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    "dB stands for den Buck" wrote:
    100-foot asteroid to fly by Earth (from cnn.com)

    …close encounter…. :roll:

    Here’s a good site with tons of interesting stuff on the search & tracking of near earth objects…

    Near Earth Object Program/Nasa :aliensmile:


    Bucky Ramone

    A message to all Martians & other aliens: Our welcome committee is ready! :twisted: :lol:


    K7 Rides Again

    peeped all 5 planets last night! What a spectacular view!!! :aliensmile:


    Bucky Ramone
    "K7" wrote:
    peeped all 5 planets last night! What a spectacular view!!! :aliensmile:

    It was a great view indeed 8) 8) 8)

    Here is the CNN story

    Stargazers should look to the western horizon just after sunset. Mercury, Venus, Mars and Saturn will be lined up in the sky with Jupiter close to the eastern horizon. They will span about 135 degrees. Saturn will be almost directly overhead.


    Scram Jet sets record…

    Making History: NASA’s X-43A Scramjet Streaks Across Sky
    By Leonard David
    Senior Space Writer
    posted: 09:40 pm ET
    27 March 2004

    UPDATE: Story first posted 5:37 p.m. EST, March 27, 2004

    Aviation history was made today as NASA successfully flew its experimental X-43A research vehicle, a forerunner of craft that could well offer alternate access to space in the future.

    Preliminary indications are that the craft appeared to meet a major milestone: propelling itself slightly over Mach 7, seven times the speed of sound, or some 5000 mph

    "It was fun all the way to Mach 7," said Joel Sitz, X-43 Project Manager at NASA’s Dryden Flight Research at Edwards, California during a press briefing after the flight.

    The X-43A test shot is part of NASA’s Hyper-X program, a research effort to try out propulsion technologies for high-speed flight within the atmosphere and into Earth orbit.

    A major objective of the unmanned X-43A flight was shaking out air-breathing supersonic-combustion ramjet (scramjet) engine technology.

    Unlike the space shuttle that must haul along weighty amounts of liquid oxygen to burn with liquid hydrogen, scramjets use the atmosphere as fuel. Doing so means a scramjet-carrying craft could haul more payload into orbit.

    "We went off without a hitch," said Bradford Neal, test conductor for the flight Saturday.

    Griffin Corpening, X-43A chief engineer at Dryden, said the X-43A "scooted out to Mach 7…just an outstanding job." Data was received from the vehicle all the way down to its splash down in the Pacific Ocean. "It really hung in there," he said.

    Corpening said the data collected during the flight will be intensely studied over the next weeks, months, and probably years.

    "It has been an outstanding record-breaking day. It really has," said Larry Huebner, Hyper-X scramjet propulsion research engineer at NASA Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia. Based on preliminary data, he said, the vehicle experienced positive acceleration while climbing due to the performance of its scramjet engine.

    "Our vehicle under airbreathing power went over 15 miles," Huebner reported. The flight today was the first-ever airframe integrated scramjet engine experiment. "We can claim an air-breathing powered record today…no doubt about it."

    But now, Huebner said, "it’s time to roll up our sleeves and start looking at some data."

    Winged surfboard

    Today’s test of the 12-foot ((3.7 meters) long X-43A began with the vehicle being toted skyward from NASA’s Dryden Flight Research Center on Edwards Air Force Base, California by a B-52 carrier aircraft. The experimental craft — taking on the look of a winged surfboard — was attached to a modified Pegasus XL booster.

    After reaching a designated altitude, the NASA B-52 released the X-43A/Pegasus booster combination high over the Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division Sea Range over the Pacific Ocean off the coast of southern California.

    A long contrail arced up and away from the B-52 as the modified Pegasus boosted the X-43A. A normal separation of the test vehicle from the booster could clearly be seen. The craft remained stable during release from its booster.

