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Space exploration and technology

  1. #121
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    Some interesting details on Manned mission

    Who Says It's a Picnic Up There?
    http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/n...ow/5083741.cms

    We don't know who the lucky two to fly in Isro's first manned mission to space in 2015 will be, but we have a fair idea of what life aboard the spacecraft will be as it orbits the earth for a week at an altitude of 274 km.

    "Saare jahan se achcha," beamed India's first cosmonaut Rakesh Sharma, peeping out of the Russian Salyut space station in 1984, when then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi asked him what India looked like from space. Our cosmonauts of 2015 will not be able to float around inside a space station; they will have to stay strapped to their seats in the orbital vehicle.

    This is a quasi-conical structure with a base of diameter 2.8 metres, so it's less than the size of a nine-sq-foot room with walls tapering towards the roof. "There isn't much space, but it's enough for two to be seated comfortably. They can unclasp their seat belts and float in microgravity a bit," says Isro chairman G Madhavan Nair.

    There will be a cylindrical service module below, but our cosmonauts will be mostly confined to the conical space above, busy with a wide range of scientific experiments. This means they will not be able to do physical exercises during their short stay out there. Space travellers consider daily exercise as crucial as food. In March this year, Gennady Padalka, the 50-year-old Russian cosmonaut in the International Space Station complained that his US counterparts were denying him access to the exercise bike. Our guys could follow in the asanas of Rakesh Sharma. "I did yoga, while the others worked out on the treadmill. The station had designated areas for dining, working and sanitation," says Sharma.

    Rakesh, who took off in the Soyuz-T 11 capsule with two Russian cosmonauts from Baikonur in Kazakhstan on April 3, 1984, says though there was just six inches of space between them while seated, they had enough room in the 50-metre-long Salyut space station to which the capsule was docked.

    They may be constantly facing an array of consoles and computers, but that doesn't mean our 2015 cosmonauts will be totally deprived of the spectacular view. "They can look out through circular windows of 20 cm diameter," says Nair.

    And there's more on their plate too. The Defence Food Research Laboratory (DFRL), Mysore, is ready with a menu of more than a dozen items "From pulav to chicken dishes and kheer, we have a good spread. Depending on the taste and preference of the cosmonaut, we can deliver new items with six months' notice," says DFRL director A S Bawa.

    Though new methods have been developed to allow space travellers to use knives, forks and spoons, most space food prepared by DFRL has to be mixed with water and sucked through a straw. The challenge in preparing space food is to pack it with nutrients while keeping the volume down.

    Sanitation is an area that Isro, along with other labs, is still working on. Because of space constraints, it is unlikely that the cosmonauts would have a separate washroom. "We cannot throw human waste out into the space. It has to be stored within the capsule without affecting the high standard of hygiene," says Nair.

    What about entertainment? "There's not much scope for anything other than work when you are in space for only a week," says Sharma. Nair says they will have to be content with playing computer games when they have time. In vacuum conditions, the cosmonauts will have to use microphones and headphones to talk to each other, even though they are seated only inches apart.

    The orbital vehicle is an improvisation of the capsule used by Isro for the Space Capsule Recovery Experiment (SRE) in January 2007. SRE, launched from Sriharikota by PSLV-C 7 on January 10, 2007 had returned to earth, splashing down in the Bay of Bengal, 12 days later. That was the first time Isro proved its re-entry capability, to bring back a launched capsule back from space to earth. While SRE weighed 600 kg and had a base diameter of 2 metres, the orbital vehicle will weigh three tonnes.

    "The bigger the size of the capsule, the bigger the challenge," explains Nair. "We have to keep the size to an optimum to ensure basic comforts while conforming to a system that protects humans on board from radiation." A bigger size demands greater protection against the high temperatures produced by friction as the vehicle comes hurtling down after re-entering the earth's atmosphere.

    Taking the orbital vehicle to space will be India's own 49-metre-tall , three-stage Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV), which was launched successfully four out of five times. "There won't be any changes to the GSLV body, but we will make some alterations to the electronics to secure them further. We are working on quadruple redundancies. If one coil in the activator fails, another should take over. We've started work," says K Radhakrishanan , director of Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre . Among the improvisations would be a crew escape system that would separate from the GSLV and splash back into sea in case the mission has to be aborted soon after lift-off .

