samedi 19 avril 2014

High-energy cosmic rays from solar flares according spectrometers Pamela & Arina on board Resource DK-1



June 15, 2006 from the Baikonur Cosmodrome was launched Russian spacecraft Resource DK-1 with the devices Pamela and Arina on board. The spacecraft has a quasi-polar orbit with an inclination of 70.4 and a height of 300-600 km, orbital period 90 minutes of the satellite.

Pamela - international space experiment, whose main task is to measure the spectra of antiparticles in high-energy cosmic rays. In astrophysics institute has been designed and ground test equipment for a unique magnetic spectrometer Pamela, created an international collaboration of scientists from Russia, Italy, Sweden, Germany, the Russian- Italian program "Rome", and also designed and developed a number of detector and electronic systems that are part of the magnetic spectrometer. The results are of interest for models of generation and propagation of cosmic rays in the galaxy, exploring 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.

The main purpose of the experiment Arina is to develop new methods of forecasting earthquakes space means. Method is based on bursts of high energy charged particles in near-Earth space, emerging a few hours before the coming earthquake.

Resource DK-1 spacecraft

The experiment was prepared at the Institute of Astrophysics (INCOS) Moscow Engineering Physics Institute (MEPhI).

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

In the period from February 1 to April 15, 2014 spectrometers in near space recorded increases in several streams of solar high energy cosmic rays resulting from solar flares (including a strong class X).

Time profiles of the intensity of galactic and solar protons with energies 45 ÷ 55 MeV, 100 MeV and 145 ÷ 400 ÷ 540 MeV (energy intervals chosen for clarity) are shown in the figure. Moments solar flares that occurred 15, 20, February 25 and March 30, indicated by arrows next to that specified class of events: a series of outbreaks of class M1.0 -M2.3, M3.0, X4.9, X1.0, respectively.

The intensity of galactic and solar cosmic rays in the period from 1 February to 15 April 2014 according spectrometers "PA" Pamela and Arina.

Thin horizontal lines in the figure shows the level of background - dominant in the quiet period of solar activity of the galactic component of cosmic rays. A few hours after outbreaks spectrometers Pamela and Arina  recorded increase in the flux of solar protons over the background.

Found that in a flash February 25 the maximum energy of accelerated protons reached ~ 600 MeV . Other components of solar cosmic rays (helium nuclei and other elements) are not registered.

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 high-energy particles is useful for prediction of perturbations of Earth's magnetosphere, measuring radiation levels for low-orbit spacecraft, as well as for the fundamental study of active explosive processes on the Sun.

Resource DK-1 description

To date, for the duration of the measurements recorded in orbit for more than two and a half billion events, received more than 16 terabytes of experimental information.

Currently, a detailed analysis of experimental data in order to obtain detailed composition and energy spectra of solar particles that will give important new information about the physical processes on the Sun, the mechanisms of generation of high-energy solar cosmic rays and their propagation in the interplanetary space.

Flying Resource DK-1 and measurements on a magnetic spectrometer Pamela and spectrometer Arina progress.

ROSCOSMOS Press Release:

Images, Text, Credits: Roscosmos press service / ROSCOSMOS / Translation: Aerospace.


vendredi 18 avril 2014

Progress M-22M completed flight

ROSCOSMOS - Russian Vehicles patch.


April 18 at 19.46 MSK in a predetermined area of the Pacific Ocean produced flooding incombustible residue cargo vehicle (THC) Progress M-22M. In accordance with the program laid down in the ship's on-board computer specialists Mission Control Center (MCC) FSUE TsNIIMash on space truck was included on the inhibition of the propulsion system, and then began a controlled reduction of THC from orbit.

Progress-M cargo spacecraft

Rocket Soyuz-U with THC Progress M-22M was launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome February 5, 2014 at 20 hours 23 minutes 32 seconds Moscow time. February 6, 2014 2 hours and 22 minutes Moscow time docking of cargo spacecraft Progress M-22M from the International Space Station. Docked to the docking bay Pirs, was held in the automatic mode.

Cargo spacecraft delivered to the ISS more than 2.5 tonnes of goods: fuel, food, send the crew, photo and video equipment, water and other consumable materials necessary for the operation of the station in manned mode.

ROSCOSMOS Press Release:

Images, Text, Credit: Roscosmos press service / NASA / Translation: Aerospace.


SpaceX Dragon Heads to Space; Station Astronauts Prep for Wednesday Spacewalk

SpaceX - CRS-3 Mission patch.

April 18, 2014

Image above: The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launches from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. Image Credit: NASA TV.

The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, carrying the Dragon spacecraft loaded with nearly 2.5 tons of supplies and experiment hardware for the International Space Station’s Expedition 39 crew, lifted off at 3:25 p.m. EDT Friday from Launch Complex 40 at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

Liftoff of SpaceX-3

Friday’s launch of the third SpaceX commercial resupply services mission sent the Dragon space freighter on a course to rendezvous with the station Sunday morning. Commander Koichi Wakata and Flight Engineer Rick Mastracchio will capture Dragon using the Canadarm2 robotic arm at 7:14 a.m. to set it up for its berthing to the Earth-facing port of the Harmony module. Live NASA Television coverage of Sunday’s Dragon activities begins at 5:45 a.m. and returns at 9:30 a.m. for coverage of the berthing of Dragon to the Earth-facing port of the Harmony node.

