Postcards from Sweden

Post Card from Google Sweden_by Rolf van den Brink
The Swedish Google summer is not going to let anyone down. Enjoy the good moods and crack some jokes with the most pleasant after workers.

 

Postcard from Sweden Romantic Sthlm_by Rolf van den Brink
Between seasons Stockholm is a rather romantic place to visit. There are speed dating facilities at a short walk’s distance in most areas for a diversity of interests, for instance cultural and sports.


Postcard from Sweden Dalarna City_by Rolf van den Brink
A bit tired of sightseeing the City? Birch woods are conveniently found. Just ask the next person you meet.

Post Card from Kallis_by Rolf van den Brink
The archipelago is a must see and absolutely unique combining a dramatic seaside scenery with picaresque resorts.

 

Post Card from Low Tech School Sweden_by Rolf van den Brink
The strength of the Royal Technical Museum is demonstrated by the beautiful functional architecture.

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By the summer of 2011, the spacecraft was too far from the sun for its solar arrays to generate enough electricity to power all of its instruments and subsystems.At that point, flight controllers ordered the spacecraft to put itself into electronic hibernation, shutting down all non-essential systems, including its radio.For the next two-and-a-half years, Rosetta flew in silence, constantly closing the gap with 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. Finally, on Jan. 20, Rosetta woke itself up and phoned home, ready for the final leg of its long space odyssey.For McCaughrean, a chance to get up close and personal with a comet is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to answer, or attempt to answer, fundamental questions about humanity’s origins.”The really big questions here are where do we come from, where does the solar system we live in come from, how was it put together, how was it assembled?” he said. ”How do the planets get built up individually and how did water get to this planet? Maybe even questions about where the complex molecules (came from), the organic molecules that build us up.”Water and life. These are questions that motivate everybody.”John Glenn Mission PatchFree shipping to U.S. addresses!The historic first orbital flight by an American is marked by this commemorative patch for John Glenn and Friendship 7.Final Shuttle Mission PatchFree shipping to U.S. addresses!The crew emblem for the final space shuttle mission is available in our store. Get this piece of history!Celebrate the shuttle programFree shipping to U.S. addresses!This special commemorative patch marks the retirement of NASA’s Space Shuttle Program. Available in our store!Anniversary Shuttle PatchFree shipping to U.S. addresses!This embroidered patch commemorates the 30th anniversary of the Space Shuttle Program. The design features the space shuttle Columbia’s historic maiden flight of April 12, 1981.Mercury anniversaryFree shipping to U.S. addresses!Celebrate the 50th anniversary of Alan Shephard’s historic Mercury mission with this collectors’ item, the official commemorative embroidered patch.Fallen Heroes Patch CollectionThe official patches from Apollo 1, the shuttle Challenger and Columbia crews are available in the store. | | | | 2014 Spaceflight Now Inc.Rosetta mission one month from historic comet arrival SPACEFLIGHT NOWPosted: July 6, 2014 The European Space Agency’s Rosetta spacecraft is one month from pulling alongside an icy comet and beginning the most comprehensive survey of a comet yet attempted. Artist’s concept of Rosetta at comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko. Photo credit: ESA-C. Carreau/ATG medialabRosetta has been fine-tuning its approach to comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko since early May, using its rocket thrusters to bend the spacecraft’s orbit to rendezvous with its target in the first week of August.Arrival at Churyumov-Gerasimenko is scheduled for Aug. 6, when Rosetta will become the first spacecraft to ever enter orbit around a comet.On July 6, Rosetta’s distance to the comet was less than 35,000 kilometers, or about 22,000 miles. As the craft’s range to Churyumov-Gerasimenko decreases, Rosetta’s cameras are getting a better picture of the unexplored comet.More details about the comet’s shape, rotation, and surface features will be resolved by Rosetta’s narrow angle camera in the coming weeks. The data will help scientists plan observations and give controllers input on the conditions awaiting Rosetta, such as gas, dust and ice particles, when it passes inside 50 miles of the comet in early August.”Our comet is coming out of its deep space slumber and beginning to put on a show for Rosetta’s science instruments,” said Matt Taylor, Rosetta’s project scientist at ESA.Other observations from the $1.7 billion mission’s suite of science instruments have detected water being ejected from the comet. A microwave sensor on Rosetta from NASA looked at Churyumov-Gerasimenko in early June, measuring the rate at which water vapor is released from the comet.Data showed the 4-kilometer-wide (2.5-mile-wide) comet is releasing the equivalent of two glasses of water into space every second, surprising scientists who did not expect to see outgassing of water from so far away.”At this production rate, comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko would fill an Olympic-size swimming pool in about 100 days,” said Sam Gulkis, principal investigator of the MIRO instrument at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. ”But, as the comet gets closer to the sun, the gas production rate will increase. With Rosetta, we have an amazing vantage point to observe these changes up close and learn more about exactly why they happen.” Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, seen in Rosetta’s OSIRIS narrow angle camera on June 28, from a distance of about 86,000 kilometers. The comet covers about four pixels in this image and appears, as expected, rather fuzzy from this distance. Photo credit: ESA/Rosetta/MPS for OSIRIS Team MPS/UPD/LAM/IAA/SSO/INTA/UPM/DASP/IDAFive rocket burns during the next month will put Rosetta in position for capture by the comet’s feeble gravity field, beginning more than a year of close-up mapping and scientific research, including the release of a German-built lander to touch down on the comet’s nucleus in November.Most of the maneuvering work was accomplished in five burns beginning May 7.The last rocket firing July 2 adjusted Rosetta’s velocity relative to Churyumov-Gerasimenko by 58.7 meters per second, or 131.3 mph.More than 90 percent of the required velocity change — known as delta-V in the space business — to reach Churyumov-Gerasimenko has been accomplished following the successful maneuver July 2.The next thruster burns are scheduled for July 9, July 16, July 23, Aug. 3 and Aug. 6, according to ESA.Rosetta will need occasional rocket firings throughout its mission to stay close to the comet, which officials expect will have an irregular, lumpy gravity field, making trajectory planning a challenge for control teams.When Rosetta arrives at the comet in August, it will be beyond the orbit Mars. The comet’s orbit will take it to just outside the orbit of Earth at perihelion — its closest approach to the sun — in August 2015.The probe will escort the comet on its journey into the inner solar system.Scientists say comets contain the primordial building blocks of life, and missions like Rosetta aim to yield clues on the role they played in the early solar system.Follow Stephen Clark on Twitter: .Final Shuttle Mission PatchFree shipping to U.S. addresses!The crew emblem for the final space shuttle mission is now available in our store. Get this piece of history!STS-134 PatchFree shipping to U.S. addresses!The final planned flight of space shuttle Endeavour is symbolized in the official embroidered crew patch for STS-134. Available in our store!Ares 1-X PatchThe official embroidered patch for the Ares 1-X rocket test flight, is available for purchase.Apollo CollageThis beautiful one piece set features the Apollo program emblem surrounded by the individual mission logos.Project OrionThe Orion crew exploration vehicle is NASA’s first new human spacecraft developed since the space shuttle a quarter-century earlier. The capsule is one of the key elements of returning astronauts to the Moon.Fallen Heroes Patch CollectionThe official patches from Apollo 1, the shuttle Challenger and Columbia crews are available in the store. | | | | 2014 Spaceflight Now Inc.Rosetta sees surprising shape to spinning comet SPACEFLIGHT NOWPosted: July 17, 2014 Closing in to begin a thorough investigation in August, a camera on Europe’s Rosetta comet-chasing probe has revealed its target has a few surprises in store for scientists. Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko rotates in a view captured July 14 by Rosetta’s OSIRIS imaging system at a distance of approximately 12,000 kilometers. This movie uses a sequence of 36 interpolated images each separated by 20 minutes, providing a 360-degree preview of the complex shape of the comet. Photo credit: ESA/Rosetta/MPS for OSIRIS Team MPS/UPD/LAM/IAA/SSO/INTA/UPM/DASP/IDAScientists say the comet is a contact binary, which consists of two bodies stuck together. They have compared the comet’s shape to a duck, with one part larger than the other.Other spacecraft have visited contact binary comets and asteroids, but the imagery from Rosetta shows a comet with sharp ridges and extreme topography.”This is unlike any other comet we have ever seen before,” said Carsten Guttler, project manager for Rosetta’s OSIRIS imaging system, from the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research in Gottingen, Germany. ”The images faintly remind me of a rubber ducky with a body and a head.”Rosetta approached within 10,000 kilometers of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko on July 15. It is due to arrive at a distance of 100 kilometers from the comet Aug. 6, when it will become the first spacecraft to enter orbit around a comet.”The two blocks likely formed 4.5 billion years ago, collided at low speed, stuck to each other and have since been moving together,” said Ekkehard Kuhrt, a comet researcher at the German Aerospace Centre, in a press release. ”Scientifically, it is now of course very interesting to find out whether the two components differ in their composition.”Scientists used a technique called interpolation to create a smoother image from the pixelated raw pictures observed by the OSIRIS camera.”There is, of course, still uncertainty in these processed, filtered images and the surface will not be as smooth as it now appears,” Guttler said. ”But they help us the get a first idea.”The images were officially released Thursday, two days after they were prematurely unveiled by CNES, the French space agency. CNES later removed the images from its website.In a blog posting on the European Space Agency’s website, officials wrote that Rosetta operates differently from other missions, such as NASA’s Mars rovers, where raw images are released to the public immediately.Authored by Rosetta mission manager Fred Jansen, Rosetta project scientist Matt Taylor and ESA senior scientific advisor Mark McCaughrean, the web post said most NASA and ESA missions do not follow the same ”open data” policy employed by NASA’s Mars rovers.Rosetta’s data releases must be coordinated between ESA, the member states which fund the probe’s science instruments, and the scientists who operate them.Complex agreements signed when Rosetta was developed nearly two decades ago set the rules for the publication of data.Mission officials wrote that measurements and imagery from the 21 instruments on the Rosetta mothership and Philae lander, which will descend to the comet’s surface later this year, are subject to a six-month proprietary period.”This period … gives exclusive access to the data to the scientists who built the instruments or to scientists who made a winning proposal to make certain observations,” the blog post said.Read the complete explaining the Rosetta data distribution policy. ”The aim of a proprietary period is to ensure that the academic teams who spent decades developing and running the sophisticated scientific instruments on-board the spacecraft are able to calibrate and verify the data, as well as reap the rewards of their efforts: their scientific careers depend on it. Otherwise, it would be very hard to engage people in this long and difficult process,” officials wrote.The $1.7 billion Rosetta mission launched in March 2004, taking a meandering course around the inner solar system before spiraling away from the sun and entering a nearly three-year hibernation phase to conserve power.Rosetta awakened from its deep sleep in January to begin final preparations for its encounter with Churyumov-Gerasimenko.Scientists estimate the comet has a diameter of about 4 kilometers, or 2.5 miles.As the craft moves closer to the comet — colloquially known as 67P/C-G — Rosetta’s cameras are getting a better picture of the unexplored world.More details about the comet’s shape, rotation, and surface features will be resolved by Rosetta’s narrow angle camera in the coming weeks. The data will help scientists plan observations and give controllers input on the conditions awaiting Rosetta, such as gas, dust and ice particles.”Because no one has ever been to 67P/C-G before, each new piece of data from Rosetta has the potential for a scientific discovery,” ESA officials wrote on the agency’s website. ”It’s only fair that the instrument science teams have the first chance to make and assess those discoveries. At the same time, it’s exactly because 67P/C-G is unknown territory and because there is an exciting journey underway that some are clamoring to see everything as soon as possible, in near ‘real-time.’ We understand that, but a balance must be struck, which is why only some of the data are being released now.”Follow Stephen Clark on Twitter: .John Glenn Mission PatchFree shipping to U.S. addresses!The historic first orbital flight by an American is marked by this commemorative patch for John Glenn and Friendship 7.Final Shuttle Mission PatchFree shipping to U.S. addresses!The crew emblem for the final space shuttle mission is available in our store. Get this piece of history!Celebrate the shuttle programFree shipping to U.S. addresses!This special commemorative patch marks the retirement of NASA’s Space Shuttle Program. Available in our store!Anniversary Shuttle PatchFree shipping to U.S. addresses!This embroidered patch commemorates the 30th anniversary of the Space Shuttle Program. The design features the space shuttle Columbia’s historic maiden flight of April 12, 1981.Mercury anniversaryFree shipping to U.S. addresses!Celebrate the 50th anniversary of Alan Shephard’s historic Mercury mission with this collectors’ item, the official commemorative embroidered patch.Fallen Heroes Patch CollectionThe official patches from Apollo 1, the shuttle Challenger and Columbia crews are available in the store. | | | | 2014 Spaceflight Now Inc.Rosetta’s camera seeing more of cometary destination SPACEFLIGHT NOWPosted: July 31, 2014 On course for an historic rendezvous next week, the European Space Agency’s Rosetta spacecraft is revealing new details of the oddball comet the probe has pursued for more than a decade. The nucleus of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimernko as seen from a distance of 1,950 kilometers on July 29, 2014. One pixel corresponds to approximately 37 meters. The bright neck region between the comet’s head and body is becoming more and more distinct. Credit: ESA/Rosetta/MPS for OSIRIS Team MPS/UPD/LAM/IAA/SSO/INTA/UPM/DASP/IDANew images released by scientists Thursday show the coma surrounding comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, revealing the cloud of dust and gas around the tiny unexplored world.The images from Rosetta’s OSIRIS camera system also provide a sharper view of the comet’s nucleus, which appears to be formed of two distinct lobes merged along a brightly colored saddle.Scientists programmed Rosetta’s wide-angle camera to image the comet’s coma with a 330-second exposure, bringing out subtle sunlight reflected from the minuscule particles of dust and gas stretching hundreds of kilometers from the nucleus.”Even though it sounds like a contradiction, imaging the comet’s coma from nearby is more difficult than from far away,” said Holger Sierks, the OSIRIS camera’s lead scientist from the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research in Germany. Rosetta detected the comet — known by the abbreviated name 67P/C-G — putting off dust this spring. The coma will become more pronounced as the comet comes closer to the sun, with its closest approach expected in August 2015. The coma of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko as seen with OSIRIS covers an area of 150 kilometers across. This image was taken on July 25, 2014, with an exposure time of 330 seconds. The hazy circular structure on the right and the center of the coma are artifacts due to overexposure of the nucleus. Credit: ESA/Rosetta/MPS for OSIRIS Team MPS/UPD/LAM/IAA/SSO/INTA/UPM/DASP/IDARosetta will arrive within 100 kilometers, or about 62 miles, of the comet Aug. 6. A minor rocket burn will put the probe in an unstable orbit around 67P/C-G, making Rosetta the first spacecraft to ever accomplish a controlled low-speed rendezvous with a comet.As of Thursday, officials said Rosetta was less than 900 miles from the comet.Imagery from Rosetta indicates the comet spins around once every 12.4 hours, according to scientists.ESA plans to release the first close-up view the comet during a special event to celebrate the Aug. 6 rendezvous at Rosetta’s control center in Darmstadt, Germany.By September, scientists hope to identify a prime landing site for Philae, a small craft riding piggyback on Rosetta that will descend to the comet’s surface in November.Follow Stephen Clark on Twitter: .Final Shuttle Mission PatchFree shipping to U.S. addresses!The crew emblem for the final space shuttle mission is now available in our store. Get this piece of history!STS-134 PatchFree shipping to U.S. addresses!The final planned flight of space shuttle Endeavour is symbolized in the official embroidered crew patch for STS-134. Available in our store!Ares 1-X PatchThe official embroidered patch for the Ares 1-X rocket test flight, is available for purchase.Apollo CollageThis beautiful one piece set features the Apollo program emblem surrounded by the individual mission logos.Project OrionThe Orion crew exploration vehicle is NASA’s first new human spacecraft developed since the space shuttle a quarter-century earlier. The capsule is one of the key elements of returning astronauts to the Moon.Fallen Heroes Patch CollectionThe official patches from Apollo 1, the shuttle Challenger and Columbia crews are available in the store. | | | | 2014 Spaceflight Now Inc.Rosetta’s comet chase is on SPACEFLIGHT NOWPosted: January 20, 2014 Fresh out of an unprecedented power-saving sleep mode, Europe’s comet-chasing Rosetta spacecraft awakened and phoned home Monday on the way to an enigmatic ball of rock and ice for a daring close-up inspection later this year. Artist’s concept of the Rosetta spacecraft. Credit: ESAOut of contact with Earth since June 2011, Rosetta is about to conclude a 10-year sojourn through space and pull alongside comet named Churyumov-Gerasimenko in August, when the European Space Agency probe will become the first mission to ever orbit one of the ”dirty snowballs” believed to harbor the building blocks of life.European Space Agency officials say Monday’s wakeup launches Rosetta into a year of firsts: rendezvousing with a little-known comet beyond the orbit of Mars, maneuvering into a series of jagged, imprecise orbits, surviving blasts from dust and ice crystals, then ejecting a hitchhiking robot named Philae to latch onto the comet with harpoons and ice screws.Such a tricky encounter, set to begin this summer, has never been tried before.”We have our comet-chaser back,” said Alvaro Gimenez, ESA’s director of science and robotic exploration. ”With Rosetta, we will take comet exploration to a new level. This incredible mission continues our history of ‘firsts’ at comets, building on the technological and scientific achievements of our first deep space mission Giotto, which returned the first close-up images of a comet nucleus as it flew past Halley in 1986.”Rosetta’s on-board timer was programmed to go off at 1000 GMT (5 a.m. EST) Monday, but it took more than eight hours to receive a report on the spacecraft’s condition. The probe roused itself from sleep, activated heaters and regained control of its orientation before aiming its high-power antenna toward Earth.Admittedly nervous after waiting 31 months with no signals from the $1.7 billion mission, ground teams at ESA’s control center in Darmstadt, Germany, were elated with the news.Although Rosetta’s signal made it to Earth within the expected window, the team had to wait a little longer than most officials expected. NASA-owned 70-meter (230-foot) antennas in California and Australia were trained on Rosetta’s predicted location in the sky waiting on a peep from the probe 500 million miles away.A video feed streamed from the Darmstadt control center finally showed a spike in the signal at 1818 GMT (1:18 p.m. EST).”I think that’s been the longest hour of my life,” said Andrea Accomazzo, Rosetta’s spacecraft operations manager.”It’s been a spectacular few moments of torture,” said Martin Kessler, Rosetta’s science operations manager. The Rosetta control team, led by operations manager Andrea Accomazzo at center, celebrate at the European Space Operations Center in Darmstadt, Germany, after receiving the first signals from Rosetta after Monday’s wakeup. Credit: ESA/J. MaiThe slumber was necessary to keep Rosetta going because it flew so far from the sun — a maximum distance of 490 million miles — that its solar panels could no longer generate enough power to supply the probe’s control and communications systems. Engineers only left Rosetta’s heaters on standby to turn on intermittently to keep the spacecraft’s internal components warm.Rosetta’s control team will learn more about the spacecraft’s condition in the coming hours and days. The signal initially received Monday was just a carrier tone, Rosetta’s way of telling the ground team, ”I’m alive!”One of the first commands sent up to Rosetta after wakeup was to trigger a torrent of telemetry data detailing the status of every system aboard the spacecraft except its science instruments, which will be activated and tested in the next few weeks.Rosetta’s journey began March 2, 2004, with a middle-of-the-night blastoff aboard an Ariane 5 rocket from its French Guiana launch base.The mission was a year late getting off the ground due to worries over the Ariane 5 rocket’s reliability after a launch mishap in December 2002. The delay prompted a change in destination to Churyumov-Gerasimenko, colloquially known as 67P or C-G, an ice world four times larger than Rosetta’s original target.Since departing Earth a