Tag: Route (page 1 of 3)

Kryon via Nancy Tate ~ Sunset Messages Galactic Federation of Light

View Article Here   Read More

An Encounter with Our Helpers

By Mercedes Kirkel   This past week I went on a hike with my good friend, Susan. We chose a trail by the San Francisco Bay that Susan used to frequent but hadn’t been on in a number of years. The weather was beautiful, the wildflowers bursting forth, birds gracing our path, and all seemed […]

View Article Here   Read More

An Encounter with Our Helpers

By Mercedes Kirkel   This past week I went on a hike with my good friend, Susan. We chose a trail by the San Francisco Bay that Susan used to frequent but hadn’t been on in a number of years. The weather was beautiful, the wildflowers bursting forth, birds gracing our path, and all seemed […]

View Article Here   Read More

Mike Quinsey — Message through my Higher Self — 6th January 2017

View Article Here   Read More

Judas Iscariot via Ann Dahlberg 21-12-2016

View Article Here   Read More

Pleiadian High Council of Seven – Focus and Expand – October-03-2016

View Article Here   Read More

Free the Colonies! Report and Short Planetary Situation Update

  Free the Colonies activation was a big success. The critical mass of the surface population required for this activation was lower because we were dealing with an off-planet situation and it was reached easily. The most critical part of the Brea...

View Article Here   Read More

Is In-Flight Refueling Coming to Commercial Airlines?




Excerpt from space.com

This article was originally published on The Conversation. The publication contributed this article to Space.com's Expert Voices: Op-Ed & Insights.

There’s real pressure on the aviation industry to introduce faster, cheaper and greener aircraft, while maintaining the high safety standards demanded of airlines worldwide.

Airlines carry more than three billion passengers each year, which presents an enormous challenge not only for aircraft manufacturers but for the civil aviation infrastructure that makes this extraordinary annual mass-migration possible. Many international airports are close to or already at capacity. The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has estimated that, without intervention, many global airports – including major hubs such as London Heathrow, Amsterdam Schiphol, Beijing and Dubai – will have run out of runway or terminal capacity by 2020. 


The obvious approach to tackling this problem is to extend and enlarge airport runways and terminals – such as the long-proposed third runway at London Heathrow. However there may be other less conventional alternatives, such as introducing in-flight refuelling for civil aircraft on key long-haul routes. Our project, Research on a Cruiser-Enabled Air Transport Environment (Recreate), began in 2011 to evaluate whether this was something that could prove a viable, and far cheaper, solution.

If in-flight refuelling seems implausible, it’s worth remembering that it was first trialed in the 1920s, and the military has continued to develop the technology ever since. The appeal is partly to reduce the aircraft’s weight on take-off, allowing it to carry additional payload, and partly to extend its flight range. Notably, during the Falklands War in 1982 RAF Vulcan bombers used in-flight refuelling to stage what was at the time the longest bombing mission ever, flying 8,000 miles non-stop from Ascension Island in the South Atlantic to the Falklands and back.

Reducing take-off weight could offer many benefits for civilian aircraft too. Without the need to carry so much fuel the aircraft can be smaller, which means less noise on take-off and landing and shorter runways. This opens up the network of smaller regional airports as new potential sites for long-haul routes, relieving pressure on the major hubs that are straining at the seams.

There are environmental benefits too, as a smaller, lighter aircraft requires less fuel to reach its destination. Our initial estimates from air traffic simulations demonstrate that it’s possible to reduce fuel burn by up to 11% over today’s technology by simply replacing existing global long-haul flight routes with specifically designed 250-seater aircraft with a range of 6,000nm after one refuelling – roughly the distance from London to Hong Kong. This saving could potentially grow to 23% with further efficiencies, all while carrying the same number of passengers the same distance as is possible with the current aircraft fleet, and despite the additional fuel burn of the tanker aircraft.

Tornado fighter jets in-flight refuel
Imagine if these Tornado fighter jets were 250-seater passenger aircraft and you’ve got the idea.

However, this is not the whole picture – in-flight refuelling will require the aerial equivalent of petrol stations in order to deliver keep passenger aircraft in the sky. With so much traffic it simply wouldn’t be possible to refuel any aircraft any time, anywhere it was needed. The location of these refuelling zones, coupled with the flight distance between the origin and destination airports can greatly affect the potential benefits achievable, possibly pulling flights away from their shortest route, and even making refuelling on some routes impossible – if for example the deviation to the nearest refuelling zone meant burning as much fuel as would have been saved.

