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Re: Science News

Posted: Tue Sep 16, 2008 5:31 pm
by Dark Knight
September 15, 2008 - China Preparing for 3-Man
Space Launch This Month.

NASA Struggling with Budget Cuts, Russian Tensions and End of Space Shuttles.

Xinhua news agency quotes a Jiuquan spokesman: “All the major systems involved in the launching are now in the final preparation. The main tests for the spacecraft, the Long-March II-F rocket, suits for the space walk and a satellite accompanying the flight have also been finished.”

Last week of September 2008

Re: Science News

Posted: Tue Sep 23, 2008 4:30 pm
by Dark Knight
China aims for spacewalk as ship prepares for launch
4:00AM Wednesday Sep 24, 2008

China this week launches its most ambitious space mission yet, a sign of rising confidence as Beijing cements its status as a space power and potential future competitor to the United States.

The Shenzhou 7 mission, to launch as early as tomorrow, will be the first to carry a full complement of three astronauts, one of whom will perform China's first space walk, or EVA for "extra-vehicular activity".

It is China's third manned mission. The manoeuvre will help China master docking techniques needed for the construction of a space station, likely to be achieved initially by joining one Shenzhou orbiter to another.

The mission launches from the Jiuquan launch site in northwestern China. Lead astronaut Zhai Zhigang is expected to carry out the 40-minute spacewalk, which China will broadcast live.

"Shenzhou 7 is an incremental but important step forward," said Joan Johnson-Freese, an expert on the Chinese space programme at the US Naval War College in Rhode Island.

Riding a wave of pride and patriotism after hosting the Olympics, China's communist leaders face few of the public doubts or budgetary pressures constraining such programmes elsewhere.

That has allowed them to fuse political will and scientific gusto in a step-by-step process that could one day see Chinese astronauts landing on the moon.

Chinese space programmes are methodically moving forward in a "very deliberate, graduated" manner, said Charles Vick, a space analyst for the Washington think tank

Beijing is accumulating the building blocks of a comprehensive programme, demonstrating "caution but confidence" as it gains on the US and other space powers, he said.

Future goals are believed to include an unmanned moon landing around 2012, a mission to return samples in 2015, and possibly a manned lunar mission by 2017 - three years ahead of the US target date for returning to the moon.

A manned lunar programme is "certainly the ultimate goal", Ms Johnson-Freese said.

First, Chinese scientists need to put the final touches on the new generation Long March 5 rocket capable of launching 25-tonne components for a space station or future lunar missions.

Once that happens, Ms Johnson-Freese said she expects further progress to come rapidly. Shenzhou craft are currently flung into space by a Long March 2F rocket, the workhorse of the Chinese fleet, with 66 consecutive successful launches.

China has focused on high payoff areas where it can match or exceed the achievements of others. That garners new capabilities while maximising the political impact, something observers sometimes call "techno-nationalism".

All along, China has relied heavily on homegrown technology, partly out of necessity. China has trouble obtaining such technology abroad because of US and European bans and is not a participant in the International Space Station.

The Shenzhou ships resemble Russia's three-module Soyuz capsule, but have been completely re-engineered and enlarged.

Veteran chief designer Qi Faren says China's systems, while basic, have been carefully designed for safety and reliability.

"What we're proud of is that, although we're not the best, it's our own and it's very Chinese," Qi, 75, said.

- AP

from ... d=10533750

Re: Science News

Posted: Fri Oct 17, 2008 9:58 pm
by Dark Knight
Hubble Space Telescope crashes again, and fix may not come until February
By Jacqueline Emigh, BetaNews
October 17, 2008, 7:00 PM

The 18-year-old Hubble Space Telescope hasn't sent any pictures for the past three weeks, and fixing the system in outer space hasn't exactly gone as smoothly as NASA officials hoped. Restoration of the telescope's operations fot hampered by a couple of unexplained problems -- or "anomalies," in NASA-speak -- earlier this week.

