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mohsen zahy
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رئيس مجلس الادارة



عدد المساهمات : 23
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تاريخ التسجيل : 02/02/2010
الموقع : http://egynews.3oloum.org

مُساهمةموضوع: بحث عن الفضاء   الخميس مارس 18, 2010 2:28 pm

Understanding Space Travel



Since the early 1960's, when the possibility of human space travel became reality, kids and adventurers of all ages have dreamed of going into space themselves. But there is no environment more alien to the human body than the emptiness of space, where temperatures can fluctuate five hundred degrees. In this void, without the protection of a spaceship or a spacesuit, our blood would actually boil. It takes the most sophisticated machines ever built to get into space, and the effects of long-term space travel on the human body are still being studied. So why do so many people want to go? One of most important reasons for exploring space is to see if we're alone in the universe - whether there are other life-forms out there. It's hard to think of a more important question from the point of view of philosophy, religion, or sheer curiosity. In the meantime, the space age is in its infancy, and each generation will push it to the limit. There are no final frontiers.
NASA's Chandra Reveals Origin of Key Cosmic Explosions
02.17.10
Composite image of M31, also known as the Andromeda galaxy. Image credit: X-ray: NASA/CXC/MPA/ M.Gilfanov & A.Bogdan; Infrared: NASA/JPL-Caltech/ SSC; Optical: DSS
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New findings from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory have provided a major advance in understanding a type of supernova critical for studying the dark energy that astronomers think pervades the universe. The results show mergers of two dense stellar remnants are the likely cause of many of the supernovae that have been used to measure the accelerated expansion of the universe.

These supernovae, called Type 1a, serve as cosmic mile markers to measure expansion of the universe because they can be seen at large distances, and they follow a reliable pattern of brightness. However, until now, scientists have been unsure what actually causes the explosions.

"These are such critical objects in understanding the universe," said Marat Gilfanov of the Max PlanckInstitute for Astrophysics in Germany and lead author of the study that appears in the Feb. 18 edition of the journal Nature. "It was a major embarrassment that we did not know how they worked. Now we are beginning to understand what lights the fuse of these explosions."

Most scientists agree a Type 1a supernova occurs when a white dwarf star -- a collapsed remnant of an elderly star -- exceeds its weight limit, becomes unstable and explodes. Scientists have identified two main possibilities for pushing the white dwarf over the edge: two white dwarfs merging or accretion, a process in which the white dwarf pulls material from a sun-like companion star until it exceeds its weight limit.

"Our results suggest the supernovae in the galaxies we studied almost all come from two white dwarfs merging," said co-author Akos Bogdan, also of Max Planck. "This is probably not what many astronomers would expect."

The difference between these two scenarios may have implications for how these supernovae can be used as "standard candles" -- objects of a known brightness -- to track vast cosmic distances. Because white dwarfs can come in a range of masses, the merger of two could result in explosions that vary somewhat in brightness.

Because these two scenarios would generate different amounts of X-ray emission, Gilfanov and Bogdan used Chandra to observe five nearby elliptical galaxies and the central region of the Andromeda galaxy. A Type 1a supernova caused by accreting material produces significant X-ray emission prior to the explosion. A supernova from a merger of two white dwarfs, on the other hand, would create significantly less X-ray emission than the accretion scenario.

The scientists found the observed X-ray emission was a factor of 30 to 50 times smaller than expected from the accretion scenario, effectively ruling it out. This implies that white dwarf mergers dominate in these galaxies.

An open question remains whether these white dwarf mergers are the primary catalyst for Type 1a supernovae in spiral galaxies. Further studies are required to know if supernovae in spiral galaxies are caused by mergers or a mixture of the two processes. Another intriguing consequence of this result is that a pair of white dwarfs is relatively hard to spot, even with the best telescopes.

"To many astrophysicists, the merger scenario seemed to be less likely because too few double-white-dwarf systems appeared to exist," said Gilfanov. "Now this path to supernovae will have to be investigated in more detail."

In addition to the X-rays observed with Chandra, other data critical for this result came from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope and the ground-based, infrared Two Micron All Sky Survey. The infrared brightness of the galaxies allowed the team to estimate how many supernovae should occur.

NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., manages the Chandra program for NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington. The Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory controls Chandra's science and flight operations from Cambridge, Mass.

