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  • richardmitnick 9:00 pm on September 10, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , European Space Agency (ESA),   

    From ESA: “Europe’s New Age of Metals Begins” 

    ESASpaceForEuropeBanner
    European Space Agency

    10 September 2014
    No Writer Credit

    ESA has joined forces with other leading research institutions and more than 180 European companies in a billion-euro effort developing new types of metals and manufacturing techniques for this century.

    Known as Metallurgy Europe, the seven-year international research and development programme was launched at London’s Science Museum on Tuesday.

    “We’ll be laying the technical foundations for the discovery of new materials – metallic compounds, alloys, composites, superconductors and semiconductors,” explained Prof. David Jarvis, Head of Strategic and Emerging Technologies at ESA and Chairman of Metallurgy Europe.

    “We’ll also be applying computer modelling to guide our alloy creation, as well as advanced manufacturing techniques, such as additive manufacturing or 3D printing, for the creation of new products.”

    dj
    Prof. David Jarvis

    From the Iron Age to the Nuclear Age, metallurgy has been a driving force in human history. The various branches of the metals-related industry today accounts for 46% of the EU’s manufacturing value and 11% of its total Gross Domestic Product – equivalent to €1.3 trillion annually or €3.5 billion daily.

    Metallurgy Europe is conservatively projected to create at least 100 000 new jobs, based on the 10 million people today employed by the metals and end-user industries across the EU plus Switzerland and Norway.

    Organised along 13 topics, the potential results include novel heat-resistant alloys for space and nuclear systems, high-efficiency power lines based on superconducting alloys, thermoelectric materials converting waste heat into power, new catalysts for the production of plastics and pharmaceuticals, bio-compatible metals for medical implants, as well as high-strength magnetic systems.

    3d
    3D-printed aeronautics demonstrator

    Lightweight alloys and composites for the aerospace and automotive industries could potentially slash the weight of spacecraft components, as well as reduce today’s two-tonne cars by more than half.

    “The periodic table gives us around 60 commercial metal elements,” Prof. Jarvis explained. “In the world of materials it’s the mixing of these different chemical elements that is vital to us: we hardly use pure metals but we do use compounds, alloys and composites.”

    nc
    Nano-catalyst

    A standard laptop might combine more than 20 different metal elements, while putting a spacecraft into orbit typically incorporates upwards of 50 elements, including the rocket, the satellite and all its subsystems, its electronics and the functional materials that go in there.

    “You’ve got those 60 elements and you can mix them in so many different ways,” he added. “The actual number of combinations and ratios of mixing elements is infinite – we’ve only really scratched the surface.”

    tm
    Tellurium metal

    The Metallurgy Europe programme is being organised as a ‘Cluster’ of the EUREKA network. EUREKA is a long-established intergovernmental organisation uniting more than 40 governments, including virtually all the member states of the EU.

    EUREKA Clusters are long-term, strategically significant public-private partnerships, working with Europe’s leading companies to develop competitive-boosting technologies.

    “Metallurgy Europe adopts a bottom-up, multi-sector approach. The topics being tackled come from what industry wants and society needs in the next decade or so.”

    More than 180 industrial partners have signed up, including some of the largest engineering companies in the continent: Airbus Group, BP, Siemens, Daimler, Rolls-Royce, Thales, AvioAero, BAE Systems, Philips, Ruag, Bombardier, Linde Group, Rolex, Richemont, ArcelorMittal, Sandvik, Bruker, Johnson Matthey, Tata Steel, Boston Scientific, ThyssenKrupp, Outokumpu, Hydro Aluminium and Fiat, along with small and medium firms.

    bis
    Semi-metallic bismuth crystal

    Leading research organisations including ESA, the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility, Institut Laue-Langevin, the European Powder Metallurgy Association and the Culham Centre for Fusion Energy are also lending their expertise.

    The projects making up the programme will begin next year, although preparatory work has already begun.

    “The amount of money invested and the size of our support network makes us the largest consortium of its type in metallic materials and advanced manufacturing,” Prof. Jarvis concluded. “It stands us in good stead to be the front runner in this field for quite some time.”

    See the full article here.

    The European Space Agency (ESA), established in 1975, is an intergovernmental organization dedicated to the exploration of space, currently with 19 member states. Headquartered in Paris, ESA has a staff of more than 2,000. ESA’s space flight program includes human spaceflight, mainly through the participation in the International Space Station program, the launch and operations of unmanned exploration missions to other planets and the Moon, Earth observation, science, telecommunication as well as maintaining a major spaceport, the Guiana Space Centre at Kourou, French Guiana, and designing launch vehicles. ESA science missions are based at ESTEC in Noordwijk, Netherlands, Earth Observation missions at ESRIN in Frascati, Italy, ESA Mission Control (ESOC) is in Darmstadt, Germany, the European Astronaut Centre (EAC) that trains astronauts for future missions is situated in Cologne, Germany, and the European Space Astronomy Centre is located in Villanueva de la Cañada, Spain.