Safety and automation

As with all new concepts – particularly those that involve bringing one aircraft packed with people and another full of fuel into close proximity during flight – it’s quite right to ask whether this is safe. To try and answer this question, the Dutch National Aerospace Laboratory and German Aerospace Centre used their flight simulators to test the automated in-flight refuelling flight control system developed as part of the Recreate project.

One simulator replicated the manoeuvre from the point of view of the tanker equipped with an in-flight refuelling boom, the other simulated the aircraft being refuelled mid-flight. Critical test situations such as engine failure, high air turbulence and gusts of wind were simulated with real flight crews to assess the potential danger to the operation. The results were encouraging, demonstrating that the manoeuvre doesn’t place an excessive workload on the pilots, and that the concept is viable from a human as well as a technical perspective.

So far we’ve demonstrated the potential aerial refuelling holds for civilian aviation, but putting it into practice would still pose challenges. Refuelling hubs would need to be established worldwide, shared between airlines. There would need to be fundamental changes to airline pilot training, alongside a wider public acceptance of this departure from traditional flight operations.

However, it does demonstrate that, in addition to all the high-tech work going into designing new aircraft, new materials, new engines and new fuels, the technology we already have offers solutions to the long-term problems of ferrying billions of passengers by air around the world.

View Article Here   Read More

Google’s Self-Driving Car Test

GOOGLE: We announced our self-driving car project in 2010 to make driving safer, more enjoyable, and more efficient. Having safely completed over 200,000 miles of computer-led driving, we wanted to share one of our favorite moments. Here's Steve, wh...

View Article Here   Read More

Let There Be Light! Photo Shows Light As Wave And Particle For First Time


Light as a particle and a wave


Excerpt from escapistmagazine.com

According to quantum mechanics light acts as both a particle and a wave, but now we can finally see what that looks like.

Quantum mechanics is an incredibly complex field for a simple reason: So much of what it studies can be two different things at the exact same time. Light is a great example since it behaves like both a particle and a wave, but only appears in one state during experiments. Mathematically speaking, we have to treat light as both ways for the universe to make sense but actually confirming it visually has been impossible. Or at least that was the case until scientists from Switzerland's École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne developed their own unique photography method.
The image was created by shooting a pulse of laser light at a metallic nanowire to make its charged particles vibrate. Next the scientists fired a stream of electrons past the wire holding the trapped light. When the two collided, it created an energy exchange that could be photographed from the electron microscope.

So what does this mean when looking at the photograph? When the photons and electrons collide, they either slow down or speed up, which creates a visualization of a light wave. At the same time the speed change appears as a quanta - packets of energy - transferred between the electrons and photons as particles. In other words, it's the first case of observing light particles and waves simultaneously.

"This experiment demonstrates that, for the first time ever, we can film quantum mechanics - and its paradoxical nature - directly," research leader Fabrizio Carbone explained. This has enormous implications not only for quantum research, but also quantum-based technologies still in development. "Being able to image and control quantum phenomena at the nanometer scale like this opens up a new route towards quantum computing," he continued.

The experiment results were posted in today's Nature Communications, which will help other scientists build on this research with further studies. After all, it's not like we've unlocked all of light's secrets yet - we can barely even tell what color a dress is sometimes.

View Article Here   Read More

Is playing ‘Space Invaders’ a milestone in artificial intelligence?





Excerpt from latimes.com

Computers have beaten humans at chess and "Jeopardy!," and now they can master old Atari games such as "Space Invaders" or "Breakout" without knowing anything about their rules or strategies.

Playing Atari 2600 games from the 1980s may seem a bit "Back to the Future," but researchers with Google's DeepMind project say they have taken a small but crucial step toward a general learning machine that can mimic the way human brains learn from new experience.

Unlike the Watson and Deep Blue computers that beat "Jeopardy!" and chess champions with intensive programming specific to those games, the Deep-Q Network built its winning strategies from keystrokes up, through trial and error and constant reprocessing of feedback to find winning strategies.

