vendredi 19 octobre 2018

Hubble Spies Glittering Star Cluster in Nearby Galaxy












NASA - Hubble Space Telescope patch.

Oct. 19, 2018


This glittering ball of stars is the globular cluster NGC 1898, which lies toward the center of the Large Magellanic Cloud — one of our closest cosmic neighbors. The Large Magellanic Cloud is a dwarf galaxy that hosts an extremely rich population of star clusters, making it an ideal laboratory for investigating star formation.

Discovered in November 1834 by British astronomer John Herschel, NGC 1898 has been scrutinized numerous times by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope. Today we know that globular clusters are some of the oldest known objects in the universe and that they are relics of the first epochs of galaxy formation. While we already have a pretty good picture on the globular clusters of the Milky Way — still with many unanswered questions — our studies on globular clusters in nearby dwarf galaxies just started. The observations of NGC 1898 will help to determine whether their properties are similar to the ones found in the Milky Way, or if they have different features, due to being in a different cosmic environment.

Hubble Space Telescope (HST)

This image was taken by Hubble’s Advanced Camera for Surveys (ACS) and Wide Field Camera 3 (WFC3).

For more information about Hubble, visit:

http://hubblesite.org/
http://www.nasa.gov/hubble
http://www.spacetelescope.org/

Image, Animation, Credits: ESA/Hubble & NASA/Text: European Space Agency (ESA)/NASA/Karl Hille.

Greetings, Orbiter.ch

An artificial moon to light up the Earth












China artificial Moon illustration.

Oct. 19, 2018

Beijing would like to reflect sunlight on Earth overnight to achieve lighting savings.

China wants to launch in space by 2020 an "artificial Moon", which would reflect on Earth the sunlight during the night and would achieve savings in lighting, said Friday a state media.

Russian project "Mayak satellite"

This satellite equipped with a reflective film would be responsible for illuminating the large city of Chengdu (southwest) and should be eight times brighter than the lunar body, reports the China Daily.

A first copy should first be sent to space, followed by the success of three others in 2022, Wu Tengfeng, the head of the Tianfu New Area Science Society, told Xinhua.

"The first Moon will be mainly experimental, but the three sent in 2022 will be the real finished product. They will have great potential in terms of services to the people and from a commercial point of view, "Wu said.

Significant electricity savings

By sending sunlight back to Earth, the satellite, which would evolve at an altitude of 500 km, is supposed to be able to partially replace streetlights. It could save Chengdu about 1.2 billion yuan (about 170 million francs) of electricity a year if it can illuminate an area of ​​50 square kilometers.

The artificial light source could also be used after natural disasters, by deflecting solar rays to terrestrial areas where power was cut off, Wu Chunfeng said. AFP could not contact Mr. Wu or his institution directly.

Russian project "Znamya"

Beijing has for many years been conducting an ambitious space program to catch up with the United States and Russia. The country plans to send a small robot named Chang'e-4 on the far side of the moon by the end of 2018.

China is not the first country to try to reflect the sun's rays on the Earth. In the 1990s, Russian scientists had developed a similar project called Znamya ("Banner"), stopped after some tests.

Images, Text, Credits: Tianfu New Area Science Society/IEEE Spectrum/AFP/GM Productions/Mike Fisher/Orbiter.ch Aerospace/Roland Berga.

Greetings, Orbiter.ch

BepiColombo - Swiss Technology on Mercury













ESA - BepiColombo Mission patch.

Oct. 19, 2018

Ariane 5 will take off this weekend from Kourou, with two probes and instruments designed by the University of Bern on board.

Swiss researchers and companies took part in the ambitious Mercure research mission to be launched on the night of Friday to Saturday. The instruments developed must help reveal the secrets of the planet closest to the sun.

BepiColombo in the withe room

Instruments designed and manufactured by the Institute of Physics at the University of Bern will travel aboard the European Space Agency (ESA) and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) probes.

This is the Bela laser altimeter, the largest and most fragile instrument of the mission, and the brand new Strofio mass spectrometer, says the University of Bern.

BepiColombo Laser Altimeter - BELA

The BepiColombo mission consists of two space vehicles: one built by Europeans, Mercury Planetary Orbiter (DFO), and the other by the Japanese agency, Mercury Magnetospheric Orbiter (MMO).

The two vehicles will travel together to Mercury in a coupled system, but once there, they will be placed in different orbits. The MMO will study the interaction between the planet and the solar wind, while DFO will be responsible for mapping the surface of Mercury.

3D representation of the planet

The objective of the Bela laser altimeter, one of the elements on board DFO, is to measure the shape, topography and morphology of the Mercury surface. "Bela essentially allows us to create a 3D representation of the whole planet," explains Nicolas Thomas, co-director of the project and director of the Institute of Physics at the University of Bern.

BepiColombo configuration

The all-new Strofio mass spectrometer is designed to capture the very fine atmosphere of Mercury - the exosphere - and to analyze its chemical composition.

The researchers had to design instruments so that they could withstand the heat of the sun: on Mercury, the temperature can be ten times higher than on Earth.

Neuchatel micro-cameras

The academic world is not the only Swiss player involved in the BepiColombo research mission. Neuchâtel equipment developed by Micro-Cameras & Space Exploration (MCSE) is part of the trip.


Digital Space Micro-Camera

MCSE has completely produced an instrument panel consisting of three micro-cameras. These will be used especially to photograph the passages near Venus and the approach of Mercury.

For its part, the armament and aeronautics group Ruag notably delivered the structure of the MPO vehicle in aluminum panels.

BepiColombo is the first European mission to Mercury, the smallest and least explored planet in the inner Solar System. It is the first Mercury mission to send two science orbiters to make complementary measurements of the planet’s dynamic environment at the same time.

A third module will transport the orbiters on the seven year cruise to Mercury, using a combination of solar electric propulsion and nine gravity assist flybys at Earth, Venus and Mercury.

Watch live as the ESA-JAXA BepiColombo mission to Mercury is launched on an Ariane 5 from Europe’s Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana:

BepiColombo launch live broadcast: https://livestream.com/ESA/BepiColomboLaunch

Schedule:

03:15 CEST Start of live transmission
03:45 CEST Liftoff, followed by confirmation of acquisition of signal, expected 40 minutes after launch
04:30 CEST End of live transmission

Related links:

ESA's BepiColombo: http://sci.esa.int/bepicolombo/

BepiColombo Laser Altimeter - BELA: http://www.bela.space.unibe.ch/

Micro-Cameras & Space Exploration (MCSE): http://www.microcameras.ch/site/

Images, Text, Credits: ESA/ATS/University of Bern/Orbiter.ch Aerospace/Roland Berga.

Best regards, Orbiter.ch

jeudi 18 octobre 2018

Liquid and Flame Science Work amid Japanese, Russian Maintenance













ISS - Expedition 57 Mission patch.

