mercredi 26 juin 2019

CERN - LS2 Report: 2000 kilometres of cable

CERN - European Organization for Nuclear Research logo.

25 June, 2019

Image above: During LS2, 20 000 optical fibres contained within 220 cables lie at the heart of the ALICE experiment (Image: CERN).

Some 40 000 cables will be installed or removed at CERN during LS2. Laid end to end, they would stretch for 2000 kilometres!

The work involves two types of cable: copper cables, which transmit signals to the accelerator systems and supply the magnets, and fibre-optic cables, which transmit data in the form of light signals. The latter weave through all of CERN’s installations, from Meyrin to Prévessin, including the accelerator tunnels, experiments and technical halls, like an enormous spider’s web.

“Optical fibres and copper cables transmit all the information collected or sent by the detectors, beam instrumentation, sensors, control panels, computing infrastructure, and so on,” explains Daniel Ricci, the leader of the section in charge of cabling (EN-EL-FC) within the EN department. “Our work covers all of CERN’s service networks: optical fibres and copper cables are everywhere.”

Image above: Water-cooled cables in the LHC tunnel. These cables carry the current (up to 13 000 amperes) from the power converters to the power supplies (Image: CERN).

They are indeed, and in impressive quantities: for example, some 20 000 optical fibres contained within 220 cables lie at the heart of the ALICE experiment, and 1200 copper signal cables are being installed in the SPS in the framework of the Fire Safety project. The EN-EL-FC section is also contributing to other major CERN projects during LS2, including the LIU (LHC Injectors Upgrade), the renovation of the East Area, the renovation of the SPS access system, the commissioning of the ELENA extraction lines and the HL-LHC.

“CERN is probably the only place in the world where several thousand kilometres of radiation-resistant optical fibre are needed,” says Daniel Ricci. “We maintain very close ties with industry, where our expertise is used to adapt and improve this type of fibre.”

Of the 40 000 cables to be dealt with during LS2, 15 000 are obsolete copper cables that need to be removed. But first, they need to be identified. Since CERN was founded 65 years ago, some 450 000 cables have been installed, and many of them are still snaking through the nooks and crannies of the Laboratory. “Since LS1, we have been methodically going through all of CERN’s old paper cable databases, identifying each cable and listing it in our digital database,” explains Daniel Ricci. “Of the 95 000 cables to be retained, 50 000 have already been digitised.”

Image above: Many cables that are still needed for operations were pulled out of their cable trays in order to facilitate the removal of obsolete ones (here, in the SPS) (Image: CERN).

CERN’s biggest ever cable removal campaign has been under way since 2016. During the most recent year-end technical stops (YETS and EYETS), the Booster and middle ring of the PS were relieved of their old, obsolete cables. Cable removal is currently under way at points 3 and 5 of the SPS.

To complete this gargantuan task, the EN-EL-FC section, which usually comprises 20 people, has recruited some outside help. Sixteen extra people – fellows, project associates and members of other groups – are lending a hand during LS2. The contractors’ teams, which comprise several dozen technicians working on site, have also been reinforced in order to keep up with the breakneck pace of work during the long shutdown. “Coordination, planning and teamwork are indispensable if we are to successfully complete the 120 cabling and cable removal projects scheduled for LS2,” says Daniel Ricci. “We’re lucky to have a very versatile team who are able to advise clients on different types of cable, carry out technical studies, organise logistics and coordination between the various parties and supervise the worksites.”

No fewer than 140 members of the CERN personnel and contractors’ personnel are working on the various LS2 cabling and cable removal projects, collaborating with the end users to ensure that quality control is as efficient as possible. “We would like to thank all the teams and users for their professionalism and their commitment. They are working to an extremely high standard while scrupulously respecting both deadlines and safety,” says Daniel Ricci.


CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, is one of the world’s largest and most respected centres for scientific research. Its business is fundamental physics, finding out what the Universe is made of and how it works. At CERN, the world’s largest and most complex scientific instruments are used to study the basic constituents of matter — the fundamental particles. By studying what happens when these particles collide, physicists learn about the laws of Nature.

The instruments used at CERN are particle accelerators and detectors. Accelerators boost beams of particles to high energies before they are made to collide with each other or with stationary targets. Detectors observe and record the results of these collisions.

Founded in 1954, the CERN Laboratory sits astride the Franco–Swiss border near Geneva. It was one of Europe’s first joint ventures and now has 23 Member States.

Related links:

Long Shutdown 2 (LS2):

Fire Safety project:

LHC Injectors Upgrade (LIU):

SPS access system:



For more information about European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN), Visit:

Images (mentioned), Text, Credits: CERN/Anaïs Schaeffer.

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Station Trio Awaits New Crew 50 Years After Apollo 11 Moon Landing

ISS - Expedition 60 Mission patch.

June 26, 2019

Three humans are orbiting Earth today as the new Expedition 60 trio and are back on duty aboard the International Space Station. The Expedition 59 trio returned to Earth Monday and is re-adjusting to Earth gravity while another crew prepares for its launch at the end of July.

NASA astronauts Christina Koch and Nick Hague are back to work today, following a day off after sleep shifting to oversee the departure of three crewmates Monday. Cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin is in his second mission aboard the orbiting lab and took the mantle as station commander Sunday. The three orbital residents have been in space since March 14.

Image above: The full moon is pictured as the International Space Station orbited 254 miles above the Pacific Ocean northeast of Guam. Image Credit: NASA.

Koch split her day between filming herself in virtual reality with a 360-degree camera and working on U.S. spacesuit gear. Hague replaced life support hardware in Japan’s Kibo laboratory module. Ovchinin worked on science and plumbing activities in the station’s Russian segment.

Anne McClain of NASA flew back to Houston Tuesday night just one day after landing in Kazakhstan and completing a 204-day mission. Her Expedition 59 crewmates David Saint-Jacques and Oleg Kononenko have returned to their home space agencies in Canada and Russia. The crew will spend the next few weeks participating in a variety of tests and observations.

 International Space Station (ISS). Animation Credit: NASA

The next crew to launch to the station is due to blast off July 20, exactly 50 years after Neil Armstrong first stepped foot on the moon. NASA astronaut Andrew Morgan will join experienced space-flyers Luca Parmitano and Alexander Skvortsov on the six-hour ride aboard the Soyuz MS-13 crew ship to their new orbiting home.

