vendredi 17 mai 2013

Completed the planned correction of the orbit of the International Space Station

ISS - International Space Station patch.


May 17 in accordance with the schedule of the International Space Station (ISS) performed surgery for the correction of its orbit.

At 6:00. 21 min. Moscow time included motors transport cargo vehicle (THC) "Progress M-19M", docked to the service module of the Service Module (SM) Zvezda of the Russian segment of the station. The duration of the propulsion system was 922.4 sec. As a result, ISS has gained momentum at 1.6 m / s, and the average height of its orbit increased by 2.8 km and reached 415.7 km.

International Space Station (ISS)

After making corrections, the following orbital station:

      Minimum height above the surface of the Earth - 411.5 km;
      Maximum height above the surface of the Earth - 430.3 km;
      Period - 92.827 minutes;
      The inclination - 51.669 degrees.

The purpose of correction - the formation of the working of the ISS to provide conditions for the docking of manned spacecraft (WPK) Soyuz TMA-09M, to be launched on 29 May 2013.

Press release from Roscosmos:

Image, Text, Credits: Press Service of the Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos PAO) / NASA / Translation: Aerospace.


jeudi 16 mai 2013

Asteroid 1998 QE2 to Sail Past Earth Nine Times Larger Than Cruise Ship

Asteroid Watch.

May 16, 2013

Image above: Asteroid 1998 QE2 will get no closer than about 3.6 million miles at time of closest approach on May 31 at 1:59 p.m. Pacific (4:59 p.m. Eastern). Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech.

 On May 31, 2013, asteroid 1998 QE2 will sail serenely past Earth, getting no closer than about 3.6 million miles (5.8 million kilometers), or about 15 times the distance between Earth and the moon. And while QE2 is not of much interest to those astronomers and scientists on the lookout for hazardous asteroids, it is of interest to those who dabble in radar astronomy and have a 230-foot (70-meter) -- or larger -- radar telescope at their disposal.

"Asteroid 1998 QE2 will be an outstanding radar imaging target at Goldstone and Arecibo and we expect to obtain a series of high-resolution images that could reveal a wealth of surface features," said radar astronomer Lance Benner, the principal investigator for the Goldstone radar observations from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. "Whenever an asteroid approaches this closely, it provides an important scientific opportunity to study it in detail to understand its size, shape, rotation, surface features, and what they can tell us about its origin. We will also use new radar measurements of the asteroid's distance and velocity to improve our calculation of its orbit and compute its motion farther into the future than we could otherwise."

The closest approach of the asteroid occurs on May 31 at 1:59 p.m. Pacific (4:59 p.m. Eastern / 20:59 UTC). This is the closest approach the asteroid will make to Earth for at least the next two centuries. Asteroid 1998 QE2 was discovered on Aug. 19, 1998, by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Lincoln Near Earth Asteroid Research (LINEAR) program near Socorro, New Mexico.

The asteroid, which is believed to be about 1.7 miles (2.7 kilometers) or nine Queen Elizabeth 2 ship-lengths in size, is not named after that 12-decked, transatlantic-crossing flagship for the Cunard Line. Instead, the name is assigned by the NASA-supported Minor Planet Center in Cambridge, Mass., which gives each newly discovered asteroid a provisional designation starting with the year of first detection, along with an alphanumeric code indicating the half-month it was discovered, and the sequence within that half-month.

Radar images from the Goldstone antenna could resolve features on the asteroid as small as 12 feet (3.75 meters) across, even from 4 million miles away.

"It is tremendously exciting to see detailed images of this asteroid for the first time," said Benner. "With radar we can transform an object from a point of light into a small world with its own unique set of characteristics. In a real sense, radar imaging of near-Earth asteroids is a fundamental form of exploring a whole class of solar system objects."

Asteroids, which are always exposed to the sun, can be shaped like almost anything under it. Those previously imaged by radar and spacecraft have looked like dog bones, bowling pins, spheroids, diamonds, muffins, and potatoes. To find out what 1998 QE2 looks like, stay tuned. Between May 30 and June 9, radar astronomers using NASA's 230-foot-wide (70 meter) Deep Space Network antenna at Goldstone, Calif., and the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico, are planning an extensive campaign of observations. The two telescopes have complementary imaging capabilities that will enable astronomers to learn as much as possible about the asteroid during its brief visit near Earth.

Asteroid 1998 QE2 to Make Closest Approach to Earth on May 31

NASA places a high priority on tracking asteroids and protecting our home planet from them. In fact, the U.S. has the most robust and productive survey and detection program for discovering near-Earth objects. To date, U.S. assets have discovered over 98 percent of the known NEOs.

