vendredi 22 novembre 2013

NASA Releases Comet ISON Images from STEREO

NASA - STEREO Mission logo.

Nov. 22, 2013

Animated image above: Comet ISON appeared in the higher-resolution HI-1 camera on NASA's STEREO-A spacecraft. Dark "clouds" coming from the right are more dense areas in the solar wind, causing ripples in Comet Encke's tail. Using comet tails as tracers can provide valuable data about solar wind conditions near the sun. Image Credit: Karl Battams/NASA/STEREO/CIOC.

Comet ISON entered the field of view of the HI-1 camera on NASA's Solar Terrestrial Relations Observatory, or STEREO, on Nov. 21, 2013, and the comet shows up clearly, appearing to still be intact.

Image above: Comet ISON entered the view of NASA's Solar Terrestrial Relations Observatory on Nov. 21, 2013, where it can be seen with Earth, Mercury and comet 2P/Encke. Image Credit: Karl Battams/NASA/STEREO/CIOC.

Officially labeled as Comet C/2012 S1, ISON can be seen in these images along with Earth, Mercury and Comet 2P/Encke. The tails streaking out from behind both comets can be seen moving along with the steady stream of particles – called the solar wind – that flows out from the sun.

For more information about STEREO Mission, visit: and

Image (mentioned), Text, Credit: NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center / Karen C. Fox.


Checking in on Sentinel-1A

ESA logo labeled.

22 November 2013


The media had a sneak peek at the first Sentinel satellite today ahead of its launch next spring.

ESA is developing the Earth-observing Sentinel missions to meet the needs of Europe’s Copernicus programme.

The first in the series, Sentinel-1, will provide all-weather, day-or-night radar images for emergency responses, marine and land monitoring, civil security and climate studies, among other applications.

It will ensure the continuity of C-band Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) data, building on ESA’s heritage C-band SAR systems on ERS-1, ERS-2 and Envisat. Sentinel-1 will provide global coverage with a focus on Europe, Canada and the main shipping routes, with data delivered within a few hours of acquisition – a big improvement over existing SAR systems.

The mission will fly a pair of satellites, the first of which is planned to be launched next spring from Europe’s Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana. Its sister Sentinel-1B will follow in 2015.

On Friday, Thales Alenia Space hosted a media event on the mission in Rome, Italy. ESA’s Sentinel-1 Project Manager, Ramón Torres, gave an overview of the satellite, designed by ESA and realised by European industry.

Rome, Italy

Thales Alenia Space Italy is prime contractor, with Astrium Germany responsible for the C-SAR payload incorporating the central radar electronics developed by Astrium UK.

Following briefings by ESA, Thales Alenia Space’s President and CEO Elisio Prette, and European Commission Vice President Antonio Tajani, media representatives visited Sentinel-1A in the cleanroom.

Earlier this year, the satellite passed a series of thermal tests in vacuum that simulated operations in space. From Rome, Sentinel-1 will travel on 25 November to Thales Alenia Space in Cannes, France, for the next set of tests that will simulate the launch environment as demonstrate its radio-frequency compatibility.

A final test conducted with ESA’s European Satellite Operations Centre in Darmstadt early in 2014 will validate the whole system, before the satellite is shipped to the launch site.

Related missions:


Related links:

Thales Alenia Space:

European Commission Copernicus site:

Images, Text, Credits: ESA / ATG Medialab.


ESA’s Swarm trio on its way to watch over our planet’s magnetic shield

ESA - SWARM Mission logo.

22 November 2013

Swarm Liftoff

ESA’s three-satellite Swarm constellation was lofted into a near-polar orbit by a Russian Rockot launcher this afternoon. For four years, it will monitor Earth’s magnetic field, from the depth of our planet’s core to the heights of its upper atmosphere.

The Swarm satellites will give us unprecedented insights into the complex workings of the magnetic shield that protects our biosphere from charged particles and cosmic radiation. They will perform precise measurements to evaluate its current weakening and understand how it contributes to global change.

 Launch of Rokot with European Swarm Satellites

The Rockot launcher lifted off from the Plesetsk spaceport in northern Russia at 12:02 GMT (13:02 CET) on 22 November.

Some 91 minutes later, its Breeze-KM upper stage released the three satellites into a near-polar circular orbit at an altitude of 490 km.

Contact was established with the trio minutes later through the Kiruna station in Sweden and the Svalbard station in Norway.

All three satellites are controlled by ESA teams at the European Space Operation Centre in Darmstadt, Germany. In the next hours they will deploy their 4 m-long instrument booms. Over the next three months of commissioning, their scientific payloads will be verified and they will move to their respective operational orbits.

The lower pair will fly in formation side by side, about 150 km (10 seconds) apart at the equator and at an initial altitude of 460 km, while the upper satellite will rise to a higher orbit, at 530 km.

Swarm launch separation from Breeze

“Swarm is about to fill a gap in our view of the Earth system and in our monitoring of global change issues,” noted Volker Liebig, ESA’s director for Earth observation.

“It will help us to better understand the field that protects us from the particles and radiation coming from the Sun.”

