soon as possible once the space shuttle fleet is retired in 2010 - avoiding a four-year gap in which the United States would have no way to launch astronauts.

The current plan, which he inherited when he took over NASA last month, calls for the new vehicle to carry a crew into orbit by 2014 and be capable of traveling to the moon and Mars, with modifications, in the years beyond.

Griffin said he finds that four-year launch gap unacceptable and hopes to have a plan for closing it by mid-July. The new crew exploration vehicle, or CEV, is a key part of President Bush's plan for returning astronauts to the moon by 2020.

“CEV needs to be safe, it needs to be simple, it needs to be soon,'' Griffin told reporters later in the afternoon.

The six-year gap between the 1975 Apollo-Soyuz mission and the 1981 debut of the shuttle damaged both the U.S. space program and the nation, Griffin said. “I don't want to do it again.''

“The United States of America should always have its own access to space,'' said Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md.

Griffin told the Senate subcommittee on commerce, justice and science that he does not know how much it will cost to accelerate development of the crew exploration vehicle, still in the early design phase. But he said by choosing a single contractor in 2006, rather than having two contractors competing in flight in 2008 as envisioned by the former NASA administrator, $1 billion or more could be saved for use in the near term.

Additional money could be saved by putting off research at the international space station - such as experiments geared toward long-term moon stays or Mars habitation _ and possibly eliminating the handful of shuttle flights needed to fly that equipment, Griffin said. Eighteen shuttle missions are currently on the books to finish building the space station, along with 10 supply runs for a grand total of 28.

Right now, NASA's three remaining shuttles are grounded as the agency struggles to remedy all the safety concerns arising from the 2003 Columbia tragedy. Managers hope to launch Discovery on the first mission since the disaster in mid-July; repair work is going slow, though, and the schedule is tight.

Griffin assured the senators he would use a scalpel rather than a meat ax in cutting the research budget for the space station and other exploration systems, and would look at delaying projects not yet begun.

“Now the research ... is very valuable and it must be done,'' he said. “But if it is delayed a very few years in order to allow us to complete and affect a suitable transition between systems, then I believe that that delay would be worth it. And that would be where I would look for the money.''

Griffin pledged that NASA will complete the space station, currently just half built. But if the station still isn't finished when the shuttles are retired, the space agency may turn to unmanned rockets to haul up the remaining gear.

As for the Hubble Space Telescope, Griffin has ordered work to begin on one last shuttle servicing mission, with $291 million set aside in next year's budget. Whether that mission takes place will depend on the success of the next two shuttle missions.

Griffin's predecessor, Sean O'Keefe, ruled out Hubble visits by astronauts because of post-Columbia safety concerns.


Prometheus, ISS Research Cuts Help Pay for Shuttle and Hubble Repair Bills

By Brian Berger
Space News Staff Writer
posted: 12 May 2005
11:02 a.m. ET

WASHINGTON -- NASA sent Congress a revised spending plan for 2005 that would significantly cut the Project Prometheus nuclear power and propulsion program, cancel a host of international space station-based biological and physical research activities, and postpone some space science missions, including two advanced space telescopes and a Mars science lander slated to launch in 2009.

The cuts were necessary, according to NASA, to pay the remaining $287 million tab for preparing the space shuttle for its return to flight, to make a substantial down payment on a potential Hubble Space Telescope servicing mission, to accommodate $400 million worth of special projects that lawmakers added to NASA’s budget last year, and to cover larger than predicted bills for a variety satellite projects being prepared for launch.

NASA informed Congress of these intended changes in an updated 2005 Operating Plan sent to Congress May 11. A copy of the operating plan, obtained by Space News, details changes both big and small that NASA says it needs to make to its $16.2 billion budget 2005 to get through the end of the fiscal year.

NASA’s latest operating plan includes the full $291 million Congress directed it to spend this year preparing for a possible Hubble servicing mission. NASA’s last spending plan, sent to Congress in December for review, allocated only $175 million of that amount to a Hubble mission. In February, NASA announced, to the chagrin of Hubble-supporters in Congress, that it would abandon any effort to save Hubble.

Since taking over as NASA administrator last month Mike Griffin has reversed that decision and ordered engineers at Goddard Space Flight Center to start preparing a Hubble servicing mission on the assumption that one will ultimately go forward. A formal decision is expected after the shuttle makes its return to flight.

Griffin explained his rationale in a May 10 letter accompanying the operating plan, saying that funding return to flight, Hubble servicing, programmatic overruns and releasing the $400 million in congressional earmarks “has created some difficult choices” for NASA.

“Given a choice, my preference as Administrator is to eliminate lower-priority programs rather than reducing all programs in the face of budget difficulties, to maintain efficient execution of the programs which remain,” Griffin wrote lawmakers. “Delays and deferrals inevitably lead to increased life cycle costs and erode the overall performance of the Agency's programs. Thus, NASA must set clear priorities to remain within the budget which has been allocated.”

Cut from NASA’s latest operating plan are about $160 million worth of space station-based biological and physical research efforts that a recently completed, although unreleased, NASA review concluded were unnecessary in light of NASA’s new focus using the space station for research that directly serves the needs of its space exploration goals.

While that is bad news for fundamental biological and physical research, some newly identified high priority areas of investigation will receive more money in the months and years ahead, according to Griffin.

“These high- priority areas include space radiation health and shielding, advanced environmental control and monitoring, advanced extra-vehicular activities, human health and countermeasures, advanced life support, exploration medical care, and space human factors,” Griffin wrote. “The highest priorities for research on ISS have been identified as medical research with human subjects and microgravity validation of environmental control and life support technologies. Lower-priority tasks, which are now subject to reduced funding, include basic research using model organisms (such as cells or rodents), and fundamental research in physics, material science, or basic combustion - with no direct link to exploration requirements.”

NASA also plans to refocus Project Prometheus on the development of “space-qualified nuclear systems to support human and robotic missions” especially those needed to support NASA’s near term exploration goals. NASA started the program known as Prometheus in 2002 to develop nuclear power and propulsion systems for deep space probes like the Jupiter Icy Moons Orbiter, a flagship-class mission that NASA deferred indefinitely earlier this year once it became clear that the undertaking would cost tens of billions of dollars and not necessarily help NASA accomplish its goal of returning to the Moon and sending humans to Mars.

The operating plan sent to Congress would cut $171 million from the Prometheus budget, leaving the program with $260 million for the time being.

Money for the Crew Exploration Vehicle, meanwhile, would remain untouched at $421.9 million for the year, even though NASA has said it intends to accelerate the program in order to minimize any gap between retiring the shuttle in 2010 and fielding the new system. NASA is still evaluating its options for accelerating the program, but has already announced that it intends to pick the contractor it wants to build the system in early 2006 instead of late 2008.

In addition to the cuts and increases, the operating plan also indicates that NASA intends to take planning for a Hubble servicing mission away from its Exploration Systems Mission Directorate and give it back to the Science Mission Directorate. Exploration Systems, however, picks up full responsibility for NASA’s nascent Lunar Robotic Exploration Program and the ISS Crew and Cargo Services effort to find alternatives to the space shuttle for delivering cargo and potentially people to the space station. That effort, initiated in 2004, had been under the management of the Space Operations Mission Directorate, which is in charge of the shuttle and station programs.

NASA would also delay the Space Interferometry Mission and Terrestrial Planet Finder, two advanced space telescope projects slated to launch some time after the James Webb Space Telescope. Griffin’s letter also says that NASA is considering delaying the Mars Science Laboratory mission from 2009 to 2011. NASA’s operating plan cuts nearly $72 million from the program.

20-05-2005, 11:02
New Photos are First of Spacecraft Orbiting Mars

By Tariq Malik
Staff Writer
posted: 19 May 2005
2:45 p.m. ET

A NASA spacecraft circling Mars has spied, for the first time, two of its fellow probes orbiting the red planet.

Red planet veteran Mars Global Surveyor (MGS) successfully photographed NASA’s Mars Odyssey probe and the European-built Mars Express spacecraft during a series of observations released Thursday.

From its polar orbit around Mars, the MGS probe found Mars Express first as the two spacecraft flew over the red planet on April 20. Separated from its orbital target by a distance of 155 miles (249 kilometers), the MGS probed turned its Mars Orbiter Camera lens toward the passing spacecraft to snap the first two images of a red planet orbiter.

Because of the distance between MGS and Mars Express, the European orbiter appears as little more than a narrow blur in the final composite image. But astronomers analyzing the image said the Express probe appeared to be about 1.5 meters by 15 meters in dimensions, which is consistent with what they would expect from the MGS spacecraft’s vantage point.

Just one day after its Mars Express encounter, MGS found NASA's Mars Odyssey probe.

Odyssey and the MGS spacecraft share similar near-polar orbits, sometimes passing within 9 miles (15 kilometers) of each other. Odyssey orbits higher than MGS to prevent collision.

During the recent pass, MGS compiled two views of the Odyssey orbiter – in which a distinct spacecraft profile can be seen – in images taken 7.5 seconds apart. In the first view, MGS was just 56 miles away (90 kilometers) away from its NASA-built relative, but a few seconds later the two spacecraft were separated by about 84 miles (135 kilometers). Because of the additional distance, Odyssey appeared to move more slowly.

Built by San Diego-based Malin Space Science Systems, the Mars Orbiter Camera has been a key tool for the for the MGS spacecraft, which entered orbit around the red planet in 1997. Mars Odyssey arrived at the planet in 2001, with Mars Express following suite in late 2003.

From a distance of 62 miles, MGS’ camera has a field of view 830 yards (758 meters) across, so any mismatch in timing during its orbiter photography would have yielded only blank space. But the orbiter managed to photograph its fellow red planet probes while all three circled Mars at 7,000 miles an hour (11,265 kilometers an hour).

The images of both Mars Express and Mars Odyssey from the MGS probe were obtained by the Mars Global Surveyor operations teams at Denver’s Lockheed Martin Space System, as well as NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and Malin Space Science Systems.

The Mars Odyssey spacecraft appears twice in the same frame in this view taken by NASA's Mars Global Surveyor (MGS). On the right, Odyssey is some 56 miles away from MGS, while on the left - just 7.5 seconds later - it has moved to sit some 84 miles away. Credit: NASA/JPL/MSSS. Click to enlarge.

24-05-2005, 22:43
News Release: 2005-084 May 24, 2005

Voyager Spacecraft Enters Solar System's Final Frontier

NASA's Voyager 1 spacecraft has entered the solar system's final frontier. It is entering a vast, turbulent expanse where the Sun's influence ends and the solar wind crashes into the thin gas between stars.

"Voyager 1 has entered the final lap on its race to the edge of interstellar space," said Dr. Edward Stone, Voyager project scientist at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena. Caltech manages NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, which built and operates Voyager 1 and its twin, Voyager 2.

In November 2003, the Voyager team announced it was seeing events unlike any in the mission's then 26-year history. The team believed the unusual events indicated Voyager 1 was approaching a strange region of space, likely the beginning of this new frontier called the termination shock region. There was considerable controversy over whether Voyager 1 had indeed encountered the termination shock or was just getting close.

The termination shock is where the solar wind, a thin stream of electrically charged gas blowing continuously outward from the Sun, is slowed by pressure from gas between the stars. At the termination shock, the solar wind slows abruptly from a speed that ranges from 700,000 to 1.5 million miles per hour and becomes denser and hotter. The consensus of the team is that Voyager 1, at approximately 8.7 billion miles from the Sun, has at last entered the heliosheath, the region beyond the termination shock.

Predicting the location of the termination shock was hard, because the precise conditions in interstellar space are unknown. Also, changes in the speed and pressure of the solar wind cause the termination shock to expand, contract and ripple.

The most persuasive evidence that Voyager 1 crossed the termination shock is its measurement of a sudden increase in the strength of the magnetic field carried by the solar wind, combined with an inferred decrease in its speed. This happens whenever the solar wind slows down.

In December 2004, the Voyager 1 dual magnetometers observed the magnetic field strength suddenly increasing by a factor of approximately 2-1/2, as expected when the solar wind slows down. The magnetic field has remained at these high levels since December. NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md., built the magnetometers.

Voyager 1 also observed an increase in the number of high-speed electrically charged electrons and ions and a burst of plasma wave noise before the shock. This would be expected if Voyager 1 passed the termination shock. The shock naturally accelerates electrically charged particles that bounce back and forth between the fast and slow winds on opposite sides of the shock, and these particles can generate plasma waves.

"Voyager's observations over the past few years show the termination shock is far more complicated than anyone thought," said Dr. Eric Christian, Discipline Scientist for the Sun-Solar System Connection research program at NASA Headquarters, Washington.

The result is being presented today at a press conference in the Morial Convention Center, New Orleans, during the 2005 Joint Assembly meeting of Earth and space science organizations.

For their original missions to Jupiter and Saturn, Voyager 1 and sister spacecraft Voyager 2 were destined for regions of space far from the Sun where solar panels would not be feasible, so each was equipped with three radioisotope thermoelectric generators to produce electrical power for the spacecraft systems and instruments. Still operating in remote, cold and dark conditions 27 years later, the Voyagers owe their longevity to these Department of Energy-provided generators, which produce electricity from the heat generated by the natural decay of plutonium dioxide.

For more information about Voyager visit: http://www.nasa.gov/vision/universe/solarsystem/voyager_agu.html and http://voyager.jpl.nasa.gov/ .

For information about NASA and agency programs on the Internet, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/home/index.html .

24-05-2005, 23:23

What's It Like Where Voyager Is?


To envision the Sun's presence in the Milky Way galaxy, think of a ship plowing through the ocean, being tossed by currents. As the ship sails ahead, a bow shock spreads around the vessel.

The area under the Sun's influence, stretching well beyond the planets and forming what's called the heliosphere, is like a ship. The outer edges of the heliosphere are gently buffeted by interstellar wind, the gas and dust between the stars. As the Sun orbits the center of the Milky Way galaxy, the heliosphere moves as well, creating a bow shock ahead of it in interstellar space.

Termination Shock:
Blowing outward billions of kilometers from the Sun is the solar wind, a thin stream of electrically charged gas. This wind travels at an average speed ranging from 300 to 700 kilometers per second (700,000 - 1,500,000 miles per hour) until it reaches the termination shock. At this point, the speed of the solar wind drops abruptly as it begins to feel the effects of interstellar wind.

The solar wind, emanating from the Sun, creates a bubble that extends far past the orbits of the planets. This bubble is the heliosphere, shaped like a long wind sock as it moves with the Sun through interstellar space.

The heliosheath is the outer region of the heliosphere. Voyager entered the heliosheath about 14 billion kilometers (approximately 8.7 billion miles) from the Sun. This is about 94 times the distance from the Sun to Earth.

The heliosheath is just beyond the termination shock, the point where the solar wind slows abruptly, becoming denser and hotter. The solar wind piles up as it presses outward against the approaching wind in interstellar space.

The boundary between solar wind and interstellar wind is the heliopause, where the pressure of the two winds are in balance. This balance in pressure causes the solar wind to turn back and flow down the tail of the heliosphere. Once Voyager passes the heliopause, it will be in interstellar space.

Bow shock:
As the heliosphere plows through interstellar space, a bow shock forms, much as forms in front of a boulder in a stream.

Voyager 2:
Voyager 2 has visited more planets than any other spacecraft, swinging by Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune. Voyager 2 was deflected downward by Neptune and is heading southward below the plane of the planets. With a somewhat lower speed than Voyager 1, it is about eighty percent as far from the Sun.

Voyager 1:
Voyager 1 is the most distant human-made object in the universe, At the beginning of 2005, the spacecraft was about 94 times as far from the Sun as is Earth. It was deflected northward above the plane of the planets' orbits when it swung by Saturn in 1980 and is now speeding outward from the Sun at nearly one million miles per day, a rate that would take it from Los Angeles to New York in less than four minutes. Long-lived nuclear batteries are expected to provide electrical power until at least 2020 when Voyager 1 will be more than 13 billion miles from Earth and may have reached interstellar space.

24-05-2005, 23:29
Chi ha progettato quelle sonde doveva avere palle e contropalle... mi meraviglio che riescano ancora a ricevere i segnali, tra l'altro.

24-05-2005, 23:51
Chi ha progettato quelle sonde doveva avere palle e contropalle... mi meraviglio che riescano ancora a ricevere i segnali, tra l'altro.

Le migliori missioni in assoluto per me sono Pioneer 10 e 11, Voyager e la sovietica Venera.

Pioneer 10 rimane la più eccezionale: è stata la prima sonda a lasciare il sistema solare, è ed stata "ascoltata" fino a due anni fa, poi il segnale è diventat troppo debole, arrivando a terra solo la portante senza informazioni). La missione è stata chiusa nel 1997.

Detto questo cmq il programma Voyger è senza dubbio il più eccezionale, come è stato studiato soprattutto, sfruttando la ciclicità degli allineamenti dei pianeti esterni, in modo da fare Giove, Saturno, Urano e Nettuno in un singolo colpo!

26-05-2005, 23:27
che tipo di informazioni si possono raccogliere una volta usciti dal sistema solare?

27-05-2005, 13:33
che tipo di informazioni si possono raccogliere una volta usciti dal sistema solare?

intendi quando si è fuori dell'eliopausa?

27-05-2005, 18:49
intendi quando si è fuori dell'eliopausa?


Luther Blissett
27-05-2005, 20:47
Penso nessuna, comunque questo topic è stupendo.

27-05-2005, 22:42
come nessuna?!?

niente affatto!!!!

intanto è tutta da conoscere la realtà su quanto sia estesa l'eliopausa e soprattutto il terminal shock, inoltre anche qualora si avesse conferma dalla telemetria dei magnetometri che si è definitivamente usciti dall'influenza del Sole, cosa che non averra prima di qualche anno, si potranno studiare tutti i misteriosi fenomeni del vento interstellare e delle forze che consentono alle stelle della nostra galassia di avvicinarsi ed allontanarsi come in una fisarmonica!

28-05-2005, 06:08
credo che il problema sarà vedere fino a quando ce la farà a trasmettere dati,queste sonde sono state una sorpresa per la loro longevità.

28-05-2005, 08:21
come nessuna?!?

niente affatto!!!!

intanto è tutta da conoscere la realtà su quanto sia estesa l'eliopausa e soprattutto il terminal shock, inoltre anche qualora si avesse conferma dalla telemetria dei magnetometri che si è definitivamente usciti dall'influenza del Sole, cosa che non averra prima di qualche anno, si potranno studiare tutti i misteriosi fenomeni del vento interstellare e delle forze che consentono alle stelle della nostra galassia di avvicinarsi ed allontanarsi come in una fisarmonica!

Senza contare il fatto che non c'è mai andato nessuno, per cui qualunque dato arrivi è qualcosa di nuovo...

28-05-2005, 10:07
credo che il problema sarà vedere fino a quando ce la farà a trasmettere dati,queste sonde sono state una sorpresa per la loro longevità.

I tre generatori a radio-isotopi sono in grado di fornire energia sufficiente a far funzionare i principali strumenti, i due magnetometri e gli spettrometri di massa fino al 2020 almeno.

30-07-2005, 08:59
BREAKING NEWS: Object Bigger than Pluto Discovered, Called 10th Planet

By Robert Roy Britt
Senior Science Writer
posted: 29 July 2005
07:59 pm ET

Updated at 11:17 p.m. ET :

Astronomers have discovered an object in our solar system that is larger than Pluto. They are calling it the 10th planet, but already that claim is contested.

The new world's size is not at issue. But the very definition of planethood is.

It is the first time an object so big has been found in our solar system since the discovery of Pluto 75 years ago.

The announcement, made today by Mike Brown of Caltech, came just hours after another newfound object, one slightly smaller than Pluto, was revealed in a very confusing day for astronomers and the media.

The new object, temporarily named 2003 UB313, is about three times as far from the Sun as is Pluto.

"It's definitely bigger than Pluto," said Brown, a professor of planetary astronomy. The object is round and could be up to twice as large as Pluto, Brown told reporters in a hastily called NASA-run teleconference Friday evening.

His best estimate is that it is 2,100 miles wide, about 1-1/2 times the diameter of Pluto.

One of many?

The object is inclined by a whopping 45 degrees to the main plane of the solar system, where most of the other planets orbit. That's why it eluded discovery: nobody was looking there until now, Brown said.

Some astronomers view it as a Kuiper Belt object and not a planet. The Kuiper Belt is a region of frozen objects beyond Neptune.

Pluto is called a Kuiper Belt object by many astronomers. Brown himself has argued in the past for Pluto's demotion from planet status, because of its diminutive size and eccentric and inclined orbit.

But today he struck a different note.

"Pluto has been a planet for so long that the world is comfortable with that," Brown said in the teleconference. "It seems to me a logical extension that anything bigger than Pluto and farther out is a planet."

Offering additional justification, Brown said 2003 UB313 appears to be surfaced with methane ice, as is Pluto. That's not the case with other large Kuiper Belt objects, however.

"This object is in a class very much like Pluto," he said.

NASA effectively endorsed the idea in an official statement that referred to 2003 UB313 as the 10th planet.

Yet in recent years, a bevy of objects roughly half to three-fourths the size of Pluto have been found.

No definition for 'planet'

Brian Marsden, who runs the Minor Planet Center where data on objects like this are collected, says that if Pluto is a planet, then other round objects nearly as large as Pluto ought to be called planets. On that logic, 2003 UB313 would perhaps be a planet, but it would have to get in line behind a handful of others that were discovered previously.

"I would not call it the 10th planet," Marsden told SPACE.com.

Alan Boss, a planet-formation theorist at the Carnegie Institution of Washington, called the discovery "a major step." But Boss would not call it a planet at all. Instead, he said Pluto and other small objects beyond Neptune should be called, at best, "Kuiper Belt planets."

"To just call them planets does an injustice to the big guys in the solar system," Boss said in a telephone interview.

The very definition of what constitutes a planet is currently being debated by Boss and others in a working group of the International Astronomical Union. Boss said the group has not reached consensus after six months of discussion.

The debate actually stretches back more than five years and is rooted in the fact that astronomers have never had a definition for the word "planet," because the nine we knew seemed obvious.

"This discovery will likely re-ignite a healthy debate about what is and what is not a planet," Boss said.

Next up: Mars-sized objects?

Alan Stern, of the Southwest Research Institute and leader of NASA's New Horizons mission to Pluto, predicted in the early 1990s that there would be 1,000 Plutos out there. He has also contended, based on computer modeling, that there should be Mars-sized worlds hidden in the far corners of our solar system and even possibly other worlds as large as Earth.

In a telephone interview after Friday's announcement, Stern, who was not involved in the discovery, said he stands by those predictions and expects Mars-sized objects to be found within decades.

"I find this to be very satisfying," Stern said of 2003 UB313. "It's something we've been looking for for a long time."

Stern stopped short of calling it one of the greatest discoveries in astronomy, however, because he sees it as just one more of many findings of objects in this size range. Last year, for example, Brown's team found Sedna, which is about three-fourths as large as Pluto. Others include 2004 DW and Quaoar.

Stern sees the outer solar system as an attic full of undiscovered objects.

"Now we have the technology to see them," he said. "We're just barely scratching the surface."

Way out there

The new world is about 97 astronomical units from the Sun. An astronomical unit is the distance between the Sun and Earth. It becomes the farthest-known object in the solar system, and the third brightest of the Kuiper belt objects.