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  • richardmitnick 7:00 am on September 10, 2014 Permalink | Reply
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    From ESA: ESA’s Bug-eyed Telescope to Spot Risky Asteroids 

    ESASpaceForEuropeBanner
    European Space Agency

    10 September 2014
    Gian Maria Pinna
    SSA Ground Segment Manager
    Email: GianMaria.Pinna@esa.int
    Tel: +49 6151 902669

    Spotting Earth-threatening asteroids is tough partly because the sky is so big. But insects offer an answer, since they figured out long ago how to look in many directions at once.

    As part of the global effort to hunt out risky celestial objects such as asteroids and comets, ESA is developing an automated telescope for nightly sky surveys.

    This telescope is the first in a future network that would completely scan the sky and automatically identify possible new near-Earth objects, or NEOs, for follow up and later checking by human researchers.

    But a web of traditional telescopes would be complex and expensive because of the number required. Adding to the problem, the system must be able to discover objects many times fainter than the naked eye can perceive.

    While no network can spot all potentially hazardous objects, under favourable conditions it should detect everything down to about 40 m in diameter at least three weeks before impact.

    tel
    Fly-eye One telescope, 16 lenses

    The answer is a new, European telescope nicknamed ‘fly-eye’ that splits the image into 16 smaller subimages to expand the field of view, similar to the technique exploited by a fly’s compound eye.

    The design is modular, and allows for mass and cheaper production and lower maintenance costs. It will be used to build the prototype, to be fielded by ESA’s Space Situational Awareness (SSA) programme early next year.

    “This novel technology is key to the future NEO survey network,” says Gian Maria Pinna of the SSA office.

    These fly-eyed survey telescopes offer performance equivalent to a 1 m-diameter telescope, and provide a very large field of view: 6.7° x 6.7° or about 45 square degrees; 6.7° is about 13 times the diameter of the Moon as seen from the Earth.

    “The new telescopes would provide the resolution necessary to determine the orbits of any detected objects,” says Gian Maria.

    “If the prototype confirms the expected performance, it will pave the way to full procurement and deployment of the operational network of telescopes.”

    This summer, ESA signed a contract for about €1 million with a consortium led by CGS S.p.A (Italy), comprising Creotech Instruments S.A. (Poland), SC EnviroScopY SRL (Romania) and Pro Optica S.A. (Romania) for the detailed design of the advanced telescope.

    It is expected that the detailed design will be followed by several additional contracts with European companies valued at up to €10 million for building and deploying the first survey prototype telescope.

    “The development of the first optical sensor specific to ESA’s NEO search and discovery activities is a fundamental step toward Europe’s contribution to safeguarding our planet from possible collisions by dangerous objects,” notes Nicolas Bobrinsky, Head of the SSA Programme.

    See the full article, with video, here.

    The European Space Agency (ESA), established in 1975, is an intergovernmental organization dedicated to the exploration of space, currently with 19 member states. Headquartered in Paris, ESA has a staff of more than 2,000. ESA’s space flight program includes human spaceflight, mainly through the participation in the International Space Station program, the launch and operations of unmanned exploration missions to other planets and the Moon, Earth observation, science, telecommunication as well as maintaining a major spaceport, the Guiana Space Centre at Kourou, French Guiana, and designing launch vehicles. ESA science missions are based at ESTEC in Noordwijk, Netherlands, Earth Observation missions at ESRIN in Frascati, Italy, ESA Mission Control (ESOC) is in Darmstadt, Germany, the European Astronaut Centre (EAC) that trains astronauts for future missions is situated in Cologne, Germany, and the European Space Astronomy Centre is located in Villanueva de la Cañada, Spain.

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  • richardmitnick 8:26 am on July 31, 2014 Permalink | Reply
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    From ESA Euronews: The E-ELT 

    Here is a neat video, about 8 minutes, from Euronews and ESA about ESO’s E-ELT

    Enjoy and learn.


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  • richardmitnick 9:12 am on July 11, 2014 Permalink | Reply
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    From ESA: “Bizarre nearby blast mimics Universe’s most ancient stars” 

    ESASpaceForEuropeBanner
    European Space Agency

    11 July 2014
    Markus Bauer
    ESA Science and Robotic Exploration Communication Officer
    Tel: +31 71 565 6799
    Mob: +31 61 594 3 954
    Email: markus.bauer@esa.int

    Luigi Piro
    Istituto Astrofisica e Planetologia Spaziali, INAF
    Rome, Italy
    Tel: +39 06 4993 4007
    Email: Luigi.Piro@iaps.inaf.it

    Eleonora Troja
    NASA Goddard Space Flight Center
    Tel: +1 301 286 0941
    Email: Eleonora.Troja@nasa.gov

    Norbert Schartel
    XMM-Newton Project Scientist
    Tel: +34 91 8131 184
    Email: Norbert.Schartel@sciops.esa.int

    ESA’s XMM-Newton observatory has helped to uncover how the Universe’s first stars ended their lives in giant explosions.

    blast

    ESA XMM Newton
    ESA/XMM-Newton

    Astronomers studied the gamma-ray burst GRB130925A – a flash of very energetic radiation streaming from a star in a distant galaxy 5.6 billion light years from Earth – using space- and ground-based observatories.