About Swarm:

Swarm is ESA’s fourth Earth Explorer mission, coming after the successful CryoSat, GOCE and SMOS satellites – all missions that expand our knowledge of Earth and its environment.

ESA's Swarm constellation in orbit

The combination of data collected by Swarm will give precious information on the sources of the magnetic field inside Earth. This includes understanding how the magnetic field is related to the motion of molten iron in the outer core, how the conductivity of the mantle is related to its composition and how the crust has been magnetised over geological timescales.

They will also investigate how the magnetic field relates to Earth’s environment through the radiation belts and their near-Earth effects, including the solar wind energy input into the upper atmosphere.

Swarm an orbit with a difference

Swarm will also be able to distinguish between the various sources of our planet’s magnetic field and ensure continuity in its monitoring from space in conjunction with measurements from ground observatories.

Our magnetic field plays a major role in protecting the biosphere because it generates a bubble around our planet that deflects charged particles and traps them in the radiation belts. This shielding protects all life on Earth from the bombardment of heavy ions coming from the Sun and deep space.

Earth's magnetic field

Since the 1980s, previous missions have showed this field to be weakening, which could be a sign that the north and south magnetic poles are beginning to reverse – known to have occurred on multiple occasions during geological times.

Although such inversions usually take thousands years to complete, a further weakening of our magnetic protection could lead to an increase in events that damage our orbiting satellites or disrupt power grids and other electrical systems on the ground.

About the European Space Agency:

The European Space Agency (ESA) is Europe’s gateway to space. It is an intergovernmental organisation, created in 1975, with the mission to shape the development of Europe’s space capability and ensure that investment in space delivers benefits to the citizens of Europe and the world.

ESA has 20 Member States: Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom, of whom 18 are Member States of the EU.

ESA has Cooperation Agreements with eight other Member States of the EU. Canada takes part in some ESA programmes under a Cooperation Agreement.

ESA is also working with the EU on implementing the Galileo and Copernicus programmes.

By coordinating the financial and intellectual resources of its members, ESA can undertake programmes and activities far beyond the scope of any single European country.

ESA develops the launchers, spacecraft and ground facilities needed to keep Europe at the forefront of global space activities.

Today, it launches satellites for Earth observation, navigation, telecommunications and astronomy, sends probes to the far reaches of the Solar System and cooperates in the human exploration of space.

For more information about Swarm Mission, visit:

CNES website:

Images, Videos, Text, Credits: European Space Agency (ESA) / ATG Medialab.


jeudi 21 novembre 2013

NASA Spacecraft Begins Collecting Lunar Atmosphere Data

NASA - LADEE Mission patch.

Nov. 21, 2013

NASA's Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE) is ready to begin collecting science data about the moon.

On Nov. 20, the spacecraft successfully entered its planned orbit around the moon's equator -- a unique position allowing the small probe to make frequent passes from lunar day to lunar night. This will provide a full scope of the changes and processes occurring within the moon's tenuous atmosphere.

LADEE now orbits the moon about every two hours at an altitude of eight to 37 miles (12-60 kilometers) above the moon's surface. For about 100 days, the spacecraft will gather detailed information about the structure and composition of the thin lunar atmosphere and determine whether dust is being lofted into the lunar sky.

Image above: Artist’s concept of NASA's Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE) spacecraft in orbit above the moon as dust scatters light during the lunar sunset. Image Credit: NASA Ames / Dana Berry.

"A thorough understanding of the characteristics of our lunar neighbor will help researchers understand other small bodies in the solar system, such as asteroids, Mercury, and the moons of outer planets," said Sarah Noble, LADEE program scientist at NASA Headquarters in Washington.

Scientists also will be able to study the conditions in the atmosphere during lunar sunrise and sunset, where previous crewed and robotic missions detected a mysterious glow of rays and streamers reaching high into the lunar sky.

“This is what we’ve been waiting for – we are already seeing the shape of things to come,” said Rick Elphic, LADEE project scientist at NASA's Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif.

On Nov. 20, flight controllers in the LADEE Mission Operations Center at Ames confirmed LADEE performed a crucial burn of its orbit control system to lower the spacecraft into its optimal position to enable science collection. Mission managers will continuously monitor the spacecraft's altitude and make adjustments as necessary.

"Due to the lumpiness of the moon's gravitational field, LADEE's orbit requires significant maintenance activity with maneuvers taking place as often as every three to five days, or as infrequently as once every two weeks," said Butler Hine, LADEE project manager at Ames. "LADEE will perform regular orbital maintenance maneuvers to keep the spacecraft’s altitude within a safe range above the surface that maximizes the science return."

In addition to science instruments, the spacecraft carried the Lunar Laser Communications Demonstration, NASA's first high-data-rate laser communication system. It is designed to enable satellite communication at rates similar to those of high-speed fiber optic networks on Earth. The system was tested successfully during the commissioning phase of the mission, while LADEE was still at a higher altitude.

LADEE was launched Sept. 6 on a U.S. Air Force Minotaur V, an excess ballistic missile converted into a space launch vehicle and operated by Orbital Sciences Corp. of Dulles, Va. LADEE is the first spacecraft designed, developed, built, integrated and tested at Ames. It also was the first probe launched beyond Earth orbit from NASA's Wallops Flight Facility on the Virginia coast.

NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington funds the LADEE mission. Ames manages the overall mission and serves as a base for mission operations and real-time control of the probe. NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., manages the science instruments and technology demonstration payload, the science operations center and overall mission support. NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., manages LADEE within the Lunar Quest Program Office.

For more information about the LADEE mission, visit:

For more information about Ames, visit:

Image (mnetioned), Text, Credits: NASA / Dwayne Brown / Ames Research Center / Rachel Hoover.


NASA Sees 'Watershed' Cosmic Blast in Unique Detail

 NASA - Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope logo / NASA - Swift Mission patch / NASA - NuStar Mission patch.

Nov. 21, 2013

On April 27, a blast of light from a dying star in a distant galaxy became the focus of astronomers around the world. The explosion, known as a gamma-ray burst and designated GRB 130427A, tops the charts as one of the brightest ever seen.

A trio of NASA satellites, working in concert with ground-based robotic telescopes, captured never-before-seen details that challenge current theoretical understandings of how gamma-ray bursts work.

Overview Animation of Gamma-ray Burst

Video above: This animation shows the most common type of gamma-ray burst, thought to occur when a massive star collapses, forms a black hole, and blasts particle jets outward at nearly the speed of light. Viewing into a jet greatly boosts its apparent brightness. A Fermi image of GRB 130427A ends the sequence. Image Credit: NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center.

"We expect to see an event like this only once or twice a century, so we're fortunate it happened when we had the appropriate collection of sensitive space telescopes with complementary capabilities available to see it," said Paul Hertz, director of NASA's Astrophysics Division in Washington.

Gamma-ray bursts are the most luminous explosions in the cosmos, thought to be triggered when the core of a massive star runs out of nuclear fuel, collapses under its own weight, and forms a black hole. The black hole then drives jets of particles that drill all the way through the collapsing star and erupt into space at nearly the speed of light.

Gamma-rays are the most energetic form of light. Hot matter surrounding a new black hole and internal shock waves produced by collisions within the jet are thought to emit gamma-rays with energies in the million-electron-volt (MeV) range, or roughly 500,000 times the energy of visible light. The most energetic emission, with billion-electron-volt (GeV) gamma rays, is thought to arise when the jet slams into its surroundings, forming an external shock wave.

The Gamma-ray Burst Monitor (GBM) aboard NASA's Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope captured the initial wave of gamma rays from GRB 130427A shortly after 3:47 a.m. EDT April 27. In its first three seconds alone, the "monster burst" proved brighter than almost any burst previously observed.

Image above: In the most common type of gamma-ray burst, illustrated here, a dying massive star forms a black hole (left), which drives a particle jet into space. Light across the spectrum arises from hot gas near the black hole, collisions within the jet, and from the jet's interaction with its surroundings. Image Credit: NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center.

"The spectacular results from Fermi GBM show that our widely accepted picture of MeV gamma rays from internal shock waves is woefully inadequate," said Rob Preece, a Fermi team member at the University of Alabama in Huntsville who led the GBM study.

NASA's Swift Gamma-ray Burst Mission detected the burst almost simultaneously with the GBM and quickly relayed its position to ground-based observatories.

Telescopes operated by Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico as part of the Rapid Telescopes for Optical Response (RAPTOR) Project quickly turned to the spot. They detected an optical flash that peaked at magnitude 7 on the astronomical brightness scale, easily visible through binoculars. It is the second-brightest flash ever seen from a gamma-ray burst.

Just as the optical flash peaked, Fermi's Large Area Telescope (LAT) detected a spike in GeV gamma-rays reaching 95 GeV, the most energetic light ever seen from a burst. This relationship between a burst's optical light and its high-energy gamma-rays defied expectations.

"We thought the visible light for these flashes came from internal shocks, but this burst shows that it must come from the external shock, which produces the most energetic gamma-rays," said Sylvia Zhu, a Fermi team member at the University of Maryland in College Park.

The LAT detected GRB 130427A for about 20 hours, far longer than any previous burst. For a gamma-ray burst, it was relatively nearby. Its light traveled 3.8 billion years before arriving at Earth, about one-third the travel time for light from typical bursts.

"Detailed observations by Swift and ground-based telescopes clearly show that GRB 130427A has properties more similar to typical distant bursts than to nearby ones," said Gianpiero Tagliaferri, a Swift team member at Brera Observatory in Merate, Italy.

Image above: These maps show the sky at energies above 100 MeV as seen by Fermi's LAT instrument. Left: The sky during a 3-hour interval before GRB 130427A. Right: A 3-hour map ending 30 minutes after the burst. GRB 130427A was located in the constellation Leo, near its border with Ursa Major. Image Credit: NASA/DOE/Fermi LAT Collaboration.

This extraordinary event enabled NASA's newest X-ray observatory, the Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array (NuSTAR), to make a first-time detection of a burst afterglow in high-energy, or "hard," X-rays after more than a day. Taken together with Fermi LAT data, these observations challenge long-standing predictions.

GRB 130427A is the subject of five papers published online Nov. 21. Four of these, published by Science Express, highlight contributions by Fermi, Swift and RAPTOR. The NuSTAR study is published in The Astrophysical Journal Letters.