It is colder than Pluto and "not a very pleasant place to be."

It was found using the Samuel Oschin Telescope at Palomar Observatory.

Backyard astronomers with large telescopes, some experience and a map may be able to spot 2003 UB313.

Brown said it will be a very exciting object to explore since professionals and amateurs both have access to it.

"It will be visible over the next six months and is currently almost directly overhead in the early-morning eastern sky, in the constellation Cetus," says Brown, who made the discovery with colleagues Chad Trujillo, of the Gemini Observatory, and David Rabinowitz, of Yale University, on Jan. 8.

The team had hoped to analyze the data further before announcing the planet but were forced to do so Friday evening because word had leaked out, Brown said.

"Somebody hacked our website," he said, and "they were planning to make [the data] public."

Brown and Trujillo first photographed the new planet with the 48-inch Samuel Oschin Telescope on Oct. 31, 2003. However, the object was so far away that its motion was not detected until they reanalyzed the data in January of this year. In the last seven months, the scientists have been studying the planet to better estimate its size and its motions.

Estimating size

Scientists infer the size of a solar-system object by its brightness and distance. The reflectiveness of the new planet is not known, however, which is why the estimate of its diameter ranges from one to two times the size of Pluto. But those constraints are well supported by the data, Brown said.

"Even if it reflected 100 percent of the light reaching it, it would still be as big as Pluto," says Brown. "I'd say it's probably one and a half times the size of Pluto, but we're not sure yet of the final size. But we are 100 percent confident that this is the first object bigger than Pluto ever found in the outer solar system."

The upper size limit is constrained by results from the Spitzer Space Telescope, which records heat in the form of infrared light. Because the Spitzer can't detect the new planet, the overall diameter must be less twice Pluto's size, Brown said.

Brown has had a running bet for five years with a friend that an object larger than Pluto would be found by Jan. 1 this year. 2003 UB313 was spotted on Jan. 8.

"My first reaction was, 'aw, I lost the bet by seven days,'" he said.

Brown's team has submitted a name proposal to the International Astronomical Union and has chosen not to divulge it until that body makes a decision.



Tenth planet found!

A team of astronomers systematically scanning the far reaches of the solar system has discovered a distant, icy world that is bigger than Pluto but so far away the head of a pin held at arm's length would blot out the sun. The discovery, if confirmed, would force astronomers to re-write their textbooks and give school kids a 10th planet to memorize once a governing body sanctions the still-secret name proposed by a trio of discoverers.

This artist's concept shows the planet catalogued as 2003UB313 at the lonely outer fringes of our solar system. Our Sun can be seen in the distance. The new planet, which is yet to be formally named, is at least as big as Pluto and about three times farther away from the Sun than Pluto. It is very cold and dark. The planet was discovered by the Samuel Oschin Telescope at the Palomar Observatory near San Diego, Calif., on Jan. 8, 2005. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Currently known by the catalog number 2003UB313, the newly discovered planet wheels about in an elliptical orbit tilted some 45 degrees to the plane of the solar system's eight major planets, taking 560 years to complete one trip around the sun.

At its most distant, the planet is a remote 97 times farther from the sun than the Earth. At its closest, it passes inside the orbit of Pluto at a distance of some 36 astronomical units. It is currently the most distant object known in the solar system, so far removed that its surface temperature is a frigid 30 degrees above absolute zero.

"It has a surface just like that of Pluto," said Michael Brown, a planetary scientist at the California Institute of Technology. "It's a little bit bigger than Pluto and the main difference, of course, is it's much, much farther away than Pluto right now, so it's going to be a much colder place to be. Not a very pleasant place to live, definitely. And life as we know it would certainly not be doing much out there."

The new world was discovered Jan. 8 by Brown, Chad Trujillo, of the Gemini Observatory in Mauna Kea, Hawaii, and David Rabinowitz, of Yale University, using the 48-inch Samuel Oschin Telescope at Mount Palomar.

With a surface dominated by methane, the distant world is 1,677 miles in diameter, compared to about 1,400 miles for Pluto. It is a member of the Kuiper Belt, a broad fan-shaped disk of icy debris extending from the orbit of Neptune to well beyond Pluto. Disturbed by gravitational interactions, primarily involving Jupiter and Saturn, a Kuiper Belt object can fall into the inner solar system and become captured in a so-called short-period orbit.

In the early solar system, gravitational encounters also threw large numbers of comets into a vast, spherical shell known as the Oort Cloud. Comets that eventually fall back into the inner solar system from the Oort Cloud typically have orbits measured in millions of years.

The newly discovered world is a "very cold, very distant place," Brown told reporters in a teleconference Friday evening. "If you were standing on the surface and you held a pin at arm's length, you could cover the sun with the head of the pin. As I said, it's not a place you'd want to go for a summer vacation. Now, in 280 years, it'll be a lot closer, but it still won't be much of a vacation spot then, either."

This time-lapse image of a newfound planet in our solar system, called 2003UB313, was taken on Oct. 21, 2003, using the Samuel Oschin Telescope at the Palomar Observatory near San Diego, Calif. The planet, circled in red, is seen moving across a field of stars. The three images were taken about 90 minutes apart. Scientists did not discover the planet until Jan. 8, 2005. Credit: Samuel Oschin Telescope, Palomar Observatory

The size of the planet was inferred by observations of its brightness.

"Even if it reflected 100 percent of the light reaching it, it would still be as big as Pluto," Brown said in an earlier statement. "I'd say it's probably one and a half times the size of Pluto, but we're not sure yet of the final size."

Talking to reporters, he said a name has been submitted to the International Astronomical Union and "I don't want to say what it is yet because we really want this name to get accepted and we want to make sure we go through all the proper channels," Brown said.

The discovery almost surely will re-ignite the debate over what it takes to be defined as a planet. Many astronomers believe Pluto is more accurately grouped with other Kuiper Belt objects and should not be considered a planet in the traditional sense. The debate has even made it into the lyrics of popular song, "Planet X" by Christine Lavin (http://www.christinelavin.com/planetx.html).

"Even I have promoted the idea that we should consider Pluto not to be a planet and a Kuiper Belt object instead," Brown said. "But historically, it's been called a planet for such a long time that I think we're never going to not call Pluto a planet. And that's fine. I think historically, we can call it a planet."

But if Pluto is, in fact, a planet, "then anything larger than Pluto - I think we should draw the line there - anything larger than Pluto is a planet. Things that are smaller, I think we just call them typical members of the Kuiper Belt and they don't join this very special class of things that are planets."

Brown said the discoverers were holding off making an announcement until after they completed their observations. But hackers found the discovery on a private website and trio decided to go public.

30-07-2005, 09:32
New solar system world has a moon


05-08-2005, 09:36
Probe whips past Earth on long voyage to Mercury

Posted: August 2, 2005

Artist's impression of MESSENGER. Credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Carnegie Institution of Washington

Earth's first extended visit to the planet Mercury is now one step closer to success after the MESSENGER probe celebrated its birthday one day early on Tuesday with a speedy flyby of its home planet to tweak its course for arrival in orbit in 2011.

MESSENGER made its closest approach to terra firma at 1913 GMT (3:13 p.m. EDT) as it flew 1,458 miles over central Mongolia near the capital of Ulaanbaatar.

In an effort to reduce the amount of propellant MESSENGER had to carry during its launch, engineers designed the mission to include a series of six gravity assist maneuvers past Earth, Venus, and Mercury. These flybys can utilize the force of gravity to alter the future trajectory of the spacecraft, allowing it to swing from planet to planet before eventually entering orbit around Mercury.

"One flyby down, five more to go," said Mark Holdridge, mission operations manager for MESSENGER at the Johns Hopkins University's Applied Physics Laboratory. "Now the mission begins."

MESSENGER -- or the Mercury Surface, Space Environment, Geochemistry, and Ranging mission -- was launched one year ago Wednesday aboard a beefed-up Delta 2 Heavy booster from Cape Canaveral. The August 3 launch last year deployed the 2,400-pound craft into a path similar to Earth's orbit around the Sun.

The probe approached Earth over the past few months as ground controllers commanded hydrazine-fueled thrusters to fire in several burns to precisely target MESSENGER for its close encounter. As both the planet and the spacecraft once again arrived near the same spot, Earth's gravity was used to kick MESSENGER into a different orbit to intercept Venus late next year.

"This Earth flyby is the first of a number of critical mission milestones during MESSENGER's circuitous journey toward Mercury orbit insertion," said mission principal investigator Sean Solomon from the Carnegie Institute.

MESSENGER snapped this view of Earth on July 30 as the spacecraft approached its home planet for a gravity-assist flyby. The Narrow Angle Camera in MESSENGER's Mercury Dual Imaging System took the image, showing clear morning skies over Australia, when the spacecraft was about 655,570 miles from Earth. Credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Carnegie Institution of Washington/Northwestern University

The mission's complex suite of science instruments was switched on as it neared Earth to conduct calibrations and test observations to help gauge the operability of the payload before arriving at Mercury. Optical cameras captured images of the Earth and the Moon beginning several days before the flyby, and color pictures were taken throughout Tuesday to be combined into a time lapse movie.

"Not only did it help the spacecraft sharpen its aim toward our next maneuver, it presented a special opportunity to calibrate several of our science instruments," Solomon added.

The probe's atmospheric and surface spectrometers made observations of the Moon, while the energetic particle and plasma spectrometer instrument studied Earth's magnetosphere starting about six hours prior to closest approach.

Over the coming weeks, scientists will continue other measurements by MESSENGER's magnetometer, and solar wind observations are planned for this weekend. Spectral data from Earth's hydrogen corona will also be gathered.

Plans then call for a likely engine burn known as a deep space maneuver in mid-December to accurately set up for the Venus encounter in a little over fourteen months.

NASA says the craft has traveled 930 million miles over the past year on the first leg of a 7.9 billion mile voyage leading to a final arrival at Mercury in March of 2011. In its series of fleeting planetary visits, MESSENGER will gradually increase its orbital speed around Sun by over eleven miles per second.

Next up for MESSENGER is a pair of swings past Venus on October 24, 2006, and June 5, 2007, to further refine its trajectory toward the inner solar system.

More science observations are in the offing at Venus, with a series of instrument tests and data collections of upper atmosphere cloud layers, solar wind particles, and electrical storms with lightning on the night side of Earth's sister planet.

Mercury itself will then provide extra assists in three more flybys in January and October of 2008, followed by a final encounter in September 2009. During these flybys, MESSENGER will map most of the planet and determine surface and atmospheric compositions, greatly building upon information from the earlier Mariner 10 mission that rapidly flew past Mercury three times in 1974 and 1975.

The new MESSENGER data will be used to help plan priorities for the orbital mission, which begins when the probe conducts an engine firing -- burning one-third of the craft's total fuel -- as it is captured in orbit around Mercury. The nominal mission in orbit will last about one Earth year, or four Mercury years.

28-08-2005, 16:10

Earth Departure Movie

The Mercury-bound MESSENGER spacecraft captured several stunning images of Earth during a gravity assist swingby of its home planet on Aug. 2, 2005. Several hundred images, taken with the wide-angle camera in MESSENGER’s Mercury Dual Imaging System (MDIS), were sequenced into a movie documenting the view from MESSENGER as it departed Earth.

Comprising 358 frames taken over 24 hours, the movie follows Earth through one complete rotation. The spacecraft was 40,761 miles (65,598 kilometers) above South America when the camera started rolling on Aug. 2. It was 270,847 miles (435,885 kilometers) away from Earth – farther than the Moon’s orbit – when it snapped the last image on Aug. 3.


03-03-2006, 23:21

Mars missions mapping polar caps, impact craters

Posted: March 1, 2006

Two Mars orbiter missions - one from NASA, the other from the European Space Agency (ESA) - will open new vistas in the exploration of Mars through the use of sophisticated ground-penetrating radars, providing international researchers with the first direct clues about the Red Planet's subsurface structure.

Roger Phillips, Ph.D., Washington University in St. Louis Professor of Earth and Planetary Sciences in Arts & Sciences, is participating in both the Mars Express (ESA) and NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) missions by lending his expertise in radar. Phillips says that the combination of the radars on the two missions will provide important and unique data sets that will directly map the structure of the upper portions of the interior of Mars.

Mars Express features an instrument called the Mars Advanced Radar for Subsurface and Ionospheric Sounding (MARSIS); Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter's radar instrument is called the Shallow Subsurface Radar (SHARAD). Both instruments have been built primarily by the Italian Space Agency, and, says Phillips, they are complementary.

Mars Express went into orbit on Christmas Day of 2003, but the radar developed some technical problems and didn't start operating until the summer of 2005. One of the problems was making sure that the craft's long antennas would unfold without damaging the spacecraft. This necessitated a full stop, followed by many hardware and computer simulations until confidence was gained that the antennas could be deployed safely. The first data were published in the journal Science late last year, with Phillips a co-author along with approximately 30 European and American colleagues.

"One of the spectacular results of that paper is the fact that we've sounded the northern polar cap of Mars, the radar signals penetrating all the way to the bottom of the icy cap and bouncing back so that we can see right down to the cap's base, nearly two kilometers deep," Phillips says. "This result tells us that we will eventually be able to map the volume of both the northern and southern ice caps, which will provide a much better understanding of the origins and evolution of these features and the amount of water that is tied up frozen in the caps. The radar is looking inside the planet directly - that's never been done before on Mars."

The northern cap data also provide the Mars Express team with the first direct observation of how the load of the ice cap deforms the planet's underlying crust - a phenomenon called flexure. There is in fact no flexure observed within the error limits of the radar data, which means that the crust beneath the northern polar cap is very strong, says Phillips.

"That also tells us that the heat output of the planet at present is quite low. There have been theoretical models predicting this, but never a direct observation until now. "

Finding unfrozen subsurface water is a possibility, too; this is the Holy Grail of MARSIS, Phillips says.

"At the boundary of a water-rich environment we should see a very strong reflection. Whether we find such a reflector remains to be seen - we're in the early days of gathering data. Right now MARSIS is carrying out a campaign to map the structure of the southern polar cap."

Phillips says that the MARSIS radar also has mapped buried impact craters, which should revise the theory of how old the martian crust is and how it evolved.

SHARAD will likely not probe as deeply as MARSIS, but it has ten times the vertical resolution, allowing for opportunities to map detailed subsurface stratigraphy, says Phillips, who is also director of Washington University's McDonnell Center for the Space Sciences

The MRO spacecraft is now poised to go into orbit around Mars in March, and will then spend about six months aerobraking to place the spacecraft in a low circular orbit by this fall. This will mark the start of a two-year mapping campaign that NASA calls the primary science phase. Phillips is Deputy Team Leader for the MRO SHARAD experiment. The Team Leader is Roberto Seu, Ph.D., of the INFOCOM Department at the University of Rome, La Sapienza, Italy.

"I think that SHARAD will be an excellent mapper of the sedimentary layers on Mars, and that will help us better understand the water history of the planet, "Phillips says. "One of my hopes is to connect what SHARAD maps in the subsurface in the Terra Meridiani area to the sulfate-rich stratigraphy that has been seen there by the Mars Exploration Rover (MER) Opportunity. This will help place the local stratigraphy at the MER landing site into a more regional context and help refine hypotheses for the origins of these enigmatic sedimentary rocks."

16-08-2006, 19:46
Da Spaceflightnow.com:


New definition would add 3 "planets" to Solar System

Posted: August 16, 2006

The world's astronomers, under the auspices of the International Astronomical Union (IAU), have concluded two years of work defining the difference between "planets" and the smaller "solar system bodies" such as comets and asteroids. If the definition is approved by the astronomers gathered 14-25 August 2006 at the IAU General Assembly in Prague, our Solar System will include 12 planets, with more to come: eight classical planets that dominate the system, three planets in a new and growing category of "plutons" - Pluto-like objects - and Ceres. Pluto remains a planet and is the prototype for the new category of "plutons."

If the definition is approved by the astronomers gathered at the IAU General Assembly in Prague, our Solar System will consist of 12 planets: Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Ceres, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, Pluto, Charon and 2003 UB313. The three new proposed planets are Ceres, Charon (Pluto's companion) and 2003 UB313. Credit: The International Astronomical Union/Martin Kornmesser

With the advent of powerful new telescopes on the ground and in space, planetary astronomy has gone though an exciting development over the past decade. For thousands of years very little was known about the planets other than they were objects that moved in the sky with respect to the background of fixed stars. In fact the word "planet" comes from the Greek word for "wanderer". But today hosts of newly discovered large objects in the outer regions of our Solar System present a challenge to our historically based definition of a "planet".

At first glance one should think that it is easy to define what a planet is - a large and round body. On second thought difficulties arise, as one could ask "where is the lower limit?" - how large, and how round should an asteroid be before it becomes a planet - as well as "where is the upper limit?" - how large can a planet be before it becomes a brown dwarf or a star?

IAU President Ron Ekers explains the rational behind a planet definition: "Modern science provides much more knowledge than the simple fact that objects orbiting the Sun appear to move with respect to the background of fixed stars. For example, recent new discoveries have been made of objects in the outer regions of our Solar System that have sizes comparable to and larger than Pluto. These discoveries have rightfully called into question whether or not they should be considered as new ‘planets.' "

The International Astronomical Union has been the arbiter of planetary and satellite nomenclature since its inception in 1919. The world's astronomers, under the auspices of the IAU, have had official deliberations on a new definition for the word "planet" for nearly two years. IAU's top, the so-called Executive Committee, led by Ekers, formed a Planet Definition Committee (PDC) comprised by seven persons who were astronomers, writers, and historians with broad international representation. This group of seven convened in Paris in late June and early July 2006. They culminated the two year process by reaching a unanimous consensus for a proposed new definition of the word "planet."

The three new planets. Credit: The International Astronomical Union/Martin Kornmesser

Owen Gingerich, the Chair of the Planet Definition Committee says: "In July we had vigorous discussions of both the scientific and the cultural/historical issues, and on the second morning several members admitted that they had not slept well, worrying that we would not be able to reach a consensus. But by the end of a long day, the miracle had happened: we had reached a unanimous agreement."

The part of "IAU Resolution 5 for GA-XXVI" that describes the planet definition, states "A planet is a celestial body that (a) has sufficient mass for its self-gravity to overcome rigid body forces so that it assumes a hydrostatic equilibrium (nearly round) shape, and (b) is in orbit around a star, and is neither a star nor a satellite of a planet." Member of the Planet Definition Committee, Richard Binzel says: "Our goal was to find a scientific basis for a new definition of planet and we chose gravity as the determining factor. Nature decides whether or not an object is a planet."

According to the new draft definition, two conditions must be satisfied for an object to be called a "planet." First, the object must be in orbit around a star, while not being itself a star. Second, the object must be large enough (or more technically correct, massive enough) for its own gravity to pull it into a nearly spherical shape. The shape of objects with mass above 5 x 1020 kg and diameter greater than 800 km would normally be determined by self-gravity, but all borderline cases would have to be established by observation.

If the proposed Resolution is passed, the 12 planets in our Solar System will be Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Ceres, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, Pluto, Charon and 2003 UB313. The name 2003 UB313 is provisional, as a "real" name has not yet been assigned to this object. A decision and announcement of a new name are likely not to be made during the IAU General Assembly in Prague, but at a later time. The naming procedures depend on the outcome of the Resolution vote. There will most likely be more planets announced by the IAU in the future. Currently a dozen "candidate planets" are listed on IAU's "watchlist" which keeps changing as new objects are found and the physics of the existing candidates becomes better known.

There will most likely be more planets announced by the IAU in the future. Currently a dozen "candidate planets" are listed on IAU's "watchlist" which keeps changing as new objects are found and the physics of the existing candidates becomes better known. A number of these planet candidates are shown here. Credit: The International Astronomical Union/Martin Kornmesser

The IAU draft Resolution also defines a new category of planet for official use: "pluton". Plutons are distinguished from classical planets in that they reside in orbits around the Sun that take longer than 200 years to complete (i.e. they orbit beyond Neptune). Plutons typically have orbits that are highly tilted with respect to the classical planets (technically referred to as a large orbital inclination). Plutons also typically have orbits that are far from being perfectly circular (technically referred to as having a large orbital eccentricity). All of these distinguishing characteristics for plutons are scientifically interesting in that they suggest a different origin from the classical planets.

The draft "Planet Definition" Resolution will be discussed and refined during the General Assembly and then it (plus four other Resolutions) will be presented for voting at the 2nd session of the GA 24 August between 14:00 and 17:30 CEST.

The IAU is the international astronomical organisation that brings together distinguished astronomers from all nations of the world. IAU's mission is to promote and safeguard the science of astronomy in all its aspects through international cooperation. Founded in 1919, the IAU is the world's largest professional body for astronomers. The IAU General Assembly is held every three years and is one of the largest and most diverse meetings in the astronomical community's calendar.

16-08-2006, 21:48
Cereres, Cereres... chi era costei? Non mi ricordo, che è? :fagiano:

16-08-2006, 22:21
Piazzi che osservò per primo il corpo celeste all'interno della fascia di asteroidi lo chiamò così in onore della dea romana Cerere.


16-08-2006, 22:27
Piazzi che osservò per primo il corpo celeste all'interno fascia di Kupier lo chiamò così in onore della dea romana Cerere.


Se Kupier è Kuiper, allora non mi torna la cosa perchè l'han cacciato dopo Marte... se è la fascia degli asteroidi ok... se sto facendo casino coi nomi, mi flagello anticipatamente :D

16-08-2006, 23:13
infatti se non sbaglio cerere e all'interno della fascia asteroidale,almeno mi sembra cosi :fagiano:

17-08-2006, 00:32
si infatti, non è nella fascia di Kuiper ma nella fascia di asteroidi tra Marte e Giove... era sbagliato l'articolo... :O

17-08-2006, 16:57
vorrei proprio capire su che base decidono se è o non è un pianeta

se nn sbaglio, al momento della sua scoperta nel 1801, Cerere fu classificato come possibile pianeta, poi man mano con la scoperta di altri planetoidi simili (Pallade, Giunone, Vesta) situati sempre nella cintura degli asteroidi fu "degradato"

come mai adesso riportano in auge questa idea???

allora dico io possono essere considerati pianeti anche Sedna e 2005 fy9 anziche' solo oggetti transnettuniani

17-08-2006, 17:09
ricordo ancora libri di astronomia di una 30ina di anni fa' che riportavano il sistema solare con 10 pianeti con il punto interrogativo in attesa di scoprire il pianeta X :)

addirittura Chirone (150km circa) fu considerato prima pianeta poi asteroide errante poi cometa catturata

17-08-2006, 18:01
vorrei proprio capire su che base decidono se è o non è un pianeta

se nn sbaglio, al momento della sua scoperta nel 1801, Cerere fu classificato come possibile pianeta, poi man mano con la scoperta di altri planetoidi simili (Pallade, Giunone, Vesta) situati sempre nella cintura degli asteroidi fu "degradato"

come mai adesso riportano in auge questa idea???

allora dico io possono essere considerati pianeti anche Sedna e 2005 fy9 anziche' solo oggetti transnettuniani

Beh è una questione puramente, o quasi, convenzionale. Il fatto è che tra i pianeti storicamente considerati tali (fondamentalmente è Plutone che rompe le palle :D ) e i corpi scoperti più o meno di recente, c'erano delle incongruenze. Quindi alla fine si è deciso di accontentare tutti :p

17-08-2006, 19:03
Quindi alla fine si è deciso di accontentare tutti :p

tranne quelli che dovranno ridisegnare nuovi modellini e buttare nella spazzatura tutti i vecchi che hanno nei magazzini :D :D

http://img291.imageshack.us/img291/1629/toymotsolarsystemhj7.jpg (http://imageshack.us)

17-08-2006, 19:50
vorrei proprio capire su che base decidono se è o non è un pianeta

se nn sbaglio, al momento della sua scoperta nel 1801, Cerere fu classificato come possibile pianeta, poi man mano con la scoperta di altri planetoidi simili (Pallade, Giunone, Vesta) situati sempre nella cintura degli asteroidi fu "degradato"

come mai adesso riportano in auge questa idea???

allora dico io possono essere considerati pianeti anche Sedna e 2005 fy9 anziche' solo oggetti transnettuniani

e si che c'era pure scitto... :O

The part of "IAU Resolution 5 for GA-XXVI" that describes the planet definition, states "A planet is a celestial body that (a) has sufficient mass for its self-gravity to overcome rigid body forces so that it assumes a hydrostatic equilibrium (nearly round) shape, and (b) is in orbit around a star, and is neither a star nor a satellite of a planet." Member of the Planet Definition Committee, Richard Binzel says: "Our goal was to find a scientific basis for a new definition of planet and we chose gravity as the determining factor. Nature decides whether or not an object is a planet."

