суббота, 20 октября 2018 г.

BepiColombo blasts off to investigate Mercury’s mysteries

ARIANESPACE – Flight VA245 BepiColombo Mission poster.

20 October 2018

BepiColombo liftoff

The ESA-JAXA BepiColombo mission to Mercury blasted off on an Ariane 5 from Europe’s Spaceport in Kourou at 01:45:28 GMT on 20 October on its exciting mission to study the mysteries of the Solar System’s innermost planet.

Signals from the spacecraft, received at ESA’s control centre in Darmstadt, Germany, via the New Norcia ground tracking station at 02:21 GMT confirmed that the launch was successful.

BepiColombo liftoff

BepiColombo is a joint endeavour between ESA and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, JAXA. It is the first European mission to Mercury, the smallest and least explored planet in the inner Solar System, and the first to send two spacecraft to make complementary measurements of the planet and its dynamic environment at the same time.

“Launching BepiColombo is a huge milestone for ESA and JAXA, and there will be many great successes to come,” says Jan Wörner, ESA Director General.

“Beyond completing the challenging journey, this mission will return a huge bounty of science. It is thanks to the international collaboration and the decades of efforts and expertise of everyone involved in the design and building of this incredible machine, that we are now on our way to investigating planet Mercury’s mysteries.”

BepiColombo approaching Mercury

“Congratulations on the successful launch of Ariane 5 carrying BepiColombo, ESA-JAXA joint Mercury exploration mission,” says Hiroshi Yamakawa, JAXA President.

“I would like to express my gratitude for the excellent achievement of launch operations. JAXA has high expectations that the ensuing detailed observations on the surface and interior of Mercury will help us better understand the environment of the planet, and ultimately, the origin of the Solar System including that of Earth.”

BepiColombo comprises two science orbiters: ESA’s Mercury Planetary Orbiter (MPO) and JAXA’s Mercury Magnetospheric Orbiter (MMO, or ‘Mio’). The ESA-built Mercury Transfer Module (MTM) will carry the orbiters to Mercury using a combination of solar electric propulsion and gravity assist flybys, with one flyby of Earth, two at Venus, and six at Mercury, before entering orbit at Mercury in late 2025.

“There is a long and exciting road ahead of us before BepiColombo starts collecting data for the science community,” says Günther Hasinger, ESA Director of Science.

“Endeavours like the Rosetta mission and their ground-breaking discoveries even years after their completion have already shown us that complex science exploration missions are well worth the wait.”

Animation visualising BepiColombo’s journey to Mercury

The two science orbiters will also be able to operate some of their instruments during the cruise phase, affording unique opportunities to collect scientifically valuable data at Venus. Moreover, some of the instruments designed to study Mercury in a particular way can be used in a completely different way at Venus, which has a thick atmosphere compared with Mercury’s exposed surface.

“BepiColombo is one of the most complex interplanetary missions we have ever flown,” says Andrea Accomazzo, ESA Flight Director for BepiColombo.

“One of the biggest challenges is the Sun’s enormous gravity, which makes it difficult to place a spacecraft into a stable orbit around Mercury. We have to constantly brake to ensure a controlled fall towards the Sun, with the ion thrusters providing the low thrust needed over long durations of the cruise phase.”

Ariane 5 fairing closure over the spacecraft stack

Other challenges include the extreme temperature environment the spacecraft will endure, which will range from -180ºC to over 450ºC – hotter than a pizza oven. Many of the spacecraft mechanisms and outer coatings had not previously been tested in such conditions.

The overall design of the three spacecraft modules also reflects the intense conditions they will face. The large solar arrays of the transfer module have to be tilted at the right angle to avoid radiation damage, while still providing enough energy to the spacecraft. On the MPO, the wide radiator means the spacecraft can efficiently remove heat from its subsystems, as well as reflect heat and fly over the planet at lower altitudes than ever achieved before. Eight-sided Mio will spin 15 times a minute to evenly distribute the Sun’s heat over its solar panels to avoid overheating.

“Seeing our spacecraft blast off into space is a moment we have all been waiting for,” says Ulrich Reininghaus, ESA’s BepiColombo project manager.

“We have overcome many hurdles over the years, and the teams are delighted to see BepiColombo now on the road to intriguing planet Mercury.” 

BepiColombo orbits

A few months before arriving at Mercury, the transfer module will be jettisoned, leaving the two science orbiters – still connected to each other – to be captured by Mercury’s gravity. Their altitude will be adjusted using MPO’s thrusters until MMO’s desired elliptical polar orbit is reached.