In 2012, the NEO budget was increased from $6 million to $20 million. Literally dozens of people are involved with some aspect of near-Earth object (NEO) research across NASA and its centers. Moreover, there are many more people involved in researching and understanding the nature of asteroids and comets, including those that come close to the Earth, plus those who are trying to find and track them in the first place.

In addition to the resources NASA puts into understanding asteroids, it also partners with other U.S. government agencies, university-based astronomers, and space science institutes across the country that are working to track and better understand these objects, often with grants, interagency transfers and other contracts from NASA.

NASA's Near-Earth Object Program at NASA Headquarters, Washington, manages and funds the search, study, and monitoring of asteroids and comets whose orbits periodically bring them close to Earth. JPL manages the Near-Earth Object Program Office for NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington. JPL is a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena.

In 2016, NASA will launch a robotic probe to one of the most potentially hazardous of the known NEOs. The OSIRIS-REx mission to asteroid (101955) Bennu will be a pathfinder for future spacecraft designed to perform reconnaissance on any newly-discovered threatening objects. Aside from monitoring potential threats, the study of asteroids and comets enables a valuable opportunity to learn more about the origins of our solar system, the source of water on Earth, and even the origin of organic molecules that lead to the development of life.

NASA recently announced developing a first-ever mission to identify, capture and relocate an asteroid for human exploration. Using game-changing technologies advanced by the Administration, this mission would mark an unprecedented technological achievement that raises the bar of what humans can do in space. Capturing and redirecting an asteroid will integrate the best of NASA's science, technology and human exploration capabilities and draw on the innovation of America's brightest scientists and engineers.

More information about asteroids and near-Earth objects is available at:, and via Twitter at .

More information about asteroid radar research is at: .

More information about the Deep Space Network is at: .

Images, Text, Credits: NASA / JPL / DC Agle.


NASA's Asteroid Sample Return Mission Moves into Development

NASA - Osiris-Rex Mission patch.

May 16, 2013

NASA's first mission to sample an asteroid is moving ahead into development and testing in preparation for its launch in 2016.

The Origins-Spectral Interpretation Resource Identification Security Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS-REx) passed a confirmation review Wednesday called Key Decision Point (KDP)-C. NASA officials reviewed a series of detailed project assessments and authorized the spacecraft's continuation into the development phase.

OSIRIS-REx mission

Video above: This narrated video provides an overview of the OSIRIS-REx mission, which will observe asteroid Bennu, collect a sample and return it to Earth for study. Credit: NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center.

OSIRIS-REx will rendezvous with the asteroid Bennu in 2018 and return a sample of it to Earth in 2023.

"Successfully passing KDP-C is a major milestone for the project," said Mike Donnelly, OSIRIS-REx project manager at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. "This means NASA believes we have an executable plan to return a sample from Bennu. It now falls on the project and its development team members to execute that plan."

Bennu could hold clues to the origin of the solar system. OSIRIS-REx will map the asteroid's global properties, measure non-gravitational forces and provide observations that can be compared with data obtained by telescope observations from Earth. OSIRIS-REx will collect a minimum of 2 ounces (60 grams) of surface material.

"The entire OSIRIS-REx team has worked very hard to get to this point," said Dante Lauretta, OSIRIS-REx principal investigator at the University of Arizona in Tucson. "We have a long way to go before we arrive at Bennu, but I have every confidence when we do, we will have built a supremely capable system to return a sample of this primitive asteroid."

OSIRIS-REx spacecraft

The mission will be a vital part of NASA's plans to find, study, capture and relocate an asteroid for exploration by astronauts. NASA recently announced an asteroid initiative proposing a strategy to leverage human and robotic activities for the first human mission to an asteroid while also accelerating efforts to improve detection and characterization of asteroids.

NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., will provide overall mission management, systems engineering and safety and mission assurance. The University of Arizona in Tucson is the principal investigator institution. Lockheed Martin Space Systems of Denver will build the spacecraft. OSIRIS-REx is the third mission in NASA's New Frontiers Program. NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., manages New Frontiers for NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington.

Related Links:

NASA's OSIRIS-REx website:

The University of Arizona's OSIRIS-REx website:

Image, Video, Text,  Credit: NASA / Goddard Space Flight Center.


Atlas 5 rocket successfully powered a replacement GPS satellite

ULA - Atlas V rocket / GPS IIF-4 satellite patch.

May 16, 2013

Image above: A United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket blasts off from Space Launch Complex-41 carrying the fourth Global Positioning System (GPS) IIF-4 satellite for the U.S. Air Force at 5:38 p.m. EDT today from Space Launch Complex-41. Credits: Pat Corkery, United Launch Alliance.