October 18, 2018

Two Expedition 57 astronauts are working to understand what happens to fluids being transported by spacecraft today. Another crew member also worked on combustion science gear as well as Japanese and Russian systems.


Image above: Two Russian spacecraft, the Soyuz MS-09 crew ship (foreground) and the Progress 70 resupply ship, are pictured docked to the International Space Station as the orbital complex orbited nearly 257 miles above Ukraine. Image Credit: NASA.

Fluid physics and combustion research on the International Space Station helps scientists understand how well-known phenomena on Earth behaves in microgravity. For instance, fluids sloshing around inside fuel tanks can impact how a spaceship steers in space. The way flames burn and create soot in space can also create safety issues for crews.

Flight Engineer Serena Auñón-Chancellor and Commander Alexander Gerst of ESA (European Space Agency) explored how fluids affect spacecraft maneuvers today. The duo set up a pair of tiny mobile satellites known as SPHERES for the test inside Japan’s Kibo lab module. The SPHERES Tether Slosh experiment is observing what happens when the satellites tow a liquid-filled tank versus a solid mass body with a Kevlar tether.

International Space Station (ISS). Animation Credit: NASA

Sergey Prokopyev of Roscosmos opened up the Combustion Integrated Rack in the afternoon and replaced manifold bottles that contain gases for flame experiments. The flight engineer also packed items for disposal on a Japanese cargo ship and checked on Russian ventilation and air conditioning systems.

Related links:

Expedition 57: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/expeditions/expedition57/index.html

SPHERES: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/explorer/Investigation.html?#id=303

SPHERES Tether Slosh: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/explorer/Investigation.html?#id=7381

Combustion Integrated Rack: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/explorer/Facility.html?#id=317

Space Station Research and Technology: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/index.html

International Space Station (ISS): https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/main/index.html

Image (mentioned), Animation (mentioned), Text, Credits: NASA/Mark Garcia.

Best regards, Orbiter.ch

NASA’s Fermi Mission Energizes the Sky With Gamma-ray Constellations












NASA - Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope logo.

Oct. 18, 2018

Long ago, sky watchers linked the brightest stars into patterns reflecting animals, heroes, monsters and even scientific instruments into what is now an official collection of 88 constellations. Now scientists with NASA’s Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope have devised a set of modern constellations constructed from sources in the gamma-ray sky to celebrate the mission’s 10th year of operations.

To explore Fermi’s Gamma-ray Constellations, visit: https://fermi.gsfc.nasa.gov/science/constellations/

The new constellations include a few characters from modern myths. Among them are the Little Prince, the time-warping TARDIS from “Doctor Who,” Godzilla and his heat ray, the antimatter-powered U.S.S. Enterprise from “Star Trek: The Original Series” and the Hulk, the product of a gamma-ray experiment gone awry.

“Developing these unofficial constellations was a fun way to highlight a decade of Fermi’s accomplishments,” said Julie McEnery, the Fermi project scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. “One way or another, all of the gamma-ray constellations have a tie-in to Fermi science.”


Animation above: New, unofficial constellations appear in this image of the sky mapped by NASA’s Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope. Fermi scientists devised the constellations to highlight the mission’s 10th year of operations. Fermi has mapped about 3,000 gamma-ray sources — 10 times the number known before its launch and comparable to the number of bright stars in the traditional constellations. Animation Credit: NASA.

Since July 2008, Fermi’s Large Area Telescope (LAT) has been scanning the entire sky each day, mapping and measuring sources of gamma rays, the highest-energy light in the universe. The emission may come from pulsars, nova outbursts, the debris of supernova explosions and giant gamma-ray bubbles located in our own galaxy, or supermassive black holes and gamma-ray bursts — the most powerful explosions in the cosmos — in others.

“By 2015, the number of different sources mapped by Fermi’s LAT had expanded to about 3,000 — 10 times the number known before the mission,” said Goddard’s Elizabeth Ferrara, who led the constellation project. “For the first time ever, the number of known gamma-ray sources was comparable to the number of bright stars, so we thought a new set of constellations was a great way to illustrate the point.”   

The 21 gamma-ray constellations include famous landmarks — such as Sweden’s recovered warship, Vasa, the Washington Monument and Mount Fuji in Japan — in countries contributing to Fermi science. Others represent scientific ideas or tools, from Schrödinger’s Cat — both alive and dead, thanks to quantum physics — to Albert Einstein, Radio Telescope and Black Widow Spider, the namesake of a class of pulsars that evaporate their unfortunate companion stars.

Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope. Image Credit: NASA

Ferrara and Daniel Kocevski, an astrophysicist now at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, developed a web-based interactive to showcase the constellations, with artwork from Aurore Simonnet, an illustrator at Sonoma State University in Rohnert Park, California, and a map of the whole gamma-ray sky from Fermi. Clicking on a constellation turns on its artwork and name, which includes a link to a page with more information. Other controls switch on the visible sky and selected traditional constellations.

“Fermi is still going strong, and we are now preparing a new all-sky LAT catalog,” said Jean Ballet, a Fermi team member at the French Atomic Energy Commission in Saclay. “This will add about 2,000 sources, many varying greatly in brightness, further enriching these constellations and enlivening the high-energy sky!”

NASA's Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope is an astrophysics and particle physics partnership, developed in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Energy and with important contributions from academic institutions and partners in France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Sweden and the United States.

To explore Fermi’s Gamma-ray Constellations, visit: https://fermi.gsfc.nasa.gov/science/constellations/

For more about NASA’s Fermi mission, visit: https://www.nasa.gov/fermi

Animation (mentioned), Image (mentioned), Text, Credits: NASA/Rob Garner/Goddard Space Flight Center, by Francis Reddy.

Greetings, Orbiter.ch

Kes 75: Milky Way's Youngest Pulsar Exposes Secrets of Star's Demise














NASA - Chandra X-ray Observatory patch.

Oct. 18, 2018


Scientists have confirmed the identity of the youngest known pulsar in the Milky Way galaxy using data from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory. This result could provide astronomers new information about how some stars end their lives.

After some massive stars run out of nuclear fuel, then collapse and explode as supernovas, they leave behind dense stellar nuggets called "neutron stars". Rapidly rotating and highly magnetized neutron stars produce a lighthouse-like beam of radiation that astronomers detect as pulses as the pulsar's rotation sweeps the beam across the sky.

Since Jocelyn Bell Burnell, Anthony Hewish, and their colleagues first discovered pulsars through their radio emission in the 1960s, over 2,000 of these exotic objects have been identified. However, many mysteries about pulsars remain, including their diverse range of behaviors and the nature of stars that form them.

New data from Chandra are helping address some of those questions. A team of astronomers has confirmed that the supernova remnant Kes 75, located about 19,000 light years from Earth, contains the youngest known pulsar in the Milky Way galaxy.