Image above: Liftoff of SpaceX Falcon 9 Rocket Carrying Dragon Resupply Spacecraft. Image Credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett.

Watch NASA TV:

The scientific payloads on Dragon include investigations that focus on efficient ways to grow plants in space, demonstrating laser optics to communicate with Earth, human immune system function in microgravity and Earth observation. Also being delivered is a set of high-tech legs for Robonaut 2, which can provide the humanoid robot torso already aboard the orbiting laboratory with the mobility it needs to help with regular and repetitive tasks inside the space station.

Dragon Spacecraft Separation

Video above: The SpaceX-3 Dragon spacecraft separated from the Falcon rocket as it continues on to the International Space Staton. Liftoff took place at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station's Space Launch Complex 40 at 3:25 p.m. EDT. Video Credit: NASA TV.

Dragon also will deliver the second set of investigations sponsored by the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS), which manages the portion of the space station designated a U.S. National Laboratory. CASIS investigations on Dragon are part of the organization's initial suite of supported payloads linked to Advancing Research Knowledge 1, or ARK 1. The investigations include research on protein crystal growth, which may lead to drug development through protein mapping, and plant biology.

Read about science aboard SpaceX-3:

Meanwhile aboard the International Space Station, the Expedition 39 crew is in the homestretch of preparations for a spacewalk to replace a failed backup computer relay box in the S0 truss.  That 2 ½-hour spacewalk by Mastracchio and Flight Engineer Steve Swanson is slated to begin at 9:20 a.m. Wednesday.

The spacewalk will be the 179th in support of space station assembly and maintenance, the ninth in Mastracchio’s career and the fifth for Swanson. Mastracchio will carry the designation of EV 1, wearing the spacesuit bearing red stripes. Swanson will be EV 2, wearing the spacesuit without stripes.

Mastracchio and Flight Engineer Steve Swanson installed a new circuit board inside a spare multiplexer-demultiplexer (MDM) that they will carry with them outside the station to replace the backup MDM that failed during routine testing April 11. The failed unit is one of the station's two external MDMs that provide commands to some of the space station's systems, including the external cooling system, solar alpha rotary joints and mobile transporter rail car.

After the two NASA astronauts installed the new card in the spare MDM, Wakata worked with the ground team at Mission Control in Houston to perform a functional checkout of the spare.

Image above: Flight Engineers Rick Mastracchio and Steve Swanson (partially obscured) install a new circuit board inside a spare multiplexer-demultiplexer aboard the International Space Station. Image Credit: NASA TV.

Afterward, Mastracchio trimmed a spare thermal insulator sheet to properly fit the MDM.

Wakata also found time for station science with another session of the Hybrid Training experiment. This Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency study takes a look the health benefits of applying electric stimulation to a muscle opposing the voluntary contraction of an active muscle. In addition to providing a backup to the traditional exercise devices aboard the station, Hybrid Training may be useful in keeping astronauts fit as they travel beyond low Earth orbit aboard smaller spacecraft.

Mastracchio took a brief break from his work to talk with students at his three alma maters -- the University of Connecticut, the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York, and the University of Houston-Clear Lake near the Johnson Space Center.

Flight Engineer Mikhail Tyurin spent much of his day working in the Zvezda service module as he cleaned ventilation screens and performed routine maintenance on the Russian life-support system.

Flight Engineer Alexander Skvortsov performed another session of the Kulonovskiy Kristall experiment, gathering information about charged particles in a weightless environment.

Dragon on way to ISS. Image Credit: SpaceX

Skvortsov also teamed up with Flight Engineer Oleg Artemyev to unload items from the ISS Progress 53 cargo craft docked at the aft port of Zvezda.  Progress 53 is set to undock from the station on Wednesday, April 23, at 4:54 a.m. to test its Kurs automated rendezvous equipment. The vehicle will redock with Zvezda on April 25 at 8:16 a.m. Progress 53 delivered 2.9 tons of food, fuel and supplies to the station on Nov. 29 following a four-day journey that included a “flyby” of the station to test a new lighter, revamped Kurs system .

And after 11 days of free flight for engineering tests, the Russian ISS Progress 54 cargo ship, now loaded with trash from the station, was commanded to deorbit for its fiery entry into the Earth’s atmosphere for disposal.  The deorbit burn at 10:52 a.m. sent the cargo craft on a course for atmospheric entry over the Pacific Ocean at 11:32 a.m.

Related links: 

For more information about SpaceX, visit:

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

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


NASA Completes LADEE Mission with Planned Impact on Moon's Surface

NASA - Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE) patch.

April 18, 2014

Ground controllers at NASA's Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif., have confirmed that NASA's Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE) spacecraft impacted the surface of the moon, as planned, between 9:30 and 10:22 p.m. PDT Thursday, April 17.

LADEE lacked fuel to maintain a long-term lunar orbit or continue science operations and was intentionally sent into the lunar surface. The spacecraft's orbit naturally decayed following the mission's final low-altitude science phase.

During impact, engineers believe the LADEE spacecraft, the size of a vending machine, broke apart, with most of the spacecraft’s material heating up several hundred degrees – or even vaporizing – at the surface. Any material that remained is likely buried in shallow craters.