According to the new draft definition, two conditions must be satisfied for an object to be called a "planet." First, the object must be in orbit around a star, while not being itself a star. Second, the object must be large enough (or more technically correct, massive enough) for its own gravity to pull it into a nearly spherical shape. The shape of objects with mass above 5 x 1020 kg and diameter greater than 800 km would normally be determined by self-gravity, but all borderline cases would have to be established by observation.


20-08-2006, 14:47
Fonte: Spaceflightnow.com


NASA selects crew, cargo launch partners

Posted: August 18, 2006

NASA is making an unprecedented investment in commercial space transportation services with the hope of creating a competitive market for supply flights to the International Space Station (ISS).

Two industry partners will receive a combined total of approximately $500 million to help fund the development of reliable, cost-effective access to low-Earth orbit. The agency is using its Space Act authority to facilitate the demonstration of these new capabilities. NASA signed Space Agreements Aug. 18 with Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) of El Segundo, Calif., and Rocketplane-Kistler (RpK) of Oklahoma City to develop and demonstrate the vehicles, systems, and operations needed to support a human facility such as ISS. Once the space shuttle is retired, NASA hopes to become just one of many customers for a new, out-of-this-world parcel service.


The venture marks a break with tradition for the 48-year-old space agency. "This is the first opportunity NASA has taken to engage entrepreneurs in a way that allows us to satisfy our needs and lets commercial industry gain a foothold. It could, and should, have profound impacts on the way NASA does business," said Marc Timm, acting Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) Program executive in NASA's Exploration Systems Mission Directorate.

Alan Lindenmoyer, manager of the Commercial Crew and Cargo Program Office at NASA's Johnson Space Center, said NASA's offer of seed money fulfills President Bush's Jan. 14, 2004 directive to promote commercial participation in space exploration. The 2005 NASA Authorization Act also calls on the agency to advance space commerce. "We are directly tied to the Vision for Space Exploration and the law of the land," Lindenmoyer said. "COTS marks a significant NASA activity to implement the commercialization portion of U.S. space policy."

The demonstrations are scheduled to begin as early as 2008 and continue through 2010 or later. COTS will be carried out in two phases. Phase 1, unveiled Aug. 18, will include safe disposal or return of spacecraft that successfully dock at ISS and deliver cargo. A follow-on option to demonstrate crew transportation also is planned. Once demonstrated, NASA plans to purchase transportation services competitively in Phase 2.


Partners will be paid only if they succeed. Payments will be incremental and based upon the partners' progress against a schedule of performance milestones contained in each Space Act agreement. The agreements were tailored to the individual partners and negotiated before partnership selections were made. NASA will gauge progress through site visits and milestone achievements.

Usually, the space agency issues detailed requirements and specifications for its flight hardware and it takes ownership of any vehicles and associated infrastructure that a contractor produces. For COTS, NASA specified only high level goals and objectives instead of detailed requirements where possible, and left its industry partners responsible for decisions about design, development, certification and operation of the transportation system. Because NASA has a limited amount of money to invest, it encouraged the partners to obtain private financing for their projects and it left them free to market the new space transportation services to others.

This model for pursuing of commercial space services is another first for NASA and a reflection on the growing maturing of commercial space capabilities. "This is not a traditional NASA procurement or program. We could change the economics of space flight with this," said Lindenmoyer, whose office oversees COTS. NASA expects use of this model to increase over time as the exploration program unfolds, potentially extending to the provision of power, communications, and habitation facilities by commercial entities.

Limited resources and the space shuttle's pending retirement created the need for the new service, and the emergence of enabling technology has created a favorable environment for COTS development, according to Timm. Industry interest was keen, with nearly 100 companies submitting expressions of interest and 20 companies submitting initial proposals.

NASA expects that purchasing commercial space transportation services will be more economical than developing government systems of comparable capability. This could free up additional resources for lunar missions and other activities beyond low-Earth orbit.

The biggest benefit of the anticipated cost savings is the opening of new markets for an emerging industry, according to Lindenmoyer. "If we had cost-effective access, many new markets -- biotechnology, microgravity research, industrial parks in space, manufacturing, tourism -- could start to open. That's what is so important about this effort."

21-08-2006, 21:03
Voyager 1 passes milestone

Posted: August 20, 2006


Voyager 1, already the most distant human-made object in the cosmos, reached 100 astronomical units from the sun on Tuesday, August 15 at 5:13 p.m. Eastern time (2:13 p.m. Pacific time). That means the spacecraft, which launched nearly three decades ago, is 100 times more distant from the sun than Earth is.

In more common terms, Voyager 1 is about 15 billion kilometers (9.3 billion miles) from the sun. Dr. Ed Stone, Voyager project scientist and the former director of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., says the Voyager team always predicted that the spacecraft would have enough power to last this long.

"But what you can't predict is that the spacecraft isn't going to wear out or break. Voyager 1 and 2 run 24 hours a day, seven days a week, but they were built to last," Stone said. The spacecraft have really been put to the test during their nearly 30 years of space travel, flying by the outer planets, and enduring such challenges as the harsh radiation environment around Jupiter.

The spacecraft are traveling at a distance where the sun is but a bright point of light and solar energy is not an option for electrical power. The Voyagers owe their longevity to their nuclear power sources, called radioisotope thermoelectric generators, provided by the Department of Energy.

Voyager 1 is now at the outer edge of our solar system, in an area called the heliosheath, the zone where the sun's influence wanes. This region is the outer layer of the 'bubble' surrounding the sun, and no one knows how big this bubble actually is. Voyager 1 is literally venturing into the great unknown and is approaching interstellar space. Traveling at a speed of about one million miles per day, Voyager 1 could cross into interstellar space within the next 10 years.

"Interstellar space is filled with material ejected by explosions of nearby stars," Stone said. "Voyager 1 will be the first human-made object to cross into it."

Voyager Project Manager Ed Massey of JPL says the survival of the two spacecraft is a credit to the robust design of the spacecraft, and to the flight team, which is now down to only 10 people. "But it's these 10 people who are keeping these spacecraft alive. They're very dedicated. This is sort of a testament to them, that we could get all this done."

Between them, the two Voyagers have explored Jupiter, Uranus, Saturn and Neptune, along with dozens of their moons. In addition, they have been studying the solar wind, the stream of charged particles spewing from the sun at nearly a million miles per hour.

21-08-2006, 22:19
ottimo!! speriamo che la missione nn venga chiusa prima del previsto per mancanza di fondi (avevo letto una cosa del genere circa un anno fa' , adesso com'è la situazione??)

21-08-2006, 22:31
no no, con quel poco che costano, sono si è no una decina di persone in tutto. I tagli riguardavano altre missioni, se ricordo bene, a cominciare dalla cancellazione di Jupiter Icy Moon Orbiter del programma Prometheus per le missioni con sonde a propulsione nucleare.

22-08-2006, 13:08
I tagli riguardavano altre missioni, se ricordo bene, a cominciare dalla cancellazione di Jupiter Icy Moon Orbiter del programma Prometheus per le missioni con sonde a propulsione nucleare.

Cosa che mi rende un po' triste: significa forse ritardare ulteriormente lo sviluppo della propulsione "nucleare" per lo spazio...

23-08-2006, 13:21
SMART-1 on the trail of the Moon's beginnings

Posted: August 22, 2006

The D-CIXS instrument on ESA's Moon mission SMART-1 has produced the first detection from orbit of calcium on the lunar surface. By doing this, the instrument has taken a step towards answering the old question: did the Moon form from part of the Earth?


Scientists responsible for the D-CIXS instrument on SMART-1 are also announcing that they have detected aluminium, magnesium and silicon. "We have good maps of iron across the lunar surface. Now we can look forward to making maps of the other elements," says Manuel Grande of the University of Wales, Aberystwyth UK, and D-CIXS' Principal Investigator.

Knowing how to translate the D-CIXS orbital data into Œground truth' has been helped by a cosmic coincidence. On 9 August 1976, the Russian spacecraft Luna 24 was launched. On 18 August it touched down in a region of the Moon known as Mare Crisium and returned a sample of the lunar soil to Earth.

In January 2005, SMART-1 was high above Mare Crisium when a giant explosion took place on the Sun. Scientists often dread these storms because they can damage spacecraft but, for the scientists responsible for D-CIXS, it was just what they needed.

The D-CIXS instrument depends on X-ray emission from the Sun to excite elements on the lunar surface, which then emit X-rays at characteristic wavelengths. D-CIXS collects these X-ray fingerprints and translates them into the abundance of each chemical element found on the surface of the Moon. Grande and his colleagues could relate the D-CIXS Mare Crisium results to the laboratory analysis of the Russian lunar samples.

They found that the calcium detected from orbit was in agreement with that found by Luna 24 on the surface of Mare Crisium. As SMART-1 flew on, it swept D-CIXS over the nearby highland regions. Calcium showed up here too, which was a surprise until the scientists looked at the data from another Russian moon mission, Luna 20. That lander had also found calcium back in the 1970s. This boosted the scientists' confidence in the D-CIXS results.

Ever since American astronauts brought back samples of moonrock during the Apollo Moon landings of the late 1960s/early 1970s, planetary scientists have been struck by the broad similarity of the moonrocks and the rocks found deep in the Earth, in a region known as the mantle. This boosted the theory that the Moon formed from debris left over after the Earth was struck a glancing blow by a Mars-sized planet.

However, the more scientists looked at the details of the moonrock, the more discrepancies they found between them and the earthrocks. Most importantly, the isotopes found in the moonrocks did not agree with those found on Earth.

"The get-out clause is that the rocks returned by the Apollo missions represent only highly specific areas on the lunar surface and so may not be representative of the lunar surface in its entirety," says Grande; hence the need for D-CIXS and its data.

By measuring the abundance of several elements across the lunar surface, scientists can better constrain the contribution of material from the young Earth and its possible impactor to condense and form the Moon. Current models suggest that more came from the impactor than from Earth. Models of the Moon's evolution and interior structure are necessary to translate the surface measurements into the Moon's bulk composition.

D-CIXS was a small experimental device, only about the size of a toaster. ESA is now collaborating with India to fly an upgraded version on the Indian lunar probe Chandrayaan, due for launch in 2007*2008. It will map the chemistry of the lunar surface, including the other landing sites from where samples have been brought back to Earth. In this way it will show whether the Apollo and Russian landing sites were typical or special.

"From SMART-1 observations of previous landing sites we can compare orbital observations to the ground truth and expand from the local to global views of the Moon," says Bernard Foing, Project Scientist for SMART-1.

Then, perhaps planetary scientists can decide whether the Moon was indeed once part of the Earth.

The findings will appear in the Planetary and Space Science journal, in an article titled: "The D-CIXS X-ray spectrometer on the SMART-1 mission to the Moon * First Results", by M.Grande et al.


24-08-2006, 19:19
Da La Repubblica.it:

La decisione presa dal congresso internazionale Iau in corso a Praga
Pochi giorni fa erano stati promossi invece Cerere, Caronte e Xena

Gli astronomi declassano Plutone
solo otto i pianeti del sistema solare

Il corpo celeste è stato "retrocesso" a "pianeta nano" per ragioni di grandezza
Scoperto nel 1930, mai visitato da una sonda, è il più lontano dal sole

PRAGA - Plutone retrocede, diventa "pianeta nano" e va nella stessa categoria di Cerere, Caronte e 2003 UB313 (Xena): grandi asteroidi "promosse" nei giorni scorsi. Il sistema solare secondo gli astronomi della Iau (Unione astronomica internazionale) riuniti in questi giorni a Praga è ora formato da otto pianeti "classici": Mercurio, Venere, Terra, Marte, Giove, Urano e Nettuno in ordine di distanza dal Sole. Poi ci sono i 4 "nani". Come spiega Gianna Cauzzi da Praga "la proposta di includere Cerere, Xena e Caronte tra i pianeti era stata presentata (e non decisa) la scorsa settimana, ma non ha trovato supporto, anche in virtu' del fatto che grazie a nuovi strumenti e tecnologie, probabilmente in pochi anni ci ritroveremo con dozzine di nuovi corpi celesti di questo tipo".

Il declassamento di Plutone è stato dettato dalle sue dimensioni troppo piccole (il suo diametro medio è di circa 2306 chilometri). I miglioramenti nelle osservazioni spaziali stanno permettendo infatti agli scienziati di scoprire l'esistenza di molti altri corpi celesti della grandezza simile a quella dell'ex pianeta e da qui l'esigenza di introdurre la categoria dei "pianeti nani".

Scoperto nel 1930 e battezzato in onore della divinità romana dell'oltretomba, Plutone è il pianeta più distante dal sole e l'unico a non essere mai stato visitato da una sonda. Molte misurazioni sono quindi approssimative e non confermate. La sua debole atmosfera è composta prevalentemente da metano gassoso, argon, azoto, monossido di carbonio e ossigeno.

La sua superficie, composta da ghiaccio d'acqua e di metano, non è uniforme, come dimostrano le sensibili variazioni di albedo (la quantità di luce riflessa indietro) riscontrabili da Terra nel corso della sua rotazione.

Da tempo la natura di Plutone era al centro del dibattito astrofisico. Una parte di scienziati ipotizza infatti che possa essere un grosso asteroide della fascia di Kuiper, intuizione rafforzata quando è stato scoperto un asteroide appartenente a questa fascia con un diametro di ben 1000 km, circa la metà di Plutone. Prima del declassamento Plutone oltre a essere classificato come pianeta era anche considerato il maggiore dei corpi della fascia di Kuiper.

24-08-2006, 19:21
Da Space.com (http://www.space.com/scienceastronomy/060824_planet_definition.html):

Pluto Demoted: No Longer a Planet in Highly Controversial Definition

By Robert Roy Britt
Senior Science Writer
posted: 24 August 2006
09:35 am ET

Capping years of intense debate, astronomers resolved today to demote Pluto in a wholesale redefinition of planethood that is being billed as a victory of scientific reasoning over historic and cultural influences. But already the decision is being hotly debated.

Officially, Pluto is no longer a planet.

"Pluto is dead," said Caltech researcher Mike Brown, who spoke with reporters via a teleconference while monitoring the vote. The decision also means a Pluto-sized object that Brown discovered will not be called a planet.

"Pluto is not a planet," Brown said. "There are finally, officially, eight planets in the solar system."

The vote involved just 424 astronomers who remained for the last day of a meeting of the International Astronomical Union (IAU) in Prague.

"I'm embarassed for astornomy," said Alan Stern, leader of NASA's New Horizon's mission to Pluto and a scientist at the Southwest Research Institute. "Less than 5 percent of the world's astronomers voted."

"This definition stinks, for technical reasons," Stern told SPACE.com. He expects the astronomy community to overturn the decision. Other astronomers criticized the definition as ambiguous.

The resolution

The decision establishes three main categories of objects in our solar system.

Planets: The eight worlds from Mercury to Neptune.
Dwarf Planets: Pluto and any other round object that "has not cleared the neighborhood around its orbit, and is not a satellite."
Small Solar System Bodies: All other objects orbiting the Sun.
Pluto and its moon Charon, which would both have been planets under the initial definition proposed Aug. 16, now get demoted because they are part of a sea of other objects that occupy the same region of space. Earth and the other eight large planets have, on the other hand, cleared broad swaths of space of any other large objects.

"Pluto is a dwarf planet by the ... definition and is recognized as the prototype of a new category of trans-Neptunian objects," states the approved resolution.

Pluto’s Demotion is Well Deserved and Long Overdue

Dwarf planets are not planets under the definition, however.

"There will be hundreds of dwarf planets," Brown predicted. He has already found dozens that fit the category.

Contentious logic

The vote came after eight days of contentious debate that involved four separate proposals at the group's meeting in Prague.

The initial proposal, hammered out by a group of seven astronomers, historians and authors, attempted to preserve Pluto as a planet but was widely criticized for diluting the meaning of the word. It would also have made planets out of the asteroid Ceres and Pluto's moon Charon. But not now.

"Ceres is a dwarf planet. it's the only dwarf planet in the asteroid belt," Brown said. "Charon is a satellite."

The category of "dwarf planet" is expected to include dozens of round objects already discovered beyond Neptune. Ultimately, hundreds will probably be found, astronomers say.

The word "planet" originally described wanderers of the sky that moved against the relatively fixed background of star. Pluto, discovered in 1930, was at first thought to be larger than it is. It has an eccentric orbit that crosses the path of Neptune and also takes it well above and below the main plane of the solar system.

Recent discoveries of other round, icy object in Pluto's realm have led most astronomers to agree that the diminutive world should never have been termed a planet.

'A farce'

Stern, in charge of the robotic probe on its way to Pluto, said the language of the resolution is flawed. It requires that a planet "has cleared the neighborhood around its orbit." But Earth, Mars, Jupiter and Neptune all have asteroids as neighbors.

"It's patently clear that Earth's zone is not cleared," Stern told SPACE.com. "Jupiter has 50,000 trojan asteroids," which orbit in lockstep with the planet.

Stern called it "absurd" that only 424 astronomers were allowed to vote, out of some 10,000 professional astronomers around the globe.

"It won't stand," he said. "It's a farce."

Stern said astronomers are already circulating a petition that would try to overturn the IAU decision.

Owen Gingerich, historian and astronomer emeritus at Harvard who led the committee that proposed the initial definition, called the new definition "confusing and unfortunate" and said he was "not at all pleased" with the language about clearing the neighborhood.

Gingerich also did not like the term "dwarf" planet.

"I thought that it made a curious linguistic contradiction," Gingerich said in a telephone interview from Boston (where he could not vote). "A dwarf planet is not a planet. I thought that was very awkward."

Gingerich added: "In the future one would hope the IAU could do electronic balloting."

Years of debate

Astronomers have argued since the late 1990s, however, on whether to demote Pluto. Public support for Pluto has weighed heavily on the debate. Today's vote comes after a two-year effort by the IAU to develop a definition. An initial committee of astronomers failed for a year to do so, leading to the formation of the second committee whose proposed definition was then redefined for today's vote.

Astronomers at the IAU meeting debated the proposals right up to the moment of the vote.

Caltech's Mike Brown loses out in one sense. The Pluto-sized object his team found, called 2003 UB313, will now be termed a dwarf planet.

"As of today I have no longer discovered a planet," he said. But Brown called the result scientifically a good decision.

"The public is not going to be excited by the fact that Pluto has been kicked out," Brown said. "But it's the right thing to do."

Textbooks will of course have to be rewritten.

"For astronomers this doesn't matter one bit. We'll go out and do exactly what we did," Brown said. "For teaching this is a very interesting moment. I think you can describe science much better now" by explaining why Pluto was once thought to be a planet and why it isn't now. "I'm actually very excited.

24-08-2006, 19:43
Quanto son contento!!!! :D AHAhAHAH Anni fà non glielo avevano fatto declassare per l opposizione degli Astrologi ma vedrai che quest'anno americani e astrologi avranno bruciori di culo :°°°D SON FELICE!!

24-08-2006, 20:16
Quanto son contento!!!! :D AHAhAHAH Anni fà non glielo avevano fatto declassare per l opposizione degli Astrologi ma vedrai che quest'anno americani e astrologi avranno bruciori di culo :°°°D SON FELICE!!
oddio e vero,gli astrologi.... :D
questo non lo avevano previsto :mc: :mc: :fuck: :happy: :Perfido: :yeah:
per caso si nota che mi stanno sulle balle? :D

25-08-2006, 16:43
boh, mi par 'na stronzata... storicamente è stato considerato pianeta, che resti tale. Che fastidio dava? In fondo di sostanza ce n'è poca, era solo questione di definizioni...

21-11-2006, 19:53
Mars Global Surveyor may be at mission's end

Posted: November 21, 2006

NASA's Mars Global Surveyor has likely finished its operating career. The spacecraft has served the longest and been the most productive of any mission ever sent to the red planet.

"Mars Global Surveyor has surpassed all expectations," said Michael Meyer, NASA's lead scientist for Mars exploration at NASA Headquarters, Washington. "It has already been the most productive science mission to Mars, and it will yield more discoveries as the treasury of observations it has made continues to be analyzed for years to come." Its camera has returned more than 240,000 images to Earth.

The orbiter has not communicated with Earth since Nov. 2. Preliminary indications are that a solar panel became difficult to pivot, raising the possibility that the spacecraft may no longer be able to generate enough power to communicate. Engineers are also exploring other possible explanations for the radio silence.

"Realistically, we have run through the most likely possibilities for re-establishing communication, and we are facing the likelihood that the amazing flow of scientific observations from Mars Global Surveyor is over," said Fuk Li, Mars Exploration Program manager at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), Pasadena, Calif. "We are not giving up hope, though."

Efforts to regain contact with the spacecraft and determine what has happened to it will continue. NASA's newest Mars spacecraft, the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, pointed its cameras towards Mars Global Surveyor on Monday. "We have looked for Mars Global Surveyor with the star tracker, the context camera and the high-resolution camera on Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter," said Doug McCuistion, Mars Exploration Program director at NASA Headquarters. "Preliminary analysis of the images did not show any definitive sightings of a spacecraft."

The next possibility for learning more about Mars Global Surveyor's status is a plan to send it a command to use a transmitter that could be heard by one of NASA's Mars Exploration Rovers later this week.

Mars Global Surveyor launched on Nov. 7, 1996, and began orbiting Mars on Sept. 11, 1997. It pioneered the use of aerobraking at Mars, using careful dips into the atmosphere for friction to shrink a long elliptical orbit into a nearly circular one. The mission then started its primary mapping phase in April 1999. The original plan was to examine the planet for one Mars year, nearly two Earth years. Based on the value of the science returned by the spacecraft, NASA extended its mission four times.