The rapid rotation and strong magnetic field of the pulsar have generated a wind of energetic matter and antimatter particles that flow away from the pulsar at near the speed of light . This pulsar wind has created a large, magnetized bubble of high-energy particles called a pulsar wind nebula, seen as the blue region surrounding the pulsar.

In this composite image of Kes 75, high-energy X-rays observed by Chandra are colored blue and highlight the pulsar wind nebula surrounding the pulsar, while lower-energy X-rays appear purple and show the debris from the explosion. A Sloan Digital Sky Survey optical image reveals stars in the field.

The Chandra data taken in 2000, 2006, 2009, and 2016 show changes in the pulsar wind nebula with time. Between 2000 and 2016, the Chandra observations reveal that the outer edge of the pulsar wind nebula is expanding at a remarkable 1 million meters per second, or over 2 million miles per hour.

This high speed may be due to the pulsar wind nebula expanding into a relatively low-density environment. Specifically, astronomers suggest it is expanding into a gaseous bubble blown by radioactive nickel formed in the explosion and ejected as the star exploded. This nickel also powered the supernova light, as it decayed into diffuse iron gas that filled the bubble. If so, this gives astronomers insight into the very heart of the exploding star and the elements it created.

The expansion rate also tells astronomers that Kes 75 exploded about five centuries ago as seen from Earth. (The object is some 19,000 light years away, but astronomers refer to when its light would have arrived at Earth.) Unlike other supernova remnants from this era such as Tycho and Kepler, there is no known evidence from historical records that the explosion that created Kes 75 was observed.

Chandra X-ray Observatory. Animation Credits: NASA/CXC

Why wasn't Kes 75 seen from Earth? The Chandra observations along with previous ones from other telescopes indicate that the interstellar dust and gas that fill our Galaxy are very dense in the direction of the doomed star. This would have rendered it too dim to be seen from Earth several centuries ago.

The brightness of the pulsar wind nebula has decreased by 10% from 2000 to 2016, mainly concentrated in the northern area, with a 30% decrease in a bright knot. The rapid changes observed in the Kes 75 pulsar wind nebula, as well as its unusual structure, point to the need for more sophisticated models of the evolution of pulsar wind nebulas.

A paper describing these results appeared in The Astrophysical Journal and is available online. The authors are Stephen Reynolds, Kazimierz Borokowski, and Peter Gwynne from North Carolina State University. NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, manages the Chandra program for NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington. The Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory in Cambridge, Massachusetts, controls Chandra's science and flight operations.

The Astrophysical Journal: https://arxiv.org/abs/1803.09128

Chandra X-Ray Observatory: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/chandra/main/index.html

Read more from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory: http://chandra.si.edu/photo/2018/kes75/

For more Chandra images, multimedia and related materials, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/chandra

Animation (mentioned), Image Credits: X-ray: NASA/CXC/NCSU/S. Reynolds; Optical: PanSTARRS/Text Credits: NASA/Lee Mohon.

Greetings, Orbiter.ch

NASA Calls for Instruments, Technologies for Delivery to the Moon












NASA logo.

Oct. 18, 2018

NASA has announced a call for Lunar Surface Instrument and Technology Payloads that will fly to the Moon on commercial lunar landers as early as next year or 2020. The agency is working with U.S. industry and international partners to expand human exploration from the Moon to Mars. It all starts with robotic missions on the lunar surface, as well as a Gateway for astronauts in space orbiting the Moon.

Moon

NASA is preparing to purchase commercial lunar payload delivery services for small payloads, and develop lunar landers for large payloads, to conduct more research on the Moon’s surface ahead of a human return. The agency is seeking investigations that advance capabilities for science, exploration, or commercial development of the Moon. This call is specifically geared towards small payloads that can be ready for early commercial flights. Future calls for lunar payloads will occur at regular intervals for later missions, with the next call released in approximately one year.
“We are looking for ways to not only conduct lunar science but to also use the Moon as a science platform to look back at the Earth, observe the Sun, or view the vast Universe,” said Steve Clarke, Deputy Associate Administrator for Exploration in the Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington. “In terms of technology, we are interested in those instruments or systems that will help future missions—both human and robotic—explore the Moon and feed forward to future Mars missions.”

On early missions, science instruments will likely gather data related to heat flow within the Moon’s interior, solar wind and atmosphere as well as dust detection. Lander payloads could also conduct technology demonstrations, using the Moon as a technology testbed for Mars.

“The strategy is that these early missions will help us prepare for more complex future missions such as searching for useable resources, building up a seismic network to understand the Moon’s internal structure, and studying the lunar mineralogy and chemistry to understand the Moon’s origins,” Clarke said.  “NASA is also looking forward to supporting U.S. industry efforts to provide more commercial exploration services for multiple customers, including NASA.”

The agency requests payloads be ready for delivery and integration into lunar landers no later than December 2021. In most cases, payloads will be delivered in place and remain under the principal investigator’s control until they are selected for a specific flight.

The call for payloads falls under the Research Opportunities in Space and Earth Science (ROSES) funding program and requests proposals for principal investigator-led science instrument and technology investigations. The initial proposal deadline is November 19, 2018.

Apollo 17

The United States has not soft-landed on the Moon since Apollo 17 in 1972. The Moon has scientific value and the potential to yield resources, such as water and oxygen, in relatively close proximity to Earth to help sustain deep space exploration.

For more information on the call for proposals, please go to:
https://nspires.nasaprs.com/external/solicitations/summary!init.do?solId={2D390C4D-39F9-E880-34C8-C07DC523698E}&path=open

For more information on NASA’s Exploration program, please go to:
https://www.nasa.gov/topics/moon-to-mars

Related links:

Moon to Mars: https://www.nasa.gov/feature/nasa-outlines-new-lunar-science-human-exploration-missions

Lunar Orbital Platform-Gateway: https://www.nasa.gov/topics/moon-to-mars/lunar-outpost

Lunar payload delivery services: https://www.nasa.gov/feature/nasa-commercial-partners-key-to-sustainable-moon-presence

Image, Animation, Text, Credits:  NASA/Tricia Talbert.

Greetings, Orbiter.ch

mercredi 17 octobre 2018

Three Station Crew Explores Space Science After Hague Interview













ISS - Expedition 57 Mission patch.

October 17, 2018

The three Expedition 57 crew members living aboard the International Space Station today explored a variety of phenomena impacted by exposure to microgravity. In Houston, NASA astronaut Nick Hague talked about his Soyuz contingency landing after last week’s failed ascent to orbit.

Flight Engineer Serena Auñón-Chancellor started Wednesday morning relocating samples collected from biology experiments into a Kibo lab module science freezer. The NASA astronaut then spent the rest of the day researching how to grow protein crystals real-time on the space station.