Image result for space invaders

“The ultimate goal is to build smart, general-purpose [learning] machines. We’re many decades off from doing that," said artificial intelligence researcher Demis Hassabis, coauthor of the study published online Wednesday in the journal Nature. "But I do think this is the first significant rung of the ladder that we’re on." 
The Deep-Q Network computer, developed by the London-based Google DeepMind, played 49 old-school Atari games, scoring "at or better than human level," on 29 of them, according to the study.
The algorithm approach, based loosely on the architecture of human neural networks, could eventually be applied to any complex and multidimensional task requiring a series of decisions, according to the researchers. 

The algorithms employed in this type of machine learning depart strongly from approaches that rely on a computer's ability to weigh stunning amounts of inputs and outcomes and choose programmed models to "explain" the data. Those approaches, known as supervised learning, required artful tailoring of algorithms around specific problems, such as a chess game.

The computer instead relies on random exploration of keystrokes bolstered by human-like reinforcement learning, where a reward essentially takes the place of such supervision.
“In supervised learning, there’s a teacher that says what the right answer was," said study coauthor David Silver. "In reinforcement learning, there is no teacher. No one says what the right action was, and the system needs to discover by trial and error what the correct action or sequence of actions was that led to the best possible desired outcome.”

The computer "learned" over the course of several weeks of training, in hundreds of trials, based only on the video pixels of the game -- the equivalent of a human looking at screens and manipulating a cursor without reading any instructions, according to the study.

Over the course of that training, the computer built up progressively more abstract representations of the data in ways similar to human neural networks, according to the study.
There was nothing about the learning algorithms, however, that was specific to Atari, or to video games for that matter, the researchers said.
The computer eventually figured out such insider gaming strategies as carving a tunnel through the bricks in "Breakout" to reach the back of the wall. And it found a few tricks that were unknown to the programmers, such as keeping a submarine hovering just below the surface of the ocean in "Seaquest."

The computer's limits, however, became evident in the games at which it failed, sometimes spectacularly. It was miserable at "Montezuma's Revenge," and performed nearly as poorly at "Ms. Pac-Man." That's because those games also require more sophisticated exploration, planning and complex route-finding, said coauthor Volodymyr Mnih.

And though the computer may be able to match the video-gaming proficiency of a 1980s teenager, its overall "intelligence" hardly reaches that of a pre-verbal toddler. It cannot build conceptual or abstract knowledge, doesn't find novel solutions and can get stuck trying to exploit its accumulated knowledge rather than abandoning it and resort to random exploration, as humans do. 

“It’s mastering and understanding the construction of these games, but we wouldn’t say yet that it’s building conceptual knowledge, or abstract knowledge," said Hassabis.

The researchers chose the Atari 2600 platform in part because it offered an engineering sweet spot -- not too easy and not too hard. They plan to move into the 1990s, toward 3-D games involving complex environments, such as the "Grand Theft Auto" franchise. That milestone could come within five years, said Hassabis.

“With a few tweaks, it should be able to drive a real car,” Hassabis said.

DeepMind was formed in 2010 by Hassabis, Shane Legg and Mustafa Suleyman, and received funding from Tesla Motors' Elon Musk and Facebook investor Peter Thiel, among others. It was purchased by Google last year, for a reported $650 million. 

Hassabis, a chess prodigy and game designer, met Legg, an algorithm specialist, while studying at the Gatsby Computational Neuroscience Unit at University College, London. Suleyman, an entrepreneur who dropped out of Oxford University, is a partner in Reos, a conflict-resolution consulting group.

View Article Here   Read More

Why science is so hard to believe?

 
In the recent movie “Interstellar,” set in a futuristic, downtrodden America where NASA has been forced into hiding, school textbooks say the Apollo moon landings were faked.


Excerpt from 


There’s a scene in Stanley Kubrick’s comic masterpiece “Dr. Strangelove” in which Jack D. Ripper, an American general who’s gone rogue and ordered a nuclear attack on the Soviet Union, unspools his paranoid worldview — and the explanation for why he drinks “only distilled water, or rainwater, and only pure grain alcohol” — to Lionel Mandrake, a dizzy-with-anxiety group captain in the Royal Air Force.
Ripper: “Have you ever heard of a thing called fluoridation? Fluoridation of water?”
Mandrake: “Ah, yes, I have heard of that, Jack. Yes, yes.”Ripper: “Well, do you know what it is?”
Mandrake: “No. No, I don’t know what it is, no.”
Ripper: “Do you realize that fluoridation is the most monstrously conceived and dangerous communist plot we have ever had to face?” 