    The X-43A continued its speedy flight, opening up an intake chamber that allowed a high-speed stream of oxygen into the vehicle. That port was then closed, and all appeared to work as planned as mission controllers clapped and hugged each other.

    Gulping up the atmosphere as it shot through the sky, the craft pushed that air into a scramjet. Carried onboard the X-43A is a small quantity of hydrogen that mixed with the incoming oxygen. That mix was then combusted, pushing the plane forward to high-mach speeds.

    Following the engine test, the X-43A began gliding and maneuvering for several minutes before nosing into Pacific Ocean waters within a restricted test zone.

    Tough engineering challenge

    The $250 million program began with conceptual design and scramjet engine wind tunnel work in 1996.

    According to a NASA statement, this is the first time a non-rocket, air-breathing scramjet engine has powered a vehicle in flight at hypersonic speeds. No vehicle has ever flown at hypersonic speeds powered by an air-breathing scramjet engine.

    The rocket boost and subsequent separation from the rocket to get to the scramjet test condition have complex elements that must work properly to assure flight success. There are few or no moving parts in the scramjet. Achieving proper engine ignition and combustion, in a matter of milliseconds, is considered a key engineering challenge.

    No easy ride

    It has not been an easy ride for the X-43A program.

    On June 2, 2001, the X-43A/booster combination — called the stack — veered out of control shortly after release from the NASA B-52 aircraft. The stack was destroyed by ground control less than 50 seconds after release. The failure occurred before the X-43A could be released.

    A mishap study board cleared the way for a return-to-flight of the X-43A. No one contributing factor was singled out as being the prime cause of the vehicle’s failure. However, those studying the failure underscored inaccuracies in computer and wind-tunnel tests to prove the X-43A/booster was flight worthy and ready for its maiden test.

    Today’s successful flight is the work of a government-private sector partnership.

    ATK GASL in Tullahoma, Tennessee, built both the vehicle and the engine, and Boeing Phantom Works in Huntington Beach, California, designed the thermal protection and propulsion control systems. The booster is a modified Pegasus rocket from Orbital Sciences Corporation of Chandler, Arizona.

    NASA’s Langley Research Center and Dryden Flight Research Center jointly conduct the Hyper-X program.


    Bucky Ramone


    Launch of the Gravity B Probe set for tomorrow, long time coming thats for sure…

    NASA to Probe Einstein’s Relativity Theory
    Sun 18 April, 2004 16:25

    By Broward Liston

    CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (Reuters) – Almost a century after Albert Einstein began writing about relativity, NASA is poised to launch a mission 45 years in the making to put a little known tenet of his general relativity theory to its first test.

    The Gravity Probe B satellite is the bland name given to one of the most precise scientific instruments ever built. But the project’s $700 million price-tag adds glamour, as does its long history, surviving the Congressional budget ax seven times.

    Lift-off of the Boeing Co. Delta 2 rocket carrying the probe is scheduled for Monday at 1:01 p.m. EDT from the rocket range at California’s Vandenberg Air Force Base.

    With four near-perfect spheres — the roundest objects ever made, according to NASA — the probe will try to show whether the Earth, which is known to warp both time and space with its mass, also twists them like tornado winds as it rotates.

    That was Einstein’s prediction in his theory of general relativity. He had already, in 1905, answered many of the most important questions about mass, energy and the speed of light with his theory of special relativity.


    By 1915, he was applying those insights to time and space. His theories showed how massive objects — planets, stars, black holes — warp time and space, slowing down clocks and sucking nearby objects toward them.

    That is why an apple falls from a tree and speeding planets do not escape the sun.

    Einstein also argued that the space-time continuum was twisted and dragged by the spinning of massive objects, an effect known as "frame dragging."

    "We’ve seen two of the three aspects of warped space-time. We’ve seen the warping of space and the warping of time. We have never seen, in any clean way, the dragging of space into motion," said Kip Thorne, who holds the Richard Feynman chair in theoretical physics at the California Institute of Technology.

