NASA has revealed its plans to create the coldest spot in the known universe on board the International Space Station in 2016. The researchers are preparing to study matter at temperatures near absolute zero, revealing the world of quantum mechanics.
The US space agency has announced that its researchers are currently working on the Cold Atom Laboratory, “the coolest spot in the universe”, which will be ready for installation inside the International Space Station by December 2015.
There are several reasons underlying the scientific drive to explore characteristics and qualities of matter in conditions that are difficult to replicate on Earth. Space’s low temperatures, unattainable in terrestrial laboratories, reveal the wave nature of atoms, as well as possibly new phenomena. The absence of gravity additionally allows such experiments to last longer – up to 20 seconds.
“We’re going to study matter at temperatures far colder than are found naturally,” said the project’s head scientist Rob Thompson of Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL).”We aim to push effective temperatures down to 100 pico-Kelvin.”
One hundred pico-Kelvin is remarkable in that it is a mere ten billionth of a degree above absolute zero (0K or −273.15°C) – a point on an imaginary thermometer where all thermal activity of atoms theoretically halts. When temperatures are so low, our traditional ideas of atomic behavior cease to apply. The matter is no longer solid, liquid or gas – its atoms tend to create quantum forms of matter. …
“We’ll begin by studying Bose-Einstein Condensates,” he said. “The Cold Atom Lab will allow us to study these objects at perhaps the lowest temperatures ever.”
The condensates, named after Satyendra Bose and Albert Einstein, who predicted them in the beginning of the 20th century, were, in fact, discovered only in 1995. And in 2001, Eric Cornell and Carl Wieman shared the Nobel Prize with Wolfgang Ketterle for their independent discovery of the intriguing capacity of rubidium and sodium atoms to form a single wave of matter when cooled to temperatures slightly above the absolute zero threshold.
The researches, planned by NASA, are aimed at studying ultra-cold quantum gases in the microgravity of the ISS besides other experiments. … The Cold Atom Lab, which actually is designed “for use by multiple investigators” and is “upgradable and maintainable on orbit,” is scheduled to be launched inside the ISS in early 2016, where it will be able to function for 5 years.
Archive for the ‘Space’ Category
Posted by Anonymous on February 3, 2014
Posted by Anonymous on January 15, 2014
Unknown Cloud Seen from Space Station
Added by Kimberly Ruble on October 13, 2013.
This weekend, an astronaut from Italy, Luca Parmitano, put some very strange photographs upon his account at Twitter which had been taken from the International Space Station. They showed what appeared to be some sort of unknown cloud that was rising directly above the horizon of the Earth at twilight, the types of man-made clouds that usually appear after rockets have been shot off.
What is so weird about this is that there were no planned launches by NASA because of the government shutdown or from any United States commercial spaceflight corporation. Europe and Russia neither one had announced any scheduled launches at that time as well. Nevertheless, there was something that got fired up into space.
Another picture showed what appeared to be a curved trail of a white smoky tail, this being water vapor and exhaust which is made by a rocket going through the atmosphere. There were strange designs created after being pounded by high elevation winds. Then Parmitano showed another picture of the cloud and that seemed to be caused by the rocket crumbling over the Earth.
Mike Hopkins, who is a NASA astronaut, and is stationed on the ISS, also tweeted his observation of the clouds, and stated that he saw something being launching up into space. He said he was not sure what it was but that the clouds it left behind were amazing.
To see some sort of unexpected rocket being launched outside their window had to be unsettling for the ISS team. Did they ever discover what the rocket actually was?
It is believed that Strategic Rocket Forces in Russia had a successful secret trial takeoff of a Topol/SS-25 missile. The rocket was sent up from Kapustin to the Shagan trial area located in Kazakhstan. Conferring to a representative of the Rocket Forces, the experiment was used to check characteristics of the Topol rocket, and to check the systems of the Sary Shagan test site.
This missile is the newest addition to Russia’s military fleet, and it is the first international airborne missile to be developed after the disbanding of the Soviet Union. Intercontinental missiles are used as nuclear weapon delivery systems, and are able to be launched into space and deliver their payloads over thousands of miles away.