On Wednesday, flight controllers at Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, MD started to reinstate data transmsission for the telescope. To work around an inital failure that happened on September 27, the engineers began reconfiguring "six components of the Hubble Data Management System and five components in the Science Instrument Command and Data Handling (SIC &DH) system to use their redundant (or B) sides," says a Hubble status report.

Progress seemed fine until Thursday afternoon, until the two "anomalies" -- maybe related, or maybe not -- struck, one right after the other. First, a low-voltage power supply problem stopped the engineers from rebooting the telescope. Then, less than four hours later, all operations ceased entirely.

"At 1:40 pm, when the low voltage power supply to the ACS Solar Blind Channel was commanded on, software running in a microprocessor in ACS detected an incorrect voltage level in the Solar Blind Channel and suspended ACS," said the report.

"Then at 5:14 pm, the Hubble spacecraft computer sensed the loss of a 'keep alive' signal from the NASA Standard Spacecraft Computer in the SIC&DH and correctly responded by safing the NSSC-I and the science instruments."

At a news conference on Wednesday, officials told reporters that the engineers might be able to get to the bottom of the satellite's glitches as early as the end of next week. NASA has delayed a spaceflight to Hubble that would have involved installing two new instruments and repairing two inactive ones, along with replacement aging components.

That mission has now been delayed until at least February, and if NASA engineers can't get to the bottom of the software problems in the meantime, Hubble may not transmit any additional images until sometime next year.

from ... 1224283758


Re: Science News

Posted: Fri Oct 17, 2008 10:03 pm
by Dark Knight
BTW: The China mission went well, space walk completed, crew back on earth. Now if they could sort out the problems on the ground first, before launch more things into space....

Re: Science News

Posted: Sun Oct 19, 2008 9:29 pm
by Dark Knight
Bionic boy
Eighteen-year-old Evans Reynolds is a human guinea-pig in an extraordinary experiment. Evan lost his arm in a car accident last year, and is now becoming a real-life bionic boy. He has a new arm controlled by impulses from his muscles - the most advanced bionic arm ever made; it can pick up an egg without breaking it. It has transformed Evan into one of the world's first cyborgs: a fusion of human and machine.


the arm has four fingers and a thumb that all move...

Re: Science News

Posted: Tue Oct 21, 2008 8:46 pm
by Dark Knight
India launches moon mission in Asian space race

NEW DELHI (AP) — Scientists have better maps of distant Mars than the moon where astronauts have walked. But India hopes to change that with its first lunar mission.

Chandrayaan-1 — which means "Moon Craft" in ancient Sanskrit — launched from the Sriharikota space center in southern India early Wednesday morning in a two-year mission aimed at laying the groundwork for further Indian space expeditions.

Chief among the mission's goals is mapping not only the surface of the moon, but what lies beneath. India joined what's shaping up as a 21st century space race with Chinese and Japanese crafts already in orbit around the moon.

The United States, which won the 1960s race to send men to the moon, won't jump in this race with its new lunar probe until next spring, but it is providing key mapping equipment for India's mission.

As India's economy has boomed in recent years, it has sought to convert its new found wealth — built on its high-tech sector — into political and military clout and stake a claim as a world leader. It is hoping that a moon mission — coming just months after it finalized a deal with the United States that recognizes India as a nuclear power — will further enhance that status.

"It is a remarkable technological achievement for the country," said S. Satish, a spokesman for the Indian Space Research Organization, which plans to use the 3,080-pound lunar probe to create a high-resolution map of the lunar surface and what minerals are below. Two of the mapping instruments are a joint project with NASA.

Until now, India's space launches have been more practical, with weather warning satellites and communication systems, said former NASA associate administrator Scott Pace, director of space policy at the George Washington University.

"You're seeing India lifting its sights," Pace said.

To date only the U.S., Russia, the European Space Agency, Japan and China have sent missions to the moon.

While much of the technology involved in reaching the moon has not changed since the Soviet Union and the U.S. did it more than 4 decades ago, analysts say current mapping equipment allows the exploration of new areas, including below the surface.

In the last year, Asian nations have taken the lead in exploring the moon. In October 2007, Japan sent up the Kaguya spacecraft. A month later, China's Chang'e-1 entered lunar orbit.