"It is an extraordinary machine that has done things the designers never envisioned despite a broken wing, a failed gyro and a worn-out reaction wheel. The builders and operating staff can be proud of their legacy of scientific discoveries and key support for subsequent missions," said Tom Thorpe, project manager for Mars Global Surveyor at JPL.

The spacecraft evaluated landing sites for the twin NASA rovers that landed in 2004 and sites for future landings of the Phoenix and Mars Science Laboratory missions. It monitored atmospheric conditions during aerobraking by newer orbiters. It served as a relay link for the rovers and provided mapping information about their surroundings.

"When we watched the launch 10 years ago, we wondered if we would make the specified mission length. We certainly were not thinking of a 10-year operating life," said JPL retiree Glenn Cunningham, who managed the Global Surveyor project through development and launch.

A few of the mission's many important discoveries about Mars include:

- The spacecraft's camera found gullies cut into many slopes that have few, if any, impact craters. This indicates the gullies are geologically young. Scientists interpret this as evidence of action by liquid water, essentially in modern times.

- The mineral-mapping infrared spectrometer found concentrations of a mineral that often forms under wet conditions, fine-grained hematite. This discovery led to selection of a hematite-rich region as the landing site for NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity.

- Laser altimeter measurements have produced an unprecedented global topographic map of Mars. The instrument revealed a multitude of highly eroded or buried craters too subtle for previous observation, and mapped canyons within the polar ice caps.

- The magnetometer found localized remnant magnetic fields, indicating that Mars once had a global magnetic field like Earth's, shielding the surface from deadly cosmic rays.

- The camera found a fan-shaped area of interweaving, curved ridges interpreted as evidence of an ancient river delta resulting from persistent flow of water over an extended period in the planet's ancient past.

- A long life allowed Global Surveyor to track changes through repeated annual cycles. For three Martian summers in a row, deposits of carbon-dioxide ice near Mars' South Pole shrunk from the previous year's size, suggesting a climate change in progress.

- JPL manages Mars Global Surveyor for the NASA Science Mission Directorate, Washington.

22-11-2006, 21:50
Grazie di tutto Mars Global Surveyor

Da dieci anni studiava la superficie del pianeta
Il 3 novembre ha ricevuto una segnalazione allarme. E poi...
La sonda Mars Global Surveyor non risponde più
"Ormai l'abbiamo perduta"

La sonda Mars Global Surveyor non risponde più
"Ormai l'abbiamo perduta"
La Nasa ha utilizzato ogni mezzo per cercare la Mars Global Surveyor, che da 10 anni fotografa e studia la superficie del pianeta: ora è giunta alla conclusione che non c'è più nulla da fare. "La sonda è persa e come ad un vecchio amico, dobbiamo dirle addio", hanno detto i tecnici del Jet Propulsion Laboratori dell'Ente Spaziale Americano.

Per cercarla, nelle ultime settimane la Nasa aveva scomodato anche l'ultima sonda lanciata attorno a Marte, la Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, in grado di fotografare dettagli di Marte non più grandi di pochi centimetri, ma non c'è stato nulla da fare.

La Mars Global Surveyor era stata lanciata nel 1996 dal Kennedy Space Center in Florida per una missione che prevedeva solo due anni di attività in orbita intorno a Marte. Un compito da umile gregario mentre tutti gli occhi del mondo erano puntati in quel periodo sulla sonda Pathfinder e il suo piccolo rover Sojourner che spediva foto di panorami mozzafiato dalla superfice del pianeta rosso. Ma giorno dopo giorno quei due anni sono diventati dieci. E in un decennio, Global Surveyor ha fotografato quasi tutta la superficie marziana, pezzo per pezzo, offrendo alla Nasa la possibilità di creare carte del pianeta rosso fino ad ora impensabili.

Anche quando su Marte sono arrivate altre due 'primedonne', i rover Spirit e Opportunity, Mars Global Surveyor ha continuato nell'infaticabile lavoro di gregario in orbita, senza rinunciare però alla soddisfazione di cogliere a sua volta qualche foto da scoop.

Come quelle di canyon e gole sui crinali di crateri che gli scienziati ipotizzano possano essere un segno della presenza di acqua di un lontano passato o la scoperta dei "gully", ossia vedute a giorno di acqua (questa è l'ipotesi principale anche se ne esistono altre) che crea dei piccoli torrenti che evaporano immediatamente. La sonda ha scoperto anche la testimonianza di un campo magnetico attivo nel passato e ha osservato l'evolversi dei poli da stagione in stagione.

Da quando è cominciata la missione di Mars Global Surveyor, sono arrivate in orbita intorno a Marte altre tre sonde con strumenti più sofisticati (una di costruzione europea), oltre a Spirit e Opportunity (che stanno continuando a mandare informazioni e foto dalla superficie marziana). Ma la missione di Mars Global Surveyor che doveva cessare nel 1999 non si è mai interrotta e la Nasa ha premiato la sonda stanziando fondi che hanno permesso fino a oggi di mantenere in vita il programma.

Adesso però si è giunti all'epilogo. Il 3 novembre gli scienziati del Jet Propulsion Laboratory di Pasadena, in California, hanno ricevuto dalla sonda un segnale che indicava problemi nell'orientare uno dei pannelli solari. I tecnici hanno risposto inviando istruzioni a Mars Global Surveyor, che sono state seguite da due giorni di silenzio e poi dall'indicazione, il 5 novembre, che la sonda era entrata in modalità 'safe', si era cioè autoibernata in attesa di nuovi ordini. Da allora, solo silenzio e nonostante i tentatvi per cercarla con gli strumenti di altre sonde di essa non si è più avuta traccia.

"Dobbiamo consolarci, la sonda è morta. Solo un miracolo potrà permetterci di scoprire dov'è e di farla rivivere", ha detto Tom Thorpe, direttore della missione.

22-11-2006, 23:00
Da SpaceFlightNow.com:


Hope fades for missing Mars Global Surveyor craft

Posted: November 21, 2006

NASA's $377 million Mars Global Surveyor, the oldest of four spacecraft currently in orbit around the red planet, apparently fell victim to what amounts to severe arthritis Nov. 2 when one of its two solar panels jammed and stopped tracking the sun. While the 10-year-old spacecraft may still be alive, hunkered down in electronic hibernation awaiting instructions from Earth, flight controllers have not been able to regain contact and fear the aging satellite may be lost, officials said today.

"While we have not exhausted everything we could do ... we believe the prospect of recovery of MGS is not looking very good at all," said Fuk Li, Mars program manager at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif.

"However, MGS has been a good friend, it's had an illustrious career, the data it's collected has taught us a lot about Mars and it will continue to teach us a lot about Mars," Li told reporters in a teleconference. "We're certainly feeling that we might be losing a good friend from our family here. We're still holding out some hope, but we are fully prepared in our hearts that we may never be able to talk to the spacecraft again."

The Mars Global Surveyor was launched Nov. 7, 1996. After a one-year cruise to Mars, the spacecraft braked into an elliptical orbit Sept. 11, 1997.

To save money, MSG was not designed to carry enough fuel to brake directly into a circular mapping orbit. That would have required a more powerful launch vehicle, a larger spacecraft and a much higher price tag. Instead, the flight plan called for repeated dips into Mars' atmosphere to lower the high point of the initial orbit.

That process should have taken four months or so to complete. But because of concern about the strength of one of the craft's two big solar panels, the so-called aerobraking maneuver was stretched out to a full year. MGS began studying Mars in earnest in April 1999.

The original mission requirement was to map the surface of the planet for two years. NASA recently approved the mission's fourth two-year extension.

But on Nov. 2 at 6:35 p.m. EST, when MGS emerged from behind Mars as viewed from Earth, telemetry indicated major problems with one of its solar arrays - the same array that caused concern when the spacecraft reached Mars in 1997.

"In fact, the spacecraft had decided on its own to switch over to the backup electronics that drives the motor that moves the solar array and also to move to a redundant power bus on the spacecraft," Li said. "The spacecraft then regained its functions and performed nominally through the rest of the orbit.

"Then it went behind Mars one more time and at about (8:27 p.m.) when we were expecting it to come back out from behind Mars to talk to us again, we were not able to re-establish nominal communications."

Three days later, flight controllers detected what may have been an extremely weak carrier signal from MGS during portions of four orbits. But nothing has been heard since then, despite more than 800 commands sent "in the blind" to restore communications.

Last Friday and again on Monday, cameras on NASA's recently arrived Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter searched the presumed orbital track of the Global Surveyor in hopes of visually spotting the spacecraft to determine its orientation and the orientation of its solar panels.

"Our preliminary analysis so far has not yielded any definitive images of MGS," Li said.

Tom Thorpe, MGS project manager at JPL, said that even in safe mode, flight controllers should have been able to re-establish communications.

"The solar array minus panel is the panel we believe cracked shortly after launch," he said. "It's deployment was very hard, we believe the damper arm broke and we noticed during cruise (to Mars) that the flexibility of the panel had increased. This ultimately resulted in a delay of our aerobraking by about a year's time as we were forced to aerobrake very gently through the atmosphere with the panel turned in the opposite direction. Now, that may be totally unrelated to this event, but the same panel seems to be the one that caused this problem."

On Nov. 2, the solar arrays had been commanded to a slight offset from the sun. Both panels moved as expected but subsequently, "this minus panel sent back errors in its tracking performance. So we went into eclipse. When we came out, there was no signal."

"During eclipse, the panels perform what's called an 'unwind,' so they're ready to see the sun when we come out of eclipse," Thorpe said. "That's about a 200-degree travel for these panels. We believe somewhere during that eclipse, the panel failed to move, got stuck. The problem is, we don't know at what attitude it got stuck.

"Now, when the fault protection software determined that the panel was stuck, it tried the backup gimbal, the backup electronics, then declares that panel stuck and moves the spacecraft so the stuck panel is face on to the sun and the other panel tracks the sun, giving us optimum power. That's not good for communications, however, and we believe that we lost communications due to that pitch."

But the details are not yet clear. In such a "safe mode," the spacecraft is programmed to change its orientation periodically to help a low-gain antenna receive instructions from Earth.

"That is not optimum for power and we don't know the attitude this stuck panel is in and that could provide a drain on the power available to the spacecraft," Thorpe said. "From there on, it's a question of are we losing power with time? We were unable to raise the transmitter on the spacecraft, that is one of the puzzles that still exists as to why we can't get a signal from the low-gain transmitter."

Later this week, NASA's Opportunity rover, one of two robots currently working on the surface of Mars, will attempt to pick up UHF signals from MGS as it passes overhead. If the spacecraft is still alive, its UHF transmitter may be functioning, providing clues about what went wrong and what might be needed to restore the craft to operation.

But engineers are not optimistic.

"We are now into the 10th year of operation," Li said. "If you look at a typical human life, I don't know what the consensus is, what a normal human life is, but it's probably around 70 years. It's almost like having a friend who's 350 years old."

28-11-2006, 22:31
Da SpaceFlightNow.com (http://www.nasaspaceflight.com/content/?cid=4919):

Vega ready for static fire test

By Roberto Franisco and ESA release, 11/27/2006 4:37:00 PM

Taking another step towards her debut flight, Vega's P80 motor is schedule for a static firing on the same test pad a the Guiana Space Centre, Kourou, French Guiana, that evaluated the solid motors which power the Ariane 5 launch vehicle.

November 30 is the date for the maiden static firing of what will be Europe's largest solid rocket motor of its kind.

While NASA test their ATK Solid Rocket Motors at the test range in Utah - as recently seen with the night firing on one SRB - ESA (European Space Agency) will test fire their P80 on the test stand, with large blades would cutting the envelope open, allowing the solid propellant to burn freely without providing any thrust.

The test will last about 100 seconds, with the motor delivering some 200 tonnes of average thrust.

ELV SpA (Italy) is the lead manufacturer of the vehicle, which is designed to carry payloads in the range 300 kg to 2.5 tonnes into low Earth orbits. The typical reference for Vega's launch capacity is to carry 1500 kg to a 700 km-altitude polar orbit.

The P80's propellant load was cast some six kilometres from the BEAP test stand, at the Guiana Propellant Plant (UPG) where the EAP's - the solids for the Ariane 5 - lower segments are also loaded.

'The propellant is not exactly the same as on the EAP's,' explained Stefano Bianchi, Vega Programme Manager at ESA. 'We adapted the propellant mix and the granulometry to increase its performance and density.'

As for the EAP segments, once the propellant's polymer binder had solidified, the mandrel forming the exhaust canal for hot gases was extracted and the motor underwent numerous inspections to make sure that no bubbles or cracks had formed inside the binder. In a solid motor, these kinds of defects could have explosive consequences. After inspection, the motor was prepared for its test firing.

The P80 is not simply the new motor developed for the first stage of ESA's Vega small launch vehicle. It is a multidisciplinary demonstrator to validate advanced technologies which could later be applied to Ariane 5's boosters.

The most obvious change is to the booster casing. It is made of filament wound graphite epoxy, a technology largely used on smaller motors for civilian launchers as well as ballistic missiles. Much lighter than the stainless steel currently used on Ariane boosters, it provides a dramatic increase in payload capacity.

Other improvements in the motor include a new design of igniter with a simplified architecture, also using a carbon-fibre case.

The P80 nozzle looks like a shorter version of the EAP nozzle but its design was revised to achieve more simplicity, incorporate fewer elements, and reduce production costs. New thermal insulation material and a narrower throat improve the expansion ratio and overall performance. The new type of flexible joint makes it a lot easier to steer and has allowed the replacement of heavy hydraulic actuators by much lighter electromechanical ones for thrust vector control.

'There are lots of challenges on this test,' says Stefano Bianchi. 'As on every maiden firing, there is also a lot to learn.'

After the 30 November test, it is planned that each of the three motors will undergo an additional static test before the maiden flight of the Vega launcher, which will complement Ariane 5 and Soyuz in the small satellite segment of the launch market.

28-11-2006, 22:36

Kourou prepares for P80 motor test

27 November 2006
On 30 November, the P80 motor which is to power Vega’s first stage will undergo its maiden static firing on the same test pad used to demonstrate Ariane 5’s solid booster stages in Kourou, French Guiana.

The Solid Booster Test Bench (BEAP) is the unique test pad at the Guiana Space Centre, Europe’s Spaceport. Since 1993, it has seen the successful testing of Ariane 5 Solid Booster Stage (EAP) motors. Of course, none was actually intended to lift off and the facility is equipped with safety systems to prevent a booster breaking loose from the test bench and leaving the ground. In this case, large blades would cut its envelope open, allowing the solid propellant to burn freely without providing any thrust.
Recently, the BEAP has been modified in order to accommodate a different kind of booster for static firing. While it shares its three metre diameter with Ariane 5's booster stages, the P80 motor is much shorter than the 31.2-metre-tall EAP – it is only 11.7 metres high. Nevertheless, it is the largest European solid rocket motor of its kind.


The largest monosegment booster

Unlike the EAP’s motor, whose 238-tonne propellant load is cast in three segments which are later assembled together, the P80 features only a single segment with about 88 tonnes of solid propellant. Although this is less than the biggest of the EAP segments, it is far more than any other composite single-segment solid motor ever tested. For comparison, to date the record is held by the motor of the SRB-A booster stage on Japan’s H-2A launcher, with 66 tonnes of solid propellant.

The P80’s propellant load was cast some 6 km from the BEAP, at the Guiana Propellant Plant (UPG) where the EAP’s lower segments are also loaded. In fact, the P80 used the same pit. After an initial test with inert propellant in April 2004, real propellant was poured in the first qualification model of the P80 last August.

“The propellant is not exactly the same as on the EAP’s”, explains Stefano Bianchi, Vega Programme Manager at ESA. “We adapted the propellant mix and the granulometry to increase its performance and density.”


As for the EAP segments, once the propellant’s polymer binder had solidified, the mandrel forming the exhaust canal for hot gases was extracted and the motor underwent numerous inspections to make sure that no bubbles or cracks had formed inside the binder. In a solid motor, these kinds of defects could have explosive consequences. After inspection, the motor was prepared for its test firing.

The P80 is not simply the new motor developed for the first stage of ESA’s Vega small launch vehicle. It is a multidisciplinary demonstrator to validate advanced technologies which could later be applied to Ariane 5’s boosters.

Technological advances

The most obvious change is to the booster casing. It is made of filament wound graphite epoxy, a technology largely used on smaller motors for civilian launchers as well as ballistic missiles. Much lighter than the stainless steel currently used on Ariane boosters, it provides a dramatic increase in payload capacity.

Other improvements in the motor include a new design of igniter with a simplified architecture, also using a carbon-fibre case.

The P80 nozzle looks like a shorter version of the EAP nozzle but its design was revised to achieve more simplicity, incorporate fewer elements, and reduce production costs. New thermal insulation material and a narrower throat improve the expansion ratio and overall performance. The new type of flexible joint makes it a lot easier to steer and has allowed the replacement of heavy hydraulic actuators by much lighter electromechanical ones for thrust vector control.


“There are lots of challenges on this test”, says Stefano Bianchi. “As on every maiden firing, there is also a lot to learn.”

Preparing for Vega

The firing test is planned for 30 November at around 15:00 UTC/GMT (12:00 local time, 16:00 CST/Paris). The timing will depend on wind conditions, to make sure the cloud resulting from the exhaust will not drift over populated areas.

The test will last about 100 seconds, with the motor delivering some 200 tonnes of average thrust.

Developed under a separate programme managed by an integrated team led by CNES, the French space agency, on behalf of ESA, the P80 is the last of Vega’s motors to undergo static firing. The Zefiro 9 and the Zefiro 23, due to power the third and second stages of ESA’s small launch vehicle, were test fired in December 2005 and June 2006 respectively, at Italy’s test centre in Salto di Quirra, Sardinia.

After the 30 November test, it is planned that each of the three motors will undergo an additional static test before the maiden flight of the Vega launcher, which will complement Ariane 5 and Soyuz in the small satellite segment of the launch market.

06-12-2006, 23:40
Da SpaceFlightNow.com:


Water may be spurting on Mars

Posted: December 6, 2006

NASA photographs have revealed bright new deposits seen in two gullies on Mars that suggest water carried sediment through them sometime during the past seven years.

"These observations give the strongest evidence to date that water still flows occasionally on the surface of Mars," said Michael Meyer, lead scientist for NASA's Mars Exploration Program, Washington.

Liquid water, as opposed to the water ice and water vapor known to exist at Mars, is considered necessary for life. The new findings heighten intrigue about the potential for microbial life on Mars. The Mars Orbiter Camera on NASA's Mars Global Surveyor provided the new evidence of the deposits in images taken in 2004 and 2005.

The images are available here (http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/multimedia/slideshows/mgs-20061206).

"The shapes of these deposits are what you would expect to see if the material were carried by flowing water," said Michael Malin of Malin Space Science Systems, San Diego. "They have finger-like branches at the downhill end and easily diverted around small obstacles." Malin is principal investigator for the camera and lead author of a report about the findings published in the journal Science.

The atmosphere of Mars is so thin and the temperature so cold that liquid water cannot persist at the surface. It would rapidly evaporate or freeze. Researchers propose that water could remain liquid long enough, after breaking out from an underground source, to carry debris downslope before totally freezing. The two fresh deposits are each several hundred meters or yards long.

The light tone of the deposits could be from surface frost continuously replenished by ice within the body of the deposit. Another possibility is a salty crust, which would be a sign of water's effects in concentrating the salts. If the deposits had resulted from dry dust slipping down the slope, they would likely be dark, based on the dark tones of dust freshly disturbed by rover tracks, dust devils and fresh craters on Mars.

Mars Global Surveyor has discovered tens of thousands of gullies on slopes inside craters and other depressions on Mars. Most gullies are at latitudes of 30 degrees or higher. Malin and his team first reported the discovery of the gullies in 2000. To look for changes that might indicate present-day flow of water, his camera team repeatedly imaged hundreds of the sites. One pair of images showed a gully that appeared after mid-2002. That site was on a sand dune, and the gully-cutting process was interpreted as a dry flow of sand.

Today's announcement is the first to reveal newly deposited material apparently carried by fluids after earlier imaging of the same gullies. The two sites are inside craters in the Terra Sirenum and the Centauri Montes regions of southern Mars.

"These fresh deposits suggest that at some places and times on present-day Mars, liquid water is emerging from beneath the ground and briefly flowing down the slopes. This possibility raises questions about how the water would stay melted below ground, how widespread it might be, and whether there's a below-ground wet habitat conducive to life. Future missions may provide the answers," said Malin.

Besides looking for changes in gullies, the orbiter's camera team assessed the rate at which new impact craters appear. The camera photographed approximately 98 percent of Mars in 1999 and approximately 30 percent of the planet was photographed again in 2006. The newer images show 20 fresh impact craters, ranging in diameter from 7 feet (2 meters) to 486 feet (148 meters) that were not present approximately seven years earlier. These results have important implications for determining the ages of features on the surface of Mars. These results also approximately match predictions and imply that Martian terrain with few craters is truly young.

Mars Global Surveyor began orbiting Mars in 1997. The spacecraft is responsible for many important discoveries. NASA has not heard from the spacecraft since early November. Attempts to contact it continue. Its unprecedented longevity has allowed monitoring Mars for over several years past its projected lifetime.

30-12-2006, 00:33
Ottima notizia direi...

NASA Press Release (http://www.nasa.gov/home/hqnews/2006/dec/HQ_06371_Ames_Google.html):

Dec. 18, 2006

Michael Mewhinney
Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif.

Jon Murchinson
Google Inc., Mountain View, Calif.

RELEASE: 06-371


MOFFETT FIELD, Calif. - NASA Ames Research Center and Google have
signed a Space Act Agreement that formally establishes a relationship
to work together on a variety of challenging technical problems
ranging from large-scale data management and massively distributed
computing, to human-computer interfaces.

As the first in a series of joint collaborations, Google and Ames will
focus on making the most useful of NASA's information available on
the Internet. Real-time weather visualization and forecasting,
high-resolution 3-D maps of the moon and Mars, real-time tracking of
the International Space Station and the space shuttle will be
explored in the future.

"This agreement between NASA and Google will soon allow every American
to experience a virtual flight over the surface of the moon or
through the canyons of Mars," said NASA Administrator Michael Griffin
at Headquarters in Washington. "This innovative combination of
information technology and space science will make NASA's space
exploration work accessible to everyone," added Griffin.

"Partnering with NASA made perfect sense for Google, as it has a
wealth of technical expertise and data that will be of great use to
Google as we look to tackle many computing issues on behalf of our
users," said Eric Schmidt, chief executive officer of Google. "We're
pleased to move forward to collaborate on a variety of technical
challenges through the signing of the Space Act Agreement."

Recently, teams from NASA and Google met to discuss the many
challenging computer science problems facing both organizations and
possible joint collaborations that could help address them.

NASA and Google intend to collaborate in a variety of areas, including
incorporating agency data sets in Google Earth, focusing on user
studies and cognitive modeling for human computer interaction, and
science data search utilizing a variety of Google features and

"Our collaboration with Google will demonstrate that the private and
public sectors can accomplish great things together," said S. Pete
Worden, Ames center director. "I want NASA Ames to establish
partnerships with the private sector that will encourage innovation,
while advancing the Vision for Space Exploration and commercial
interests," Worden added.