Related article:

Expedition 59 Crewmates Return from Space Station Mission

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Expedition 60:

360-degree camera:

Kibo laboratory module:

Space Station Research and Technology:

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

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NASA Technology Missions Launched on SpaceX Falcon Heavy

NASA - Goddard Space Flight Center logo.

June 26, 2019

NASA technology demonstrations, which one day could help the agency get astronauts to Mars, and science missions, which will look at the space environment around Earth and how it affects us, have launched into space on a Falcon Heavy rocket.

The NASA missions - including the Deep Space Atomic Clock and two instruments from NASA'S Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California - lifted off at 11:30 p.m. PDT (2:30 a.m. EDT) Tuesday from NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida, as part of the Department of Defense's Space Test Program-2 (STP-2) launch.

Image above: A SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket carrying 24 satellites as part of the Department of Defense's Space Test Program-2 (STP-2) mission launches from Launch Complex 39A at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida Tuesday, June 25, 2019. The satellites include four NASA technology and science payloads that will study non-toxic spacecraft fuel, deep space navigation, "bubbles" in the electrically-charged layers of Earth's upper atmosphere, and radiation protection for satellites. Image Credits: NASA/Joel Kowsky.

"This launch was a true partnership across government and industry, and it marked an incredible first for the U.S. Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center," said Jim Reuter, associate administrator for NASA's Space Technology Mission Directorate. "The NASA missions aboard the Falcon Heavy also benefited from strong collaborations with industry, academia and other government organizations."

The missions, each with a unique set of objectives, will aid in smarter spacecraft design and benefit the agency's Moon to Mars exploration plans by providing greater insight into the effects of radiation in space and testing an atomic clock that could change how spacecraft navigate.

With launch and deployments complete, the missions will start to power on, communicate with Earth and collect data. They each will operate for about a year, providing enough time to mature the technologies and collect valuable science data. Below is more information about each mission, including notional timelines for key milestones.

Enhanced Tandem Beacon Experiment

Two NASA CubeSats making up the Enhanced Tandem Beacon Experiment (E-TBEx) deployed at 12:08 and 12:13 a.m. PDT (3:08 and 3:13 a.m. EDT). Working in tandem with NOAA's COSMIC-2 mission - six satellites that each carry a radio occultation (GPS) receiver developed at JPL - E-TBEx will explore bubbles in the electrically-charged layers of Earth's upper atmosphere, which can disrupt communications and GPS signals that we rely on every day. The CubeSats will send signals in several frequencies down to receiving stations on Earth. Scientists will measure any disruptions in these signals to determine how they're being affected by the upper atmosphere.

- One to three weeks after launch: E-TBEx operators "check out" the CubeSats to make sure power, navigation/guidance and data systems are working in space as expected.

- Approximately three weeks after launch: Science beacons that send signals to antennas on Earth power up and begin transmitting to ground stations.

- About one year after launch: The E-TBEx mission ends.

Deep Space Atomic Clock

NASA's Deep Space Atomic Clock is a toaster oven-size instrument traveling aboard a commercial satellite that was released into low-Earth orbit at 12: 54 a.m. PDT (3:54 a.m. EDT). The unique atomic clock will test a new way for spacecraft to navigate in deep space. The technology could make GPS-like navigation possible at the Moon and Mars.

- Two to four weeks after launch: The ultra-stable oscillator, part of the Deep Space Atomic Clock that keeps precise time, powers on to warm up in space.

- Four to seven weeks after launch: The full Deep Space Atomic Clock powers on.

- Three to four months after launch: Preliminary clock performance results are expected.

- One year after full power on: The Deep Space Atomic Clock mission ends, final data analysis begins.

Green Propellant Infusion Mission

The Green Propellant Infusion Mission (GPIM) deployed at 12:57 a.m. PDT (3:57 a.m. EDT) and immediately began to power on. GPIM will test a new propulsion system that runs on a high-performance and non-toxic spacecraft fuel. This technology could help propel constellations of small satellites in and beyond low-Earth orbit.

- Within a day of launch: Mission operators check out the small spacecraft.

- One to three weeks after launch: Mission operators ensure the propulsion system heaters and thrusters are operating as expected.

- During the first three months after launch: To demonstrate the performance of the spacecraft's thrusters, GPIM performs three lowering burns that place it in an elliptical orbit; each time GPIM gets closer to Earth at one particular point in its orbit.

- Throughout the mission: Secondary instruments aboard GPIM measure space weather and test a system that continuously reports the spacecraft's position and velocity.

- About 12 months after launch: Mission operators command a final thruster burn to deplete the fuel tank, a technical requirement for the end of mission.

- About 13 months after launch: The GPIM mission ends.

Space Environment Testbeds

The U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory's Demonstration and Science Experiments (DSX) was the last spacecraft to be released from STP-2 at 3:04 a.m. PDT (6:04 a.m. EDT) Onboard is an instrument designed by JPL to measure spacecraft vibrations, and four NASA experiments that make up the Space Environment Testbeds (SET). SET will study how to better protect satellites from space radiation by analyzing the harsh environment of space near Earth and testing various strategies to mitigate the impacts. This information can be used to improve spacecraft design, engineering and operations in order to protect spacecraft from harmful radiation driven by the Sun.

- Three weeks after launch: SET turns on for check out and testing of all four experiments.

- Eight weeks after launch: Anticipated start of science data collection.

- About 12 months after check-out: The SET mission ends.

In all, STP-2 delivered about two dozen satellites into three separate orbits around Earth. Kennedy Space Center engineers mentored Florida high school students who developed and built a CubeSat that also launched on STP-2.

"It was gratifying to see 24 satellites launch as one," said Nicola Fox, director of the Heliophysics Division in NASA's Science Mission Directorate. "The space weather instruments and science CubeSats will teach us how to better protect our valuable hardware and astronauts in space, insights useful for the upcoming Artemis program and more."

GPIM and the Deep Space Atomic Clock are both part of the Technology Demonstration Missions program within NASA's Space Technology Mission Directorate. The Space Communications and Navigation program within NASA's Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate also provided funding for the atomic clock. SET and E-TBEx were both funded by NASA's Science Mission Directorate.