More information, including images and other multimedia, can be found at:

http://chandra.harvard.edu
and
http://chandra.nasa.gov

Cassini Shoots New Close-Ups of Death Star-like Moon
02.16.10
Cassini captured this image of Mimas' giant Herschel Crater, which measures about 140 kilometers (88 miles) wide, during its Feb. 13, 2010, flyby of the Death Star-like Saturnian moon. Image credit: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute
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Blazing through its closest pass of the Saturnian moon Mimas on Feb. 13, Cassini sent back striking close-ups of the moon likened to the Death Star from "Star Wars" and the enormous crater scarring its surface. The flyby also yielded solid data on the moon's thermal signature and surface composition.
Some of the raw, unprocessed images sent back from the flyby show the bright, steep slopes of the giant Herschel Crater, which measures about 140 kilometers (88 miles) wide. The icy slopes appear to be pitched around 24 degrees, which would probably earn them a black- or double-black-diamond rating on Earth. Olympic downhill skiers could probably tear down these runs with ease, but it's clear Mimas is no place for bunny-slope beginners.
The images, which have the highest resolution so far, also show jumbled terrain inside the crater and many craters within the crater. These features hint at a long history, which scientists will be working diligently to analyze.
"This flyby has been like looking at a cell or an onion skin under the microscope for the first time," said Bonnie Buratti, one of the leads for the Satellite Orbiter Science Team. "We'd seen the large crater from afar since the early 1980s, but now its small bumps and blemishes are all clearly visible."
This encounter took the spacecraft as close as about 9,500 kilometers (5,900 miles) above Mimas. Cassini had to maneuver through a dusty region to get in position, but survived the trip unscathed, as expected.
Cassini's Feb. 13, 2010, flyby of Saturn's moon Mimas took the spacecraft as close as about 9,500 kilometers (5,900 miles) above Mimas to examine the surface in detail. Image credit: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute
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The moon averages 396 kilometers (246 miles) in diameter. The walls of Herschel Crater are about 5 kilometers (3 miles) high, and parts of the floor are approximately 10 kilometers (6 miles) deep.
Unprocessed images of the flyby are available at http://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov/photos/raw/. More information about the Cassini mission is at http://www.nasa.gov/cassini and http://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov.
Jia-Rui C. Cook 818-354-0850
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
jia-rui.c.cook@jpl.nasa.gov

2010-049

Cassini Finds Plethora of Plumes, Hotspots at Enceladus
02.23.10
In this unique mosaic image combining high-resolution data from the imaging science subsystem and composite infrared spectrometer aboard NASA's Cassini spacecraft, pockets of heat appear along one of the mysterious fractures in the south polar region of Saturn's moon Enceladus. Image credit: NASA/JPL/GSFC/SWRI/SSI
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Newly released images from last November's swoop over Saturn's icy moon Enceladus by NASA's Cassini spacecraft reveal a forest of new jets spraying from prominent fractures crossing the south polar region and yield the most detailed temperature map to date of one fracture.
The new images from the imaging science subsystem and the composite infrared spectrometer teams also include the best 3-D image ever obtained of a "tiger stripe," a fissure that sprays icy particles, water vapor and organic compounds. There are also views of regions not well-mapped previously on Enceladus, including a southern area with crudely circular tectonic patterns.
The images and additional information are online at http://www.nasa.gov/cassini and http://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov.
"Enceladus continues to astound," said Bob Pappalardo, Cassini project scientist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. "With each Cassini flyby, we learn more about its extreme activity and what makes this strange moon tick."
For Cassini's visible-light cameras, the Nov. 21, 2009 flyby provided the last look at Enceladus' south polar surface before that region of the moon goes into 15 years of darkness, and includes the most detailed look yet at the jets.
Scientists planned to use this flyby to look for new or smaller jets not visible in previous images. In one mosaic, scientists count more than 30 individual geysers, including more than 20 that had not been seen before. At least one jet spouting prominently in previous images now appears less powerful.
"This last flyby confirms what we suspected," said Carolyn Porco, imaging team lead based at the Space Science Institute in Boulder, Colo. "The vigor of individual jets can vary with time, and many jets, large and small, erupt all along the tiger stripes."
Dramatic plumes, both large and small, spray water ice out from many locations along the famed "tiger stripes" near the south pole of Saturn's moon Enceladus. Image credit: NASA/JPL/SSI
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A new map that combines heat data with visible-light images shows a 40-kilometer (25-mile) segment of the longest tiger stripe, known as Baghdad Sulcus. The map illustrates the correlation, at the highest resolution yet seen, between the geologically youthful surface fractures and the anomalously warm temperatures that have been recorded in the south polar region. The broad swaths of heat previously detected by the infrared spectrometer appear to be confined to a narrow, intense region no more than a kilometer (half a mile) wide along the fracture.
In these measurements, peak temperatures along Baghdad Sulcus exceed 180 Kelvin (minus 135 degrees Fahrenheit), and may be higher than 200 Kelvin (minus 100 degrees Fahrenheit). These warm temperatures probably result from heating of the fracture flanks by the warm, upwelling water vapor that propels the ice-particle jets seen by Cassini's cameras. Cassini scientists will be testing this idea by investigating how well the hot spots correspond with the jet sources.
"The fractures are chilly by Earth standards, but they're a cozy oasis compared to the numbing 50 Kelvin (-370 Fahrenheit) of their surroundings," said John Spencer, a composite infrared spectrometer team member based at Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colo. "The huge amount of heat pouring out of the tiger stripe fractures may be enough to melt the ice underground. Results like this make Enceladus one of the most exciting places we've found in the solar system."
Some of Cassini's scientists infer that the warmer the temperatures are at the surface, the greater the likelihood that jets erupt from liquid. "And if true, this makes Enceladus' organic-rich, liquid sub-surface environment the most accessible extraterrestrial watery zone known in the solar system," Porco said.
The Nov. 21 flyby was the eighth targeted encounter with Enceladus. It took the spacecraft to within about 1,600 kilometers (1,000 miles) of the moon's surface, at around 82 degrees south latitude.
The Cassini-Huygens mission is a cooperative project of NASA, the European Space Agency and the Italian Space Agency. JPL, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the mission for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington, D.C. The Cassini orbiter and its two onboard cameras were designed, developed and assembled at JPL. The imaging operations center is based at the Space Science Institute in Boulder, Colo. The composite infrared spectrometer team is based at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md., where the instrument was built.
More details are also available at the imaging team's website http://ciclops.org and the composite infrared spectrometer team's website http://cirs.gsfc.nasa.gov.
› See related images
Jia-Rui C. Cook 818-354-0850
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
jia-rui.c.cook@jpl.nasa.gov
Jurassic Space: Ancient Galaxies Come Together after Billions of Years
02.18.10

