jeudi 3 octobre 2013

Ancient Supervolcanoes Rocked Early Mars

NASA - Goddard Space Flight Centre logo / Planetary Science Institute (animated) logo.

Oct. 3, 2013

Ancient Mars could have been home to a type of supervolcano that affected its atmosphere and was partly responsible for the barren red planet scientists are exploring today.

Image above: A false-color view of Eden Patera, a possible supervolcano on Mars. Image Credits: ASU/GSFC/JPL/NASA.

Boffins from the Planetary Science Institute and the NASA Goddard Space Flight Centre have postulated that a vast circular basin on the Red Planet known as Eden Patera – which was previously thought to be an impact crater – is actually the remnants of a massive new type of volcano.

Scientists had previously seen evidence of other types of newer eruptions, called shield volcanoes, during the Red Planet's Hesperian geological time period. But the paper looks into an entirely new category of Martian volcanic construct: ancient supervolcanoes.

When a "supervolcano" erupted, the scientists theorise, it left a volcanic "caldera" – a depression in the planet’s surface – which looks like a crater.

"This highly explosive type of eruption is a game-changer, spewing many times more ash and other material than typical, younger Martian volcanoes," Goddard’s Jacob Bleacher said. "During these types of eruptions on Earth, the debris may spread so far through the atmosphere and remain so long that it alters the global temperature for years."

Arabia Tera with potential volcanic calderas labeled. Image credit: Michalski et al.

The researchers reckon that a large body of magma loaded with dissolved gas rose to the surface very quickly. They compared the supervolcano’s eruption with a bottle of soda being shaken, blowing its contents far and wide across the Martian landscape.

Because so much material explodes away, the depression left behind can collapse even further, making it look less like the site of a volcano. Similar eruptions happened on prehistoric Earth in places like Yellowstone National Park in the US and Lake Toba in Indonesia.

Eden Patera is located in the Arabia Terra region of Mars, an area known for its impact craters. But PSI’s Joseph Michalski began to suspect that it wasn’t just another crater when he examined data from NASA's Mars Odyssey, Mars Global Surveyor and Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter spacecraft, as well as from the European Space Agency's Mars Express orbiter. He noticed that the “crater” was missing its rim and the ejecta – melted rock that splashes out when an object hits a planet.

The researchers say the new type of volcano explains the discrepancy between the lava and pyroclastic materials found on Arabia Terra and beyond could not be accounted for by the shield volcanoes.

Supervolcanoes on Mars

Bleacher identified features at the site that showed volcanism, such as the rock ledges which are usually left behind after a lava lake slowly drains and the kinds of faults and valleys around the crater that are created when the ground collapses due to volcanic activity beneath the surface. The team also reckons that a few other basins nearby could be volcano remnants as well.

"If just a handful of volcanoes like these were once active, they could have had a major impact on the evolution of Mars," Bleacher said.

The full study, “Supervolcanoes within an ancient volcanic province in Arabia Terra, Mars”, was published in Nature.

Scientific Caution

"Every decade or two someone proposes yet another otherwise previously unrecognized volcano on Mars," says space volcanology expert Larry Crumpler of the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science in Albuquerque. He calls the supervolcano "an interesting new idea about Martian highlands volcanism where none had been proposed before."

However, both Crumpler and MIT's Maria Zuber (who calls the observations "well supported") caution that the supervolcanoes idea rests on interpretation of the Martian surface, which has a long history of misleading observers.

"Like most remote-sensing studies it relies principally on circumstantial evidence," Crumpler says. "Nonetheless, it postulates an intriguing direction for future research regarding what was the wettest period in Martian geologic history."

Images (mentioned), Video, Text, Credits: NASA / Planetary Science Institute / Nature Video.


Completed the correction of the orbit of the International Space Station

ISS - International Space Station patch.


According to the International Space Station (ISS) on October 2 the correction of its orbit.

According to calculations by the service ballistic and navigation support the Mission Control Center FSUE TsNIIMash, propulsion cargo ship ATV-4 was included in the 23 hours 22 minutes Moscow time.