    They found the culprit producing the burst to be a massive star, known as a blue supergiant. These huge stars are quite rare in the relatively nearby Universe where GRB130925A is located, but are thought to have been very common in the early Universe, with almost all of the very first stars having evolved into them over the course of their short lives.

    But unlike other blue supergiants we see nearby, GRB130925A’s progenitor star contained very little in the way of elements heavier than hydrogen and helium. The same was true for the first stars to form in the Universe, making GRB130925A a remarkable analogue for similar explosions that occurred just a few hundred million years after the Big Bang.

    “There have been several theoretical studies predicting what a gamma-ray burst produced by a primordial star would look like,” says Luigi Piro of the Istituto Astrofisica e Planetologia Spaziali in Rome, Italy, and lead author of a new paper appearing in The Astrophysical Journal Letters. “With our discovery, we’ve shown that these predictions are likely to be correct.”

    Astronomers believe that primordial stars were very large, perhaps several hundred times the mass of the Sun. This large bulk then fuelled ultralong gamma-ray bursts lasting several thousand seconds, up to a hundred times the length of a ‘normal’ gamma-ray burst.

    Indeed, GRB130925A had a very long duration of around 20 000 seconds, but it also exhibited additional peculiar features not previously spotted in a gamma-ray burst: a hot cocoon of gas emitting X-ray radiation and a strangely thin wind.

    Both of these phenomena allowed astronomers to implicate a blue supergiant as the stellar progenitor. Crucially, they give information on the proportion of the star composed of elements other than hydrogen and helium, elements that astronomers group together under the term ‘metals’.

    After the Big Bang, the Universe was dominated by hydrogen and helium and therefore the first stars that formed were very metal-poor. However, these first stars made heavier elements via nuclear fusion and scattered them throughout space as they evolved and exploded.

    This process continued as each new generation of stars formed, and thus stars in the nearby Universe are comparatively metal-rich.

    Finding GRB130925A’s progenitor to be a metal-poor blue supergiant is significant, offering the chance to explore an analogue of one of those very first stars at close quarters. Dr Piro and his colleagues speculate that it might have formed out of a pocket of primordial gas that somehow survived unaltered for billions of years.

    As a nearby counterpart, however, GRB130925A has offered astronomers the opportunity to gain some insight into these first stars today.

    “XMM-Newton’s space-based location and sensitive X-ray instruments were key to observing the later stages of this blast, several months after it first appeared,” says ESA’s XMM-Newton project scientist Norbert Schartel.

    “At these times, the fingerprints of the progenitor star were clearer, but the source itself was so dim that only XMM-Newton’s instruments were sensitive enough to take the detailed measurements needed to characterise the explosion.”

    A number of space- and ground-based missions were involved in the discovery and characterisation of GRB130925A. Alongside the XMM-Newton observations, the astronomers involved in this study also used X-ray data gathered at different times with <a href="“>NASA’s SwiftBurst Alert Telescope, and radio data from the CSIRO’s Australia Telescope Compact Array.

    NASA SWIFT Telescope
    NASA/SWIFT

    CSIRO Australia Compact Array
    Australia Compact Array

    “Combining these observations was crucial to get a full picture of this event,” added Eleonora Troja of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland, USA, a co-author of the paper.

    “This new understanding of GRB130925A means that we now have strong indications how a primordial explosion might look — and therefore what to search for in the distant Universe,” says Dr Schartel.

    The search will require powerful facilities. The NASA/ESA/CSA James Webb Space Telescope, an infrared successor to the Hubble Space Telescope due for launch in 2018, and ESA’s planned Athena mission, a large X-ray observatory following on from XMM-Newton in 2028, will both have key roles to play.

    NASA Webb Telescope
    NASA/Webb

    ESA Athena spacecraft
    ESA’s planned Athena spacecraft

    See the full article, with notes, here.

    The European Space Agency (ESA), established in 1975, is an intergovernmental organization dedicated to the exploration of space, currently with 19 member states. Headquartered in Paris, ESA has a staff of more than 2,000. ESA’s space flight program includes human spaceflight, mainly through the participation in the International Space Station program, the launch and operations of unmanned exploration missions to other planets and the Moon, Earth observation, science, telecommunication as well as maintaining a major spaceport, the Guiana Space Centre at Kourou, French Guiana, and designing launch vehicles. ESA science missions are based at ESTEC in Noordwijk, Netherlands, Earth Observation missions at ESRIN in Frascati, Italy, ESA Mission Control (ESOC) is in Darmstadt, Germany, the European Astronaut Centre (EAC) that trains astronauts for future missions is situated in Cologne, Germany, and the European Space Astronomy Centre is located in Villanueva de la Cañada, Spain.