An Atlas 5 rocket successfully powered a replacement Global Positioning System satellite into space Wednesday to bolster the navigation utility for military and civil users around the world.

ULA Atlas V Launch - May 15, 2013

The Centaur upper stage completed its second burn and released the Global Positioning System 2F-4 satellite into the navigation network to complete tonight's launch of the Atlas 5 rocket.

After coasting for three hours to a point nearly 11,000 nautical miles above the planet south of Australia, the RL10 upper stage engine was re-ignited for a 90-second burn to circularize the orbit. The Boeing-built payload was deployed minutes later.

GPS 2F-4 satellite

It is another successful flight for the United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 vehicle, which has completed 38 missions in the past decade, 9 in just the past 12 months and four this year.

"The ULA team is honored to place another next-generation GPS satellite on orbit for our US Air Force customer," said Jim Sponnick, ULA vice president, Mission Operations.

"Today's successful delivery of the GPS IIF-4 mission represents the 70th launch success in the 77 months since ULA was formed – an accomplishment made possible by seamless integration of the customer and industry team; reliable production and launch operation processes; and a one-launch-at-a-time focus on mission success for these critical space assets."

For more information about United Launch Alliance (ULA), visit:

Images, Video, Text, Credits: United Launch Alliance (ULA) / Pat Corkery / Aerospace.

Best regards,

NASA Probe Counts Space Rock Impacts on Mars

NASA - Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) patch.

May 16, 2013

Scientists using images from NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) have estimated that the planet is bombarded by more than 200 small asteroids or bits of comets per year forming craters at least 12.8 feet (3.9 meters) across.

Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO). Credits: NASA / JPL

Researchers have identified 248 new impact sites on parts of the Martian surface in the past decade, using images from the spacecraft to determine when the craters appeared. The 200-per-year planetwide estimate is a calculation based on the number found in a systematic survey of a portion of the planet.

MRO's High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera took pictures of the fresh craters at sites where before-and-after images by other cameras bracketed when the impacts occurred. This combination provided a new way to make direct measurements of the impact rate on Mars. This will lead to better age estimates of recent features on Mars, some of which may have been the result of climate change.

"It's exciting to find these new craters right after they form," said Ingrid Daubar of the University of Arizona, Tucson, lead author of the paper published online this month by the journal Icarus. "It reminds you Mars is an active planet, and we can study processes that are happening today."

These asteroids or comet fragments typically are no more than 3 to 6 feet (1 to 2 meters) in diameter. Space rocks too small to reach the ground on Earth cause craters on Mars because the Red Planet has a much thinner atmosphere.

Examples of craters listed. Credits: NASA / JPL

HiRISE targeted places where dark spots had appeared during the time between images taken by the spacecraft's Context Camera (CTX) or cameras on other orbiters. The new estimate of cratering rate is based on a portion of the 248 new craters detected. If comes from a systematic check of a dusty fraction of the planet with CTX since late 2006. The impacts disturb the dust, creating noticeable blast zones. In this part of the research, 44 fresh impact sites were identified.

The meteor over Chelyabinsk, Russia, in February was about 10 times bigger than the objects that dug the fresh Martian craters.
Estimates of the rate at which new craters appear serve as scientists' best yardstick for estimating the ages of exposed landscape surfaces on Mars and other worlds.

Daubar and co-authors calculated a rate for how frequently new craters at least 12.8 feet (3.9 meters) in diameter are excavated. The rate is equivalent to an average of one each year on each area of the Martian surface roughly the size of the U.S. state of Texas. Earlier estimates pegged the cratering rate at three to 10 times more craters per year. They were based on studies of craters on the moon and the ages of lunar rocks collected during NASA's Apollo missions in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

"Mars now has the best-known current rate of cratering in the solar system," said HiRISE Principal Investigator Alfred McEwen of the University of Arizona, a co-author on the paper.

MRO has been examining Mars with six instruments since 2006.

"The longevity of this mission is providing wonderful opportunities for investigating changes on Mars," said MRO Deputy Project Scientist Leslie Tamppari of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.

The University of Arizona Lunar and Planetary Laboratory operates the HiRISE camera, which was built by Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp. of Boulder, Colo. Malin Space Science Systems of San Diego built and operates the Context Camera. JPL manages the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter for NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington. Lockheed Martin Space Systems of Denver, built the orbiter.

To see images of the craters, visit:

For more information about HiRISE, visit:

For more about MRO, visit:

Images, Text, Credits: NASA / JPL.


mercredi 15 mai 2013

Black Hole-Powered Jets Plow Into Galaxy

NASA - Chandra X-ray Observatory patch.