Image above: The three Expedition 57 crew members are gathered inside the cupola, the International Space Station’s “window to the world,” for a portrait wearing t-shirts displaying their home in space. From left are Sergey Prokopyev of Roscosmos, Serena Auñón-Chancellor of NASA and Alexander Gerst of ESA (European Space Agency). The space station was orbiting nearly 253 miles above the Solomon Islands in the South Pacific Ocean. Image Credit: NASA.

The commander, Alexander Gerst of ESA (European Space Agency), put on his plumber’s cap in the morning for maintenance on the orbital lab’s toilet. The German astronaut then spent the afternoon working on gear inside the Destiny lab module before updating a warning procedures book.

In the Russian segment of the orbital lab, cosmonaut Sergey Prokopyev split his time between physics and human research. The flight engineer started the day exploring how forces such as exercising or spacecraft dockings impact the station’s structure. He then participated in a study observing interactions between a space crew and Mission Control in Moscow.

Uncrewed Japanese Vehicle Delivers Supplies to the Space Station

Image above: Viewed from a window inside the cupola, the International Space Station's "window to the world," the Japanese Exploration Agency's H-II Transfer Vehicle-7 rendezvoused with the orbital complex after launching from the Tanegashima Space Center. At the time this image was taken on Oct. 11, 2018, the station was flying at an altitude of about 257 miles off the coast of Canada above the Gulf of St. Lawrence. Image Credit: NASA.

Finally, Hague talked to reporters and answered social media questions on Monday in Houston about his aborted mission to the station. The interviews and question and answer session was broadcast live on NASA TV and Facebook Live. The replay can also be seen on YouTube: https://youtu.be/pO8Mtq5eT2w

Related links:

Expedition 57: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/expeditions/expedition57/index.html

Grow protein crystals real-time: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/explorer/Investigation.html?#id=7729

Forces: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/explorer/Investigation.html?#id=467

Facebook Live: https://www.facebook.com/ISS/videos/484598135399989/

Space Station Research and Technology: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/index.html

International Space Station (ISS): https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/main/index.html

Images (mentioned), Text, Credits: NASA/Mark Garcia/Yvette Smith.

Best regards, Orbiter.ch

Magnetic Fields May Be the Key to Black Hole Activity













NASA & DLR - SOFIA Mission patch.

Oct. 17, 2018


Parallel jets provide astronomers with some of the most powerful evidence that a supermassive black hole lurks in the heart of most galaxies. Some of these black holes appear to be active, gobbling up material from their surroundings and launching jets at ultra-high speeds, while others are quiescent, even dormant.

Recent observations from SOFIA, the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy, are shedding light on this question. SOFIA data indicate that magnetic fields are trapping and confining dust near the center of the active galaxy, Cygnus A, and feeding material onto the supermassive black hole at its center.

This artist’s conception of the core of Cygnus A shows the dusty donut-shaped surroundings, called a torus, and jets launching from its center. Magnetic fields are illustrated trapping the dust in the torus. These magnetic fields could be helping power the black hole hidden in the galaxy’s core by confining the dust in the torus and keeping it close enough to be gobbled up by the hungry black hole.

SOFIA: http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/SOFIA/index.html

Image, Text, Credits: NASA/Yvette Smith/SOFIA/Lynette Cook.

Greetings, Orbiter.ch

Largest Galaxy Proto-Supercluster Found













ESO - European Southern Observatory logo.

17 October 2018

Astronomers using ESO’s Very Large Telescope uncover a cosmic titan lurking in the early Universe

The Hyperion Proto-Supercluster

An international team of astronomers using the VIMOS instrument of ESO’s Very Large Telescope have uncovered a titanic structure in the early Universe. This galaxy proto-supercluster — which they nickname Hyperion — was unveiled by new measurements and a complex examination of archive data. This is the largest and most massive structure yet found at such a remote time and distance — merely 2 billion years after the Big Bang.

A team of astronomers, led by Olga Cucciati of Istituto Nazionale di Astrofisica (INAF) Bologna, have used the VIMOS instrument on ESO’s Very Large Telescope (VLT) to identify a gigantic proto-supercluster of galaxies forming in the early Universe, just 2.3 billion years after the Big Bang. This structure, which the researchers nicknamed Hyperion, is the largest and most massive structure to be found so early in the formation of the Universe [1]. The enormous mass of the proto-supercluster is calculated to be more than one million billion times that of the Sun. This titanic mass is similar to that of the largest structures observed in the Universe today, but finding such a massive object in the early Universe surprised astronomers.

Comparison of the Hyperion Proto-Supercluster and a standard massive galaxy cluster

“This is the first time that such a large structure has been identified at such a high redshift, just over 2 billion years after the Big Bang,” explained the first author of the discovery paper, Olga Cucciati [2]. “Normally these kinds of structures are known at lower redshifts, which means when the Universe has had much more time to evolve and construct such huge things. It was a surprise to see something this evolved when the Universe was relatively young!”

Located in the COSMOS field in the constellation of Sextans (The Sextant), Hyperion was identified by analysing the vast amount of data obtained from the VIMOS Ultra-deep Survey led by Olivier Le Fèvre (Aix-Marseille Université, CNRS, CNES). The VIMOS Ultra-Deep Survey provides an unprecedented 3D map of the distribution of over 10 000 galaxies in the distant Universe.

Wide-field view of the COSMOS field

The team found that Hyperion has a very complex structure, containing at least 7 high-density regions connected by filaments of galaxies, and its size is comparable to nearby superclusters, though it has a very different structure.

“Superclusters closer to Earth tend to a much more concentrated distribution of mass with clear structural features,” explains Brian Lemaux, an astronomer from University of California, Davis and LAM, and a co-leader of the team behind this result. “But in Hyperion, the mass is distributed much more uniformly in a series of connected blobs, populated by loose associations of galaxies.”

This contrast is most likely due to the fact that nearby superclusters have had billions of years for gravity to gather matter together into denser regions — a process that has been acting for far less time in the much younger Hyperion.

The Hyperion Proto-Supercluster

Given its size so early in the history of the Universe, Hyperion is expected to evolve into something similar to the immense structures in the local Universe such as the superclusters making up the Sloan Great Wall or the Virgo Supercluster that contains our own galaxy, the Milky Way. “Understanding Hyperion and how it compares to similar recent structures can give insights into how the Universe developed in the past and will evolve into the future, and allows us the opportunity to challenge some models of supercluster formation,” concluded Cucciati. “Unearthing this cosmic titan helps uncover the history of these large-scale structures.”

Notes:

[1] The moniker Hyperion was chosen after a Titan from Greek mythology, due to the immense size and mass of the proto-supercluster. The inspiration for this mythological nomenclature comes from a previously discovered proto-cluster found within Hyperion and named Colossus. The individual areas of high density in Hyperion have been assigned mythological names, such as Theia, Eos, Selene and Helios, the latter being depicted in the ancient statue of the Colossus of Rhodes.