Those missions took high resolution pictures of the moon, but aren't as comprehensive as Chandrayaan-1 will be or NASA's upcoming half-a-billion-dollar Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, Pace said. The most comprehensive maps of the moon were made about 40 years ago during the Apollo era, he said.

"We don't really have really good modern maps of the moon with modern instrument," Pace said. "The quality of the Martian maps, I would make a general argument, is superior to what we have of the moon."
from ... wD93V85S00

Re: Science News

Posted: Fri Dec 05, 2008 9:35 pm
by Dark Knight
Two teddy bears where shot into space:
BearsinSpacePA_450x300.jpg (34.24 KiB) Viewed 10951 times
This amazing photo shows the teddies 30km (19 miles) above Earth after being launched on a giant helium weather balloon.

Wearing custom-made space suits to ensure they could endure temperatures of -37C, MAT and KMS were strapped to the inflatable device and had their picture taken by an on-board webcam.

They were parachuted back after the four-hour weather experiment and landed just 80km (50 miles) from their launchpad - Cambridge University's space flight science club.

From ... _a_source=

Re: Science News

Posted: Wed Mar 04, 2009 1:59 am
by Qray
NASA Mars Lander Sees Falling Snow.
Soil Data Suggest Liquid Past

09.29.08 ... 80929.html

A laser instrument designed to gather knowledge of how the atmosphere and surface interact on Mars has detected snow from clouds about 4 kilometers (2.5 miles) above the spacecraft's landing site. Data show the snow vaporizing before reaching the ground.

"Nothing like this view has ever been seen on Mars," said Jim Whiteway, of York University, Toronto, lead scientist for the Canadian-supplied Meteorological Station on Phoenix. "We'll be looking for signs that the snow may even reach the ground."

Phoenix experiments also yielded clues pointing to calcium carbonate, the main composition of chalk, and particles that could be clay. Most carbonates and clays on Earth form only in the presence of liquid water.

"We are still collecting data and have lots of analysis ahead, but we are making good progress on the big questions we set out for ourselves," said Phoenix Principal Investigator Peter Smith of the University of Arizona, Tucson.

Since landing on May 25, Phoenix already has confirmed that a hard subsurface layer at its far-northern site contains water-ice. Determining whether that ice ever thaws would help answer whether the environment there has been favorable for life, a key aim of the mission.

The evidence for calcium carbonate in soil samples from trenches dug by the Phoenix robotic arm comes from two laboratory instruments called the Thermal and Evolved Gas Analyzer, or TEGA, and the wet chemistry laboratory of the Microscopy, Electrochemistry and Conductivity Analyzer, or MECA.

"We have found carbonate," said William Boynton of the University of Arizona, lead scientist for the TEGA. "This points toward episodes of interaction with water in the past."

The TEGA evidence for calcium carbonate came from a high-temperature release of carbon dioxide from soil samples. The temperature of the release matches a temperature known to decompose calcium carbonate and release carbon dioxide gas, which was identified by the instrument's mass spectrometer.

The MECA evidence came from a buffering effect characteristic of calcium carbonate assessed in wet chemistry analysis of the soil. The measured concentration of calcium was exactly what would be expected for a solution buffered by calcium carbonate.

Both TEGA, and the microscopy part of MECA, have turned up hints of a clay-like substance. "We are seeing smooth-surfaced, platy particles with the atomic-force microscope, not inconsistent with the appearance of clay particles," said Michael Hecht, MECA lead scientist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif.

The Phoenix mission, originally planned for three months on Mars, now is in its fifth month. However, it faces a decline in solar energy that is expected to curtail and then end the lander's activities before the end of the year. Before power ceases, the Phoenix team will attempt to activate a microphone on the lander to possibly capture sounds on Mars.

"For nearly three months after landing, the sun never went below the horizon at our landing site," said Barry Goldstein, JPL Phoenix project manager. "Now it is gone for more than four hours each night, and the output from our solar panels is dropping each week. Before the end of October, there won't be enough energy to keep using the robotic arm."