ISS reboost

According to the duration of the telemetry control was 815 seconds. As a result, ISS has received the increment speed of 1.95 m / s, the average height of the orbit of the station increased by 3.4 km and reached 418.2 km. The purpose of the operation - maintenance work of the ISS.

Roscosmos Press Release:

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


mardi 1 octobre 2013

Herschel helps find elusive signals from the early Universe

ESA - Herschel Mission patch.

1 October 2013

 Deflecting light from the Big Bang

Using a telescope in Antarctica and ESA’s Herschel space observatory, astronomers have made the first detection of a subtle twist in the relic radiation from the Big Bang, paving the way towards revealing the first moments of the Universe’s existence.

The elusive signal was found in the way the first light in the Universe has been deflected during its journey to Earth by intervening galaxy clusters and dark matter, an invisible substance that is detected only indirectly through its gravitational influence.

The discovery points the way towards finding evidence for gravitational waves born during the Universe’s rapid ‘inflation’ phase, a crucial result keenly anticipated from ESA’s Planck mission.

The relic radiation from the Big Bang – the Cosmic Microwave Background, or CMB – was imprinted on the sky when the Universe was just 380 000 years old. Today, some 13.8 billion years later, we see it as a sky filled with radio waves at a temperature of just 2.7 degrees above absolute zero.

Tiny variations in this temperature – around a few tens of millionths of a degree – reveal density fluctuations in the early Universe corresponding to the seeds of galaxies and stars we see today. The most detailed all-sky map of temperature variations in the background was revealed by Planck in March.

But the CMB also contains a wealth of other information. A small fraction of the light is polarised, like the light we can see using polarised glasses. This polarised light has two distinct patterns: E-modes and B-modes.

E-modes were first found in 2002 with a ground-based telescope. B-modes, however, are potentially much more exciting to cosmologists, although much harder to detect.

Herschel Space Observatory

They can arise in two ways. The first involves adding a twist to the light as it crosses the Universe and is deflected by galaxies and dark matter – a phenomenon known as gravitational lensing.

The second has its roots buried deep in the mechanics of a very rapid phase of enormous expansion of the Universe, which cosmologists believe happened just a tiny fraction of a second after the Big Bang – ‘inflation’.

The new study has combined data from the South Pole Telescope and Herschel to make the first detection of B-mode polarisation in the CMB due to gravitational lensing.

“This measurement was made possible by a clever and unique combination of ground-based observations from the South Pole Telescope – which measured the light from the Big Bang – with space-based observations from Herschel, which is sensitive to the galaxies that trace the dark matter which caused the gravitational lensing,” says Joaquin Vieira, of the California Institute of Technology and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, who led the Herschel survey used in the study.

Related links:

Herschel: ESA's giant infrared observatory:

Herschel overview:

Online Showcase of Herschel Images OSHI:

Herschel in depth:

Herschel Science Centre:

Images, Text, Credits: ESA and the Planck Collaboration.


Flight tests of the space complex studies of the natural resources of the Earth Resource-P



September 30 at a meeting of the Federal Space Agency of the State Commission for conducting flight tests of space systems of socio-economic , scientific and commercial purposes, which considered the results of flight tests of the space complex (CC ) Resource -P with the spacecraft (SC ) Resource-P № 1.

Based on the results obtained during the flight tests , it was decided according QC "Resource-P" with "Resurs-P" № 1 tactical and technical requirements of the job and transferring it into regular operations on October 1, 2013.

Space complex Resource-P is for high-precision , detailed broadband and hyperspectral optical- electronic monitoring Earth's surface.

Image above: The launch is the Resource-P № 1 was completed June 25, 2013 from the Baikonur Cosmodrome.

"Resurs-P" created SRP TsSKB Progress on the basis of the existing backlog and project developments to improve its performance objectives - increasing the number of narrow spectral ranges from 3 to 5, providing hyperspectral and stereo , geolocation to within 10-15 m without the use of ground control points , an increase of lifetime spacecraft with 3 to 5 years. High-precision spacecraft control system, including the ability to shoot provides a route along the flight path, and at an angle to it. Provides the ability to implement and stereo recording space on one turn.

