vendredi 28 septembre 2018

Space Station Science Highlights: Week of September 24, 2018

ISS - Expedition 56 Mission patch.

Sept. 28, 2018

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) H-II Transfer Vehicle-7 (HTV-7) resupply ship arrived at the International Space Station on Thursday, packed with more than five tons of science and supplies for the Expedition 56 crew.

Included among the newly-arrived science is the station’s Life Sciences Glovebox, a state-of-the-art microgravity research facility that enables high-value biological research in low-Earth orbit.

Image above: Using the space station’s robotic arm, Canadarm2, Expedition 56 Commander Drew Feustel and Flight Engineer Serena Auñón-Chancellor of NASA grappled the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency’s Kounotori H-II Transfer Vehicle (HTV 7). Image Credit: NASA.

Learn more about the science happening on station below:

Students from around the globe take photos from space station

Not everyone can go to space, but everyone can see Earth from an astronaut’s perspective with the Sally Ride Earth Knowledge Acquired by Middle School Students (Sally Ride EarthKAM) program. Students can remotely control a digital camera mounted on the space station and use it to take photographs of coastlines, mountain ranges and other features and phenomena. The images are posted online where the public and participating classrooms can view Earth from the station’s unique vantage point.

Image above: The Tiwi Islands in Northern Australia, captured during an EarthKAM imaging session. Image Credit: NASA.

This week, the crew replaced a 50mm lens with an 85mm lens and initiated an imaging session for the more than 27,000 students stemming from 33 countries involved in the program’s 63rd mission. See recent EarthKAM images here:

Investigation studies complex assemblies in space

The assembly of colloidal and nanostructures is important for technological applications and for a fundamental understanding of self-assembly processes that are abundant in nature and in living matter. A better understanding of complex assembly will lead to the ability to design and grow man-made nanostructured materials with life-like functionality. The Advanced Colloids Experiment-Temperature-2 (ACE-T-2) looks at the assembly of complex structures from micron-scale colloidal particles interacting via tunable attractive interactions.

Animation above: Atomization observes the disintegration processes of low-speed water jets under various conditions to improve spray combustion processes inside rocket and jet engines. NASA astronaut Drew Feustel replaced sample syringes this week as a part of the investigation. Animation Credit: NASA.

The samples contain suspensions of colloidal particles that, upon nearing the critical solvent temperature, give rise to critical interactions between the particles. Regulating the temperature enables control of the particle interactions, leading to the growth of complex structures.

This week, the crew performed a sample module exchange within the Light Microscopy Module (LMM), contained within the Fluid Integration Rack (FIR).

Fast Neutron Spectrometer moves to Destiny Lab

Neutron spectrometers are used to make a wide range of measurements, including studies of a planetary body’s composition and measuring the flux of high-energy neutrons that could be harmful to humans. The Fast Neutron Spectrometer (FNS) investigation studies a new neutron measurement technique that is better suited for the mixed radiation fields found in deep space. Future operated and exploration missions benefit from clearer, more error-free measurement of the neutron flux present in an environment with multiple types of radiation.

Animation above: The STP-H5-Innovative Coatings Experiment (STP-H5 ICE) investigation studies new coatings for use on spacecraft in low-Earth orbit, determining their stability after two years in space. The investigation employs a set of simple exposure coupons that allow visual comparison of the effects of the space environment to a well-characterized white reference coating for this environment. Comparing photographs of these newly developed coatings to a white reference sample provides researchers information on the stability of the coatings. Animation Credit: NASA.

This week, the crew relocated the FNS from Node 1 to its new location in the Destiny Laboratory.