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  • richardmitnick 6:01 am on June 24, 2014 Permalink | Reply
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    From ESA: “Whale of a Target – Harpooning Space Debris 

    ESASpaceForEuropeBanner
    European Space Agency

    24 June 2014
    No Writer credit

    Faced with the challenge of capturing tumbling satellites to clear key orbits, ESA is considering turning to an ancient terrestrial technology: the harpoon.

    Used since the Stone Age, first to spear fish and later to catch whales, the humble harpoon is being looked at for snagging derelict space hardware.

    Decades of launches have left Earth surrounded by a halo of space junk: more than 17 000 trackable objects larger than a coffee cup, threatening working missions with catastrophic collision. Even a 1 cm nut could slam into a valuable satellite with the force of a hand grenade.

    sys
    Harpoon system

    The only way to control the debris cloud across crucial lower orbits – like those that allow observation satellites to go on monitoring our planet at the same local time of day – is to remove large items such as derelict satellites and rocket upper stages.

    These uncontrolled multitonne objects are time bombs: sooner or later they will be involved in a collision. That is, if they don’t explode earlier due to leftover fuel or partially charged batteries heated up by sunlight.
    Space debris around Earth

    The resulting debris clouds would make these vital orbits much more hazardous and expensive to use, and follow-on collisions may eventually trigger a chain reaction of break-ups.

    debris
    Space debris around Earth

    To avoid this outcome, ESA’s Clean Space initiative is working on the e.DeOrbit mission for flight in 2021. Its sophisticated sensors and autonomous control will identify and home in on a target – potentially of several tonnes and tumbling uncontrollably.

    catch
    Harpoon used to capture a satellite

    Then comes the challenge of capturing and securing it. Several different solutions have been considered, including a throw-net, clamping mechanisms, robotic arms – and a tethered harpoon.

    The harpoon concept has already undergone initial investigations by Airbus Defence and Space in Stevenage, UK.

    Harpoons rely on three physical actions to ensure safe and clean grasping: a high-energy impact into the target, piercing the structure and then reeling it in.
    Harpoon for whaling

    A prototype harpoon was shot into representative satellite material to assess its penetration, its strength as the target is pulled close and the generation of additional fragments that might threaten the e.DeOrbit satellite.

    As a next step, ESA plans to build and test a prototype ‘breadboard’ version in the hope of adopting the harpoon and its ejection mechanism for the mission.

    The project will investigate all three stages of harpooning through computer models, analysis and experiments, leading to a full hardware demonstration.

    See the full article here.

    The European Space Agency (ESA), established in 1975, is an intergovernmental organization dedicated to the exploration of space, currently with 19 member states. Headquartered in Paris, ESA has a staff of more than 2,000. ESA’s space flight program includes human spaceflight, mainly through the participation in the International Space Station program, the launch and operations of unmanned exploration missions to other planets and the Moon, Earth observation, science, telecommunication as well as maintaining a major spaceport, the Guiana Space Centre at Kourou, French Guiana, and designing launch vehicles. ESA science missions are based at ESTEC in Noordwijk, Netherlands, Earth Observation missions at ESRIN in Frascati, Italy, ESA Mission Control (ESOC) is in Darmstadt, Germany, the European Astronaut Centre (EAC) that trains astronauts for future missions is situated in Cologne, Germany, and the European Space Astronomy Centre is located in Villanueva de la Cañada, Spain.

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  • richardmitnick 8:32 am on June 6, 2014 Permalink | Reply
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    From ESA: “Cosmic collision in the Bullet Group” 

    ESASpaceForEuropeBanner
    European Space Agency

    06 June 2014
    Contacts
    Fabio Gastaldello
    INAF-IASF Milan
    Milan, Italy
    Email: gasta@lambrate.inaf.it
    Phone: +39-02-23699337

    Norbert Schartel
    ESA XMM-Newton Project Scientist
    Directorate of Science and Robotic Exploration
    European Space Agency
    Email: Norbert.Schartel@esa.int
    Phone: +34-91-8131-184

    Despite the large distances between them, galaxies rarely exist in isolation. They are mostly found in large assemblies known as groups and clusters. Groups are the smallest gatherings, containing 50 or so galaxies bound together by gravity, whereas clusters are somewhat larger, consisting of hundreds or thousands more. These structures also contain large amounts of hot gas that fills the space between galaxies and shines brightly in the X-ray part of the spectrum, and even larger amounts of dark matter, which does not emit light but can be detected via its gravitational effect on other objects.

    cluster

    This invisible dark matter provides scaffolding for galaxies and hot gas, and its gravity affects the build-up of large cosmic structures. In most cases, galaxies and hot gas are found in the pockets of the Universe where the dark matter is densest, but when groups or clusters of galaxies collide with one another, their different constituents do not mix well. These cosmic clashes give rise to curious configurations where hot gas, which comprises the bulk of ordinary (baryonic) matter in a group or cluster, may lie in one region, while galaxies and dark matter lie elsewhere.