Resource-P № 1 description

This spacecraft was the second in a series of satellites of the resource in the domestic constellation of civilian remote sensing of the Earth c detailed level of resolution and is designed to inform problem solving Earth observation:

- compiling and updating the general geographic, thematic and topographic maps;

- control of pollution and environmental degradation;

- inventory of natural resources and monitor business processes to ensure the rational activity in various sectors of the economy;

- information management activities for oil exploration , natural gas , ore and other mineral deposits;

- control of development of territories , to obtain data for engineering evaluation areas for the benefit of economic activity;

- control of water conservation and protected areas;

- assess ice conditions;

- Observation of emergencies , disasters, accidents, man-made disasters , as well as assess their implications for planning remediation.

Resource-P - a device with a qualitatively new features, and above all, the composition used to it target equipment. One of the basic principles of formation of shape space complex (CC ) Resource-P is the use of technical solutions which have been accumulated in creating QC Resource-DK. Have improved considerably spacecraft Resource- DK to the width of the capture and the level of resolution in panchromatic and spectral ranges. It operates at near-circular sun-synchronous orbit, which can significantly improve the observations on the "Resurs-DK". The new spacecraft will be able to shoot at the same height and in the same lighting conditions. The frequency of observation is reduced from six to three days. Furthermore, improved consumer properties and precision reference images transmitted to Earth dynamic characteristics of the spacecraft.

Resource-P № 1spacecraft in orbit

Capacity of tactical and technical characteristics of the new spacecraft achieved through the use of several types of imaging equipment . At the "Resurs -P" is set opto- electronic equipment , which will deliver highly detailed images with a resolution of 1 m with a height of 475 km in the panchromatic band, a narrow spectral bands with a resolution of at least 4.3 meters.

The task of equipment "Resurs -P" introduced two other types of imaging equipment : hyperspectral survey equipment - GSA (development of CMH) and a set of wide field multispectral imaging equipment - KSHMSA (development branch SRP TsSKB Progress - SPE OPTEKS). Locking band hyperspectral instrument is 25 km and a resolution of about 25 m KSHMSA allows detailed observation with wide with a resolution of 12 m swath of 100 km, with a resolution of 60 m - a swath width of 440 km . Together with panchromatic images allows simultaneous recording at fixed spectral ranges.

The presence of this equipment will increase list and quality of the spacecraft solved problems in the socio-economic development of the country and its regions.

ROSCOSMOS Press Release:

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

Best regards,

NASA Space Telescopes Find Patchy Clouds on Exotic World

NASA - Kepler Mission patch / NASA - Spitzer Space Telescope patch.

Oct. 1, 2013

Astronomers using data from NASA's Kepler and Spitzer space telescopes have created the first cloud map of a planet beyond our solar system, a sizzling, Jupiter-like world known as Kepler-7b.

Partially Cloudy Skies on Kepler-7b (Artist's Concept)

Image above: Kepler-7b (left), which is 1.5 times the radius of Jupiter (right), is the first exoplanet to have its clouds mapped. The cloud map was produced using data from NASA's Kepler and Spitzer space telescopes. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MIT.

The planet is marked by high clouds in the west and clear skies in the east. Previous studies from Spitzer have resulted in temperature maps of planets orbiting other stars, but this is the first look at cloud structures on a distant world.

"By observing this planet with Spitzer and Kepler for more than three years, we were able to produce a very low-resolution 'map' of this giant, gaseous planet," said Brice-Olivier Demory of Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge. Demory is lead author of a paper accepted for publication in the Astrophysical Journal Letters. "We wouldn't expect to see oceans or continents on this type of world, but we detected a clear, reflective signature that we interpreted as clouds."

Kepler has discovered more than 150 exoplanets, which are planets outside our solar system, and Kepler-7b was one of the first. The telescope's problematic reaction wheels prevent it from hunting planets any more, but astronomers continue to pore over almost four years' worth of collected data.

Kepler's visible-light observations of Kepler-7b's moon-like phases led to a rough map of the planet that showed a bright spot on its western hemisphere. But these data were not enough on their own to decipher whether the bright spot was coming from clouds or heat. The Spitzer Space Telescope played a crucial role in answering this question.