Related article:

SpaceX - STP-2 Mission Success

Related links:

Enhanced Tandem Beacon Experiment (E-TBEx):

NOAA's COSMIC-2 mission:

Deep Space Atomic Clock:

Green Propellant Infusion Mission (GPIM):

Space Environment Testbeds (SET):



Learn more about NASA technology:

Find out how NASA is sending astronaut back to the Moon and on to Mars at:

Image (mentioned), Text, Credits: NASA/Clare Skelly/GSFC/Karen Fox/JPL/Arielle Samuelson.


mardi 25 juin 2019

Hubble Finds Tiny “Electric Soccer Balls” in Space, Helps Solve Interstellar Mystery

NASA - Hubble Space Telescope patch.

June 25, 2019

Scientists using NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope have confirmed the presence of electrically-charged molecules in space shaped like soccer balls, shedding light on the mysterious contents of the interstellar medium (ISM) – the gas and dust that fills interstellar space.

Image above: This is an artist's concept depicting the presence of buckyballs in space. Buckyballs, which consist of 60 carbon atoms arranged like soccer balls, have been detected in space before by scientists using NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope. The new result is the first time an electrically charged (ionized) version has been found in the interstellar medium. Image Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech.

Since stars and planets form from collapsing clouds of gas and dust in space, “The diffuse ISM can be considered as the starting point for the chemical processes that ultimately give rise to planets and life,” said Martin Cordiner of the Catholic University of America, Washington. “So fully identifying its contents provides information on the ingredients available to create stars and planets.” Cordiner, who is stationed at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, is lead author of a paper on this research published April 22nd in the Astrophysical Journal Letters.

The molecules identified by Cordiner and his team are a form of carbon called “Buckminsterfullerene,” also known as “Buckyballs,” which consists of 60 carbon atoms (C60) arranged in a hollow sphere. C60 has been found in some rare cases on Earth in rocks and minerals, and can also turn up in high-temperature combustion soot.

C60 has been seen in space before. However, this is the first time an electrically charged (ionized) version has been confirmed to be present in the diffuse ISM. The C60 gets ionized when ultraviolet light from stars tears off an electron from the molecule, giving the C60 a positive charge (C60+). “The diffuse ISM was historically considered too harsh and tenuous an environment for appreciable abundances of large molecules to occur,” said Cordiner. “Prior to the detection of C60, the largest known molecules in space were only 12 atoms in size. Our confirmation of C60+ shows just how complex astrochemistry can get, even in the lowest density, most strongly ultraviolet-irradiated environments in the Galaxy.”

Life as we know it is based on carbon-bearing molecules, and this discovery shows complex carbon molecules can form and survive in the harsh environment of interstellar space. “In some ways, life can be thought of as the ultimate in chemical complexity,” said Cordiner. “The presence of C60 unequivocally demonstrates a high level of chemical complexity intrinsic to space environments, and points toward a strong likelihood for other extremely complex, carbon-bearing molecules arising spontaneously in space.”

Most of the ISM is hydrogen and helium, but it’s spiked with many compounds that haven’t been identified. Since interstellar space is so remote, scientists study how it affects the light from distant stars to identify its contents. As starlight passes through space, elements and compounds in the ISM absorb and block certain colors (wavelengths) of the light. When scientists analyze starlight by separating it into its component colors (spectrum), the colors that have been absorbed appear dim or are absent. Each element or compound has a unique absorption pattern that acts as a fingerprint allowing it to be identified. However, some absorption patterns from the ISM cover a broader range of colors, which appear different from any known atom or molecule on Earth. These absorption patterns are called Diffuse Interstellar Bands (DIBs). Their identity has remained a mystery ever since they were discovered by Mary Lea Heger, who published observations of the first two DIBs in 1922.

Hubble Space Telescope (HST). Animation Credits: NASA/ESA

A DIB can be assigned by finding a precise match with the absorption fingerprint of a substance in the laboratory. However, there are millions of different molecular structures to try, so it would take many lifetimes to test them all.

“Today, more than 400 DIBs are known, but (apart from the few newly attributed to C60+), none has been conclusively identified,” said Cordiner. “Together, the appearance of the DIBs indicate the presence of a large amount of carbon-rich molecules in space, some of which may eventually participate in the chemistry that gives rise to life. However, the composition and characteristics of this material will remain unknown until the remaining DIBs are assigned.”

Decades of laboratory studies have failed to find a precise match with any DIBs until the work on C60+. In the new work, the team was able to match the absorption pattern seen from C60+ in the laboratory to that from Hubble observations of the ISM, confirming the recently claimed assignment by a team from University of Basel, Switzerland, whose laboratory studies provided the required C60+ comparison data. The big problem for detecting C60+ using conventional, ground-based telescopes, is that atmospheric water vapor blocks the view of the C60+ absorption pattern. However, orbiting above most of the atmosphere in space, the Hubble telescope has a clear, unobstructed view. Nevertheless, they still had to push Hubble far beyond its usual sensitivity limits to stand a chance of detecting the faint fingerprints of C60+.

The observed stars were all blue supergiants, located in the plane of our Galaxy, the Milky Way. The Milky Way's interstellar material is primarily located in a relatively flat disk, so lines of sight to stars in the Galactic plane traverse the greatest quantities of interstellar matter, and therefore show the strongest absorption features due to interstellar molecules.

The detection of C60+ in the diffuse ISM supports the team’s expectations that very large, carbon-bearing molecules are likely candidates to explain many of the remaining, unidentified DIBs. This suggests that future laboratory efforts measure the absorption patterns of compounds related to C60+, to help identify some of the remaining DIBs.

The team is seeking to detect C60+ in more environments to see just how widespread buckyballs are in the Universe. According to Cordiner, based on their observations so far, it seems that C60+ is very widespread in the Galaxy.

This work was funded by NASA under a grant from the Space Telescope Science Institute. The Hubble Space Telescope is a project of international cooperation between NASA and ESA (European Space Agency). NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, manages the telescope. The Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) in Baltimore, Maryland, conducts Hubble science operations. STScI is operated for NASA by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy in Washington, D.C. NASA is exploring our Solar System and beyond, uncovering worlds, stars, and cosmic mysteries near and far with our powerful fleet of space and ground-based missions.

Related links:


Hubble Space Telescope (HST):

Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC):

Image (mentioned), Animation (mentioned), Text, Credits: NASA/GSFC/Bill Steigerwald.


X-rays reveal how cosmic giants meet

ESA - XMM-Newton Mission patch.

