четверг, 3 января 2019 г.

Chang’e 4 spacecraft sends images after landing on far side of the Moon

China Lunar Exploration Program logo.

Jan. 3, 2019

Image above: An image of the Moon’s far side taken by the Chang’e-4 probe.  Photo: The first image of the Moon’s far side, taken by China’s Chang’e-4 probe. (AP: China National Space Administration/Xinhua News Agency).

A Chinese spacecraft has made the first landing on the far side of the Moon, sending back images of a crater in the latest achievement for the country’s growing space program.

Chang’e-4 lands on the Moon and sends back first images

China’s Chang’e-4 lunar mission (lander and rover) landed in the Von Karman Crater, located in the Aitken Basin, in the South Pole region on the far side of the Moon, on 3 January 2019, at 02:26 UTC (10:26 Beijing time). The Chang’e-4 lunar mission was launched by a Long March-3B rocket from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center, Sichuan Province, southwest China, on 7 December 2018, at 18:23 UTC (8 December at 02:23 local time). Video Credit: China Central Television (CCTV)/China National Space Administration (CNSA)/Music: Moonlight Sonata by Beethoven courtesy of YouTube Audio Library.

The Chang’e-4 probe successfully performed the first soft landing on the Moon’s far side on Thursday, the Chinese National Space Agency said. One image, taken from the south side of the landing site, was relayed back via a relay satellite, according to state-owned television network CGTN.

Black and white images taken by the probe before and after its landing where also shared by Chinese news agencies. It is the first time a soft landing has been performed on the Moon’s far side — also known as the dark side because it faces away from Earth and remains comparatively unknown — due to challenges relaying signals.

Chang’e 4 is a lander-rover combination and will explore both above and below the lunar surface.

Image above: An image taken by China’s Chang’e-4 spacecraft after its landing on the far side of the moon. Photo Credits: (AP: China National Space Administration/Xinhua News Agency).

Some of the experiments aboard will investigate the Moon’s potential to support future space travelers. One of those experiments is a biosphere project, which includes silkworm eggs, thale cress and tomatoes seeds.

If it goes to plan, the ecosystem would be self-sustaining, with the silkworms germinating the tomatoes and popping out caterpillars. These would in turn produce carbon dioxide, helping the plants grow as a food source.

Artist’s view of Chang’e-4 landed on the dark side of the Moon. Image Credits: CASC/CNSA

Because the far side faces away from Earth, it is also shielded from radio transmissions — making it the perfect place from which to study the universe. The mission is part of China’s ambitious push to explore the Moon’s resources and potential as a space base.

China landed its Yutu, or ‘Jade Rabbit’ rover on the Moon five years ago and plans to have Chang’e 5 return to earth with samples — the first time that will have been done since 1976. A crewed lunar mission is also under consideration.

The Moon’s not-so-dark side

While in popular culture the far side of the Moon is often called the “dark side”, the far side is not dark in the sense that it does get exposed to sunlight.

It is known as the far side because only the near side of the Moon can be seen from Earth, as the Moon takes the same time to spin on its axis as it takes to complete one full orbit.

Chang’e 4 lander-rover relayed back via a relay satellite.Image Credits: CASC/CNSA

The far side has been mapped by several orbiting craft over the years.

The dominant feature is the 2,500km-wide South Pole-Aitken basin, the Moon’s oldest and deepest crater. Scientists are particularly interested in the geology of the basin as it may help explain how the Moon formed.

Related articles:

Chang’e-4 Probe Enters Lunar Orbit

China launches lunar rover in historic mission to the dark side of the moon

For more information about China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC), visit: http://english.spacechina.com/n16421/index.html

For more information about China National Space Administration (CNSA), visit: http://www.cnsa.gov.cn/

Images (mentioned), Video (mentioned), Text, Credits: CASC/CNSA/AP/SciNews/Orbiter.ch Aerospace/Roland Berga.

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2019 January 3 Ultima and Thule Image Credit: NASA, Johns…

2019 January 3

Ultima and Thule
Image Credit: NASA, Johns Hopkins University APL, Southwest Research Institute

Explanation: On January 1 New Horizons encountered the Kuiper Belt object nicknamed Ultima Thule. Some 6.5 billion kilometers from the Sun, Ultima Thule is the most distant world ever explored by a spacecraft from Earth. This historic image, the highest resolution image released so far, was made at a range of about 28,000 kilometers only 30 minutes before the New Horizons closest approach. Likely the result of a gentle collision shortly after the birth of the Solar System, Ultima Thule is revealed to be a contact binary, two connected sphere-like shapes held in contact by mutual gravity. Dubbed separately by the science team Ultima and Thule, the larger lobe Ultima is about 19 kilometers in diameter. Smaller Thule is 14 kilometers across.