NASA Kepler Space Telescope. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Like Kepler, Spitzer can fix its gaze at a star system as a planet orbits around the star, gathering clues about the planet's atmosphere. Spitzer's ability to detect infrared light means it was able to measure Kepler-7b's temperature, estimating it between 1,500 and 1,800 degrees Fahrenheit (1,100 and 1,300 Kelvin). This is relatively cool for a planet that orbits so close to its star -- within 0.6 astronomical units -- and, according to astronomers, too cool to be the source of light Kepler observed. Instead, they determined, light from the planet's star is bouncing off cloud tops located on the west side of the planet.

"Kepler-7b reflects much more light than most giant planets we've found, which we attribute to clouds in the upper atmosphere," said Thomas Barclay, Kepler scientist at NASA's Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif. "Unlike those on Earth, the cloud patterns on this planet do not seem to change much over time -- it has a remarkably stable climate."

The findings are an early step toward using similar techniques to study the atmospheres of planets more like Earth in composition and size.

NASA Spitzer Space Telescope. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

"With Spitzer and Kepler together, we have a multi-wavelength tool for getting a good look at planets that are billions of miles away," said Paul Hertz, director of NASA's Astrophysics Division in Washington. "We're at a point now in exoplanet science where we are moving beyond just detecting exoplanets, and into the exciting science of understanding them."

Kepler identified planets by watching for dips in starlight that occur as the planets transit, or pass in front of their stars, blocking the light. This technique and other observations of Kepler-7b previously revealed that it is one of the puffiest planets known: if it could somehow be placed in a tub of water, it would float. The planet was also found to whip around its star in just less than five days.

For more information about Spitzer, visit:

For more information about Kepler, visit:

Images (mentioned), Text, Credits: NASA / Steve Cole / JPL / Whitney Clavin / Ames Research Center / Michele Johnson.


Brightest beacons

ESA patch.

Oct. 1, 2013

Deep-space missions require precise navigation, in particular when approaching bodies such as Mars, Venus or a comet. How precise?

It’s necessary to pinpoint a spacecraft 100 million kilometres from Earth to within 1 km. To achieve this level of accuracy, ESA experts use ‘quasars’ – the most luminous objects known in the Universe – as beacons in a technique known as Delta-Differential One-Way Ranging, or delta-DOR.

Quasars are fascinating objects that can emit 1000 times the energy of our entire Milky Way galaxy. This prodigious luminosity originates from a region only about the size of our Solar System. They are fuelled by supermassive black holes – which might be billions of times as massive as our Sun – feeding on matter at the centre of their host galaxies.

The image above shows one such quasar galaxy, NGC 4438, 50 million light-years from Earth.

Because quasars are extremely bright and distant, they can be used as reference points for spacecraft navigation.

In the delta-DOR technique, radio signals from a spacecraft are received by two separate ground stations, one, say, in New Norcia, Australia and one in Cebreros, Spain, and the difference in the times of arrival is precisely measured.

Next, errors due to the radio signals passing through Earth’s atmosphere are corrected by simultaneously tracking a quasar – the coordinates of which are precisely known.

“For delta-DOR to work, the quasar and the spacecraft should be within 10º as seen from Earth,” says Markus Landgraf, from ESA’s Mission Analysis team.

“There are around 200 000 quasars known in the Sloan Digital Sky Survey, and almost any of them are potential candidates to be used in delta-DOR tracking.”

Once the location of the spacecraft derived from the ground stations is compared to the known location of the quasar, engineers can apply corrections, delivering a significantly more accurate fix on its position.

“Quasar locations define a reference system. They enable engineers to improve the precision of the measurements taken by ground stations and improve the accuracy of the direction to the spacecraft to an order of a millionth of a degree,” says Frank Budnik, a flight dynamics expert at ESA.

Using the results of the delta-DOR processing together with the range and Doppler measurements, which are also derived from the spacecraft signals received on ground, ESA can achieve an accuracy in spacecraft location of just several hundred metres at a distance of 100 000 000 km.