decade ago, Rosetta has returned for flybys three times and zoomed past Mars in February 2007, returning a spectacular self-portrait of the probe’s solar panel backdropped by the stark landscape of the red planet.Rosetta also logged flybys of asteroids Steins and Lutetia in September 2008 and July 2010, collecting data and imagery in a chance for bonus science on the way to the mission’s ultimate objective.Since lifting off in 2004, Rosetta’s odometer stands at 3.8 billion miles.The craft’s extensive suite of cameras, spectrometers, dust analyzers and other science instruments will be switched on and tested in the next few months. In late March, the German-led Philae lander riding piggyback on Rosetta will be activated for the first time in three-and-a-half years to check its status. Artist’s concept of Rosetta and the Philae lander at the comet. Credit: ESA/C. Carreau/ATG MedialabA major course correction maneuver is planned for May to change Rosetta’s velocity by approximately 800 meters per second, or 1,800 mph, and adjust the craft’s trajectory to arrive in the vicinity of Churyumov-Gerasimenko in August.Rosetta’s long-range camera should acquire the first images of the comet this spring, with the 3-mile-wide comet growing larger in the probe’s apertures over the summer.In August, Rosetta is scheduled for a delicate, untried maneuver to enter orbit around the comet.Scientists are not sure what they will find there.Some experts predict Rosetta will have to dodge chunks of rock, dust grains and ice blown off the comet as it is heated by the sun.One finding by scientists who observed Churyumov-Gerasimenko with NASA’s WISE infrared survey telescope estimated the comet flings off about 70 kilograms — more than 150 pounds — of dust every second at speeds of nearly 2,000 mph.Rosetta carries a pair of solar panels extending 105 feet tip-to-tip. The unwieldy wings are not ideal for operating in close quarters with a comet.”Hopefully, it will not affect the performance of the solar arrays,” said Paolo Ferri, head of ESA’s mission operations. ”It may affect the performance of the optics. The risk that dust will deteroriate the spacecraft will grow” as Rosetta moves closer to the comet.Rosetta will eventually move within 15 miles of Churyumov-Gerasimenko to gauge the comet’s tenuous gravity field and map the surface of its nucleus. It will release Philae for a nail-biting descent to the comet in November.Philae has its own ambitious research program.The lander will use harpoons and ice screws to latch on to the comet before collecting panoramic imagery and drilling into the rock’s subsurface to analyze samples from a depth of 30 centimeters, or about 1 foot.Philae will overheat and succumb about three or four months after landing when Churyumov-Gerasimenko gets closer to the sun.Rosetta will escort the comet more than a year, monitoring how the body reacts to greater solar heating as it moves toward perihelion, its closest approach to the sun, in August 2015.”All other comet missions have been flybys, capturing fleeting moments in the life of these icy treasure chests,” says Matt Taylor, ESA’s Rosetta project scientist. ”With Rosetta, we will track the evolution of a comet on a daily basis and for over a year, giving us a unique insight into a comet’s behavior and ultimately helping us to decipher their role in the formation of the solar system.”Follow Stephen Clark on Twitter: .STS-134 PatchFree shipping to U.S. addresses!The final planned flight of space shuttle Endeavour is symbolized in the official embroidered crew patch for STS-134. Available in our store!Final Shuttle Mission PatchFree shipping to U.S. addresses!The crew emblem for the final space shuttle mission is now available in our store. Get this piece of history!Apollo CollageThis beautiful one piece set features the Apollo program emblem surrounded by the individual mission logos.STS-133 PatchFree shipping to U.S. addresses!The final planned flight of space shuttle Discovery is symbolized in the official embroidered crew patch for STS-133. Available in our store!Anniversary Shuttle PatchFree shipping to U.S. addresses!This embroidered patch commemorates the 30th anniversary of the Space Shuttle Program. The design features the space shuttle Columbia’s historic maiden flight of April 12, 1981.Mercury anniversaryFree shipping to U.S. addresses!Celebrate the 50th anniversary of Alan Shephard’s historic Mercury mission with this collectors’ item, the official commemorative embroidered patch. | | | | 2014 Spaceflight Now Inc.Rosetta’s pioneering Philae comet lander reactivated SPACEFLIGHT NOWPosted: April 1, 2014 Europe’s Rosetta spacecraft has returned an image of its distant comet target as ground controllers received the first signals from probe’s piggyback Philae lander Friday after hibernating nearly three years in a power-saving sleep mode. Artist’s concept of the Philae lander. Photo credit: DLRSince the Rosetta spacecraft emerged from hibernation in January, engineers have checked the probe’s systems and found them in good condition, according to Andrea Accomazzo, Rosetta’s spacecraft operations manager at the European Space Agency.Rosetta is heading toward an August rendezvous with Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, an inner solar system comet that completes one circuit of the sun every six-and-a-half years.Ground teams started activating Rosetta’s science instruments March 17, successfully switching on the spacecraft’s primary science camera, ultraviolet spectrometer, and a plasma sensor suite to study the environment around the comet.On Friday, the $1.7 billion mission’s German-built Philae lander woke up and radioed Earth.”Philae is operational and ready for the next few months,” said Stephan Ulamec, Philae project manager at DLR, the German space agency.Philae will be ejected from the Rosetta mothership in November to latch itself onto the comet’s icy surface with harpoons and screws. The lander has its own suite of science instrumentation to take the first-ever photos and measurements from a comet’s surface.Engineers plan a four-week commissioning phase for Philae to check on its health and activate the lander’s 10 instruments.”We will analyse this data thoroughly, so we can find out whether Philae has survived the long flight and hibernation intact,” Ulamec said in a DLR press release.Before Friday, controllers last received data from Philae on June 8, 2011, when Rosetta entered hibernation. Since Rosetta woke up in January, the craft sent back preliminary temperature measurements from Philae. Artist’s concept of the Philae lander mounted on the Rosetta spacecraft. Photo credit: DLRThe first data packets from Philae arrived on Earth at 1440 GMT (10:40 a.m. EDT) Friday through a NASA tracking antenna in California, which fed the telemetry to the lander’s control center in Germany.Philae’s 10 instruments will be activated and tested throughout April. By May, all of the mission’s science payloads will be commissioned, including the 11 instruments aboard the Rosetta mothership.So far, Rosetta’s scientific camera has finished its round of testing since the spacecraft woke up in January. The Optical, Spectroscopic and Infrared Remote Imaging System, developed by the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research in Germany, took the first pictures of the comet since hibernation on March 20 and 21.”Finally seeing our target after a 10 year journey through space is an incredible feeling,” said Holger Sierks, OSIRIS principal investigator at the Max Planck Institute. ”These first images taken from such a huge distance show us that OSIRIS is ready for the upcoming adventure.”Churyumov-Gerasimenko was about 5 million kilometers, or 3.1 million miles, from Rosetta when the