Image above: Swift's X-Ray Telescope took this 0.1-second exposure of GRB 130427A at 3:50 a.m. EDT on April 27, just moments after Fermi and Swift detected the outburst. The image is 6.5 arcminutes across. Image Credit: NASA/Swift/Stefan Immler.

NASA's Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope is an international and multi-agency astrophysics and particle physics partnership managed by NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., and supported by the U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Science. Goddard also manages NASA's Swift mission, which is operated in collaboration with Pennsylvania State University in University Park, Pa., and international partners. NASA's NuSTAR mission is led by the California Institute of Technology and managed by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, both in Pasadena, with contributions from international partners.

Related Links:

Download additional graphics from NASA Goddard's Scientific Visualization Studio:

Papers on Science Express:

NuSTAR paper:

"NASA's Fermi, Swift See 'Shockingly Bright' Burst" (05.03.13):

"NASA's Fermi Telescope Sees Most Extreme Gamma-ray Blast Yet" (02.19.09):

"'Naked-Eye' Gamma-Ray Burst Was Aimed Squarely At Earth" (09.10.08):

NASA's Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope:

NASA's Swift mission:

NASA's NuSTAR mission:

Images (mentioned), Video (mentioned), Text, Credits: NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center/Francis Reddy.

Best regards,

A Portrait of Global Winds

NASA logo.

Nov. 21, 2013

High-resolution global atmospheric modeling provides a unique tool to study the role of weather within Earth’s climate system. NASA’s Goddard Earth Observing System Model (GEOS-5) is capable of simulating worldwide weather at resolutions as fine as 3.5 kilometers.

This visualization shows global winds from a GEOS-5 simulation using 10-kilometer resolution. Surface winds (0 to 40 meters/second) are shown in white and trace features including Atlantic and Pacific cyclones. Upper-level winds (250 hectopascals) are colored by speed (0 to 175 meters/second), with red indicating faster.

This simulation ran on the Discover supercomputer at the NASA Center for Climate Simulation. The complete 2-year “Nature Run” simulation—a computer model representation of Earth's atmosphere from basic inputs including observed sea-surface temperatures and surface emissions from biomass burning, volcanoes and anthropogenic sources—produces its own unique weather patterns including precipitation, aerosols and hurricanes. A follow-on Nature Run is simulating Earth’s atmosphere at 7 kilometers for 2 years and 3.5 kilometers for 3 months.

NASA will showcase more than 30 of the agency's exciting computational achievements at SC13, the international supercomputing conference, Nov. 17-22, 2013 in Denver:

Related link:

NASA Center for Climate Simulation:

Image, Text, Credits: William Putman/NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.


The launch of 24 Payloads was successfully performed by Dnepr rocket


Nov. 21, 2013

Dnepr launch vehicle blasted off from the Dombarovsky Air Base,

A Dnepr launch vehicle blasted off from the Dombarovsky Air Base, Orenburg Region, Russia, on Thursday at 7:10 UTC carrying a total of 32 spacecraft of different shapes and sizes to orbit. The launch was successful and all satellites were released into their desired orbits. This cluster launch of 32 spacecraft surpassed the record for most satellites launched by a single launch vehicle set earlier this week by a Minotaur I that orbited 29 satellites.

Dnepr is a converted R-36M missile also known as SS-18 Satan that was stationed all across the Soviet Union starting in 1966 outfitted with multiple warheads and independent re-entry vehicles. After the end of the cold war and the fall of the Soviet Union, a portion of the R-36 fleet was modified to become Space Launch Vehicles. Dnepr is one of the cheapest launch vehicles that are currently flying. It can deliver payloads of up to 4,500 Kilograms to Low Earth Orbit.

Dnepr launch vehicle liftoff

On Thursday, Dnepr went through a three-hour launch countdown as the launch team reported to the Control Center. Telemetry Equipment was prepared and tracking assets were checked. 90 minutes ahead of launch, the silo door was opened and the launch area was evacuated after final hands-on work was completed at the silo facility. The onboard control system of the launcher was tested at T-1 hour before being deactivated again.

At T-20 minutes, the control system was powered up again and final reconfigurations commenced leading to the final countdown phase starting three minutes before T-0.

At T-3 minutes, the launcher switched to internal power and the launch system was enabled to trigger the liftoff sequence at the precise T-0 time. Ground station telemetry recorders were activated as well to prepare for liftoff.

Dnepr Ejection from Silo description

Clocks hit zero at 7:10 UTC and the silo ejection system was activated. Dnepr uses a black powder mortar system that pushes a special tray at the base of the Dnepr rocket up to rapidly expel the rocket from its silo. As soon as Dnepr was out of the silo, the tray was ejected to the side by a small solid rocket motor in order to enable Dnepr to ignite its first stage engines.

A series of five O-Rings were pyrotechnically jettisoned at T+4 seconds and, at the same time, the RD-264 engine of the first stage ignited. RD-264 is a cluster of four RD-263 engines that share common turbopump equipment and provide a total thrust of 461,200 Kilograms – enough to lift the 211,000-Kilogram Dnepr launcher and its payloads hidden under the launcher’s fairing and gas shield.