    While the launch will be similar to any other GSLV rocket, the landing will mimic NASA spacecraft that touch down like an airplane. The capsule carrying the cosmonauts, on re-entry , will be parachuted down. That touch down will send India soaring into a new galaxy of space-faring nations.
    --------------------------------------------------------------------


    ISRO Scientists Vs Indian Air force Pilots
    Gimme Space: Dogfight over the hot seat - Science - NEWS - The Times of India
    IAF pilots and Isro scientists make for unlikely adversaries . But there's a secret war going on between them over who should get right of passage as India prepares to fire off its Rs 12,400-crore manned space mission. The project, steadily taking shape at various Isro (Indian Space Research Organisation) units throughout the country, has both IAF personnel and scientists claiming they are best qualified to man the initial flight from Sriharikota, tentatively planned for 2015-2017 .

    Though the controversy has not yet become public, it is learnt that both groups are claiming space to be their natural domain. It all began when Isro chairman G Madhavan Nair announced on August 9, 2007, that the agency was seriously considering a human space flight mission. This came exactly a year after about 80 scientists at a meeting in Bangalore, attended among others by the country's first cosmonaut, Rakesh Sharma, said India would have to launch a manned spacecraft if it had to assert itself as a global space power.

    For Sharma, part of the joint Indo-Soviet manned space mission in April 1984, the debate is a non-starter . Convinced that there should be an IAF crew on board, he said in a recent interview to TOI, "Till the various systems and technologies in the spacecraft are proven and validated, the mission should be flown only by air force test pilots since they are experienced in evaluating systems" .

    Told that two Isro engineers , P Radhakrishnan and Nagapathi C Bhatt, and not pilots had been chosen to fly in Nasa's 1986 space shuttle, Sharma explained that the shuttle's technologies had already been established .

    "Please remember that John Young, who was a part of the two man crew which flew the first space shuttle, 'Columbia' , on April 12, 1981, was an air force test pilot. So, considering all this, I have absolutely no doubt that India's maiden human space flight should be operated by IAF. After all systems are validated, an Isro team can take over." Yuri Gagarin, the first man to fly to space on April 12, 1961, was also an air force pilot.

    The book, 'Indo-Soviet Joint Space Odyssey' , published by the space cell of Air Headquarters in New Delhi, echoes Sharma's sentiment. According to this book, an aviator is considered the most eminently suitable person for space experiments. "This is only natural since space is a projection of air and one starts flying in the air before graduating into space," the book says.

    But Isro, with its huge string of achievements, does not readily buy this. The main thrust of its counter-argument is that its scientists and engineers will have no difficulty in learning to make the ambitious flight. A top space agency official, declining to be identified, pointed out that since the spacecraft carrying humans will be designed and made by Isro there is no reason why its own scientists and engineers cannot fly in it. "I am convinced that our team will have no difficulty in testing the spacecraft's systems in space. Why should it always be air force test pilots?" he said, citing Bhatt and Radhakrishnan as honourable examples . It's a different matter, though, that the mission had to be aborted in the wake of the 'Challenger' disaster on Janu ary 28, 1986, that killed all the seven crew members.

    Interestingly, within Isro itself there are two schools of thought on who exactly should first fly into space from Sri harikota. And the person in favour of the IAF is, rather ironically, none other than Bhatt himself. "Since it will be the first manned mission of its kind taking off from India, it has to attain a level of perfection. Keeping this in view, cooperation with the IAF will be necessary," he said.

    Bhatt, who is with Isro's Satellite Centre in Bangalore, said if more manned flights from India are scheduled they can be handled exclusively by Isro. "But, for the first flight, IAF certainly has to play an important role," he said. "I would be happy to go to space if I meet all the criteria.''

    Sharing the opinion of Bhatt, his shuttle colleague Radhakrishnan said, "All initial space flights in the US, Russia and China were handled by air force test pilots. Remember the spacecraft has to be taken up and brought down, and this certainly calls for piloting skills. I do agree with Rakesh Sharma.''