    This is certainly the case in this image of SL2S J08544-0121, an object now nicknamed the Bullet Group. This group was created by such a collision, and what we see is the aftermath of this cosmic tussle. The group’s diffuse gas is so hot that it strongly radiates X-rays, detected by ESA’s XMM-Newton X-ray Observatory and shown here in pink. While the hot gas is concentrated in one large bubble, the rest of the group’s mass – consisting of dark matter (shown here in blue) and galaxies – appears to be split into two distinct parts.

    ESA XMM Newton
    ESA/XMM-Newton

    Astronomers believe that the blob to the right of the image centre acted as a “bullet”, travelling from the lower left towards the upper right of the image. In the process, it impacted the other sub-structure of the group, and passed through it.

    Mergers mix the contents of galaxy groups and clusters, but each component behaves differently. While the galaxies and dark matter from both colliding parties did take part in the Bullet Group merger, they were almost unaffected by this event and remained confined in the original sub-structures, as shown in this image. However, particles in the two colliding clouds of hot gas did interact with one another via the electromagnetic force, and the resulting friction caused the gas from the two merging parties to mix, creating a single billowing cloud.

    This curious separation of gas, galaxies, and dark matter has been observed so far in a handful of massive galaxy clusters, including the famous Bullet Cluster. However, it had never been seen before in lower-mass objects such as galaxy groups, making the Bullet Group the smallest structure in which this effect has been detected.

    Although it is not visible to the eye – nor to any type of telescope – astronomers were able to map the extent of the Bullet Group’s dark matter by tracing the effect it has on the light from distant galaxies lying behind the group. This distortion, called gravitational lensing, is caused when light passes by a massive object such as a galaxy, which gravitationally affects the space around it, causing the space to bend and curve. The paths of light from the more distant object are also bent and curved, sometimes creating bizarre optical effects.

    If the lensing object is very massive and favourably aligned with the background source of light, this effect becomes even more dramatic and striking – a phenomenon known as “strong gravitational lensing“. It can turn galaxies into rings or bright arcs smeared across the sky, and it even creates multiple images of the same galaxy.

    This can be seen in the centre-right part of this image, where a round, bright galaxy that belongs to the Bullet Group is circled by curious arcs of light – the distorted image of another galaxy lying much farther away.

    By exploring the contents of these cosmic wrecks, astronomers can learn more about the properties of dark matter. In particular, from the split between the dark matter and the hot gas, they can constrain how much dark matter does – or does not – interact with normal matter. The possibility of observing this effect in smaller objects like the Bullet Group, which are much more numerous than the more massive galaxy clusters, opens up new perspectives to study the role of dark matter across the Universe.

    This image is a composite of an X-ray image (shown in pink) from ESA’s XMM-Newton observatory, a three-colour (red, green, blue) optical image from the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope (CFHT), and a dark matter overlay (shown in blue) based on data from CFHT, the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope, and the W. M. Keck Observatory. Bright foreground stars that belong to our Galaxy are also visible scattered across the frame.

    Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope
    Canada-France-Hawaii telescope

    NASA Hubble Telescope
    NASA/ESA Hubble

    Keck Observatory
    W.M. Keck Observatory

    See the full article here.

    The European Space Agency (ESA), established in 1975, is an intergovernmental organization dedicated to the exploration of space, currently with 19 member states. Headquartered in Paris, ESA has a staff of more than 2,000. ESA’s space flight program includes human spaceflight, mainly through the participation in the International Space Station program, the launch and operations of unmanned exploration missions to other planets and the Moon, Earth observation, science, telecommunication as well as maintaining a major spaceport, the Guiana Space Centre at Kourou, French Guiana, and designing launch vehicles. ESA science missions are based at ESTEC in Noordwijk, Netherlands, Earth Observation missions at ESRIN in Frascati, Italy, ESA Mission Control (ESOC) is in Darmstadt, Germany, the European Astronaut Centre (EAC) that trains astronauts for future missions is situated in Cologne, Germany, and the European Space Astronomy Centre is located in Villanueva de la Cañada, Spain.

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  • richardmitnick 11:07 am on April 11, 2014 Permalink | Reply
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    From CERN: “CERN technology that could help out in space” 

    CERN New Masthead

    11 Apr 2014
    Barbara Warmbein

    This year at the world’s largest industrial fair, the Hannover Messe, CERN and the European Space Agency (ESA) have teamed up to present their technologies. Some of the technologies developed by CERN could find applications in space.

