samedi 31 août 2019

ROSCOSMOS - Rokot launches Kosmos-2540 satellite


Aug. 31, 2019

Rokot vehicle successfully launches Geo-IK-2 satellite

A Rokot launch vehicle, with a Briz-KM upper stage, launched the Kosmos-2540 satellite from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome, Russia, on 30 August 2019, at 14:00 UTC (17:00 local time).

Rokot launches Kosmos-2540 satellite

Also known as Geo-IK-2 No. 13 geodetic satellite,  Kosmos-2540 was launched for the Ministry of Defence of the Russian Federation and is reported to have been placed into the desired orbit.

Geo-IK-2 satellite

To keep its models of the planet’s gravitational field up to date, Russia operates a fleet of geodesy satellites. The current Geo-IK-2 series is the third generation of spacecraft that it has used for this purpose, following on from the earlier Geoid-Sfera and Geo-IK, or Musson, series. Geo-IK-2, also known as Musson-2, was conceived as a pair of spacecraft that would provide complementary data. A third satellite – which has been deployed by Friday’s launch – was ordered after the first satellite failed in orbit.


Images, Video, Text, Credits: ROSOCOSMOS/SciNews/ Aerospace/Roland Berga.


CASC - Kuaizhou-1A launches two satellites

CASC - China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation logo.

Aug. 31, 2019

Kuaizhou-1A (KZ-1A) launch

A Kuaizhou-1A (KZ-1A) launch vehicle launched two satellites for technological experiments from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center, Gansu Province, northwest China, on 30 August 2019, at 23:41 UTC (31 August, 07:41 local time).

Kuaizhou-1A launches two satellites

KZ-1A is a type of low-cost solid-fuelled carrier rocket with high reliability, short preparation period and designed to launch low-orbit satellites weighing under 300 kg each. Onboard the solid fuelled launch vehicle was the KX-09 and the Xiaoxiang 1-07 satellites.

Kuaizhou-1A (KZ-1A) launch vehicle

Developed by the DFH Satellite Co., the microgravity experimental satellite KX-09 (supposedly Kuxue-09) will conduct studies in microgravity. Established in August 2001, DFH Satellite Co., Ltd. is mainly engaged in system R&D, design, integration and in-orbit service of small satellites.

Xiaoxiang 1 (CGTRI) satellite

It is subordinated to China Academy of Space Technology (CAST) and wholly owned by the listed company China Spacesat Co., Ltd.

Kuaizhou-1A is developed by ExPace Technology Corporation, a subsidiary of China Aerospace Science and Industry Corporation (CASIC).

China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC):

Images, Video, Text, Credits: CASC/Günter Space Page/CCTV/SciNews/ Aerospace/Roland Berga.


vendredi 30 août 2019

Space Station Science Highlights: Week of August 26, 2019

ISS - Expedition 60 Mission patch.

Aug. 30, 2019

Scientific studies recently conducted by the Expedition 60 crew include a variety of student-designed experiments, research on how bacteria adjust to space and astronaut nutrition, and more. The SpaceX Dragon cargo ship departed the station and splashed down on Tuesday, August 27, returning samples, hardware and data from completed investigations to Earth. The International Space Station is a crucial stepping stone for Artemis, NASA’s plans to go forward to the Moon and on to Mars. The space station is the only platform for long-duration research on how living in microgravity affects the human body and testing technologies for traveling farther into deep space.

Image above: The SpaceX Dragon capsule on its way back to Earth after departing the space station on Tuesday, Aug 27, carrying samples, hardware and data from completed scientific investigations back to Earth. Image Credit: NASA.

Here are details on some of the science conducted on the orbiting laboratory during the week of August 26:

Giving students experience with real flight experiments

The crew performed operations for the NanoRacks-National Center for Earth and Space Science Education-Gemini (SSEP Mission 13) (NanoRacks-NCESSE-Gemini), which includes 41 microgravity experiments chosen out of submissions from more than 23,000 U.S., Canadian, and Brazilian students. The experiments cover a range of topics including synthetic soil production, rust formation, antibiotic effectiveness, and growth and development of plants, fungi, and bacteria. The Student Spaceflight Experiments Program (SSEP) allows student teams to design experiments subject to the real constraints of microgravity research. SSEP is an initiative of NCESSE in partnership with DreamUp PBC and NanoRacks. The investigations use NanoRacks MixStix, miniature laboratories activated by space station crew and returned to the student teams on Earth for analysis.