Then MPO will separate and descend to its own orbit using its thrusters. Together the orbiters will make measurements that will reveal the internal structure of the planet, the nature of the surface and the evolution of geological features – including ice in the planet’s shadowed craters – and the interaction between the planet and the solar wind.

BepiColombo science themes

“A unique aspect of this mission is having two spacecraft monitoring the planet from two different locations at the same time: this is really key to understanding processes linked to the impact of the solar wind on Mercury’s surface and its magnetic environment,” adds ESA’s BepiColombo project scientist Johannes Benkhoff.

“BepiColombo will build on the discoveries and questions raised by NASA’s Messenger mission to provide the best understanding of Mercury and Solar System evolution to date, which in turn will be essential for understanding how planets orbiting close to their stars in exoplanet systems form and evolve, too.”

Related links:

BepiColombo: http://www.esa.int/Our_Activities/Space_Science/BepiColombo

BepiColombo overview: http://www.esa.int/Our_Activities/Space_Science/BepiColombo_overview2

BepiColombo in depth: http://sci.esa.int/bepicolombo/

Images, Videos, Text, Credits: ESA/Manuel Pedoussaut/CNES/Arianespace/ATG medialab/NASA/JPL.

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Fluorite | #Geology #GeologyPage #Mineral Locality: Llamas…

Fluorite | #Geology #GeologyPage #Mineral

Locality: Llamas quarry, Caravia, Asturias, Spain

Size: 4.9 x 4.4 x 3.7 cm

Photo Copyright © Spirifer Minerals

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Brimham Rocks, England | #Geology #GeologyPage #England Brimham…

Brimham Rocks, England | #Geology #GeologyPage #England

Brimham Rocks are balancing rock formations on Brimham Moor in North Yorkshire, England. The rocks stand at a height of nearly 30 feet in an area owned by the National Trust which is part of the Nidderdale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

There are many variations of rock formations, caused by Millstone Grit being eroded by water, glaciation and wind, some of which have formed amazing shapes. Many formations have been named, though imagination is required and the correct viewing angle is helpful. Examples include the Sphinx, the Watchdog, the Camel, the Turtle and the Dancing Bear. The area was recognized as being a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) in 1958.

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Shattuckite with rich blue color | #Geology #GeologyPage…

Shattuckite with rich blue color | #Geology #GeologyPage #Mineral

Locality: Katanga Copper Crescent, Katanga, Congo – Kinshasa

Size: 32mm x 23mm x 14mm

Photo Copyright © Quebul Fine Minerals

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Fluorite crystal with Phantoms, Quartz, Pyrite | #Geology…

Fluorite crystal with Phantoms, Quartz, Pyrite | #Geology #GeologyPage #Mineral

Locality: Shangbao Mine, Leiyang Co., Hengyang Prefecture, Hunan Province, China

Size: 34mm x 32mm x 26mm

Photo Copyright © Quebul Fine Minerals

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Multiple Exposure Photo Art: Capel Garmon Burial Chamber, North Wales, 20.10.18.

Multiple Exposure Photo Art: Capel Garmon Burial Chamber, North Wales, 20.10.18.

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Multiple Exposure Photo Art 2: Capel Garmon Burial Chamber, North Wales, 20.10.18.

Multiple Exposure Photo Art 2: Capel Garmon Burial Chamber, North Wales, 20.10.18.

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HiPOD (19 October 2018): Polar Hypnosis   – One of the goals of…

HiPOD (19 October 2018): Polar Hypnosis

   – One of the goals of this observation is to determine if the North Polar layered deposits are gaining or losing mass. But looking at this crater is just hypnotic. (318 km above the surface. Black and white is less than 5 km across; enhanced color is less than 1 km and is at full resolution.)

NASA/JPL/University of Arizona

2018 October 20 Halo of the Cat’s Eye Image Credit &…

2018 October 20

Halo of the Cat’s Eye
Image Credit & Copyright: Data: Michael Joner (West Mountain Observatory, BYU),
Romano Corradi (IAC), Hubble Legacy ArchiveProcessing: Robert Gendler

Explanation: Not a Falcon 9 rocket launch after sunset, the Cat’s Eye Nebula (NGC 6543) is one of the best known planetary nebulae in the sky. Its haunting symmetries are seen in the very central region of this composited picture, processed to reveal an enormous but extremely faint halo of gaseous material, over three light-years across. Made with data from ground- and space-based telescopes it shows the extended emission which surrounds the brighter, familiar planetary nebula. Planetary nebulae have long been appreciated as a final phase in the life of a sun-like star. But only more recently have some planetaries been found to have halos like this one, likely formed of material shrugged off during earlier active episodes in the star’s evolution. While the planetary nebula phase is thought to last for around 10,000 years, astronomers estimate the outer filamentary portions of this halo to be 50,000 to 90,000 years old.