Space to Ground: Kounotori 7: 09/28/2018

Other work was done on these investigations:

- BEST seeks to advance use of sequencing DNA and RNA in space:

- Atomization observes the disintegration processes of low-speed water jets under various conditions to improve spray combustion processes inside rocket and jet engines:

- ACME E-FIELD Flames establishes an electric field between the burner and a mesh electrode. Measurements are made of electric-field strength, the ion current passing through the flame, and flame characteristics, leading to a new understanding and the potential development of less polluting and more efficient combustion technology:

- Plant Habitat-1 comprehensively compares differences in genetics, metabolism, photosynthesis, and gravity sensing between plants grown in space and on Earth:

- BCAT-CS studies dynamic forces between sediment particles that cluster together:

- FLUIDICS examines fluid behavior under microgravity during satellite maneuvers and the impact of capillary effect on wave turbulence without being masked by the effect of gravity:

- Tropical Cyclone demonstrates the feasibility of studying these powerful storms from space, which would be a major step toward alerting populations and governments around the world when a dangerous storm is approaching:

- Food Acceptability examines changes in how food appeals to crew members during their time aboard the station. Acceptability of food – whether crew members like and actually eat something – may directly affect crew caloric intake and associated nutritional benefits:

Related links:

Expedition 56:

Sally Ride EarthKAM:

Advanced Colloids Experiment-Temperature-2 (ACE-T-2):

Light Microscopy Module (LMM):

Fluid Integration Rack (FIR):

The Fast Neutron Spectrometer (FNS):

Spot the Station:

Space Station Research and Technology:

International Space Station (ISS):

Images (mentioned), Animations (mentioned), Video, Text, Credits: NASA/Michael Johnson/Yuri Guinart-Ramirez, Lead Increment Scientist Expeditions 55 & 56.

Best regards,

NASA 60 Years of Human Spaceflights

NASA 60th Anniversary logo.

September 28, 2018

The Cold War between the United States and former Soviet Union gave birth to the space race and an unprecedented program of scientific exploration. The Soviets sent the first person into space on April 12, 1961. In response, President John F. Kennedy challenged our nation “to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to earth.” It took eight years and three NASA programs -- Mercury, Gemini and Apollo – but the United States got to the moon.

NASA 60th: Human in Space

Image above: Apollo 11 astronaut Buzz Aldrin on the Moon. Look for Neil Armstrong reflected in Aldrin’s visor. During the following three-and-a-half years, 10 astronauts followed in their footsteps. Image Credit: NASA.

Project Mercury

Project Mercury, the first U.S. program to put humans in space, made 25 flights, six of which carried astronauts between 1961 and 1963. The objectives of the program were: to orbit a human spacecraft around Earth, to investigate a person’s ability to function in space, and to recover both the astronaut and spacecraft safely. More than 2 million people from government agencies and the aerospace industry combined their skills, initiative and experience to make the project possible. Mercury showed that humans could function for periods up to 34 hours of weightless flight.

Mercury Astronauts

Image Credit: NASA

Mercury astronauts, the “Original Seven.” On April 9, 1959, NASA introduced its first astronaut class. Front row, left to right: Wally Schirra, Deke Slayton, John Glenn, Scott Carpenter; back row, Alan Shepard, Gus Grissom, and Gordon Cooper.

Freedom 7 mission

Image Credit: NASA

Liftoff of astronaut Alan Shepard Jr.’s Freedom 7 mission, powered by a Redstone rocket, May 5, 1961. Shepard became the first American in space, a flight that lasted 15 minutes, 28 seconds. He later made it to the Moon on Apollo 14.

Katherine Johnson

Image Credit: NASA/Langley Research Center

NASA research mathematician Katherine Johnson did the trajectory analysis for Alan Shepard’s historic mission. Johnson worked at NASA’s Langley Research Center from 1953 to 1986. She and many other women made critical technical contributions to the space program.

View of Earth

Image Credit: NASA

View of Earth from Shepard’s Freedom 7 Mercury capsule, a view of our planet that no American had ever seen before.

Mercury Mission Control

Image Credit: NASA

Mercury Mission Control, Flight Control Area. During Project Mercury, the front wall of the Flight Control Area featured a large world map display with the path to be followed by the capsule. A circle marked each station in the worldwide tracking network.