"At the time of impact, LADEE was traveling at a speed of 3,600 miles per hour – about three times the speed of a high-powered rifle bullet," said Rick Elphic, LADEE project scientist at Ames. "There’s nothing gentle about impact at these speeds – it’s just a question of whether LADEE made a localized craterlet on a hillside or scattered debris across a flat area. It will be interesting to see what kind of feature LADEE has created."

In early April, the spacecraft was commanded to carry out maneuvers that would lower its closest approach to the lunar surface. The new orbit brought LADEE to altitudes below one mile (two kilometers) above the lunar surface. This is lower than most commercial airliners fly above Earth, enabling scientists to gather unprecedented science measurements.

On April 11, LADEE performed a final maneuver to ensure a trajectory that caused the spacecraft to impact the far side of the moon, which is not in view of Earth or near any previous lunar mission landings. LADEE also survived the total lunar eclipse on April 14 to 15. This demonstrated the spacecraft's ability to endure low temperatures and a drain on batteries as it, and the moon, passed through Earth's deep shadow.

NASA's Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE). Image Credit: NASA

In the coming months, mission controllers will determine the exact time and location of LADEE's impact and work with the agency’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) team to possibly capture an image of the impact site. Launched in June 2009, LRO provides data and detailed images of the lunar surface.

"It's bittersweet knowing we have received the final transmission from the LADEE spacecraft after spending years building it in-house at Ames, and then being in constant contact as it circled the moon for the last several months," said Butler Hine, LADEE project manager at Ames.

Launched in September 2013 from NASA's Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia, LADEE began orbiting the moon Oct. 6 and gathering science data Nov. 10. The spacecraft entered its science orbit around the moon's equator on Nov. 20, and in March 2014, LADEE extended its mission operations following a highly successful 100-day primary science phase.

LADEE also hosted NASA’s first dedicated system for two-way communication using laser instead of radio waves. The Lunar Laser Communication Demonstration (LLCD) made history using a pulsed laser beam to transmit data over the 239,000 miles from the moon to the Earth at a record-breaking download rate of 622 megabits-per-second (Mbps). In addition, an error-free data upload rate of 20 Mbps was transmitted from the primary ground station in New Mexico to the Laser Communications Space Terminal aboard LADEE.

LADEE gathered detailed information about the structure and composition of the thin lunar atmosphere. In addition, scientists hope to use the data to address a long-standing question: Was lunar dust, electrically charged by sunlight, responsible for the pre-sunrise glow seen above the lunar horizon during several Apollo missions?

"LADEE was a mission of firsts, achieving yet another first by successfully flying more than 100 orbits at extremely low altitudes," said Joan Salute, LADEE program executive, at NASA Headquarters in Washington. "Although a risky decision, we're already seeing evidence that the risk was worth taking.”

A thorough understanding of the characteristics of our nearest celestial neighbor will help researchers understand other bodies in the solar system, such as large asteroids, Mercury and the moons of outer planets.

NASA also included the public in the final chapter of the LADEE story. A “Take the Plunge” contest provided an opportunity for the public to guess the date and time of the spacecraft’s impact via the internet. Thousands submitted predictions. NASA will provide winners a digital congratulatory certificate.

NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington funds the LADEE mission. Ames was responsible for spacecraft design, development, testing and mission operations, in addition to managing the overall mission. NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., managed the science instruments, technology demonstration payload and science operations center, and provided mission support. Goddard also manages the LRO mission. Wallops was responsible for launch vehicle integration, launch services and operations. NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., managed LADEE within the Lunar Quest Program Office.

For more information about the LADEE mission, visit:

For more information about LLCD, visit:

Image, Text, Credits: NASA / Dwayne Brown / Ames Research Center / Rachel Hoover / Goddard Space Flight Center / Dewayne Washington.


Exoplanets Soon to Gleam in the Eye of NESSI


April 18, 2014

The New Mexico Exoplanet Spectroscopic Survey Instrument (NESSI) will soon get its first "taste" of exoplanets, helping astronomers decipher their chemical composition. Exoplanets are planets that orbit stars beyond our sun.

NESSI got its first peek at the sky on April 3, 2014. It looked at Pollux, a star in the Gemini constellation, and Arcturus, in the Boötes constellation, confirming that all modes of the instrument are working.

"After five years of development, it's really exciting to turn on our instrument and see its first light," said Michele Creech-Eakman, the principal investigator of the project at the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology in Socorro, N.M. "Planet hunters have found thousands of exoplanets, but what do we know about them? NESSI will help us find out more about their atmospheres and compositions."

Partly funded by NASA's EPSCoR (Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research), in partnership with the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology, the NESSI instrument is located on the institute's 2.4-meter Magdalena Ridge Observatory in Socorro County, N.M.

Image above: The New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology's 2.4-meter (7.9-foot) Magdalena Ridge Observatory in Socorro County, N.M. Image credit: New Mexico Tech.

NESSI will focus on about 100 exoplanets, ranging from massive versions of Earth, called super-Earths, to scorching gas giants known as "hot Jupiters." All of the instrument's targets orbit closely to their stars. Future space telescopes will use similar technology to probe planets more akin to Earth, searching for signs of habitable environments and even life itself.