25 June 2019

Scientists have uncovered an extremely powerful shock wave in a distant part of the Universe where two massive galaxy clusters appear to come into first contact ahead of merging. The study is based on data from several astronomical facilities, including ESA's XMM-Newton X-ray space observatory.

Image above: Merging galaxy clusters at first contact. Image Credits: NASA/CXC (X-rays); SDSS (optical); GMRT (radio); Liyi Gu et al. 2019.

According to Liyi Gu, an astronomer from RIKEN High Energy Astrophysics Laboratory in Japan and the Netherlands Institute for Space Research, who is the lead author of a paper published today in Nature Astronomy, the observations capture the unique moment when the two clusters touch each other for the very first time – something that has never been observed before.

The clusters, called 1E2216 and 1E2215, are located over one billion light years away from the Earth and have been drawn towards each other by gravity for billions of years. Their first contact, indicated by the new data, marks the beginning of a dramatic and lengthy process that will completely mix the clusters up and combine them into one.

"Collisions between galaxy clusters are the most energetic events in the Universe since the Big Bang," said Liyi. "The shocks that arise during the merger are probably the most important particle accelerator in the Universe, releasing a huge amount of heat, radiation and high-energy cosmic rays."

Image above: Sequence of merging galaxy clusters. Image Credit: Abell 399/401: ROSAT (X-rays); GMRT/TGSS (radio); Abell 1758: ESA/XMM-Newton (X-rays); GMRT/TGSS (radio); 1E2215: NASA/Chandra (X-rays), GMRT (radio); CIZA J2242: ESA/XMM-Newton (X-rays); ASTRON/WSRT (radio).

Clusters of galaxies are the largest known objects in the cosmos bound by gravity, and can consist of hundreds of galaxies, each containing billions of stars or more. Interspersed between a cluster's galaxies are huge amounts of hot, X-ray emitting gas, and even larger amounts of the invisible dark matter.

These enormous cosmic objects are thought to form gradually, starting first with individual galaxies encountering each other due to the effects of gravity. The process continues with the formation of smaller groups, which then merge into bigger and bigger clusters. While the first touch, the so-called pre-merger phase, lasts for a relatively short period of time – around 100 million years – the entire merging process takes billions of years to complete.

Liyi and collaborators around the world gathered about 40 hours of observations with ESA's XMM-Newton in 2017 and another 40 hours with NASA's Chandra X-ray telescope in 2018. These observations were combined with 2012 data from JAXA's now decommissioned Suzaku satellite and with radio data from two ground-based telescopes located in Europe and India.

The scientists think that the data reveal a pre-merger shock caused by the first contact between the two clusters.

Image above: Shocks during galaxy cluster merger. Image Credits: Courtesy of H. Akamatsu (SRON).

In the observations, they could distinguish two very hot gas halos with temperatures in excess of 50 million degrees Celsius, each associated with either cluster, and connected by a bridge of even hotter gas.

"This gas bridge is shock-heated: on the two sides you can see a shock front propagating from the inside out along the equatorial plane of the merger," explained Liyi. "The bridge was created by the merger itself. As the two clusters are getting closer, at some point they start getting connected."

Liyi added that it was somewhat surprising to see the shock wave propagating outwards along the equatorial plane, as most shocks found in merging galaxy clusters usually propagate along the vertical axis of the merger. However, theoretical models and numerical simulations do predict that a similar phenomenon might occur during the pre-merger phase.

"The equatorial shock can be explained simply by a very strong compression along the merger axis," said Liyi.

Image above: Temperature distribution of merging galaxy clusters IE2216 and IE2215. Image Credits: ESA/XMM-Newton; GMRT; Liyi Gu et al. 2019.

In particular, XMM-Newton enabled the scientists to calculate the temperature distribution of hot gas within the two clusters, as well as the extremely high temperature in the shock region, reaching up to 100 million degrees Celsius.

"From the XMM-Newton data, we could estimate the shock speed and the total dynamic energy of the system, including its pressure," said Liyi.

The team is planning to keep monitoring this cosmic encounter with XMM-Newton and Chandra.

In coming years, XMM-Newton can be used to identify more cluster mergers like this one via dedicated observations of carefully selected portions of the sky. Next-generation X-ray observatories, such as the Japanese-led XRISM and ESA's Athena missions, will enable astronomers to learn in even greater detail what is happening during these gigantic collisions.

"We have been very lucky to have seen this first encounter between the two clusters," said co-author Jelle Kaastra from the Netherlands Institute for Space Research.

"Usually, we can see galaxy clusters getting closer to each other or already in the process of merging. With the next generation of X-ray telescopes, such as XRISM and Athena, we will be able not only to see more details of this particular merger but also find many more systems that are in different merging phases."

Artist's impression of ESA's XMM-Newton X-ray Observatory. Image Credit: ESA

XRISM, a collaboration between JAXA and NASA including ESA participation, is scheduled to launch in 2021. Athena, part of ESA's Cosmic Vision programme, is expected to launch in 2031, and will carry instruments one hundred times more sensitive than those aboard Chandra and XMM-Newton.

Galaxy cluster mergers are among the most important processes that shape the structure of the Universe on very large scales. Yet, these giant collisions are poorly understood. With the facilities of the coming decades, scientists will be able to observe more such events at various stages and eventually piece together a complete 'movie' of the merging of galaxy clusters.

"Galaxy cluster mergers are difficult to observe because the timescales involved are so long," said Norbert Schartel, XMM-Newton project scientist at ESA.

"It will take a long time to fully understand these processes. We are just getting started by collecting data about mergers at different stages, and it is exciting that XMM-Newton could help capture the beginning of such a clash."

Notes for editors:

The results described here are reported in "Observations of a Pre-Merger Shock in Colliding Clusters of Galaxies" by Liyi Gu et al., published in Nature Astronomy:

The study is based on X-ray data from ESA's XMM-Newton, NASA's Chandra X-ray telescope and JAXA's Suzaku satellite, along with radio-wave observations from the Low-Frequency Array (LOFAR), located in the Netherlands and other European countries, and from the Giant Metrewave Radio Telescope, located in India.

The team involves scientists based in Japan, the Netherlands, Australia, Germany, Hungary, the UK, India and South Africa.

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Images (mentioned), Text, Credits: ESA/Norbert Schartel/SRON – Netherlands Institute for Space Research/Jelle S. Kaastra/RIKEN High Energy Astrophysics Laboratory/Liyi Gu.