John Glenn

Image Credit: NASA

Astronaut John Glenn onboard the Friendship 7 Mercury spacecraft, Feb. 20, 1962. Glenn made history by becoming the first U.S. astronaut to orbit Earth.

The Gemini Program

The Gemini program primarily tested equipment and mission procedures and trained astronauts and ground crews for future Apollo missions to the Moon. The program’s main goals were: to test an astronaut’s ability to fly long duration flights (14 days); to understand how a spacecraft could rendezvous and dock with another vehicle in Earth orbit; to perfect re-entry landing methods; and to further understand the effects of longer spaceflights on astronauts. NASA selected “Gemini” because the word is Latin for “twins,” and the Gemini was a capsule built for two.


Image Credit: NASA

Gemini IV spacewalk, June 3, 1965. NASA astronaut Ed White became the first American to walk in space.

Gemini III

Image Credit: NASA/MSFC archives

Gemini III astronauts Gus Grissom and John Young (photographed in a spacecraft simulator), crewed the first human Gemini flight, March 23, 1965. This mission tested the new maneuverable spacecraft that let the astronauts control more of the flight.

Gemini X

Image Credit: NASA

Time exposure image of Gemini X spacecraft, launched July 18, 1966. Astronauts John Young and Mike Collins carried out a three-day mission to rendezvous and dock in space with an Agena spacecraft that had lifted off 101 minutes earlier.

Gemini XII

Image Credit: NASA/Buzz Aldrin

The Agenda target vehicle as seen from Gemini XII spacecraft, which docked with Agena on Nov. 11, 1966.

The Apollo Program

Exactly eight years, one month and 26 days after President Kennedy challenged Americans to reach for the Moon, Project Apollo landed the first humans on the lunar surface and returned them safely to Earth. The Apollo program also developed technology to meet other national interests in space, conducted scientific exploration of the Moon, and developed humanity’s capability to work in the lunar environment.

Image above: The ascent stage of the Apollo 11 lunar module approaching the command module for docking before the crew returned to Earth. Image Credit: NASA.

The Apollo program was hit by tragedy as the first crew prepared to fly. On Jan. 27, 1967, fire swept through the Apollo 1 command module during a preflight test on the Cape Kennedy launch pad. Astronauts Gus Grissom, Ed White, and Roger Chaffee lost their lives. NASA was not deterred, but rather changed how things were done to ensure the safety and success of future missions.

Apollo 7

Image Credit: NASA

Commander Wally Schirra looking out the rendezvous window in front of the commander's station of the Apollo 7 Earth orbital mission, Oct. 19, 1968. Fifty years ago, Apollo 7 transmitted the first live TV broadcast from a human U.S. spacecraft.

Apollo 8

Image Credit: NASA

The famous 'Earthrise' photo from Apollo 8, the first human mission to the Moon. On Christmas Eve, 1968, as one of the most turbulent, tragic years in American history drew to a close, millions around the world watched and listened as Apollo 8 astronauts Frank Borman, Jim Lovell and Bill Anders -- first humans to orbit another world – read from the Bible’s Book of Genesis.

Apollo 11

Image Credit: NASA

On July 20, 1969, Apollo 11 Commander Neil Armstrong placed the first human footstep on the Moon. Here he’s shown working at an equipment storage area on the lunar module. This is one of the few photos that shows Armstrong during the moonwalk.

Apollo 13

Image Credit: NASA

A makeshift arrangement of equipment, parts and duct tape on the Apollo 13 Lunar Module (LM) saved the crew’s lives after an oxygen tank explosion in the Service Module left them with the LM to use as a “lifeboat.” Using materials only found on the spacecraft, NASA engineers on the ground designed and tested a system that removed carbon dioxide from the LM; the Apollo 13 crew then made the system onboard, April 17, 1970, and returned safely to Earth.


Image Credit: NASA

In 1973, Skylab expeditions paved the way for the International Space Station. The four, windmill-like solar arrays were attached to the Apollo Telescope Mount. Observations of the Sun were one of this space lab program’s primary achievements.