NESSI is one the first ground-based instruments specifically crafted to study the atmospheres of exoplanets that transit, or eclipse, their stars, from our point of view on Earth. It uses a technique called transit spectroscopy, in which a planet is observed as it crosses in front of, then behind, its parent star. The instrument, called a spectrometer, breaks apart the light of the star and planet, ultimately exposing chemicals that make up the planet's atmosphere. The technique is challenging because a planet's atmospheric signal accounts for only one part in 1,000 of the star's light. It's like looking for a firefly in a searchlight.

NASA's Spitzer and Hubble Space Telescopes, though not designed for studying exoplanets, have used the same method from space, gathering data on far-off worlds. Because space is above the blurring and attenuation effects of Earth's atmosphere, it is a better place than our planet to collect an exoplanet's chemical or spectral information. But ground-based studies have advantages, too. They can be developed at lower costs and allow researchers to update instruments more easily.

To work around Earth's atmospheric blurring problem, the NESSI instrument has a relatively wide field of view, covering a patch of sky about half the size of the full moon. This allows it to place two or more stars in its sight at once -- both the star it is analyzing as the target planet circles around, and other control stars. When the atmosphere moves around during an observation, it affects both stars similarly. This allows the researchers to isolate and remove the blurring distortions.

NESSI will be able to see a wide range of wavelengths in the near-infrared region of the light spectrum. "We can probe multiple signatures of molecules all at the same time, a special feature of NESSI," said Mark Swain, an astronomer on the NESSI project from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.

The instrument includes a cryogenic dewar that will keep it super-cooled with liquid nitrogen. That's an important factor for infrared-seeing telescopes, which are sensitive to heat.

Ten undergraduate students helped to make NESSI happen. "We're watching the next generation of scientists and engineers get excited about exoplanets," said Creech-Eakman. "Who knows what they will be able to see when they're older -- perhaps the atmospheres of potentially habitable worlds."

The first exoplanet observations are expected to begin in the summer of 2014.

More information on NASA's EPSCoR is at:

More information about exoplanets is at:

Image (mentioned), Text, Credits: NASA / JPL / Whitney Clavin.


jeudi 17 avril 2014

NASA Rover Opportunity's Selfie Shows Clean Machine

NASA - Mars Exploration Rover (MER-B) "Opportunity" patch.

April 17, 2014

Cleaned Solar Arrays Gleam in Mars Rover's New Selfie

Image above: A self-portrait of NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity taken in late March 2014 (right) shows that much of the dust on the rover's solar arrays has been removed since a similar portrait from January 2014 (left). Both were taken by Opportunity's panoramic camera (Pancam). Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornell Univ./Arizona State Univ.

In its sixth Martian winter, NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity now has cleaner solar arrays than in any Martian winter since its first on the Red Planet, in 2005. Cleaning effects of wind events in March boosted the amount of electricity available for the rover's work.

Self-Portrait by Freshly Cleaned Opportunity Mars Rover in March 2014

Image above: A self-portrait of NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity taken by the rover's panoramic camera (Pancam) in late March 2014 shows effects of recent winds removing much of the dust from the rover's solar arrays. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornell Univ./Arizona State Univ.

A new self-portrait from Opportunity's panoramic camera (Pancam), showing the cleaned arrays, is online at:

The mission is using the rover's added energy to inspect "Murray Ridge," on the western rim of Endeavour Crater, to learn about wet environments on ancient Mars.

Self-Portrait by Freshly Cleaned Opportunity Mars Rover, False Color

Image above: This version of the image is presented in false color to make differences in surface materials easier to see. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornell Univ./Arizona State Univ.

During Opportunity's first decade on Mars and the 2004-2010 career of its twin, Spirit, NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Project yielded a range of findings proving wet environmental conditions on ancient Mars -- some very acidic, others milder and more conducive to supporting life.

JPL manages the Mars Exploration Rover Project for NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington. For more information about Spirit and Opportunity, visit and

You can follow the project on Twitter and on Facebook at: and

Images (mentioned), Text, Credits: NASA / JPL / Guy Webster.

Best regards,

A cross-section of the Universe

ESA - Hubble Space Telescope logo.

17 April 2014

Hubble’s cross-section of the cosmos

An image of a galaxy cluster taken by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope gives a remarkable cross-section of the Universe, showing objects at different distances and stages in cosmic history. They range from cosmic near neighbours to objects seen in the early years of the Universe. The 14-hour exposure shows objects around a billion times fainter than can be seen with the naked eye.

Annotated image of the field around CLASS B1608+656

This new Hubble image showcases a remarkable variety of objects at different distances from us, extending back over halfway to the edge of the observable Universe. The galaxies in this image mostly lie about five billion light-years from Earth but the field also contains other objects, both significantly closer and far more distant.

Digitized Sky Survey Image around CLASS B1608+656 (ground-based image)

Studies of this region of the sky have shown that many of the objects that appear to lie close together may actually be billions of light-years apart. This is because several groups of galaxies lie along our line of sight, creating something of an optical illusion. Hubble’s cross-section of the Universe is completed by distorted images of galaxies in the very distant background.

These objects are sometimes distorted due to a process called gravitational lensing, an extremely valuable technique in astronomy for studying very distant objects [1]. This lensing is caused by the bending of the space-time continuum by massive galaxies lying close to our line of sight to distant objects.