∞ Source: apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap190103.html

OSIRIS-REx Spacecraft Enters Close Orbit Around Bennu, Breaking Record

NASA – OSIRIS-REx Mission patch.

Jan. 2, 2019

On December 31, 2018 – At 2:43 p.m. EST on December 31, while many on Earth prepared to welcome the New Year, NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft, 70 million miles (110 million kilometers) away, carried out a single, eight-second burn of its thrusters – and broke a space exploration record. The spacecraft entered into orbit around the asteroid Bennu, and made Bennu the smallest object ever to be orbited by a spacecraft.

Image above: On Dec. 31, 2018, NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft went into orbit around asteroid Bennu for the first time. Image Credit: NASA.

“The team continued our long string of successes by executing the orbit-insertion maneuver perfectly,” said Dante Lauretta, OSIRIS-REx principal investigator at the University of Arizona, Tucson. “With the navigation campaign coming to an end, we are looking forward to the scientific mapping and sample site selection phase of the mission.”

Lauretta, along with his team, spent the last day of 2018 with his feet planted on Earth, but his mind focused on space. “Entering orbit around Bennu is an amazing accomplishment that our team has been planning for years,” Lauretta said.

Inching around the asteroid at a snail’s pace, OSIRIS-REx’s first orbit marks a leap for humankind. Never before has a spacecraft from Earth circled so close to such a small space object – one with barely enough gravity to keep a vehicle in a stable orbit.

Now, the spacecraft will circle Bennu about a mile (1.75 kilometers) from its center, closer than any other spacecraft has come to its celestial object of study. (Previously the closest orbit of a planetary body was in May 2016, when the Rosetta spacecraft orbited about four miles (seven kilometers) from the center of the comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko.) The comfortable distance is necessary to keep the spacecraft locked to Bennu, which has a gravity force only 5-millionths as strong as Earth’s. The spacecraft is scheduled to orbit Bennu through mid-February at a leisurely 62 hours per orbit.

Now that the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft is closer to Bennu, physical details about the asteroid will leap into sharper focus, and the spacecraft’s tour of this rubble pile of primordial debris will become increasingly detailed and focused.

“Our orbit design is highly dependent on Bennu’s physical properties, such as its mass and gravity field, which we didn’t know before we arrived,” said OSIRIS-REx’s flight dynamics system manager Mike Moreau, who is based at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.

“Up until now, we had to account for a wide variety of possible scenarios in our computer simulations to make sure we could safely navigate the spacecraft so close to Bennu. As the team learned more about the asteroid, we incorporated new information to hone in on the final orbit design,” he said.

The simulations have played a critical role. The OSIRIS-REx mission, after all, was designed based on complex computer programs that predicted — quite accurately, as it turns out — the properties of Bennu and how the spacecraft’s trajectory would behave. This diligent preparation allowed the team to navigate the vehicle safely to Bennu in December and put some questions to rest (there are, indeed, signs of ancient water preserved in Bennu’s rocks) and to fly over its poles and equator in a preliminary survey that led to some surprises (Bennu has many large boulders).

Having completed the preliminary survey of Bennu with a flyby of its south pole on December 16, the spacecraft moved to a safe 31 miles (50 kilometers) away from the asteroid to give the navigation team a chance to regroup and prepare for orbit insertion. Next, Lockheed Martin engineers programmed the spacecraft to begin moving back to a position about nine miles (15 kilometers) over Bennu’s north pole to prepare for three burns of its thrusters over the course of 10 days that would place the spacecraft into orbit.

OSIRIS-REx Begins Orbiting Asteroid Bennu

Even though OSIRIS-REx is in the most stable orbit possible, Bennu’s gravitational pull is so tenuous that keeping the spacecraft safe will require occasional adjustments, said Dan Wibben, OSIRIS-REx maneuver and trajectory design lead at KinetX Aerospace in Simi Valley, California.

“The gravity of Bennu is so small, forces like solar radiation and thermal pressure from Bennu’s surface become much more relevant and can push the spacecraft around in its orbit much more than if it were orbiting around Earth or Mars, where gravity is by far the most dominant force,” he said.