pictures were taken earlier this month.The rest of Rosetta’s instruments are still being tested.A series of engine burns in May will adjust Rosetta’s course toward the comet, burning much of the spacecraft’s remaining fuel. Rosetta is now on a trajectory to miss the comet by approximately 50,000 kilometers, or about 31,000 miles.The trajectory correction maneuvers in May will guide Rosetta within 100 kilometers, or about 60 miles, of Churyumov-Gerasimenko by the first week of August, according to ESA. Rosetta’s OSIRIS narrow-angle camera took this image of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko on March 21. The comet is indicated by the small circle next to the bright globular star cluster M107. Photo credit: ESA/MPS for OSIRIS-Team MPS/UPD/LAM/IAA/SSO/INTA/UPM/DASP/IDAOfficials have penciled in Philae’s landing on Churyumov-Gerasimenko for Nov. 11, but the date could be adjusted a few days based on the probe’s landing site and conditions around the comet.Philae will operate for at least two days on the comet, and it carries solar arrays to recharge its battery if comet’s unpredictable dust environment cooperates.”Landing on the surface is the cherry on the icing on the cake for the Rosetta mission on top of all the great science that will be done by the orbiter in 2014 and 2015,” said Matt Taylor, Rosetta’s project scientist, in a blog post on ESA’s website. ”A good chunk of this year will be spent identifying where we will land, but also taking vital measurements of the comet before it becomes highly active. No one has ever attempted this before and we are very excited about the challenge!”One of Philae’s instruments will drill into the comet’s surface, collect a sample and feed it into an on-board oven for analysis.Scientists do not know what environment awaits Rosetta and Philae at the comet.Controllers will cautiously approach Churyumov-Gerasimenko with Rosetta, taking cues on how to navigate around the comet based on the amount of debris observed by the spacecraft’s two main cameras.The flexible approach allows officials to keep a safe distance from the comet if the ice and dust are deemed too hazardous.Rosetta will follow the comet for at least a year while it makes its closest approach to the sun, watching Churyumov-Gerasimenko ”wake up” as sunlight and heating trigger the comet’s volatile jets of water vapor and gas.Scientists are eager to better understand comets because they may have seeded Earth with water and the building blocks of life soon after the genesis of the solar system.”They are time capsules,” said Mark McCaughrean, senior advisor in ESA’s science and robotic exploration directorate, in a press conference in December. ”They are remnants of the birth of the solar system. They go back to the beginning of the solar system more than 4.6 billion years ago.”Follow Stephen Clark on Twitter: .STS-134 PatchFree shipping to U.S. addresses!The final planned flight of space shuttle Endeavour is symbolized in the official embroidered crew patch for STS-134. Available in our store!Final Shuttle Mission PatchFree shipping to U.S. addresses!The crew emblem for the final space shuttle mission is now available in our store. Get this piece of history!Apollo CollageThis beautiful one piece set features the Apollo program emblem surrounded by the individual mission logos.STS-133 PatchFree shipping to U.S. addresses!The final planned flight of space shuttle Discovery is symbolized in the official embroidered crew patch for STS-133. Available in our store!Anniversary Shuttle PatchFree shipping to U.S. addresses!This embroidered patch commemorates the 30th anniversary of the Space Shuttle Program. The design features the space shuttle Columbia’s historic maiden flight of April 12, 1981.Mercury anniversaryFree shipping to U.S. addresses!Celebrate the 50th anniversary of Alan Shephard’s historic Mercury mission with this collectors’ item, the official commemorative embroidered patch. | | | | 2014 Spaceflight Now Inc.Rosetta’s target comet too warm to be an icy world SPACEFLIGHT NOWPosted: August 2, 2014 Initial observations from an imaging spectrometer aboard Europe’s Rosetta spacecraft show the comet it is chasing has a dark, dusty surface instead of one covered in ice, scientists said Friday. A cropped view from Rosett’a navigation camera Aug. 1 shows a closeup of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko at a distance of about 637 miles. Credit: ESA/Rosetta/NAVCAMThe observations agree with earlier research from ground-based observatories, which showed the comet did not reflect enough sunlight to have a surface entirely made of ice.”This result is very interesting, since it gives us the first clues on the composition and physical properties of the comet’s surface,” said Fabrizio Capaccioni, principal investigator for Rosetta’s visible, infrared and thermal imaging spectrometer, or VIRTIS.Capaccioni is based at the Astronomical Observatory of Rome. The VIRTIS instrument also includes contributions from institutions in Germany and France.VIRTIS collected the temperature data from July 13 and July 21 as Rosetta closed in on comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. The comet was between 3,000 miles and 8,700 miles from the comet when VIRTIS made the observations.The comet and Rosetta were 345 million miles from the sun at the time, nearly four times the distance between the Earth and the sun.According to a European Space Agency press release, the comet’s distance from Rosetta mean the spectrometer collected infrared light from the whole comet. The target was too far away to study individual features.Data detected by the imaging spectrometer showed the comet’s average surface temperature is about minus 94 degrees Fahrenheit, warmer than would be expected if the comet was covered entirely by ice. Artist’s concept of Rosetta and the Philae lander. Credit: ESA/ATV medialabMore detailed data will be gathered by VIRTIS — and Rosetta’s 10 other experiments — after the spacecraft arrives close up to the comet Aug. 6.”This doesn’t exclude the presence of patches of relatively clean ice, however, and very soon, VIRTIS will be able to start generating maps showing the temperature of individual features,” Capaccioni said.Rosetta’s navigation camera and main science camera have collected more detailed imagery of the comet throughout the approach phase, which began in January when engineers awakened the probe from a nearly three-year deep space power-saving hibernation.The images show the comet is made up of two distinct lobes connected with a narrow collar-like neck.Ground controllers plan to fire Rosetta’s rocket thrusters Wednesday to stop its approach to the comet, which the mission has pursued since it launched in March 2004.Rosetta will stay near the comet for more than a year. The Rosetta orbiter will drop a small daughter satellite named Philae to the surface in November for the first-ever planned landing on a comet.”Combined with observations from the other 10 science experiments on Rosetta and those on the lander, VIRTIS will provide a thorough description of the surface physical properties and the gases in the comet’s coma, watching as conditions change on a daily basis and as the comet loops around the Sun over the course of the next year,” said Matt Taylor, ESA’s Rosetta project scientist, in a press release.”With only a few days until we arrive at just 100 km (62 miles) distance from the comet, we are excited to start analyzing this fascinating little world in more and more detail,” Taylor said.Follow Stephen Clark on Twitter: .Final Shuttle Mission PatchFree shipping to U.S. addresses!The crew emblem for the final space shuttle mission is now available in our store. Get this piece of history!STS-134 PatchFree shipping