May 15, 2013

This composite image of a galaxy illustrates how the intense gravity of a supermassive black hole can be tapped to generate immense power. The image contains X-ray data from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory (blue), optical light obtained with the Hubble Space Telescope (gold) and radio waves from the NSF’s Very Large Array (pink).

This multi-wavelength view shows 4C+29.30, a galaxy located some 850 million light years from Earth. The radio emission comes from two jets of particles that are speeding at millions of miles per hour away from a supermassive black hole at the center of the galaxy. The estimated mass of the black hole is about 100 million times the mass of our Sun. The ends of the jets show larger areas of radio emission located outside the galaxy.

The X-ray data show a different aspect of this galaxy, tracing the location of hot gas. The bright X-rays in the center of the image mark a pool of million-degree gas around the black hole. Some of this material may eventually be consumed by the black hole, and the magnetized, whirlpool of gas near the black hole could in turn, trigger more output to the radio jet.

Most of the low-energy X-rays from the vicinity of the black hole are absorbed by dust and gas, probably in the shape of a giant doughnut around the black hole. This doughnut, or torus blocks all the optical light produced near the black hole, so astronomers refer to this type of source as a hidden or buried black hole. The optical light seen in the image is from the stars in the galaxy.

For more information about Chandra X-ray Observatory, visit:

Image, Text, Credit: NASA.


Orion's Hidden Fiery Ribbon

ESO - European Southern Observatory logo.

15 May 2013

 An APEX view of star formation in the Orion Nebula

This dramatic new image of cosmic clouds in the constellation of Orion reveals what seems to be a fiery ribbon in the sky. This orange glow represents faint light coming from grains of cold interstellar dust, at wavelengths too long for human eyes to see. It was observed by the ESO-operated Atacama Pathfinder Experiment (APEX) in Chile.

Clouds of gas and interstellar dust are the raw materials from which stars are made. But these tiny dust grains block our view of what lies within and behind the clouds — at least at visible wavelengths — making it difficult to observe the processes of star formation.

The constellation of Orion showing the region shown in a new APEX image

This is why astronomers need to use instruments that are able to see at other wavelengths of light. At submillimetre wavelengths, rather than blocking light, the dust grains shine due to their temperatures of a few tens of degrees above absolute zero [1]. The APEX telescope with its submillimetre-wavelength camera LABOCA, located at an altitude of 5000 metres above sea level on the Chajnantor Plateau in the Chilean Andes, is the ideal tool for this kind of observation.

This spectacular new picture shows just a part of a bigger complex called the Orion Molecular Cloud, in the constellation of Orion (The Hunter). A rich melting pot of bright nebulae, hot young stars and cold dust clouds, this region is hundreds of light-years across and located about 1350 light-years from us. The submillimetre-wavelength glow arising from the cold dust clouds is seen in orange in this image and is overlaid on a view of the region taken in the more familiar visible light.

Wide-field view of part of Orion in visible light

The large bright cloud in the upper right of the image is the well-known Orion Nebula, also called Messier 42. It is readily visible to the naked eye as the slightly fuzzy middle “star” in the sword of Orion. The Orion Nebula is the brightest part of a huge stellar nursery where new stars are being born, and is the closest site of massive star formation to Earth.

The dust clouds form beautiful filaments, sheets, and bubbles as a result of processes including gravitational collapse and the effects of stellar winds. These winds are streams of gas ejected from the atmospheres of stars, which are powerful enough to shape the surrounding clouds into the convoluted forms seen here.

Zooming in on an APEX view of part of the Orion Nebula

Astronomers have used these and other data from APEX along with images from ESA’s Herschel Space Observatory, to search the region of Orion for protostars — an early stage of star formation. They have so far been able to identify 15 objects that appeared much brighter at longer wavelengths than at shorter wavelengths. These newly discovered rare objects are probably among the youngest protostars ever found, bringing astronomers closer to witnessing the moment when a star begins to form.

A close look at an APEX view of part of the Orion Nebula


[1] Hotter objects give off most of their radiation at shorter wavelengths and cooler ones at longer wavelengths. As an example very hot stars (surface temperatures around 20 000 degrees Kelvin) look blue and cooler ones (surface temperatures of around 3000 degrees Kelvin) look red. And a cloud of dust with a temperature of only ten degrees Kelvin has its peak of emission at a much longer wavelength — around 0.3 millimetres — in the part of the spectrum where APEX is very sensitive.

More information:

The research on protostars in this region is described in the paper “A Herschel and APEX Census of the Reddest Sources in Orion: Searching for the Youngest Protostars” by A. Stutz et al., in the Astrophysical Journal.