    Clearing the air, Radhakrishnan recalled that he was chosen for the space shuttle mission as a payload specialist something that does not require flying experience. "As of now, I do not think Isro has pilots and in the interest of safety a spacecraft cannot be flown by amateurs. When I say amateurs, I mean those who do not fly," he said.

    Isro, meanwhile, is awaiting a formal nod for the mission from the Union cabinet. It has already been approved by the Planning Commission, which in February 2009 said a budget of Rs 5,000 crore would be required for the initial work. The Centre has also allocated a sum of Rs 50 crore for what Isro calls "pre-project initiatives'' for the year 2007-2008 . A report related to this programme has, in turn, been cleared by the space commission.

    In anticipation of the Cabinet's green signal, Isro has begun preliminary design work for the three-tonne orbital vehicle that will carry a two-member crew into the low earth orbit for seven days at an altitude of 275 km. It will be carried by the three-stage Geo Synchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV).

    About 16 minutes after lift-off from Sriharikota, the GSLV will place the vehicle in orbit. Trials for the mission began with the 600-kg Space Capsule Recovery Experiment launched by the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle on January 10, 2007. The capsule re-entered and splashed into the Bay of Bengal on January 22, 2007.

    India is expected to receive assistance in crew selection and training from Russia under an agreement signed between the two countries in March 2008. One option being considered is sending an Indian astronaut abroad a Soyuz capsule by 2012 in preparation for the indigenous experiment . There is a lot attached to India's manned flight to space as it is being seen as the precursor to a possible human mission to the moon around 2020.

    But as a scientist said, "In the end, it is not who gets to fly to space, but how and when India does it that will matter most.'' The debate between pilots and scientists can rage on till then.

  2. #122
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    some info:

    cross posting

    Strategic national producer Midhani on high growth curve

    “Despite the sanctions,” says Chairman and Managing Director (CMD), K Narayana Rao, “Midhani today manufactures the world’s best maraging steel, a critical component in nuclear reactors, fuel enrichment centrifuges, missiles and space rockets. The Indian Space Research Organisation’s GSLV rockets are clad in Midhani’s maraging steel.”

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    • ISRO seeks Russian spaceship for manned flight



    STAFF WRITER 14:9 HRS ISTVinay Shukla

    Moscow, Oct 4 (PTI)
    As part of the nation's ambitious programme of manned space flights, Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) is seeking a Russian spaceship for sending "space tourists" in orbit, an official said.

    "ISRO has applied for acquiring a spaceship for sending space tourists," Russian space agency "Roskosmos" spokesman Alexei Krasnov said.

    He said the deal would be commercial and two space travellers could fly in the non-reusable 'Soyuz TMA' ship to be piloted by a Russian cosmonaut.

    Krasnov, however, did not say about the value of the contract.

    "It depends on the route and duration of the flight, which are yet to be finalised," he said.

    According to Russian media "Roskosmos" charges about USD 35 million for a space tourist's 10-day flight to International Space Station (ISS).


    fullstory
    “Everybody wants to save the Earth; nobody wants to help Mom do the dishes.”― P.J. O'Rourke

  4. #124
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    fullstory

    Russia Space Troops put 250 spacecraft into orbit in 8 years

    Moscow, Oct 5 (Itar-Tass) Russian Space Troops have carried out over 200 lift-offs of launch vehicles over the eight years of active operation, which put into orbit 250 spacecraft of various designations.

    Commemorating the launch of world's first satellite from Baikonur in 1957 on the Space Troops Day yesterday, commander of the Space Troops, Major General Oleg Ostapenko said, "The establishment was caused by objective necessity, promoted by modern world trends for expanding outer-space role in ensuring protection of vitally important state interests in the economic, military and social spheres,".

    Military formations of space designation are set up specially for this task, with preparation, launching and control over the flight of the first satellite.

