vendredi 29 décembre 2017

Weekly Recap From the Expedition Lead Scientist, week of December 18, 2017

ISS - Expedition 54 Mission patch.

Dec. 29, 2017

(Highlights: Week of December 18, 2017) - Last week aboard the International Space Station, crew members received more than 4,800 pounds of research equipment, cargo and supplies that will support dozens of the more than 250 ongoing investigations aboard the orbiting laboratory from the recent SpaceX Dragon commercial resupply. In addition to unpacking tons of new research materials, the space station also welcomed three new crew members– NASA’s Scott Tingle, Roscosmo’s Anton Shkaplerov and Norishige Kanai of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA). The crew members explored research in the fields of microbiology, animal biology and cellular biology.

Image above: The SpaceX Dragon delivered more than 2 tons of science and supplies to the International Space Station. Here, it is seen off the coast of Indonesia ahead of docking to the orbiting laboratory. Image Credit: NASA.

Arthrospira B, an ESA investigation, is an important step in making improvements in the area of closed regenerative life support systems in space, which will help in making future human exploration missions beyond low-Earth orbit a reality. This week, NASA astronaut Mark Vande Hei retrieved four Arthrospira experiment containers and transferred them to the Columbus module, where they were assembled and installed into the Biolab Incubator. The development of these kinds of regenerative life support systems for spaceflight could also be applied to remote locations on Earth where sustainability of materials is important.

The Cell-Science Validation investigation houses an enhanced cell culture platform that provides undisturbed culture maintenance, including feedback temperature control, medical grade gas supply, perfusion nutrient delivery and removal of waste and automated experiment manipulations. This week, Vande Hei removed the Bioculture System from the SpaceX-13 delivery vehicle and installed it into EXPRESS Rack 7. This incubator supports a wide diversity of tissue, cell, and microbiological cultures and experiment methods to meet spaceflight research experiment goals and objectives.

Image above: NASA astronaut Mark Vande Hei prepared the Zebrafish experiment unit for the Zebrafish Muscle 2 investigation. Image Credit: NASA.

In microgravity conditions, the postural muscles undergo atrophy because of prominent decrease in their gravity-dependent activity. The Zebrafish Muscle 2, a JAXA investigation, studies muscle atrophy in microgravity. Following the arrival of SpaceX-13, Vande Hei and NASA astronaut Joe Acaba worked to prepare and transport the Zebrafish Experiment Units (EUs) into the Minus Eighty Degree Celsius Laboratory Freezer for ISS (MELFI). The results from the next three days of Zebrafish Muscle 2 operations will help to determine whether atrophy of muscles under microgravity also occurs in zebrafish, and why that muscle atrophy occurs in microgravity.

Sarcopenia, or muscle loss or atrophy, is a current problem in the health industry on Earth and in space. The Rodent Research-6 investigation studies the efficacy of both a drug compound and a nano-channel drug delivery implant, for their use in the treatment of muscle loss in future spaceflight, and in the treatment of patients with muscle wasting diseases or conditions on Earth. Vande Hei and Acaba readied the habitats in preparation for the investigation’s arrival on Dragon. Upon arrival, health checks were completed on the rodents.

Image above: Seeds for APEX-05 investigation, planted in petri dishes, are grown within the Veggie plant growth facility. Image Credit: NASA.

The Assessing Osteoblast Response to Tetranite™ in Microgravity Conditions to Induce Osteoporosis (Synthetic Bone) investigation grows bone cells in the presence of a commercially available bone adhesive, and a new product called Tetranite™. Determining how well Tetranite™ integrates with bone cell cultures can also inform general strategies for addressing bone loss in space. Last week, Acaba completed the first microscopy of four Synthetic Bone Biocells, two of which were re-inserted into the Space Automated Bioproduct Laboratory (SABL) for continued incubation and growth. Results from this investigation could help to inform strategies for addressing bone loss in space.

Other work was done on these investigations: APEX-05, BRIC-LED-001, JAXA Low Temp PCG #2, Payload Card-X, STaARS BioScience-2, Cell-Free Epigenome, Lighting Effects, Marrow, Multi-Omics, Space Headaches, ACE-T-6, DOSIS-3D, MagVector, Area PADLES, BEAM, JEM Internal Ball Camera, Made in Space Fiber Optics and Personal CO2 Monitor.