Apollo Soyuz Test Project

In the 1970s, U.S.-Soviet political tensions that had accelerated the space race began to thaw. Competition gave way to cooperation between the two nations with the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project. International collaboration among many nations would become the norm during the space shuttle era and current cooperation in human spaceflight with the International Space Station. These partnerships have taught us more about the universe, improved our lives at home, and expanded the possibilities for future exploration into deep space.


Image Credit: NASA

Astronaut Tom Stafford (foreground) and cosmonaut Alexei Leonov make their historic handshake in space on July 17, 1975. The Apollo-Soyuz Test Project docked together U.S. and Soviet spacecraft and paved the way toward international partnerships in space.

Space Shuttle Era

Image above: Space Shuttle Columbia, the world’s first reusable space vehicle, landing at NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center (now NASA's Armstrong Flight Research Center) at Edwards Air Force Base, California, April 14, 1981. Image Credit: NASA.

Over 30 years, NASA's space shuttle fleet—Columbia, Challenger, Discovery, Atlantis and Endeavour—flew 135 missions and carried 355 different people to space. Humanity's first reusable spacecraft, the space shuttle carried people into orbit repeatedly; launched, recovered and repaired satellites; conducted cutting-edge research; and built the largest structure in space, the International Space Station. The space shuttle pushed the bounds of discovery ever farther, requiring not only advanced technologies but also the tremendous efforts of thousands of civil servants and contractors throughout NASA's field centers and across the nation. Tragically, NASA lost two crews of seven in the 1986 Challenger accident and the 2003 Columbia accident.

Hubble Space Telescope

Image Credit: NASA

Deploying the Hubble Space Telescope from Space Shuttle Discovery’s cargo bay, April 25, 1990. A shuttle could carry several satellites into low-Earth orbit on one flight. Go see Discovery at the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum’s Udvar-Hazy Center at Dulles International Airport.

First Six Women 

Image Credit: NASA

The first six women selected to be NASA astronauts, 1978: (back row, left to right) Kathy Sullivan, Shannon Lucid, Anna Fischer, Judy Resnik, (seated left to right) Sally Ride and Rhea Seddon. NASA’s 1978 class of astronauts also included the first African-Americans and the first Asian American. The shuttle brought diversity to space.

S0 Truss Structure

Image Credit: NASA

One of many steps in assembling the International Space Station, Space Shuttle Atlantis delivered the S0 Truss Structure (the big set of solar panels across the top of the picture), which the crew installed on top of the Destiny module.

Space Station Era

Image above: This picture of the International Space Station was photographed from the space shuttle Atlantis as the orbiting complex and the shuttle performed their relative separation in the early hours of July 19, 2011 Image Credit: NASA.

The International Space Station is a model for global cooperation and scientific advancements that is enabling growth of private industry in low-Earth orbit and development of new technologies to advance human space exploration. Built between 1998 and 2011, the space station has housed humans continuously since Nov. 2, 2000. Because molecules and cells behave differently in space, research in microgravity helps advance scientific knowledge. The space station is a U.S. National Laboratory, which the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS) manages for research investigations that improve life on Earth. NASA has contracted with commercial companies SpaceX, Orbital ATK, and Sierra Nevada Corporation to deliver science investigations, cargo, and supplies to the crews living in space, and soon Boeing and SpaceX will transport astronauts to and from the station.

International Cooperation

Image Credit: NASA

Nine crew members gathered in the International Space Station’s Kibo laboratory represent four of the five participating space agencies. The station is a partnership of 15 nations through NASA, ESA (the European Space Agency), the Canadian Space Agency (CSA), the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), and Roscosmos, the Russian Federal Space Agency. “Kibo” means “hope” in Japanese. All crew members speak English and Russian.