∞ Source: apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap181020.html

How to Weigh a Black Hole Using NASA’s Webb Space Telescope

The spiral galaxy NGC 4151 has a bright, active core powered by a supermassive black hole. Webb will weigh the black hole by measuring the motions of stars at the galaxy’s center. Credits: NASA, ESA, and J. DePasquale (STScI). Hi-res image

Webb will use an innovative instrument called an integral field unit to capture images and spectra at the same time.
Credits: NASA, ESA, CSA, and L. Hustak (STScI)

At first glance, the galaxy NGC 4151 looks like an average spiral. Examine its center more closely, though, and you can spot a bright smudge that stands out from the softer glow around it. That point of light marks the location of a supermassive black hole weighing about 40 million times as much as our Sun.

Astronomers will use NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope to measure that black hole’s mass. The result might seem like a piece of trivia, but its mass determines how a black hole feeds and affects the surrounding galaxy. And since most galaxies contain a supermassive black hole, learning about this nearby galaxy will improve our understanding of many galaxies across the cosmos.

“Some central questions in astrophysics are: How does a galaxy’s central black hole grow with time; how does the galaxy itself grow with time; and how do they affect each other? This project is a step toward answering those questions,” explained Misty Bentz of Georgia State University, Atlanta, the principal investigator of the project.

Probing a galaxy’s core

There are several methods of weighing supermassive black holes. One technique relies on measuring the motions of stars in the galaxy’s core. The heavier the black hole, the faster nearby stars will move under its gravitational influence.

NGC 4151 represents a challenging target, because it contains a particularly active black hole that is feeding voraciously. As a result, the material swirling around the black hole, known as an accretion disk, shines brightly. The light from the accretion disk threatens to overwhelm the fainter light from stars in the region.

“With Webb’s beautifully shaped mirrors and sharp ‘vision,’ we should be able to probe closer to the galaxy’s center even though there’s a really bright accretion disk there,” said Bentz.

The team expects to be able to investigate the central 1,000 light-years of NGC 4151, and be able to resolve stellar motions on a scale of about 15 light-years.

A thousand spectra at once

To achieve this feat, the team will use Webb’s Near-Infrared Spectrograph (NIRSpec) integral field unit, or IFU. It will be the first IFU flown in space, and it has a unique capability.

Webb’s IFU takes the light from every location in an image and splits it into a rainbow spectrum. To do this it employs almost 100 mirrors, each of them precision crafted to a specific shape, all squeezed into an instrument the size of a shoebox. Those mirrors effectively slice a small square of the sky into strips, then spread the light from those strips out both spatially and in wavelength.

In this way a single image yields 1,000 spectra. Each spectrum tells astronomers not only about the elements that make up the stars and gas at that exact point of the sky, but also about their relative motions. Despite Webb’s exquisite resolution, the team won’t be able to measure the motions of individual stars. Instead, they will get information about groups of stars very close to the center of the galaxy. They will then apply computer models to determine the gravitational field affecting the stars, which depends on the size of the black hole.

“Our computer code generates a bunch of mock stars – tens of thousands of stars, mimicking the motions of real stars in the galaxy. We put in a variety of different black holes and see what matches the observations the best,” said Monica Valluri of the University of Michigan, a co-investigator on the project.

The result of this technique will be compared with a second one that focuses on the gas at the galaxy’s center, rather than the stars.

“We should get the same answer, no matter what technique we use, if we’re looking at the same black hole,” said Bentz. “NGC 4151 is one of the best targets for making that comparison.”

These observations will be taken as part of the Director’s Discretionary-Early Release Science program. The DD-ERS program provides time to selected projects enabling the astronomical community to quickly learn how best to use Webb’s capabilities, while also yielding robust science.

The James Webb Space Telescope will be the world’s premier space science observatory. Webb will solve mysteries of our solar system, look beyond to distant worlds around other stars, and probe the mysterious structures and origins of our universe and our place in it. Webb is an international project led by NASA with its partners, the European Space Agency (ESA) and the Canadian Space Agency (CSA).