Related links:

SpaceX Dragon commercial resupply:

Minus Eighty Degree Celsius Laboratory Freezer for ISS (MELFI):

Rodent Research-6:

Tetranite™ in Microgravity Conditions to Induce Osteoporosis (Synthetic Bone):

Space Automated Bioproduct Laboratory (SABL):



JAXA Low Temp PCG #2:

Lighting Effects:



Space Headaches:






JEM Internal Ball Camera:

Made in Space Fiber Optics:

Personal CO2 Monitor:

Space Station Research and Technology:

International Space Station (ISS):

Images (mentioned), Text, Credits: NASA/Michael Johnson/John Love, Lead Increment Scientist Expeditions 53 & 54.


RSC ENERGIA: Angosat-1 Satellite Communications Re-Established


December 29, 2017

On December 26, 2017, at 22:00 Moscow Time, the integrated launch vehicle Zenit-3SLBF carrying Angosat spacecraft (SC) was normally launched from the launch pad of Area 45 of the Baikonur cosmodrome.

The Angosat SC was put into its target orbit on time and established communications, but after some time telemetry data stopped to come in.

LV Zenit-2SLBF with Angosat SC launched from Baikonur

RSC Energia specialists have received telemetry data from Angosat spacecraft which was launched on December 26 by an integrated launch vehicle Zenit-3SLBF from Baikonur cosmodrome.

Telemetry data have been received from the satellite, which show that all parameters of the onboard systems of the spacecraft are within nominal range.

Angosat is a spacecraft made by RSC Energia in the interests of the Republic of Angola to provide broadcast coverage in C- and Ku-bands over the territory of the Republic of Angola, as well as over the territory of the entire African continent. The Angosat project calls for constructing a communications satellite with a transponder, launching it into the geostationary orbit and building a round infrastructure for communications and TV broadcasting. Also taking part in the implementation of the project are enterprises included in the State Corporation Roscosmos.

Angosat-1 satellite

PAO RSC Energia is the leader in the rocket and space industry, and the prime contractor for manned space systems. The Corporation conducts work on the development of unmanned space and rocket systems (launch vehicles and orbital transfer vehicles), and high-technology systems for various non-space applications. Since August 2014, the Corporation is headed by Vladimir Solntsev.

ROSCOSMOS is a State Corporation established in August of 2015 in order to conduct a comprehensive reform of the rocket and space industry in Russia. State Corporation Roscosmos assures implementation of the Government policies in the field of space activities and provides for them a legal and regulatory framework, as well as places orders for the development, production and delivery of space hardware and space infrastructure facilities. The functions of the State Corporation also include development of international cooperation in space, and creating conditions for using results of space activities in social and economic development of Russia.

Related article:

Russia loses contact with Angolan satellite

More informatio about RSC ENERGIA:

Images, Text, Credits: ROSCOSMOS/RSC Energia.


jeudi 28 décembre 2017

International Crew Researching Life Science Ahead of New Year

ISS - Expedition 54 Mission patch.

December 28, 2017

Image above: Flying over Caribbean Sea, speed: 27'608 Km/h, altitude: 405,90 Km, image capture (by Roland Berga) from International Space Station (ISS) via ISS-HD Live application with EarthCam from ISS. December 28, 2017 at 19:58 UTC.

After a Russian cargo ship departed the International Space Station Thursday, the Expedition 54 crew is wrapping up the final work week of 2017 orbiting Earth and conducting science. The six astronauts and cosmonauts will go into the last weekend of 2017 with light duty and family conferences before taking New Year’s Day off.

The Progress 67 (67P) resupply ship finished its stay six-and-a-half month at the station’s Zvezda service Thursday at 8:03 a.m. EDT. Cosmonauts Alexander Misurkin and Anton Shkaplerov packed the 67P full of trash the closed its hatches before it automatically undocked. It will re-enter Earth’s atmosphere and safely burn up over the south Pacific Ocean.

Japanese astronaut Norishige Kanai took his turn on the exercise bike today for a study researching physical exertion in space. Doctors measure the astronauts breathing and other parameters during exercise to ensure they have the strength to perform strenuous activities such as spacewalks and even emergency procedures.