    The space troops operate as an independent arm since March 2001 when all military formations, ensuring operation of the Russian Armed Forces in space, were combined according to the Russian president's decree.
    Rainfall is affected by windmills because it don't allow cloud formation - A farmer :(:thinking:

  5. #125
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    Ariane-5 rocket orbits civilian, military satellites | Top Russian news and analysis online | 'RIA Novosti' newswire

    PARIS, October 2 (RIA Novosti) - An Ariane-5 rocket has orbited two satellites, one civilian and one military, from the Kourou space center in French Guiana, the French satellite launch firm Arianespace said.

    The mission carried the Amazonas 2 civilian relay platform for Spain's Hispasat operator and the German COMSATBw-1 military communications satellite for the German Defense Ministry.

    The COMSATBw-1 satellite for the Bundeswehr was created by European company Thales Alenia Space and EADS Astrium. The satellite will be joined by COMSATBw-2 in 2010.

    The system, to operate from late 2010, will allow Germany's armed forces to use secure satellite communications, transmitting voice, data, video and multimedia.

    This was the 191st launch of the Ariane type rocket and the 47th launch of an Ariane-5 rocket. In 2009 Arianespace launched five Ariane-5s and plans another two launches.
    Rainfall is affected by windmills because it don't allow cloud formation - A farmer :(:thinking:

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  7. #127
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    Russia to launch two European satellites Nov. 2 | Top Russian news and analysis online | 'RIA Novosti' newswire

    MOSCOW, October 6 (RIA Novosti) - A Rokot carrier rocket with two European satellites is being prepared for a November 2 launch from the Plesetsk space center in northwest Russia, a spokesman for the Khrunichev center said on Tuesday.

    The dry run, or dress rehearsal of the launch, began at the space center in early October, according to the schedule.

    "The launch is scheduled for November 2. A deal to launch Rockot with the SMOS spacecraft [primary payload] and the Proba-2 mini-satellite was concluded between the ESA and Eurockot Launch Services GmbH [a joint venture of the Khrunichev center and EADS Astrium]," the spokesman said.

    Once in orbit at an altitude of 756 km (470 miles), the 665-kg SMOS (Soil Moisture and Ocean Salinity), will produce global maps of high resolution and sensitivity showing variations in soil moisture and saline levels in the world's oceans. The mission is part of ESA's Earth Explorer Envelope Program.

    The 130-kg Proba-2 (Project for On-Board Autonomy) research satellite will test new technologies for autonomous space missions for ESA's Technology Directorate.

    The Rokot launch vehicle is a modified version of the Russian RS-18 (SS-19 Stiletto) intercontinental ballistic missile. It uses the two original lower stages of the ICBM, in conjunction with a Breeze-KM upper-stage for commercial payloads.

    This is the third Rokot launch of 2009. In March, a Rokot launch vehicle successfully put into orbit the European GOCE satellite, which will measure and map the Earth's gravitational field. In July, a Rokot with three Russian Cosmos-series military satellites was launched by Russia's Space Forces from the Plesetsk space center.
    Rainfall is affected by windmills because it don't allow cloud formation - A farmer :(:thinking:

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    Iran to send living creature to space in two years | Top Russian news and analysis online | 'RIA Novosti' newswire

    MOSCOW, October 7 (RIA Novosti) - Iran plans to send a living creature into space within the next two years, the Fars news agency has reported.

    "We will launch a bio-capsule containing a living creature into space," Mohsen Bahrami, head of Iran's Aerospace Center, was quoted as saying on Tuesday.

    "We are currently working on the program," he said without specifying the "living creature."

    Iran had previously said it would put live animals into space as part of its plan to launch a manned spaceflight by 2021.

    Iran's Aerospace Research Center also said it would launch its next Kavoshgar (Explorer) sub-orbital rocket next March.

    Kavoshgar rockets were launched in February and November 2008, while Iran put a domestically produced satellite into orbit using its own Safir (Messenger) carrier rocket in February this year.

    While Iran insists its space program is exclusively peaceful, there are concerns in the West that the country could using it to as a cover for devleoping its ballistic missile arsenal.
    Rainfall is affected by windmills because it don't allow cloud formation - A farmer :(:thinking:

  9. #129
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    NASA rocket on crash course with moon

    NASA rocket on crash course with moon

    The largest array of spacecraft and Earth-bound telescopes ever assembled will be watching before dawn Friday for a brilliant flash of light from a deep and permanently shadowed crater near the moon's South Pole.