The titanic mass of Hyperion, one million billion times that of the Sun, is 1015 solar masses in scientific notation.

[2] Light reaching Earth from extremely distant galaxies took a long time to travel, giving us a window into the past when the Universe was much younger. This wavelength of this light has been stretched by the expansion of the Universe over its journey, an effect known as cosmological redshift. More distant, older objects have a correspondingly larger redshift, leading astronomers to often use redshift and age interchangeably. Hyperion’s redshift of 2.45 means that astronomers observed the proto-supercluster as it was 2.3 billion years after the Big Bang.

More information:

This research is published in the paper “The progeny of a Cosmic Titan: a massive multi-component proto-supercluster in formation at z=2.45 in VUDS”, which will appear in the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics.

The team behind this result was composed of O. Cucciati (INAF-OAS Bologna, Italy), B. C. Lemaux (University of California, Davis, USA and LAM - Aix Marseille Université, CNRS, CNES, France), G. Zamorani (INAF-OAS Bologna, Italy), O.Le Fèvre (LAM - Aix Marseille Université, CNRS, CNES, France), L. A. M. Tasca (LAM - Aix Marseille Université, CNRS, CNES, France), N. P. Hathi (Space Telescope Science Institute, Baltimore, USA), K-G. Lee (Kavli IPMU (WPI), The University of Tokyo, Japan, & Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, USA), S. Bardelli (INAF-OAS Bologna, Italy), P. Cassata (University of Padova, Italy), B. Garilli (INAF–IASF Milano, Italy), V. Le Brun (LAM - Aix Marseille Université, CNRS, CNES, France), D. Maccagni (INAF–IASF Milano, Italy), L. Pentericci (INAF–Osservatorio Astronomico di Roma, Italy), R. Thomas (European Southern Observatory, Vitacura, Chile), E. Vanzella (INAF-OAS Bologna, Italy), E. Zucca (INAF-OAS Bologna, Italy), L. M. Lubin (University of California, Davis, USA), R. Amorin (Kavli Institute for Cosmology & Cavendish Laboratory, University of Cambridge, UK), L. P. Cassarà (INAF–IASF Milano, Italy), A. Cimatti (University of Bologna & INAF-OAS Bologna, Italy), M. Talia (University of Bologna, Italy), D. Vergani (INAF-OAS Bologna, Italy), A. Koekemoer (Space Telescope Science Institute, Baltimore, USA), J. Pforr (ESA ESTEC, the Netherlands), and M. Salvato (Max-Planck-Institut für Extraterrestrische Physik, Garching bei München, Germany)

ESO is the foremost intergovernmental astronomy organisation in Europe and the world’s most productive ground-based astronomical observatory by far. It has 16 Member States: Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Finland, Germany, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom, along with the host state of Chile and with Australia as a strategic partner. ESO carries out an ambitious programme focused on the design, construction and operation of powerful ground-based observing facilities enabling astronomers to make important scientific discoveries. ESO also plays a leading role in promoting and organising cooperation in astronomical research. ESO operates three unique world-class observing sites in Chile: La Silla, Paranal and Chajnantor. At Paranal, ESO operates the Very Large Telescope and its world-leading Very Large Telescope Interferometer as well as two survey telescopes, VISTA working in the infrared and the visible-light VLT Survey Telescope. ESO is also a major partner in two facilities on Chajnantor, APEX and ALMA, the largest astronomical project in existence. And on Cerro Armazones, close to Paranal, ESO is building the 39-metre Extremely Large Telescope, the ELT, which will become “the world’s biggest eye on the sky”.

Links:

ESOcast 179 Light: Largest Galaxy Proto-Supercluster Found: https://www.eso.org/public/videos/eso1833a/

Research paper: http://www.eso.org/public/archives/releases/sciencepapers/eso1833/eso1833a.pdf

The VIMOS Ultra Deep Survey description: http://www.eso.org/public/archives/releases/pdf/eso1833a.pdf

Images of the VLT: https://www.eso.org/public/images/archive/search/?adv=&subject_name=Very%20Large%20Telescope

ESO’s Very Large Telescope (VLT): https://www.eso.org/public/teles-instr/paranal-observatory/vlt/

Istituto Nazionale di Astrofisica (INAF): http://www.inaf.it/en

VIMOS Ultra-deep Survey: https://cesam.lam.fr/vuds/

Images, Text, Credits: ESO/L. Calçada & Olga Cucciati et al./Digitized Sky Survey 2. Acknowledgement: Davide De Martin/Video: ESO/L. Calçada & Olga Cucciati et al.

Greetings, Orbiter.ch

Installing life support the hands-free way

ESA & DLR - ISS Columbus Module patch.

17 October 2018

Last week saw the installation of ESA’s next-generation life-support system on the International Space Station. The new facility recycles carbon dioxide in the air into water that can then be converted into oxygen reducing supplies sent from Earth by half.

Installing the life support rack in NASA’s Destiny laboratory is no easy task as the facility is larger than a human being and weighs over 650 kg on Earth. In addition many cables and pipes need to be connected to the Station’s infrastructure – including a pipe that vents waste methane from the recycling process directly into space.

Hands on the life support system

ESA astronaut Alexander Gerst set up the air and water drawer of the facility, including part of the Sabatier reactor on 10 September but was given an extra helping hand from ground control with an operational aid called the ‘mobile procedure viewer’ or mobiPV.

Usually an astronaut would have a computer nearby with step-by-step instructions to follow, but anybody who has tried repairing their car or even assembling furniture will agree this way of working has room for improvement – laying down tools to consult instructions is time-consuming and interrupts the work flow.

ESA’s solution to this problem sees astronauts wearing a smartphone on their wrist that connects to the Space Station’s procedure library and shows the instructions on-screen. Alexander could concentrate on the work at hand, without going back and forth to the computer.

A helping hand

Three sites in Germany were all connected and had full awareness of the installation as Alexander progressed step-by-step: the Columbus Control Centre near Munich, the European Astronaut Centre near Cologne and the facilities’ manufacturer Airbus in Friedrichshafen.

The mobile procedure viewer might seem simple but space operations allow little room for error and overcome technological challenges.

As the Space Station orbits Earth it loses radio contact for periods of up to eight minutes at a time. Alexander continued working during the periodic loss of signal but once communications were reestablished, mobiPV automatically and quickly brought all four teams up to speed.

Installing Advanced Close Loop System

Alexander worked efficiently with support from experts on ground throughout installation commenting during the experiment: “Great work to the whole development team. I did the whole procedure off mobiPV and it worked even better than I expected.”

David Martínez, lead ESA engineer for MobiPV comments "It was a great day to see our product work so well to help an astronaut install such complex hardware in space, making his life easier and also doing our part for future exploration."