The OSIRIS-REx navigation team will use “trim” maneuvers to slightly thrust the spacecraft in one direction or another to correct its orbit and counter these small forces. If the spacecraft drifts away from Bennu, or some other problem forces it into safe mode, it has been programmed to fly away from the asteroid to stay safe from impact.

“It’s simple logic: always burn toward the Sun if something goes wrong,” said Coralie Adam, OSIRIS-REx lead optical navigation engineer at KinetX. Engineers can navigate the spacecraft back into orbit if it drifts away, Adam said, though that’s unlikely to happen.

The navigation and spacecraft operations teams are focused on the first orbital phase. Their primary goal is to transition away from star-based navigation, which allowed the team to locate the spacecraft based on pictures of the star formations around it taken by the cameras onboard. Navigators use methods like this since there is no GPS in deep space and we can’t see the spacecraft from Earth-based telescopes. From this point forward, though, the OSIRIS-REx team will rely on landmarks on Bennu’s surface to track OSIRIS-REx, a more precise technique that will ultimately guide them to a sample-collection site clear of boulders and large rocks, said Adam.

“After conducting a global imaging and mapping campaign during our recent preliminary survey phase, the science team has created 3-D models of Bennu’s terrain that we’re going to begin using for navigation around the asteroid,” she said.

Another critical objective of this orbital phase, Adam said, is to get a better handle on Bennu’s mass and gravity, features that will influence the planning of the rest of the mission, notably the short touchdown on the surface for sample collection in 2020. In the case of Bennu, scientists can only measure these features by getting OSIRIS-REx very close to the surface to see how its trajectory bends from Bennu’s gravitational pull.

“The Orbital A phase will help improve our detailed models for Bennu’s gravity field, thermal properties, orientation, and spin rate,” said Wibben. “This, in turn, will allow us to refine our trajectory designs for the even more challenging flight activities we will perform in 2019.”

The December 31 maneuver to place the spacecraft into orbit about Bennu is the first of many exciting navigation activities planned for the mission. The OSIRIS-REx team will resume science operations in late February. At that point, the spacecraft will perform a series of close flybys of Bennu for several months to take high-resolution images of every square inch of the asteroid to help select a sampling site. During the summer of 2020, the spacecraft will briefly touch the surface of Bennu to retrieve a sample. The OSIRIS-REx mission is scheduled to deliver the sample to Earth in September 2023.

Goddard provides overall mission management, systems engineering and the safety and mission assurance for OSIRIS-REx. Dante Lauretta of the University of Arizona, Tucson, is the principal investigator, and the University of Arizona also leads the science team and the mission’s science observation planning and data processing. Lockheed Martin Space in Denver built the spacecraft and is providing flight operations. Goddard and KinetX Aerospace are responsible for navigating the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft. OSIRIS-REx is the third mission in NASA’s New Frontiers Program, which is managed by NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama for the agency’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington.

Related article:

Planetary Defense: Tonight begin the Bennu Experiment

OSIRIS-REx (Origins Spectral Interpretation Resource Identification Security Regolith Explorer): http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/osiris-rex/index.html

Image (mentioned), Video (OSIRIS-REx Mission), Text, Credits: NASA/Erin Morton/GSFC/Lonnie Shekhtman.

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New Horizons Mission Reveals Entirely New Kind of World

NASA – New Horizons Mission patch.

January 2, 2019

Images of the Kuiper Belt object Ultima Thule unveil the very first stages of solar system’s history

Image above: This image taken by the Long-Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI) is the most detailed of Ultima Thule returned so far by the New Horizons spacecraft. It was taken at 5:01 Universal Time on January 1, 2019, just 30 minutes before closest approach from a range of 18,000 miles (28,000 kilometers), with an original scale of 459 feet (140 meters) per pixel. Image Credits: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute.

Scientists from NASA’s New Horizons mission released the first detailed images of the most distant object ever explored — the Kuiper Belt object nicknamed Ultima Thule. Its remarkable appearance, unlike anything we’ve seen before, illuminates the processes that built the planets four and a half billion years ago.

“This flyby is a historic achievement,” said New Horizons Principal Investigator Alan Stern of the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colorado. “Never before has any spacecraft team tracked down such a small body at such high speed so far away in the abyss of space. New Horizons has set a new bar for state-of-the-art spacecraft navigation.”