Image Credit: NASA

A SpaceX Dragon resupply ship nearing its capture point about 10 meters away from the space station. American, Japanese, and Russian cargo spacecraft bring science investigations and supplies to the station about 10 times a year. They don’t go away empty handed— the Orbital ATK Cygnus, JAXA’s HTV, and Russian Progress ships take out the trash and burn up during reentry while the SpaceX Dragon lands in the Pacific Ocean to return science and hardware to researchers on Earth.

300th Day

Image Credit: NASA

American astronaut Scott Kelly (left) and Russian cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko (right) celebrating their 300th day of working together in space, Jan. 21, 2016. The One–Year Mission helped identify and reduce the biomedical risks astronauts face during longer space exploration, a stepping stone to future missions to deep space.

Peggy Whitson

Image Credit: NASA

Peggy Whitson holds the U.S. record for the most cumulative time spent in space: 665 days.

Luca Parmitano

Image Credit: NASA

European Space Agency astronaut Luca Parmitano, works with samples stored in the Minus Eighty-Degree Laboratory Freezer in the Destiny laboratory of the ISS. The crew members of each International Space Station expedition work on hundreds of experiments in biology, biotechnology, physical science and Earth science aboard the International Space Station, humanity’s only permanently occupied microgravity laboratory.

Fresh Fruit

Image Credit: NASA

Fresh fruit and vegetables are a special treat for astronauts, so nearly every cargo resupply mission includes fresh fruit and veggies—and sometimes ice cream!

Spot the Station

Image Credit: NASA

Nighttime view of the eastern U.S. and Canada from the International Space Station. You can see the station too. Go to Spot the Station and sign up for text and email updates of sighting opportunities. Spot the Station:

Related links:

NASA History:

National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA):

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

Best regards,

Jovian Swirls

NASA - JUNO Mission logo.

Sept. 28, 2018

Clouds in a Jovian jet stream, called Jet N5, swirl in the center of this color-enhanced image from NASA's Juno spacecraft. A brown oval known as a "brown barge" can be seen in the North North Temperate Belt region in the top-left portion of the image.

This image was taken at 5:58 p.m. PDT on Sept. 6, 2018 (8:58 p.m. EDT) as the spacecraft performed its 15th close flyby of Jupiter. At the time, Juno was 7,600 miles (12,300 kilometers) from the planet's cloud tops, above a northern latitude of approximately 52 degrees.

Citizen scientists Brian Swift and Seán Doran created this image using data from the spacecraft's JunoCam imager. The view has been rotated 90 degrees to the right from the original image.

Juno orbiting Jupiter

JunoCam's raw images are available for the public to peruse and process into image products at:

More information about Juno is at: and

Image,Animation, Text, Credits: NASA/Tony Greicius/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS/Brian Swift/Seán Doran.


jeudi 27 septembre 2018

Stem Cells from Space Could Help Mend Broken Hearts

ISS - International Space Station logo.

Sept. 27, 2018

Research on the International Space Station could help scientists speed recovery in the hearts of astronauts in space as well as people on Earth. Spaceflight induces a range of changes in human heart cells. Understanding these effects could lead to therapies to treat heart disease and repair cardiac tissue on Earth, as well as therapies to maintain astronaut cardiac health during long-duration spaceflight.

Researchers cultured human stem cells, or cardiovascular progenitor cells (CPCs), in the microgravity environment of the space station. The team reported the findings from the Cardiac Stem Cells investigation in a paper published in the journal npj Microgravity.

Animation above: NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson conducts a medium change within the Microgravity Science Glovebox (MSG) as a part of the Cardiac Stem Cells investigation. Animation Credit: NASA.

Stem cells are able to continually divide to produce more of the same cells, and also can differentiate into specialized cell types. Neonatal stem cells proliferate more rapidly and differentiate into more different kinds of cells than do other stem cells. In some organs, such as bone marrow, stem cells regularly divide to repair and replace worn out or damaged tissues. This allows stem cells to repair and replace worn out or damaged tissues. While cardiovascular stem cells reside in the human heart, neonatal stem cells are able to proliferate more effectively than the same cells in the adult heart. This means neonatal hearts are more capable at repairing tissue damage than adult hearts.