International Space Station (ISS). Animation Credit: NASA

Watching multiple generations of bacteria adapt to space

Scientists do not yet fully understand how living organisms adapt to the space environment. Some adaptations, such as increased strength in organisms that cause disease, could pose risks for future long-term space explorers. Others could be beneficial. The crew initiated the MVP Cell-02 investigation, which studies multiple generations of a bacterium, Bacillus subtilis, aboard the space station. This model organism grows rapidly, creating thousands of generations over just a few weeks, and is small enough to allow repeated treatments to identify slight effects. The investigation can help predict how life in general adapts to long-term space travel.

Fine-tuning astronaut nutritional needs

The NutrISS investigation conducts periodic assessment of body composition (body weight, fat and fat-free mass) during spaceflight using a dedicated device that allows measurement of changes in long-term energy balance over time. Nutrition experts and flight surgeons can use this information to fine-tune nutritional plans for crew members. The crew performed the nutritional assessment using the investigation’s EveryWear app.

Image above: The NutrISS Portable device conducts periodic assessment of body composition to track changes in long-term energy balance over time, helping nutritionists and flight surgeons fine-tune nutritional needs for astronauts. Image Credit: ASI.

Other investigations on which the crew performed work:

- Astrobee is a demonstration of three free-flying robots designed to help scientists and engineers develop and test technologies that can assist astronauts with routine chores and give ground controllers additional eyes and ears on the space station:

- The Micro-15 investigation examines the mechanisms behind observations that microgravity affects stem cell differentiation and proliferation and gene expression using three-dimensional cultures of mammalian stem cells:

- Space Moss determines how microgravity affects the growth, development and other features of moss. Tiny plants without roots, mosses need only a small area for growth, an advantage for their potential use in space and future bases on the Moon or Mars:

- The ISS Experience creates virtual reality videos from footage taken during the yearlong investigation covering different aspects of crew life, execution of science and the international partnerships involved on the space station:

- Fluid Shifts measures how much fluid shifts from the lower to the upper body and in or out of cells and blood vessels, and determines how these shifts affect fluid pressure in the head, vision and eye structures. More than half of American astronauts experience vision and eye changes during and after long-duration space flight:

- BEST studies the use of DNA sequencing to identify unknown microbial organisms on the space station and to understand how humans, plants and microbes adapt to living in space. It uses a swab-to-sequencer process that does not require culturing of organisms:

Image above: A custom flask designed by NanoRacks for germinating in space the seed of a palm date tree native to the United Arab Emirates (UAE). This is the UAE’s first representation on the space station. Image Credit: UAE Space Agency.

- The United Arab Emirates (UAE) Palm Tree Growth Experiment examines germination of palm tree seeds to determine the best conditions for generating tissue samples for research. Such a process could be adapted for testing other indigenous plants of scientific, commercial or educational interest in the UAE:

- Food Acceptability examines changes in the appeal of food aboard the space station during long-duration missions. “Menu fatigue” from repeatedly consuming a limited choice of foods may contribute to the loss of body mass often experienced by crew members, potentially affecting astronaut health, especially as mission length increases:

Space to Ground: At the Midpoint: 08/30/2019

Related links:

Expedition 60:



MVP Cell-02:

Model organism:


Spot the Station:

Space Station Research and Technology:

International Space Station (ISS):

Images (mentioned), Animation (mentioned), Video (NASA), Text, Credits: NASA/Michael Johnson/Vic Cooley, Lead Increment Scientist Expedition 60.

Best regards,

Space Science Ahead of Russian and Japanese Station Missions & Views of Hurricane Dorian

ISS - Expedition 60 Mission patch.

August 30, 2019

Artist's conception of spaceship activity at International Space Station. Image Credit: NASA

Human research kept the Expedition 60 crew busy today helping NASA and its partners understand how to keep astronauts healthy on long-term space missions. More spaceship activity is also coming up in September to ensure a well-stocked and fully staffed International Space Station.

NASA astronauts Nick Hague and Andrew Morgan continued researching how fluid shifts caused by microgravity induce vascular changes as well as head and eye pressure. The duo processed more blood and urine samples today for the ongoing study observing the potentially risky condition.

Image above: Expedition 60 Flight Engineer Christina Koch of NASA activates the new BioFabrication Facility to test its ability to print cells. Researchers are exploring whether the weightless environment of space may support the fabrication of human organs in space. Image Credit: NASA.