Immediately after engine ignition, the 34.4-meter tall Dnepr rocket began its pitch maneuver to start its ascent mission, headed toward an high-inclination orbit. Dnepr’s first stage measures 22.3 meters in length and 3 meters in diameter carrying 147,900 Kilograms of propellants used by the main engines which operate at a high chamber pressure of 220 bar to generate 4,523 Kilonewtons of vacuum thrust. Control during first stage flight was provided by individually gimbaling the engine nozzles.

The first stage shut down and separated from the second stage at approximately T+1 minute and 38 seconds. Upon stage separation, the second stage ignited its RD-256 main engine and RD-257 vernier engine achieving a total thrust of 77,000 Kilograms. The second stage is 5.7 meters long and carries 36,740 Kilograms of propellants. Control during second stage flight is provided by the vernier engine that features four individually gimballed nozzles.

Dnepr flight process description

While the second stage was burning, the launcher jettisoned the upper portion of its payload fairing that had protected the satellites during the initial portion of the ascent when aerodynamic forces would have damaged the payloads. For Dnepr, the fairing is only one of two protective devices, the second being the gas dynamic shield that protects the delicate satellites on the upper deck from engine plumes of the third stage.

The second stage performed a burn of approximately two minutes and 48 seconds before separating from the third stage of the launcher.

Following separation, the third stage completed a short coast phase in order to climb uphill so that the third stage burn could serve as a circularization maneuver, raising the perigee of the orbit to match the apogee of the trajectory. The third stage of the Dnepr launcher uses four RD-869 engines that are firing forward - towards the nose of the launch vehicle. This unusual propulsion scheme is a relic of the original R-36 concept that required the upper stage to perform multiple warhead deployments in a short time frame.

The third stage of the Dnepr launcher uses four RD-869 engines that are firing forward

The engines swung out after stage separation and ignited when the coast was complete - starting the burn in a high thrust mode and immediately beginning a 180-degree flip of the vehicle to start providing positive thrust to the stack - pulling the stack into orbit instead of pushing the vehicle as most rockets do.

The four RD-869 engines deliver 2,070 Kilograms of thrust at nominal throttle and 846kg in throttled mode. Overall, Dnepr’s third stage is 1 meter long and uses a propellant load of 1,910 Kilograms. Control is provided by gimbaling the engines that continue to fire throughout the primary mission.

When the third stage approached the pre-planned orbit, the gas dynamic shield was released and the still burning third stage pulled itself and the space head module away. For this Cluster Mission, the SHM-2 design was used that includes two decks and a bridge to facilitate all the different payload adapters and CubeSat Deployers.

Third stage dynamic shield release

Once the target orbit was reached, the primary payload, DubaiSat-2, was separated and the vehicle pulled away as the engines were still firing. DubaiSat-2 is set for an Earth observation mission using a High Resolution Advanced Imaging System to acquire images of Earth that will be made available to commercial customers. Shortly after the primary satellite was deployed, the secondary satellite, STSat-3, was released as well. It will demonstrate new imaging technology using infrared cameras and a Compact Imaging Spectrometer for Earth imagery and data acquisition.

When the two Deck A payloads were released, the payload platform was jettisoned. With its engines still firing, Dnepr is able to create sufficient distance in between payloads and launcher vehicle equipment as the separation sequence occurs.

Next, the remaining small satellites were deployed as part of a carefully planned sequence of events with delays in between the different deployments. Usually, larger satellites are deployed first before the flood of CubeSats is released via the different Orbital Deployers. The three satellites hosted on the Bridge, SkySat-1 and the two AprizeSat spacecraft were separated first to enable the rest of the Deck B payloads to be deployed. Next to separate were presumably the WINSAT-1, UniSat-5 and BRITE-PL spacecraft ahead of CubeSat release.

The UniSat-5 satellite itself hosts a number of CubeSats and PocketCubes for deployment over the course of the first month of its mission in orbit. Those satellites are carried inside CubeSat launchers and PocketCube Launchers installed on the spacecraft. The PocketCubes launched aboard UniSat-5 are BeakerSat 1, $50Sat, Wren and QubeScout S1 and the CubeSats are Dove-4, HumSat-D, ICube-1 and PUCPSat1 that itself will deploy a 127-gram picosatellite Pocket-PUCP during its mission.

Payloads description

All satellites were deployed in just 30 seconds beginning approximately 17 minutes into the flight.

The mission was targeting a near-circular orbit at 600 Kilometers with an inclination of 97.6 degrees. Following the successful payload deployment, the RD-869 engines continued to fire to move the stage away from the satellites in order to place it into a different orbit to avoid re-contact with the multitude of payloads.

The launch of 24 Payloads was successfully performed by RS-20 rocket (Dnepr Launch Vehicle) from Yasny Launch Base, Orenburg region, Russia, on November 21, 2013 at 11:10:11 Moscow time (07:10:11 UTC).

The launch was executed by the Strategic Rocket Forces of the Russian Ministry of Defense with the support of the Russian and Ukrainian companies, which are part of the ISC Kosmotras industrial team. All payloads have been inserted into their target orbits.