    In the planned upgrades of detectors on the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), electronics will come under intense radiation from high-energy particle beams. So electronics engineers at CERN have developed a power converter that can take a radiation dose of up to 7 million Gray and is not disturbed by single particle hits. Because power distribution is also an issue on spacecraft, the engineers – and CERN’s Knowledge Transfer group – believe that the converter could be useful in space.

    Then there’s the problem of thermal management. Devices called collimators narrow the beams in particle accelerators. On the LHC they suffer intense heat, acting as “brakes” to strip particles from the edges of spreading beams. With the higher energies and intensities planned for the upgraded LHC, researchers are looking to improve on the carbon-based composite materials currently in use for collimators .

    “The material [for the collimator] needs to be robust, conduct heat away quickly, have high geometrical stability and conduct electricity so as not to adversely influence the beam,” says Alessandro Bertarelli, an aerospace engineer turned beam expert at CERN.

    messe
    CERN and the European Space Agency share a stand to present their technologies at Hannover Messe, the world’s biggest industrial fair (Image: rheinland relations)

    The possible solution: a molybdenum-carbide–graphite composite. “It has better electrical properties than the current collimators,” says Bertarelli. “And its thermal conductivity is four times better – probably a world record for an engineered material.” The composite is also quite light and very stable up to high temperatures – it could find a use on aircraft or in the harsh environment of space.

    Another technology that could come in handy in space is related to surfaces in ultra-high vacuum. Particle beams have electric fields that can knock electrons from metallic surfaces around them. These electrons knock out even more electrons and so on. The process, called beam-induced multipactoring, forms an unwanted electron cloud that interferes with the beam.

    Rough surfaces or coatings with particular chemical composition can mitigate this effect by reducing the number of secondary electrons produced. So engineers sometimes use special coatings – amorphous carbon, for example.

    But mechanically rough surfaces can have drawbacks. “They are likely to increase the radiofrequency losses in microwave applications,” says beam physicist Fritz Caspers. “So [a team at CERN is] looking at surfaces which are mechanically very smooth.”

    Instead of a surface that is rough in a mechanical way the CERN team invented a surface that is rough in a magnetic way. Tiny permanent magnets of alternating polarity applied just underneath the surface of high-frequency-carrying structures can trap secondary electrons. The technology reduces the secondary electron yield without the drawbacks of a rough surface.

    Magnetic surface roughness could be used in particle physics, powering structures such as klystrons that use high frequencies. Spacecraft also suffer from efficiency losses due to stray electrons, and rough magnetic surfaces could be a basis of discussion for loss-free power transport in space.

    The concept of magnetic surface roughness could one day find applications in radiofrequency systems on board satellites.

    CERN and ESA recently signed a cooperation agreement. With so much overlap between technology for aerospace and particle physics, it’s off to a good start.

    See the full article here.

    Meet CERN in a variety of places:

    Cern Courier

    THE FOUR MAJOR PROJECT COLLABORATIONS

    ATLAS
    CERN ATLAS New
    ALICE
    CERN ALICE New

    CMS
    CERN CMS New

    LHCb
    CERN LHCb New

    LHC

    CERN LHC New

    LHC particles

    Quantum Diaries


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  • richardmitnick 10:44 pm on March 28, 2014 Permalink | Reply
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    From CERN and ESA: CERN and ESA sign cooperation agreement 

    CERN New Masthead

    ESA Space Science Banner

    The CERN article:
    At a ceremony today at Geneva airport, CERN and ESA signed a framework agreement for future cooperation on research and technology in areas of mutual interest. Future areas may include the development and characterization of innovative materials for applications in extreme conditions and for cutting-edge scientific performances, the development of new micro-technologies to be applied in miniaturized distributed sensor systems and the development and testing of high-performance detectors for high-energy physics experiments and space payloads.

    “CERN and ESA have common roots and share a long history of pioneering research work in their respective fields,” said CERN Director General Rolf Heuer. “This new cooperation agreement will foster synergies between the expertise, know-how and facilities available in the two Organizations.”

    This year is CERN’s 60th anniversary and ESA’s 50th, making the signature an opportunity to celebrate the memory of a scientist who was a founding father of both organizations: the Italian, Edoardo Amaldi (1908 –1989).

    Amaldi had an unshakeable belief in the open nature of science and the need for international cooperation. After participating in the creation of CERN during the 1950s, he became Secretary General of the provisional organization. Then, in 1958 when CERN was firmly established, he joined forces with French physicist Pierre Auger to urge European governments to set up a European organisation for space research, based on the CERN model. Their vision led to the founding of the European Space Research Organisation (ESRO), which later became ESA.

    During the ceremony, ESA Director General Jean-Jacques Dordain presented Heuer with copies of letters by Amaldi in which he lays out his concern for peace, and the role science should play in fostering it. These letters were flown aboard ESA’s Automated Transfer Vehicle 3 – a spacecraft named in Amaldi’s honour. The ceremony took place in the presence of members of Amaldi’s family, along with Research Ministers and State Secretaries from Belgium, France, Italy and Switzerland.