Re: Science News

Posted: Wed Mar 04, 2009 2:00 am
by Qray

Re: Science News

Posted: Fri Mar 13, 2009 1:25 am
by nightlock
NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope has uncovered a strong new line of evidence that galaxies are embedded in halos of dark matter.
Peering into the tumultuous heart of the nearby Perseus galaxy cluster, Hubble discovered a large population of small galaxies that have remained intact while larger galaxies around them are being ripped apart by the gravitational pull of neighbouring galaxies. The results appear in the March 1st edition of the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.

Dark matter is an invisible form of matter that accounts for most of the Universe’s mass. Astronomers have deduced the existence of dark matter by observing its gravitational influence on normal matter which consists of stars, gas, and dust.

The Hubble images provide further evidence that the undisturbed galaxies are enshrouded by a “cushion” of dark matter, which protects them from their rough-and-tumble neighbourhood.

“We were surprised to find so many dwarf galaxies in the core of this cluster that were so smooth and round and had no evidence at all of any kind of disturbance,” says astronomer Christopher Conselice of the University of Nottingham, and leader of the Hubble observations. “These dwarfs are very old galaxies that have been in the cluster a long time. So if something was going to disrupt them, it would have happened by now. They must be very, very dark matter dominated galaxies.”

The dwarf galaxies may have even a higher amount of dark matter than spiral galaxies. “With these results, we cannot say whether the dark-matter content of the dwarfs is higher than in the Milky Way Galaxy,” Conselice says. “Although, the fact that spiral galaxies are destroyed in clusters, while the dwarfs are not, suggests that is indeed the case.”

First proposed about 80 years ago, dark matter is thought to be the “glue” that holds galaxies together. Astronomers suggest that dark matter provides vital “scaffolding” for the Universe, forming a framework for the formation of galaxies through gravitational attraction. Previous studies with Hubble and NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory found evidence of dark matter in entire clusters of galaxies such as the Bullet Cluster. The new Hubble observations continue the search for dark matter in individual galaxies.

Observations by Hubble’s Advanced Camera for Surveys spotted 29 dwarf elliptical galaxies in the Perseus Cluster located 250 million light-years away and one of the closest galaxy clusters to Earth. Of those galaxies 17 are new discoveries.

Because dark matter cannot be seen astronomers detected its presence through indirect evidence. The most common method is by measuring the velocities of individual stars or groups of stars as they move randomly in the galaxy or as they rotate around the galaxy. The Perseus Cluster is too far away for telescopes to resolve individual stars and measure their motions. So Conselice and his team derived a new technique for uncovering dark matter in these dwarf galaxies by determining the minimum mass the dwarfs must have to protect them from being disrupted by the strong tidal pull of gravity from larger galaxies.

Studying these small galaxies in detail was possible only because of the sharpness of Hubble’s Advanced Camera for Surveys. Conselice and his team first spied the galaxies with the WIYN Telescope at Kitt Peak National Observatory outside Tucson, Arizona. Those observations, Conselice says, only hinted that many of the galaxies were smooth and therefore dark-matter dominated. “Those ground-based observations could not resolve the galaxies, so we needed Hubble imaging to nail it,” he says.

Re: Science News

Posted: Fri Mar 13, 2009 3:49 pm
by Dark Knight
I don't see it as that strong, when the use words like "suggests", "may", and "must'.
“These dwarfs are very old galaxies that have been in the cluster a long time. So if something was going to disrupt them, it would have happened by now. They must be very, very dark matter dominated galaxies.”

The dwarf galaxies may have even a higher amount of dark matter than spiral galaxies. “With these results, we cannot say whether the dark-matter content of the dwarfs is higher than in the Milky Way Galaxy,” Conselice says. “Although, the fact that spiral galaxies are destroyed in clusters, while the dwarfs are not, suggests that is indeed the case.”
"They must be very, very dark matter dominated galaxies.” They must, why must they?, late it is only may have higher amount, therefore I would say that it is only that they may be "very, very dark matter dominated galaxies", not must be.

"The dwarf galaxies may have even a higher amount of dark matter than spiral galaxies", and they may not.