The APEX observations used in this image were led by Thomas Stanke (ESO), Tom Megeath (University of Toledo, USA), and Amelia Stutz (Max Planck Institute for Astronomy, Heidelberg, Germany). APEX is a collaboration between the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy (MPIfR), the Onsala Space Observatory (OSO) and ESO. Operation of APEX at Chajnantor is entrusted to ESO.

ESO is the foremost intergovernmental astronomy organisation in Europe and the world’s most productive ground-based astronomical observatory by far. It is supported by 15 countries: Austria, Belgium, Brazil, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Finland, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. 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, the world’s most advanced visible-light astronomical observatory and two survey telescopes. VISTA works in the infrared and is the world’s largest survey telescope and the VLT Survey Telescope is the largest telescope designed to exclusively survey the skies in visible light. ESO is the European partner of a revolutionary astronomical telescope ALMA, the largest astronomical project in existence. ESO is currently planning the 39-metre European Extremely Large optical/near-infrared Telescope, the E-ELT, which will become “the world’s biggest eye on the sky”.


Related press releases:



Research paper:

Photos of APEX:

Photos taken by APEX:

Images, Text, Credits: ESO / Digitized Sky Survey 2, Acknowledgement: Davide De Martin / IAU and Sky & Telescope / Videos: ESO / Nick Risinger (, Digitized Sky Survey 2. Music: movetwo / delmo "acoustic".


mardi 14 mai 2013

A fundamental property of the rarest element on Earth

CERN - European Organization for Nuclear Research logo.

May 14, 2013

 Part of the resonance ionization laser ion source (RILIS) at ISOLDE (Image: ISOLDE/CERN)

An international team of physicists at the radioactive-beam facility ISOLDE at CERN have for the first time measured the ionization potential of the rare radioactive element astatine.

The value for astatine, published today in the journal Nature Communications, could help chemists to develop applications for the element in radiotherapy, and will serve as a benchmark for theories that predict the structure of super-heavy elements.

The ionization potential of an element is the energy needed to remove one electron from the atom, thereby turning it into an ion. This measurement is related to the chemical reactivity of an element and, indirectly, to the stability of its chemical bonds in compounds.

Astatine occurs naturally in only trace amounts on Earth but physicists at ISOLDE can make artificial isotopes of astatine by proton-induced reactions and use wavelength-tuneable lasers to study their atomic structure through a technique known as in-source laser resonance ionization spectroscopy. By applying this technique whilst carefully scanning the laser wavelengths, ISOLDE physicists measured the ionization potential of astatine to be 9.31751 electronvolts.

Electron shell diagram for Astatine, the 85th element in the periodic table of elements

The measurement fills a long-standing gap in the periodic table; astatine is the last element present in nature for which this fundamental property remained unknown. The element is of particular interest because isotopes of astatine are candidates for the creation of radiopharmaceuticals for cancer treatment by targeted alpha therapy.

"None of the many short-lived isotopes used in medicine exist in nature; they have to be artificially produced by nuclear reactions," says Bruce Marsh of the resonance ionization laser ion source (RILIS) at ISOLDE. "The possible medical isotopes of astatine are not so different in this respect.  What is different about astatine is that its scarcity in nature makes it difficult to study by experiment, which is why this measurement of one of the fundamental properties is a significant achievement. "

The experimental value for astatine also serves for benchmarking theories that predict the atomic and chemical properties of super-heavy elements, in particular the recently discovered element 117, an astatine homologue. 

“In-source laser spectroscopy today is a most sensitive method to study atomic properties of exotic short-lived isotopes," says RILIS team leader Valentin Fedosseev. "It is well suited to explore the spectra of artificially produced elements, like the super-heavy ones. The success in this study of astatine has added confidence for similar projects started recently at GANIL, France and at JINR, Russia.”


CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, is the world's leading laboratory for particle physics. It has its headquarters in Geneva. At present, its Member States are Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. Romania is a candidate for accession. Israel is an Associate Member in the pre-stage to Membership. India, Japan, the Russian Federation, the United States of America, Turkey, the European Commission and UNESCO have Observer status.

Read the paper: "Measurement of the first ionization potential of astatine by laser ionization spectroscopy":

Related links:

Nature Communications:


For more information about CERN, visit:

Images, Text, Credits: CERN / ISOLDE / Cian O'Luanaigh /


Rocket Proton-M with the spacecraft Eutelsat 3D launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome

ILS /  ROSCOSMOS - Eutelsat 3D mission poster.