    That flash will signal the climax of a mission from NASA's Ames Research Center in Mountain View, where scientists are seeking conclusive evidence of whether copious quantities of water exist just beneath the lunar surface.

    At 4:30 a.m. Friday - give or take a minute or two - a spacecraft named LCROSS will send its 2-ton, upper-stage spent rocket crashing into the crater to raise a 6-mile-high cloud of rock and dust.

    That cloud of debris, emerging from the dark crater into brilliant sunlight, will be analyzed by sensitive instruments aboard LCROSS and by detectors aboard a fleet of orbiting spacecraft and numerous telescopes on Earth wherever the moon is visible.

    Amateur astronomers with telescopes in the 10- to 12-inch range may be able to catch the distant flash of the LCROSS impact, but the plume will not be visible to the naked eye.

    The newly refurbished Hubble Space Telescope, UC Santa Cruz's Lick Observatory atop Mount Hamilton near San Jose, the powerful Keck and Gemini North telescopes on Mauna Kea in Hawaii, and observatories in Arizona and New Mexico are focused on the target crater, named Cabeus, and will take images of the flash from the blast.

    Each telescope and spacecraft carries different suites of analytic instruments operating at different wavelengths to detect all the chemicals in the bright dust cloud.

    Four minutes after the blast, LCROSS itself - with all its data from the debris cloud transmitted back to the Ames Center - will deliberately crash into the same crater and send up a much smaller debris cloud that also might be visible to scientists on Earth and all the orbiting spacecraft.

    LCROSS, which stands for Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite, was launched in June and has been orbiting the moon, carrying the upper-stage Centaur rocket that sent it into space. On Friday, LCROSS will send the Centaur into the crater.

    It's an extremely tricky job to aim a 2-ton object flying in space at a target only a few yards wide, while using controls on Earth nearly 240,000 miles away.

    The engineers "have commanded the spacecraft to fire a series of trajectory correction maneuvers to get us on target, and we have another maneuver on the books yet in case we need it," Anthony Colaprete, the mission's chief scientist, said Wednesday in an e-mail.

    "We're just finishing up the last of our rehearsals and the team is anxious but focused," he said. "The training is really paying off and everyone knows exactly the job they need to do."

    The LCROSS mission has attracted such wide attention that officials at the Ames Research Center have invited the public to spend all night outdoors at the research center's campus at Moffett Field. They will offer free movies, entertainment and scientific explanations.

    Several thousand are expected, and when the impact occurs, they will be shown wide-screen Internet feeds of the flash from the Hubble space telescope and other observatories while Ames scientists explain what's happening.

    The mission may reveal what scientists are seeking: new knowledge about the moon's interior - and, for some, a future source of water for astronauts and fuel for their rockets.

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    Thirsty NASA to ‘bomb’ moon in search of water

    The Hindu. October 8, 2009

    Just weeks after ISRO and NASA announced discovery of evidence of water on the lunar surface, the US Space agency is all set to bomb the Moon on Friday in search for hidden water in a controversial mission.

    Scientists will see two spacecraft slamming into the moon’s south pole at 9,000 kmph kicking up a 10-km-high shower of debris that National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) hopes will confirm the presence of enough water necessary to supply future visits by astronauts.

    Amateur astronomers in parts of the world may be able to view the impact through a telescope; for everyone else, the crash will be broadcast live on the NASA website along with early pictures of the lunar dust cloud during the dramatic mission. Within an hour of the impact, scientists will know whether water was hiding there or not.

    The Indian Space Research Organisation(ISRO) announced in September that the country’s first unmanned lunar mission Chandrayaan-I found evidence of water on the moon within a month after it was launched in October,2008, to make the first such discovery. NASA had also announced in September that it found evidence of water.

    The crashing spaceship was launched in June along with an orbiter that is now mapping the lunar surface. LCROSS, short for Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite and pronounced L—Cross, is on a collision course with the moon, attached to an empty 2.2—tonne rocket that helped get the probe off the ground.

