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Friday, 2 January 2009

Toys of the future , 2009


  1. Scientists launch vast observatory to solve cosmic mysteries
  2. NASA Prepares for New Juno Mission to Jupiter
  3. ESA wants International Space Station to live longer
I hope you enjoy them and Happy New Year! And I hope they all get very good funding because they deserve it!

Scientists launch vast observatory to solve cosmic mysteries

BUENOS AIRES (AFP) – Scientists in western Argentina were set to inaugurate on Friday the world's largest astronomical observatory, hoping to unlock the mysteries of high energy cosmic rays that bombard the Earth.

The opening ceremony meant the vast Pierre Auger Observatory will begin realizing "its potential for the next 20 years," astronomer team member Beatriz Garcia told AFP.

Construction for the international effort -- involving a team of more than 370 scientists and engineers from 17 countries -- began in 1999, in an elaborate joint project to better understand the particles discovered by the facility's namesake, French physicist Pierre Auger, in 1938.

With the launch of the observatory's detection systems, science has "taken a big step forward in solving the mystery of the nature and origin of the highest-energy cosmic rays," said Nobel Prize winner James Cronin, of the University of Chicago, who conceived the Pierre Auger Observatory, along with Alan Watson of the University of Leeds.

"The age of cosmic-ray astronomy has arrived," he said.

The inauguration paves the way for a second phase of construction that will include building a similar instrument in the US state of Colorado.

To observe the cosmic ray showers -- high-energy particles present in universe that bombard the Earth -- the Pierre Auger uses a collection of 1,600 particle detectors placed 1.5 kilometers (one mile) apart, in a grid spread across 3,000 square kilometers (1,200 square miles).

On top of this detection system, scientists will turn the observatory into the most powerful galaxial observation instrument ever built with an additional 24 telescopes, to record emissions of light from the particle shower.

Even before the observatory was fully operational the scientists' work paid off with the discovery that cosmic rays originate from super massive black holes nestled at the heart of some galaxies.

But "there are still many mysteries that we have not yet uncovered," said Garcia.source

My comment: Nice! Many people think that the particle physics of the 2009 will be done with cosmic rays, because they are accelerated to enourmous energies and they are all around us. And you don't have to pay for electricity for them. So, God Speed Pierre Auger Observatory!

NASA Prepares for New Juno Mission to Jupiter

( -- NASA is officially moving forward on a mission to conduct an unprecedented, in-depth study of Jupiter.

Called Juno, the mission will be the first in which a spacecraft is placed in a highly elliptical polar orbit around the giant planet to understand its formation, evolution and structure. Underneath its dense cloud cover, Jupiter safeguards secrets to the fundamental processes and conditions that governed our early solar system.

The spacecraft is scheduled to launch aboard an Atlas rocket from Cape Canaveral, Fla., in August 2011, reaching Jupiter in 2016. The spacecraft will orbit Jupiter 32 times, skimming about 3,000 miles over the planet's cloud tops for approximately one year. The mission will be the first solar powered spacecraft designed to operate despite the great distance from the sun.

The spacecraft will use a camera and nine science instruments to study the hidden world beneath Jupiter's colorful clouds. The suite of science instruments will investigate the existence of an ice-rock core, Jupiter's intense magnetic field, water and ammonia clouds in the deep atmosphere, and explore the planet's aurora borealis.

Understanding the formation of Jupiter is essential to understanding the processes that led to the development of the rest of our solar system and what the conditions were that led to Earth and humankind. Similar to the sun, Jupiter is composed mostly of hydrogen and helium. A small percentage of the planet is composed of heavier elements. However, Jupiter has a larger percentage of these heavier elements than the sun.

"Juno's extraordinarily accurate determination of the gravity and magnetic fields of Jupiter will enable us to understand what is going on deep down in the planet," said Professor Dave Stevenson, co-investigator at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena.

The Juno mission is the second spacecraft designed under NASA's New Frontiers Program. The first was the Pluto New Horizons mission, launched in January 2006 and scheduled to reach Pluto's moon Charon in 2015.

Lockheed Martin of Denver is building the spacecraft for NASA. The Italian Space Agency is contributing an infrared spectrometer instrument and a portion of the radio science experiment. source

My comment:
This is fascinating. Jupiter is a big mystery, due to the fact that it emits in the infra-red more than it receives from the Sun. I'd love to see the results from the mission. I just hope that they would crash the mission in the planet when it's over, because that's where the fun begins. This is so exciting!

ESA wants International Space Station to live longer

The European Space Agency (ESA) on Tuesday said it hoped the International Space Station (ISS), whose operational life beyond 2015 remains uncertain, would continue working until at least 2020.

Following the addition to the ISS this year of the European laboratory Columbus, "we are now in the position to exploit the ISS" for scientific work, Bonacina said.

Europe's contribution to ISS is a key issue in the two-day talks in The Hague focusing on spending plans. ESA has suggested a budget of 10.4 billion euros (13.3 billion dollars) to fund its existing and future schemes.

However, its director general Jean-Jacques Dordain has said he will be satisfied with 9.3 billion euros (11.9 billion dollars), an increase of 15 percent over current spending, Bonacina said.

The main European additions to the ISS, which celebrated its 10th birthday on November 20, have been the Columbus science lab and the Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV) supply craft.

The US-led orbital construction project has been hit by cost overruns and delays, many of them linked to the loss of the space shuttle Columbia in 2003.

European scientists and policymakers have fretted that, with a 2015 closedown, there would be scant time for making use of their ISS investment.

The US space shuttle fleet is due to retire from service in 2010, and its replacement, by a rocket-and-capsule system, is unlikely to be phased in before 2015.

As a result, the only crew transport to the ISS in the interim lies with Russia's Soyuz spacecraft.

European countries are facing calls to transform the ATV from a one-way freight carrier into a vessel able to return objects to Earth, and later to upgrade it to carry personnel.

France, meanwhile, is pushing a new second-stage cryogenic motor that would boost the lifting capacity of the Ariane 5 from 10 tonnes to 12 tonnes, for a payload to be placed in geostationary orbit. The first phase of work in this field is estimated at 340 million euros (448 million dollars).
© 2008 AFP source
My comment:
How many missions celebrate on 20th November? This is my birthday too :) Anyway, I hope the ISS get its funding, because it deserves it. It would be stupid after all those delays, to close the mall. The station just got upgraded and fitted for real science, this should be used. When will we build another space station?

1 comment:

Laurel Kornfeld said...

The actual target of New Horizons is Pluto, not its moon Charon. The probe will likely give us a lot of information on the entire Pluto system, including Charon, but its primary mission is a flyby of the planet itself.