to U.S. addresses!The final planned flight of space shuttle Endeavour is symbolized in the official embroidered crew patch for STS-134. Available in our store!Ares 1-X PatchThe official embroidered patch for the Ares 1-X rocket test flight, is available for purchase.Apollo CollageThis beautiful one piece set features the Apollo program emblem surrounded by the individual mission logos.Project OrionThe Orion crew exploration vehicle is NASA’s first new human spacecraft developed since the space shuttle a quarter-century earlier. The capsule is one of the key elements of returning astronauts to the Moon.Fallen Heroes Patch CollectionThe official patches from Apollo 1, the shuttle Challenger and Columbia crews are available in the store. | | | | 2014 Spaceflight Now Inc.Follow the countdown and flight of the Sea Launch Zenit 3SL rocket with the EchoStar 10 broadcasting spacecraft. Reload this page for the latest on the mission.THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 16, 2006With a booming burst of fire and smoke, a Sea Launch Zenit 3SL rocket began its journey toward orbit from the tranquil Pacific Ocean Wednesday on a mission to deploy a communications satellite that will become part of DISH Network’s space-based broadcasting system. Read our .0132 GMT (8:32 p.m. EST Wed.)Maser reports that the targeted geosynchronous transfer orbit was achieved today.Check back later today for a full wrap-up story of the launch.0124 GMT (8:24 p.m. EST Wed.)”It was just an outstanding launch,” says Jim Maser, the president of Sea Launch.”What a great way to start off the year,” he added. The company plans to conduct six launches in 2006.0123 GMT (8:23 p.m. EST Wed.)Ground crews have detected the first signals from the EchoStar 10 spacecraft, confirming the craft is operating following today’s launch into orbit.0052 GMT (7:52 p.m. EST Wed.)”So far, so good,” says Rohan Zaveri, EchoStar’s vice president of satellite programs. The launch appears to have gone very well.0037 GMT (7:37 p.m. EST Wed.)T+plus 62 minutes, 40 seconds. SPACECRAFT SEPARATION! The EchoStar 10 communications spacecraft has been released from the Block DM-SL upper stage to complete this 19th Sea Launch flight!Controllers expect to acquire the first signals from the newly-launched Lockheed Martin-made satellite in about 30 minutes via a ground tracking station in Australia.0033 GMT (7:33 p.m. EST Wed.)T+plus 58 minutes. Deployment of the spacecraft from the upper stage is less than five minutes away. During this coast period between completion of the Block DM-SL stage’s burn and spacecraft separation, the stage is providing the necessary control and orientation for payload release. 0028 GMT (7:28 p.m. EST Wed.)T+plus 53 minutes. The Block DM-SL’s 11D58M main engine has shut down, completing the powered phase of todays’s launch. The stage will now coast for about 10 minutes before deploying the EchoStar 10 satellite. 0026 GMT (7:26 p.m. EST Wed.)T+plus 51 minutes, 45 seconds. The rocket is flying over Africa as the upper stage continues to fire. About two minutes remain in this burn. 0022 GMT (7:22 p.m. EST Wed.)T+plus 47 minutes, 20 seconds. Ignition! The Block DM-SL upper stage has restarted its engine to propel EchoStar 10 into geosynchronous transfer orbit. 0017 GMT (7:17 p.m. EST Wed.)T+plus 42 minutes, 30 seconds. The rocket is flying above the central Atlantic Ocean, just a few minutes from the next engine burn.0007 GMT (7:07 p.m. EST Wed.)T+plus 32 minutes. About 15 minutes remain in this coast period. Sea Launch has not reported any problems so far in today’s flight. WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 15, 20062350 GMT (6:50 p.m. EST)T+plus 15 minutes. The upper stage will coast in this orbit until the Block DM-SL reignites at T+plus 47 minutes for a scheduled five-minute, 38-second firing to achieve geosynchronous transfer orbit. Deployment of EchoStar 10 to complete today’s launch is expected about 62 minutes after liftoff. 2348 GMT (6:48 p.m. EST)T+plus 13 minutes, 30 seconds. Engine cutoff. The Block DM-SL upper stage has completed its first burn, injecting the motor and attached EchoStar 10 spacecraft into a temporary parking orbit around Earth. 2348 GMT (6:48 p.m. EST)T+plus 13 minutes. Upper stage engine pressures reported normal.2345 GMT (6:45 p.m. EST)T+plus 10 minutes, 30 seconds. Three minutes remain in this planned upper stage burn to reach a parking orbit of 112 x 1,308 miles.2343 GMT (6:43 p.m. EST)T+plus 8 minutes, 50 seconds. The Block DM-SL upper stage has ignited for today’s first of two firings to accelerate the spacecraft from the current suborbital trajectory to geosynchronous transfer orbit.2343 GMT (6:43 p.m. EST)T+plus 8 minutes, 30 seconds. The second stage vernier engines have shut down and the spent stage has been jettisoned. It will impact the Pacific about 2,900 miles downrange from the launch platform. 2342 GMT (6:42 p.m. EST)T+plus 7 minutes, 20 seconds. The second stage RD-120 main engine has shut down. The vernier steering engines are still burning as designed. 2342 GMT (6:42 p.m. EST)T+plus 7 minutes. The second stage is throttling down in preparation for engine cutoff. 2341 GMT (6:41 p.m. EST)T+plus 6 minutes. Second stage engine pressures are normal as the motor continues to fire. A good flight of the Zenit rocket is being reported by Sea Launch.2339 GMT (6:39 p.m. EST)T+plus 4 minutes, 25 seconds. NASA’s Tracking and Data Relay Satellite System has acquired the vehicle to receive telemetry for transmission to Sea Launch. The second stage is still firing.2338 GMT (6:38 p.m. EST)T+plus 3 minutes, 50 seconds. The rocket’s payload fairing, or nose cone, has been jettisoned. It protected the satellite cargo during atmospheric ascent. The nose cone will impact the Pacific about 630 miles downrange.2338 GMT (6:38 p.m. EST)T+plus 3 minutes, 15 seconds. The second stage engine is burning normally.2337 GMT (6:37 p.m. EST)T+plus 2 minutes, 55 seconds. The second stage engine has been ignited for its firing. 2337 GMT (6:37 p.m. EST)T+plus 2 minutes, 40 seconds. The first stage RD-171 engine has shut down and the spent stage was jettisoned. It will impact the Pacific Ocean approximately 495 miles downrange from the Odyssey launch platform.2336 GMT (6:36 p.m. EST)T+plus 1 minute, 45 seconds. The official liftoff time was 2334:59.098 GMT. 2336 GMT (6:36 p.m. EST)T+plus 1 minute, 10 seconds. The vehicle has passed through the region of maximum dynamic pressure. 2335 GMT (6:35 p.m. EST)T+plus 45 seconds. The 20-story Zenit 3SL rocket is riding the thrust of the first stage main engine. The Russian-made engine has four nozzles and powers the rocket for the first two-and-a-half minutes of flight.2335 GMT (6:35 p.m. EST)LIFTOFF! Liftoff of the Sea Launch Zenit 3SL rocket with EchoStar 10 — the newest spacecraft for the DISH Network direct-to-home broadcasting system!2334 GMT (6:34 p.m. EST)T-minus 1 minute and counting.2332 GMT (6:32 p.m. EST)T-minus 3 minutes and counting. The spacecraft team has given its final ”go” for launch. EchoStar 10 is ready to fly.2331 GMT (6:31 p.m. EST)T-minus 4 minutes and counting. All systems appear ”go” for liftoff from the Odyssey launch platform.2325 GMT (6:25 p.m. EST)T-minus 10 minutes and counting. 2322 GMT (6:22 p.m. EST)Sea Launch says everything is looking good for liftoff today.2321 GMT (6:21 p.m. EST)T-minus 14 minutes. The transporter/erector arm is pulling away from the Zenit rocket. The arm was used to roll the rocket out of the environmentally-controlled hangar atop the Odyssey platform and lift the rocket upright. Once the arm is lowered to the platform deck, it will be returned to the hangar and the doors closed for launch. 