    NASA is carryying out this mission to see if any water, ice or vapour is revealed in the cloud of debris. Discovering sub-surface ice is important because the ice could be used as a source of water for efforts to build a colony on the moon’s surface.

  11. #131
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    Post Impact Press Conference
    Friday, October 09, 2009 5:37 PM
    The LCROSS Centaur and Spacecraft impacted the moon at approximately 4:30 a.m. PDT. Scientists are reviewing the initial data and will report what they know at a Post Impact News Conference at 7:00 a.m. PDT / 10:00 a.m. EDT on NASA TV.

    US spacecraft crash into the Moon


    By Paul Rincon
    Science reporter, BBC News
    Space exploration and technology

     46519030 lcross2 nasa 466 The "shepherding spacecraft" was designed to analyse the debris


    Nasa has crashed two unmanned spacecraft into the Moon in a bid to detect the presence of water-ice.
    A 2,200kg rocket stage was first to collide, hurling debris high above the lunar surface.
    A second spacecraft packed with science instruments analysed the contents of this dusty cloud before it also crashed into the Moon.
    The identification of water-ice in the impact plume would be a major discovery, scientists say.
    Not least because a supply of water on the Moon would be a vital resource for future human exploration.
    The $79m (49m; 53m euro) mission is called LCROSS (the Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite).
    There are two main components: There are two main components: the large Centaur rocket upper stage and a smaller "shepherding spacecraft".
    The rocket stage hit the Moon's south pole at 1231 BST (0731 EDT), travelling at roughly twice the speed of a bullet.
    That impact was expected to throw an estimated 350 tonnes of debris to altitudes of 10km (6.2 miles) or more.
    The "shepherding spacecraft" - designed to look for signs of water in the plume - followed it down, striking the surface at 1235 BST (0735 EDT).
    The existence of water-ice in permanently shadowed craters at the lunar poles had previously been postulated by scientists, but never confirmed.



    BBC NEWS | Science & Environment | US spacecraft crash into the Moon


    NASA slams moon in search of water
    Updated on Friday, October 09, 2009, 17:43 IST
    Untitled 120copy879879789 Zeenews Bureau

    Washington: NASA has successfully steered an empty rocket hull into the moon's south pole in a search for hidden ice.



    spacer
    The intentional crash this morning is the first and bigger of two planned collisions that are expected to kick up miles of lunar dust. The space probe is called LCROSS (L-cross), short for Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite. It has five cameras and four other scientific instruments aboard, and follows the empty hull by a few minutes. It is taking pictures during its death spiral and beaming them back to Earth.

    It is taking pictures during its death spiral and beaming them back to Earth.

    NASA is broadcasting the crashes live on the Internet. Telescopes across the world are trained to the moon for the event. NASA expects to know whether there was ice below the lunar surface in about an hour.

    spacer Data from three deep-space missions late last month revealed that there are small, but widespread amounts of water across the entire surface of the moon. That announcement is seen as complementing, not preempting, the LCROSS mission.

    Astronomers said before the impact that new data from $79-millionLCROSS mission will complement the earlier findings because water is believed to be much more abundant in the craters. The findings could aid future manned missions to the moon, which could establish long-term outposts.

    NASA scientists said that it is possible for frozen water to have remained in the moon's craters for billions of years, because the bottoms of the craters are never reached by sunlight and protect any ice from evaporation into the thin lunar atmosphere.


    http://www.zeenews.com/news569452.html
    “Everybody wants to save the Earth; nobody wants to help Mom do the dishes.”― P.J. O'Rourke

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    The Associated Press: Moon crash: Public yawns, scientists celebrate

    WASHINGTON — NASA's great lunar fireworks finale fizzled. After gearing up for the space agency's much-hyped mission to hurl two spacecraft into the moon, the public turned away from the sky Friday anything but dazzled. Photos and video of the impact showed little more than a fuzzy white flash.

    In social media and live television coverage, many people were disappointed at the lack of spectacle. One person even joked that someone hit the pause button in mission control.