According to the Information Telegraph Agency in Russia, various news agencies reported the test was needed to make sure of the stability of the performance characteristics of this class of missile during the extension of its life, preparation of its various measuring systems, and the testing of warheads of ballistic missiles.
The news reports also said the missile test was a triumph, that the practice target they aimed at in Kazakhstan was hit. So it does appear that the cloud encounter was produced by the disintegration of the top part of the Topol’s rocket.
The trouble is that this is a notice to everyone that even though World Space Week had just ended, a festivity which marks the anniversary of the signing of the Outer Space Treaty which banned the militarization of space, that human beings still are testing the transfer apparatuses for weapons of mass destruction, even as the peaceful civilian ISS (crew) watch(es) from their windows and can do nothing when they happen to notice clouds of unknown origin coming into existence right in front of their eyes.
Posted by Anonymous on January 13, 2014
The company says the reusable space vehicle was carried by airplane to 46,000 feet (14,020 meters) on Friday and then released. The craft then used its rocket motor to reach its highest altitude to date.
SpaceShipTwo and its two-member crew then glided to a safe landing in the desert north of Los Angeles.
Virgin Galactic says the ten-minute test flight moves the company closer to its goal of flying paying passengers into space.
No date has been set for the first commercial flight but hundreds of would-be tourists have made down payments for the chance to fly.
Posted by Anonymous on December 18, 2013
All things being equal, the universe is set to continually expand, eventually ripping itself to shreds in about 22 billion years. But Danish scientists say an expanding bubble of existential doom could crush the Universe into a tiny ball. And crazily, the odds of this collapse is higher than previously thought.
This theory isn’t actually new. But the scientists who conducted the new study say previous calculations were incomplete. Their new, more precise calculations, now show that (1) the universe will probably collapse, and (2) a collapse is even more likely than the old calculations predicted.
To reach this conclusion, researchers from the University of Southern Denmark analyzed three equations that drive the theory, including beta functions (which are used to determine such things as the strength of interactions between light particles and electrons, or Higgs bosons and quarks). But instead of working with one equation at at time, they applied these equations together, revealing a higher probability of a collapse.
This particularly collapse theory — which predicts a cataclysmic disruption to standard model vacuum stability — is distinct from the old Big Crunch theory. It suggests that there will eventually be a radical shift in the forces of the universe such that every single particle within it will become extremely heavy. Yes — everything. The particles in the Sun, in your body, and in your smartphone. And we’re not just talking a little bit heavier; models predict a weight increase on the order of millions of billions times heavier than they are now.
To say that this would have disastrous consequences would be a gross understatement. Owing to tremendous gravitational forces, everything within the Universe would be squeezed into a tiny, hot, and heavy ball. For all practical purposes, it would be the end of the Universe.
This phase transition could happen if a bubble is created where the Higgs-field associated with the Higgs-particle reaches a different value than the rest of the universe.
Should the new value create lower energy, and if the bubble is large enough, it will expand outwards in all directions at the speed of light. Everything caught inside this bubble will experience dramatic weight gain and collect into supermassive centers. In turn, these centers will attract each other, and on and on until we get our tiny, hot, and heavy ball of utter uselessness.
And here’s what’s even more crazy: This could be happening as we speak.
“The phase transition will start somewhere in the universe and spread from there,” says Jens Frederik Colding Krog, PhD student at the Center for Cosmology and Particle Physics Phenomenology (CP3) and co-author of an article on the subject that appears in the Journal of High Energy Physics. “Maybe the collapse has already started somewhere in
the universe and right now it is eating its way into the rest of the universe. Maybe a collapse is starting right now, right here. Or maybe it will start far away from here in a billion years. We do not know.” The comments were made in a recent statement.
Krog says that the whole thing could be canceled if there are other elementary particles out there that we don’t know about. …
Perhaps aliens aren’t visiting us because they have bigger things to do. We can only hope that there are some Type III civilizations working on this because we can barely get off our own planet. We couldn’t even defend our world from a killer asteroid.