“Although, the fact that spiral galaxies are destroyed in clusters, while the dwarfs are not, suggests that is indeed the case.” It suggest that is the case, but it only suggests, it may or may not be the case.

May or may not, that is not a strong case.....

I call dibs.

Posted: Thu Apr 02, 2009 9:08 am
by Qray
Hidden Planet Discovered in Old Hubble Data
By staff

01 April 2009 11:49 am ET

A new technique has uncovered an extrasolar planet hidden in Hubble Space Telescope images taken 11 years ago

The new strategy may allow researchers to uncover other distant alien worlds potentially lurking in over a decade's worth of Hubble archival data.

The method was used to find an exoplanet that went undetected in Hubble images taken in 1998 with its Near Infrared Camera and Multi-Object Spectrometer (NICMOS). Astronomers knew of the planet's existence from images taken with the Keck and Gemini North telescopes in 2007 and 2008, long after Hubble snapped its first picture of the system.

The planet is estimated to be at least seven times the mass of Jupiter. It is the outermost of three massive planets known to orbit the dusty young star HR 8799, which is 130 light-years away from Earth. NICMOS could not see the other two planets because its coronagraphic spot — a device that blots out the glare of the star —blocked its viewof the two inner planets.

"We've shown that NICMOS is more powerful than previously thought for imaging planets," said the scientist who found the planet, David Lafreniere of the University of Toronto in Canada. "Our new image-processing technique efficiently subtracts the glare from a star that spills over the coronagraph's edge, allowing us to see planets that are one-tenth the brightness of what could be detected before with Hubble."

Taking the image of an exoplanet is not an easy task. Planets can be billions of times fainter than the star around which they orbit and are typically located at separations smaller than 1/2,000th the apparent size of the full moon, as seen from Earth, from their star. The planet recovered in the NICMOS data is about 100,000 times fainter than the star when viewed in the near-infrared spectrum.

Over the last two decades, scientists have spotted more than 300 extrasolar planets circling other stars in our Milky Way galaxy.

Lafreniere adapted an image reconstruction technique that was first developed for ground-based observatories.

Using the new technique, he recovered the planet in NICMOS observations taken 10 years before the Keck/Gemini discovery. The Hubble picture not only provides important confirmation of the planet's existence, it provides a longer baseline for demonstrating that the object is in an orbit about the star.

"To get a good determination of the orbit we have to wait a very long time because the planet is moving so slowly (it has a 400-year period)," Lafreniere said. "The 10-year-old Hubble data take us that much closer to having a precise measure of the orbit."

Hubble is due to be serviced by a NASA shuttle crew in May for the fifth and final time. The shuttle Atlantis was rolled out for the mission on Tuesday and is due to launch May 12.

NICMOS's view provided new insights into the physical characteristics of the planet, too. This was possible because NICMOS works at near-infrared wavelengths that are severely blocked by Earth's atmosphere due to absorption by water vapor.

"The planet seems to be only partially cloud covered and we could be detecting the absorption of water vapor in the atmosphere," said team member Travis Barman of Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, Ariz. "Measuring the water absorption properties will tell us a great deal about the temperatures and pressures in the atmospheres, in addition to the cloud coverage."

With the success of this planet hunt, scientists hope they can find more extrasolar planets lurking in the enormous catalogue of images that Hubble has taken in its lifetime.

"During the past 10 years Hubble has been used to look at over 200 stars with coronagraphy, looking for planets and disks. We plan to go back and look at all of those archived images and see if anything can be detected that has gone undetected until now," said Christian Marois of the Herzberg Institute of Astrophysics, Victoria, Canada.

If the team sees a companion object to a star in more than one NICMOS picture, and it appears to have moved along an orbit, follow-up observations will be made with ground-based telescopes. If researchers see something once but its brightness and separation from the star would be reasonable for a planet, they will also do follow-up observations with ground-based telescopes.

NASA's recently-launched Kepler mission will also be hunting for extrasolar planets in our home galaxy, though it will be looking for ones that are Earth-sized. ... anets.html