    Yet scientists involved in the project were downright gleeful. Sure, there were no immediate pictures of spewing plumes of lunar dust that could contain water, but, they say, there was something more important: chemical signatures in light waves. That's the real bonanza, not pictures of geyser-like eruptions of debris, the scientists said.

    The mission was executed for "a scientific purpose, not to put on a fireworks display for the public," said space consultant Alan Stern, a former NASA associate administrator for science.

    Scientists said the public expected too much. The public groused as if NASA delivered too little.

    The divide was as big as a crater.

    "We've been brainwashed by Hollywood to expect the money shot, like 'Deep Impact' or when Bruce Willis saves us from a comet," said physicist and television host Michio Kaku, who was not part of the mission. "Science is not done that way."

    But Kaku and other experts also faulted NASA for overhyping the mission, not being honest with the public about the images being a longshot. "They should have put Steven Spielberg in charge," Kaku said.

    NASA's LCROSS mission — short for Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite and pronounced L-Cross — had all the makings of a blockbuster. Its main goal was to look for some form of water on the moon — something that could still turn up in those light wave chemical signatures.

    A preliminary review of data from the Hubble Space Telescope indicated no signs of water in the debris viewed from the blast, NASA said late Friday, but added that more study was needed.

    And water on the moon could change NASA's troubled plans for space exploration. It would make revisiting and putting a base on the moon far cheaper because the moon's water could be used, Kaku said.

    It was relatively cheap and last-minute by NASA standards: Just $79 million, in about three years. It was elegant in its simplicity. An empty rocket hull that would normally be space junk remained attached to the plucky little LCROSS until pulling away Thursday night. On Friday morning, it smashed into a crater near the moon's south pole.

    Then the little satellite flew through what was supposed to be a six-mile plume of dust from the crash, taking pictures and measuring all sorts of stuff, mostly looking for water. Moments after the first crash, the smaller spacecraft itself hit the moon for a second impact.

    The crashes created a man-made crater about one-fifth the size of a football field, Brown University geologist and LCROSS scientist Peter Schultz told The Associated Press.

    It all worked perfectly, according to NASA. But there were no pictures of a plume. There may not have been a plume at all, or maybe it was just hidden or too small, said LCROSS scientist Anthony Colaprete.

    The spacecraft, instead of spewing six miles of dust straight out, could have compacted the lunar soil — sort of like a rock sinking quickly in water instead of making a massive splash.

    "We saw a crater; we saw a flash, so something had to happen in between," Colaprete said. The crater was the aftermath of the crash, and the flash was the impact itself.

    The key is not in photographs but in squiggly lines that show those complicated light waves, Colaprete said. Once they are analyzed — a task that may take weeks — the light waves will show whether water was present at the crash site.

    "It wasn't a dud. We got a gold mine of data," said Kaku, a professor at the City College of New York and host of "Sci Q Sundays" on the Science Channel. If those squiggly lines show there is ice just under the surface of the moon, it would make the lack of pictures worth it, he said.

    "Ice is more valuable than gold on the moon," Kaku said.

    For about a decade, scientists have speculated about buried ice below the moon's poles. Then surprising new research last month indicated that there seem to be tiny amounts of water mixed into the lunar soil all over the moon, making the moon once again a more interesting target for scientists.

    But a discovery of ice later this month would not be quite the same as seeing promised flashes through a telescope.

    People who got up before dawn to look for the crash at Los Angeles' Griffith Observatory threw confused looks at each other instead. They tried to watch on TV because the skies were not clear enough, but that proved disappointing, too.

    Telescope demonstrator Jim Mahon called the celestial show "anticlimactic."

    "I was hoping we'd see a flash or a flare, evidence of a plume," he said.
    Rainfall is affected by windmills because it don't allow cloud formation - A farmer :(:thinking:

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    NASA trying to steal ISRO's thunder...

