Monday, November 13, 2017

Lasers in Space ?

Laser Weapon System aboard USS Ponce (AFSB(I)-15) in November 2014 (05).JPG
The U.S. Navy's USS Ponce amphibious transport ship with the world's first active Laser Weapons System (LaWS). Will spacecraft someday possess such a system?
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By Glenn A. Walsh
Reporting for SpaceWatchtower

Since the first Lasers were built in the 1960s, science-fiction television programs and motion pictures, such as Star Trek and Star Wars, portrayed Lasers or Laser-type weaponry in Outer Space. In the case of Star Trek, the weapons are called Phasers, as Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry felt that Lasers would be superseded by more advanced weaponry by the 23rd century.

Are such Laser weaponry in use today? Will Laser weapons be used in Outer Space in the near future? While American, Chinese, and Russian militaries continue developing Lasers, for terrestrial as well as Outer Space defense-related applications, advanced communication networks using Lasers are being tested by NASA for use in Outer Space.

Of course, most people are aware that the United States started a major research program into a space-based, defense shield using Lasers in the 1980s, after U.S. President Ronald Reagan announced creation of the Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) in a speech to the American people on 1983 March 23. Most Democrats opposed the project, led by U.S. Senator Ted Kennedy, who called the project “Star Wars.”

However many people are unaware that in response to SDI, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (name used for Russia for most of the 20th century) tried launching the first component of an experimental, orbital, unstaffed Laser battle-station on the evening of 1987 May 15. However, upon reaching orbit, the satellite containing this component started tumbling in orbit. Then, due to a software error, instead of going into a higher orbit, the engines fired with the satellite pointed in the wrong direction—down! The satellite soon re-entered the atmosphere, over-heated, broke-apart, and fell into the Pacific Ocean. The failure of such an expensive component convinced Kremlin leaders to cancel the rest of the project.

In 2014, the U.S. Navy deployed the world's first active Laser Weapons System (LaWS) on the USS Ponce amphibious transport ship in the Persian Gulf. The LaWS cost $40 million to develop, but costs only one dollar per shot! While the LaWS is primarily designed to attack aircraft and small boats, a second-generation system is being developed to target missiles.

The USS Ponce is scheduled to be decommissioned next year. The future of this particular LaWS installation is unclear, as it is not scheduled to be moved to a new vessel.

Last week, the U.S. Air Force gave a $26.3 million contract to Lockheed Martin “for the design, development, and production of a high power fiber laser,” for use on a fighter jet aircraft by 2021.

In August, the U.S. Army's Advanced Test High Energy Asset (ATHENA, for the Greek Goddess of Wisdom) Laser weapon underwent successful testing at the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico. And in June, the U.S. Army successfully tested a high-energy Laser weapon system on an AH-64 Apache attack helicopter.

In July, Russia announced plans to deploy powerful Laser weapons on its sixth-generation MiG-41 fighter jet aircraft, to destroy missiles. However, their Laser system is still in the concept stage and is not expected to be available until 2035.

Current American and Russian plans to deploy Lasers in Outer Space are unclear. However, reports this year indicate that China is developing first-strike Space-Lasers designed to destroy NATO satellites. These would be both ground-based Laser weapons, along with Laser weapons on a staffed, Chinese space-station (during the Cold War, the Soviet Union considered and rejected placing such weapons on a staffed Salyut Space Station). Some believe a five-ton chemical Laser could be operational by the Chinese military, possibly by 2023.

However, high-speed data communication is where Lasers are making a strong impact in Outer Space today. On Sunday morning (November 12), NASA and aerospace launch firm Orbital ATK launched new satellites which could greatly advance the speed of data networks in Space and on Earth, perhaps eventually including the Internet, using Lasers instead of radio links. It is expected that the new Laser links could create 200 megabits per second (Mbps) connections.

The two, NanoRacks CubeSats satellites are being sent to the International Space Station (ISS) during an ISS re-supply mission. The twin satellites will be deployed from the ISS using one (of two) of their NanoRacks CubeSats Deployers.