Hickson Compact Group 31 is one of 100 compact galaxy groups catalogued by Canadian astronomer Paul Hickson. Credit: NASA, ESA, S. Gallagher (University of Western Ontario), and J. English (University of Manitoba). Photo No. STScI-PRC10-08a
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Imagine finding a living dinosaur in your backyard. Astronomers have found the astronomical equivalent of prehistoric life in our intergalactic back yard: a group of small, ancient galaxies that has waited 10 billion years to come together. These "late bloomers" are on their way to building a large elliptical galaxy.

Such encounters between dwarf galaxies are normally seen billions of light-years away and therefore occurred billions of years ago. But these galaxies, members of Hickson Compact Group 31, are relatively nearby, only 166 million light-years away.

New images of these galaxies by NASA's Hubble Space Telescope offer a window into what commonly happened in the universe's formative years when large galaxies were created from smaller building blocks. The Hubble observations have added important clues to the story of this interacting foursome, allowing astronomers to determine when the encounter began and to predict a future merger.

Astronomers know the system has been around for a while because the oldest stars in a few of its ancient globular clusters are about 10 billion years old. The encounter, though, has been going on for about a few hundred million years, the blink of an eye in cosmic history. Everywhere the astronomers looked in this compact group they found batches of infant star clusters and regions brimming with star birth. Hubble reveals that the brightest clusters, hefty groups each holding at least 100,000 stars, are less than 10 million years old.

The entire system is rich in hydrogen gas, the stuff of which stars are made. Astronomers used Hubble's Advanced Camera for Surveys to resolve the youngest and brightest of those clusters, which allowed them to calculate the clusters' ages, trace the star-formation history, and determine that the galaxies are undergoing the final stages of galaxy assembly.

The composite image of Hickson Compact Group 31 shows the four galaxies mixing it up. The bright, distorted object at middle, left, is actually two colliding dwarf galaxies. The bluish star clusters have formed in the streamers of debris pulled from the galaxies and at the site of their head-on collision. The cigar-shaped object above the galaxy duo is another member of the group. A bridge of star clusters connects the trio. A longer rope of bright star clusters points to the fourth member of the group, at lower right. The bright object in the center is a foreground star. The image was composed from observations made by the Hubble Space Telescope's Advanced Camera for Surveys, NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope, and the Galaxy Evolution Explorer (GALEX).

