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Archive for November 1, 2011

China launches Unmanned Shenzhou 8 Spacecraft

November 1, 2011 Leave a comment

Commander-in-chief of China’s manned space program Chang Wanquan announced that the launch of Shenzhou 8 spacecraft is successful. The unmanned craft blasted off at 5:58 a.m. Beijing Time Tuesday on a Long March CZ-2F rocket at Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in Inner Mongolia.

Full Story: http://china.org.cn/china/shenzhou_8/node_7139210.htm

New Observations & Details on Heliosphere & Aurora

November 1, 2011 Leave a comment

OBSERVATIONS IMPROVE UNDERSTANDING OF THE HELIOSPHERE

The outer regions of the heliosphere, a giant bubble around the solar system created by solar wind, are difficult to study directly. The Interstellar Boundary Explorer (IBEX) mission, which maps emission of energetic neutral atoms from the boundary between the heliosphere and the interstellar medium, has greatly contributed to understanding of the heliosphere and even discovered some unexpected features. In particular, IBEX maps show a strange “ribbon” of enhanced energetic neutral atom emission that was not predicted by any theory. The origins of this ribbon, which stretches more than 300 degrees across the sky, remain unknown. McComas et al. review IBEX observations, current understanding of the heliosphere, hypotheses that have been proposed to explain the ribbon, and directions for future research.

NEW DETAIL ON AURORAS

High-resolution imaging from spacecraft is revealing new detail on structures in bright, dynamic auroras. In the auroral regions where particles are accelerated to high energies, dynamic structures evolve on time scales of seconds or less, though the processes that drive particle acceleration and transfer of energy to small scales are not fully understood. Chaston et al. show how new spaceborne auroral imagery combined with simultaneous particle measurements can help improve understanding of the physical processes involved in the aurora. In particular, they show how magnetic reconnection (in which magnetic field lines break and reconnect, releasing energy), tearing, and sheared flows can transfer energy from larger to smaller scales and help form the auroral structures observed.

Full Story: http://www.agu.org/news/press/jhighlight_archives/2011/2011-10-31.shtml

NASA Signs Agreement with Space Florida to Reuse Kennedy Facilities

November 1, 2011 Leave a comment

In an innovative agreement that will create new jobs, NASA today announced a partnership with Space Florida to occupy, use and modify Kennedy Space Center’s Orbiter Processing Facility-3, the Space Shuttle Main Engine Processing Facility and Processing Control Center.

“The next era of space exploration won’t wait, and so we can’t wait for Congress to do its job and give our space program the funding it needs. That’s why my Administration will be pressing forward, in partnership with Space Florida and the private sector, to create jobs and make sure America continues to lead the world in exploration and discovery,” President Barack Obama said.

Space Florida, the aerospace economic development agency of the state of Florida, has an agreement for use of the Orbiter Processing Facility-3 with the Boeing Company to manufacture and test the company’s Crew Space Transportation (CST-100) spacecraft, creating up to 550 jobs along the Space Coast. The 15-year use permit with Space Florida is the latest step Kennedy is making as the center transitions from a historically government-only launch complex to a multi-user spaceport.

Full Story: http://www.nasa.gov/home/hqnews/2011/oct/HQ_11-349_KSC_Agreement.html

Australia Business Helps Astronomers Discover the Universe

November 1, 2011 Leave a comment

A quest to study the earliest stars and galaxies in the Universe is underway, with local industry building the first major pieces of a revolutionary new radio telescope in Western Australia, as part of the Murchison Wide-field Array.Murchison Wide-field Array (MWA) industry partner and Fremantle-based high-technology company, Poseidon Scientific Instruments (PSI), has been awarded a $1.3m contract by Curtin University to build 16 packages of sensitive electronics, using a smart design suited to the environmental and radio-quiet conditions of outback WA.

The MWA is being built by an Australian consortium led by The International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research (ICRAR), a joint venture between Curtin University and The University of Western Australia, in close collaboration with US, Indian and New Zealand partners.

ICRAR Deputy Director, Professor Steven Tingay, said PSI was a world-class technology company and working with its local expertise to design and develop components for the international project was an enormous advantage.

Full Story: http://www.icrar.org/news/news_items/wa-high-tech-business-helps-astronomers-discover-the-universe

LHC Proton Run for 2011 Reaches Successful Conclusion

November 1, 2011 Leave a comment

After some 180 days of running and four hundred trillion (4×1014) proton proton collisions, the LHC’s 2011 proton run came to an end at 5.15pm yesterday evening. For the second year running, the LHC team has largely surpassed its operational objectives, steadily increasing the rate at which the LHC has delivered data to the experiments.

At the beginning of the year’s run, the objective for the LHC was to deliver a quantity of data known to physicists as one inverse femtobarn during the course of 2011. The first inverse femtobarn came on 17 June, setting the experiments up well for the major physics conferences of the summer and requiring the 2011 data objective to be revised upwards to five inverse femtobarns. That milestone was passed by 18 October, with the grand total for the year being almost six inverse femtobarns delivered to each of the two general-purpose experiments ATLAS and CMS.

“At the end of this year’s proton running, the LHC is reaching cruising speed,”said CERN’s Director for Accelerators and Technology, Steve Myers. “To put things in context, the present data production rate is a factor of 4 million higher than in the first run in 2010 and a factor of 30 higher than at the beginning of 2011.”

Full Story: http://press.web.cern.ch/press/PressReleases/Releases2011/PR22.11E.html