More information:

About delta-DOR:

Cosmic engines surprise XMM-Newton:

Active Galaxy NGC 4438:

Black holes and quasars:

Image, Text, Credits: ESA / NASA, Jeffrey Kenney (Yale University), Elizabeth Yale (Yale University).


lundi 30 septembre 2013

NASA's Cassini Spacecraft Finds Ingredient of Household Plastic in Space

NASA / ESA - Cassini Mission to Saturn patch.

Sept 30, 2013

NASA's Cassini spacecraft has detected propylene, a chemical used to make food-storage containers, car bumpers and other consumer products, on Saturn's moon Titan.

This is the first definitive detection of the plastic ingredient on any moon or planet, other than Earth.

Propylene on Titan. Video Credit: NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center

A small amount of propylene was identified in Titan's lower atmosphere by Cassini's Composite Infrared Spectrometer (CIRS). This instrument measures the infrared light, or heat radiation, emitted from Saturn and its moons in much the same way our hands feel the warmth of a fire.

Propylene is the first molecule to be discovered on Titan using CIRS. By isolating the same signal at various altitudes within the lower atmosphere, researchers identified the chemical with a high degree of confidence. Details are presented in a paper in the Sept. 30 edition of the Astrophysical Journal Letters.

"This chemical is all around us in everyday life, strung together in long chains to form a plastic called polypropylene," said Conor Nixon, a planetary scientist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., and lead author of the paper. "That plastic container at the grocery store with the recycling code 5 on the bottom -- that's polypropylene."

CIRS can identify a particular gas glowing in the lower layers of the atmosphere from its unique thermal fingerprint. The challenge is to isolate this one signature from the signals of all other gases around it.

The detection of the chemical fills in a mysterious gap in Titan observations that dates back to NASA's Voyager 1 spacecraft and the first-ever close flyby of this moon in 1980.

Voyager identified many of the gases in Titan's hazy brownish atmosphere as hydrocarbons, the chemicals that primarily make up petroleum and other fossil fuels on Earth.

On Titan, hydrocarbons form after sunlight breaks apart methane, the second-most plentiful gas in that atmosphere. The newly freed fragments can link up to form chains with two, three or more carbons. The family of chemicals with two carbons includes the flammable gas ethane. Propane, a common fuel for portable stoves, belongs to the three-carbon family.

Voyager detected all members of the one- and two-carbon families in Titan's atmosphere. From the three-carbon family, the spacecraft found propane, the heaviest member, and propyne, one of the lightest members. But the middle chemicals, one of which is propylene, were missing.

NASA's Cassini Spacecraft Finds Ingredient of Household Plastic in Space

As researchers continued to discover more and more chemicals in Titan's atmosphere using ground- and space-based instruments, propylene was one that remained elusive. It was finally found as a result of more detailed analysis of the CIRS data.

"This measurement was very difficult to make because propylene's weak signature is crowded by related chemicals with much stronger signals," said Michael Flasar, Goddard scientist and principal investigator for CIRS. "This success boosts our confidence that we will find still more chemicals long hidden in Titan's atmosphere."

Cassini's mass spectrometer, a device that looks at the composition of Titan's atmosphere, had hinted earlier that propylene might be present in the upper atmosphere. However, a positive identification had not been made.

"I am always excited when scientists discover a molecule that has never been observed before in an atmosphere," said Scott Edgington, Cassini's deputy project scientist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, Calif. "This new piece of the puzzle will provide an additional test of how well we understand the chemical zoo that makes up Titan's atmosphere."

The Cassini-Huygens mission is a cooperative project of NASA, the European Space Agency and the Italian Space Agency. JPL manages the mission for NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington. The CIRS team is based at Goddard.

For more information about the Cassini mission, visit:

Images, Video (mentioned), Text, Credits: NASA / Dwayne Brown / Goddard Space Flight Center / Nancy Neal-Jones / Elizabeth Zubritsky / JPL / Jia-Rui Cook.


Proton-M / Briz-M makes successful Return to Flight - Delivering Astra 2E

ILS / ROSCOSMOS - Astra 2E Mission poster.