The Hubble Space Telescope is a project of international cooperation between NASA and the European Space Agency. NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center manages the telescope. The Space Telescope Science Institute conducts Hubble science operations. The institute is operated for NASA by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy, Inc. in Washington, D.C.
Donna Weaver
Space Telescope Science Institute

NASA's Fermi Closes on Source of Cosmic Rays
02.16.10
Fermi's Large Area Telescope resolved GeV gamma rays from supernova remnants of different ages and in different environments. W51C, W44 and IC 443 are middle-aged remnants between 4,000 and 30,000 years old. Cassiopeia A, which is only 330 years old, appears as a point source. Credit: NASA/DOE/Fermi LAT Collaboration
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This animation shows the creation of a pion via the collision of a proton and a cosmic ray proton. Credit: NASA/DOE/Fermi LAT Collaboration
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This composite shows the Cassiopeia A supernova remnant across the spectrum: Gamma rays (magenta) from NASA's Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope; X-rays (blue, green) from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory; visible light (yellow) from the Hubble Space Telescope; infrared (red) from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope; and radio (orange) from the Very Large Array near Socorro, N.M. Credit: NASA/DOE/Fermi LAT Collaboration, CXC/SAO/JPL-Caltech/Steward/O. Krause et al., and NRAO/AUI
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Fermi mapped GeV-gamma-ray emission regions (magenta) in the W44 supernova remnant. The features clearly align with filaments detectable in other wavelengths. This composite merges X-rays (blue) from the Germany-led ROSAT mission, infrared (red) from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope, and radio (orange) from the Very Large Array near Socorro, N.M. Credit: NASA/DOE/Fermi LAT Collaboration, ROSAT, JPL-Caltech, and NRAO/AUI
› Larger image New images from NASA's Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope show where supernova remnants emit radiation a billion times more energetic than visible light. The images bring astronomers a step closer to understanding the source of some of the universe's most energetic particles -- cosmic rays.

Cosmic rays consist mainly of protons that move through space at nearly the speed of light. In their journey across the galaxy, the particles are deflected by magnetic fields. This scrambles their paths and masks their origins.

"Understanding the sources of cosmic rays is one of Fermi's key goals," said Stefan Funk, an astrophysicist at the Kavli Institute for Particle Astrophysics and Cosmology (KIPAC), jointly located at SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory and Stanford University, Calif.

When cosmic rays collide with interstellar gas, they produce gamma rays.

"Fermi now allows us to compare emission from remnants of different ages and in different environments," Funk added. He presented the findings Monday at the American Physical Society meeting in Washington, D.C.

Fermi's Large Area Telescope (LAT) mapped billion-electron-volt (GeV) gamma-rays from three middle-aged supernova remnants -- known as W51C, W44 and IC 443 -- that were never before resolved at these energies. (The energy of visible light is between 2 and 3 electron volts.) Each remnant is the expanding debris of a massive star that blew up between 4,000 and 30,000 years ago.

In addition, Fermi's LAT also spied GeV gamma rays from Cassiopeia A (Cas A), a supernova remnant only 330 years old. Ground-based observatories, which detect gamma rays thousands of times more energetic than the LAT was designed to see, have previously detected Cas A.

"Older remnants are extremely bright in GeV gamma rays, but relatively faint at higher energies. Younger remnants show a different behavior," explained Yasunobu Uchiyama, a Panofsky Fellow at SLAC. "Perhaps the highest-energy cosmic rays have left older remnants, and Fermi sees emission from trapped particles at lower energies."

In 1949, the Fermi telescope's namesake, physicist Enrico Fermi, suggested that the highest-energy cosmic rays were accelerated in the magnetic fields of gas clouds. In the decades that followed, astronomers showed that supernova remnants are the galaxy's best candidate sites for this process.

Young supernova remnants seem to possess both stronger magnetic fields and the highest-energy cosmic rays. Stronger fields can keep the highest-energy particles in the remnant's shock wave long enough to speed them to the energies observed.

The Fermi observations show GeV gamma rays coming from places where the remnants are known to be interacting with cold, dense gas clouds.

"We think that protons accelerated in the remnant are colliding with gas atoms, causing the gamma-ray emission," Funk said. An alternative explanation is that fast-moving electrons emit gamma rays as they fly past the nuclei of gas atoms. "For now, we can't distinguish between these possibilities, but we expect that further observations with Fermi will help us to do so," he added.

Either way, these observations validate the notion that supernova remnants act as enormous accelerators for cosmic particles.

"How fitting it is that Fermi seems to be confirming the bold idea advanced over 60 years ago by the scientist after whom it was named," noted Roger Blandford, director of KIPAC.