    “ESA and CERN are the daughters of visionaries like Amaldi,” said Dordain, “testimony that, when we share the same challenging objectives and join forces, Europe is at the leading edge of progress, innovation and growth.”

    The ESA article:

    ESA, the European Space Agency, and CERN, the European Organisation for Nuclear Research, signed a cooperation agreement on 28 March to foster future collaborations on research themes of common interest.

    This year, CERN is celebrating its 60th anniversary as ESA is celebrating 50 years of European space activities.

    Mauro Dell’Ambrogio, the State Secretary for Education, Research and Innovation of Switzerland, highlighted how the two institutions complement each other as examples of successful European collaboration and worldwide excellence in science and technology: “CERN and ESA are two examples that attest to the approach of European collaboration for global benefit.”

    Geneviève Fioraso, Minister for Higher Education and Research of France, stated that, “This cooperation agreement brings concrete expression to the long shared history of two international organisations that are emblematic of the strength of European science: CERN and ESA.

    “This joining together in the exploration of the infinite, from the infinitely large that is the focus of the sciences of the Universe to the infinitely small in high energy physics, opens up new avenues for science and technology, bringing progress and strengthening European industry.”

    “ESA and CERN are the daughters of visionaries like Edoardo Amaldi, testimony that, when we share the same challenging objectives and join forces, Europe is at the leading edge of progress, innovation and growth,” said Jean-Jacques Dordain, ESA’s Director General.

    During the signing ceremony at Geneva airport, ESA presented CERN with the Amaldi letters that flew on ESA’s spacecraft named in the honour of the famous scientist.

    two
    Signing the cooperation agreement

    See the full CERN article here. See the full ESA article here.

    CERN
    ESA50 Logo large


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  • richardmitnick 2:47 pm on March 16, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , European Space Agency (ESA),   

    From BBC: “Wrinkled Mercury’s shrinking history” 

    BBC

    16 March 2014
    Jonathan Amos

    The planet Mercury is about 7km smaller today than when its crust first solidified over four billion years ago.

    The innermost world has shrunk as it has cooled over time, its surface cracking and wrinkling in the process.

    Scientists first recognised the phenomenon when the Mariner 10 probe whizzed by the planet in the mid-1970s.

    mariner 10
    Mariner 10

    But the latest images from the US space agency’s Messenger satellite have enabled researchers to refine their estimate for the amount of contraction.

    NASA Messenger satellite
    NASA Messenger

    And, as they report in the journal Nature Geoscience, it is significantly more than previously realised.

    Mariner made two passes of Mercury, in 1974 and 1975, photographing about 45% of the planet’s surface.

    Evident in those pictures were long scars where rock had been thrust upwards as the body shortened.

    These lobate scarps, as they are known, typically run for hundreds of kilometres, and separate terrains that can differ in height by thousands of metres.

    mercury
    Mercury: The inner-most planet
    Mercury was visited first by the Mariner 10 probe in the 1970s; and by Messenger currently
    The planet’s diameter is 4,880km – about one-third the size of Earth
    It is the second densest planet in Solar System; 5.3 times that of water
    The Caloris Basin is the largest known feature (1,300km in diameter)
    Scientists speculate there is water-ice in the planet’s permanently shadowed craters
    Mercury’s huge iron core takes up more than 60% of the planet’s mass
    It is an extreme place: surface temperatures swing between 425C and -180C
    Mercury is the only inner planet besides Earth with a global magnetic field
    Messenger is the first spacecraft to go into orbit around the planet

    From the Mariner evidence, researchers calculated Mercury must have decreased its radius by about 1-3km over its history.

    But that figure was in conflict with modelling studies that suggested a cooling object like Mercury should have contracted much more in four billion years.

    Messenger helps to resolve the inconsistency. Since entering into orbit in 2011, it has photographed 100% of the planet.

    This has allowed for a more extensive study of the scarp features and the more subtle wrinkled ridges that also criss-cross its surface.

    The new assessment now brings the observed shrinkage into the realm expected by the models.

    Dr Paul Byrne from the Carnegie Institution in Washington DC is the lead author on the Nature Geoscience paper. He marvelled at the surface features on planet.

    “Some of these lobate scarps are enormous,” he told BBC News.

    “There’s a structure called Enterprise Rupes in the southern hemisphere that is a single scarp system. It’s 1,000km long and in places has 3km of relief. Imagine standing in front of it. It’s Mercury’s version of a mountain belt.

    “It utterly dominates the topography and it is astounding given the diminutive size of Mercury.”

    The innermost world is a fascinating oddball. Whereas the Earth has an extensive crust and mantle shrouding its metal core, Mercury is very different.