The movie came out in 1964, by which time the health benefits of fluoridation had been thoroughly established and anti-fluoridation conspiracy theories could be the stuff of comedy. Yet half a century later, fluoridation continues to incite fear and paranoia. In 2013, citizens in Portland, Ore., one of only a few major American cities that don’t fluoridate, blocked a plan by local officials to do so. Opponents didn’t like the idea of the government adding “chemicals” to their water. They claimed that fluoride could be harmful to human health.

Actually fluoride is a natural mineral that, in the weak concentrations used in public drinking-water systems, hardens tooth enamel and prevents tooth decay — a cheap and safe way to improve dental health for everyone, rich or poor, conscientious brushers or not. That’s the scientific and medical consensus.
To which some people in Portland, echoing anti-fluoridation activists around the world, reply: We don’t believe you.
We live in an age when all manner of scientific knowledge — from the safety of fluoride and vaccines to the reality of climate change — faces organized and often furious opposition. Empowered by their own sources of information and their own interpretations of research, doubters have declared war on the consensus of experts. There are so many of these controversies these days, you’d think a diabolical agency had put something in the water to make people argumentative.
Science doubt has become a pop-culture meme. In the recent movie “Interstellar,” set in a futuristic, downtrodden America where NASA has been forced into hiding, school textbooks say the Apollo moon landings were faked.