Related Links:

› Additional information and resolutions of supernova remnant media
› Additional information and resolutions of pion creation media

Francis Reddy
NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center

WISE Spies a Comet with its Powerful Infrared Eye
02.11.10
The red smudge at the center of this picture is the first comet discovered by NASA's Wide-Field Infrared Survey Explorer, or WISE. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA
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NASA's Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, or WISE, has discovered its first comet, one of many the mission is expected to find among millions of other objects during its ongoing survey of the whole sky in infrared light.
Officially named "P/2010 B2 (WISE)," but known simply as WISE, the comet is a dusty mass of ice more than 2 kilometers (1.2 miles) in diameter. It probably formed around the same time as our solar system, about 4.5 billion years ago. Comet WISE started out in the cold, dark reaches of our solar system, but after a long history of getting knocked around by the gravitational forces of Jupiter, it settled into an orbit much closer to the sun. Right now, the comet is heading away from the sun and is about 175 million kilometers (109 million miles) from Earth.
"Comets are ancient reservoirs of water. They are one of the few places besides Earth in the inner solar system where water is known to exist," said Amy Mainzer of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. Mainzer is the principal investigator of NEOWISE, a project to find and catalog new asteroids and comets spotted by WISE (the acronym combines WISE with NEO, the shorthand for near-Earth object).
"With WISE, we have a powerful tool to find new comets and learn more about the population as a whole. Water is necessary for life as we know it, and comets can tell us more about how much there is in our solar system."
The WISE telescope, which launched into a polar orbit around Earth on Dec. 14, 2009, is expected to discover anywhere from a few to dozens of new comets, in addition to hundreds of thousands of asteroids. Comets are harder to find than asteroids because they are much more rare in the inner solar system. Whereas asteroids tour around in the "main belt" between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter, large numbers of comets orbit farther away, in the icy outer reaches of our solar system.
Both asteroids and comets can fall into orbits that bring them close to Earth's path around the sun. Most of these "near-Earth objects" are asteroids but some are comets. WISE is expected to find new near-Earth comets, and this will give us a better idea of how threatening they might be to Earth.
"It is very unlikely that a comet will hit Earth," said James Bauer, a scientist at JPL working on the WISE project, "But, in the rare chance that one did, it could be dangerous. The new discoveries from WISE will give us more precise statistics about the probability of such an event, and how powerful an impact it might yield."
The space telescope spotted the comet during its routine scan of the sky on January 22. Sophisticated software plucked the comet out from the stream of images pouring down from space by looking for objects that move quickly relative to background stars. The comet discovery was followed up by a combination of professional and amateur astronomers using telescopes across the United States.
A teacher also teamed up with an observer to measure comet WISE using a home-built telescope next to a cornfield in Illinois. Their research is part of the International Astronomical Search Collaboration, an education program that helps teachers and students observe comets and asteroids (more information is online at http://iasc.hsutx.edu/ ).
All the data are catalogued at the Minor Planet Center, in Cambridge, Mass., the worldwide clearinghouse for all observations and orbits of minor planets and comets.
Comet WISE takes 4.7 years to circle the sun, with its farthest point being about 4 astronomical units away, and its closest point being 1.6 astronomical units (near the orbit of Mars). An astronomical unit is the distance between Earth and the sun. Heat from the sun causes gas and dust to blow off the comet, resulting in a dusty coma, or shell, and a tail.
Though this particular body is actively shedding dust, WISE is also expected to find dark, dead comets. Once a comet has taken many trips around the sun, its icy components erode away, leaving only a dark, rocky core. Not much is known about these objects because they are hard to see in visible light. WISE's infrared sight should be able to pick up the feeble glow of some of these dark comets, answering questions about precisely how and where they form.
"Dead comets can be darker than coal," said Mainzer. "But in infrared light, they will pop into view. One question we want to answer with WISE is how many dead comets make up the near-Earth object population."
The mission will spend the next eight months mapping the sky one-and-a-half times. A first batch of data will be available to the public in the spring of 2011, and the final catalog a year later. Selected images and findings will be released throughout the mission.
JPL manages the Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington. The principal investigator, Edward Wright, is at UCLA. The mission was competitively selected under NASA's Explorers Program managed by the Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md. The science instrument was built by the Space Dynamics Laboratory, Logan, Utah, and the spacecraft was built by Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp., Boulder, Colo. Science operations and data processing take place at the Infrared Processing and Analysis Center at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena. Caltech manages JPL for NASA. The ground-based observations are partly supported by the National Science Foundation. The Minor Planet Center is funded by NASA. More information is online at http://www.nasa.gov/wise and http://wise.astro.ucla.edu.
Whitney Clavin 818-354-4673
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
whitney.clavin@jpl.nasa.gov


2010-046
(mohsen_zahy66@hotmail.com)
Mohsen Zahy

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