Zoom in on CLASS B1608+656

One of the lens systems visible here is called CLASS B1608+656, which appears as a small loop in the centre of the image. It features two foreground galaxies distorting and amplifying the light of a distant quasar the known as QSO-160913+653228. The light from this bright disc of matter, which is currently falling into a black hole, has taken nine billion years to reach us — two thirds of the age of the Universe.

As well as CLASS B1608+656, astronomers have identified two other gravitational lenses within this image. Two galaxies, dubbed Fred and Ginger by the researchers who studied them, contain enough mass to visibly distort the light from objects behind them. Fred, also known more prosaically as [FMK2006] ACS J160919+6532, lies near the lens galaxies in CLASS B1608+656, while Ginger [FMK2006] ACS J160910+6532) is markedly closer to us. Despite their different distances from us, both can be seen near to CLASS B1608+656 in the central region of this Hubble image.

Pan across CLASS B1608+656

To capture distant and dim objects like these, Hubble required a long exposure. The image is made up of visible and infrared observations with a total exposure time of 14 hours.


[1] Gravitational lensing can amplify the light coming from distant objects, enabling telescopes like Hubble to see objects that would otherwise be too faint and far away. This effect will be exploited during the Frontier Fields observing campaign in the near future, which aims to combine the power of Hubble with the natural amplification caused by strong gravitational lensing of distant galaxy clusters, to study the past Universe.

More information:

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

The image was spotted by contestant Adam Kill in the 2012 Hubble's Hidden Treasures competition. Hidden Treasures invited members of the public to search Hubble's science for the best overlooked images that have never been seen by a general audience. This image of CLASS B1608+656 has been well-studied by scientists over the years, but this is the first time it has been published in full online.


Images of Hubble:

Hubble’s Hidden Treasures:

Images, Text, Credits: NASA & ESA, Digitised Sky Survey 2. Acknowledgment: Davide De Martin / Videos: NASA, ESA, Digitised Sky Survey 2, N. Risinger ( Music: movetwo.


NASA's Kepler Telescope Discovers First Earth-Size Planet in 'Habitable Zone'

NASA - Kepler Space Telescope Mission patch.

April 17, 2014

Image above: Kepler-186f resides in the Kepler-186 system about 500 light-years from Earth in the constellation Cygnus. The system is also home to four inner planets, seen lined up in orbit around a host star that is half the size and mass of the sun. Image Credit: NASA Ames/SETI Institute/JPL-Caltech.

Using NASA's Kepler Space Telescope, astronomers have discovered the first Earth-size planet orbiting a star in the "habitable zone" -- the range of distance from a star where liquid water might pool on the surface of an orbiting planet. The discovery of Kepler-186f confirms that planets the size of Earth exist in the habitable zone of stars other than our sun.

While planets have previously been found in the habitable zone, they are all at least 40 percent larger in size than Earth and understanding their makeup is challenging. Kepler-186f is more reminiscent of Earth.

"The discovery of Kepler-186f is a significant step toward finding worlds like our planet Earth," said Paul Hertz, NASA's Astrophysics Division director at the agency's headquarters in Washington. "Future NASA missions, like the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite and the James Webb Space Telescope, will discover the nearest rocky exoplanets and determine their composition and atmospheric conditions, continuing humankind's quest to find truly Earth-like worlds."

Although the size of Kepler-186f is known, its mass and composition are not. Previous research, however, suggests that a planet the size of Kepler-186f is likely to be rocky.

 NASA's Kepler Discovers First Earth-Size Planet In The Habitable Zone of Another Star

"We know of just one planet where life exists -- Earth. When we search for life outside our solar system we focus on finding planets with characteristics that mimic that of Earth," said Elisa Quintana, research scientist at the SETI Institute at NASA's Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif., and lead author of the paper published today in the journal Science. "Finding a habitable zone planet comparable to Earth in size is a major step forward."

Kepler-186f resides in the Kepler-186 system, about 500 light-years from Earth in the constellation Cygnus. The system is also home to four companion planets, which orbit a star half the size and mass of our sun. The star is classified as an M dwarf, or red dwarf, a class of stars that makes up 70 percent of the stars in the Milky Way galaxy.

"M dwarfs are the most numerous stars," said Quintana. "The first signs of other life in the galaxy may well come from planets orbiting an M dwarf."

NASA's Kepler Space Telescope. Image Credit: NASA

Kepler-186f orbits its star once every 130-days and receives one-third the energy from its star that Earth gets from the sun, placing it nearer the outer edge of the habitable zone. On the surface of Kepler-186f, the brightness of its star at high noon is only as bright as our sun appears to us about an hour before sunset.

"Being in the habitable zone does not mean we know this planet is habitable. The temperature on the planet is strongly dependent on what kind of atmosphere the planet has," said Thomas Barclay, research scientist at the Bay Area Environmental Research Institute at Ames, and co-author of the paper. "Kepler-186f can be thought of as an Earth-cousin rather than an Earth-twin. It has many properties that resemble Earth."

The four companion planets, Kepler-186b, Kepler-186c, Kepler-186d, and Kepler-186e, whiz around their sun every four, seven, 13, and 22 days, respectively, making them too hot for life as we know it. These four inner planets all measure less than 1.5 times the size of Earth.

The next steps in the search for distant life include looking for true Earth-twins -- Earth-size planets orbiting within the habitable zone of a sun-like star -- and measuring the their chemical compositions. The Kepler Space Telescope, which simultaneously and continuously measured the brightness of more than 150,000 stars, is NASA's first mission capable of detecting Earth-size planets around stars like our sun.