Orbital ATK's Antares rocket with the Cygnus CRS OA-8E spacecraft (titled the SS Gene Cernan for the last man to walk on the Moon, who died in January) had a flawless launch (despite a five-minute delay due to a couple boats wandering into the launch zone) from NASA's Wallops Island Flight Facility on the Eastern Shore of Virginia. The SS Gene Cernan will take two days to reach the ISS. It is the eighth mission (of ten Orbital ATK re-supply flights under the current contract with NASA) to re-supply the International Space Station. The launch had been expected on November 11, but was delayed when an aircraft inadvertently strayed into the launch zone.

Internet Links to Additional Information ---

U.S. Navy's Laser Weapons System -
Link 1 >>> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laser_Weapon_System
Link 2 >>> http://www.cnn.com/2017/07/17/politics/us-navy-drone-laser-weapon/index.html

Mackie, Thomas. "Lazer equipped NASA satellites to revolutionise your internet speed when launched TODAY."
Sunday Express, London 2017 Nov. 12.
Link >>> http://www.express.co.uk/news/world/878501/nasa-nasa-satellites-space-technology-space-agency-new-technology-tech-revolution

Hansen, Drew. "Lockheed to develop jet-mounted laser for the Air Force."
Washington Business Journal 2017 Nov. 9.
Link >>> https://www.bizjournals.com/washington/news/2017/11/09/lockheed-to-develop-jet-mounted-laser-for-the-air.html

Sicard, Sarah. "The U.S. Army's Deadly Laser Just Took a Major Step Forward." Column: The Buzz.
NationalInterest.org / Task and Purpose 2017 Oct. 5.
Link >>> http://nationalinterest.org/blog/the-buzz/the-us-armys-deadly-laser-just-took-major-step-forward-22619

Sharkov, Damien. "Russian Military Plans Missile Killing Laser for Next-Generation Warplanes."
Newsweek 2017 July 27.
Link >>> http://www.newsweek.com/russia-plans-missile-killing-laser-next-generation-warplanes-does-it-work-642906

Judson, Jen. "US Army tests laser on Apache helicopter."
DefenseNews.com 2017 June 26.
Link >>> https://www.defensenews.com/2017/06/26/us-army-tests-laser-on-apache-helicopter/ 

Oliphant, Vickie. "China’s new space lasers to take out satellites leaving west at mercy of Beijing missiles."
Sunday Express, London 2017 March 12.
Link >>> http://www.express.co.uk/news/world/778100/China-developing-lasers-destroy-enemy-satellites-futuristic-light-war-militarise-space

Day, Dwayne A. and Robert G. Kennedy III
"Soviet Star Wars, The launch that saved the world from orbiting laser battle stations."
Air & Space Smithsonian Magazine 2010 January.
Link >>> https://www.airspacemag.com/space/soviet-star-wars-8758185/?page=1

Related Blog-Posts ---

"NASA Laser Com-System Miniaturized & Improved Data Precision." 2015 Oct. 24.

Link >>> http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/2015/10/nasa-laser-com-system-miniaturized.html

 

"Lunar Laser Com-System Sets Data Transmission Record." 2013 Oct. 24.

Link >>> http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/2013/10/lunar-laser-com-system-sets-data.html

 

"Video: Laser Shoots Down Missile." 2013 May 15.

Link >>> http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/2013/05/video-laser-shoots-down-missile.html

 

"Laser Weapon Funding from Science Fiction Book?" 2013 Jan. 27.

Link >>> http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/2013/01/laser-weapon-funding-from-science.html


Source: Glenn A. Walsh Reporting for SpaceWatchtower, a project of Friends of the Zeiss.
             2017 November 13.

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gaw

Glenn A. Walsh, Project Director, Friends of the Zeiss: < http://buhlplanetarium.tripod.com/fotz/ >
& SpaceWatchtower Editor / Author: < http://buhlplanetarium2.tripod.com/weblog/spacewatchtower/gaw/ >
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South Hills Backyard Astronomers Blog: < http://shbastronomers.blogspot.com/ >
Barnestormin Blog: Writing, Essays, Pgh. News, etc.: < http://www.barnestormin.blogspot.com/ >
Author of History Web Sites on the Internet --
* Buhl Planetarium, Pittsburgh:
  < http://www.planetarium.cc >
* Adler Planetarium, Chicago:
  < http://adlerplanetarium.tripod.com >
* Astronomer, Educator, Optician John A. Brashear:
  < http://johnbrashear.tripod.com >
* Andrew Carnegie & Carnegie Libraries:
  < http://www.andrewcarnegie.cc >
* Civil War Museum of Andrew Carnegie Free Library:
  < http://garespypost.tripod.com >
Duquesne Incline cable-car railway, Pittsburgh:
  < http://inclinedplane.tripod.com >
* Public Transit:
  < http://andrewcarnegie2.tripod.com/transit >