    Estimated to be nearly 4,000km in diameter, the planet’s metal core is its defining feature. It is covered only by a thin rocky veneer that may be little more than 400km thick.

    Although some of the core must still be liquid, part of it will have cooled and solidified, losing volume as a result. This will have scrunched the thin, overlying layer of rock.

    Europe and Japan plan to launch a joint mission to Mercury to follow up Messenger’s observations

    The BepiColombo venture should launch next year. One of its principal investigators will be Dr Dave Rothery from the UK’s Open University.

    ESA Bepi Columbo
    Bepi Columbo

    “People used to think the Earth was shrinking – which it is a little bit, but we can’t see it because of the way tectonic plates are created and destroyed on the Earth,” he explained.

    “Before we understood plate tectonics, people thought mountain belts on Earth were because the planet was shrinking and forcing stuff upwards, and areas of thick accumulation of sediment were where the crust was being forced down by contraction. We now know that’s broadly speaking wrong, but this is the process on Mercury because it’s a one plate planet.”

    This has relevance as scientists try to understand planets beyond our Solar System. Many of these, too, may have just the single plate and exhibit very similar surface-crumpling features to those seen on Mercury.

    ranges
    Mountain ranges: Mercury is covered with massive scarps where the surface has shortened

    See the full article here.


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  • richardmitnick 7:44 am on March 8, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , ESA SARAS, European Space Agency (ESA)   

    From ESA: “Catching signals from a speeding satellite” 

    ESASpaceForEuropeBanner
    European Space Agency

    7 March 2014
    No Writer Credit

    Soaring high above Earth as they speed through space, satellites are difficult targets to track. Now a new approach developed in Europe is helping ground stations to acquire signals faster and more accurately than ever before.

    During launch, a satellite is flung into orbit with tremendous force, attaining speeds of over 28 000 km/h – about 40 times faster than a commercial airliner.

    A critical moment is when the satellite separates from its rocket and starts transmitting radio signals. A receiving station on the ground has to be ready and waiting, pointed at precisely the right spot in the sky to catch the transmission, which is a highly focused and narrow beam. And it’s moving fast.

    “Traditionally, even the best stations – like ESA’s 15 m and 35 m-diameter dishes – are only sensitive across an arc of just a few degrees,” says Magdalena Martinez de Mendijur, a systems engineer at ESA’s Operations Centre in Germany.

    “If the antenna is not pointed perfectly, or if the satellite zips by out of its ‘field of view’ before acquisition, the signal could be missed altogether.”
    A cutting-edge difference

    array
    New antenna array. No image credit

    That’s where SARAS – a Spanish acronym for ‘Fast Acquisition of Satellites and Launchers’ – is making a cutting-edge difference.

    spain
    Upgraded station in Spain

    The system mounts a circular array of eight small radio-frequency sensors around the rim of an existing dish antenna.

    “The signals received by these eight are combined, and the system can estimate the direction of arrival of the incoming radio beam, and the entire dish can be repointed directly at the satellite with great precision and accuracy, even when the incoming signal is weak or distorted,” says Magdalena.

    It was fitted to the 15 m dish at ESA’s Space Astronomy Centre in Spain in 2013. Since then, it has been extensively tested, catching signals from missions including CryoSat-2, XMM, GOCE and Swarm.

    ESA partners with European industry

    “This new approach more than doubles the size of the dish’s window and we can acquire signals from a new satellite in less than 12 seconds,” says Klaus Juergen Schulz, responsible for ground station engineering.

    “A future version should improve this to just two seconds.”

    SARAS for faster satellite tracking, a short video on the subject.

    The technology was developed by Spanish company Isdefe, partly supported by ESA’s General Support Technology Programme, which converts promising engineering concepts into mature products.

    The system has been patented in Spain and is being patented in Europe, and will be developed into a full commercial product.

    “This is an excellent example of how technology research supported through ESA funding and technical and managerial supervision can be developed by European industry into world-class products and services,” says Juan Miro, Head of ESA’s Ground Systems Engineering department.

    See the full article here.

    The European Space Agency (ESA), established in 1975, is an intergovernmental organization dedicated to the exploration of space, currently with 19 member states. Headquartered in Paris, ESA has a staff of more than 2,000. ESA’s space flight program includes human spaceflight, mainly through the participation in the International Space Station program, the launch and operations of unmanned exploration missions to other planets and the Moon, Earth observation, science, telecommunication as well as maintaining a major spaceport, the Guiana Space Centre at Kourou, French Guiana, and designing launch vehicles. ESA science missions are based at ESTEC in Noordwijk, Netherlands, Earth Observation missions at ESRIN in Frascati, Italy, ESA Mission Control (ESOC) is in Darmstadt, Germany, the European Astronaut Centre (EAC) that trains astronauts for future missions is situated in Cologne, Germany, and the European Space Astronomy Centre is located in Villanueva de la Cañada, Spain.


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