Ames is responsible for Kepler's ground system development, mission operations, and science data analysis. NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., managed Kepler mission development. Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp. in Boulder, Colo., developed the Kepler flight system and supports mission operations with the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics at the University of Colorado in Boulder. The Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore archives, hosts and distributes Kepler science data. Kepler is NASA's 10th Discovery Mission and was funded by the agency's Science Mission Directorate.

The SETI Institute is a private, nonprofit organization dedicated to scientific research, education and public outreach.  The mission of the SETI Institute is to explore, understand and explain the origin, nature and prevalence of life in the universe.

For more information about the Kepler mission, visit:

Images (mentioned), Video, Text, Credits: NASA / J.D. Harrington / Ames Research Center / Michele Johnson / SETI Institute / Karen Randall.


mercredi 16 avril 2014

NASA Mars Orbiter Spies Rover Near Martian Butte

NASA - Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) logo / NASA - Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) patch.

April 16, 2014

Image above: NASA's Curiosity Mars rover and tracks from its driving are visible in this view from orbit, acquired on April 11, 2014, by the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera on NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona.

Scientists using NASA's Curiosity Mars rover are eyeing a rock layer surrounding the base of a small butte, called "Mount Remarkable," as a target for investigating with tools on the rover's robotic arm.

The rover works near this butte in an image taken on April 11 by the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera on NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. It is  available at:

NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

A rover's-eye view of Mount Remarkable and surroundings as seen from Curiosity's position in that HiRISE image is available in a mosaic of images from Curiosity's Navigation Camera (Navcam), at:  

Image above: NASA's Curiosity Mars rover used its Navigation Camera (Navcam) on April 11, 2014, to record this scene of a butte called "Mount Remarkable" and surrounding outcrops at a waypoint called "the Kimberley" inside Gale Crater. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech.                  

The butte stands about 16 feet (5 meters) high. Curiosity's science team refers to the rock layer surrounding the base of Mount Remarkable as the "middle unit" because its location is intermediate between rocks that form buttes in the area and lower-lying rocks that show a pattern of striations.

Image above: NASA's Curiosity Mars rover and its tracks are visible in this view combining information from three observations by the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera on NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. The image appears three-dimensional when viewed through red-blue glasses. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona.

Depending on what the mission scientists learn from a close-up look at the rock and identification of chemical elements in it, a site on this middle unit may become the third rock that Curiosity samples with its drill. The rover carries laboratory instruments to analyze rock powder collected by the drill. The mission's first two drilled samples, in an area called Yellowknife Bay near Curiosity's landing site, yielded evidence last year for an ancient lakebed environment with available energy and ingredients favorable for microbial life.

NASA's Curiosity Mars rover. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

The rover's current location, where multiple types of rocks are exposed close together, is called "the Kimberley." Here and, later, at outcrops on the slope of Mount Sharp inside Gale Crater, researchers plan to use Curiosity's science instruments to learn more about habitable past conditions and environmental changes.

NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of Caltech in Pasadena, manages the Mars Science Laboratory Project for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington. The project designed and built Curiosity and operates the rover on Mars.

For more information about NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO), visit: and

For more information about Curiosity, visit and You can follow the mission on Facebook at and on Twitter at

Images (mentioned), Text, Credits: NASA / JPL / Guy Webster.

Best regards,

World-record current in a superconductor

CERN - European Organization for Nuclear Research logo.

April 16, 2014

In the framework of the High-Luminosity LHC project, experts from the CERN Superconductors team recently obtained a world-record current of 20 kA at 24 K in an electrical transmission line consisting of two 20-metre long cables made of magnesium diboride (MgB2) superconductor. This result makes the technology a viable solution for long-distance power transportation.

"The test is an important step in the development of cold electrical power transmission systems based on the use of MgB2", says Amalia Ballarino, head of the Superconductors and Superconducting Devices section at CERN. "The cables and associated technologies were designed, developed and tested at CERN. The superconducting wire is the result of a long R&D effort that started in 2008 between CERN and the manufacturer, Columbus Superconductors in Genova, Italy."

Image above: The 20-metre long electrical transmission line containing the two 20 kA MgB2 cables (Image: CERN).

The result was achieved at a temperature of 24 K (about -249 ˚C) using a test station that was purpose-designed and assembled at CERN. The temperature is kept homogeneous over the 20-metre length of the line by a forced flow of helium gas. Following intense development, the full 2 x 20-metre long MgB2 superconducting line was successfully powered to the world-record current of 20 kA, showing that this technology has great potential for the transmission of electrical power.

The superconducting properties of this relatively cheap material were discovered in 2001, but conductor technology only existed in the form of tape. Round wire, which is more appropriate for assembling into high-current cables, was not available when the CERN project started. "First, it was necessary to develop quality round wires adapted for use in this project, with high current density and uniform superconducting properties," says Ballarino. "This work was done through a close collaboration between CERN and Columbus Superconductors, which manufactured different generations of wires with different architectures and with improved properties. In parallel, we at CERN developed the high-current cables and the electrical transmission line."

Image above: Members of the CERN Superconductors and Superconducting Devices team in front of the test station (Image: CERN).