    Scientists at Stanford University began discussing the idea of using a satellite to test this theory in 1959, just one year after the United States launched its first satellite. NASA signed on and funded the project in 1964.

    "This test of relativity is very simple in concept, but when you get down to the technology of how to do it, it’s a testimony to perseverance to say the least," said Stanford professor Brad Parkinson, who heads the engineering team.

    As it turns out, the effect is dramatic around something as massive as a black hole, but rather minimal when measuring the space around something Earth-sized. So the measuring instruments had to be extremely precise, said Parkinson.

    To an astronaut orbiting the Earth, the effect is undetectable, but Einstein’s theory says that a small bit of space is actually lost as space is spun around on itself.

    "You would find if you could measure the radius and the circumference (of that orbit) there would be a small defect which I like to call the missing inch," said Francis Everitt, a theoretical physicist from Stanford, the principal investigator on the NASA project.

    Finding it takes precision. Not only do the Ping-Pong sized spheres have to be nearly perfect, they also have to be housed in a chamber that is the quietest ever produced, so sound waves will not effect them. They are chilled to almost absolute zero, so their own molecular activity will not jar them.

    As for whether Einstein was right, Everitt offers no predictions: "We must be hard-headed experimentalists, making sure we do the experiment right. I believe this will be by far the most credible of any of the tests of general relativity."


    Bucky Ramone


    Red Rectangular Nebula (click on the pic for the story) 8)



    SpaceShipOne had a successful flight yesterday, not long enuf to win the prize but pretty damn close…

    pics & stuff :aliensmile:

    Private Rocket SpaceShipOne Makes Third Rocket-Powered Flight
    By Leonard David
    Senior Space Writer
    posted: 03:55 pm ET
    13 May 2004

    UPDATED: Story first posted at 12:20 p.m. EDT, May 13, 2004

    Chalk up another booming flight of the privately-backed SpaceShipOne, the piloted rocket plane designed to soar to the edge of space and glide to a runway landing.

    With pilot Mike Melvill at the controls — following release from the White Knight turbojet-powered launch aircraft high above the Mojave, California desert — SpaceShipOne punched through the sky today boosted by a hybrid propellant rocket motor.

    Scaled Composites of Mojave is the builder of SpaceShipOne, an effort led by aviation innovator, Burt Rutan. The financial backer of the project is Microsoft mogul, Paul Allen.

    In a post-flight statement from the company, the SpaceShipOne team reported that their space plane flew to 212,000 feet altitude, almost 41 miles. NASA awards astronaut status to anyone who flies above 50 miles in altitude.

    "This flight marks an additional milestone for Paul G. Allen, Burt Rutan and the innovative aerospace design team in their ongoing efforts to complete the first non-government manned space flight. The test is part of Scaled Composites’ Tier One program, funded by Allen, Microsoft co-founder and CEO of Vulcan Inc.," according to the statement.

    Today’s flight builds upon a progression of 13 shakeout tests, mostly un-powered drop glides along with two engine-thrusting runs. The White Knight took off with SpaceShipOne at around 10:30 a.m. EDT today with the rocket plane landing an the ground a little after 12 noon.

    "The SpaceShipOne team will announce the results of this test flight once it has completed an analysis of the data," explained the Scaled Composites release, adding: "The future’s looking up…way up!"

    Hot pursuit

    SpaceShipOne’s first powered mission took place on December 17, 2003, with the hybrid motor firing for 15 seconds. A second powered flight occurred on April 8th of this year. In that trek, the motor burned for 40 seconds. A major contractor for the hybrid motor used in the rocket plane is SpaceDev of Poway, California.

    Routine recording of multiple video streams on board White Knight and on SpaceShipOne are expected to help in pilot and engineering evaluation of the flight.

    Ecliptic Enterprises Corporation of Pasadena, California provides the critical camera gear. They are also supplier of the RocketCamâ„¢ line of onboard video systems used on rockets, spacecraft and other remote platforms.