The debate about mandated vaccinations has the political world talking. A spike in measles cases nationwide has President Obama, lawmakers and even potential 2016 candidates weighing in on the vaccine controversy. (Pamela Kirkland/The Washington Post)
In a sense this is not surprising. Our lives are permeated by science and technology as never before. For many of us this new world is wondrous, comfortable and rich in rewards — but also more complicated and sometimes unnerving. We now face risks we can’t easily analyze.
We’re asked to accept, for example, that it’s safe to eat food containing genetically modified organisms (GMOs) because, the experts point out, there’s no evidence that it isn’t and no reason to believe that altering genes precisely in a lab is more dangerous than altering them wholesale through traditional breeding. But to some people, the very idea of transferring genes between species conjures up mad scientists running amok — and so, two centuries after Mary Shelley wrote “Frankenstein,” they talk about Frankenfood.
The world crackles with real and imaginary hazards, and distinguishing the former from the latter isn’t easy. Should we be afraid that the Ebola virus, which is spread only by direct contact with bodily fluids, will mutate into an airborne super-plague? The scientific consensus says that’s extremely unlikely: No virus has ever been observed to completely change its mode of transmission in humans, and there’s zero evidence that the latest strain of Ebola is any different. But Google “airborne Ebola” and you’ll enter a dystopia where this virus has almost supernatural powers, including the power to kill us all.
In this bewildering world we have to decide what to believe and how to act on that. In principle, that’s what science is for. “Science is not a body of facts,” says geophysicist Marcia McNutt, who once headed the U.S. Geological Survey and is now editor of Science, the prestigious journal. “Science is a method for deciding whether what we choose to believe has a basis in the laws of nature or not.”
The scientific method leads us to truths that are less than self-evident, often mind-blowing and sometimes hard to swallow. In the early 17th century, when Galileo claimed that the Earth spins on its axis and orbits the sun, he wasn’t just rejecting church doctrine. He was asking people to believe something that defied common sense — because it sure looks like the sun’s going around the Earth, and you can’t feel the Earth spinning. Galileo was put on trial and forced to recant. Two centuries later, Charles Darwin escaped that fate. But his idea that all life on Earth evolved from a primordial ancestor and that we humans are distant cousins of apes, whales and even deep-sea mollusks is still a big ask for a lot of people.
Even when we intellectually accept these precepts of science, we subconsciously cling to our intuitions — what researchers call our naive beliefs. A study by Andrew Shtulman of Occidental College showed that even students with an advanced science education had a hitch in their mental gait when asked to affirm or deny that humans are descended from sea animals and that the Earth goes around the sun. Both truths are counterintuitive. The students, even those who correctly marked “true,” were slower to answer those questions than questions about whether humans are descended from tree-dwelling creatures (also true but easier to grasp) and whether the moon goes around the Earth (also true but intuitive).
Shtulman’s research indicates that as we become scientifically literate, we repress our naive beliefs but never eliminate them entirely. They nest in our brains, chirping at us as we try to make sense of the world.
Most of us do that by relying on personal experience and anecdotes, on stories rather than statistics. We might get a prostate-specific antigen test, even though it’s no longer generally recommended, because it caught a close friend’s cancer — and we pay less attention to statistical evidence, painstakingly compiled through multiple studies, showing that the test rarely saves lives but triggers many unnecessary surgeries. Or we hear about a cluster of cancer cases in a town with a hazardous-waste dump, and we assume that pollution caused the cancers. Of course, just because two things happened together doesn’t mean one caused the other, and just because events are clustered doesn’t mean they’re not random. Yet we have trouble digesting randomness; our brains crave pattern and meaning.
Even for scientists, the scientific method is a hard discipline. They, too, are vulnerable to confirmation bias — the tendency to look for and see only evidence that confirms what they already believe. But unlike the rest of us, they submit their ideas to formal peer review before publishing them. Once the results are published, if they’re important enough, other scientists will try to reproduce them — and, being congenitally skeptical and competitive, will be very happy to announce that they don’t hold up. Scientific results are always provisional, susceptible to being overturned by some future experiment or observation. Scientists rarely proclaim an absolute truth or an absolute certainty. Uncertainty is inevitable at the frontiers of knowledge.
That provisional quality of science is another thing a lot of people have trouble with. To some climate-change skeptics, for example, the fact that a few scientists in the 1970s were worried (quite reasonably, it seemed at the time) about the possibility of a coming ice age is enough to discredit what is now the consensus of the world’s scientists: The planet’s surface temperature has risen by about 1.5 degrees Fahrenheit in the past 130 years, and human actions, including the burning of fossil fuels, are extremely likely to have been the dominant cause since the mid-20th century.
It’s clear that organizations funded in part by the fossil-fuel industry have deliberately tried to undermine the public’s understanding of the scientific consensus by promoting a few skeptics. The news media gives abundant attention to such mavericks, naysayers, professional controversialists and table thumpers. The media would also have you believe that science is full of shocking discoveries made by lone geniuses. Not so. The (boring) truth is that science usually advances incrementally, through the steady accretion of data and insights gathered by many people over many years. So it has with the consensus on climate change. That’s not about to go poof with the next thermometer reading.
But industry PR, however misleading, isn’t enough to explain why so many people reject the scientific consensus on global warming.
