CryoSat to observe Earth’s ice cover

lunes, 15 de febrero de 2010
ESA PR 03-2010. The European Space Agency is about to launch the most
sophisticated satellite ever to investigate the Earth's ice fields and
map ice thickness over water and land: lift-off scheduled for 25
ESA's ice mission satellite CryoSat will be placed into orbit 700 km
above Earth by a Russian Dnepr rocket to be launched from the Baikonur
Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.
Lift-off is scheduled to take place at 14:57 CET (13:57 UTC) on
Thursday 25 February 2010. The launcher is operated by the
international space company Kosmotras.
CryoSat will be the third of ESA's Earth Explorer satellites in orbit,
following on from GOCE (launched in March 2009) and SMOS (launched in
November 2009). It was originally due to be the first in the Earth
Explorer series, but the first satellite was lost as a result of a
launcher failure in October 2005.
The 700 kg CryoSat spacecraft – whose name comes from the Greek kruos
meaning icy cold – carries the first all-weather microwave radar
altimeter. The instrument has been optimised for determining changes
in the thickness of both floating sea ice, which can be up to several
metres, and polar land ice sheets, which in Antarctica can be up to
five kilometres. The mission will deliver data on the rate of change
of the ice thickness accurate to within one centimetre.

CryoSat-2 measuring sea-ice thickness

CryoSat-2 measuring sea-ice thickness
Recent record-lows in the extent of summer Arctic sea-ice cover
demonstrate that significant changes are occurring in the polar
regions. Ice cover has been mapped from space for many years by
satellites such as Envisat. But to understand more about how climate
change is affecting these sensitive regions, there is also an urgent
need to determine how ice thickness is changing. Data from CryoSat
will lead to a better understanding of the dynamics of ice mass,
provide the scientific community with valuable information on this
variable and contribute to climate change studies.

On the launch day, ESA will be opening a European Press Centre at its
European Space Operations Centre (ESOC) in Darmstadt, Germany, from
10:00 to 16:30, hosting a launch event from 11:30 to 16:00.
A live televised transmission of the launch will provide pictures from
the Baikonur Cosmodrome and from Mission Control at ESA/ESOC in
Darmstadt for broadcasters (further details of TV transmission at
ESA senior management and programme specialists will be on hand to
explain the mission and give interviews.


Northrop Grumman's Fire Scout Unmanned Aerial System Demonstrates Critical Resupply Capability

Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE:NOC) has successfully demonstrated that its MQ-8B Vertical Unmanned Aerial System (VUAS) can resupply U.S. or coalition troops deployed on a combat mission. 

The company conducted the autonomous proof-of-principle resupply capability during the current Army Expeditionary Warrior Experiment (AEWE) at Fort Benning, Ga. AEWE gives soldiers a first-hand look at emerging technologies and concepts.

"Fire Scout's ability to deliver supplies autonomously demonstrates its readiness to support troops in the field," said Al Nikolaus, program director of land-based Fire Scout at Northrop Grumman's Aerospace Systems sector. "It also highlights one of the many advantages of a vertical unmanned aerial system. We have matured this capability and we're eager to support our warfighters in theater with the resupply of small-unit logistics that is so vitally needed."

For the AEWE mission, Fire Scout had two ruggedized containers attached to external pylons. Fire Scout flew autonomously from take-off to the cargo drop to landing. The VUAS also used its electro-optical/infrared optical payload during the mission to practice reconnaissance, surveillance and target acquisition (RSTA) techniques. The ability to conduct simultaneous RSTA and logistics missions is another unique Fire Scout capability.  

Fire Scout is equipped with a payload interface unit, which allows it to release the cargo pod without the presence of a soldier. Fire Scout observed the landing area to confirm the area was free of obstacles and personnel prior to landing. Upon landing, Fire Scout's skid sensors detected contact with the ground. Upon touchdown, the autonomous mission was preplanned for release of the cargo pod and seconds later the aircraft took off again to continue its RSTA mission.

"Fire Scout's ability to operate at low ground speeds and operate in remote, unprepared landing zones allows it to move with warfighters in the field and easily acquire and track targets in complex and urban terrain," said Nikolaus. "It's fully autonomous, and swiftly performs the dull, dirty and dangerous missions without putting soldiers in harm's way."


Robinson abre la cartera de pedidos del R66 Turbine, que costará 770 mil dólares

El fabricante de helicópteros Robinson ha anunciado recientemente el precio que tendrá el nuevo R66 Turbine. La versión estándar se venderá por 770.000 mil dólares y el comprador ya puede hacer sus reservas previo depósito o adelanto de 75.000 dólares, según han informado diversas webs aeronáuticas.


Única línea regular helicópteros España consolida más 20.000 viajeros al año


Los países del A400M envían una nueva propuesta a EADS

Los siete países del A400M, entre los que se encuentra España,
enviarán hoy una nueva propuesta conjunta a EADS para "encontrar lo
antes posible una solución" al estancamiento de las negociaciones,
según anunció hoy un portavoz del Ministerio de Defensa alemán.


UK could use plutonium in space nuclear power demonstration

On Earth, nuclear power is controversial - but for deep space missions it is a necessity. However, the plutonium driving spacecraft power systems is invaluable not only for its ability to keep electricity flowing where solar cells cannot; Pu-238 is also in short supply.


Photo: YAL-1A Returns from Successful Laser Test

The YAL-1A, a modified Boeing 747-400F known as the Airborne Laser, lands at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif. The Airborne Laser Testbed successfully destroyed a boosting ballistic missile Feb. 11 over the Pacific Ocean. (U.S. Air Force photo)


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