    The step-by-step SpaceShipOne missions are keyed to winning the Ansari X Prize, a $10 million purse offered by the X Prize Foundation of St. Louis, Missouri. For the cash prize, however, the clock is running as the $10 million purse expires January 1, 2005.

    The Ansari X Prize money is to be awarded to the first company or organization to launch a vehicle capable of carrying three people to a height of 62.5 miles (100 kilometers), then return safely to Earth, and repeat the flight with the same vehicle within two weeks.

    Twenty-seven teams from around the globe are vying for the Ansari X Prize contest. The competition is modeled on the $25,000 Orteig Prize – won by Charles Lindbergh after winging his Spirit of St. Louis airplane solo from New York to Paris in 1927.

    Federal go-ahead

    On April 1, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) announced it had issued to Scaled Composites the world’s first license for a sub-orbital manned rocket flight.

    The license came via the DOT’s Federal Aviation Administration’s Office of Commercial Space Transportation. This federal paperwork gave Scaled Composites the go-ahead to fly a string of sub-orbital flights for a one-year period – the first license to authorize piloted flight on a sub-orbital trajectory.

    XCOR Aerospace, also of Mojave, California, announced in April it had received a Reusable Launch Vehicle mission license from the FAA’s Office of Commercial Space Transportation. That license is the first for a reusable launch vehicle (RLV) that is launched and recovered from the ground. Additionally, XCOR is now authorized to test RLV technologies prior to suborbital passenger travel. The company is not in the competition for the Ansari X Prize.

    XCOR’s launch license is for a technology test vehicle. The license does not yet cover passenger operations. It does, however, permit revenue-generating payload flights after initial tests are completed. "A significant feature of the license is that it allows the pilot to do an incremental series of flight tests — without preplanning each trajectory," said XCOR Government Liaison Randall Clague in a press statement.

    Mojave mojo

    Given all the rocket plane activity at the Mojave Airport, steps have been taken to have the facility certified as a spaceport.

    Stuart Witt, General Manager of the Mojave Airport, envisions the site busily handling the horizontal launchings and landings of reusable spacecraft.

    Witt said the FAA’s Office of Commercial Space Transportation is reviewing an application to license Mojave Airport as an inland spaceport. In fact, the airport is already a natural center for research and development and certification programs, such as the rocket plane work of Scaled Composites and XCOR Aerospace.

    Many see Mojave Airport as a magical nexus for safe, smooth coordination of general aviation activity and private aerospace development.

    Mojave Airport, also tagged the nation’s Civilian Flight Test Center, is situated away from major metropolitan areas, while being located near Edwards and China Lake military test ranges.

    "Certainly Mojave is a premier location due to its proximity to the Edwards Air Force Base restricted areas," Burt Rutan told SPACE.com .

    Adds Aleta Jackson, an XCOR Aerospace executive: "We look forward to flying our licensed spacecraft from the Mojave Spaceport." The town of Mojave — as well as the County of Kern — plan to help support the spaceport, such as designating land use that is compatible with an active spaceport, she said.



    SPACE.com :aliensmile:

    Astronomers See Evidence for Youngest Planet
    By Robert Roy Britt
    Senior Science Writer
    posted: 02:45 pm ET
    27 May 2004

    Astronomers have found evidence for what could be the youngest planet ever detected, a world no more than a million years old circling a distant star.

    The finding was part of a trio of discoveries from the Spitzer Space Telescope announced at a NASA press conference today.

    The orbiting observatory also spotted the raw materials for life — water and other prebiotic chemistry — in planetary construction zones around five young, Sun-like stars in the constellation Taurus, 420 light-years from Earth.

    "We’ve seen the building blocks of habitable planets for the first time unambiguously" in stars that will turn out like our Sun, said Dan Watson, professor of physics and astronomy at the University of Rochester in New York.