The project is part of the FP7 Hi-Lumi LHC Design Study. In the high-luminosity LHC configuration, the power converters supplying current to the superconducting magnets will be moved from their present location in the LHC tunnel to the surface or to radiation-free underground areas and they will be connected to the magnets through a new cold powering system. A dedicated study in 2009 confirmed that electrical transfer lines based on the use of MgB2 superconductor, having a critical temperature of 39 K, could be a viable and economical technology, bringing several advantages with respect to the conventional Nb-Ti bus cable used today for the LHC.

Further to the CERN initiative, MgB2 superconducting technology was also proposed by Carlo Rubbia, scientific director of the Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies (IASS) in Potsdam, Germany, for an innovative transmission line for long-distance transport of green power.

Video above: CERN engineer Amalia Ballarino explains the design of the MgB2 superconducting line (Video: CERN).

"MgB2 superconducting cables cooled by liquid hydrogen have been proposed for use in long-distance underground power transmission lines, with periodically spaced cryogenic cooling stations. A collaboration agreement between CERN and IASS was signed in March 2012 with the objective of proving the feasibility of the technology," says Ballarino. "The development was aimed at testing a 20 kA DC line operated at 20 K (-253 °C), which was also conveniently close to the CERN requirement for powering the magnets. The result of our tests is a demonstration that such high-current cables can be operated at and above the temperature of liquid hydrogen, and that the basic related technology is now proven."


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.

Related links:

High-Luminosity LHC project:

FP7 Hi-Lumi LHC Design Study:

Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies (IASS):

Images (mentioned), Video (mentioned), Text, Credits: CERN / Antonella del Rosso.


Held a successful launch of Soyuz-U with EgypSat-2



Soyuz-U with EgypSat-2 launch

April 16 at 20:20 Moscow time (MSK) from the launch complex of the platform 31 Baikonur cosmodrome starting calculations enterprises Roscosmos produced successful launch (ILV) Soyuz-U with the spacecraft (SC) EgypSat-2.

Launch of Soyuz-U Rocket with EgyptSat-2 Satellite

At 20:28 MSK according to cyclogram flight spacecraft EgypSat-2 separated from the third stage rocket and launched into orbit.

EgyptSat-2 Satellite

Spacecraft Idzhiptsat designed for remote sensing with high spatial resolution. It is equipped with the most modern technology to capture images in the visible and infrared ranges. The data received from the satellite will be used for agricultural, geological and environmental studies.

ROSCOSMOS Press Release:

Roscosmos press service / ROSCOSMOS / Tsenki TV / Translation, screen capture: Aerospace.


A Study in Scarlet

ESO - European Southern Observatory logo.

16 April 2014

The star formation region Gum 41

This new image from ESO’s La Silla Observatory in Chile reveals a cloud of hydrogen called Gum 41. In the middle of this little-known nebula, brilliant hot young stars are giving off energetic radiation that causes the surrounding hydrogen to glow with a characteristic red hue.

This area of the southern sky, in the constellation of Centaurus (The Centaur), is home to many bright nebulae, each associated with hot newborn stars that formed out of the clouds of hydrogen gas. The intense radiation from the stellar newborns excites the remaining hydrogen around them, making the gas glow in the distinctive shade of red typical of star-forming regions. Another famous example of this phenomenon is the Lagoon Nebula (eso0936), a vast cloud that glows in similar bright shades of scarlet.

The star formation region Gum 41 in the constellation of Centaurus

The nebula in this picture is located some 7300 light-years from Earth. Australian astronomer Colin Gum discovered it on photographs taken at the Mount Stromlo Observatory near Canberra, and included it in his catalogue of 84 emission nebulae, published in 1955. Gum 41 is actually one small part of a bigger structure called the Lambda Centauri Nebula, also known by the more exotic name of the Running Chicken Nebula (another part of which was the topic of ESO image of the Lambda Centauri Nebula). Gum died at a tragically early age in a skiing accident in Switzerland in 1960.

Zooming in on the star formation region Gum 41

In this picture of Gum 41, the clouds appear to be quite thick and bright, but this is actually misleading. If a hypothetical human space traveller could pass through this nebula, it is likely that they would not notice it as — even at close quarters — it would be too faint for the human eye to see. This helps to explain why this large object had to wait until the mid-twentieth century to be discovered — its light is spread very thinly and the red glow cannot be well seen visually.

Panning across the star formation region Gum 41

This new portrait of Gum 41 — likely one of the best so far of this elusive object — has been created using data from the Wide Field Imager (WFI) on the MPG/ESO 2.2-metre telescope at the La Silla Observatory in Chile. It is a combination of images taken through blue, green, and red filters, along with an image using a special filter designed to pick out the red glow from hydrogen.

More information:

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”.


Lagoon Nebula (eso0936):

ESO image of the Lambda Centauri Nebula - An Angry Bird in the Sky:

Photos of the MPG/ESO 2.2-metre telescope:

Photos from the MPG/ESO 2.2-metre telescope:

Photos of La Silla:

Images, Text, Credits: ESO / IAU and Sky & Telescope / Videos: ESO / N. Risinger ( Kato. Music: movetwo.

Best regards,

First radar vision for Copernicus

ESA - Sentinel-1 Mission logo / Copernicus - The European Earth Observation Programme logo.