As humans venture farther from Earth such as to a lunar gateway, life-support and communication with ground control will only become more challenging but last week’s operations on the Space Station are paving the way for exploration of our Solar System where greater autonomy and hands-free operations are important for planetary operations

Related links:

Human Spaceflight: http://www.esa.int/Our_Activities/Human_Spaceflight

Experiment archive: http://eea.spaceflight.esa.int/

European space laboratory Columbus: http://www.esa.int/Our_Activities/Human_Spaceflight/Columbus

International Space Station Benefits for Humanity: http://www.esa.int/Our_Activities/Human_Spaceflight/International_Space_Station_Benefits_for_Humanity

Images, Text, Credits: ESA/NASA.

Best regards, Orbiter.ch

United Launch Alliance Successfully Launches AEHF-4 Mission




















ULA - Atlas V / AEHF-4 Mission poster.

Oct. 17, 2018


Image above: Atlas V rocket carrying the fourth Advanced Extremely High Frequency (AEHF) mission launch.

A United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket carrying the fourth Advanced Extremely High Frequency (AEHF) mission for the U.S. Air Force lifted off from Space Launch Complex-41 on Oct. 17 at 12:15 a.m. EDT. The launch of AEHF-4 marks ULA’s 50th launch for the U.S. Air Force; ULA’s first Air Force mission was Space Test Program-1 (STP-1), launched March 8, 2007.

Atlas V AEHF-4 Launch Highlights

“ULA’s unparalleled record of successfully launching and placing payloads in orbit signifies our profound commitment to national defense,” said Tory Bruno, ULA president and CEO. “We remain the only launch provider capable of placing our customers’ payloads into any national security space orbit, anytime, which we’ve proudly exhibited through 50 launches for the U.S. Air Force.”

“Over the past 12 years, the men and women of ULA have reliably delivered dozens of Air Force payloads into orbit from GPS to WGS, and SBIRS to AEHF,” said Gen. Jay Raymond, commander of Air Force Space Command. “ULA’s unprecedented 100 percent launch success has directly contributed to our national security. Congratulations to the entire launch team on a successful 50th launch for the U.S. Air Force.”

AEHF-4 satellite

This mission launched aboard an Atlas V Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) 551 configuration vehicle, which includes a 5-meter large Payload Fairing (PLF) and stands at 197 ft. tall.

Producing more than two and a half million pounds of thrust at liftoff, the Atlas V 551 configuration rocket is the most powerful in the Atlas V fleet. The 551 rocket has launched groundbreaking missions for our nation—from the critically important Mobile User Objective System (MUOS) constellation to historic science missions including New Horizons, the first mission to Pluto, and the Juno mission to Jupiter.

The AEHF system, developed by Lockheed Martin, provides vastly improved global, survivable, protected communications capabilities for strategic command and tactical warfighters.

“Today’s launch exemplifies ULA’s ongoing commitment to 100 percent mission success,” said Gary Wentz, ULA vice president of Government and Commercial Programs.”My sincere thanks to the entire ULA team and our mission partners who made this, our 50th launch for the U.S. Air Force, possible.”

AEHF-4 is ULA’s eighth launch in 2018 and 131st successful launch since the company was formed in December 2006.

ULA's next launch is the NROL-71 mission for the National Reconnaisance Office on a Delta IV Heavy rocket. The launch is scheduled for Nov. 29 from Space Launch Complex-6 at Vandenberg Air Force Base, California.

With more than a century of combined heritage, ULA is the world’s most experienced and reliable launch service provider. ULA has successfully delivered more than 130 satellites to orbit that provide Earth observation capabilities, enable global communications, unlock the mysteries of our solar system, and support life-saving technology.

For more information on ULA, visit the ULA website at https://www.ulalaunch.com/home

Images, Video, Text, Credits: United Launch Alliance (ULA)/CSC/USAF..

Greetings, Orbiter.ch

mardi 16 octobre 2018

Counting Down to ICON's Launch








NASA - Ionospheric Connection Explorer (ICON) logo.

Oct. 16, 2018

In October 2018, we're launching the Ionospheric Connection Explorer, or ICON, to study Earth's dynamic interface to space. Its combination of remote and in situ measurements will help scientists better understand this region — and how it changes in response to both space weather from above and terrestrial weather from below, a dynamic mix that can affect our communications, satellites and astronauts.

10-mile-per-hour sensitivity

Though the ICON spacecraft zooms around Earth at upwards of 14,000 miles per hour, its wind-measuring instrument MIGHTI can detect changes in wind speed smaller than 10 miles per hour. MIGHTI makes use of the Doppler effect — the same phenomenon that makes an ambulance siren change pitch as it passes you — and measures the tiny shifts in color caused by the motion of glowing gases in the upper atmosphere, which reveals their speed and direction.

97-minute orbital period

ICON circles Earth in just over an hour and a half, completing nearly 15 orbits per day. Its orbit is inclined by 27 degrees, so over time, its measurements will completely cover its zone of interest near the equator.


Animation above: Visualization of ICON's orbit. Animation Credits: NASA's Scientific Visualization Studio.

8 1/3-foot solar panel

ICON doesn't carry any onboard fuel. Instead, its single solar panel — measuring about 100 inches long and 33 inches wide, a little bit bigger than a standard door — produces power for the spacecraft. In science mode, ICON draws about 209-265 Watts of power.

7 years of teamwork

The idea for ICON was selected for further study in 2011, and the team has been hard at work ever since.

ICON - Ionospheric Connection Explorer. Image Credit: NASA

634 pounds

How much does good science weigh? In ICON's case, about as much as vending machine. The observatory weighs 634 pounds altogether.

5 snapshots per minute from FUV

Because ICON travels so fast, its Far Ultraviolet instrument takes eight snapshots per second of passing structures. This avoids blurring the images and captures the fine detail scientists need. But ICON's bandwidth only allows FUV to send 5 images per minute, so the instrument uses a de-blurring technique called time-delay integration to combine 12 seconds' worth of data into a single image.

4 types of instruments collecting data in tandem

ICON carries four distinct instruments to study Earth's boundary to space.

- 2 MIGHTIs (Michelson Interferometer for Global High-resolution Thermospheric Imaging): Built by the Naval Research Laboratory in Washington, D.C., to observe the temperature and speed of the neutral atmosphere. There are two identical MIGHTI instruments onboard ICON.
    
- 2 IVMs (Ion Velocity Meter): Built by the University of Texas at Dallas to observe the speed of the charged particle motions, in response to the push of the high-altitude winds and the electric fields they generate. ICON carries two, and they are the missions only in situ instruments. 
    
- EUV (Extreme Ultra-Violet instrument): Built by the University of California at Berkeley to captures images of oxygen glowing in the upper atmosphere, in order to measure the height and density of the daytime ionosphere.
    