For more information about Webb, visit www.nasa.gov/webb

By Christine Pulliam
Space Telescope Science Institute, Baltimore, Md.

Editor: Lynn Jenner

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Archaeological excavations at Croatia’s Vinkovci site completed

Archaeological excavations on the site of a future municipal library in the eastern town of Vinkovci have been completed after three rounds of digging carried out in 2011, 2015 and 2018 unearthed over 2000 valuable finds, including antique ceramic ware, silver cutlery, bowls, ivory ware and other items from Roman and Ottoman times.

Archaeological excavations at Croatia's Vinkovci site completed
Credit: HINA

Most of the items date back to the period between the first and fifth centuries A.D. and have been unearthed from waste ditches and wells, the head of the archaeological team Hrvoje Vulic said recently.
He pointed out the special value of two Roman gold coins with the images of Roman emperors Valens and Valentinian who were born in Colonia Aurelia Cibalae, the ancient Roman name of present-day Vinkovci. The coins were found in a well.

Archaeological excavations at Croatia's Vinkovci site completed

Archaeological excavations at Croatia's Vinkovci site completed

Archaeological excavations at Croatia's Vinkovci site completed

Archaeological excavations at Croatia's Vinkovci site completed

Archaeological excavations at Croatia's Vinkovci site completed
Credit: HINA

In 2012, the archaeologists reported that they had found a closet with silver cutlery, bowls, plates and platters. Some pieces were gilded and some had engraved decorations showing animals, herbs and human images. They weighed over 30 kilograms. The find was the result of the archaeological exploration of the former Roman colony Colonia Aurelia Cibalae.

Vinkovci Mayor Ivan Bosancic said that all this confirms that Vinkovci is rich in archaeological finds.

Source: HINA [October 15, 2018]



1,500-year-old farming and carpentry tools found in Northwest Turkey

Archaeologists have found 1,500-year-old agricultural and carpentry tools in the ancient Greek city of Alexandria Troas in the northwestern province of Çanakkale (Greek Dardanellia).

1,500-year-old farming and carpentry tools found in Northwest Turkey
Credit: Çanakkale Culture and Tourism

The iron and bronze tools were found during an excavation that began in 2011, headed by Dr. Erhan Öztepe, an instructor at Ankara University’s archaeology department and the head of the Alexandria Troas excavations, said a statement from the Çanakkale Provincial Directorate of Culture and Tourism.
Öztepe said it is the most interesting finding of 2018.

1,500-year-old farming and carpentry tools found in Northwest Turkey

1,500-year-old farming and carpentry tools found in Northwest Turkey
Credit: Çanakkale Culture and Tourism

The cache was found in an earthenware pithos, a massive storage vessel, dating to the 5th-6th century AD, in a field near the ancient city wall.
The objects include sickles, soil scrapers, weed cutters, soil tampers, plows, long nails, and hand tools like saws, grinders, drills and spatula scrapers.

1,500-year-old farming and carpentry tools found in Northwest Turkey

1,500-year-old farming and carpentry tools found in Northwest Turkey
Credit: Çanakkale Culture and Tourism

“Iron and bronze agricultural and carpentry tools indicate the economy of the ancient city and farming activities in Alexandria Troas and nearby regions of the Early Byzantine period,” he said.
“The large storage containers, known as pithos, which were used to contain dry legumes in the Aegean region until the recent past, were also used as graves. But rarely, as it is seen in this year’s excavations, they were used to keep other objects like agricultural tools,” he added.

1,500-year-old farming and carpentry tools found in Northwest Turkey

1,500-year-old farming and carpentry tools found in Northwest Turkey
Credit: Çanakkale Culture and Tourism

Alexandria Troas was founded around 306 BC and rose to become a prosperous port town under the Romans. It had a population of around 100,000 at its peak and was a major port for trade and transportation between Asia Minor and Europe.

Although its importance gradually faded under the Byzantine Empire, it was significant enough to remain the see of a bishopric until its abandonment some time in the Middle Ages.

Source: Hurriyet Daily News [October 16, 2018]



2,400-year-old Greek tombs found in Bulgaria’s Sozopol

Bulgarian and French archaeologists have discovered an impressive tomb from the second half of the 4th and the beginning of the 3rd century BC during the course of rescue excavations on the northern slope of the Budjaka Hill.