The “science communication problem,” as it’s blandly called by the scientists who study it, has yielded abundant new research into how people decide what to believe — and why they so often don’t accept the expert consensus. It’s not that they can’t grasp it, according to Dan Kahan of Yale University. In one study he asked 1,540 Americans, a representative sample, to rate the threat of climate change on a scale of zero to 10. Then he correlated that with the subjects’ science literacy. He found that higher literacy was associated with stronger views — at both ends of the spectrum. Science literacy promoted polarization on climate, not consensus. According to Kahan, that’s because people tend to use scientific knowledge to reinforce their worldviews.
Americans fall into two basic camps, Kahan says. Those with a more “egalitarian” and “communitarian” mind-set are generally suspicious of industry and apt to think it’s up to something dangerous that calls for government regulation; they’re likely to see the risks of climate change. In contrast, people with a “hierarchical” and “individualistic” mind-set respect leaders of industry and don’t like government interfering in their affairs; they’re apt to reject warnings about climate change, because they know what accepting them could lead to — some kind of tax or regulation to limit emissions.
In the United States, climate change has become a litmus test that identifies you as belonging to one or the other of these two antagonistic tribes. When we argue about it, Kahan says, we’re actually arguing about who we are, what our crowd is. We’re thinking: People like us believe this. People like that do not believe this.
Science appeals to our rational brain, but our beliefs are motivated largely by emotion, and the biggest motivation is remaining tight with our peers. “We’re all in high school. We’ve never left high school,” says Marcia McNutt. “People still have a need to fit in, and that need to fit in is so strong that local values and local opinions are always trumping science. And they will continue to trump science, especially when there is no clear downside to ignoring science.”
Meanwhile the Internet makes it easier than ever for science doubters to find their own information and experts. Gone are the days when a small number of powerful institutions — elite universities, encyclopedias and major news organizations — served as gatekeepers of scientific information. The Internet has democratized it, which is a good thing. But along with cable TV, the Web has also made it possible to live in a “filter bubble” that lets in only the information with which you already agree.
How to penetrate the bubble? How to convert science skeptics? Throwing more facts at them doesn’t help. Liz Neeley, who helps train scientists to be better communicators at an organization called Compass, says people need to hear from believers they can trust, who share their fundamental values. She has personal experience with this. Her father is a climate-change skeptic and gets most of his information on the issue from conservative media. In exasperation she finally confronted him: “Do you believe them or me?” She told him she believes the scientists who research climate change and knows many of them personally. “If you think I’m wrong,” she said, “then you’re telling me that you don’t trust me.” Her father’s stance on the issue softened. But it wasn’t the facts that did it.
If you’re a rationalist, there’s something a little dispiriting about all this. In Kahan’s descriptions of how we decide what to believe, what we decide sometimes sounds almost incidental. Those of us in the science-communication business are as tribal as anyone else, he told me. We believe in scientific ideas not because we have truly evaluated all the evidence but because we feel an affinity for the scientific community. When I mentioned to Kahan that I fully accept evolution, he said: “Believing in evolution is just a description about you. It’s not an account of how you reason.”
Maybe — except that evolution is real. Biology is incomprehensible without it. There aren’t really two sides to all these issues. Climate change is happening. Vaccines save lives. Being right does matter — and the science tribe has a long track record of getting things right in the end. Modern society is built on things it got right.
Doubting science also has consequences, as seen in recent weeks with the measles outbreak that began in California. The people who believe that vaccines cause autism — often well educated and affluent, by the way — are undermining “herd immunity” to such diseases as whooping cough and measles. The anti-vaccine movement has been going strong since a prestigious British medical journal, the Lancet, published a study in 1998 linking a common vaccine to autism. The journal later retracted the study, which was thoroughly discredited. But the notion of a vaccine-autism connection has been endorsed by celebrities and reinforced through the usual Internet filters. (Anti-vaccine activist and actress Jenny McCarthy famously said on “The Oprah Winfrey Show,” “The University of Google is where I got my degree from.”)
In the climate debate, the consequences of doubt are likely to be global and enduring. Climate-change skeptics in the United States have achieved their fundamental goal of halting legislative action to combat global warming. They haven’t had to win the debate on the merits; they’ve merely had to fog the room enough to keep laws governing greenhouse gas emissions from being enacted.
Some environmental activists want scientists to emerge from their ivory towers and get more involved in the policy battles. Any scientist going that route needs to do so carefully, says Liz Neeley. “That line between science communication and advocacy is very hard to step back from,” she says. In the debate over climate change, the central allegation of the skeptics is that the science saying it’s real and a serious threat is politically tinged, driven by environmental activism and not hard data. That’s not true, and it slanders honest scientists. But the claim becomes more likely to be seen as plausible if scientists go beyond their professional expertise and begin advocating specific policies.
It’s their very detachment, what you might call the cold-bloodedness of science, that makes science the killer app. It’s the way science tells us the truth rather than what we’d like the truth to be. Scientists can be as dogmatic as anyone else — but their dogma is always wilting in the hot glare of new research. In science it’s not a sin to change your mind when the evidence demands it. For some people, the tribe is more important than the truth; for the best scientists, the truth is more important than the tribe.