Expedition 59 Crewmates Return from Space Station Mission

ROSCOSMOS - Soyuz MS-11 Mission patch.

June 25, 2019

Expedition 59 Space Station Crew Lands Safely in Kazakhstan

Image above: The Soyuz MS-11 spacecraft is seen as it lands in a remote area near the town of Zhezkazgan, Kazakhstan with Expedition 59 crew members Anne McClain of NASA, David Saint-Jacques of the Canadian Space Agency and Oleg Kononenko of Roscosmos, Tuesday, June 25, 2019, Kazakh time (June 24 Eastern time). McClain, Saint-Jacques and Kononenko are returning after 204 days in space where they served as members of the Expedition 58 and 59 crews onboard the International Space Station. Image Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls.

NASA astronaut Anne McClain and two of her Expedition 59 crewmates returned to Earth from the International Space Station Monday, landing safely in Kazakhstan at 10:47 p.m. EDT (8:47 a.m. Tuesday, June 25, local time) after months of science and four spacewalks aboard the microgravity laboratory.

Soyuz MS-11 landing

McClain, Expedition 59/Soyuz Commander Oleg Kononenko of the Russian space agency Roscosmos and David Saint-Jacques of the Canadian Space Agency launched Dec. 3, 2018. They arrived at the space station just six hours later to begin their 204-day mission, during which they orbited Earth 3,264 times traveling 86,430,555 miles.

After post-landing medical checks, McClain and Saint-Jacques will return to Houston and Kononenko to Star City, Russia.

The Expedition 59 crew contributed to hundreds of experiments in biology, biotechnology, physical science and Earth science, including investigations into small devices that replicate the structure and function of human organs, editing DNA in space for the first time and recycling 3D-printed material.

McClain, a lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army and native of Spokane, Washington, conducted two spacewalks totaling 13 hours and 8 minutes on her mission into space.

Saint-Jacques, also on his first space mission and only the sixth Canadian astronaut to perform a spacewalk, joined McClain on her second outing, which totaled 6 hours and 29 minutes. Kononenko, on his fourth mission, conducted two spacewalks totaling 13 hours and 46 minutes, bringing his career total to 32 hours and 13 minutes spread over five spacewalks.

Image above: Oleg Kononenko, Anne McClain and David Saint-Jacques are seen shortly after landing on board Soyuz MS-11. Image Credits: NASA/Bill Ingalls.

When their Soyuz MS-11 spacecraft undocked at 7:25 p.m., Expedition 60 began aboard the station officially, with Nick Hague and Christina Koch of NASA as flight engineers, and Alexey Ovchinin of Roscosmos as the station’s commander.

The next residents to arrive at the space station – Andrew Morgan of NASA, Luca Parmitano of ESA (European Space Agency) and Alexander Skvortsov of Roscosmos – will launch aboard Soyuz MS-13 on July 20, from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan and join Expedition 60 after a six-hour flight.

Related links:

Expedition 59:

Expedition 60:

Small devices:

Editing DNA in space:

Recycling 3D-printed material:

International Space Station (ISS):

Images (mentioned), Video, Text, Credits: NASA/Karen Northon/Joshua Finch/JSC/Gary Jordan/NASA TV/SciNews.

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SpaceX - STP-2 Mission Success

SpaceX  - Falcon Heavy / STP-2 Mission patch.

June 25, 2019

SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy STP-2 Mission launch

A SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket launched the STP-2 mission (Space Test Program-2) from Launch Complex 39A (LC-39A), at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, Florida, on 25 June 2019, at 06:30 UTC (02:30 EDT). Following booster separation, Falcon Heavy’s two side boosters (Block 5 B1052 and B1053) landed at SpaceX’s Landing Zones 1 and 2 (LZ-1 and LZ-2) at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

First Falcon Heavy Night Launch

Falcon Heavy’s center core (Block 5 B1057) attempted to land on the “Of Course I Still Love You” droneship, stationed in the Atlantic Ocean. STP-2 mission from Launch Complex 39A (LC-39A) at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Deployments began approximately 12 minutes after liftoff and ended approximately 3 hours and 32 minutes after liftoff.

Falcon Heavy boosters landing, June 2019

Following booster separation, Falcon Heavy’s two side boosters (Block 5 B1052 and B1053) landed at SpaceX’s Landing Zones 1 and 2 (LZ-1 and LZ-2) at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. Falcon Heavy’s center core (Block 5 B1057) attempted to land on the “Of Course I Still Love You” droneship, stationed in the Atlantic Ocean.

Falcon Heavy’s side boosters for the STP-2 mission previously supported the Arabsat-6A mission in April 2019. Following booster separation, Falcon Heavy’s two side boosters landed at SpaceX’s Landing Zones 1 and 2 (LZ-1 and LZ-2) at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

For more information about SpaceX, visit:

Image, Videos, Text, Credits: SpaceX/SciNews/NASA.


lundi 24 juin 2019

Expedition 59 Trio Leaves Station for Ride to Earth

ROSCOSMOS - Soyuz MS-11 Mission patch.

June 24, 2019

NASA Flight Engineer Anne McClain, Expedition 59/Soyuz Commander Oleg Kononenko of the Russian space agency Roscosmos, and David Saint-Jacques of the Canadian Space Agency undocked from the International Space Station at 7:25 p.m. EDT to begin their trip home.

Image above: The Soyuz MS-11 Spacecraft carrying three Expedition 59 crewmembers backs away from the International Space Station moments after undocking. Image Credit: NASA TV.

Deorbit burn is scheduled for approximately 9:55 p.m., with landing in Kazakhstan targeted for 10:48 p.m. NASA will resume coverage on TV and online at 9:30 p.m. for deorbit burn and landing.

At the time of undocking, Expedition 60 began aboard the space station under the command of Roscosmos’ Alexey Ovchinin. Along with his crewmates NASA astronauts Nick Hague and Christina Koch, the three-person crew will operate the station for a few weeks until the next residents arrive July 20.

Soyuz MS-11 undocking and departure

Andrew Morgan of NASA, Luca Parmitano of ESA (European Space Agency) and Alexander Skvortsov of Roscosmos will launch aboard Soyuz MS-13 from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan and join Expedition 60 after a six-hour flight on the 50th anniversary of the first human landing on the Moon.