Posted by Anonymous on December 12, 2013
A report appearing in the pro-regime China Times brags that China’s launch of the Long March-3B rocket earlier this week is part of a long term plan to turn the moon into a Star Wars-style “death star” from which the PLA could launch missiles against any target on Earth.
It all sounds like something straight out of The Onion, but upon checking the sources it appears that this is indeed what Communist Party officials have been discussing this week following China’s flagship launch of a lunar rover, which is Beijing’s first spacecraft to land on the surface of an extraterrestrial body.
The article appears on the Want China Times website, the English-language outlet of the The China Times Group, which is based in Taiwan and considered to be pro-unification and pro-Beijing. The article cites the Beijing Times, which is affiliated with the People’s Daily, as the source for the original report.
Under the headline PLA dreams of turning moon into Death Star, says expert, the report cites “experts in China” who are wargaming how the moon, “Can be transformed into a deadly weapon. Like the Death Star in Star Wars, the moon could hypothetically be used as a military battle station and ballistic missiles could be launched against any military target on Earth.”
“Various weapons testing sites could also be established on the moon,” the article adds, noting that the launch of the Long March-3B rocket is the start of “a more ambitious program.”
This report again reminds us that some of Beijing’s most jingoistic and aggressive rhetoric is often hidden in plain view, with Chinese military planners perfectly willing to go on the record and brag about their agenda to turn China into a forceful military superpower.
Last month, Chinese state-run media released a map showing the locations of major U.S. cities and how they would be impacted by a nuclear attack launched from the PLA’s strategic submarine force.
Top Chinese generals have also occasionally threatened America with nuclear strikes if the U.S. becomes embroiled in any future conflict involving Taiwan.
Tensions between the United States and China are currently running high after Beijing imposed an “air defense zone” over the disputed Senkaku Islands and hinted that it may shoot down any foreign aircraft entering the area. The U.S., Japan and South Korea quickly rendered this threat toothless by performing several overflights of the area without notifying Chinese authorities.
According to the Telegraph’s Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, the escalating crisis represents a “watershed moment for the world,” could signal the start of a new cold war, and means “Asia is on the cusp of a full-blown arms race.”
China has acted with increasing military aggression in recent months, first by sending warships to the coast of Syria to in September to “observe” the actions of U.S. and Russian vessels in the region and then by sailing a surveillance ship through Hawaiian waters for the very first time in an unprecedented move which was described as a provocative retaliation to America’s naval presence in the East China Sea.
Well, they will have to be careful not to trip on all of the German, Soviet, US bases already up there. Odds are they will have some accidents or encounter some “aliens” if they try to set up some of their own doomsday missile launchers this late in the game.
Posted by Anonymous on December 12, 2013
If you have ambitions of being one of the first people on Mars, listen up: A Dutch company says it is moving along with its plan to send four lucky Earthlings to colonize the Red Planet. The catch: They won’t ever come back.
The Mars One foundation announced Tuesday that it has secured lead suppliers for an unmanned mission launching in 2018, which involves a robotic lander and a communications satellite. Lockheed Martin has been contracted to study building the lander, and Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd. will develop a concept study for the satellite, Mars One said.
This first mission will demonstrate technology that would be involved in a permanent human settlement on Mars. If all goes well — and that’s still very much an “if” — the first pioneers could land on Mars in 2025.
Enthusiasm has been growing since the project’s first big announcement in April. More than 200,000 people have signed up to be prospective astronauts, Mars One CEO Bas Lansdorp said in Washington on Tuesday.
Apparently, they’re OK with living out the rest of their lives on Mars. The technology for a return flight doesn’t exist — there’s no Kennedy Space Center launch pad over there! — and having a one-way trip greatly reduces costs, the company has said.
The application period is now closed, and by the end of this year, the company plans to notify those special folk who made it to Round 2.
The unmanned mission is the “most important and most difficult step of actually getting humans to Mars,” Lansdorp said.
It would also be the first privately funded planetary exploration mission.
“The opportunity to participate in that is just really exciting,” said Ed Sedivy, a chief engineer at Lockheed Martin Space Systems.
Lansdorp expects that the majority of funding for the unmanned missions will come from sponsors and partners, not public contributions.