View Article Here   Read More

NASA probe snaps amazing image of Ceres



    NASA's Dawn space probe has taken the sharpest-yet image of Ceres, a dwarf planet in our solar system's asteroid belt.

    Excerpt from SPACE.com

    By Mike Wall  

    NASA's Dawn spacecraft has taken the sharpest-ever photos of Ceres, just a month before slipping into orbit around the mysterious dwarf planet.

    Dawn captured the new Ceres images Wednesday (Feb. 4), when the probe was 90,000 miles (145,000 kilometers) from the dwarf planet, the largest object in the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter.

    On the night of March 5, Dawn will become the first spacecraft ever to orbit Ceres — and the first to circle two different solar system bodies beyond Earth. (Dawn orbited the protoplanet Vesta, the asteroid belt's second-largest denizen, from July 2011 through September 2012.) 

    "It's very exciting," Dawn mission director and chief engineer Marc Rayman, who's based at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, said of Dawn's impending arrival at Ceres. "This is a truly unique world, something that we've never seen before."


    The 590-mile-wide (950 km) Ceres was discovered by Italian astronomer Giuseppe Piazzi in 1801. It's the only dwarf planet in the asteroid belt, and contains about 30 percent of the belt's total mass. (For what it's worth, Vesta harbors about 8 percent of the asteroid belt's mass.)

    Despite Ceres' proximity (relative to other dwarf planets such as Pluto and Eris, anyway), scientists don't know much about the rocky world. But they think it contains a great deal of water, mostly in the form of ice. Indeed, Ceres may be about 30 percent water by mass, Rayman said.

    Ceres could even harbor lakes or oceans of liquid water beneath its frigid surface. Furthermore, in early 2014, researchers analyzing data gathered by Europe's Herschel Space Observatory announced that they had spotted a tiny plume of water vapor emanating from Ceres. The detection raised the possibility that internal heat drives cryovolcanism on the dwarf planet, as it does on Saturn's moon's Enceladus. (It's also possible that the "geyser" was caused by a meteorite impact, which exposed subsurface ice that quickly sublimated into space, researchers said).

    The interior of Ceres may thus possess liquid water and an energy source — two key criteria required for life as we know it to exist.
    Dawn is not equipped to search for signs of life. But the probe — which is carrying a camera, a visible and infrared mapping spectrometer and a gamma ray and neutron spectrometer — will give scientists great up-close looks at Ceres' surface, which in turn could shed light on what's happening down below. 

    For example, Dawn may see chemical signs of interactions between subsurface water, if it exists, and the surface, Rayman said.
    "That's the sort of the thing we would be looking for — surface structures or features that show up in the camera's eye, or something about the composition that's detectable by one of our multiple spectrometers that could show evidence," he told Space.com. "But if the water doesn't make it to the surface, and isn't in large enough reservoirs to show up in the gravity data, then maybe we won't find it."

    Dawn will also attempt to spot Ceres' water-vapor plume, if it still exists, by watching for sunlight scattered off water molecules above the dwarf planet. But that's going to be a very tough observation to make, Rayman said.

    "The density of the water [observed by Herschel] is less than the density of air even above the International Space Station," he said. "For a spacecraft designed to map solid surfaces of airless bodies, that is an extremely difficult measurement." 

    Merging onto the freeway

    Dawn is powered by low-thrust, highly efficient ion engines, so its arrival at Ceres will not be a nail-biting affair featuring a make-or-break engine burn, as most other probes' orbital insertions are.

    Indeed, as of Friday (Feb. 6), Dawn is closing in on Ceres at just 215 mph (346 km/h), Rayman said —and that speed will keep decreasing every day.

    "You take a gentle, curving route, and then you slowly and safely merge onto the freeway, traveling at the same speed as your destination," Rayman said. "Ion propulsion follows that longer, more gentle, more graceful route."

    Dawn won't start studying Ceres as soon as it arrives. The spacecraft will gradually work its way down to its first science orbit, getting there on April 23. Dawn will then begin its intensive observations of Ceres, from a vantage point just 8,400 miles (13,500 km) above the dwarf planet's surface.

    The science work will continue — from a series of increasingly closer-in orbits, including a low-altitude mapping orbit just 230 miles (375 km) from Ceres' surface — through June 30, 2016, when the $466 million Dawn mission is scheduled to end.
    Rayman can't wait to see what Dawn discovers.

    "After looking through telescopes at Ceres for more than 200 years, I just think it's really going to be exciting to see what this exotic, alien world looks like," he said. "We're finally going to learn about this place."

    View Article Here   Read More
    Older posts




    Gaia-Cosmic Disclosure S1E1 LB728x90

    Creative Commons License
    This work is licensed under a
    Creative Commons Attribution 4.0
    International License
    ,
    unless otherwise marked.

    Terms of Use | Privacy Policy

    Member of The Internet Defense League




    Up ↑