 Proton-M with the spacecraft Eutelsat 3D launch

May 14 at 20 h 02 min. Moscow time from the launch complex area 200 Baikonur calculations of rocket launchers and space industry in Russia is produced launch Vehicle (ILV) Proton-M with the upper stage (RB) Breeze-M, dedicated to the orbit telecommunications satellites vehicle (SV) Eutelsat 3D.

Launch of Eutelsat 3D on Proton-M Rocket

Eutelsat 3D will provide customers in Europe and Africa with communications services.

Eutelsat 3D satellite

According to the flight cyclogram head unit in the Republic of Belarus Breeze-M and the SC Eutelsat 3D separated from the third stage of the launch vehicle. The satellite are into the target orbit.

For more information about ILS, visit:

Original Roscosmos Press Release:

Images, Video, Text, Credits: ILS / ROSCOSMOS / Translation, screen captures (launch image): Aerospace.


ISS Expedition 35 Astronauts Land Safely in Kazakhstan, Expedition 36 Begins

ROSCOSMOS - Soyuz TMA07M Mission patch.

May 14, 2013

 Expedition 35 Landing

Three members of the International Space Station Expedition 35 crew undocked from the orbiting laboratory and returned safely to Earth Monday, May 13, wrapping up a mission lasting almost five months. The departure marks the beginning of Expedition 36.

Expedition 35 Crew Lands Safely in Kazakhstan

Space station Commander Chris Hadfield of the Canadian Space Agency, Soyuz Commander Roman Romanenko of the Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos) and NASA Flight Engineer Tom Marshburn undocked their Soyuz TMA-07M spacecraft from the space station at 7:08 p.m. EDT. They landed southeast of Dzhezkazgan, Kazakhstan, about 10:31 p.m. (8:31 a.m. May 14, Kazakh time).

Image above: The Soyuz spacecraft bearing Expedition 35 Commander Chris Hadfield (seen at left after landing), Soyuz Commander Roman Romanenko (center) and Flight Engineer Tom Marshburn (right) landed at 10:31 p.m. EDT in Kazakhstan. Ground-crew teams will land and begin the process of checking the vehicle and getting the crew out.

Hadfield, Romanenko and Marshburn traveled almost 62 million miles while completing 2,336 orbits of Earth. The trio arrived at the station Dec. 21 and spent 146 days in space, 144 of which were aboard the station.

Pavel Vinogradov of Roscosmos is in command of Expedition 36. He is joined by NASA Flight Engineer Chris Cassidy and Russian cosmonaut Alexander Misurkin. That trio will work aboard the station until three additional crew members, including NASA astronaut Karen Nyberg, arrive May 28.

Image above: The Expedition 35 crew members undock from the station aboard the Soyuz TMA-07M spacecraft. Credit: NASA TV.

The undocking marked the end of Expedition 35 and the start of Expedition 36 under the command of Russian cosmonaut Pavel Vinogradov, who is scheduled to remain on the station with Flight Engineers Chris Cassidy and Alexander Misurkin until September. Hadfield ceremonially handed command of the station over to Vinogradov on Sunday. Vinogradov, Cassidy and Misurkin arrived at the station aboard the Soyuz TMA-08M spacecraft in March 2013.

Vinogradov, Cassidy and Misurkin will remain aboard the orbiting complex as a three-person crew until the May 28 launch and docking of Expedition 36 Flight Engineers Karen Nyberg, Fyodor Yurchikhin, Luca Parmitano.

To follow Twitter updates from NASA's space station astronauts, visit:

For more information about the International Space Station and its crew, visit:

Read more about Expedition 35:

Read more about Expedition 36:

Images, Video, Text, Credits:  Credit: NASA / NASA TV / Carla Cioffi.

Best regards,

lundi 13 mai 2013

International Crew Undocks from ISS

ROSCOSMOS - Soyuz TMA-07M Mission patch.

May 13, 2013

Expedition 35 Commander Chris Hadfield, Soyuz Commander Roman Romanenko and Flight Engineer Tom Marshburn undocked from the International Space Station at 7:08 p.m. EDT Monday night, wrapping up 146 days in space. A deorbit burn, planned at 9:37 p.m., will set the Soyuz on track for a landing at 10:30 p.m.

Expedition 35 Farewell and Undocking

Expedition 35 Commander Chris Hadfield, Soyuz Commander Roman Romanenko and Flight Engineer Tom Marshburn are set to return to Earth Monday night to wrap up 146 days in space and 144 days on the International Space Station.

Image above: Eight of the 12 prime Russian MI-8 helicopters flew from the staging city in Karaganda, Kazakhstan to Dzhezkazgan early Monday to pre-stage for landing. Four additional helicopters will depart Karaganda two hours prior to landing to converge on the landing zone. Credit: NASA TV.