ISC Kosmotras congratulates all the mission participants on the successful launch!

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


mercredi 20 novembre 2013

High-Energy Particles in Milky Way Black Hole

NASA - Chandra X-ray Observatory patch.

Nov. 20, 2013

High-Energy Particles in Milky Way Black Hole

New evidence has been uncovered for the presence of a jet of high-energy particles blasting out of the Milky Way’s supermassive black hole. As outlined in the press release, astronomers have made the best case yet that such a jet exists by combining X-ray data from NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory with radio emission from the NSF’s Very Large Array (VLA). This composite image features both X-rays from Chandra (purple) and radio data from the VLA (blue).

In addition, Tthe location of a shock front is also marked.  As the jet fires away from Sgr A*, it continues to travels through in space until it hits gas several light years away. (The region around the Milky Way’s black hole has many clumps of gas and dust.) Once the jet hits, it triggers the formation of a shock front to form. This interaction also further accelerates electrons, that are already moving fast. This generatinges X-rays as the electrons stream down the path of the jet, past the shock front.

The shock front is also of interest because it is unusually wide in the radio emission compared to theits more narrow profile of the jet in X-rays. This suggests that there may be a secondary, weaker outflow, which might be like a sheath or cocoon surrounding the jet with an opening angle of around 25 degrees.

Sgr A* is about 4 million times the mass of the sun and lies about 26,000 light years from Earth in the center of the galaxy. Astronomers have been looking for a jet from Sgr A* for years since it is now common to find jets tied to a range of cosmic objects on both big and small scales. Prior to this latest study, there have been reports of possible evidence of a jet associated with Sgr A*. However, these have contradicted one another and have thus not been considered definitive.

A paper describing these results is available online and will appear in an upcoming issue of The Astrophysical Journal.

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

Chandra on Flickr:

Images, Text, Credits: X-ray: NASA / CXC / UCLA / Z. Li et al; Radio: NRAO / VLA.


High-energy cosmic rays from solar flares in the last month



High-energy cosmic rays from solar flares in the last month according to the spectrometer Pamela and Arina on board Resurs-DK1.

 Resurs-DK1 or Resource-DK1 spacecraft

From June 2006 to the present time on the satellite Resource-DK1, which is part of the constellation of spacecraft (SC), remote sensing (RS), conducted experiments cosmophysical Pamela and Arina.

The objectives of the experiment, Pamela, held at the magnetic spectrometer are precision measurements of fluxes of galactic cosmic rays, including protons and antiprotons with energies above 100 MeV, electrons and positrons with energies above 40 MeV, the light nuclei and their isotopes. The results are of interest for model generation and propagation of cosmic rays, study the nature of hypothetical massive particles, dark matter, solving the problem of the baryon asymmetry of the universe and other fundamental problems in modern astrophysics.

In the experiment, Arina, held on the scintillation spectrometer detected protons with energies of ~ (45 ÷ 100) MeV electrons with energies of ~ (5-30 ) MeV, which allows you to explore the physical space weather factors, such as spikes and variations of charged particles in near-Earth space, their relationship with the cosmic and geophysical phenomena, such as earthquakes, storms, etc.

Resurs-DK1 or Resource-DK1 Pamela instrument description

In addition to these tasks, spectrometers Pamela and Arina also recorded the high-energy charged component of solar cosmic rays (SCR), which are accelerated in the active explosive processes on the Sun (solar flares). Currently, the only joint precision flow measurement SCR in a wide energy range (for example, for protons from ~ 45 MeV to tens of GeV).

After a relatively quiet period, which lasted all summer, in late September - early November at the Sun, a series of outbreaks of different capacities in which the energy of the accelerated protons exceed 45 MeV. The time profiles of the flux of galactic and solar protons with energies of 45 ÷ 55 MeV, 100 ÷ 145 ÷ 400 MeV and 540 MeV, in an experiment Arina and Pamela from September 1 to November 10, shown in Fig. 1.

Figure 1: The intensity of galactic and solar cosmic rays in the period from October 8 to November 5 this spectrometers Pamela and Arina. The dotted lines show the average values ​​of the flux in a quiet period of solar activity.

Moments of solar flares are marked by arrows, next to which specified event class that is assigned depending on the intensity of the peak surge recorded in the X-ray radiation with a wavelength of 0.5 ÷ 8 Å ( Class C: Power 10−6÷10−5 W/м2, Class M: power of 10−5 ÷ 10−4 W/м2 , Class X: more power 10−4 W/м2).

As can be seen from the figure, a few hours after the acceleration on the Sun, the particles reach the Earth's orbit and recorded instruments in Earth orbit. Information about the flow of solar energetic particles is useful for prediction of perturbations of the Earth's magnetosphere, measuring radiation levels for low-orbiting satellites, as well as for the fundamental study of active explosive processes on the Sun.

Animated Sun-Flares seen by NASA SOHO

For this reason, the flux of solar protons measured monitor space such GOES11, 13, 15 and others. However, these spectrometers, Pamela and Arina significantly complement and extend the measurement displays, as have better energy resolution, obtained in a wide energy range, and also allow us to study nuclear and isotopic composition of high-energy solar cosmic rays. It helps to get closer to understanding the processes of occurrence of geomagnetic disturbances and their influence on our lives.