“While we know spaceflight affects cardiac function and structure, the biological basis for this is not clearly understood,” said principal investigator Mary Kearns-Jonker, a researcher in the Department of Pathology and Human Anatomy at Loma Linda University School of Medicine in California. The study looked at the factors that govern stem cell activity, including physical and molecular changes, to clarify their role and how microgravity affects that role.

Image above: Cardiac Progenitor Cells (CPCs) cultured for the Cardiac Stem Cell investigation aboard the International Space Station. Image Credit: Loma Linda University.

Kearns-Jonker and colleagues isolated CPCs from the neonatal and adult human heart and examined the influence of microgravity on a variety of characteristics, including migration (cell movement within organs), proliferation (how many cells a CPC produced), and differentiation (what other types of cells a CPC generated). The researchers cultured clonal, or genetically identical, neonatal and adult cells in space and on the ground for the study.

In the npj Microgravity paper, the investigators report that spaceflight affected the developmental status, proliferative potential, and migratory ability of CPCs. Changes in gene expression associated with stem cell characteristics and differentiation also were noted, with response to microgravity differing between neonatal and adult cells. Some similarities also were identified.

“CPCs from both the neonatal and adult population expressed higher levels of factors that enhance migration and increase proliferation,” Kearns-Jonker said. “But the effects were more pronounced in the neonatal cells.”

Image above: Neonatal cardiac stem cells were seeded at identical concentration in Biocells cultured on the ground (left panel) and the International Space Station (right panel) for 30 days. After live cell return from the ISS, cell counts obtained following culture in space versus culture on the ground for the same length of time were compared. The graph indicates that cardiac stem cell clones proliferate more quickly when cultured in space. Image Credit: Loma Linda University.

Changes in migration, proliferation and gene expression induced by spaceflight are important for optimizing CPCs for cardiovascular repair. Enhanced migration, for example, could enable these cells to move to the site of heart tissue damage, and enhanced proliferation would make more cells available to repair the damage.

“We find this very promising,” Kearns-Jonker said. Better understanding of the molecular mechanisms that influence cardiac stem cell function supports design of therapies to treat heart disease and repair cardiac tissue on Earth. Understanding how microgravity affects these stem cells contributes to the goal of developing therapies to maintain astronaut cardiac health during long spaceflight and reverse heart muscle loss once astronauts return to Earth.

The researchers also published results from the investigation in the journal Stem Cells and Development.

International Space Station (ISS). Image Credit: NASA/STS-130

The next step is to test the cells in microgravity in model organisms, such as mice, to further understand what makes them functional in tissue repair. “Things we’ve learned from these cells in the spaceflight environment help get us there,” Kearns-Jonker said.

Thanks to research in space, scientists are that much closer to mending broken hearts.

This investigation was sponsored by the ISS National Lab, which is managed by the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS).

Related links:

Journal npj Microgravity:

Journal Stem Cells and Development:

Cardiac Stem Cells:

Model organisms:

Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS):

Space Station Research and Technology:

International Space Station (ISS):

Images (mentioned), Animation (mentioned), Text, Credits: NASA/Michael Johnson/JSC/International Space Station Program Science Office/Melissa Gaskill.


LHCb experiment discovers two, perhaps three, new particles

CERN - European Organization for Nuclear Research logo.

27 Sep 2018

It could be three for the price of one. The LHCb collaboration has found two never-before-seen particles, as well as hints of another new particle, in high-energy proton collisions at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC). Future studies of the properties of these new particles will shed light on the strong force that binds subatomic particles called quarks together.

The new particles are predicted by the well-established quark model, and belong to the same family of particles as the protons that the LHC accelerates and collides: baryons, which are made up of three quarks. But the type of quarks they contain are different: whereas protons contain two up quarks and one down quark, the new particles, dubbed Σb((6097)+ and Σb(6097)-, are bottom baryons composed of one bottom quark and two up quarks (buu) or one bottom quark and two down quarks (bdd) respectively. Four relatives of these particles, known as Σb+, Σb-, Σb*+ and Σb*-, were first observed at a Fermilab experiment, but this is the first time that their two higher-mass counterparts, Σb(6097)+ and Σb(6097)-, have been detected.