The undocking will mark the end of Expedition 35 and the start of Expedition 36 under the command of Russian cosmonaut Pavel Vinogradov, who is scheduled to remain on the station with Flight Engineers Chris Cassidy and Alexander Misurkin until September. Hadfield ceremonially handed command of the station over to Vinogradov on Sunday. Vinogradov, Cassidy and Misurkin arrived at the station aboard the Soyuz TMA-08M spacecraft in March 2013.

Soyuz De-orbit and Entry shema. Credit: NASA TV

Vinogradov, Cassidy and Misurkin will remain aboard the orbiting complex as a three-person crew until the May 28 launch and docking of Expedition 36 Flight Engineers Karen Nyberg, Fyodor Yurchikhin, Luca Parmitano.

Video above: The station crew members participate in a change of command ceremony on Sunday. Credit: NASA TV.

Hadfield, Marshburn and Romanenko spent their final morning aboard the station Monday packing some final items for return to Earth aboard their Soyuz spacecraft. Marshburn removed a sample canister from a Japanese protein crystal growth experiment and handed it off to his Russian crewmates to stow inside the Soyuz.

Image above: The Atlantic coastline forms the backdrop for a medium close-up of a docked Russian Soyuz spacecraft and the solar panel of a Russian Progress cargo carrier. Credit: NASA.

With the successful completion of the Binary Colloid Alloy Test-6, or BCAT-6, Hadfield stowed the experiment hardware in the Zarya module. BCAT-6 took a look at how gasses and liquids come together and separate in space. Results from this experiment may lead to improvements in the shelf-life of household products, food and medicine.

Hadfield also assisted Cassidy with a periodic fitness evaluation as flight surgeons keep track of the crew’s health during these long-duration missions. Cassidy exercised on the station’s exercise bike -- the Cycle Ergometer with Vibration Isolation and Stabilization – while Hadfield collected blood pressure measurements.

A map of the Expedition 35 landing site in Kazakhstan. Credit: NASA

Cassidy also installed a new HD camera in the Destiny lab and upgraded a video encoder card in an associated computer.

Astronaut Shannon Walker, who served as an Expedition 24/25 flight engineer in 2010, talked about the preparations station crew members make before leaving the station during an interview on Space Station Live on Monday.

The spare Pump and Flow Control Subassembly (PFCS) box installed Saturday by Cassidy and Marshburn during their 5-hour, 30-minute spacewalk continues to be checked out by flight controllers, but is showing no signs of ammonia leakage at this point and is functioning normally.

Video above: Commander Chris Hadfield performs David Bowie's Space Oddity from ISS. Credits. CSA-ASC / NASA TV.

Exceptionally, to celebrate the success of the spacewalk to repair the ammonia leak, Hadfield made ​​a music video clip with the resumption of the David Bowie song - Space Oddity.

For more information about the International Space Station (ISS), visit:

Read more about Expedition 35:

Read more about Expedition 36:

Images (mentioned), Videos (mentioned), Text, Credit: NASA.


First X-Class Solar Flares of 2013

NASA - Solar Dynamics Observatory patch / NASA & ESA - SOHO Mission patch.

May 13, 2013

On May 13, 2013, the sun emitted an X2.8-class flare, peaking at 12:05 p.m. EDT. This is the the strongest X-class flare of 2013 so far, surpassing in strength the X1.7-class flare that occurred 14 hours earlier. It is the 16th X-class flare of the current solar cycle and the third-largest flare of that cycle. The second-strongest was an X5.4 event on March 7, 2012. The strongest was an X6.9 on Aug. 9, 2011.

Image above: On May 13, 2013, an X2.8-class flare erupted from the sun -- the strongest flare of 2013 to date. This image of the flare, shown in the upper left corner, was captured by NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory in light of 131 angstroms, a wavelength which is particularly good for capturing the intense heat of a solar flare and which is typically colorized in teal. Credit: NASA/SDO.

Image above: On May 13, 2013, an X2.8-class flare erupted from the sun – the strongest flare of 2013 to date. This image of the flare, shown in the upper left corner, was captured by NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory in light of 131 Angstroms, a wavelength which is particularly good for capturing the intense heat of a solar flare and which is typically colorized in teal. Credit: NASA/SDO

On May 12, 2013, the sun emitted a significant solar flare, peaking at 10 p.m. EDT. This flare is classified as an X1.7, making it the first X-class flare of 2013. The flare was also associated with another solar phenomenon, called a coronal mass ejection (CME) that can send solar material out into space. This CME was not Earth-directed.