- FUV (Far Ultra-Violet instrument): Built by UC Berkeley to capture images of the upper atmosphere in the far ultraviolet light range. At night, FUV measures the density of the ionosphere, tracking how it responds to weather in the lower atmosphere. During the day, FUV measures changes in the chemistry of the upper atmosphere — the source for the charged gases found higher up in space.

360 miles above Earth

ICON orbits about 360 miles above Earth, near the upper reaches of the ionosphere — the region of Earth's atmosphere populated by electrically-charged particles. From this vantage point, ICON combines remote measurements looking down along with direct measurements of the material flowing around it to connect changes throughout this region.


Image above: NASA's ICON mission will orbit above the upper atmosphere, through the bottom edge of near-Earth space. Here it will be able to observe how interactions between terrestrial weather and a layer of charged particles called the ionosphere creates changes in the space environment — including bright swaths of color in the atmosphere called airglow. Image Credits: NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center/ICON.

2 missions working together

NASA's GOLD mission — short for Global-scale Observations of the Limb and Disk — launched aboard a commercial communications satellite on Jan. 25, 2018. From its vantage point in geostationary orbit over Brazil, GOLD gets a full-disk view of the same region of space that ICON studies, helping scientists connect the big picture with the details.

1 gigabit of data per day

Together, ICON's instruments produce and downlink about 1 gigabit of data per day — about 125 megabytes. This adds up to about 1 gigabyte per week. ICON produces 10 different data products, ranging from measurements of wind speeds and ionospheric density to more complex models, that will help scientists shed new light on this ever-changing region.

ICON (Ionospheric Connection Explorer): http://www.nasa.gov/icon

Animation (mentioned), Images (mentioned), Text, Credits: NASA/Rob Garner/Goddard Space Flight Center, by Sarah Frazier.

Greetings, Orbiter.ch

Scientists to Debate Landing Site for Next Mars Rover













NASA - Mars Rover 2020 logo.

Oct. 16, 2018


Image above: This artist's rendition depicts NASA's Mars 2020 rover studying a Mars rock outrcrop. Image Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech.

Hundreds of scientists and Mars-exploration enthusiasts will convene in a hotel ballroom just north of Los Angeles later this week to present, discuss and deliberate the future landing site for NASA's next Red Planet rover – Mars 2020. The three-day workshop is the fourth and final in a series designed to ensure NASA receives the broadest range of data and opinion from the scientific community before the agency chooses where to send the new rover.

The Mars 2020 mission is tasked with not only seeking signs of habitable conditions on Mars in the ancient past, but also searching for signs of past microbial life. The landing site for Mars 2020 is of great interest to the planetary community because, among the rover's new medley of science gear for surface exploration, it carries a sample system that will collect rock and soil samples and set them aside in a "cache" on the surface of Mars. A future mission could potentially return these samples to Earth. The next Mars landing, after Mars 2020, could very well be a vehicle that would retrieve these Mars 2020 samples.

Mars in a Minute: How do you choose a landing site?

Video above: So, you want to study Mars with a lander or rover – but where exactly do you send it? Learn how scientists and engineers tackle the question of where to land on Mars in this 60-second video and by visiting mars.nasa.gov. Video Credits: NASA/JPL.

"The Mars 2020 landing site could set the stage for Mars exploration for the next decade," said Thomas Zurbuchen, Associate Administrator of the Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington. "I'm looking forward to the spirited debate and critical input from the science and engineering community. Whichever landing site is ultimately chosen, it may hold the very first batch of Mars soil that humans touch."

The workshop begins with an opening address by the lead scientist for NASA's Mars Exploration Program, Michael Meyer. After project status, engineering constraints, and site-assessment criteria are discussed come the presentations. Fair warning: Expect plenty of technical jargon as terms like biosignatures, geochemical conditions, impact deformation, biogenetic potential, olivine lithologies, and serpentinization and its astrobiological potential roll off presenters' tongues.

"We have been doing these workshops in support of 2020 landing site selection since 2014," said Matt Golombek, cochair of the Mars Landing Site Steering Committee from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. "At our first workshop, we started with about 30 candidate landing sites, and after additional orbital imaging and a second landing site workshop, we had a recommendation of eight sites to move forward for further evaluation. There were so many great locations to choose from, the whittling-down process was tough. This time around, with four finalists, it promises to be even more difficult. Each site has its own intriguing science potential and knowledgeable advocates."

Champions for four landing options will take their turn at the podium, presenting and defending their favorite parcel on the Red Planet. It is one more site than was expected after the completion of the third workshop, in 2017, where three locations on Mars were recommended for consideration – Columbia Hills, Jezero Crater and Northeast Syrtis.

"At the end of the workshop in February of 2017, there were only three sites on our radar as potential Mars 2020 landing locations," said Ken Farley, project scientist of Mars 2020 at JPL. "But in the ensuing months, a proposal came forward for a landing site that is in between Jezero and Northeast Syrtis. Our goal is to get to the right site that provides the maximum science for Mars 2020, and this new site – dubbed 'Midway' – was viewed as worthy of being included in the discussions."

On the final day, after all presentations have concluded, workshop participants will weigh the positives and negatives of each site. The results of these deliberations will be provided to the Mars 2020 Project, which will incorporate them into a recommendation to NASA Headquarters in Washington, where final selection will be made. The announcement of the Mars 2020 landing site is expected to come by the end of the year.

"I have attended all the workshops so far, and none have disappointed when it comes to intelligent advocation and lively debate," said Farley. "But this is what science is all about – the cogent and respectable exchange of ideas. The passion of the participants shows just how much they care about Mars exploration. They know they are playing a key role in the process, and they know how important the landing site for Mars 2020 will be."

Mars 2020 will launch on a United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket from Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida in July 2020. It is expected to reach Mars in February 2021.

The rover will conduct geological assessments of its landing site on Mars, determine the habitability of the environment, search for signs of ancient Martian life, and assess natural resources and hazards for future human explorers. Scientists will use the instruments aboard the rover to identify and collect samples of rock and soil, encase them in sealed tubes and leave them on the planet's surface for potential return to Earth on a future Mars mission.

The Mars 2020 Project at JPL in Pasadena, California, manages rover development for the Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington. NASA's Launch Services Program, based at the agency's Kennedy Space Center in Florida, is responsible for launch management.

For more information on the workshop, go to: https://marsnext.jpl.nasa.gov/workshops/wkshp_2018_10.cfm

For information on how to listen in to workshop presentations, go to: https://ac.arc.nasa.gov/landing-site-workshop/

For more information on Mars 2020, go to: https://mars.nasa.gov/mars2020/

For more information about NASA's Mars missions, go to: https://mars.nasa.gov

Image (mentioned), Video (mentioned), Text, Credits: NASA/Jon Nelson/JPL/DC Agle.

