Thursday, August 7, 2008

Why the French Should Stick To Croissants.

Armchair Astronomer Discovers Cosmic Ghost.

(CNN) -- Hanny van Arkel was poring over photos of galaxies on the Internet in August 2007 when she stumbled across a strange object in the night sky: a bright, gaseous mass with a gaping hole in its middle.

"It looked a bit like an irregular galaxy, but I wasn't sure what it was," Van Arkel said. So she posted a query on the Web site of the Galaxy Zoo project, which encourages members of the public to join in astronomy research online.

Van Arkel is a 25-year-old schoolteacher in Heerlen, The Netherlands, not an astrophysicist. But her startling find -- a mysterious and unique object some observers are calling a "cosmic ghost" -- has captivated astronomers and even caught the attention of the people who run the Hubble Space Telescope, who have agreed to take a closer look next year.

"This discovery really shows how citizen science has come of age in the Internet world," said Bill Keel, professor of physics and astronomy at the University of Alabama and a Galaxy Zoo team member. "There was a time when I spoke pejoratively of armchair astronomers. And I've gotten up at a star party and publicly apologized for that

See the rest of the story at A link is posted to this story under "Topical Links." at the top right.

410th FLTS 'Baja Scorpions' closes historic chapter

by Senior Airman Julius Delos Reyes
95th Air Base Wing Public Affairs

8/5/2008 - U.S. AIR FORCE PLANT 42, Calif. -- After more than 27 years and 8,000 flight test hours, the 410th Flight Test Squadron has finally closed its historic chapter during an inactivation ceremony Aug. 1 at the U.S. Air Force Plant 42 in Palmdale, Calif.

The 410th FLTS was responsible for performing flight test missions for the F-117 Nighthawk -- the world's first operational aircraft designed to exploit low-observable stealth technology.

"I wish we would have stayed and opened longer, but it is time to go," said Lt. Col. Dwayne Opella, who also relinquished the 410th FLTS command during the inactivation ceremony. "I am saddened with the shutdown of this unit and the retirement of F-117. But I couldn't think of being more honored than be listed as the last commander of the 410th Flight Test Squadron."

During the ceremony, Colonel Opella gave his thanks to Team Edwards, Lockheed Martin, the Combined Test Force's former and current members, both civilians and contractors.

"I also want to thank my wife and kids for their support," he said. "And finally, I want to thank the men and women of the (410th FLTS). I will always remember all of you, and I am proud of knowing each and every one of you."

The Air Force is retiring the F-117 fleet as part of a recapitalization and modernization program. The aircraft is being replaced by the F-22 Raptor.

"The history of the F-117 is pretty famous," said Colonel Opella. "The entire combat mission and everything it has done in support of our nation's defense are documented in books and articles."

The 410th FLTS traces back its history in 1980 when Air Force and Lockheed-Martin personnel were tapped to form a "black world" Joint Test Force, unofficially named Baja Scorpions. The JTF received its first shipment containing a disassembled prototype YF-117A in January 1981. In 1983, the Joint Test Force was reorganized as a Combined Test Force.

In April 1992, the unit moved to the U.S. Air Force Plant 42 in Palmdale, Calif. The following year, the unit's operational control was transferred to the 412th Test Wing at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., and officially became the 410th Flight Test Squadron.
Some of the 410th FLTS's accomplishments include providing support for contingency operations during the invasion of Panama in 1989, Operation Desert Storm, Operation Allied Force and Operation Iraqi Freedom.

"We say goodbye to an amazing group and leader," said Col. Mike Panarisi, 412th Operations Group commander, during the ceremony. "I was privileged to join the team here a couple of weeks ago for their goodbye soiree. You could just see the pride in everyone's eyes. It is a true testimony of what Colonel Opella had accomplished with these folks. I couldn't be happier for the team."

Other guest speakers include Cheryl O'Leary, Lockheed Martin executive vice president and site general manager, and George Zeilsdorff, Lockheed Martin vice president for U-2 and F-117 programs.

"It has been a true partnership with the Air Force and Lockheed Martin," Ms. O'Leary said. "This is a sad day, but we need to move forward to the next generation. (The 411th FLTS) have set the standard for excellence for others to follow."

Mr. Zeilsdorff said the 410th FLTS is a history of "enormous accomplishments with influence on a huge number of next generation systems."

"It is a history of self-sacrifice for the good of the Air Force and the nation," he said. "I salute each and every member of this terrific organization, both past and present."

Copter crash-lands after Buckley base refuses to help

The Associated Press
Posted : Thursday Aug 7, 2008 11:43:03 EDT
DENVER — A two-seat civilian helicopter crash-landed Wednesday after the pilot was denied permission to refuel at Buckley Air Force Base, but no one was injured, a passenger said.

Buckley spokesman John Spann said the pilot asked to land at the base in the east Denver suburb of Aurora but was turned away because he did not declare an emergency.

“If he declared an in-flight emergency, then yes, he could come to Buckley and we could have gotten him gas,” Spann said.

Neither the name of the pilot nor the company operating the Engstrom 280FX helicopter could be confirmed.

Freelance photographer Bill Ross, who was on the flight, said he and the pilot had finished a commercial photo shoot near Denver International Airport and were returning to Centennial Airport when the engine sputtered and stopped.

The helicopter dropped about 400 feet but landed upright, with heavy damage, Ross said.

“I’m surprised we’re still alive,” he said. “Alarms start going off and red lights start flashing, and I said, ‘What does that mean?”’

The pilot replied, “We’re going to crash,” and Ross said, “Well, crash this thing right.”

Ross said the pilot had told him he was low on fuel. Allen Kenitzer of the Federal Aviation Administration said the cause of the crash is under investigation.

Kenitzer said the helicopter is registered to Beacon Aviation in the Denver suburb of Lakewood. No phone listing could be located for Beacon.


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