Related links:

Expedition 59:

Expedition 60:

NASA Television:

Soyuz MS-11:

Space Station Research and Technology:

International Space Station (ISS):

Image (mentioned), Video, Text, Credits: NASA/Mark Garcia/NASA TV/SciNews.


Departing Trio Aboard Soyuz Crew Ship Awaiting Undocking

ROSCOSMOS -Soyuz MS-11 Mission patch.

June 24, 2019

At 4:15 p.m. EDT, the hatch closed between the Soyuz spacecraft and the International Space Station in preparation for undocking. NASA Flight Engineer Anne McClain, Expedition 59/Soyuz Commander Oleg Konenenko of the Russian space agency Roscosmos, and David Saint-Jacques of the Canadian Space Agency are scheduled to undock their Soyuz at 7:25 p.m.

Image above: Expedition 59 crew members (from left) Anne McClain, Oleg Kononenko and David Saint-Jacques are wearing the Sokol launch and entry suits they will wear on the way back to Earth aboard the Soyuz MS-11 crew ship. Image Credit: NASA TV.

NASA Television will air live coverage of the undocking beginning at 7 p.m.

Soyuz MS-11 hatch closure

Their landing in Kazakhstan is targeted for approximately 10:48 p.m. and will conclude a more than six month mission conducting science and maintenance aboard the space station, in which they circled the globe 3,264 times, covering 86.4 million miles.

Related links:

Expedition 59:

Expedition 60:

NASA Television:

Soyuz MS-11:

Space Station Research and Technology:

International Space Station (ISS):

Image (mentioned), Video, Text, Credits: NASA/Mark Garcia/NASA TV/SciNews.


Lung health, algae and radiation research on Space Station

ESA - Colombus Module logo.

24 June 2019

Join us as we look back at the past two weeks of European science on the International Space Station. These were also the last two weeks in space for NASA astronaut Anne McClain, Canadian Space Agency astronaut David Saint-Jacques and Roscosmos astronaut Oleg Kononenko who are preparing to leave the Station at 23:25 GMT today.

David Saint-Jacques in Sokol suit

Strapped inside their Soyuz MS-11 spacecraft, the astronauts will travel home alongside a multitude of carefully-packed pieces experiments and pieces of equipment. Among the cargo are dosimeters from the Dosis 3D experiment that is charting radiation levels on Station.

A breath of fresh science

On 13 June, Anne and NASA astronaut Nick Hague conducted their final session of the Airway Monitoring experiment. This was also the very last session for this experiment in space.

Starting with ESA astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti in 2015, Airway Monitoring has gathered data on how astronauts exhale nitric oxide in space. The research is helping to build a better understanding of the lung problems astronauts might develop on long spaceflights. Dust circulates indefinitely in space, increasing the chance of entering an astronaut’s lungs. Lunar dust could also cause lung inflammation and this experiment is the first to see how astronauts’ lungs cope with the change in environment.

Anne McClain Airway Monitoring

The Airway Monitoring experiment is notable as it is the only experiment to use one of the Space Station’s airlock for research purposes. Part of the research requires the astronauts breathe while in reduced pressure so air is pumped out of the airlock during monitoring sessions.

On 20 June Nick gave some attention to the algae in German Aerospace Center DLR’s PhotoBioreactor. He provided fresh nutrients and removed excess algae in the experiment that is looking at how we can harness the power of Chlorella vulgaris to produce oxygen and food from water and carbon dioxide. Nick also took a sample of the algae and stored it in the Space Station’s –80°C freezer for analysis later on Earth.


The Electromagnetic Levitator was also powered up for another run of melting and solidifying alloys in space. Roscosmos astronaut Alexi Ovchinin configured the gas valves that allow the metals to be cast in an inert environment. Understanding the underlying physics of metal casting is complicated and factors such as gravity, and the mould used to hold the metal in place as the gas in which the metal is cast, can influence results. For example, gravity pulls on atoms in different ways and heat is transferred to the mould whereas the gas can interact with metal too. The facility was made ready for science on 19 June.

 Matiss experiment

Experiments that have kept on ticking without astronaut intervention are the space storm-hunter ASIM, France's space agency CNES microbiological investigation Matiss-2, Europe’s commercial access to Space Station science ICE Cubes and the ‘air-traffic’ control for ships monitoring Vessel ID.

Soyuz MS-11

After the trio leave the Space Station tonight, Nick, NASA astronaut Christina Koch and Alexei will continue to orbit our planet as a trio until the arrival of Soyuz MS-13 crew. This crew includes ESA astronaut Luca Parmitano and the launch, currently scheduled for 20 July 2019, marks the start of his second mission – Beyond:

Related links:

Airway Monitoring experiment:


Electromagnetic Levitator:

Space storm-hunter ASIM:

CNES microbiological investigation Matiss-2:


Vessel ID:

European space laboratory Columbus:

International Space Station Benefits for Humanity:

International Space Station (ISS):

Images, Text, Credits: ESA/NASA/Universität Stuttgart/CNES/Emmanuel Grimault.

Best regards,

Curiosity Detects Unusually High Methane Levels

NASA - Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) logo.

June 24, 2019

Image above: This image was taken by the left Navcam on NASA's Curiosity Mars rover on June 18, 2019, the 2,440th Martian day, or sol, of the mission. It shows part of "Teal Ridge," which the rover has been studying within a region called the "clay-bearing unit." Image Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech.

This week, NASA's Curiosity Mars rover found a surprising result: the largest amount of methane ever measured during the mission - about 21 parts per billion units by volume (ppbv). One ppbv means that if you take a volume of air on Mars, one billionth of the volume of air is methane.

The finding came from the rover's Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) tunable laser spectrometer. It's exciting because microbial life is an important source of methane on Earth, but methane can also be created through interactions between rocks and water.

Curiosity doesn't have instruments that can definitively say what the source of the methane is, or even if it's coming from a local source within Gale Crater or elsewhere on the planet.

"With our current measurements, we have no way of telling if the methane source is biology or geology, or even ancient or modern," said SAM Principal Investigator Paul Mahaffy of NASA's Goddard Spaceflight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.

The Curiosity team has detected methane many times over the course of the mission. Previous papers have documented how background levels of the gas seem to rise and fall seasonally. They've also noted sudden spikes of methane, but the science team knows very little about how long these transient plumes last or why they're different from the seasonal patterns.