Press Release ROSCOSMOS:

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

Best regards,

mardi 19 novembre 2013

Student-Built Satellites, PhoneSat Launch from Wallops

NASA - ORS-3 Mission patch.

Nov. 19, 2013

Launch of Record-Breaking 29 Satellites on Minotaur I Rocket

With help from NASA, 11 small cubesat research satellites, including the first developed by high school students, launched into space from the Virginia coast. The cubesats were included as auxiliary payload aboard a U.S. Air Force Minotaur 1 rocket that lifted off from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport at NASA's Wallops Flight Facility at 8:15 p.m. EST on Nov. 19.

NASA selected 10 educational institutions to design and build CubeSats for ELaNa IV

Nine university teams and one high school team will experience on Tuesday a feat that few outside the aerospace industry will ever realize: watching the nanosatellites, or cubesats, that they designed and built launch into space. An addition to the NASA PhoneSat technology demonstration will also be aboard.

More than 300 students took part in this fourth installment of NASA’s cubesat Launch Initiative and it’s Educational Launch of Nanosatellite (ELaNa) Missions, which enables students, teachers and faculty to obtain hands-on flight hardware development experience. This launch marks the first time NASA will launch a cubesat developed by students not yet in college – high school students from Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology of Alexandria, Va.

Image above: University of New Mexico Students inspect their CubeSat, Trailblazer. Image Credit: University of New Mexico.

"The advancements of the cubesat community are enabling an acceleration of flight-qualified technology that will ripple through the aerospace industry," said Jason Crusan, director of Advanced Exploration Systems, the office that oversees the Cubesat Launch Initiative at NASA Headquarters in Washington. "Our future missions will be standing on the developments the cubesat community has enabled."

Since 2010, the cubesat Launch Initiative has issued four announcements of opportunity and selected more than 90 cubesats from public and private institutions and government labs to launch as auxillary payloads aboard commercial rockets. The cube-shaped satellites are approximately four inches long per unit, have a volume of about one quart and weigh less than three pounds. Cubesat research addresses science, exploration, technology development, education or operations.

Image above: University of Kentucky students Alex Clements and Jason Rexroat conduct final CubeSat acceptance measurements on KYSat-2, a collaborative project between the University of Kentucky and Morehead State University. Image Credit: University of Kentucky.

In many cases, student teams are able to connect with mentors in the aerospace industry to help them develop their cubesats. Twyman Clements of Kentucky Space LLC, is mentor to the ELaNa IV KySat-2 team comprising students from the University of Kentucky and Morehead State University. “There’s an enormous sense of accomplishment,” he says, “Not just in designing with a great team but also encouraging the students to take the initiative and learn their areas of strength to become better students – and much more importantly, better professionals. There’s nothing like an impending satellite launch to motivate you.”

Success of the ELaNa missions has also helped universities to secure funding for future projects. According to Craig Kief, Deputy Director of the Configurable Space Microsystems Innovations & Applications Center (COSMIAC), "ELaNa has proven to be a game-changing endeavor. It has allowed us to be able to show past performance in the areas of nanosatellite development.  This achievement has easily resulted in over $1M in future research projects for the University of New Mexico.”

Image above: Asha Punnoose beams next to TJ3Sat, a the first CubeSat to be built by high school students and launched into space through NASA's ELaNA program. Image Credit: Thomas Jefferson High School.

The 11 ELaNa IV cubesats are scheduled to launch aboard the Orbital Sciences Corporation’s Minotaur-1 rocket on Nov. 19, between 7:30-9:30 p.m. EST. Over the next few months, they will receive data from their satellites in space. As part of their agreement with NASA, they will provide NASA a report on their outcomes and scientific findings.

Image above: Student Bungo Shiotani shows off the University of Florida's SwampSat. Image Credit: University of Florida.

Download the ELaNa IV Fact Sheet (2.1 MB PDF):

Learn more about the ELaNa IV CubeSats:

- TJ3Sat, Thomas Jefferson High School:

- DragonSat-1, Drexel University, Philadelphia

- PhoneSat, NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif.:

- COPPER, St. Louis University, St. Louis:

- ChargerSat-1, University of Alabama Huntsville:

- SwampSat, University of Florida, Gainesville:

- Ho`oponopono-2, University of Hawaii, Honolulu:

- KySat-2, University of Kentucky, Lexington:

- CAPE-2, The University of Louisiana at Lafayette:

- Trailblazer, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque:

- Vermont Lunar CubeSat, Vermont Technical College, Randolph Center, Vt.:

Images (mentioned), video, Text, Credits: NASA / NASA TV.


Test magnet reaches 13.5 tesla – a new CERN record

CERN - European Organization for Nuclear Research logo.

Nov. 19, 2013

Image above: A niobium-tin based magnet assembly forms part of the Short Model Coil project at CERN (Image: Maximilien Brice).

The Short Model Coil (SMC) programme tests new magnet technologies with magnets about 30 centimetres long. The technology developed in the SMC will eventually help engineers build more powerful magnets for the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) and future accelerators.