Friday, November 3, 2017

Centennial: Mt. Wilson Observatory's 100-inch Hooker Telescope

http://www.trbimg.com/img-59f97730/turbine/la-1509521194-r2g8p3z875-snap-image/1250/1250x703
Image of the observatory with the historic 100-inch Hooker Reflector Telescope on Mount Wilson in Los Angeles County, California.
(Image Source: Los Angeles Times, Photographer: Francine Orr)

By Glenn A. Walsh
Reporting for SpaceWatchtower

The historic, 100-Inch Hooker Reflector Telescope, at Mount Wilson Observatory in Los Angeles County, California, marks 100 years of discoveries today (November 3). It was the night / early morning of 1917 November 2 to 3 that First Light shone through the Hooker Telescope.

In fact, 100 years ago as of the hour of the posting of this blog-post, 2017 November 3 at 3:00 a.m. Pacific Standard Time (PST) / 7:00 a.m. Eastern Daylight Saving Time (EDT) / 11:00 Coordinated Universal Time (UTC), it is believed to be the time the actual First Light occurred.

[It would be another year before the first Daylight Saving Time would be established in America, due to the United States entry into World War I. Daylight Saving Time proved unpopular to many people, particularly those in the rural areas. Hence Congress repealed Daylight Saving Time shortly after the end of World War I.]

[The international time scale used by scientists, based on the time at the Royal Observatory in Greenwich, London, England, is known as Coordinated Universal Time. At the time the Hooker Telescope began scientific research, this time was known as Greenwich Mean Time (although for Greenwich Mean Time, the day began at Noon).]

Actually, there is some dispute as to the exact time of First Light, and whether it occurred on November 2 or November 3 (or even November 1). The object viewed through the telescope is also in dispute.

The first attempt at First Light seems to have occurred on the evening of November 2, when the telescope was pointed toward Jupiter. However, the image was quite poor, and the astronomers in attendance [George Ellery Hale (first Mount Wilson Observatory Director), Walter S. Adams (second Mount Wilson Observatory Director), George W. Ritchey (also telescope-maker), Francis G. Pease (also designer of the Hooker Telescope), and Ferdinand Ellerman] feared the mirror may be defective (as happened in 1990 after the orbiting of the Hubble Space Telescope).

However, the telescope dome had been open most of the day, for construction workers to finish their work. The scientists decided the observatory interior, including the mirror, was not cool enough for proper observations. So, they agreed to allow the mirror to cool and come back later.

When George Hale and Walter Adams returned at around 3:00 on the morning of November 3, they pointed the new telescope at the bright star Vega (although the star viewed is in dispute). They saw a very sharp image of this celestial object, which is considered the actual First Light.

The dispute in the date of the First Light is due to Walter Adams' later recollection that First Light was on the evening of November 1 to 2, while the diary of George Hale and the post-dated telescope log of night assistant Wendell P. Hoge stated that First Light was on the night of November 2 to 3.

However, most astronomical research did not really get underway until 1918, when the construction of the telescope was completely finished.

Mount Wilson Observatory Director George Ellery Hale was a very ambitious astronomer. By 1908, Mount Wilson Observatory already had the largest, operational telescope in the world, a 60-Inch reflector telescope. A larger 72-Inch reflector telescope, built in 1845 in Parsonstown, Ireland, remained in use until about 1890 and was partly dismantled in 1908.

However, Director Hale was not satisfied. He wanted an even larger telescope. In fact, even before the 60-Inch telescope could be tested, a 4.5-ton disk for the mirror of a 100-Inch telescope had been cast.

A good friend of Director Hale, local businessman John D. Hooker, pledged $45,000 for an 84-Inch (later increased to 100-Inch) glass mirror disk, along with the equipment and facilities to create such a large mirror. Now, Dr. Hale had to find the money (more than $500,000) to build an observatory building to house this new, giant telescope and other needed facilities.

Mr. Hooker's gift only covered 10 per-cent of the total cost of the project. And, the Carnegie Institution of Washington, which owned and operated Mount Wilson Observatory, could not help. Their endowment was needed to maintain their existing research departments.