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    Barcelona Process Established To Guide Search For Habitable Exoplanets

    "Barcelona Process" Established To Guide Search For Habitable Exoplanets

    by Staff Writers
    Barcelona, Spain (SPX) Oct 14, 2009
    Exoplanet scientists from around the world gathered in Barcelona from September 14 to 18 to debate and reach a consensus on defining guidelines for a new roadmap with the ultimate objective of finding habitable, and potentially inhabited, planets outside of our Solar System.

    In addition they reached an agreement on an appropriate framework for developing such an initiative.

    During the conference, researchers presented recent discoveries and debated on the roles of future space missions and ground-based facilities for finding habitable planets around nearby stars. They concluded that only an organized and structured international cooperation could allow the fulfillment of this goal in the following decades.

    Therefore this "Barcelona Process" marks the commencement of a new era in exoplanet research through:

    1. The constitution of an interdisciplinary and international scientific community, organized and coherent with the objectives it seeks.

    2. The creation of a Permanent Committee, which will coordinate and encourage the implementation of these objectives.

    3. The organization of a Conference every three years, possibly in Barcelona, which will allow the supervision and adjustment of the roadmap from results obtained through research as well as development and implementation of new technologies. In turn, these meetings should act as a laboratory of ideas capable of orienting the decisions that governments and space agencies could take in the mid and long run.

    The process includes other recommendations such as the creation, in the near future, of an interdisciplinary center for meetings, the establishment of a fellowship program and the advantages of defining an international public outreach program.

    Roadmap Milestones
    During the Conference, four main steps were defined in order to fulfill the future objective of finding and characterizing habitable planets:

    1. Carry out a statistical analysis of the frequency of exoplanets in our Galaxy, and especially those planets that are terrestrial in nature. This analysis includes elaborating a star survey; determining the stellar types that harbor planetary systems; exploring their structure, variety, and size distribution; and finding the frequency of terrestrial planets within the habitable zone. For this type of study, current technology is being employed, such as the space missions CoRoT and Kepler (transits) and the ground instrument HARPS (radial velocities). In the future, other space missions that study transits (PLATO, TESS) and gravitational lensing should be carried out to attain a global vision of the exoplanets in our Galaxy.

    2. Carry out a space mission that could complete a survey of all the habitable exoplanets that fall within a radius of 50 light years from our Sun. These systems are close enough to be studied in detail. The astrometry technique has shown to be the most suitable method for this objective and, in particular, the SIM Lite mission (Space Interferometry Mission Lite), which is under study by NASA. This mission will be able to detect the reflex motion caused by Earth-size exoplanets by measuring the position of their host stars with high accuracy. To fulfill the objectives of this milestone, the role of complementary ground-based facilities such as HARPS and VLTI/PRIMA will be pivotal.

    3. Carry out one or more missions (possibly through collaboration between space agencies) of transit observations in order to characterize hot terrestrial exoplanets. The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST, launch date in 2014), a joint mission between NASA and ESA, may be able to contribute to this objective. However a dedicated mission with an optimized design is needed to cover the wide spectral range needed, including the visible. Ground-based observations obtained with 10-m class telescopes (VLT) and the future giant 40-m class telescopes (E-ELT) could provide important contributions to the characterization of transits some of giant and Neptune-size exoplanets.

    4. Launch a mission capable of characterizing habitable terrestrial exoplanets in search for biomarkers, as a joint collaboration between space agencies. It is still early to determine the technological approach of this flagship mission and, therefore, it is necessary to conduct tests with concepts related to coronography, interferometry and external occulters. In addition, the experience gained from upcoming missions like SPICA (JAXA/ESA) and JWST (NASA/ESA) will be essential.

    The Barcelona Conference marked a starting point for new great expectations within the exoplanet scientific community. A symbolic step in the right direction was the announcement of the discovery of the first terrestrial planet, COROT-7 b, made during the conference.

    For the first time, we have been able to gather a multidisciplinary team of scientists, including biologists, geologists, astronomers, and planetary scientists, as well as representatives of the different space agencies and ground observatories, in order to agree upon a future vision and strategy.

    We will consolidate a European network of several hundred scientists which will allow us to work together to find and study planets that support life. Maybe, in the coming decades, we will able to address the question we have been seeking to answer for so long: Are we alone in the Universe?

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