Image above: The Sahara Desert is pictured Dec. 24 as the space station orbited over the border of the African nations of Mali and Algeria. Image Credit: NASA.

Flight Engineer Scott Tingle of NASA was harvesting plants for the Advanced Plants Experiment-05 (APEX) and stowing the botany samples in a science freezer for further analysis. Scientists are exploring how plants respond to microgravity and observing molecular and genetic changes.

The life science studies help mission doctors keep astronauts healthier and stronger while living in outer space. Also, NASA is planning longer human missions beyond low-Earth orbit and learning how to keep crews self-sustainable.

Finally, three U.S. astronauts, two Russian cosmonauts and a Japanese astronaut on the orbital laboratory will experience New Year’s Eve 16 times as they orbit Earth once every 90 minutes. That is 16 sunrise and sunsets 250 miles above Earth. The crew will take the day off, share a meal and reflect on the past year and plan for the year ahead.

Russian Space Freighter Ends Stay at Station

Image above: Dec. 27, 2017: International Space Station Configuration. Four spaceships are parked at the space station including the SpaceX Dragon space freighter, the Progress 68 resupply ship and the Soyuz MS-06 and MS-07 crew ships. Image Credit: NASA.

Filled with trash, the unpiloted ISS Progress 67 Russian cargo ship undocked from the aft port of the Zvezda Service Module of the International Space Station at 8:03 p.m. EST. Just after 11 p.m., Russian flight controllers will send commands to fire the Progress’ engines and deorbit the space freighter, sending it to a destructive entry over the unpopulated south Pacific Ocean.

Related links:


Expedition 54:

International Space Station (ISS):

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

Best regards,

mercredi 27 décembre 2017

New Crew Gets Used to Space as Cargo Craft Prepares to Depart

ISS - Expedition 54 Mission patch.

Dec. 27, 2017

International Space Station (ISS). Image Credit: NASA

The International Space Station’s three newest crew members are beginning their second week familiarizing themselves with the orbital lab’s operations and systems. They and the other three Expedition 54 crew mates are also busy today with cargo operations, space science and station maintenance.

Also, a Russian cargo craft is departing the station tonight after a six-and-a-half month stay docked to the Zvezda service module. The Progress 67 cargo craft will undock from Zvezda tonight at 8:03 p.m. EST then re-enter Earth’s atmosphere to burn up over the south Pacific Ocean.

Veteran cosmonaut Anton Shkaplerov and first-time astronauts Scott Tingle of NASA and Norishige Kanai of JAXA are in their second week in Earth orbit and getting used to life in space. The new space residents, who arrived Dec. 19, have time set aside in their schedules to adjust to life and work in weightlessness.

Image above: Expedition 54-55 prime crew members (from left) Norishige Kanai of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, Anton Shkaplerov of Roscosmos and Scott Tingle of NASA. Image Credit: NASA.

Two-time station resident Joe Acaba from NASA worked throughout Wednesday gathering items for stowage inside the SpaceX Dragon resupply ship. Kanai assisted Acaba with the pre-packing duties readying the cargo for return to Earth inside Dragon on Jan. 13.

Tingle strapped himself into an exercise bike this morning breathing into a tube for a study measuring physical exertion in microgravity. In this long-running experiment, doctors are researching ways to ensure astronauts stay fit and healthy in space to maintain mission success.

Related links:


Commercial Resupply:

Expedition 54:

International Space Station (ISS):

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

Best regards,

Kwanzaa Tholus on Ceres

NASA - Dawn Mission patch.

Dec. 27, 2017

What is a tholus? A tholus is a type of small mountain. These images show such a feature on dwarf planet Ceres called Kwanzaa Tholus. Kwanzaa, meaning "first fruits" in Swahili, is an African-American festival based on ancient African harvest celebrations, and takes place each year from December 26 to January 1.

Kwanzaa Tholus measures about 22 by 12 miles (35 by 19 kilometers) and is elevated about 2 miles (3 km) above its surroundings. Because the mountain does not rise sharply above the ground, it is difficult to see in the mosaic on the left, although a small crescent-shaped shadow stands out. The image on the right, which is an elevation map of the area, shows where Kwanzaa Tholus is more prominently.