"NASA has collected and processed more information about our planet
and universe than any other entity in the history of humanity," said
Chris C. Kemp, director of strategic business development at Ames.
"Even though this information was collected for the benefit of
everyone, and much is in the public domain, the vast majority of this
information is scattered and difficult for non-experts to access and
to understand.

"We've worked hard over the past year to implement an agreement that
enables NASA and Google to work closely together on a wide range of
innovative collaborations," said Kemp. "We are bringing together some
of the best research scientists and engineers to form teams to make
more of NASA's vast information accessible."

NASA and Google also are finalizing details for additional
collaborations that include joint research, products, facilities,
education and missions.

Google's innovative search technologies connect millions of people
around the world with information every day. Google is headquartered
close to Ames in Silicon Valley with offices through the Americas,
Europe and Asia.

For more information about Google, please visit:


For information about NASA and agency programs, please visit:


11-01-2007, 23:58
Guy Webster 818-354-6278
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
Dwayne Brown 202-358-1726

NASA Headquarters, Washington
Lori Stiles 520-626-4402
University of Arizona, Tucson

Image Advisory: 2007-005 Jan. 11, 2007

New NASA Orbiter Sees Details of 1997 Mars Pathfinder Site

The high-resolution camera on NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has imaged the 1997 landing site of NASA's Mars Pathfinder, revealing new details of hardware on the surface and the geology of the region.

The new image from the orbiter's High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment is available on the Internet at http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/MRO/multimedia/pia09105.html and at links from http://hirise.lpl.arizona.edu.

The Pathfinder mission's small rover, Sojourner, appears to have moved closer to the stationary lander after the final data transmission from the lander, based on tentative identification of the rover in the image. Pathfinder landed on July 4, 1997, and transmitted data for 12 weeks. Unlike the two larger rovers, Spirit and Opportunity, currently active on Mars, Sojourner could communicate only with the lander, not directly with Earth.

The lander's ramps, science deck and portions of the airbags can be discerned in the new image. The parachute and backshell used in the spacecraft's descent lie to the south, behind a hill from the viewpoint of the lander. Four bright features may be portions of the heat shield.

Rob Manning, Mars program chief engineer at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, said, "The new image provides information about Pathfinder's landing and should help confirm our reconstruction of the descent as well as give us insights into the landing and the airbag bounces."

Dr. Alfred McEwen of the University of Arizona, Tucson, principal investigator for the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment, said "Pathfinder's landing site is one of the most-studied places on Mars. Making connections between this new orbital image and the geological information collected at ground level aids our interpretation of orbital images of other places."

For more information on Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/mro .

Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter is managed by JPL for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington. JPL is a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena. Lockheed Martin Space Systems, Denver, is the prime contractor for the project and built the spacecraft. The High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment is operated by the University of Arizona, and the instrument was built by Ball Aerospace and Technology Corp., Boulder, Colo.


Da SpaceRef.com (http://www.spaceref.com/news/viewnews.html?id=1185):

NASA Decides That A Software Error Doomed The Mars Global Surveyor Spacecraft

Keith Cowing
Wednesday, January 10, 2007

During a meeting of the Mars Exploration Program Analysis Group Meeting in Washington Dc, yesterday, NASA's John McNamee, Mars Exploration Program addressed the issue of the recent failure of the Mars Global Surveyor (MGS) spacecraft.

Apparently incorrect software doomed the spacecraft.

MGS stopped operating shortly after celebrating its tenth anniversary.

According to public comments made by McNamee: "We think that the failure was due to a software load we sent up in June of last year. This software tried to synch up two flight processors. Two addresses were incorrect - two memory addresses were over written. As the geometry evolved, we drove the [solar] arrays against a hard stop and the spacecraft went into safe mode. The radiator for the battery pointed at the sun, the temperature went up, and battery failed. But this should be treated as preliminary."

12-06-2009, 14:28
Betelgeuse rischia il kaboom :asd:

Pinned prominently on Orion's shoulder, the bright red star Betelgeuse hardly seems like a wallflower. But a new study suggests the giant star has been shrinking for more than a decade.

Betelgeuse is nearing the end of its life as a red supergiant. The bright, bloated star is 15 to 20 times more massive than the sun. If it were placed at the centre of the solar system, the star would extend out to the orbit of Jupiter.

But the star's reach seems to be waning. New observations indicate the giant star has shrunk by more than 15 per cent since 1993. This could be a sign of a long-term oscillation in its size or the star's first death knells. Or it may just be an artefact of the star's bumpy surface, which may appear to change in size as the star rotates.

Betelgeuse is enshrouded by vast clouds of gas and dust, so measuring its size is difficult. To cut through this cocoon, Charles Townes of the University of California, Berkeley, and colleagues used a set of telescopes that are sensitive to a particular wavelength of the star's infrared light.

The team used these instruments to measure the size of Betelgeuse's disc on the sky. Over a span of 15 years, the star's diameter seems to have declined from 11.2 to 9.6 AU (1 AU, or astronomical unit, is the distance from the Earth to the sun).
Ejected gas

The cause for this reduction is unknown, as it is unclear how red supergiants behave near the end of their lives.

"Maybe there's some instability in the star and it's going to collapse or at least go way down in size or blow off some material, but who knows," Townes, who shared a 1964 Nobel Prize for the invention of the laser, told reporters on Tuesday at a meeting of the American Astronomical Society in Pasadena, California.

The shrinking size could also be evidence of an as-yet-unidentified pulsation in the star, says Graham Harper of the University of Colorado in Boulder, who was not affiliated with the study.

The surface of Betelgeuse is known to wobble in and out, fed in part by the roiling energy of convection beneath its surface. Two such pulsations are already known – one seems to start anew each year, the other every 6 years. Since this observation shows a progressive decrease in the size of the star over 15 years with a consistent set of measurements, Harper says: "I think this is a very nice indication that [Betelgeuse] is getting smaller."
Bumpy surface

But he notes the change in size could be an illusion. Simulations suggest temperature differences in red supergiants can make their surfaces extraordinarily bumpy, causing the star to appear to be a different size when viewed from different angles.

"Often if you look at the simulations, the star is not spherical. It looks like a bad potato," Harper told New Scientist. Betelgeuse is thought to rotate every 18 years or so, which might suggest an especially narrow part of the star recently rotated into view.

Another possibility, Harper says, is that the team is not measuring the surface of the star but a layer of dense molecular gas that some astronomers suspect may hover above it.

The team hopes to get higher-resolution pictures of the star at a variety of wavelengths to determine the origin of the light they are seeing.

Link (http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn17282-betelgeuse-the-incredible-shrinking-star.html)

12-06-2009, 14:57
guardate qua:


la prima foto in assoluto della Terra e della Luna viste da un'altro pianeta (in realtà dall'orbita). Questa foto è stata scattata l'8 maggio 2003 da Mars Global Surveyor.

Questa foto scattata da Mars Global Surveyor non l'avevo mia vista. E' notevole vedere la differenza con quella acquisita dal più recente Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter:


12-06-2009, 18:29
Segnalo le nuove foto (http://www.moonviews.com/) restaurate dal Lunar Orbiter Image Recovery Project. Per essere immagini provenienti da sonde degli anni 60 hanno una qualità notevole:

http://images.spaceref.com/news/2009/apollo.14.label.sm.jpg (http://images.spaceref.com/news/2009/apollo.14.label.large.jpg)
(Click per immagine grande)

13-06-2009, 14:37
Dawn Re-Lights the Ionic Fire

Mission controllers at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., have received a transmission from the Dawn spacecraft confirming it has re-ignited its ion propulsion system. For those of you scoring at home, Thruster # 1 received the honors. Over the course of its eight-year mission, first to asteroid Vesta and then off to dwarf planet Ceres, Dawn's three ion engines will accumulate 2,000 days of operation.

The mission of the 1138 kilograms (2,508 pound) spacecraft is to reconnoiter Vesta and Ceres, the asteroid belt's two biggest residents.

Dawn is currently 299 million kilometers (185.6 million miles) from Earth. At that distance, it takes almost 17 minutes for a transmission from the spacecraft to arrive on Earth.

For more information on Dawn please visit: www.nasa.gov/dawn or http://dawn.jpl.nasa.gov .


15-06-2009, 17:35
Un paio di notizie con errori:

Luna, ecco il canyon più profondo e il monte più alto (http://www.adnkronos.com/IGN/News/Cronaca/?id=3.0.3424630734)

Roma, 14 giu. - (Ign) - La missione è durata quasi due anni, ma ne è valsa la pena. La sonda giapponese, partita il 14 settembre 2007, è riuscita a fotografare un canyon - invisibile con i telescopi terrestri - sulla superficie lunare a meno 9.060 metri nel bacino di Aitken e una montagna alta 10.750 metri. Di più. E' stata in grado di riscrivere completamente la mappa topografica del suolo lunare con il suo altimetro laser. E lo ha fatto in modo eccezionale. Fino a oggi la migliore cartina disponibile era formata da 270 mila punti. Nulla in confronto a quella della sonda Kaguya che ne ha messi insieme ben 6 milioni e 700 mila.

Non solo, è stato fatto un passo avanti anche nel ricostruire la storia del piccolo satellite. Gli strumenti della sonda hanno scoperto che l'ultima eruzione di magma vulcanico nei 'mari lunari' prima di quanto si ritenesse. E' accaduto 2,5 miliardi di anni fa e non 3 come gli scienziati avevano ipotizzato.

La sonda Kaguya è stata fatta precipitare mercoledì scorso vicino al polo sud. Si è visto soltanto un bagliore e il veicolo da tre tonnellate si è schiantato in un'area disabitata a una velocità di sei mila chilometri orari. Un esperimento, finito bene, tanto che la Nasa in occasione dei 40 anni dello sbarco sulla Luna, ha già deciso di far partire due nuove spedizioni.

- Esistono zone abitate sulla Luna?
- prima -> dopo
- Nasa -> NASA
- La NASA non ha deciso di far partire LRO e LCROSS in seguito al successo di Kaguya.

Pronti a «colonizzare» la luna (http://www.unita.it/news/scienza/85608/pronti_a_colonizzare_la_luna)

A quasi 40 anni dallo sbarco di Neil Armstrong sulla Luna, gli Stati Uniti si preparano a fare il primo passo per la colonizzazione dell'unico satellite naturale della Terra. È infatti previsto per mercoledì a Cape Canaveral il lancio della missione robotica 'Lunar reconnaissance orbiter' (Lso) volta a individuare il miglior sito per ospitare la prima colonia terrestre al di fuori del nostro pianeta, e a individuare l'eventuale presenza di ghiaccio. Dell'ambiziosa missione da 579 milioni di dollari parla oggi il Chicago Tribune online, ricordando che il piano per la colonizzazione della Luna era stato voluto dall'ex presidente Usa George W. Bush, che nel 2004 propose la creazione di insediamenti umani sul satellite entro il 2020.

Nelle intenzioni di Bush, inoltre, la Luna doveva servire come base per inviare gli astronauti su Marte. Il presidente Obama, come sottolinea il quotidiano, non ha sposato la visione di Bush: ciò nonostante, in attesa che l'attuale amministrazione definisca la revisione delle missioni spaziali, «la Nasa - ha spiegato l'amministratore associato dell'ente spaziale, Christopher Scolese - prosegue con le esplorazioni programmate». Mercoledì, quindi, da Cape Canaveral saranno lanciati i mezzi spaziali 'Orbiter' ed 'Lcross' tramite un razzo a due stadi che, nelle previsioni della Nasa, dal 7 all'11 ottobre impatterà su uno dei poli della Luna, 'bucandò un cratere. Il materiale espulso nell'impatto sarà esaminato dall' 'Lcross' per verificare l'eventuale presenza di ghiaccio. L' 'Orbiter', in orbita a circa 30 miglia dalla superficie lunare (si distaccherà dal razzo 45 minuti dopo il lancio), dovrà produrre la più dettagliata mappa topografica del satellite mai realizzata. «A parte l'area equatoriale esplorata dalle missioni Apollo - ha spiegato Craig Tooley, project manager dell'Lso - le immagini disponibili del resto della Luna sono davvero scarse. Ne abbiamo di migliori di Marte».

La presenza di ghiaccio, sottolinea il Chicago Tribune, non è importante solo perchè costituirebbe una fonte di acqua, ma perchè quest'ultima, attraverso l'elettrolisi, potrebbe essere scomposta in ossigeno, utilizzabile dall'uomo per la respirazione e per realizzare combustibile da utilizzare per i viaggi di ritorno sulla Terra. Al momento, però, ha sottolineato Tooley, «non c'è nessuna prova che ci sia del ghiaccio sulla Luna». Lo strato di polvere emesso nell'impatto del razzo sulla Luna sarà visibile anche sulla Terra, dagli appassionati muniti di telescopio.

15-06-2009, 17:38
Nasa ed Esa insieme su Marte (http://www.avionews.it/index.php?corpo=see_news_home.php&news_id=1105625&pagina_chiamante=corpo%3Dindex.php)

(WAPA) - Problemi di budget potrebbero portare la Nasa ad unire le proprie forze con l'Agenzia spaziale europea (Esa) per una missione su Marte, a partire dal 2016. Fino ad oggi gli americani hanno preferito fare da soli, ma i costi esorbitanti del progetto li potrebbero portare a più miti consigli "Con meno ego e meno nazionalismo", come ha detto recentemente Ed Weiler, responsabile scientifico della Nasa.

Entrambe le agenzie, riporta "Associated Press", stanno riscontrando problemi di budget. Gli americani, dopo aver ritardato al 2011 il lancio del Mars Science Laboratory, si trovano ora a dover ridurre le proprie spese e ridimensionare la loro visione dato che il costo del nuovo rover nucleare è salito a 2,3 miliardi di dollari; l'Esa, dal canto suo, non avrebbe i soldi per lanciare nel 2016 ExoMars, un rover drill-toting. La Nasa sta cercando un modo di aiutare l'Europa ad arrivare su Marte, lanciando allo stesso tempo il suo orbiter. Non si sa ancora chi pagherà il razzo lanciatore.

"Non è facile raggiungere questo obiettivo - ha spiegato Doug McCuistion, responsabile delle missioni della Nasa su Marte - perché sia noi che gli europei abbiamo una missione già avviata: unire due missioni esistenti è complicato. Francamente, noi abbiamo rinunciato a molte delle nostre richieste. Loro hanno rinunciato a qualcosa".

Marcello Coradini, coordinatore Esa per le missioni nel Sistema solare, ha detto: "Si dovranno dividere i compiti. Come in ogni buona famiglia, un giorno il marito lava i piatti ed il giorno dopo la moglie. Se lo fa sempre l'uno o l'altra si arriva al divorzio". (Avionews)
(009) 090610135833-1105625 (World Aeronautical Press Agency - 10-Giu-2009 13:58)


19-06-2009, 00:42
Lightning Detected on Mars (http://www.universetoday.com/2009/06/18/lighning-detected-on-mars/)

The first direct evidence of lightning has been detected on Mars. Researchers from the University of Michigan found signs of electrical discharges during dust storms on the red planet using an innovative microwave detector . The bolts were dry lightning, said Professor Chris Ruf. "What we saw on Mars was a series of huge and sudden electrical discharges caused by a large dust storm. Clearly, there was no rain associated with the electrical discharges on Mars. However, the implied possibilities are exciting."

The Space Physics Research Laboratory at the University of Michigan developed the kurtosis detector, which is capable of differentiating between thermal and non-thermal radiation. The device took measurements of microwave emissions from Mars for approximately five hours a day for 12 days between May 22 and June 16, 2006.

On June 8, 2006 both an unusual pattern of non-thermal radiation and an intense Martian dust storm occurred, the only time that non-thermal radiation was detected. Non-thermal radiation would suggest the presence of lightning.

Electric activity in Martian dust storms has important implications for Mars science, the researchers said.
"It affects atmospheric chemistry, habitability and preparations for human exploration. It might even have implications for the origin of life, as suggested by experiments in the 1950s," said Professor Nilton Renno of the university's Department of Atmospheric, Oceanic and Space Sciences.

"Mars continues to amaze us," said Michael Sanders, manager of exploration systems and technology at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's Jet Propulsion Laboratory and a researcher involved in the study. "Every new look at the planet gives us new insights."

The new findings are to appear in an upcoming issue of the journal Geophysical Research Letters.

Sembra che in seguito alla scoperta si sia deciso di includere questo strumento nella dotazione di MSL :sofico:

(con apposito gancio)

19-06-2009, 08:34
Il Flusso Canalizzatore!!!! :D

19-06-2009, 08:51
Parte LRO, missione per fotografare la Luna in alta risoluzione (30 cm/pixel)


edit: correggo, LRO, non LCROSS, che invece farà un "buco" sulla luna per cercare l'aqua.

19-06-2009, 23:47
Canzone (http://365daysofastronomy.org/2009/06/14/june-14th-the-mars-global-surveyor/) dedicata al Mars Global Surveyor. Il testo è una delle cose più geek mai viste, però è cantata bene :D

24-06-2009, 17:26
NASA Poised to Join Europe's Mars Rover Mission (http://www.space.com/businesstechnology/090623-esa-mars-rover.html)

LE BOURGET, France — The United States and Europe are moving closer toward a full-scale collaboration in Mars exploration but have agreed to go their separate ways, for now, in exploring the mysteries of dark energy, according to U.S. and European officials.

The science directors of NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA) are scheduled to meet in England the week of June 29 to craft an agreement calling for NASA to launch Europe's billion-dollar ExoMars lander and rover in early 2016 aboard an Atlas 5 rocket that will also carry NASA's Mars Science Orbiter mission.

In a June 17 e-mail response to Space News inquiries, NASA spokesman Dwayne Brown said a prospective agreement would require that ExoMars lose enough weight to fit aboard the Atlas vehicle with the NASA orbiter.

"It will not be a simple task for NASA's orbiter to carry the large lander ESA has designed," Brown said. "Detailed studies and analyses are required. Also considered will be ... the difficulty of the 2016 opportunity for landing due to orbital mechanics and dust storms."

An Atlas launch would help solve a longstanding ExoMars financing problem at ESA. The mission's current budget of 850 million euros ($1.185 billion) is insufficient to finance the experiment payload and a launch aboard a European Ariane 5 rocket. ESA has said its current ExoMars budget is around 200 million euros short of what's needed to pursue the mission without outside help.

ESA has been negotiating with Russia for a Proton rocket launch, and for the commercial purchase, in Russia, of nuclear heaters to provide electrical power and keep the ExoMars rover instruments warm on the martian surface.

Under the agreement now taking shape with NASA, ESA would use U.S.-built nuclear heaters, known as radioisotope thermoelectric generators.

ESA Director-General Jean-Jacques Dordain, in a June 15 press briefing at the Paris Air Show here, said ExoMars will be unable to carry a key science package — the Humboldt suite of instruments to study martian geophysics — because of financial and weight-limit requirements. He voiced support for a long-term Mars exploration collaboration with NASA, starting with ExoMars.

ESA Science Director David Southwood said he hopes an initial letter of intent can be signed with NASA on an ExoMars collaboration during his June 29-30 meeting with Edward J. Weiler, NASA's associate administrator for science.

NASA's Brown said the meeting might produce the outline of such a letter, but that the two agencies "have not yet discussed an official letter of intent since the accommodation studies and independent reviews are not finished, and a final commitment on a 2016 partnership has not been made." Brown confirmed NASA's interest in making ExoMars "the first installment of a larger joint Mars exploration program between both agencies — a joint Mars Architecture looking at missions in 2016, 2018, leading to a joint Mars Sample Return mission sometime in the decade of the 2020s. These plans are predicated on a successful 2016 architecture."

"This is a courtship," Southwood said. "What we hope to accomplish is something that would be terrific for Europe, and for the United States. For a future mission like Mars Sample Return — even the United States cannot do that alone."

But if NASA and ESA are moving closer on Mars exploration, the two agencies will be pursuing separate missions to investigate dark-energy sources. ESA has included the Euclid dark-energy mission among candidate missions to be evaluated late this year for future funding. Southwood said he has concluded that Euclid cannot be combined with the Joint Dark Energy Mission (JDEM) planned by NASA and the U.S. Department of Energy.

The main problem, he said, is the calendar. Southwood said structuring a trans-Atlantic cooperative mission on dark energy in time to meet ESA's competition deadline has proved impossible given the personnel changes in the U.S. administration since January and the more-complex program management owing to the Department of Energy's co-management of the program.

Jon Morse, NASA's astrophysics director, agreed that integrating ESA as a full partner in the mission would be a challenge that would require high-level approval in Washington and at ESA and might threaten Euclid's place in the ongoing competition among future ESA programs.

"They did not want to jeopardize Euclid's standing in the competition" by starting a long process of ESA-NASA-Department of Energy negotiations, Morse said in a June 17 interview. "The discussions with ESA have been deferred until the next steps [in ESA's future mission-selection process], but this does not preclude a future collaboration."

Morse said NASA's JDEM agreement with the Department of Energy, spelled out in a November 2008 memorandum of understanding, has not changed with the arrival of the administration of U.S. President Barack Obama. The memorandum identifies NASA as overall mission manager, and says: "In consultation with DOE, NASA will investigate the possibility for international in-kind contributions. NASA will be the principal point of contact in negotiation and conclusion of international agreements related to JDEM."


28-06-2009, 01:55
Dopo 18 anni e 9 mesi di vita operativa Ulysses (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ulysses_%28spacecraft%29) è alla fine della sua missione:

La missione ESA/NASA Ulysses si concluderà il 30 giugno prossimo, con lo spegnimento delle antenne di ricezione, portando questo veicolo spaziale per lo studio del Sole ad essere una delle missioni più longeve e più fruttuose della storia, con più di 18 anni e mezzo di vita.

Le comunicazioni finali verranno date da una stazione di terra del network congiunto alle 17:35 CEST fino alle 22:20 CEST, che porteranno la sonda ad uno switch delle comunicazioni radio verso il modo di monitoraggio semplice. In sostanza non saranno pianificati ulteriori contatti con la sonda, che comunque potrà ricevere in linea teorica, fino alla sua fine vita, segnali dalla Terra.

Ulysses è stato il primo veicolo spaziale a studiare i poli solari in modo continuo e dalla posizione privilegiata della sua orbita eclittica polare, che dopo la fuga dalla terra ha usato un gravity assist gioviano per cambiare di quasi 90 gradi il proprio piano orbitale, entrando in un'orbita eliocentrica polare. Durante questi anni sono state confermate diverse teorie e modelli di comportamento del campo magnetico solare, del vento solare e sulla fisica della nostra stella.

Un anno fa Ulysses, avendo diminuito la potenza generata a bordo, aveva rischiato il congelamento delle linee della distribuzione dell'idrazina verso gli ugelli di controllo di assetto, con il pericolo di divenire totalmente incontrollabile. Ciò tuttavia non accadde immediatamente, e gli ingegneri dei centri di controllo riuscirono a riscaldare queste linee ed a evitare congelamenti con un piccolo burn ogni due ore. La missione era stata dunque tenuta attiva anche grazie alla disponibilità nei tempi residui, quindi non allocati, delle antenne del network NASA.