Sept. 30, 2013

 Proton-M / Briz-M carrying Astra 2E liftoff

The venerable Proton rocket has successfully returned to flight on Sunday, completing a flawless launch and ascent mission. A Proton-M/Briz-M launch vehicle blasted off from Site 200/39 at the Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan, at 21:38 UTC carrying the Astra 2E commercial communications satellite.

At T-2.5 seconds, the six RD-275M engines on the first stage of the rocket ignited - throttling up to Proton's full liftoff thrust of 1.014 Million Kilograms, which is 9,942 Kilonewtons - equivalent to ten Boeing 474 aircraft at full throttle. When engine start-up was complete, the Contact Liftoff Command was issued and the Proton Rocket blasted off from its pad.

Proton-M / Briz-M - Astra 2E Launch - September 29, 2013

The first stage is 21.2 meters long and 7.4 meters in diameter, holding 419,000 Kilograms of propellants at liftoff to be consumed during the first two minutes of flight.

The third stage and its engines performed a clean burn that was 4 minutes and 1 seconds in duration for the main engine that shut down at T+9:31 and 4 minutes and 18 seconds in duration for the smaller vernier engine which shut down at T+9:42.

At the same time, the Orbital Unit consisting of the Briz-M Upper Stage and Astra 2E Satellite was separated - being sent on its expected sub-orbital trajectory from where the Briz-M assumed control of the flight to boost the satellite into Geostationary Transfer Orbit.

The Proton followed a standard ascent profile delivering the Briz-M Upper Stage and its Astra 2E payload to a sub-orbital trajectory - successfully concluding its portion of the mission and handing control of the flight over to the Briz-M. The Upper Stage then executed its five burn mission profile over the course of more than nine hour to reach Geostationary Transfer Orbit with spacecraft separation.

Astra 2E spacecraft

The Astra 2E spacecraft was released on Monday morning at 6:50:10 UTC to begin its own mission in orbit that will feature apogee maneuvers to enable the spacecraft to enter is final Geostationary Orbit to begin its mission.

This marked the 389th flight of the Proton launch vehicle since the start of this historic program in 1965. It was the 82nd mission contracted by International Launch Services. Astra 2E was the 22rd SES satellite launched on a Proton and the 17th Astrium spacecraft to ride to orbit aboard Proton. This has been the 5th ILS Proton launch in 2013.

For more information about International Launch Services (ILS), visit:

Images, Video, Text, Credits: ROSCOSMOS / ILS / Catherine Laplace-Builhe.

Best regards,

Smart Mapping at the Moon's North Pole

ESA - SMART 1 Mission patch.

30 September 2013

ESA’s SMART-1 mission to the Moon – the first ESA spacecraft to travel to and orbit the Moon – was launched 10 years ago, on 27 September 2003, on an Ariane 5 from Europe’s spaceport in Kourou.

SMART stands for Small Missions for Advanced Research in Technology. The mission travelled to the Moon using electric propulsion, arriving in lunar orbit on 15 November 2004. Its battery of miniaturised instruments included an X-ray spectrometer to map key chemical elements in the lunar surface.

SMART-1 north pole travel map

The image highlighted here, which was first published in 2007, is a 30-image mosaic of the lunar north pole obtained with the SMART-1 AMIE camera, spanning an area of about 800 x 600 km.

The map shows the geography and illumination of the north pole, which are of particular interest for future exploration of the Moon. Some crater rims in this region are almost always exposed to sunlight, and are nicknamed “peaks of quasi-eternal light”. Conversely, some deep craters are permanently shadowed, and likely contain water ice that could be exploited by future explorers.

After having completed its science operations, the SMART-1 mission ended on 3 September 2006 by hitting the lunar surface. Earth-based telescopes recorded the impact as a bright flash and a burst of debris.

ESA’s SMART-1 spacecraft

The measurements made by SMART-1 were used to help later missions to the Moon, such as Japan’s Kaguya, India’s Chandrayaan-1, China’s Chang’e-1 and NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter.

The electric propulsion system developed for SMART-1 will benefit ESA’s upcoming BepiColombo mission to Mercury, and other future science missions.