2300 GMT (6:00 p.m. EST)The Zenit rocket stands poised for blastoff in 35 minutes from the equatorial Pacific Ocean carrying a direct-to-home broadcast satellite designed to beam television programming to millions of DISH Network customers across the United States.TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 14, 2006The EchoStar 10 launch has been reset for Wednesday at 2335 GMT (6:35 p.m. EST), Sea Launch announced today. The Zenit 3SL rocket was erected this morning.Sea Launch says ocean currents unfavorable to positioning the launch platform and control ship caused of the postponement since the weekend.SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 11, 2006Another technical problem has forced Sea Launch to cancel Sunday’s planned liftoff of the Zenit 3SL rocket with the EchoStar 10 direct-to-home TV satellite.Details about the delay, including the exact reason and options for rescheduling the mission, have not been disclosed tonight.The rocket has been rotated horizontally for a second time. The initial countdown was stopped a few minutes before liftoff Wednesday by some sort of ground system anomaly.FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 10, 2006Sea Launch has rescheduled its Zenit rocket flight with the EchoStar 10 satellite payload for 2335 GMT (6:35 p.m. EST) Sunday.”We understand the ground support system issue we observed during countdown last Wednesday and we are confident that our corrective action will support a successful liftoff on Sunday,” Jim Maser, president and general manager of Sea Launch, said in a press statement today.The rocket was lowered into a horizontal position atop the Odyssey launch platform following the scrub. It will be erected on the launch mount for the next countdown. WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 8, 2006The countdown cutoff experienced in the final minutes before today’s planned liftoff of the Zenit 3SL rocket carrying the EchoStar 10 broadcasting spacecraft was caused by an ”off-nominal indication” from the ground support system, Sea Launch said tonight.”Following the direction to stop the countdown, the launch team immediately implemented system safing and securing operations. The EchoStar 10 spacecraft and the Zenit 3SL vehicle are in excellent condition. The launch team is currently evaluating the issue to determine a corrective action and a schedule for the next launch opportunity,” the company said in a statement.2328 GMT (6:28 p.m. EST)HOLD. The launch team has called a halt in today’s countdown because of a problem, Sea Launch spokeswoman Paula Korn says. There was no immediate information on the problem or when the launch would be rescheduled.2320 GMT (6:20 p.m. EST)T-minus 15 minutes. The transporter/erector arm is starting to retract from the rocket. The arm was used to roll the rocket out of the environmentally-controlled hangar atop the Odyssey platform and lift the rocket upright. Once the arm is lowered to the platform deck, it will be returned to the hangar and the doors closed for launch. Fueling operations have been completed aboard the Odyssey platform. Over the past couple of hours, the rocket was loaded with kerosene propellant and cryogenic liquid oxygen. The platform was cleared of all workers prior to this hazardous activity, with all personnel moved to the Sea Launch Commander ship safely positioned about three miles away. 2316 GMT (6:16 p.m. EST)The Zenit rocket is fueled up for blastoff at 2335 GMT from the equatorial Pacific. Weather conditions appear to be beautiful for the launch.TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 7, 2006Sea Launch’s first mission of 2006 is set to fly Wednesday from the waters of the equatorial Pacific Ocean with a direct-to-home broadcast satellite designed to beam television programming to millions of customers across the United States.Liftoff of the Sea Launch Zenit 3SL rocket with EchoStar 10 on-board istimed for 2335 GMT (6:35 p.m. EST) from the Odyssey launchplatform positioned in the central Pacific Ocean along the Equator at 154degrees West longitude. The available launch window extends for 49minutes.The Sea Launch fleet reached the launch site over the weekendafter steaming for more than a week from the company’s home port in Long Beach,California. The ocean-going launch pad known as Odyssey set sail first,followed a few days later by the departure of the Sea Launch Commandervessel, which houses the management, official guests and launch controlcenter.Odyssey’s ballast tanks were filled with seawater upon arrival, droppingthe converted Norwegian oil-drilling platform to the launch depth of 65feet. Control teams also commenced the standard 72-hour countdown. The SeaLaunch Commander then pulled alongside Odyssey to allow workers to easilytransfer between the two ships. The Zenit 3SL rocket was rolled out fromits transport hangar aboard Odyssey and erected on the launch pedestal asthe countdown reached the 27-hour mark.The three-stage Zenit booster – on its 19th flight in this configuration -will take just over an hour to complete its role to deliver the EchoStar10 payload into a planned orbit with a low point of 1,050 miles and a highpoint of about 22,300 miles. The injection orbit’s inclination will bezero degrees.Over the next few weeks, EchoStar 10 will use its propulsion system togradually raise its orbit to geostationary altitude, where its velocitywill match that of Earth’s rotation. The satellite will be positionedalong the Equator at 110 degrees West longitude, or about 22,300 mileshigh above the eastern Pacific. At that slot, EchoStar 10 will beco-located with EchoStar 6 and EchoStar 8.EchoStar 10 will take advantage of its unique vantage point to providebroadcasting services directly to the living rooms and offices of over 12million customers throughout the United States. Joining nine other satellites, the newest addition to the EchoStar fleet will beadding further redundancy to existing craft while working to expandproduct offerings in EchoStar Communications’ DISH Network service.Built by Lockheed Martin, EchoStar 10 has a guaranteed lifetime of up to15 years in space. The 9,532-pound spacecraft features a Ku-band communications payload that can reach households across the United States.Controllers will spend the final hours of Wednesday’s launch countdown tomake final preparations to the rocket, payload and ground infrastructure.The Sea Launch Commander will pull away from the launch platform to a safeviewing distance about three miles away.Fueling operations will get underway about two-and-a-half hours prior tothe scheduled launch time. A mix of refined kerosene and liquid oxygencomprise the propellant used by all three stages of the launch vehicle.After liftoff, the Zenit 3SL will fly downrange on a due east trajectoryhugging the Equator. The first stage’s Ukrainian four-chamber RD-171engine ramps up to a maximum of 1.6 million pounds of thrust during itsburn lasting two minutes, 29 seconds. After first stage separation, thesecond stage’s RD-120 powerplant will come to life at an altitude ofapproximately 45 miles. During the second stage firing, the payloadfairing shielding the EchoStar 10 satellite during the flight through thedenser lower atmosphere will be jettisoned.Eight minutes, 19 seconds after blastoff is the point when the secondstage will separate from the Block-DM upper stage and payload. Ten secondslater, the Block-DM will ignite for a five-minute burn to place itself ina temporary parking orbit. After an extended coast phase, the stage willfire again to inject EchoStar 10 into its targeted geostationary transferorbit. Spacecraft separation is expected just over an hour after liftoff.Acquisition of signal from EchoStar 10 should occur about a half-hourlater.Check this page during the launch for live updates onthe progress of the mission.