Tuttavia la lontananza recente della sonda dalla Terra ha portato l'operatività a non essere più sostenibile, perchè la diminuzione di bit-rate è aumentata ed inoltre la quantità di dati trasmissibili ha subito una forte diminuzione. Tutto ciò ha portato le agenzie a riflettere sui costi del mantenimento in vita dello spacecraft, che ormai, ampiamente superata la propria vita utile e dopo aver contribuito non poco nella conoscenza del nostro Sole, è stato mandato in una pensione meritata, ancora a spasso nel cosmo.

Fonte (http://www.forumastronautico.it/index.php?topic=11104.0)

29-06-2009, 20:58
Video (http://tinyvid.tv/show/3mqz9hjwk80sd) dedicato al programma Voyager.

PS. Visto che si parla di Voyager.. che (interessantissima) luna è questa?


30-06-2009, 15:08
Tritone :ciapet: Ho vinto qualche cosa?! :fagiano: :sofico:

30-06-2009, 20:30
Oggi finisce la missione di Ulysses:


Tritone :ciapet: Ho vinto qualche cosa?! :fagiano: :sofico:

Puoi rispondere in esclusiva a tutti i post su 2012 e Nibiru :O :D

(Azz.. troppo semplice. La prossima volta posto una cosa tipo



30-06-2009, 20:42
UTC Timestamp: 30-Jun-2009 19:34

Thruster catalyst bed heaters are off.

UTC Timestamp: 30-Jun-2009 18:35

Confirmation of the SIM high voltages have switched off.

UTC Timestamp: 30-Jun-2009 18:23

The last command has been sent to the spacecraft. This should switch the downlink into 64 bits per second engineering only.

UTC Timestamp: 30-Jun-2009 18:09

Confirmation that the primary table has been updated.

UTC Timestamp: 30-Jun-2009 17:58

Confirmation that the DSU (tape recorders) are off.

The commands to turn the SIM high voltages off are being resent.

UTC Timestamp: 30-Jun-2009 17:56

Confirmation that the CONJ is descheduled, so no more fuel bleeding every two hours.

UTC Timestamp: 30-Jun-2009 17:50

Confirmation that the X-wing heaters are on.

UTC Timestamp: 30-Jun-2009 17:39

Confirmation that the first two block commands have been received by the spacecraft.

UTC Timestamp: 30-Jun-2009 17:11

Telemetry shows the high voltage feed to the BAM instrument has turned off.

UTC Timestamp: 30-Jun-2009 16:51

The commands to turn the SIM instrument off, will be resent. It's possible that the spacecraft didn't receive them when the antenna stopped.

UTC Timestamp: 30-Jun-2009 16:13

Telemetry resumed. The loss was when the antenna stopped tracking the spacecraft.

UTC Timestamp: 30-Jun-2009 16:08

Telemetry dropped.

UTC Timestamp: 30-Jun-2009 15:46

Command modulation, on the uplink to the spacecraft, is on.

UTC Timestamp: 30-Jun-2009 15:30

First non critical parameters out of limits. Telemetry processing is proceeding as normal. The signal to noise ratio is 3.4 db.

UTC Timestamp: 30-Jun-2009 15:22

First telemetry received, day 181 15.22.26. The data quality is looking good, 256 bits per second.

UTC Timestamp: 30-Jun-2009 05:42

Live streaming from the Ulysses Mission Support Area starts at 15:20 UTC (17:20 CEST, 11:20 EDT, 08:20 PDT). Available at ESA's channel on Livestream.

In streaming qui (http://ulysses-ops.jpl.esa.int/) (aggiornamenti testuali qui (http://ulysses-ops.jpl.esa.int/ulsfct/ulysses-ops-blog.html)).

30-06-2009, 21:58
(Azz.. troppo semplice. La prossima volta posto una cosa tipo



Titano :O :cool: :Prrr: :ciapet:

La prossima volta non linkare la foto direttamente dal sito perché così è troppo facile asd, all'inizio pensavo fosse una delle prime foto di venere.

30-06-2009, 22:28
Ground station can not find the carrier. Transmitter is off on the spacecraft. Goodbye Ulysses.

UTC Timestamp: 30-Jun-2009 20:10

Telemetry looses lock as the spacecraft switches to use the low gain antennas.

UTC Timestamp: 30-Jun-2009 19:59

Telemetry back in lock at 64 bits per second engineering format. The command counter confirms reception of the final command.

UTC Timestamp: 30-Jun-2009 19:57

Telemetry looses lock as the bit rate switches to 64 bits per second.

UTC Timestamp: 30-Jun-2009 19:47

Switch from receiver one to receiver two.

UTC Timestamp: 30-Jun-2009 19:40

Confirmation of the AOCS (Attitude and Orbit Control Subsystem) changes.

La prossima volta non linkare la foto direttamente dal sito perché così è troppo facile asd, all'inizio pensavo fosse una delle prime foto di venere.

L'ultimo paio poi fine OT: una sonda relativamente famosa e una meno



30-06-2009, 22:40
L'ultimo paio poi fine OT: una sonda relativamente famosa e una meno



Pioneer Venus Probe e Helios Probe :fagiano:

Per tornare IT: RIP Ulysses, ma non lo faranno schiantare da qualche parte o lo lasciano morto che vaga nello spazio?!

30-06-2009, 23:34
Pioneer Venus Probe e Helios Probe :fagiano:

Ok, te la do vinta :D

Per tornare IT: RIP Ulysses, ma non lo faranno schiantare da qualche parte o lo lasciano morto che vaga nello spazio?!

Dato il tipo di traiettoria non c'è niente di vicino su cui farlo schiantare:


Quando hanno visto che prolungare ulteriormente la missione era impossibile* hanno deciso si terminare la missione e (oggi) mandato gli opportuni segnali per spegnere tutto a parte il ricevitore e il "sensore stellare" (star tracker).

* circa un anno fa l'RTG non aveva più energia sufficiente per evitare il congelamento dell'idrazina e dare energia agli strumenti. Sono riusciti a prolungare la missione "emettendone" ogni 2 ore per tenerla in movimento nei tubi, ma dopo un ulteriore anno ormai era finita e con Ulysses in allontanamento dalla terra il trasmettitore in banda-S (il più capace trasmettitore in banda X si è rotto a metà 2008) non riusciva più a trasmettere quantità significative di dati.

30-06-2009, 23:42
Parlando di sonde durevoli ICE/ISEE 3 (http://www.planetary.org/blog/article/00001673/) è ancora funzionante. A parte le voyager penso sia la sonda più vecchia ancora attiva :)

08-07-2009, 20:51
Ufficiale la collaborazione tra NASA ed ESA per le future sonde verso Marte:

Going to Mars Together (http://www.universetoday.com/2009/07/08/going-to-mars-together/#more-34430)

From the "this makes complete sense" department: NASA and ESA have established an initiative to make future explorations of Mars a joint venture. The ESA Director of Science and Robotic Exploration, David Southwood, met with NASA’s Associate Administrator for Science, Ed Weiler at the end of June and created the Mars Exploration Joint Initiative (MEJI) that will provide a framework for the two agencies to define and implement their scientific, programmatic and technological goals at Mars. The initiative includes launch opportunities in 2016, 2018 and 2020, with landers and orbiters conducting astrobiological, geological, geophysical and other high-priority investigations, leading up to a sample return mission in the 2020s.

Both NASA and ESA have been reassessing their Mars exploration programs, and Weiller revealed at a press conference last year (when it was announced that the Mars Science Laboratory would be delayed) that NASA and ESA would seek to work together. But now it is official.

The two space agencies will be working together to plan future missions. A joint architecture review team will be established to assist the agencies in planning the mission portfolios. As plans develop, they will be reviewed by ESA member states for approval and by the US National Academy of Sciences.

08-07-2009, 21:44
Ufficiale la collaborazione tra NASA ed ESA per le future sonde verso Marte:

Beh visto i tempi mi sembra normale come decisione, giusto qualche giorno fa su Discovery Channel hanno tirato fuori il Mars Sample Return (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mars_Sample_Return) programma mandato avanti proprio da NASA e ESa.

09-07-2009, 13:49
Prosegue lo sviluppo di VASIMR:

Ad Astra VX-200 Plasma Engine Demonstrates Superconducting First Stage at Full Power (http://www.onorbit.com/node/1194)


Ad Astra Rocket Company has successfully demonstrated operation of its VX-200 plasma engine first stage at full power and under superconducting conditions in tests conducted today at the company's Houston laboratory. This achievement is a key milestone in the engine's development and the first time a superconducting plasma rocket has been operated at that power level. Today's tests build on the achievements of the VX-200i, the engine's non-superconducting predecessor, which last fall underwent similar tests but under a greatly reduced set of requirements. A major difference between the two is the superconducting magnet, featured in the present system, which provides a ten-fold increase in the magnetic field and enables operation of the engine under conditions consistent with actual space flight. Power trace (black) shows the RF coupled power to the VX-200 first stage.

The VX-200 superconducting magnet, the first of its kind, was delivered to Ad Astra's Houston facility on February 10, 2009 by its manufacturer, Scientific Magnetics of Oxford, U.K. After successful acceptance tests, the superconductor was installed in the engine module, replacing the conventional magnet that had been used in the interim. This interim magnet, although incapable of reaching the strong magnetic fields required

for full rocket performance, enabled the integrated testing of the remaining engine sub-systems while the company awaited delivery of the superconductor. First plasma in full superconducting mode was achieved on June 24, 2009.

The successful first stage tests conducted today are critically important and are prerequisites to operational testing of the second stage of the engine. This activity is expected to commence on July 14, 2009, after the team completes a full analysis of the new data. The second stage is designed to inject up to 170 kW of additional power into the plasma for a total of 200 kW, the engine's total rated power.


The present configuration achieves drastic increases in key rocket performance parameters over previous VX- 200i results, including a 5-fold increase in propellant flow rate and an equivalent increase in the rate of plasma production with a ten-fold increase in the magnetic field, all consistent with the conditions required for space flight.

The VX-200 engine is the first flight-like prototype of the VASIMR(R) propulsion system, a new high-power plasma-based rocket, initially studied by NASA and now being developed privately by Ad Astra. VASIMR(R) engines could enable space operations far more efficiently than today's chemical rockets and ultimately they could also greatly speed up robotic and human transit times for missions to Mars and beyond.


Ad Astra Rocket Company is a privately-owned corporation established January 14, 2005 to commercialize the technology of the VASIMR(R) engine in support of an emerging in-space transportation market. The company has its main laboratory and corporate headquarters at 141 W. Bay Area Boulevard in Webster, Texas, USA. Ad Astra also owns and operates Ad Astra Rocket Company, Costa Rica, a supporting research and development subsidiary in Guanacaste, Costa Rica.

Notare chi è il CEO/fondatore (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Franklin_Chang-Diaz) di Ad Astra :D

09-07-2009, 14:00
Nuovi sviluppi anche per i pannelli solari:

Boeing Team to Develop Revolutionary Spacecraft Power System for DARPA (http://boeing.mediaroom.com/index.php?s=43&item=729)

HUNTINGTON BEACH, Calif., July 1, 2009 -- An industry team led by The Boeing Company [NYSE: BA] has received a contract from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) for work on Phase 2 of the Fast Access Spacecraft Testbed (FAST) program. The $15.5 million cost-plus-fixed-fee contract is currently funded to $13.8 million.

DARPA's FAST program aims to develop a new, ultra-lightweight High Power Generation System (HPGS) that can generate up to 175 kilowatts -- more power than is currently available to the International Space Station. When combined with electric propulsion, FAST will form the foundation for future self-deployed, high-mobility spacecraft to perform ultra-high-power communications, space radar, satellite transfer and servicing missions.

Boeing Phantom Works of Huntington Beach is leading the effort with support from Boeing Network and Space Systems, El Segundo, Calif. The Phase 2 work will include designing, fabricating and integrating test articles, performing a series of component-level evaluations and running two full-scale system tests.

"Our team is pleased to partner with DARPA in developing this powerful new technology," said Tom Kessler, FAST program manager, Boeing Advanced Network and Space Systems. "FAST offers significant cost and performance benefits to our commercial, civil and national security customers, including new high-power applications to provide a cost-effective means for spacecraft to travel to the outer solar system."

During Phase 1 of the program, the Boeing-led team, which includes DR Technologies, Northrop Grumman Astro Aerospace, Texas A&M University, Emcore, Boeing subsidiary Spectrolab Inc., and other key suppliers, developed a preliminary design for an HPGS capable of providing more than 130 watts per kilogram on a system that is less than half the weight and one sixth the size of an existing on-orbit solar power system. The team also defined the test program being conducted in Phase 2, which will verify the performance and operation of the HPGS's solar concentration, power conversion, heat rejection, structure and deployment, and sun pointing and tracking subsystems.

The Boeing team's unique solar concentrator design offers higher performance and greater radiation tolerance than current on-orbit solar power generation systems. Boeing will also be using different approaches to solar cell technology to include capabilities from Emcore and Spectrolab.

The size efficiency of the HPGS enables a new class of compact spacecraft that can self-deploy from low-Earth orbit to reach their final orbit using electric propulsion. This permits the use of smaller, less expensive launch vehicles that can support high-value science missions to the outer solar system without the need for expensive radioisotope power systems.

A unit of The Boeing Company, Boeing Integrated Defense Systems is one of the world's largest space and defense businesses specializing in innovative and capabilities-driven customer solutions, and the world's largest and most versatile manufacturer of military aircraft. Headquartered in St. Louis, Boeing Integrated Defense Systems is a $32 billion business with 70,000 employees worldwide.

09-07-2009, 15:09
Il VASIMR finalmente funzionante!
avranno però i loro bei grattacapi a schermare tutte le apparecchiature di bordo dalle microonde emesse dal motore!:eek:

per chi volesse info:

09-07-2009, 16:27
novità anche dall' ESA:

Europe launches study into manned spacecraft scheme
by Staff Writers
Paris (AFP) July 8, 2009
The European Space Agency (ESA) said it had taken an important first step in a tentative project to build a manned spacecraft that would be launched atop its Ariane 5 rocket.


ESA officials signed a contract in the northern German city of Bremen on Tuesday with space company EADS Astrium to conduct a feasibility study into the idea, it said in a press release.

Europe does not have its own manned spaceflight capability, and instead depends on the US shuttle and Russia's Soyuz rocket to take its astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS).

Ministers of ESA countries agreed last November to explore ways of developing an "advanced re-entry vehicle" (ARV) that would be based on an unmanned freighter that made a successful maiden flight to the ISS last year.

Under its present design, the freighter is jettisoned and destroyed by friction with the atmosphere after its mission.

The ARV project would need to modify the vehicle so that it becomes a cargo ship that can return to Earth. In a second phase, the craft would be transformed into a crewship.

The contract is "a clear sign of Europe's commitment to play an even greater role in the global human spaceflight and exploration undertakings," said Simonetta Di Pippo, ESA's director of human spaceflight.

"We are building on our technological basis and achievements to position Europe in a more important role in this strategic field, leveraging on our industrial base and nurturing its highly skilled workforce. Today's signature is the first step of a journey that will be very rewarding for Europe."

If the political green light is given, and all goes well technically, the first return-to-Earth cargo ship could make its first flight around the middle of the next decade, and a manned version possibly a decade later, say experts.

Observers caution that the feasibility report will be scrutinised closely, given the high costs of developing a manned spacecraft and concerns that the project could drain funds away from scientific research and Earth observation, which are ESA's mainstays.


09-07-2009, 18:53
Beh visto i tempi mi sembra normale come decisione, giusto qualche giorno fa su Discovery Channel hanno tirato fuori il Mars Sample Return (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mars_Sample_Return) programma mandato avanti proprio da NASA e ESa.

Spero che Mars Sample Return prima o poi si concretizzi: le prime proposte sono degli anni 70 :D

Riguardo alle missioni in collaborazione mi auguro che si segua la consuetudine del JPL (dati disponibili "subito") e non quella dell'ESA (3 foto in croce e il resto dopo x mesi).

12-07-2009, 12:24
Anche se ormai non c'é più da sperare metto a conoscenza del progetto: Terrestrial Planet Finder :D

The Terrestrial Planet Finder (TPF) is a proposed project by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration of the United States for a telescope system which is intended to detect extrasolar terrestrial planets.

In May 2002, NASA chose two TPF mission architecture concepts for further study and technology development. Each would use a different means to achieve the same goal—to block the light from a parent star in order to see its much smaller, dimmer planets. That technology challenge has been likened to finding a firefly near the beam of a distant searchlight. Additional goals of the mission would include characterizing the surfaces and atmospheres of newfound planets, and looking for the chemical signatures of life. In May 2004, both architectures were approved. Congressional spending limits under House Resolution 20 passed on January 31, 2007, by the United States House of Representatives and February 14 by the U.S. Senate have postponed the program indefinitely.

The two planned architectures were:

* Infrared astronomical interferometer (TPF-I): Multiple small telescopes on a fixed structure or on separated spacecraft floating in precision formation would simulate a much larger, very powerful telescope. The interferometer would use a technique called nulling to reduce the starlight by a factor of one million, thus enabling the detection of the very dim infrared emission from the planets.
* Visible Light Coronagraph (TPF-C): A large optical telescope, with a mirror three to four times bigger and at least 10 times more precise than the Hubble Space Telescope, would collect starlight and the very dim reflected light from the planets. The telescope would have special optics to reduce the starlight by a factor of one billion, thus enabling astronomers to detect the faint planets.

NASA and Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) were to issue calls for proposals seeking input on the development and demonstration of technologies to implement the two architectures, and on scientific research relevant to planet finding. Launch of TPF-C had been anticipated to occur around 2014, and TPF-I possibly by 2020.

According to NASA's 2007 budget documentation, released on February 6, 2006, the project was deferred indefinitely. In June 2006, a House of Representatives subcommittee voted to provide funding for the TPF along with the long-sought mission to Europa, a moon of Jupiter that might harbor extraterrestrial life. However, as of June 2008, actual funding has not materialized, and TPF remains without a launch date.

The European Space Agency, ESA, is considering a similar mission, called Darwin.

Link (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Terrestrial_Planet_Finder)

12-07-2009, 14:38
Per la serie sonde robuste :D:


Galileo's atmospheric entry probe

The 339 kilogram atmospheric probe, built by Hughes Aircraft Company at its El Segundo, California plant, measured about 1.3 meters across. Inside the heat shield, the scientific instruments were protected from ferocious heat during entry. The probe had to withstand extreme heat and pressure on its high speed journey at 47.8 km/s.

The probe was released from the main spacecraft in July 1995, five months before reaching Jupiter, and entered Jupiter's atmosphere with no braking beforehand. It was slowed from the probe's arrival speed of about 47 kilometers per second to subsonic speed in less than 2 minutes.

This was by far the most difficult atmospheric entry ever attempted; the probe had to withstand 230 g's [25] and the probe's 152 kg heat shield made up almost half of the probe's total mass, and lost 80 kg during the entry. [26] [27] NASA built a special laboratory, the Giant Planet Facility to simulate the heat load, which was similar to that of an ICBM-style straight-down reentry through a thermonuclear fireball.[28] [29] It then deployed its 2.5-meter (8 ft) parachute, and dropped its heat shield.

12-07-2009, 14:42
Parlando invece di sonde (molto) fredde l'High Frequency Instrument di Planck ha raggiunto la sua temperatura operativa di 0.1 K:

Cooling Planck (http://www.onorbit.com/node/1209)

The extremely low operational temperature of just a tenth of a degree above absolute zero (0.1 K) has been reached on the detectors of Planck's High Frequency Instrument (HFI). This makes the HFI detectors the coldest known objects in outer space. The achievement, seven weeks after launch, marks a key milestone for the Planck mission. The spacecraft's active cooling system has now reached its final operational conditions and the two instruments onboard Planck (HFI and the Low Frequency Instrument, LFI) are now both at their cryogenic operational temperatures.

The design of the Planck spacecraft allows it to cool down passively to about 45 K (-228 °C) by radiating heat towards the cold space environment. However, to reach the required operational temperatures for the two instruments (20K for LFI and down to 0.1 K for HFI) Planck is equipped with a sophisticated active cooling system. This system comprises three different coolers that act on different stages of the two Planck instruments, respectively down to 20K, 4K and 0.1K above absolute zero.

The passive cool down of the spacecraft in the space environment started immediately after launch on 14 May. The two coldest coolers (0.1K dilution cooler and 4K Joules-Thompson cooler) were switched on very shortly after launch, but at a low level. This was done to allow the gas that these stages use for cooling to flow through the system's pipes, to prevent any potential clogging of these pipes that might be caused by the rapid passive cool-down.


Two days after launch the coldest of the spacecraft's three V-grooves - panels that isolate thermally the payload from the hot spacecraft and help to cool the spacecraft by passively radiating excess heat - was already at 75 K. However, the Focal Plane Units (FPUs) of the HFI and LFI as well as the telescope were actively kept at a higher temperature of about 170 K (-103 °C) for two weeks, using dedicated heaters. This was to prevent any contamination, from the spacecraft that is outgassing early in the mission, to freeze onto the surface of these elements.

On 1 June the anti-contamination heaters were switched off and the focal plane and telescope were allowed to resume the passive cool down. Three days later, on 4 June, when the LFI FPU had passively cooled to 100K, the sorption cooler (20 K stage) was switched on. The sorption cooler is responsible for actively cooling the LFI Focal Plane Unit to its operational temperature of 20K and pre-cools the HFI Focal Plane Unit to 18K. Its coldest operational level was reached after nine days, on 13 June, with a temperature of ~17.5K.

As the next steps in activating the cooling system, the remaining two coolers (4K and 0.1K coolers), which had been switched on at a low level shortly after launch, were set to full power one after the other on 28 June. With all coolers of the active cooling chain in operation, the detectors in the HFI Focal Plane Unit finally reached the 0.1K level on 3 July.

Key dates of cooling system commissioning

14 May 2009 - Launch; start of passive cooling 4K and 0.1 K coolers ON at low level
16 May 2009 - FPUs and telescope kept at 170 K using heaters V-groove at 75 K
01 June 2009 - Heaters switched OFF: FPUs and telescope allowed to cool further
04 June 2009 - LFI FPU below 100 K 20K cooler is turned ON
13 June 2009 - LFI FPU at 20K, HFI FPU at ~17.5 K V-groove at 46 K
28 June 2009 - 4 K stage ON at full power 0.1 K stage ON at full power
03 July 2009 - HFI FPU at 0.1 K

For the two instruments HFI and LFI, the next and last phase of their commissioning before the start of nominal science operations is the Calibration and Performance Verification (CPV) phase. This phase will now last until mid August, during which they will carry out specific activities targeted to calibrate both the HFI and LFI. Upon completion of the CPV phase, Planck will start its scientific mission, surveying the whole sky twice over within about one year.

Editor's notes: The active coolers form part of the two sophisticated instruments onboard Planck, which have been built and delivered to ESA by two large consortia of scientific institutes: the LFI Consortium and the HFI Consortium. See the corresponding links in the right-hand menu for the lists of consortia member institutes and organizations.

The three state-of-the-art coolers of Planck's active cooling system were provided by: the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (Pasadena, California, US), a member of the LFI and HFI Consortia, built the 20 K cooler; the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory (Didcot, UK), a member of the HFI Consortium, & Astrium UK, built the 4K cooler; and the 0.1K cooler was built in collaboration by the Institut Néel (Grenoble), the Institut d'Astrophysique Spatiale (Orsay, FR), both members of the HFI Consortium, and DTA Air Liquide (Grenoble).