The LHCb experiment at CERN. (Image: CERN)

The LHCb collaboration found these particles using the classic particle-hunting technique of looking for an excess of events, or bump, over a smooth background of events in data from particle collisions. In this case, the researchers looked for such bumps in the mass distribution of a two-particle system consisting of a neutral baryon called Λb0 and a charged quark-antiquark particle called the π meson. They found two bumps corresponding to the Σb(6097)+  and Σb((6097)- particles, with the whopping significances of 12.7 and 12.6 standard deviations respectively; five standard deviations is the usual threshold to claim the discovery of a new particle. The 6097 in the names refers to the approximate masses of the new particles in MeV, about six times more massive than the proton.

The third particle, named Zc--(4100) by the LHCb collaboration, is a possible candidate for a different type of quark beast, one made not of the usual two or three quarks but of four quarks (strictly speaking, two quarks and two antiquarks), two of which are heavy charm quarks. Such exotic  mesons, sometimes described as “tetraquarks”, as well as five-quark particles called “pentaquarks”, have long been predicted to exist but have only relatively recently been discovered. Searching for structures in the decays of heavier B mesons, the LHCb researchers detected evidence for Zc--(4100) with a significance of more than three standard deviations, short of the threshold for discovery. Future studies with more data, at LHCb or at other experiments, may be able to boost or disprove this evidence.

Large Hadron Collider (LHC). Animation Credit: CERN

The new findings, described in two papers posted online and submitted for publication to physics journals, represent another step in physicists’ understanding of the strong force, one of the four fundamental forces of nature.

For more information, see the LHCb website:


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 22 Member States.

Related links:

LHCb experiment:

Large Hadron Collider (LHC):

For more information about European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN), Visit:

Image (mentioned), Animation (mentioned), Text, Credits: CERN/Ana Lopes.

Best regards,

Japan’s Kounotori Spaceship Attached to Station

JAXA - H-II Transfer Vehicle (HTV-7) patch.

September 27, 2018

Ground controllers successfully installed the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) Kounotori 7 H-II Transfer Vehicle (HTV-7) to the International Space Station’s Earth-facing port of the Harmony module at 10:09 a.m. EDT.

HTV-7 berthing

The spacecraft’s arrival supports the crew members’ research off the Earth to benefit the Earth. The cargo spacecraft began its trip on an H-IIB rocket at 1:52 p.m. EDT (2:52 a.m. Japan time) on Saturday, Sat. 22 from the Tanegashima Space Center in southern Japan.

Image above: Sept. 27, 2018: International Space Station Configuration. Four spaceships are parked at the space station including the HTV-7 and Progress 70 resupply ships and the Soyuz MS-08 and MS-09 crew ships. Image Credit: NASA.

The early Thursday morning cargo delivery includes more than five tons of supplies, water, spare parts and experiments for the crew aboard the International Space Station. The spacecraft also is carrying a half dozen new lithium-ion batteries to continue upgrades to the station’s power system.

Related articles:

Japanese Rocket Blasts Off to Resupply Station

Partnership, Teamwork Enable Landmark Science Glovebox Launch to Space Station

Related links:

H-II Transfer Vehicle (HTV-7):

Space Station Research and Technology:

International Space Station (ISS):

Image (mentioned), Video, Text, Credits: NASA/Mark Garcia/NASA TV/SciNews.

Best regards,

2018 Arctic Summertime Sea Ice Minimum Extent Tied for Sixth Lowest on Record

NASA - Operation IceBridge patch.

Sept. 27, 2018

Arctic sea ice likely reached its 2018 lowest extent on Sept. 19 and again on Sept. 23, according to NASA and the NASA-supported National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) at the University of Colorado Boulder. Analysis of satellite data by NSIDC and NASA showed that, at 1.77 million square miles (4.59 million square kilometers), 2018 effectively tied with 2008 and 2010 for the sixth lowest summertime minimum extent in the satellite record.