However, Dr. Hale found an enthusiastic supporter: industrialist and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie, who had created the Carnegie Institution of Washington! Even from his early days as a steel entrepreneur, Andrew Carnegie had greatly appreciated the importance of science and technology.

Mr. Carnegie's science philanthropy had begun in 1895 with the opening of Pittsburgh's Carnegie Museum of Natural History, which he enhanced in 1907 with, what has become, one of the world's best collections of dinosaur skeletons. He had also helped astronomer and telescope-maker John A. Brashear complete a new, 3-dome Allegheny Observatory in Pittsburgh, with all of the steel donated by the Carnegie Steel Company.

Andrew Carnegie had visited Mount Wilson Observatory in 1910 [the same year he donated an 11-Inch Brashear refractor telescope to the Carnegie Institute of Technology in Pittsburgh (today's Carnegie Mellon University), so the students could see Halley's Comet] and had been quite impressed with the 60-Inch reflector telescope. In 1911, Mr. Carnegie donated another $10 million to the Carnegie Institution of Washington. The donation came with a suggestion: “I hope the work at Mount Wilson will be vigorously pushed, because I am so anxious to hear the expected results from it. I should like to be satisfied before I depart, that we are going to repay to the old land some part of the debt we owe them by revealing more clearly than ever to them the new heavens.”

Once completed, the Hooker Telescope did not disappoint. Astronomer Edwin Hubble, for whom the Hubble Space Telescope is named, used the telescope to prove that Andromeda was not just a nebulae in our galaxy as scientists had concluded, but a whole separate galaxy of stars—one of thousands of separate galaxies.

Six years later, Dr. Hubble and Milton Humason used the Hooker Telescope to discover that the Universe is expanding, and they measured the expansion and the size of the Universe. In the 1930s, Fritz Zwicky found evidence for Dark Matter and Seth Nickolson discovered two more Moons of Jupiter (numbers 10 and 11). In the 1940s, Walter Baade used the telescope to find two different types of Cepheid Variable Stars, which led to a new estimate for the size of the Universe, double the estimate Dr. Hubble had calculated.

The 100-Inch Hooker Reflector Telescope was the world's largest reflector telescope from 1917 to 1949. In 1949, the 200-Inch Hale Reflector Telescope at Palomar Observatory in San Diego County, California, named after George Ellery Hale, became the largest telescope in the world.

In the 1980s after ending Mount Wilson Observatory's research program, the institution became a public observatory operated by the Mount Wilson Institute (but still owned by the Carnegie Institution for Science). The Institute sells telescope time to private groups, as well as providing educational tours to local youth groups and to the general public.

Special Thanks: Marilyn E. Morgan, Mount Wilson Observatory.

Internet Links to Additional Information ---

Good photograph of 100-inch Hooker Reflector Telescope:
Link >>> http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/2017/11/astronomical-calendar-2017-november.html

100-inch Hooker Reflector Telescope  --
Link 1 >>> http://amazingspace.org/resources/explorations/groundup/lesson/scopes/mt_wilson/
Link 2 >>> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mount_Wilson_Observatory#Hooker_telescope
Building the Telescope: Link >>> https://www.mtwilson.edu/building-the-100-inch-telescope/

Mount Wilson Observatory, Los Angeles County CA --
Link 1 >>> https://www.mtwilson.edu/
Link 2 >>> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mount_Wilson_Observatory

Khan, Amina.
"At Mt. Wilson, scientists celebrate 100th birthday of the telescope that revealed the universe."
Los Angeles Times 2017 November 1.
Link >>> http://www.latimes.com/science/la-sci-sn-mt-wilson-centennial-20171101-htmlstory.html

Nicholson, Don and Bob Eklund. "First Light Doubts on Mount Wilson."
Reflections, Mount Wilson Observatory, Mount Wilson Institute. Fall Quarter / 2017 September,
Page 3.
Link >>> http://buhlplanetarium.tripod.com/MtWilson/Reflections_Sept_2017Rev_screenres.pdf

Morgan, Marilyn. "The Amazing Mister Carnegie."
Reflections, Mount Wilson Observatory Association Winter Quarter / 2005 December.
(Includes photo of Andrew Carnegie and George Ellery Hale at Mount Wilson Observatory in 1910 March)
Link >>> http://andrewcarnegie.tripod.com/astro/Reflections-Dec2005.pdf

Source: Glenn A. Walsh Reporting for SpaceWatchtower, a project of Friends of the Zeiss.
             2017 November 3.