Best regards, Orbiter.ch

CASC - BeiDou-3M satellites launch Success

BeiDou Navigation Satellite System logo.

Oct. 16, 2018

Long March 3B carrying Beidou-3M13 and Beidou-3M14 launch. Image Credit: CASC/Xinchua

A Long March-3B rocket launched another pair of BeiDou-3 navigation satellites from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center, Sichuan Province, southwest China, on 15 October 2018, at 04:23 UTC (12:23 local time). 
BeiDou-3M satellites launch- 15 October 2018

According to official sources, the two satellites, BeiDou-3 MEO-15 (M15) and BeiDou-3 MEO-16 (M16) entered the scheduled orbit after more than three hours. 

Artist's view of a BeiDou-3 satellite by J. Huart

The satellites are the 39th and 40th in the BeiDou Navigation Satellite System, respectively the 15th and 16th for the BeiDou-3 system. So far, China has launched a total of 40 Beidou satellites, and 11 more will be launched in the next two years, in an effort to complete the global navigation network into Medium Earth Orbit.

The Chinese Navigation Constellation. Image Credit: Beidou

Related article:

Long March 3B launches Beidou satellites:
https://orbiterchspacenews.blogspot.com/2018/08/long-march-3b-launches-beidou-satellites.html

For more information about Beidou navigation system: http://www.beidou.gov.cn/

For more information about China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC): http://english.spacechina.com/n16421/index.html

Images (mentioned), Video, Text, Credits: CASC/SciNews.

Greetings, Orbiter.ch

lundi 15 octobre 2018

Space Station Science Highlights: Week of Oct 8, 2018













ISS - Expedition 57 Mission patch.

Oct. 15, 2018

Last week’s departure of Expedition 56 astronauts marked the start of Expedition 57 and a new commander of the International Space Station, Alexander Gerst of the European Space Agency. Current crew members also include NASA astronauts Serena Auñón-Chancellor and Russian cosmonaut Sergey Prokopyev.

The Soyuz MS-10 spacecraft carrying Nick Hague of NASA and Alexey Ovchinin of the Russian space agency Roscosmos launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 3:40 a.m. CDT on Thursday. Shortly after launch, an anomaly with the booster resulted in an abort of the ascent to orbit and a ballistic landing of the spacecraft in Kazakhstan. Hague and Ovchinin were recovered from the capsule and are in good condition. Crew aboard the station were informed and continue to operate the station and conduct important scientific research.


Image above: NASA astronaut Nick Hague and Alexey Ovchinin of Roscomos launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 3:40 a.m. CDT on Thursday. Shortly after launch, an anomaly with the booster resulted in an abort of the ascent to orbit and a ballistic landing of the spacecraft in Kazakhstan. Both are in good condition. Image Credit: NASA.

Research last week included investigations related to human health and performance, and growing better protein crystals.

Advancing DNA and RNA sequencing in space continues

Crew members conducted operations with the Biomolecule Sequencer for the BEST investigation. This study seeks to advance use of DNA and RNA sequencing in space, using sequencing to identify microbial organisms living on the space station and to help determine how humans, plants and microbes adapt to life there.


Image above: The Biomolecule Extraction and Sequencing Technology (BEST) biomolecule sequencer floats in the International Space Station above a view of Earth. Image Credit: NASA.

Samples collected for ongoing look at effects of spaceflight

For the Biochemical Profile investigation, a crew member collected blood and urine samples at 120 days into spaceflight. The investigation tests blood and urine samples before, during, and after spaceflight to analyze biomarkers, or specific proteins and chemicals in the samples used as indicators of health. Scientists can use a database of post-flight analysis of samples and test results to study the effects of spaceflight on the human body.

A cooler way to create crystals

The crew prepared JAXA LT PCG samples and placed them in the Stirling-Cycle Refrigerator (FROST) to begin the process of producing high-quality protein crystals in microgravity at low temperatures. This new technique contributes to the development of new drugs by revealing disease-related protein structure, and to the production of new catalysts for the environmental and energy industries.


Animation above: The JAXA LT PCG investigation grows high quality protein crystals in microgravity to determine protein structures in detail. Last week, crew members prepared the samples and placed them in the FROST facility aboard the station. Animation Credit: NASA.

And a closer look at crystal formation

Also last week, crew members reconfigured the Fluids Integrated Rack (FIR) Light Microscopy Module (LMM) Biophysics facility for the LMM Biophysics 4 investigation. Proteins are important biological molecules that, when crystallized, provide better views of their structure that help scientists understand how they work. Proteins crystallized in microgravity are often higher in quality than those grown on Earth, and LMM Biophysics 4 examines the movement of single protein molecules in microgravity in order to determine why this is so.

International Space Station (ISS). Animation Credit: NASA

Other work was done on these investigations:

- Food Acceptability examines changes in how food appeals to crew members during their time aboard the station. Acceptability of food – whether crew members like and actually eat something – may directly affect crew caloric intake and associated nutritional benefits: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/explorer/Investigation.html?#id=7562

- Sextant Navigation tests a hand-held sextant instrument that could provide emergency navigation for future manned spacecraft: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/news/Sextant_ISS

- BCAT-CS studies dynamic forces between sediment particles that cluster together: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/explorer/Investigation.html?#id=7668

- The Life Sciences Glovebox (LSG) is a sealed work area that accommodates life science and technology investigations in a workbench-type environment. Due to its larger size, two crew members can work in the LSG simultaneously: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/explorer/Facility.html?#id=7676

- Meteor is a visible spectroscopy instrument used to observe meteors in Earth orbit: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/explorer/Investigation.html?#id=1174

- ACME E-FIELD Flames studies the stability and sooting behavior of flames in microgravity to support development of less polluting and more efficient combustion technology for use on Earth: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/explorer/Investigation.html?#id=2058

Related articles:

Crew in Good Condition After Booster Failure:
https://orbiterchspacenews.blogspot.com/2018/10/crew-in-good-condition-after-booster.html

Soyuz MS-10 - Emergency landing after a failure:
https://orbiterchspacenews.blogspot.com/2018/10/soyuz-ms-10-emergency-landing-after.html

Related links:

Expedition 57: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/expeditions/expedition57/index.html

BEST: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/explorer/Investigation.html?#id=7687

Biochemical Profile: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/explorer/Investigation.html?#id=980

JAXA LT PCG: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/explorer/Investigation.html?#id=2031

LMM Biophysics 4: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/explorer/Investigation.html?#id=7741

Spot the Station: https://spotthestation.nasa.gov/

Space Station Research and Technology: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/index.html

International Space Station (ISS): https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/main/index.html

Images (mentioned), Animations (mentioned), Text, Credits: NASA/Michael Johnson/Vic Cooley, Lead Increment Scientist Expeditions 57/58.

Best regards, Orbiter.ch