2,400-year-old Greek tomb found in Bulgaria's Sozopol
Credit: Novinite

In the embankment, with an area of ​​about 180 square metres, they discovered the largest family tomb known since the studies of the necropolis of Apollonia. It has a rectangular shape, 6.2 x 8 metres.
The outer walls are made of massive well-formed blocks without cementing. It revealed the skeleton remains of two women and one man, probably members of a rich Apollonian family.

Two of the graves are of the cist type in which the rectangular grave chamber and the coating are made of solid stone blocks. In the central grave there is a scattered burial inventory.

2,400-year-old Greek tomb found in Bulgaria's Sozopol
Credit: Novinite

The walls of the burial chamber are coloured in red. The analysis of the findings leads to the scientific hypothesis that the grave is for a woman.

A similar tomb was found in the southeast corner of the necropolis. In it are laid the remains of a male with richer and varied tomb gifts – two bronze skyphoi and pottery, including oinochoe and lekythoi.

The remains of a woman were laid on the stone cover of the second grave, which was then covered with a mound.

Preliminary analysis indicates that the tomb is from the time when the Black Sea polis and surrounding Thracian dynasties were conquered by the Macedonian Empire of Alexander the Great and his successor Lysimachos.

Source: Novinite [October 16, 2018]



An artificial moon to light up the Earth

China artificial Moon illustration.

Oct. 19, 2018

Beijing would like to reflect sunlight on Earth overnight to achieve lighting savings.

China wants to launch in space by 2020 an “artificial Moon”, which would reflect on Earth the sunlight during the night and would achieve savings in lighting, said Friday a state media.

Russian project “Mayak satellite”

This satellite equipped with a reflective film would be responsible for illuminating the large city of Chengdu (southwest) and should be eight times brighter than the lunar body, reports the China Daily.

A first copy should first be sent to space, followed by the success of three others in 2022, Wu Tengfeng, the head of the Tianfu New Area Science Society, told Xinhua.

“The first Moon will be mainly experimental, but the three sent in 2022 will be the real finished product. They will have great potential in terms of services to the people and from a commercial point of view, “Wu said.

Significant electricity savings

By sending sunlight back to Earth, the satellite, which would evolve at an altitude of 500 km, is supposed to be able to partially replace streetlights. It could save Chengdu about 1.2 billion yuan (about 170 million francs) of electricity a year if it can illuminate an area of ​​50 square kilometers.

The artificial light source could also be used after natural disasters, by deflecting solar rays to terrestrial areas where power was cut off, Wu Chunfeng said. AFP could not contact Mr. Wu or his institution directly.

Russian project “Znamya”

Beijing has for many years been conducting an ambitious space program to catch up with the United States and Russia. The country plans to send a small robot named Chang’e-4 on the far side of the moon by the end of 2018.

China is not the first country to try to reflect the sun’s rays on the Earth. In the 1990s, Russian scientists had developed a similar project called Znamya (“Banner”), stopped after some tests.

Images, Text, Credits: Tianfu New Area Science Society/IEEE Spectrum/AFP/GM Productions/Mike Fisher/Orbiter.ch Aerospace/Roland Berga.

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Hubble Spies Glittering Star Cluster in Nearby Galaxy

NASA – Hubble Space Telescope patch.

Oct. 19, 2018

This glittering ball of stars is the globular cluster NGC 1898, which lies toward the center of the Large Magellanic Cloud — one of our closest cosmic neighbors. The Large Magellanic Cloud is a dwarf galaxy that hosts an extremely rich population of star clusters, making it an ideal laboratory for investigating star formation.

Discovered in November 1834 by British astronomer John Herschel, NGC 1898 has been scrutinized numerous times by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope. Today we know that globular clusters are some of the oldest known objects in the universe and that they are relics of the first epochs of galaxy formation. While we already have a pretty good picture on the globular clusters of the Milky Way — still with many unanswered questions — our studies on globular clusters in nearby dwarf galaxies just started. The observations of NGC 1898 will help to determine whether their properties are similar to the ones found in the Milky Way, or if they have different features, due to being in a different cosmic environment.

Hubble Space Telescope (HST)

This image was taken by Hubble’s Advanced Camera for Surveys (ACS) and Wide Field Camera 3 (WFC3).

For more information about Hubble, visit:


Image, Animation, Credits: ESA/Hubble & NASA/Text: European Space Agency (ESA)/NASA/Karl Hille.

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https://t.co/hvL60wwELQ — XissUFOtoday Space (@xufospace) August 3, 2021 Жаждущий ежик наслаждается пресной водой после нескольких дней в о...