    And Spitzer uncovered a stellar nursery where at least two developing stars, called protostars, contain the gas and dust needed to form planets. The study suggests up to 300 of the stars in the cluster may be similarly equipped.

    The three discoveries are seen as related, all pointing to the possibility that planet formation is common and that even Earth-like planets, which might support life, may not be rare.

    Behind the veil

    Spitzer records infrared light, which allows it to peer through the planet-forming envelopes of dust that surround newborn stars. Our own solar system, now 4.6 billion years old, was once shrouded in a similar cocoon, astronomers believe.

    "By seeing what’s behind the dust, Spitzer has shown us star and planet formation is a very active process in our galaxy," said Ed Churchwell, an astronomy professor at the University of Wisconsin, Madison.

    The candidate for youngest known planet is not visible and so must be confirmed by future observations, but the infrared view showed there’s a clear hole in a disk of dust circling a young star named CoKu Tau 4. Theorists say such a hole — this one is 10 times the size of Earth’s orbit around the Sun — would most likely be created by a newborn planet that acted as a cosmic broom. Similar holes have signaled planets around other stars, but none so young.

    The star’s age is fairly easy to determine, and it’s set at 1 million years. The planet would have had to form within a million years, too.

    "That probably makes it the youngest planet we’ve ever seen," Watson said.

    It also puts yet another thorn in the side of the standard model for planet formation, which says ice and dust stick together and collide with ever-larger rocks until a giant core is formed, then gas can be drawn into the mix. That process takes some 4 million years, however, said Alan Boss, a theorist at the Carnegie Institution of Washington who was not involved in the observations.

    The other way

    Boss argues that planets — especially gas giant planets like Jupiter — form instead when instabilities in the disk of leftover material circling a star collapse. His method can build the guts of a planet in 1,000 years.

    The new observations fit neatly with his scheme.

    That’s important because in dense star-formation regions, where most Sun-like stars form, a giant, outer planet may have just 100,000 years to get going before radiation from nearby massive stars strips all the raw material away.

    Boss was also excited to learn of Spitzer’s observations of water ice, methanol and carbon dioxide collecting on the dust in disks around the five young, Sun-like stars. These are the ingredients of comets, which theorists figure helped prepare Earth for life by filling its oceans and adding the right organic chemistry.

    Other searches have found organic chemicals around stars, but this is the first time the goods were clearly in a disk of material that could form planets.

    "If our assumptions are correct" about the Spitzer observations, the work has "profound implications" for the number of planets that probably exist, Boss said. "It may very well be that solar systems like our own are not rare in our galaxy."


    Bucky Ramone

    Venus crosses the sun next week (from cnn.com)

    On June 8, that sky show — astronomers call it a transit of Venus — will return for the first time in 122 years, visible from much of Earth. Thousands of schools and hundreds of museums have set up special programs, and tours to good viewing sites have been booked. Even people who don’t want to leave their homes will be able to follow a live Webcast from Greece.

    All this to watch a black dot inch across the lower part of the sun. It takes six hours.

    "It’s kind of slow and boring," says astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, director of the Hayden Planetarium at New York’s American Museum of Natural History.

    However, he said, Venus transits carry "incalculable" historical significance.


    Bucky Ramone

    Primal Scream from space? (from space.com)

    An astronomer has turned observations of the early universe into a sound clip that represents a primal scream from the first million years after the Big Bang.

    Mark Whittle, an astronomer at the University of Virginia, based the work on a "wonderful gift from Nature," the cosmic microwave background (CMB) that was unleashed when the universe was about 380,000 years old. At that point in time, a dense fog began to clear and radiation was first allowed to escape its natal cocoon.




    :aliensmile: :!:


    Bucky Ramone

    The Science Fiction Museum/Science Fiction Hall of Fame in Seattle 8)




    What a cool robot :!:

    Great site :aliensmile:

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