Image above: The sun erupted with an X1.7-class solar flare on May 12, 2013. This is a blend of two images of the flare from NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory: One image shows light in the 171-angstrom wavelength, the other in 131 angstroms. Credit: NASA/SDO/AIA.

Image above: The sun erupted with an X1.7-class solar flare on May 12, 2013. This is a blend of two images of the flare from NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) -- one image shows light in the 171 Angstrom wavelength, the other in 131 Angstroms. Credit: NASA/SDO/AIA.

Solar flares are powerful bursts of radiation. Harmful radiation from a flare cannot pass through Earth's atmosphere to physically affect humans on the ground, however -- when intense enough -- they can disturb the atmosphere in the layer where GPS and communications signals travel. This disrupts the radio signals for as long as the flare is ongoing – the radio blackout associated with this flare has since subsided.

Image above: SOHO LASCO C2 image of the May 13, 2013 associated CME. Credit: ESA&NASA/SOHO.

"X-class" denotes the most intense flares, while the number provides more information about its strength. An X2 is twice as intense as an X1, an X3 is three times as intense, etc.

SDO 304 Angstrom image of prominence eruption. Cropped. Credit: NASA/SDO

This flare erupted from an active region just out of sight over the left side of the sun, a region that will soon rotate into view. This region has produced two smaller M-class flares as well.

SDO 304 Angstrom image of prominence eruption. Credit: NASA/SDO

The May 12 flare was also associated with a coronal mass ejection, another solar phenomenon that can send billions of tons of solar particles into space, which can affect electronic systems in satellites and on the ground. Experimental NASA research models show that the CME left the sun at 745 miles per second and is not Earth-directed, however its flank may pass by the STEREO-B and Spitzer spacecraft, and their mission operators have been notified. If warranted, operators can put spacecraft into safe mode to protect the instruments from solar material. There is some particle radiation associated with this event, which is what can concern operators of interplanetary spacecraft since the particles can trip computer electronics on board.

video above: On May 12, 2013, an X1.7-class flare and a coronal mass ejection, or CME, erupted off the upper-left side of the sun. Solar material also danced and blew off the sun in what's called a prominence eruption, both in that spot and one on the lower right side of the sun. This movie compiles imagery of this activity from NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory and from NASA and the European Space Agency's Solar and Heliospheric Observatory. Credit: NASA/SDO/ESA/SOHO.

Increased numbers of flares are quite common at the moment because the sun's normal 11-year activity cycle is ramping up toward solar maximum, which is expected in 2013. Humans have tracked the solar cycle continuously since it was discovered in 1843, and it is normal for there to be many flares a day during the sun's peak activity. The first X-class flare of the current solar cycle occurred on Feb. 15, 2011, and there have been another 15 X-class flares since, including this one. The largest X-class flare in this cycle was an X6.9 on Aug. 9, 2011.

NOAA's Space Weather Prediction Center ( is the U.S. government's official source for space weather forecasts, alerts, watches and warnings.

What is a solar flare?

For answers to these and other space weather questions, please visit the Space Weather Frequently Asked Questions page:

Related Links:

View Past Solar Activity:

Images (mentioned), Video (mentioned), Text, Credits: NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center / Karen C. Fox.

Best regards,

Galaxy zoom

ESA - Hubble Space Telescope patch.

13 May 2013

 Abell S1077

Bright arcs are smeared around the heart of galaxy cluster Abell S1077 in this image taken by the NASA/ESA Hubble space telescope. The arcs are stretched images of distant galaxies distorted by the cluster’s enormous gravitational field.

Galaxy clusters are large groupings of galaxies, each hosting millions of stars. They are the largest existing structures in the Universe, bound by the gravitational attraction between them.

The amount of matter condensed in such groupings is so high that their gravity is enough to warp even the fabric of space-time, distorting the path that light takes when it travels through the cluster.

In some cases, this phenomenon produces an effect somewhat like a magnifying lens, allowing us to see objects that are aligned behind the cluster and that would otherwise be undetectable from Earth.

In this image, stretched stripes that look like scratches on a lens are in fact galaxies whose light is heavily distorted by the gravitational field of the cluster.

Astronomers use the effects of gravitational lensing to peer far back in time and space to see the furthest objects located in the early Universe.

One of the record holders is galaxy MACS0647-JD, whose light was magnified by galaxy cluster MACS J0647+7015 and has been travelling for 13.3 billion years to reach Earth.


The Hubble Space Telescope is a project of international cooperation between ESA and NASA.

ESA Hubble website:

NASA Hubble website:

Related link:

Hubble overview:

Image, Text, Credits: ESA / Hubble & NASA; Acknowledgement: N. Rose.