16 April 2014

Launched on 3 April, ESA’s Sentinel-1A satellite has already delivered its first radar images of Earth. They offer a tantalising glimpse of the kind of operational imagery that this new mission will provide for Europe’s ambitious Copernicus environmental monitoring programme.

Rather aptly, the first image shows Brussels in Belgium, the seat of the European Commission.

The European Commission leads the Copernicus programme and coordinates the broad range of services to improve the management of the environment and to safeguard everyday lives. ESA is responsible for developing the family of Sentinel satellites and for ensuring that the stream of data are available for these services.

Brussels as the first image from Sentinel-1A

This first image of Belgium was captured on 12 April, just one day after the satellite was put into its operational attitude, and demonstrates the potential of Sentinel-1A’s radar vision.

Since it was launched from Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana, Sentinel-1A has undertaken a complicated routine to deploy its 12-m long radar and two 10-m long solar wings, as well as passing a series of initial instrument checks.

The satellite is not yet in its operational orbit, nor is it calibrated for supplying true data. These tasks will be carried out during the commissioning phase, which will take about three months to complete. This preliminary set of images simply offer a taster of what’s to come.

However, they are an extremely pleasing taster as ESA’s Director of ESA’s Earth Observation Programmes, Volker Liebig, commented, “We are exceptionally happy with this first set of images.”

Sentinel-1 radar vision

He continued, “We are in very early days of the satellite’s life in orbit and ground segment operations, but these images certainly demonstrate the calibre of data this advanced radar mission will bring from its different imaging modes, and how it will provide essential data for Copernicus services to benefit us all.”

The first image, which was acquired in the satellite’s ‘strip map’ mode with a swath width of 80 km, clearly captures the dense urban environment of Brussels shown in white in the middle of the picture. Antwerp can be seen in the top left in red –blue colours and the greens depict vegetation in the surrounding areas. Waterways and low-reflective areas such as airport runways appear black.

Among other applications, images such as this will be used for urban planning, for monitoring agriculture, for mapping deforestation and for managing water resources.

Flooding in Namibia

This first set of acquisitions also included an area in Namibia that is currently flooded by the Zambezi river (shown above right).

Although commissioning has only just begun, the team tasked the satellite to image the flood as would be routine in the case of an emergency when the mission is fully operational.

The images were then available in less than an hour once they had been received by the ground station.

Sentinel-1A’s ability to ‘see’ through cloud and rain and in pitch darkness make it particularly useful for monitoring floods and for offering images for emergency response. In fact, this area of the Caprivi plain was shrouded in thick cloud when the satellite acquired the image on 13 April.

Pine Island and Thwaites Glaciers

One of the images acquired on the same day focuses on Pine Island Glacier in Antarctica. This glacier is in a state of ‘irreversible retreat’ so it is important to keep a very close eye on glaciers such as these as they lose ice to the ocean.

Another shows a transect over the northern part of the Antarctica Peninsula.

Antarctica Peninsula

As well as monitoring glaciers, Sentinel-1A is poised to generate timely maps of sea-ice conditions, particularly for the increasingly busy Arctic waters. Images from its advanced radar can be used to distinguish clearly between the thinner more navigable first-year ice and the hazardous, much thicker multiyear ice to help assure safe year-round navigation in polar waters.

As these first images show, Sentinel-1A is already demonstrating the vital role it will play in the largest civil Earth observation programme ever conceived.

Related links:


European Commission Copernicus site:

Thales Alenia Space:

Airbus Defence & Space:


Images, Text, Credit: ESA.


mardi 15 avril 2014

Google buys orbital drones Titan Aerospace

Titan Aerospace logo.

April 15, 2014

The web giant Google buys Titan Aerospace and cut the grass under the feet of Facebook who had already approached the company a few weeks ago. Solar drones of Titan Aerospace which provides them a bright future.

The Mountain View company believes more than ever to his Loon project, supposed to bring the Internet around the world, and obviously gives the means of its ambitions. Indeed, they are still in the development phase, drones Titan Aerospace seem very promising : the firm refers to eventually craft capable of sustained flight at high altitude (about 20 km) for periods up to 5 years. Autonomy which is obviously not due to a huge tank, but a fully powered by energy from sunlight consumption.

Titan Aerospace Solara 50

Internet access, but not only!

The task of Titan Aerospace, however, is not limited to cooperate with the Loon project, even though we know that both teams were immediately reconciled. In fact, besides the arrival of the Internet in the most remote regions of the world, it is also about shooting from the heavens, and atmospheric data collection. These drones come so quickly lend a hand to satellites, more expensive.

Drones Titan Aerospace should enable Google to provide Internet access in the same way as it was done with balloons and should also be used to collect atmospheric data and images in high definition certainly find their place in Google Maps. But not only! Quoted by the newspaper, a Google spokesman has ruled that "the weather satellites are still in their infancy, but they could bring Internet access to millions of people and help solve other problems, such as assistance to victims of natural disasters or participate in the fight against deforestation."

Titan Aerospace Solara 50

As a reminder, the drones Titan Aerospace work with solar energy and are thus capable of flying at high altitude and carefree for many years.

The redemption amount was not disclosed, unlike the previous transaction between Facebook and Ascenta, for which he was about 20 million $. Titan Aerospace provided so far placing on the market in 2015.

Titan Aerospace website:

Image, Video, Text, Credits: Titan Aerospace / Aerospace.