The rounded shape of Kwanzaa Tholus is typical of tholi (plural of tholus) in general, but is different than other examples found on Ceres (like Dalien Tholus) and Mars. This region is particularly rich in this type of feature: The current Ceres map shows six named tholi and montes (slightly bigger mountains) in the region (centered around 32 degrees north, 327 degrees east) and several others including Ahuna Mons farther south.

Scientists say Kwanzaa Tholus may have once been as prominent as Ahuna Mons, the tallest and most noticeable mountain on Ceres. Ahuna Mons is likely a cryovolcano, formed by the gradual accumulation of thick, slowly flowing icy materials. Because ice is not strong enough to preserve an elevated structure for extended periods, cryovolcanoes on Ceres are expected to gradually collapse over tens of millions of years. This means Kwanzaa Tholus and other tholi in that area could be degraded mountains, which also formed from cryovolcanic activity.

Dawn spacecraft Ceres flyby

Learn more about the Dawn mission:

Image, Animation, Text, Credits: NASA/Yvette Smith/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA.

Best regards,

Russia loses contact with Angolan satellite


Dec 27, 2017

Zenit-2SB lift off with Angosat-1

On December 26, 2017 at 22:00 Moscow time, Zenit-2SB launch vehicle successfully lifted off from Baikonur Cosmodrome.

Zenit-2SB launch with Angosat-1

This is the second incident of this kind. By the end of November, Moscow had already lost the Meteor weather satellite. The cost of the lost satellite is around 280 million dollars.

A fault?

Russia lost contact on Wednesday with Angosat-1, Angola's first Angosat-1 satellite, launched on Tuesday at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, according to a Russian space source, raising fears of another setback one month after the embarrassing loss of another device.

Angosat-1 satellite

"The contact has stopped temporarily, we lost the telemetry," said the source told AFP, hoping to restore contact with this satellite whose cost is estimated at $ 280 million. At the end of November, Russia had lost contact with the Meteor weather satellite launched a few hours earlier by a Soyuz rocket from the new Vostochny cosmodrome.

Angosat is a spacecraft developed by RSC Energia in the interests of the Republic of Angola. It is designed to provide broadcasting coverage in C- and Ku-bands on the territory of the Republic of Angola, as well as the entire African continent. The project is designed for satellite communications with a transponder, launching it into the geostationary orbit and building a round of infrastructure for communications and TV broadcasting.

Roscosmos Press Release:

Images, Video, Text, Credits: AFP/ROSCOSMOS/ Aerospace/Roland Berga.


dimanche 24 décembre 2017

With Christmas Around the Corner Crew Researching Why Cells Change in Space

ISS - Expedition 54 Mission patch.

December 24, 2017

International Space Station (ISS). Animation Credit: NASA

Six Expedition 54 crew members will spend Christmas orbiting Earth sharing a traditional meal and opening goodies delivered on recent cargo missions to the International Space Station. Veteran crew member Anton Shkaplerov of Roscosmos is spending his third holiday season in space.

Meanwhile, advanced space science is taking place seven days a week on the orbital lab as the astronauts explore a variety of phenomena that can only be revealed in the microgravity environment. Human research is especially important as doctors learn how to keep space travelers healthy and strong during spaceflight.

Image above: The Expedition 54 crew members (from left) are NASA astronauts Joe Acaba and Mark Vande Hei, Roscosmos cosmonauts Alexander Misurkin and Anton Shkaplerov, NASA astronaut Scott Tingle and JAXA astronaut Norishige Kanai. Image Credit: NASA.

The station’s newest Flight Engineers, Scott Tingle of NASA and Norishige Kanai of JAXA, collected and stored their blood samples this morning for the Cell-Free Epigenome experiment. The samples will be analyzed later on the ground for cellular changes that take place in crew members while living in space.

Astronaut Joe Acaba of NASA is testing new research hardware today for its ability to maintain cell cultures and enable cellular experiment work. Acaba swapped out gear inside the Bioculture System that is being validated as a long-term biological research facility.

Image above: Sunrise over California coast, USA, altitude: 406,78 Km / speed: 27'511 Km/h. Image captured (by Roland Berga) with EarthCam from ISS - International Space Station (via ISS HD Live application) on December 24, 2017 at 13:34 UTC. Merry Christmas from space!

Related links:

Expedition 54:

International Space Station (ISS):

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

Merry Christmas!