Currently, the LHC uses niobium-titanium superconducting magnets to both bend and focus proton beams as they race around the LHC. But these magnets are not powerful enough to support stronger focusing and higher energies. So engineers are looking into a new superconducting material, niobium tin.

"With the existing niobium-titanium technology, 8 tesla is about the maximum practical operation field," says engineer Juan Carlos Perez, who is leading the SMC project. "The magnetic field you can produce thanks to the new material is at least 50% higher."

Niobium tin is a superconducting material that can generate a magnetic field in the range from 15-20 tesla. Although it was discovered before niobium titanium, it is not commonly used in accelerators because it is challenging to work with.

"Niobium tin must be heat treated at high temperatures – about 650 0C – to form the superconducting phase, and becomes extremely brittle after the heat treatment," says Perez. "The SMC project is developing technologies to master this material, working closely with US colleagues who are heavily invested in this technology."

CERN LHC - To discover the secrets of the matter. Image credit: CERN

Engineers working on the magnets for the high-luminosity upgrade of the LHC want to eventually reach magnetic fields exceeding 12 tesla, says Perez. These higher magnetic fields will allow significantly stronger bending and focusing strengths in the LHC dipoles and quadropoles.

"Within the next 10 years we want to build a set of new 'final-focus' quadrupoles close to the LHC experiments, with higher strength, resulting in smaller beams at the LHC collision points" says Perez. "This will increase the number of collisions per second and generate more data for the experiments. In the longer term – over the next 20 years or so – niobium tin will be a key technology. It could allow engineers to increase the energy in a future circular collider by a factor five to ten times the present record at the LHC."

The present world record for niobium-tin magnets in dipole configuration is 16.1 tesla, held by an American research group at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. The most recent CERN-built SMC, using a cable with a geometry very close to that of the 11 tesla dipoles presently under development, reached 13.5 tesla. "We still have a long way to go," says Perez. "But the SMC project is a first and encouraging step in the right direction."


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 20 Member States.

Related links:

Short Model Coil (SMC):

Large Hadron Collider (LHC):

Images (mentioned), Text, Credits: CERN / Sarah Charley.


Formation of Massive Stars from Giant, Turbulent Molecular Clouds

NASA patch.

Nov. 19, 2013

In their quest to understand the origins of stars and galaxies in our universe, astrophysicists use supercomputers to model extremely complex phenomena on an immense scale. Massive stars 10-100 times more massive than our sun, are central to the key phenomena that shape the universe, but the processes involved in their formation remain elusive. To investigate these processes, University of California-Berkeley researchers perform large-scale supercomputing simulations of massive stars forming from the collapse of giant, turbulent molecular clouds.    

In this image, a simulation shows the gas filaments that formed in an infrared dark cloud 800,000 years after the region began gravitational collapse. The extent of the main filament is about 4.5 parsecs in length. In the highest density fragments in the filament (red), molecular cloud cores are developing and will collapse further until they form stars.

Pleiades Supercomputer - NASA Advanced Supercomputing Facility (NAS)

Each simulation in this project used 1,000 - 4,000 processors on the Pleiades supercomputer at the NASA Advanced Supercomputing (NAS) facility, for a total of 1 million processor-hours over several months of computation.

Related: NASA will showcase more than 30 of the agency's exciting computational achievements at SC13, the international supercomputing conference, Nov. 17-22, 2013 in Denver:

NASA Advanced Supercomputing (NAS) facility:

Images, Text, Credit: Richard Klein, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory; Pak Shing Li, University of California, Berkeley; Tim Sandstrom, NASA Ames Research Center.


Celebrate the Space Station’s 15th birthday

ISS - International Space Station patch.

19 November 2013

 International Space Station (ISS) salutes the Sun

Zarya, the first module of the International Space Station, was launched on 20 November 1998. Five space agencies representing 16 nations have worked together to build the orbiting research complex – one of the most complex scientific and technological endeavours ever undertaken.

Celebrate with us on Wednesday as we launch a worldwide wave on Twitter to cheer the Space Station.

Starting midnight GMT, the Station’s official time zone, ESA and the US, Japanese and Canadian space agencies will tweet over 24 hours – one every hour, on the hour.

Space Station seen from Japan

Join the wave by following the hashtag #ISS15. Keep the wave rolling by telling us what the International Space Station – its science, technology and astronauts – means to you.

You can post your photos, comments or even poems and join the conversation on the Google+ community page: ISS15 – join the world-wide wave:

Christer Fuglesang spacewalk

Head outside and take a picture of the Space Station to share with us. Who is your favourite astronaut? What image captures the spirit of the Space Station?

ESA and its partner agencies will share their favourite pictures, stories and videos. Get involved and join the #ISS15 wave!

Current status:

Where is the International Space Station?:

Related links:

About the International Space Station:

International Space Station - NASA website:

International Space Station - CSA-ASC website:
French -
English -

International Space Station - ROSCOSMOS website: (Only in Russian)

International Space Station - JAXA website:

Building the International Space Station:

International Space Station Benefits for Humanity:

International Space Station legal framework:

Europe's partners:

Images, Text, Credits: ESA / NASA / Yujiro Suzuki.