13-07-2009, 10:28
Il Corriere spaccia Amstrong e Collins come morti quando invece sono vivissimi:

Corriere: Neil Armstrong e Michael Collins dell'Apollo 11 sono morti (http://attivissimo.blogspot.com/2009/07/corriere-morti-neil-armstrong-e-michael.html)

(ma da che fonti partono per scrivere queste notizie?)

13-07-2009, 13:26
Il Corriere spaccia Amstrong e Collins come morti quando invece sono vivissimi:

Corriere: Neil Armstrong e Michael Collins dell'Apollo 11 sono morti (http://attivissimo.blogspot.com/2009/07/corriere-morti-neil-armstrong-e-michael.html)

(ma da che fonti partono per scrivere queste notizie?)

per fortuna c'è sempre Paolo Attivissimo nella costante caccia a castronerie varie (e alla dimostrazione del fatto che son bufale) :D

14-07-2009, 18:08
Il "grande fratello marziano", dopo 105 giorni, è terminato:



Vi è mai passato per la testa che forse DAVVERO anche il GF "terrestre" è seguito con interesse da psicologi di NASA e ESA per capire i meccanismi che si innescano in un gruppo di giovani costretti a convivere per 3 mesi in uno spazio chiuso comune?

14-07-2009, 19:55
Il nuovo guardiano (http://www.flickr.com/photos/jurvetson/2948824154/in/set-72157608597030651/) assunto da SpaceX mi sembra di conoscerlo :D :


16-07-2009, 10:10
Il giornale: Allunaggio: 1969-2009 Un’impresa spettacolare che sembra quasi finta... (http://www.ilgiornale.it/a.pic1?ID=366905) :muro: :muro: :muro:

Riporto il commento (http://attivissimo.blogspot.com/2009/07/la-fiera-della-fantascemenza.html) di Attivissimo che risponde alle solite domande poste nell'articolo:

"Prove? Più che altro dubbi, a partire dal fatto che risulta davvero difficile credere che la tecnologia dell’epoca - senza computer o quasi, e con tute da astronauti che sembrano uscite da un B-movie degli anni ’50 - potesse depositarci delicatamente sulla superficie lunare (e riportarci a casa indenni, soprattutto)" scrive il buon Mascheroni. Che forse non si rende conto che la tecnologia dell'epoca ci diede il Concorde, un aereo di linea supersonico. Sarà stato fatto in studio anche quello?

"Domande di rito: perché nelle foto e nei filmati della missione Apollo 11 non si vedono le stelle che, in mancanza di atmosfera, dovrebbero essere luminosissime?"

Perché è così che dev'essere. La Luna è illuminata a giorno dal Sole. Se regolo la fotocamera per esporre correttamente la superficie della Luna, le stelle sono troppo fioche. Tant'è vero che le stelle mancano anche nello foto fatte nello spazio dal nostro Umberto Guidoni. False anche quelle, oppure sarebbe il caso di studiare le basi della fotografia prima di ripetere a pappagallo certe fregnacce?

"Perché non ci sono crateri sotto il Lem nonostante il getto del motore a propulsione?"

Perché il LM si è posato su una distesa di roccia. Dura quasi quanto la zucca dei lunacomplottisti.

"Perché in molte immagini gli astronauti proiettano ombre e sono illuminati in un modo inspiegabile rispetto alla sola fonte di luce possibile sulla luna, cioè il sole?"

Perché sulla Luna c'è un'altra fonte di luce: la Luna stessa, che riflette la luce del Sole, illumina gli astronauti e schiarisce le ombre. C'è un corso CEPU di fotografia da regalare a chi scrive certe idiozie?

"Perché Armstrong è fotografato da Aldrin che si vede riflesso nel suo casco senza però avere in mano la macchina fotografica?"

Non diciamo scemenze, per favore. Innanzi tutto, la foto non ritrae Armstrong, ma Aldrin. C'è pure scritto il nome sulla tuta, caro Mascheroni. E il suo compagno ha eccome in mano la macchina fotografica. Basta guardare gli originali ad alta risoluzione invece delle cacchine sbiadite pubblicate dai lunacomplottisti.

"A conferma dei dubbi dei cospiratori, la Nasa due anni fa ha dichiarato di aver perso i filmati originali dello sbarco. Che forse però salteranno fuori per questo anniversario."

Per l'ennesima volta, no. La NASA non ha perso i "filmati originali". Ha perso una copia di alta qualità della diretta TV, ma ha quella in qualità normale. E le riprese filmate su pellicola 16mm a colori dello sbarco sono pubblicamente disponibili. Ne ho una copia persino io, grazie anche alla colletta dei lettori, e l'ho mostrata qui.

"Alla fine, tanti dubbi e una sola certezza. Che la celebre frase «un piccolo passo per me, un grande balzo per l’umanità» - al netto di qualsiasi prova scientifica così come di qualsiasi teoria complottista - non può che essere uscita dalla penna di un mediocre sceneggiatore. Hollywoodiano."

Alla fine, pochi dubbi e una sola certezza. Che un articolo del genere non può che essere uscito dalla penna di un... va be', la frase la lascio completare a voi.

16-07-2009, 10:13
Bolden and Garver Confirmed by Senate (http://www.nasawatch.com/archives/2009/07/cnn_reporter_cl.html)

Keith's note: Sources report that the Senate just confirmed Charles Bolden and Lori Garver by unanimous consent. The request was made on the Senate floor by Sen. Nelson.

@SenBillNelson "Charlie Bolden just confirmed by Senate as nation’s new space czar. He’s perfect to keep America leading in space, science and technology ... I’ve known Charlie Bolden the better part of a quarter century, since he was my pilot on the space shuttle in 1986 ... Naval academy grad, Marine test pilot, astronaut, general – Charlie will bring back the magic from a time when we rode rockets to the moon"

Senate confirms Bolden as NASA chief, Orlando Sentinel

"The U.S. Senate unanimously agreed Wednesday that ex-astronaut Charlie Bolden should become the next chief of NASA, clearing the way for Bolden to take control during what could be one of the toughest tenures in the agency’s half-century history."

Sen. Hutchison Statement on Senate Confirmation of NASA Nominees

"Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas), Ranking Member on the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, today said she was pleased the Senate approved Charles Bolden to be the next NASA Administrator."

Challenger Center congratulates Charles Bolden as NASA Administrator, Lori Garver as Deputy Administrator - an Ideally Qualified Team

"Bolden and Garver are exceptional role models, and extremely talented and accomplished space professionals. They are ideally qualified, both individually and as a team, to lead NASA at this critical time in the agency's history," said William Readdy, Chair of the Board, Challenger Center."

Commercial Spaceflight Federation Congratulates Incoming NASA Leaders Charles Bolden and Lori Garver

Bolden and Garver Confirmed by U.S. Senate, NASA

National Space Society Applauds the U.S. Senate Confirmation of Charles Bolden and Lori Garver to lead NASA


17-07-2009, 01:07

Il Senato degli Stati Uniti ha confermato l'ex astronauta Charles Bolden come nuovo direttore della Nasa. Bolden, 62 anni, e' il primo afro-americano alla guida dell'agenzia spaziale statunitense. Il voto che lo ha eletto all'unanimita' e' arrivato poco dopo il decollo dello shuttle Endeavour che aggancera' la stazione spaziale internazionale, dopo cinque tentativi di lancio falliti durante le ultime settimane. La sua nomina coincide anche con il quarantesimo anniversario dell'allunaggio dell'Apollo 11, avvenuto il 20 luglio 1969. Bolden, dodicesimo direttore della Nasa dalla sua creazione nel 1958, succede all'ingegnere e scienziato Michael Griffin. Lori Garver, 48 anni, consulente per la politica spaziale del presidente Obama, e' stata nominata vicedirettore dell'agenzia spaziale. E' al secondo incarico alla Nasa, dopo essere stata socia dal 1998 al 2001. Bolden si e' laureato nel 1979 alla Us Naval Test Pilot School e l'anno successivo e' stato selezionato come astronauta dalla Nasa. E' stato il comandante di due delle quattro missioni spaziali a cui ha partecipato ed e' stato membro dell'ufficio astronauti della Nasa per 14 anni. Come pilota da caccia nei marines, Bolden ha partecipato anche alla guerra del Vietnam. E' stato chiamato dall'agenzia spaziale per "fare spazio a nuove conquiste della scienza, continuare la ricerca aeronautica all'avanguardia, sostenere l'innovazione e stimolare i giovani a crearsi una carriera nel campo dell'aeronautica". La sua nomina e' arrivata proprio mentre la Casa Bianca sta esaminando il controverso programma spaziale Constellation, lanciato da George W. Bush nel 2004, che prevedeva il ritorno dell'uomo sulla Luna e l'atterraggio su Marte entro il 2020.


18-07-2009, 09:52

LARGE--> http://www.nasa.gov/images/content/369440main_lroc_apollo11_lrg.jpg


l'orbita non è ancora stabile, quindi ha quota variabile, percio' foto di siti diversi hanno risoluzioni diverse.

18-07-2009, 10:20
Il VASIMR finalmente funzionante!
avranno però i loro bei grattacapi a schermare tutte le apparecchiature di bordo dalle microonde emesse dal motore!:eek:

per chi volesse info:

sarebbe praticamente un motore elettromagnetico a flusso di plasma ? una cosa tipo Starblazer ? :D

20-07-2009, 12:16

Possible New Impact on Jupiter (http://www.universetoday.com/2009/07/19/possible-new-impact-on-jupiter/)

20-07-2009, 13:36
sarebbe praticamente un motore elettromagnetico a flusso di plasma ? una cosa tipo Starblazer ? :D

E' in pratica un innovativo motore a ioni.
Utilizza le microonde per ionizzare il gas e accelerarlo con un campo magnetico generato con un magnete a superconduzione.

dalla pagina di wikipedia:
The Variable Specific Impulse Magnetoplasma Rocket, sometimes referred to as Electro-thermal Plasma Thruster, uses radio waves to ionize and to heat propellant and magnetic fields to accelerate the resulting plasma to generate thrust

I vantaggi di questo tipo di motore a ioni sono la potenza massima e la capacità di funzionare sia ad alto sia a basso impulso

dalla pagina di wikipedia:
Current VASIMR designs should be capable of producing specific impulses ranging from 3,000 to 30,000 seconds (jet velocities 30 to 300 km/s). The low end of this range is comparable to some existing ion thruster designs. By adjusting the manner of plasma production and plasma heating, a VASIMR can control the specific impulse and thrust. VASIMR is also capable of processing much higher power levels (megawatts) than existing ion thruster electric propulsion designs. Therefore, it can provide orders of magnitude higher thrust, provided a suitable power source.

Ora il problema diventa trovare abbastanza energia elettrica (anche nell'ordine dei MW). Finchè si è vicini al sole (fino all'orbita di Marte diciamo) si possono usare pannelli solari, ma oltre? RTG?

20-07-2009, 13:48
Ora il problema diventa trovare abbastanza energia elettrica (anche nell'ordine dei MW). Finchè si è vicini al sole (fino all'orbita di Marte diciamo) si possono usare pannelli solari, ma oltre? RTG?

Gli RTG sono troppo poco efficienti. L'unica soluzione realistica in quei casi è un qualche tipo di reattore nucleare.

20-07-2009, 14:30
Gli RTG sono troppo poco efficienti. L'unica soluzione realistica in quei casi è un qualche tipo di reattore nucleare.

Infatti, specialmente in ottica di utilizzo in missioni con equipaggio..l'energia per la spinta di ritorno da dove la si tira fuori?? :D

20-07-2009, 20:08
Grazie alla funzione Moon di Google Earth, potrai:

* Fare un tour dei siti di allunaggio, con il commento degli astronauti della missione Apollo
* Visualizzare modelli in 3D dei veicoli spaziali
* Osservare da vicino fotografie a 360 gradi e vedere perfino le impronte lasciate dagli astronauti
* Vedere rari filmati televisivi sulle missioni Apollo

Bello :D

22-07-2009, 17:42
Mammoth Telescope to Be Built in Hawaii (http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2009/07/thirtymetertelescope/)

Hawaii beat out Chile to become the site of the Thirty-Meter Telescope, which is scheduled to be completed in 2018.

The giant telescope will have a single primary mirror that measures 30 meters across and is made up of 492 segments, giving it nine times more collecting surface than the the biggest telescopes on Earth today.

The Thirty-Meter Telescope will surpass even the Hubble Space Telescope in some ways, giving scientists a new view of some of the oldest stars and galaxies in the universe, as well as planets orbiting nearby stars.

Mauna Kea in Hawaii, the site of the Keck and Subaru telescopes, was among five candidate sites selected based on a global satellite assessment of atmosphere and climate variables. After further studies, Hawaii and Cerro Amazones in Chile rose to the top of the list.

“In the final analysis, the board selected Mauna Kea as the site for TMT,” Edward Stone, Caltech physicist and vice chairman of the TMT board, said in a press release Tuesday. “The atmospheric conditions, low average temperatures, and very low humidity will open an exciting new discovery space using adaptive optics and infrared observations.”

The project still needs to be approved by the the state and $100 million still needs to be raised for construction. The rest of the $300 million estimated cost will come from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation. The telescope project is the joint venture of Caltech, the University of California and a group of Canadian Universities called ACURA.

“We are excited about the prospect of being the first of the next generation of extremely large telescopes,” said Professor Ray Carlberg, the Canadian Large Optical Telescope project director and a TMT board member.

Other giant telescope projects include the Giant Magellan Telescope meters and the 42-meter European Extremely Large Telescope.


24-07-2009, 16:44

Ad Astra: "This image shows our achievement of full-power full-field for the 1st stage of VASIMR. In addition, here are some recent video posts documenting this achievement with our new superconducting magnet. The maximum magnetic field within the core of VASIMR is around 2 Tesla, about the same as most MRI machines."

Video: Ad Astra VASIMR Full-Power, Full-Field Firing (http://www.onorbit.com/node/1276)

25-07-2009, 16:29
Gli RTG sono troppo poco efficienti. L'unica soluzione realistica in quei casi è un qualche tipo di reattore nucleare.

E inoltre, se non ricordo male, funzionano grazie al Plutonio, residuo della costruzione di armi nucleari. Se davvero in futuro dovessimo mettere al bando questo tipo di armi, probabilmente non avremmo piu' disponibilita' di Plutonio tali da costruire un RTG.

26-07-2009, 08:42
Hubble "reloaded" fotografa la nuova cicatrice su giove:

26-07-2009, 20:24
E inoltre, se non ricordo male, funzionano grazie al Plutonio, residuo della costruzione di armi nucleari. Se davvero in futuro dovessimo mettere al bando questo tipo di armi, probabilmente non avremmo piu' disponibilita' di Plutonio tali da costruire un RTG.

Per le armi nucleari di usa il Plutonio 239, per gli RTG il Plutonio 238.

Riguardo alla sua produzione e se questa sia legata a quella del 239 non ne ho idea :D

27-07-2009, 08:15
Per le armi nucleari di usa il Plutonio 239, per gli RTG il Plutonio 238.

Riguardo alla sua produzione e se questa sia legata a quella del 239 non ne ho idea :D
Dovrebbe essere possibile produrlo nelle centrali nucleari.

qui comunque si può vedere che continuano lo sviluppo di RTG al fine di aumentarne l'efficienza (il documento non è recentissimo):

27-07-2009, 13:14
Se non ricordo male dovrebbero esser pronti per testare un generatore basato su Stirling in una prossima missione.

Procedono lentamente perché i progettisti di sonde hanno un certa avversione per le parti in movimento :D

28-07-2009, 01:26
Europe's Mars rover slips to 2018 (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/8168954.stm)

The ExoMars vehicle is intended to search the Red Planet for signs of past or present life.

The delay is the third for the mission originally planned to launch in 2011.

While the switch will disappoint many people, officials say the change will open up a greatly expanded programme of exploration at the Red Planet.

The European Space Agency (Esa) will now join forces at Mars with the US space agency (Nasa). The two organisations believe they can achieve far more by combining their expertise and budgets.

The basis for this approach was agreed at bilateral discussions in Plymouth, UK, last month.

Since then, scientists and engineers on both sides of the Atlantic have been working up the basic architecture for a series of missions in 2016, 2018 and 2020 (launch opportunities to Mars come up roughly every two years).

Mass issues

The plan, or baseline, for this programme - including its implications for ExoMars - is now starting to emerge.

It would see the agencies launch a European orbiter to the Red Planet in 2016. Its main aim would be to track down the sources of methane recently detected at Mars. The presence of methane is intriguing because its likely origin is either present-day life or geological activity.

Confirmation of either would be a major discovery.

The American Atlas rocket used for this mission would also have capacity to carry sufficient mass to put some sort of static lander on the surface. The European orbiter would act as its data relay to Earth.

The 2018 launch opportunity would be taken by ExoMars, again launching on a US Atlas rocket. This mission window is actually one of the most favourable in terms of planetary alignment for many years, and that makes it possible to send a very heavy surface mission.

The proposal on the table currently is that ExoMars should be joined by a slightly smaller rover in the class of the US Spirit and Opportunity vehicles that are on the surface today.

ExoMars and its smaller cousin could be targeted at the Methane sources identified by the 2016 orbiter.

The 2020 launch opportunity would probably then be taken by a network of instrumented static landers.

Technological goals

Both Esa and Nasa will have tight finances going forward and will have to constrain their ambitions accordingly.

European ministers pledged sufficient monies at their major triennial gathering last year to take the budget for ExoMars to 850m euros. Esa officials believe the proposals they are formulating with Nasa can broadly match the cost requirements and the technological goals of both parties.

For Europe, the primary goals are to land, to rove and to drill on Mars. However, under the plan outlined above, these objectives could not all be achieved during the ExoMars opportunity.

In 2018, it is likely the entry, descent and landing (EDL) of Europe's rover would be handled by the Americans, using the "skycrane" system they have designed for their big 2013 rover known as Curiosity.

If Europe really does want to do EDL, the option is open for it to take responsibility for the 2016 surface package of instruments.

Esa's director-general, Jean-Jacques Dordain, has promised to report to his member states in the autumn with firm proposals for a re-scoped Mars exploration programme.

Industrial jigsaw

Two months of intensive discussions will now take place in those member states, and in European industry which will be responsible for building the spacecraft systems.

If financial contributions to the mission from Esa member states were to change substantially, the space agency might have to re-visit the balance of industrial work allocated to different countries through the process of "juste retour".

Esa's rules of juste retour ensure the work which returns to a member state reflects the financial contribution it makes to a programme.

One senior European space executive called at the recent Paris air show for the whole ExoMars industrial programme to be re-opened to competition.

The ExoMars rover was originally conceived as a small technology demonstration mission.

It was approved in 2008 and should have been launched in 2011. Then, as ambitions grew and the design was beefed up, the launch was put back.

At first, it was shifted to 2013. Last year, a decision was taken to move it even further back, to 2016, because of budget concerns.

Non è ancora confermato comunque.

29-07-2009, 21:41
Nuova sezione/sito del JPL: Asteroid Watch (http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/asteroidwatch/)

PASADENA, Calif. -- NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory is introducing a new Web site that will provide a centralized resource for information on near-Earth objects - those asteroids and comets that can approach Earth. The "Asteroid Watch" site also contains links for the interested public to sign up for NASA's new asteroid widget and Twitter account.

"Most people have a fascination with near-Earth objects," said Don Yeomans, manager of NASA's Near-Earth Object Program Office at JPL. "And I have to agree with them. I have studied them for over three decades and I find them to be scientifically fascinating, and a few are potentially hazardous to Earth. The goal of our Web site is to provide the public with the most up-to-date and accurate information on these intriguing objects."

The new Asteroid Watch site is online at http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/asteroidwatch .

It provides information on NASA's missions to study comets, asteroids and near-Earth objects, and also provides the basic facts and the very latest in science and research on these objects. News about near-Earth object discoveries and Earth flybys will be available and made accessible on the site via a downloadable widget and RSS feed. And for those who want to learn about their space rocks on the go, a Twitter feed is offered. "Asteroid Watch" also contains a link to JPL's more technical Near-Earth Objects Web site, where many scientists and researchers studying near-Earth objects go for information.

"This innovative new Web application gives the public an unprecedented look at what's going on in near-Earth space," said Lindley Johnson, program executive for the Near-Earth Objects Observation program at NASA Headquarters in Washington.

NASA supports surveys that detect and track asteroids and comets passing close to Earth. The Near-Earth Object Observation Program, commonly called "Spaceguard," also plots the orbits of these objects to determine if any could be potentially hazardous to our planet.

JPL is a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena.

02-08-2009, 15:26
Augustine Committee Declares a New National Purpose in Space “Worthy of A Great Nation”
Posted by william.watson

The Space Frontier Foundation today hailed the “Review of U.S. Human Space Flight Plans Committee,” also known as the “Augustine Committee,” for declaring a new overarching purpose for America’s national space enterprise:

“the underlying reason why we do human spaceflight is the extension of human civilization beyond Earth“

The Committee’s public hearing in Cocoa Beach Thursday, July 30th included a presentation of recommendations from its “Exploration Beyond LEO” subgroup, which culminated with the above conclusion.

“Like most pro-space citizens, we have been watching hopefully the Augustine Committee’s work, and yesterday was a huge breakthrough,” said Foundation Chairman, Bob Werb. “These experts ‘get it.’ They understand that when you cut away all of the rhetoric, the only sustainable and compelling motivation for sending humans into space is to expand human civilization permanently into the solar system.”

For an organization of people dedicated to opening the space frontier to human settlement, this is music to our ears. The extension of human civilization beyond Earth is synonymous with settlement. There is much else in these recommendations that we endorse, but this overwhelms all else by effectively embracing our “Frontier Enabling Test.”

“The extension of human civilization beyond Earth gives meaning and context to everything we do in space,” continued Werb. “The reason for humans to go is not to visit, not to buy the t-shirt and come home, but to enable others to follow, to open the frontier to thousands of entrepreneurs, engineers, poets, artists, teachers and anyone else who wants to take up the challenge of creating settlements beyond Earth where free peoples can live, work and play.”

La committee della NASA sembra avere idee chiare sull'obiettivo ultimo dell' esplorazione spaziale. :D

02-08-2009, 18:57
La committee della NASA sembra avere idee chiare sull'obiettivo ultimo dell' esplorazione spaziale. :D
daje, che forse riusciamo a posare la prima pietra della base lunare proprio il 16 luglio 2019!! :D

06-08-2009, 20:24
An "amateur" discovers moons in old Voyager images (http://www.planetary.org/blog/article/00002035/)

06-08-2009, 22:20


04-09-2009, 18:44

XCOR Aerospace: Significant Milestones in the Lynx 5K18 Rocket Engine Test Program (Videos) (http://www.onorbit.com/node/1456)

September 02, 2009, Mojave, CA: XCOR Aerospace announced today that it has reached several significant milestones in the 5K18 rocket engine test program. This is the engine that powers XCOR's Lynx suborbital spacecraft. The engine can be seen running in several newly released videos including a video demonstrating the very stable "shock diamond" pattern visible in the engine's supersonic exhaust.