2018 Arctic Sea Ice Ties for Sixth Lowest Minimum Extent on NASA Record

Video above: Arctic sea ice reached its annual minimum extent Sept. 19, and then again on Sept. 23, 2018. Video Credits: NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center/Kathryn Mersmann.

Arctic sea ice, the cap of frozen seawater blanketing most of the Arctic Ocean and neighboring seas in wintertime, follows seasonal patterns of growth and decay. It thickens and spreads during the fall and winter and thins and shrinks during the spring and summer. But in the past decades, increasing temperatures have led to prominent decreases in the Arctic sea ice extents, with particularly rapid decreases in the minimum summertime extent. The shrinking of the Arctic sea ice cover can ultimately affect the planet’s weather patterns and the circulation of the oceans.

“This year’s minimum is relatively high compared to the record low extent we saw in 2012, but it is still low compared to what it used to be in the 1970s, 1980s and even the 1990s,” said Claire Parkinson, a climate change senior scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.

Parkinson and her colleague Nick DiGirolamo calculated that, since the late 1970s, the Arctic sea ice extent has shrunk on average about 21,000 square miles (54,000 square kilometers) with each passing year. That is equivalent to losing a chunk of sea ice the size of Maryland and New Jersey combined every year for the past four decades.

Graphic above: The yearly minimum Arctic sea ice extent has been decreasing at a rapid pace since the late 1970s due to warming temperatures. The twelve lowest extents in the satellite era have all occurred in the last twelve years. Graphic Credits: National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) at the University of Colorado Boulder.

This summer, the weather conditions across the Arctic have been a mixed bag, with some areas experiencing warmer than average temperatures and rapid melt and other regions remaining cooler than normal, which leads to persistent patches of sea ice. Still, the 2018 minimum sea ice extent is 629,000 square miles (1.63 million square kilometers) below the 1981-2010 average of yearly minimum extents.

One of the most unusual features of this year’s melt season has been the reopening of a polynya-like hole in the icepack north of Greenland, where the oldest and thickest sea ice of the Arctic typically resides. In February of this year, a similar opening appeared in the same area, catching the attention of sea ice scientists everywhere. The first appearance of the hole raised concerns about the possibility that the region could became vulnerable if the original, thicker ice cover was replaced with thinner ice as the exposed seawater refroze. NASA’s Operation IceBridge mission probed the area in March, finding that the ice was indeed thinner and thus more susceptible to be pushed around by the winds and ocean currents.

Animation above: Arctic sea ice likely reached its 2018 lowest extent on Sept. 19 and again on Sept. 23, according to NASA and the NASA-supported National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC). Animation Credit: NASA Goddard/ Katy Mersmann.

“This summer, the combination of thin ice and southerly warm winds helped break up and melt the sea ice in the region, reopening the hole,” said Melinda Webster, a sea ice researcher with Goddard. “This opening matters for several reasons; for starters, the newly exposed water absorbs sunlight and warms up the ocean, which affects how quickly sea ice will grow in the following autumn. It also affects the local ecosystem; for example, it impacts seal and polar bear populations that rely on thicker, snow-covered sea ice for denning and hunting.

Measurements of sea ice thickness, an important additional factor in determining the mass and volume changes of the sea ice cover, have been far less complete than the measurements of ice extent and distribution in the past four decades. Now, with the successful launch of NASA’s Ice, Cloud and land Elevation Satellite-2, or ICESat-2, on Sept. 15, scientists will be able to use the data from the spacecraft’s advanced laser altimeter to create detailed maps of sea ice thickness in both the Arctic and the Antarctic.

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Video (mentioned, Graphic (mentioned), Animation (mentioned), Text, Credits: NASA/Sara Blumberg/Earth Science News Team, by Maria-José Viñas.