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gaw

Glenn A. Walsh, Project Director, Friends of the Zeiss: < http://buhlplanetarium.tripod.com/fotz/ >
& SpaceWatchtower Editor / Author: < http://buhlplanetarium2.tripod.com/weblog/spacewatchtower/gaw/ >
Electronic Mail - < gawalsh@planetarium.cc >
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South Hills Backyard Astronomers Blog: < http://shbastronomers.blogspot.com/ >
Barnestormin Blog: Writing, Essays, Pgh. News, etc.: < http://www.barnestormin.blogspot.com/ >
Author of History Web Sites on the Internet --
* Buhl Planetarium, Pittsburgh:
  < http://www.planetarium.cc >
* Adler Planetarium, Chicago:
  < http://adlerplanetarium.tripod.com >
* Astronomer, Educator, Optician John A. Brashear:
  < http://johnbrashear.tripod.com >
* Andrew Carnegie & Carnegie Libraries:
  < http://www.andrewcarnegie.cc >
* Civil War Museum of Andrew Carnegie Free Library:
  < http://garespypost.tripod.com >
Duquesne Incline cable-car railway, Pittsburgh:
  < http://inclinedplane.tripod.com >
* Public Transit:
  < http://andrewcarnegie2.tripod.com/transit >

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Astronomical Calendar: 2017 November

                            https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/7/7f/100_inch_Hooker_Telescope_900_px.jpg/800px-100_inch_Hooker_Telescope_900_px.jpg                    
The night / early morning of November 2 to 3 marks the centennial of First Light for the historic 100-inch Hooker Reflector Telescope at Mount Wilson Observatory in Los Angeles County, California. This telescope was the world's largest reflector telescope from 1917 to 1949.
(Image Sources: Ken Spencer, Wikipedia.org)

Astronomical Calendar for 2017 November: 
Link >>> http://buhlplanetarium4.tripod.com/astrocalendar/2017.html#nov

 Related Blog Post ---


"Astronomical Calendar: 2017 October." 2017 Oct. 1.

Link >>> https://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/2017/10/astronomical-calendar-2017-october.html


Source: Friends of the Zeiss.
              2017 November 1.

                             Like This Post? - Please Share!

            More Astronomy & Science News - SpaceWatchtower Twitter Feed:
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                Want to receive SpaceWatchtower blog posts in your in-box ?
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gaw

Glenn A. Walsh, Project Director, Friends of the Zeiss: < http://buhlplanetarium.tripod.com/fotz/ >
& SpaceWatchtower Editor / Author: < http://buhlplanetarium2.tripod.com/weblog/spacewatchtower/gaw/ >
Electronic Mail - < gawalsh@planetarium.cc >
Astronomy Links: < http://buhlplanetarium.tripod.com/#astrolinks >
Science Links: < http://buhlplanetarium.tripod.com/#sciencelinks >
SpaceWatchtower Twitter News Feed: < https://twitter.com/spacewatchtower >
SpaceWatchtower Blog: < http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/ >
LibraryWatchtower Blog: < http://librarywatchtower.blogspot.com >
TransportWatchtower Blog: < http://transportwatchtower.blogspot.com  >
South Hills Backyard Astronomers Blog: < http://shbastronomers.blogspot.com/ >
Barnestormin Blog: Writing, Essays, Pgh. News, etc.: < http://www.barnestormin.blogspot.com/ >
Author of History Web Sites on the Internet --
* Buhl Planetarium, Pittsburgh:
  < http://www.planetarium.cc >
* Adler Planetarium, Chicago:
  < http://adlerplanetarium.tripod.com >
* Astronomer, Educator, Optician John A. Brashear:
  < http://johnbrashear.tripod.com >
* Andrew Carnegie & Carnegie Libraries:
  < http://www.andrewcarnegie.cc >
* Civil War Museum of Andrew Carnegie Free Library:
  < http://garespypost.tripod.com >
Duquesne Incline cable-car railway, Pittsburgh:
  < http://inclinedplane.tripod.com >
* Public Transit:
  < http://andrewcarnegie2.tripod.com/transit >