Images above: The first color image of Ultima Thule, taken at a distance of 85,000 miles (137,000 kilometers) at 4:08 Universal Time on January 1, 2019, highlights its reddish surface. At left is an enhanced color image taken by the Multispectral Visible Imaging Camera (MVIC), produced by combining the near infrared, red and blue channels. The center image taken by the Long-Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI) has a higher spatial resolution than MVIC by approximately a factor of five. At right, the color has been overlaid onto the LORRI image to show the color uniformity of the Ultima and Thule lobes. Note the reduced red coloring at the neck of the object. Images Credits: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute.

The new images — taken from as close as 17,000 miles (27,000 kilometers) on approach — revealed Ultima Thule as a “contact binary,” consisting of two connected spheres. End to end, the world measures 19 miles (31 kilometers) in length. The team has dubbed the larger sphere “Ultima” (12 miles/19 kilometers across) and the smaller sphere “Thule” (9 miles/14 kilometers across).

Image above: This image taken by the Long-Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI) is the most detailed of Ultima Thule returned so far by the New Horizons spacecraft. It was taken at 5:01 Universal Time on January 1, 2019, just 30 minutes before closest approach from a range of 18,000 miles (28,000 kilometers), with an original scale of 459 feet (140 meters) per pixel. Image Credits: NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI.

The team says that the two spheres likely joined as early as 99 percent of the way back to the formation of the solar system, colliding no faster than two cars in a fender-bender.

“New Horizons is like a time machine, taking us back to the birth of the solar system. We are seeing a physical representation of the beginning of planetary formation, frozen in time,” said Jeff Moore, New Horizons Geology and Geophysics team lead. “Studying Ultima Thule is helping us understand how planets form — both those in our own solar system and those orbiting other stars in our galaxy.”

Data from the New Year’s Day flyby will continue to arrive over the next weeks and months, with much higher resolution images yet to come.

Image above: Illustration of NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft encountering 2014 MU69 – nicknamed “Ultima Thule” – a Kuiper Belt object that orbits one billion miles beyond Pluto. Set for New Year’s 2019, New Horizons’ exploration of Ultima will be the farthest space probe flyby in history. Image Credits: NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI.

“In the coming months, New Horizons will transmit dozens of data sets to Earth, and we’ll write new chapters in the story of Ultima Thule — and the solar system,” said Helene Winters, New Horizons Project Manager.

The Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Maryland, designed, built and operates the New Horizons spacecraft, and manages the mission for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate. The Southwest Research Institute, based in San Antonio, leads the science team, payload operations and encounter science planning. New Horizons is part of the New Frontiers Program managed by NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama.

Related article:

New Horizons Successfully Explores Ultima Thule

Live updates and links to mission information are also available on: http://pluto.jhuapl.edu

For more information on the New Horizons mission, including fact sheets, schedules, video and images, visit: https://www.nasa.gov/newhorizons

Images (mentioned), Text, Credits: NASA/JHUAPL.

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Cairn breaching a stone row in the fog, Merrivale Prehistoric Complex, Dartmoor, Devon,...

Cairn breaching a stone row in the fog, Merrivale Prehistoric Complex, Dartmoor, Devon, 29.12.18.

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Merrivale Hut Circles and Enclosure, Merrivale, Dartmoor, Devon, 29.12.18.Whilst most...

Merrivale Hut Circles and Enclosure, Merrivale, Dartmoor, Devon, 29.12.18.

Whilst most travellers look for the stone rows and monoliths at Merrivale, an extensive prehistoric enclosure with many hut circle foundations sits right alongside the convenient car park. Obscured by a stone field of its own making, this site provides some insight into the lives of those who established the famous prehistoric complex.

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Paging Doctor AI Every year, millions of people worldwide are…

Paging Doctor AI

Every year, millions of people worldwide are affected by some kind of lung disease, usually diagnosed with chest X-rays. Unfortunately, there aren’t enough expert radiologists to keep up with analysing all these images, particularly in areas of the world where doctors are in short supply and lack specialist training. As a solution, researchers have developed an artificial intelligence (AI) tool called CheXNeXt to analyse chest X-rays and spot the signs of 14 different lung diseases. For example, the images on the right show brightly coloured ‘heat maps’ that indicate the presence of abnormalities where vein catheters have been inserted (top) while the lower panels are from a patient with pneumonia, which shows up as a white mass on the X-ray. When put to the test, CheXNeXt performs at least as well as expert radiologists, so it could be a useful tool for helping to diagnose lung disease in the future.

Written by Kat Arney

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Cowm Reservoir Landscape, Whitworth, East Lancashire, 2.1.19.

Cowm Reservoir Landscape, Whitworth, East Lancashire, 2.1.19.

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