The cost of the lander and satellite will be something that the contracted companies will study, although Mars One has a ballpark figure in mind, Lansdorp said.
What they want to send in 2018
The lander will be based on the successful NASA Phoenix mission, Lansdorp said. The Mars One probe will feature a robotic arm carrying a camera that will shoot continuous video, as well as a water experiment that will demonstrate the production of liquid water on the surface of Mars.
“The highest priority is to actually have liquid water on Mars,” he said.
This unmanned mission will also carry the winning projects from an experiment contest. There will be a worldwide university challenge giving teams the chance to propose tests to carry out on Mars.
These could be science experiments, of course, but Mars One is also interested in “fun” experiments. One of Lansdorp’s visions, for instance, is a balloon with a camera attached to it that would film Mars from an altitude of 200 to 500 meters, which has never been done.
The communications satellite will provide live video feed from surface of Mars to Earth, representing the first Mars synchronous communications satellite, Lansdorp said.
Posted by Anonymous on November 12, 2013
from Popular Science
A one-ton European Space Agency satellite finally plunged to Earth on Sunday. Dozens of charred pieces of it – the largest pieces could be 200 pounds – likely landed in the Atlantic Ocean near the Falkland Islands. One Falkland Islander even snapped a photo of the incinerating satellite as it streaked down the sky.
The agency originally didn’t know when, exactly, the satellite would return to Earth, The New York Times reports. Nor could it have predicted where the spacecraft’s remains would land. But this is actually normal for many satellites. Since people began sending things to space, an estimated 15,000 tons of debris has fallen to Earth. None has caused any injuries, although there is always a tiny chance, The New York Times reports.
The Gravity Field and Steady-State Ocean Circulation Explorer, or GOCE satellite, completed its mission of mapping Earth’s gravity in 2011. Such data help scientists understand the topography of the ocean floor, water circulation in the oceans, and sea-level rise. Just before it finished it mission, GOCE also recorded sound waves from the earthquake that hit Japan in March 2011.
GOCE was designed to take an uncontrolled fall to Earth when it ran out of propellant, but it ended up using less propellant than anticipated, and thus stayed in orbit longer planned. It finally ran out of fuel October 21. On November 6, The New York Times was reporting that GOCE engineers estimated it would land on November 10, or perhaps early in the morning November 11.
Good thing all future satellites will be “directional” so the can be steered away from population centers when they return to earth.
Posted by Anonymous on November 6, 2013
In 1997 McDonnell Douglas was the prime contractor in the Delta Clipper-Experimental project, commonly known as DC-X. During the years of 1993-1996, DC-X achieved several successful tests in the quest to become the first single stage to orbit reusable launch vehicle, ascending vertically, moving laterally, and then descending to the ground. Originally a project of the US Department of Defense, in 1996, NASA became the premier sponsor of the project, supporting the vehicle to its highest altitude of 3,140 meters. Its last flight was in July of 1996 when, at the moment of landing, one of the struts failed to deploy and the DC-X was severely damaged.
Vertical Take-Off Vertical Landing (VTVL) is a technology that allows a rocket to be made reusable. It consists of taking off from the ground, without a runway, in a vertical position, and landing in the same condition. This is accomplished with the help of a form of propulsion that allows the craft to hover in the air while it lands.
SpaceX pursued the goal of the original DC-X through the Grasshopper, which is a 40 meter tall VTVL rocket, consists of a Falcon 9 rocket first stage tank powered by a Merlin 1D engine, and four steel and aluminum legs with hydraulic dampers.
Grasshopper tilts just so to return to its launch pad (Credits: SpaceX).
Grasshopper tilts just so to return to its launch pad (Credits: SpaceX).
SpaceX first tested the Grasshopper in 2012. Since then has made several flights, carrying it signature life size cowboy figure for scale. The vehicle itself is equivalent in height to a ten-story building, something that can be difficult to realize when watching footage of the test flights from afar. The launches were filmed with the help of cameras mounted in hovering drones. During the first stage of testing, the Grasshopper started with “jumps” of 32 meters; by its final flight on October 7th2013, SpaceX announced that Grasshopper had reached an altitude of 744 meters with a flight duration of 78.8 seconds.