More about:


SMART-1 factsheet:

SMART-1 in-depth:

Images, Text, Credits: ESA / SMART-1 / AMIE / M. Ellouzi & B. Foing.


dimanche 29 septembre 2013

SpaceX Falcon 9 Launch of Canada's Cassiope Satellite

SpaceX - Falcon-9 & Cassiope Mission patch / CSA-ASC - Cassiope Mission patch.

Sept. 29, 2013

 Falcon 9 rocket carrying  Cassiope satellite launch

SpaceX successfully launched their inaugural upgraded Falcon 9 rocket, called the Falcon 9 v1.1 today, September 29th 2013 at 16:00 UTC. The rocket carried the Cassiope payload into orbit. This was the first Vandenberg Air Force Base launch for SpaceX, as well as the first launch of a commercial payload.

Launch of Inaugural Falcon 9 v1.1 Rocket with Cassiope

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket will launch the Cassiope satellite for the Canadian Space Agency. This is the first launch of version 1.1 of the Falcon 9 rocket with upgraded Merlin 1D engines and stretched fuel tanks and is classified as a demonstration launch.

From the Canadian Space Agency: "CASSIOPE will make a significant contribution to unraveling the mysteries of space weather. To accomplish this feat, the satellite will use the scientific payload ePOP (enhanced polar outflow probe), which will observe the ionosphere, and a technology demonstrator Cascade payload, which will provide a 'proof of concept' for a digital broadband courier service for commercial use."

CASSIOPE: Observing Space Weather With a Hybrid Satellite

The communications technology demonstrator payload, entitled Cascade, serves as the second mission payload. Cascade will provide a 'proof of concept' design for a high volume store-and-forward data communications operational concept.

Like a courier in the sky, Cascade's operational concept is to pick up very large digital data files and deliver them to almost any destination in the world.

Cassiope satellite

CASSIOPE's hexagonal Smallsat bus platform measures only 180 cm long and 125 cm high.

It is more cost effective to construct and launch several small satellites with different goals than combining all the functionality on one big satellite. In addition to reducing the risk, this means that the satellites achieve their scientific or commercial objectives at a more reasonable cost.

The new platform produced for the CASSIOPE mission will also be versatile: it will be possible to adapt and use it for various missions involving science, technology, Earth observation, geologic exploration and information delivery.


Professor Andrew Yau of the University of Calgary directs the ePOP project and a team comprised of researchers and engineers from seven Canadian universities. The Communications Research Centre, located in Ottawa, as well as the Institute of Space and Astronautical Science of Japan and the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory are also partners in the project.

Moreover, CASSIOPE benefits from a solid partnership between the private and public sectors. Spearheaded by MDA, industry involvement has included Magellan and ComDEV. Vancouver's MDA serves as the mission prime contractor and will lead mission operations with the University of Calgary for a period of 18 months.

For more information about SapceX, visit:

For more information about Canadian Space Agency (CSA-ASC), visit:

Images, Video, Text, Credits: Aerospace / SpaceX / CSA-ASC.

Best regards,

ISS Crew Captures Cygnus

Orbital - Cygnus ISS Cargo Resupply Service patch.

Sept. 29, 2013

 Cygnus captured by Canadarm2

International Space Station Expedition 37 crew members successfully captured the Orbital Sciences Cygnus cargo spacecraft with the station’s robotic arm at 7:00 a.m. EDT.

Installation on the port of the station's Harmony module

Following its capture, the spacecraft is being maneuvered by Luca Parmitano of the European Space Agency and Karen Nyberg of NASA for installation onto the Earth-facing port of the station's Harmony module.

Cygnus Spacecraft Captured by Station's Robotic Arm

Nyberg and Parmitano began their workday aboard the space station reviewing Cygnus’ cargo manifest and discussing with ground teams the plan to unload the cargo.  During the month that Cygnus is berthed to the station, the crew will unload its 1,300 pounds of cargo and reload it with trash for disposal when Cygnus departs for a destructive re-entry in the Earth’s atmosphere.

Orbital - Antares Cygnus ISS Resupply Mission (Updated)

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

For more information about Orbital Sciences Corporation, visit:

Images, Video, Text, Credits: NASA / NASA TV / Orbital.