The SAM team organized a different experiment for this weekend to gather more information on what might be a transient plume. Whatever they find - even if it's an absence of methane - will add context to the recent measurement.

Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) or Curiosity rover. Animation Credits: NASA/JPL

Curiosity's scientists need time to analyze these clues and conduct many more methane observations. They also need time to collaborate with other science teams, including those with the European Space Agency's Trace Gas Orbiter, which has been in its science orbit for a little over a year without detecting any methane. Combining observations from the surface and from orbit could help scientists locate sources of the gas on the planet and understand how long it lasts in the Martian atmosphere. That might explain why the Trace Gas Orbiter's and Curiosity's methane observations have been so different.

Related article:

NASA Finds Ancient Organic Material, Mysterious Methane on Mars

For more information about Curiosity, visit:

Image (mentioned), Animation (mentioned), Text, Credits: NASA/Alana Johnson/JPL/Andrew Good.


samedi 22 juin 2019

A two-seater electric plane unveiled in Sion, Switzerland

H55 logo.

June 22, 2019

Intended for the training of pilots, the aircraft, presented by André Borschberg, should be at the disposal of the aviation schools from 2021.

An electric plane was presented Friday at Sion airport (Switzerland), after making its first successful flight. Intended for pilot training, it should be available to aviation schools by 2021.

Two-seater electric plane H55

The two-seater electric plane sits in a hangar at Sion airport. It offers a zero-emission solution, quiet and economical, said to a hundred people gathered for the occasion, André Borschberg, former CEO and pilot of Solar Impulse and co-founder and president of H55.

Manufactured by the Czech company BRM Aero, the device is equipped with an electric propulsion system consisting of a motor and batteries (in the wings) developed by H55. This spin-off of Solar Impulse develops electric motors, batteries, management and control systems and interfaces with the driver.

Three former Solar Impulse adventurers, the world's first solar-powered flight, are at the helm of H55: pilot André Borschberg, electrical engineer Sébastien Demont and economist Gregory Blatt.

An hour and a half of endurance

The plane last week made its first flight in the skies of the city. By the end of 2020, a pilot project will be conducted with two aviation schools in Switzerland and by 2021 the Bristell Energic should be available to all interested schools, said André Borschberg.

The aircraft has an endurance of one hour and a half, for flights of 45 to 60 minutes, which corresponds to the flying schools training program. Overall, the cost of an electric-powered aircraft is lower than that of a gas-powered aircraft, taking into account the purchase price, maintenance and fuel.

Engine puncturing

For the H55 team, electric aircraft respond to a real need in a society that is increasingly sensitive to the environment and nuisances. It is attracting "considerable interest from aviation academies, airport resident associations and aeronautical authorities".

Image above: André Borschberg, co-founder and president of H55, in charge of the electric plane presented Friday in a hangar at Sion airport.

A member of the team spun the Bristell Energic engine in front of the guests gathered in the hangar: the purr contrasted sharply with the deafening takeoffs and landings heard at the airport on Friday morning.

Springboard to flying taxis

The H55 aircraft is a springboard for developing new solutions in air transport. "By flying electric planes and analyzing their performance, we are collecting essential data for the development of VTOL (note: vertical takeoff and landing aircraft) and flying taxis," said André Borschberg.

In 2018, H55 raised five million francs to develop its electric propulsion systems. The company benefits from the support of the Confederation of Canton Valais through the foundation The Ark, the city of Sion, but also an investment fund based in Switzerland and Silicon Valley.

Related article:

A new electric plane will soon be launched in Switzerland

Related links:

BRM Aero:

Solar Impulse:

Images, Text, Credits: ATS/H55/ Aerospace/Roland Berga.

Best regards,

vendredi 21 juin 2019

Virtual Reality Filming, Final Tests Before Crew Splits Up Monday

ISS - Expedition 59 Mission patch.

June 21, 2019

The Expedition 59 crew is going into the weekend preparing to split up on Monday amidst an array of ongoing human research. The orbital residents are also working on power upgrades and filming a virtual reality experience today.

Astronauts Anne McClain and David Saint-Jacques are in their final weekend aboard the International Space Station. They will ride back to Earth on Monday with Commander Oleg Kononenko inside the Soyuz MS-11 spacecraft. Their Soyuz vehicle undocks at 7:25 p.m. EDT and lands in Kazakhstan at 10:47 p.m. (8:47 a.m. Tuesday Kazakh time). NASA TV will broadcast all the homecoming activities live.

Image above: The six-member Expedition 59 crew gathers for a portrait aboard the International Space Station. Clockwise from center left are, Commander Oleg Kononenko and Flight Engineers Christina Koch, David Saint-Jacques, Alexey Ovchinin, Anne McClain and Nick Hague. Image Credit: NASA.

Kononenko will hand over station command to cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin in a ceremony slated for Sunday at 3:35 p.m. live on NASA TV. Ovchinin officially becomes commander of Expedition 60 when the homebound trio’s Soyuz undocks Monday. NASA astronauts Christina Koch and Nick Hague are continuing their stay aboard the orbiting lab.

McClain and Saint-Jacques participated in one final study today exploring behavior, performance and cognition in space. The duo practiced grappling a cargo craft during a robotic simulation for the Behavioral Core Measures study. McClain also prepared a CubeSat for deployment next week. Saint-Jacques recorded a science video demonstrating Newton’s second and third laws in microgravity.

International Space Station (ISS). Animation Credit: NASA

Hague joined McClain during the morning setting up the CubeSat hardware inside Japan’s Kibo laboratory module. In the afternoon, he partnered up with Koch and upgraded power electronics hardware in the Harmony module.

Finally, all six crewmembers gathered in the Zvezda service module at dinnertime and videotaped their activities with a 360-degree camera. The crew has been filming a variety of immersive, cinematic experiences throughout their mission to share with audiences on Earth.

Related links:

Expedition 59:

Expedition 60:

Soyuz MS-11:


Behavioral Core Measures:

Kibo laboratory module:

Harmony module:

Zvezda service module:

360-degree camera:

Space Station Research and Technology:

International Space Station (ISS):

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

Best regards,

Hubble Captures Elusive, Irregular Galaxy

NASA - Hubble Space Telescope patch.

June 21, 2019

This image shows an irregular galaxy named IC 10, a member of the Local Group — a collection of over 50 galaxies in our cosmic neighborhood that includes the Milky Way.