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    STORY WRITTEN FOR & USED WITH PERMISSIONPosted: September 8, 2006NASA managers are mulling two options for dealing with the failure of a hydrogen fuel level sensor in the shuttle Atlantis’ external tank: Flying as is today or standing down for 24 hours for additional troubleshooting.Engine cutoff – ECO – sensor No. 3 in the base of the hydrogen section of the huge external tank apparently ”failed wet” early today during a test. Computer commands were sent to simulate a dry condition as part of a now-standard health check and the sensor continued to indicate wet.Twenty four propellant sensors are used in the shuttle’s external tank, 12 each in the oxygen and hydrogen sections. Eight are used in each tank to measure the amount of propellant present before launch. Four ECO sensors in each tank are part of a backup system intended to make sure the ship’s engines don’t shut down too early, resulting in an abort, or run too long, draining the tank dry with potentially catastrophic results.NASA’s original launch commit criteria required three operational ECO sensors for a countdown to proceed. But in the wake of the 1986 Challenger disaster, the LCC was amended to four-of-four because of concerns two sensors could be knocked out by a single failure in an upstream electronic black box known as a multiplexer-demultiplexer. The single-point failure later was corrected, but the four-of-four launch rule remained on the books.Because of ECO sensor problems going into the first post-Columbia mission, NASA managers ultimately developed an ”exception” to the four-of-four rule that would permit a launch if A) a hydrogen sensor failed wet; and B) engineers could show the problem didn’t originate in the multiplexer-demultiplexer avionics system.As originally written, the flight rule exception called for standing down a day and if, during a second launch try, the same electronic ”signature” was seen, the team could proceed with launch. Because of the way the system works, two more ECO sensors would have to fail wet to pose the threat of running the tank dry.NASA managers today apparently are considering yet another change to the ECO sensor rationale. The problem is particularly vexing because Atlantis’ tank is equipped with ECO sensors that underwent extensive inspections before installation.Here is a bit of background for readers unfamiliar with the ECO sensor system (graphic available .)The cutoff sensors are armed late in the ascent when a relatively small amount of rocket fuel remains in the tank. Once armed, the shuttle’s computer system checks the status of each sensor, which is still immersed in cryogenic propellant, to make sure it is ”wet.” To protect against a faulty sensor, the first ”dry” indication from any one of them is discarded.During normal operations, the shuttle’s flight computers continuously calculate the orbiter’s position and velocity, using that data to figure out when the engines should be shut down to achieve the desired target. As a backup, the computers also monitor the ECO sensors as the tank empties to protect against unexpected problems that might affect the performance of the propulsion system.The shuttle is launched with more fuel than it needs and in normal operation, the ECO sensors would never be ”dry” before the normal guidance-based engine shutdown sequence begins. But if a problem does occur, and the computers detect two ”dry” sensors, they will shut the engines down to keep from running the tank dry. As long as at least three sensors indicate ”wet,” however, fuel is assumed to be in the tank and the engines will keep running.Once the system is armed, two sensors must fail ”dry” to trigger an inadvertent engine shutdown. If three sensors fail ”wet,” the engines could run the tank empty.The odds of such multiple failures are ”extremely remote,” according to internal NASA documents describing earlier problems. In fact, no cutoff sensors have failed in flight since the sixth shuttle mission in 1983 when the design was changed.But the consequences of an early or late engine shutdown are extreme. A premature shutdown could prevent a crew from reaching orbit while a late shutdown could result in an engine fire or explosion. Even though the cutoff sensor system is considered a backup to the shuttle’s flight computers, NASA’s post-Challenger launch commit criteria required four operational cutoff sensors in each tank to provide multiple layers of redundancy.The engine cutoff sensor system has been put to the test only two times in the history of the shuttle program.During the shuttle Challenger’s launching July 29, 1985, on mission STS-51F, a main engine shut down five minutes and 43 seconds after blastoff because of an internal temperature sensor failure. The fuel consumption of the two engines that kept running was affected and the end result was an ECO sensor engine cutoff.The only other such shutdown in shuttle history occurred during mission STS-93, when a hydrogen leak in the coolant tubes making up main engine No. 3’s nozzle caused more oxygen to be consumed than expected. In that case, oxygen ECO sensors went ”dry,” triggering engine shutdown.In both cases, the shutdowns happened late in the ascents and both shuttle crews were able to complete their missions.Additional coverage for subscribers:VIDEO:ATLANTIS CLEARED FOR LAUNCH FRIDAY VIDEO:BRIEFING ON FUEL CELL DELAY VIDEO:TUESDAY’S STATUS UPDATE BRIEFING VIDEO:PRE-LAUNCH NEWS BRIEFING VIDEO:MONDAY’S COUNTDOWN STATUS VIDEO:BIOGRAPHY MOVIE ON THE SIX ASTRONAUTS VIDEO:SHORT MOVIE PREVIEW OF ATLANTIS’ MISSION VIDEO:OUTLOOK ON UPCOMING STATION ASSEMBLY FLIGHTS VIDEO:CREW ARRIVES IN T-38 TRAINING JETS VIDEO:COMMENTS FROM CREW AFTER ARRIVAL VIDEO:NEWS BRIEFING ON RETURN TO PAD VIDEO:ATLANTIS ROLLBACK BEGINS VIDEO:OFFICIALS EXPLAIN LIGHTNING SCRUB VIDEO:SEE THE LIGHTNING STRIKE AT PAD B VIDEO:ANOTHER VIEW OF LIGHTNING STRIKE VIDEO:COMPLETE PREVIEW OF ATLANTIS MISSION VIDEO:DETAILS OF THE THREE SPACEWALKS VIDEO:MEET THE SIX ASTRONAUTS MORE: STS-115 patchThe official crew patch for the STS-115 mission of space shuttle Atlantis to resume orbital construction of the International Space Station.Choose your store: – – – John Glenn Mission PatchFree shipping to U.S. addresses!The historic first orbital flight by an American is marked by this commemorative patch for John Glenn and Friendship 7.Final Shuttle Mission PatchFree shipping to U.S. addresses!The crew emblem for the final space shuttle mission is available in our store. Get this piece of history!Celebrate the shuttle programFree shipping to U.S. addresses!This special commemorative patch marks the retirement of NASA’s Space Shuttle Program. Available in our store!Anniversary Shuttle PatchFree shipping to U.S. addresses!This embroidered patch commemorates the 30th anniversary of the Space Shuttle Program. The design features the space shuttle Columbia’s historic maiden flight of April 12, 1981.Mercury anniversaryFree shipping to U.S. addresses!Celebrate the 50th anniversary of Alan Shephard’s historic Mercury mission with this collectors’ item, the official commemorative embroidered patch.Fallen Heroes Patch CollectionThe official patches from Apollo 1, the shuttle Challenger and Columbia crews are available in the store.Ares 1-X PatchThe official embroidered patch for the Ares 1-X rocket test flight, is available for purchase.Apollo CollageThis beautiful one piece set features the Apollo program emblem surrounded by the individual mission logos.Expedition 21The official embroidered patch for the International Space Station Expedition 21 crew is now available from our stores.Hubble PatchThe official embroidered patch for mission STS-125, the space shuttle’s last planned service call to the Hubble Space Telescope, is available for purchase. | | | | 2014 Spaceflight Now Inc.

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