Although this was the last scheduled test for the Grasshopper, it is far from the end of the quest for a reusable rocket. SpaceX is next testing the reusable engines developed under the Grasshopper initiative in the Falcon 9.
Grasshopper was never intended to be an operational spaceship. It was just a development tool to get to the real goal: a VTVL Falcon to make the ever-elusive long sought reusable launch system a reality.
Elon Musk, CEO & CTO of SpaceX said that with a reusable rocket, launching prices could drop almost 100 times, significantly lowering the cost to place satellites and people in orbit. According to SpaceX’s plan, and a reusable Falcon 9 rocket could be relaunched approximately 24 hours after landing.
Posted by Anonymous on November 1, 2013
Posted by Anonymous on October 30, 2013
The UN voted last week to adopt a proposal from the Association of Space Explorers (ASE) to form an “International Asteroid Warning Group” to defend the planet from asteroids, Scientific American first reported. Member states will use the group to share information on Near Earth Objects (NEOs) and pull together a response to a hypothetical asteroid strike.
The news comes about a week after NASA reported that asteroid 2013 TV135 had skimmed within 4.2 million miles of Earth back in September and is due to return to Earth’s neighborhood in 2032. Should it hit Earth, the explosion would be equivalent to a 2,500 megaton bomb, NASA said – that’s about 125,000 times the size of the bomb dropped on Nagasaki, the Christian Science Monitor reported.
Though NASA has said that odds that the asteroid will impact Earth is just one in 63,000, there’s no getting around the fact that, at the moment, Earth has no control over those odds, the ASE notes. For all the alarm about the rocks hurtling through the solar system, Earth does not have an international defense plan against these threats of impending doom.
Sure, individual states have been gearing up to tackle asteroids on their own. Since April, NASA has been pursuing its so-called Asteroid Redirect Mission, a proposal that includes snagging an asteroid and then sending a manned spacecraft to sample it, all between the years 2018 and 2021. A month later, the European Space Agency (ESA) opened its own office charged with detecting dangerous NEOs.
But, at the moment, there is no international plan for who, or when, or how Earth would respond an asteroid. So, in order to avoid a political tussle over obligations and responsibilities as an asteroid hurtles toward humanity’s home, the ASE is asking the UN to sort it out sooner rather than later.
“Now that humankind has the scientific, technical and operational capabilities both to predict whether an asteroid will come too close for comfort, and to launch operational missions to deflect a potential impact, it is time for the international community to identify the decision-making institutions and begin the development of a coordinated decision-making process,” writes the ASE, in their report.
“In the absence of an agreed-upon decision-making process, we may lose the opportunity to act against a NEO in time, leaving evacuation and disaster management as our only response to a pending impact,” the authors write.
The adopted proposal suggests a two-pronged approach to defending the Earth from asteroids. First, the UN must coordinate efforts to better catalogue just what threats are out there, said Ed Lu, a former NASA astronaut and co-founder of the B612 Foundation, at a talk given this week at the American Museum of Natural History, in New York City.
As of Oct. 14, NASA has recorded the existence of 10,332 Near-Earth objects. But the number of asteroids near Earth is estimated to be a hundred times that, said Mr. Lu. When a meteor exploded above Siberia earlier this year, NASA’s telescopes had not even seen it coming. The explosion injured 1,500 people.
“You cannot deflect an asteroid that we haven’t yet found,” said Lu.
Unless an errant asteroid is detected at least a year out from the date of its expected impact from Earth, there is little that Earthlings can do about it expect fix themselves “a nice cocktail and go out and watch,” said Rusty Schweickart, a former astronaut and a member of the ASE, at the same talk.
The report’s authors also envision the new committee as a forum through which countries can organize a test mission to fend off a problematic asteroid.
“Faced with such a threat, we are far from helpless,” write the authors, in the report.
“For the first time in our planet’s 4.5-billion-year history, the technical capacities exist to prevent such cosmic collisions with Earth. The keys to a successful outcome in all cases are preparation, planning, and timely decision-making,” the authors say. …