"Like all of our rocket engines, this engine has demonstrated the ability to be stopped and re-started using our safe and reliable spark torch ignition system", said XCOR CEO Jeff Greason. "The basic cooling design has also been completed and the engine is able to run continuously at thermal equilibrium. With those milestones reached, the 5K18 test program is now moving forward into a second phase of tuning and optimization, in which we will also greatly increase our cumulative run time."

Data and test results from the Lynx engine program are being used by XCOR and certain customers to develop a deeper understanding of operationally responsive spacelift procedures. These procedures can then be applied to future rocket powered vehicles. XCOR and its customers now have important information that will aid in the development of the unique requirements of operationally responsive high performance manned and unmanned rocket systems.

Testing of the 5K18 rocket engine is continuing in parallel with several other key Lynx system components, including wind tunnel testing at AFRL facilities and development of the Lynx pressure cabin at XCOR's main facilities in Mojave, CA.

"These additional firings and milestones continue to demonstrate XCOR's ability to deliver safe and truly innovative rocket propulsion technology that will one day revolutionize space access by enhancing readiness levels for flight from years to days or even hours, and driving down costs and increasing safety by orders of magnitude", said XCOR Chief Operating Officer, Andrew Nelson.

XCOR Aerospace is a California corporation located in Mojave, California. The company is in the business of developing and producing safe, reliable and reusable rocket powered vehicles, propulsion systems, advanced non-flammable composites and other enabling technologies for responsive private space flight, scientific missions, upper atmospheric research, and small satellite launch to low earth orbit. Its web address is: www.xcor.com. Advanced ticket sales have already commenced at www.rocketshiptours.com.

08-09-2009, 18:18
News Story on Neil Armstrong Slips on an Onion (http://www.universetoday.com/2009/09/05/news-story-on-neil-armstrong-slips-on-an-onion/)

Two newspapers in Bangladesh have issued a retraction after publishing an article taken from the popular but satirical website "The Onion" which claimed Neil Armstrong had been convinced by conspiracy theorists that the Moon landings were faked. The Daily Manab Zamin said Armstrong had shocked a news conference by saying he now knew it had been an "elaborate hoax." The New Nation then picked up the story, and only later did they realize the Onion was not a genuine news site.

Both have now apologized to their readers for not checking the story. "We thought it was true so we printed it without checking," associate editor Hasanuzzuman Khan told the AFP news agency.

"We didn't know the Onion was not a real news site."

The article said Armstrong had told a news conference he had been "forced to reconsider every single detail of the monumental journey after watching a few persuasive YouTube videos and reading several blog posts" by a conspiracy theorist.

Of course, like everything else on The Onion, the story was completely made up.

The two newspaper articles drew a lot of attention in Bangladesh, and was one of the top articles getting hits on the papers' websites.


09-09-2009, 23:07
chiedo qua perchè i due thread relativi son spariti :eek: ma sono riusciti a far uscire dalle sabbie mobili Spiriti, alla fine ?

10-09-2009, 18:34
Intanto lo posto qui, poi appena posso apro un thread apposito sul programma HTV.

Japan's new rocket launches cargo freighter into orbit


Japan successfully launched its most ambitious space mission today, a flight that will not only usher in a new era for the country's domestic space program but also inaugurate an important new capability for the International Space Station. Liftoff of the maiden HTV cargo ship aboard the new H-2B rocket occurred as scheduled at 1:01 p.m. EDT (1701 GMT).


10-09-2009, 23:32
Intanto lo posto qui, poi appena posso apro un thread apposito sul programma HTV.

Japan's new rocket launches cargo freighter into orbit


Japan successfully launched its most ambitious space mission today, a flight that will not only usher in a new era for the country's domestic space program but also inaugurate an important new capability for the International Space Station. Liftoff of the maiden HTV cargo ship aboard the new H-2B rocket occurred as scheduled at 1:01 p.m. EDT (1701 GMT).


Lo hanno lanciato già? fichissimo, è il primo viaggio per quel lanciatore (che è una versione modificata di uno precedente) ed è già un successo.
Che capacità di carico ha il vettore H-2B e come si confronta con gli altri lanciatori commerciali e con la capacità di carico dello shuttle?

11-09-2009, 08:18
Lo hanno lanciato già? fichissimo, è il primo viaggio per quel lanciatore (che è una versione modificata di uno precedente) ed è già un successo.
Che capacità di carico ha il vettore H-2B e come si confronta con gli altri lanciatori commerciali e con la capacità di carico dello shuttle?

Leggevo che hanno potenziato il primo stadio del vettore installandovi 2 motori (LH2/LOX se non mi sbaglio) anzichè uno.

Io sarei nteressato a comparare il carico utile HTV / ATV (e Progress)
Per quanto ho letto l'HTV ha due peculiarità:
- porta sia carico pressurizzato che non pressurizzato
- attracca sul segmento americano della stazione (che ha portelli più larghi)

Per contro non attracca autonomamente come fanno Progress e ATV

11-09-2009, 08:53
Leggevo che hanno potenziato il primo stadio del vettore installandovi 2 motori (LH2/LOX se non mi sbaglio) anzichè uno.
Inoltre ha 4 booster a combustibile solido invece di due. I quali poi si staccano a coppie (ho visto un'animazione della fase di cutoff e distacco) e, penso, vengono recuperati nell'oceano.

Io sarei nteressato a comparare il carico utile HTV / ATV (e Progress)
Per quanto ho letto l'HTV ha due peculiarità:
- porta sia carico pressurizzato che non pressurizzato
- attracca sul segmento americano della stazione (che ha portelli più larghi)

Per contro non attracca autonomamente come fanno Progress e ATV
Eh infatti sarebbe interessante. Mi pare (a occhio) che l'HTV sia piu voluminoso degli altri.

11-09-2009, 09:12
certo che sti giapponesi fanno tutto da soli: si sono fatti un loro "ATV" insieme al razzetto per mandarlo su!! ...noi che siamo l'europa intera abbiamo messo anni a sviluppare un ATV da mandare su con un Arianne 5 che, oltretutto, al suo primo lancio si è disintegrato per il più famoso bug della storia!! :muro:

11-09-2009, 13:37
Inoltre ha 4 booster a combustibile solido invece di due. I quali poi si staccano a coppie (ho visto un'animazione della fase di cutoff e distacco) e, penso, vengono recuperati nell'oceano.

E hanno aumentato il diametro del primo stadio (dai 4 metri dell'H-IIA ai 5.2m del nuovo modello).

Io sarei nteressato a comparare il carico utile HTV / ATV (e Progress)

Facendo un confronto "ignorante" tra i due dati relativi al carico ATV porta circa 8 tonnellate di carico utile, mentre HTV circa 4,5 tonnellate per il primo lancio e 6 tonnellate in quelli successivi.

In realtà il discorso è più complesso visto che hanno caratteristiche parzialmente diverse e sono in generale pensati per complementarsi.

Per quanto ho letto l'HTV ha due peculiarità:
- porta sia carico pressurizzato che non pressurizzato
- attracca sul segmento americano della stazione (che ha portelli più larghi)

Per contro non attracca autonomamente come fanno Progress e ATV

Andando a memoria mi vengono in mente:

- ATV può rifornire di propellente i serbatoi della parte russa della stazione. HTV no visto che si connette al segmento americano.
- Come hai detto tu i portelli "americani" sono più larghi, cosa che permette all'HTV di trasportare i rack troppo grossi per passare per quelli russi.
- Sempre come hai detto tu HTV può portare carico non pressurizzato mentre ATV no.
- L'HTV non attracca autonomamente a causa della caratteristiche degli attacchi americani (fatti per connessioni col "braccio robotico" della ISS).
- ATV è in grado di "rialzare" l'orbita della ISS. HTV a quanto ne so no.

14-09-2009, 19:59
Armadillo Powers Toward $1 Million Prize (http://www.universetoday.com/2009/09/14/armadillo-powers-toward-1-million-prize/)

A rocket powered vehicle successfully completed the first step toward qualifying to win a $1 million prize for NASA's Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander Challenge. Armadillo Aerospace's "Scorpius" lander set world records for vertical landings and takeoff flights by flying up 50 meters (164 feet) into the air, maneuvering over to land on a simulated rocky lunar surface 50 meters (164 feet) away, and then rising and flying back to land where it started. The flight included a requirement of at least 180 seconds of flying time. Watch the video from the second qualifying flight here. Armadillo is the first team of three teams looking to nab the prize this year.

"It's a great day here, it was a beautiful flight," said Peter Diamandis, CEO of the XPrize Foundation. "The vehicle from team Armadillo has made its second successful flight . Over the next few months if another team is able to make this level two flight as well, it will be the difference between the landing position and how far off the center of the pad that determines the winner."

Scorpius, weighs about 1900 pounds fully fueled. The vehicle made its flight at the Caddo Mills Airport in Texas, where Armadillo Aerospace's facilities are based.

NASA will award the $1 million prize for Level 2 this year after all the teams entered in the Challenge have a chance to compete. Other teams are Masten Space Systems and Unreasonable Rocket, who hope to make attempts soon, and the deadline for making the flight is October 31, 2009.

Armadillo won Level 1 of last year in October, garnering the $350,000 prize for a flight of 90 seconds.


16-09-2009, 02:03
Ancora in forse il lancio di Phobos-Grunt nel 2009:

Crunch time for Russia Mars probe (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/8254820.stm)

Less than two months before the scheduled launch of Russia's flagship planetary spacecraft, officials are set to recommend a delay until 2011.

The Phobos-Grunt mission aims to land on the Martian moon Phobos to collect soil samples and return them to Earth.

Sources within the Russian space industry gave RussianSpaceWeb.com details of the likely postponement.

The Russian space agency Roskosmos is expected to announce the mission's fate within a week.

The agency's decision will be based on results of testing which the spacecraft has been undergoing since July at its assembly facility at NPO Lavochkin in Khimki, near Moscow.

A delay for Phobos-Grunt would also affect China's first Mars probe Yinghuo 1, as the two craft are due to be launched together on the same Zenit rocket.

Tight schedule

According to its latest increasingly tight schedule, the Phobos-Grunt spacecraft had to be shipped to the launch site in Baikonur Cosmodrome on 26 September 2009 in order to catch a narrow astronomical launch window to Mars in October of this year.

A previously announced timeline called for the shipment of the spacecraft to Baikonur in August, only to be pushed back to the middle of September 2009.

The decision to roll out the vehicle to Baikonur would mean a commitment to launch this year, while failure to do so would postpone the mission to 2011.

Industry sources said that despite all efforts, the probe's flight control systems are likely to need more tests before they can be considered reliable enough to survive a complex multi-year mission.

Complex demands

The systems will need to be robust enough to cope with complex manoeuvring in Martian orbit, landing on the surface of Phobos, the takeoff of the return vehicle and the landing of the capsule containing the soil samples on Earth.

A further argument to postpone the mission to 2011 would be lack of duplicate failsafe systems at Russian mission control to guide the spacecraft into deep space.

Currently Russia's only operational deep space antenna capable of sending flight control commands to Phobos-Grunt is in Ussuriyisk near Vladivostok. Any serious problems there would doom the mission.

A second antenna, in Medvezhi Ozera, near St Petersburg, could be capable of controlling the mission - but only after an upgrade, which is not expected to be completed until sometime next year.

Launching the spacecraft with only a single operational flight control antenna would endanger the mission, experts said.

Roskosmos recently reached an agreement with the European Space Agency, Esa, to use its facilities in the Phobos-Grunt project. But European ground control stations would only be capable of receiving data rather than controlling the spacecraft.

Those in favour of postponing the mission to 2011 argue that Russian scientists have not conducted a deep space mission for more than two decades, and available time to prepare the launch in 2009 was inadequate.

In 1988, a pair of Soviet probes was sent to Mars but one failed on its way to the red planet and the other soon after entering orbit. Flight control error was blamed for at least one failure.

Russia's latest probe to Mars, launched in 1996, crashed back to Earth when the launch vehicle failed. Lack of Russian ground control facilities meant the exact cause was never pinpointed.

Despite many previous unofficial reports that the beleaguered project would have to be delayed to at least 2011, the Russian space agency and NPO Lavochkin, the probe's primary developer, have always insisted that the mission would launch in 2009.

Knock-on effect

According to latest reports, the launch of Phobos-Grunt was pushed to the beginning of November 2009, essentially beyond the available launch window to Mars.

It was unclear how such a move would affect the mission, since launching outside of the astronomical window would limit the mass of the payload to be carried to Mars.

Delaying Phobos-Grunt from 2009 to 2011 might also have a knock-on effect on future Russian missions into deep space.

Experts say Phobos-Grunt is relatively well prepared for flight, so it would need little extra money to be ready for 2011.

However the same personnel and facilities employed in the preparation of the Phobos-Grunt project, at NPO Lavochkin and the IKI space research institute in Moscow, will be needed to design subsequent missions such as the Luna-Glob probe, which - according to the official schedule - is due to enter orbit around the Moon in 2011.

19-09-2009, 02:11
Russia delays Mars probe launch until 2012: report

MOSCOW — Russia will pushed back its flagship satellite mission to Mars' moon until 2011 in a move which will delay the joint launch of China's first Mars probe, space sources were cited as saying Wednesday.

"The prospects of the spacecraft Phobos' flight to Mars was discussed at a conference of scientist and space industry firms today. The dominant opinion was that this flight would be put off until 2011," one source told the Interfax news agency.

The delay, just two month before the scheduled launch, will be officially announced this week by Russian Space Agency, Roskosmos, the source added.

Russia's Phobos-Grunt unmanned probe aims to land on the Martian moon Phobos to collect soil samples. It was to blast off with the Chinese probe from the Baikonour cosmodrome in Kazakhstan next month.

A later launch date should allow the probe a shorter trajectory for its mission, Interfax reported.

But specialist news site RussianSpaceWeb.com cited industry sources as saying the launch will likely be postponed because the addition of China's 110 kilogramme (242 pound) probe had overloaded the mission.

Russian planners were forced to upgrade from a Soyuz to Zenit rocket causing delays while more tests are needed for the complex mission, it reported.

China's Mars orbiter Yinghuo-1, designed to probe the Martian space environment looking for water, was shipped to Russia in August.


19-09-2009, 10:44

Japanese cargo ship snagged by space station robot arm

Posted: September 17, 2009


In a precise orbital ballet more than 200 miles above the planet, a bus-sized Japanese cargo ship approached the International Space Station on Thursday and astronaut Nicole Stott plucked the satellite from space using the complex's robot arm.


02-10-2009, 17:26

Delta 4-Heavy roars into orbit with DSP-23, the final Defense Support Program missile-warning satellite, at 8:50pm EST from Launch Complex 37B at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, November 10, 2007. Delta 4-Heavy, over 23 stories tall, is the world's largest rocket by height and most powerful unmanned booster.

link (http://www.airliners.net/photo/United-Launch-Alliance/Boeing-Delta-4-Heavy/1585299/L/)

02-10-2009, 17:37
What's up in the solar system in October 2009 (http://www.planetary.org/blog/article/00002133/)

Phew! With the MESSENGER flyby over, I can focus now on what's ahead for October. The biggest thing to look forward to, without a doubt, is the planned smash of LCROSS into the Moon, a week from Friday, in the wee hours of the morning (my time) on October 9. However, I'm also excited about the fact that the next flyby of Titan will return Cassini to an orbit in the ring plane so it'll be seeing icy moons regularly again.

In the inner solar system:

After safing following the flyby, MESSENGER is back to "normal mode" but its science command load for the flyby period was permanently cancelled. New science will start on October 3, including some distant departure imagery of Mercury. I'm sure we'll see daily image releases from the team for a week or so, then they'll return to weekly announcements. They have to pace themselves; nothing of much significance will happen on the mission until Mercury orbit insertion on March 18, 2011.

ESA's Venus Express is still in orbit at Venus; its current mission extension runs out on December 31, 2009, but the mission is expected to receive another extension in October taking it through three more years. If it remains healthy, it should therefore still be operating when JAXA's "Planet-C" Venus Climate Orbiter arrives in 2011.

So now NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter and its companion craft LCROSS are the only active spacecraft left at the Moon. LRO is (as of September 15) in its final science orbit, but they haven't yet released any images from their new, closer perspective.

LCROSS is now falling toward the Moon for its date with destiny. Its Centaur upper launch stage will crash into the crater Cabeus on October 9 at 4:30 Pacific time / 11:30 UTC (not Cabeus A, as previously announced), and the spacecraft itself will follow behind on its own collision course to a spot about 3 kilometers away, principal investigator Tony Colaprete has told me.

At the Sun:

The ESA/NASA SOHO mission continues to gaze at a very quiet Sun, though late last month, for the first time in, like, forever, there were two sunspots visible at the same time. As always, SOHO's near-real-time data and images are available here. NASA reports that due to the lengthy solar minimum, cosmic ray levels are at record highs.

The twin STEREO spacecraft are currently 61 degrees ahead (STEREO A) and 57 degrees behind (STEREO B) Earth and are also enjoying quiet weather conditions. They've gotten far enough apart that the mission homepage now features a neat rotating view of the two spacecraft's images that covers nearly the entire Sun. The daily STEREO image viewer includes the latest SOHO image, which gives you three slightly different viewpoints on the current appearance of the Sun. Currently SOHO sees the two sunspots I mentioned earlier, and so does STEREO Ahead, but STEREO Behind shows no sunspots.

On to Mars:

Out at Mars, it's late summer in Mars' southern hemisphere (Ls 347°). As I wrote yesterday, Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity has been driving, driving, driving lately, while Spirit's still stuck. JPL's "Free Spirit" website is sounding slightly less sanguine than in the past: "Tests on Earth simulating Spirit's predicament on Mars have reinforced understanding that getting Spirit to rove again will be very difficult." This may all be part of the art of managing expectations, but as days drag on it's getting more difficult to remain optimistic. JPL engineers have snatched success from the jaws of defeat before, though. And in her latest update on the rovers, Here's A. J. S. Rayl reports that they have settled on an extraction plan!

Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter is still in safe mode. Word from a friend at JPL is that they are being super extra cautious with trying to troubleshoot the computer reboots, because for the foreseeable future Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter is the only telecommunications relay we're going to have for future Mars landers (yes, Odyssey is still operating, but that spacecraft is a decade old and can't be relied upon to last forever either). It's frustrating to scientists because as time goes on, dawn is progressively arriving at farther and farther northern locations, and they would really like to be able to watch the northern wastes thaw out. There was a terribly cool announcement from three Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter teams about finding brand-new craters that punch into subsurface ice, which is then observed to sublimate away, which I have been meaning to write about, but have not had time to write about yet. Sorry! Another casualty of the persistent safe mode has been the MARCI team's continuous observation of Mars weather. On the MARCI weather report website, it states that, as of September 6, "The MARCI camera was turned off last week, and no new MARCI data will be available until the latter half of October. Please check back then for an updated weather report." Still no CRISM image releases for over a year.

ESA's Mars Express is still diligently mapping Mars. The Mars Webcam is currently returning high-phase shots of Mars, including some with some high clouds visible on the terminator. They have also posted a nice color version of a recent Mars photo along with a detailed explainer on how it was made -- check it out and try it for yourself! Mars Express' current mission extension takes it through December 31 -- like Venus Express, it's expected to be extended further.

NASA's Mars Odyssey remains the longest-lived spacecraft in orbit at Mars. You can see the latest from its THEMIS instrument here Lately the theme to their images has been dunes, dunes, and more dunes, making gorgeous repeating patterns on the Martian surface.

Exploring Saturn:

Cassini is continuing to watch sunrise on the northern face of Saturn's rings after last month's equinox. There was a lull in activity last month as Saturn passed through conjunction, but raw images are now coming back again, including more neat ones of a distant but fully lit Iapetus and tons and tons of images of spokes. Cassini is now wrapping up rev 118 of its tour. The orbit period is stil 24 days, but a targeted flyby of Titan on October 12 will shrink the orbit again. More importantly, the gravity assist provided by that flyby will drop Cassini's orbit back into the plane of Saturn's rings, affording it many, many more opportunities for close encounters with the other moons than it's had lately. (Though it probably also means that the spectacular ring phenomena we've been watching throughout equinox season will be much, much harder to see -- I'm not sure what, if anything, will be visible from the new, edge-on view.) This month will see nontargeted flybys of Rhea, Mimas, and Tethys in quick succession on October 13 and 14. Looking ahead, in a month, on November 2, comes the first of two very, very close targeted flybys of Enceladus.

Quietly cruising:

The International Cometary Explorer remains on course for a return visit to Earth in 2014. When it does, ICE can be returned to a Sun-Earth L1 halo orbit, or can use multiple Earth swingbys to encounter Comet Wirtanen during its near-Earth apparition in December 2018.

In the asteroid belt, NASA's Dawn has resumed steady thrusting of its ion engines, patiently propelling itself toward a rendezvous with Vesta in July 2011.

NASA's Deep Impact is cruising toward its 2010 flyby of comet 103P/Hartley 2. Deep Impact calibration observations of the Moon recently figured in the Moon Water story. The mission is expected to end in December 2010, after the flyby.

NASA's Stardust is cruising ever onward toward a Feburary 14, 2011 encounter with comet Tempel 1. The September status report indicates the spacecraft is in good health.

As of September 24 JAXA's Hayabusa is fine. Last month marked four years (really?? Wow, time flies) since the Itokawa encounter. It's still on track to return to Earth in June 2010.

A terse note on ESA's Rosetta mission blog reminds us that on November 13, it'll be flying by Earth. I have some more information about that that I'll post once I'm a little less busy. The next big science event for Rosetta will be the flyby of asteroid Lutetia in July of 2010.

NASA's New Horizons reached the midway point between the orbits of Saturn and Uranus on September 8. It has 17.18 AU to go to reach Pluto. It's still on course for a January to July 2015 encounter with the Pluto and Charon system.

And beyond:

Finally, NASA's Voyager 1 and 2 spacecraft were still responding to commands from Earth as of July 31. Both have now crossed the "termination shock," where the solar wind slows down as it impinges upon the interstellar medium.

Some other milestones to take note of this month, taken mostly from JPL's Space Calendar:

* October 4 will be the 50th anniversary of the launch of Luna 3. There'll also be a full Moon -- nice time to look at our nearest neighbor!
* Look for lots of space news during the week of October 4-8, when the Division of Planetary Sciences of the American Astronomical Society will be meeting in Puerto Rico. I hope to do a better job of covering news from that than I did from the European Planetary Science Congress this month.
* October 4-10 is World Space Week.
* October 11 is the 15th anniversary of the fiery death of the Magellan spacecraft, sent tumbling into Venus' atmosphere.
* On October 12, the Moon will occult Mars -- but only as seen from a mostly uninhabited region of the southern Indian Ocean. Still the two should be close to each other in the sky, so watch spaceweather.com for pretty astrophotos.
* On October 12-16, the International Astronautical Congress meets in Daejeon, South Korea.
* October 25 marks the end of daylight saing time for Europe, but not the U.S. Confusion will ensue. (In the U.S. it ends on November 1.)
* There is a Venus Exploration and Analysis Group (VEXAG) meeting in Irvine, California on October 28 and 29.
* October 31: Boo! There'll be a nice bright nearly full Moon for trick or treating this year.