IC 10 is a remarkable object. It is the closest-known starburst galaxy, meaning that it is undergoing a furious bout of star formation fueled by ample supplies of cool hydrogen gas. This gas condenses into vast molecular clouds, which then form into dense knots where pressures and temperatures reach a point sufficient to ignite nuclear fusion, thus giving rise to new generations of stars. 

As an irregular galaxy, IC 10 lacks the majestic shape of spiral galaxies such as the Milky Way, or the rounded, ethereal appearance of elliptical galaxies. It is a faint object, despite its relative proximity to us of 2.2 million light-years. In fact, IC 10 only became known to humankind in 1887, when American astronomer Lewis Swift spotted it during an observing campaign. The small galaxy remains difficult to study even today, because it is located along a line-of-sight which is chock-full of cosmic dust and stars.

A version of this image was entered into the Hubble's Hidden Treasures image processing competition by contestant Nikolaus Sulzenauer, and went on to win 10th prize.

Hubble Space Telescope (HST)

For more information about Hubble, visit:

Text Credits: ESA (European Space Agency)/NASA/Rob Garner/Image, Animation, Credits: NASA, ESA and F. Bauer.


Space Station Science Highlights: Week of June 17, 2019

ISS - Expedition 59 Mission patch.

June 21, 2019

Last week, the members of Expedition 59 conducted scientific investigations that examined how the human immune system and sensory perception change in space, and tested using microgravity to manufacture optical fibers. These and other studies aboard the International Space Station also make important contributions to NASA’s Artemis human exploration program, a two-phased approach to land humans on the Moon by 2024 and establish a sustained presence there by 2028.

Image above: The Japanese Small Satellite Orbital Deployer, attached to a robotic arm outside of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency's Kibo laboratory module, ejects a set of three CubeSat satellites from Nepal, Sri Lanka and Japan for technology demonstrations. The International Space Station was orbiting 256 miles above the Amazon River in Brazil at the time. Image Credit: NASA.

Here are details on some of the science work that the crew of the orbiting lab conducted during the week of June 17:

Manufacturing high quality optic fiber in space

Crew members performed preparation work so ground could initiate fiber optic print runs for the Fiber Optic Production (FOP) investigation. Operating in the Microgravity Science Glovebox (MSG), this investigation creates optical fibers using a blend of zirconium, barium, lanthanum, sodium, and aluminum called ZBLAN. Studies suggest that ZBLAN optical fibers produced in microgravity should be superior to those produced on Earth. The results may help verify these studies and guide further efforts to manufacture high value optical fiber in large volume aboard the space station.

A first look at immune response to an in-space challenge

Rodent Research-12 (RR-12) examines the effects of spaceflight on the function of antibody production and immune system memory. Spaceflight has a dramatic effect on immune response, but few studies have followed an actual challenge to the body’s immune system in space. By advancing development of measures to counter spaceflight’s effects on the immune system, this investigation may help to maintain crew health during future long-duration space missions. Last week, the crew discussed logistics and operations with the NASA Rodent Research and JAXA Mouse Mission teams on the ground.

Image above: NASA astronaut Anne McClain works on the Photobioreactor study on using microalgae to support hybrid life support systems in space. On future long-duration exploration missions, this approach could reduce the amount of consumables required from Earth. Image Credit: NASA.

Interpreting sensory input without gravity

The crew performed a session for the VECTION experiment. This study examines to what extent space may disrupt an astronaut's ability to visually interpret motion, orientation, and distance. It also looks at how these perceptions may adapt in space and change again upon return to Earth. Impairments in ability to judge motion, assess orientation, and estimate distances can have serious operational consequences for astronauts. Further knowledge of these abilities in space and on Earth could significantly improve safety of crew members on future space exploration missions.

Space to Ground: Tending the Hive: 06/21/2019

Other investigations on which the crew performed work:

- The Photobioreactor investigation demonstrates whether the biological processes of microalgae can serve as part of a hybrid life support system. This approach would help future long-duration exploration missions reduce supplies that must be brought from Earth:

- The Capillary Structures investigation studies using structures of specific shapes to manage fluid and gas mixtures:

Image above: NASA astronaut Christina Koch checks out hardware for Capillary Structures, an experiment studying a new method of using structures of specific shapes to manage fluid and gas mixtures for more reliable life support systems on future space missions. Image Credit: NASA.

- STaARS BioScience-11 manufactures nanosomes, or nanoparticle delivery systems, for use in targeting chronic conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). Nanoparticles created in microgravity are much smaller, enhancing drug uptake and delivery and potentially reducing required dose per treatment and cost per dose:

- Food Acceptability examines changes in the appeal of food aboard the space station during long-duration missions. “Menu fatigue” from repeatedly consuming a limited choice of foods may contribute to the loss of body mass often experienced by crew members, potentially affecting astronaut health, especially as mission length increases:

Image above: Canadian Space Agency astronaut David Saint-Jacques hydrating growth packets for the BioNutrients investigation, which demonstrates a technology using engineered microbes for on-demand production of nutrients for humans on long-duration space missions. Image Credit: NASA.

- Veg-04A focuses on how light quality and fertilizer affect growth of Mizuna mustard, a leafy green crop, along with microbial food safety, nutritional value, taste acceptability by the crew, and the overall behavioral health benefits of having plants and fresh food in space:

- Probiotics examines the effects of beneficial bacteria or probiotics on the intestinal microbiota and immune function of crew members on long-duration space missions:

- Vascular Echo examines changes in blood vessels and the heart in space and recovery following return to Earth. Results could provide insight into developing countermeasures to help maintain crew member health on long voyages such as to the Moon or Mars:

- Genes in Space-6 determines the optimal DNA repair mechanisms that cells use in the spaceflight environment. It induces DNA damage and evaluates the entire mutation and repair process in space for the first time, using the miniPCR and Biomolecule Sequencer tools aboard the space station:

- Standard Measures captures a consistent and simple set of measures from crew members throughout the ISS Program in order to characterize adaptive responses to and risks of living in space:

Related links:

Expedition 59:


Fiber Optic Production (FOP):

Rodent Research-12 (RR-12):


Spot the Station:

Space Station Research and Technology:

International Space Station (ISS):

Images (mentioned), Video (NASA), Text, Credits: NASA/Erling Holm/Jorge Sotomayor, Lead Increment Scientist Expeditions 59/60.

Best regards,