Doctors on the ground are exploring telemedicine as a way to examine astronauts orbiting Earth and farther in space. Flight Engineer Luca Parmitano of ESA (European Space Agency) set up and held a remotely controlled ultrasound scanner to his femoral artery for the Vascular Echo study today. A doctor on Earth then guided the device’s motorized probes during the cardiovascular exam.

NASA Flight Engineer Christina Koch set up protein crystal samples for stowage inside an automated incubator. The research takes advantage of microgravity’s weightlessness to support the development of advanced pharmaceutical therapies.

Views of Hurricane Dorian from the International Space Station - August 30, 2019

Video above: Cameras outside the International Space Station captured views August 30 of rapidly intensifying Hurricane Dorian at 12:18 p.m. Eastern time as it churned over the Atlantic Ocean. The storm, which is moving to the northwest, is forecast by the National Hurricane Center to approach the east coast of Florida Monday evening as a likely category 4 hurricane. Video Credit: NASA.

The Soyuz MS-14 spacecraft continues to be unpacked by cosmonauts Alexey Ovchinin and Alexander Skvortsov. They will soon load the crew ship back up with more cargo for return to Earth next week.

International Space Station (ISS). Animation Credit: NASA

Another crew ship, the Soyuz MS-15, is being processed for its launch to the station on Sept. 25. Commander Oleg Skripochka will lead Flight Engineer Jessica Meir and Spaceflight Participant Hazzaa Ali Almansoori on a six-hour ride to their new home in space. The new trio along with their backups began two days of qualification exams today.

In between the Soyuz missions, the H-II Transfer Vehicle-8 (HTV-8) is due to blast off Sept. 10 from the Tanegashima Space Center in Japan. It will take a four-day trip to the orbiting lab and deliver new batteries for the Port-6 truss power channels. It will be robotically captured and installed to the Harmony module for a month-long stay.

Related article:

JAXA and Sony CSL to Conduct In-Orbit Demonstrations of Long-Distance Laser Communication

Related links:

Expedition 60:

Fluid shifts:

Vascular Echo:

Automated incubator:

Space Station Research and Technology:

International Space Station (ISS):

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

Best regards,

Hubble Views Final Stages of a Star’s Life

NASA - Hubble Space Telescope patch.

Aug. 30, 2019

This image from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope shows NGC 5307, a planetary nebula that lies about 10,000 light-years from Earth. It can be seen in the constellation Centaurus (the Centaur), which can be seen primarily in the southern hemisphere. A planetary nebula is the final stage of a Sun-like star. As such, planetary nebulas allow us a glimpse into the future of our own solar system. A star like our Sun will, at the end of its life, transform into a red giant. Stars are sustained by the nuclear fusion that occurs in their core, which creates energy. The nuclear fusion processes constantly try to rip the star apart. Only the gravity of the star prevents this from happening.

At the end of the red giant phase of a star, these forces become unbalanced. Without enough energy created by fusion, the core of the star collapses in on itself, while the surface layers are ejected outward. After that, all that remains of the star is what we see here: glowing outer layers surrounding a white dwarf star, the remnants of the red giant star’s core.

This isn’t the end of this star’s evolution though — those outer layers are still moving and cooling. In just a few thousand years they will have dissipated, and all that will be left to see is the dimly glowing white dwarf.

Hubble Space Telescope (HST)

For more information about Hubble, visit:

Text Credits: European Space Agency (ESA)/NASA/Karl Hille/Image, Animation,  Credits: ESA/Hubble & NASA, R. Wade et al.


NASA's Multiple Views of Hurricane Dorian from Space

NASA - CloudSat / Calipso Mission patch / NASA - EOS AIRS Mission patch.

 August 30, 2019

Image above: Three images of Hurricane Dorian, as seen by a trio of NASA's Earth-observing satellites Aug. 27-29, 2019. The data sent by the spacecraft revealed in-depth views of the storm, including detailed heavy rain, cloud height and wind. Image Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech.

Several instruments and spacecraft from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, have eyes on Hurricane Dorian, capturing different types of data from the storm.

Image above: An infrared image of Hurricane Dorian, as seen by the AIRS instrument aboard NASA's Aqua satellite at 1:30 p.m. EDT (10:30 a.m. PDT) on Aug. 29, 2019. The large purple areas are cold clouds, carried high into the atmosphere by deep thunderstorms. Blue and green show warmer areas with less rain clouds, while orange and red represent mostly cloud-free air. Image Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech.

NASA's Atmospheric Infrared Sounder (AIRS), aboard the Aqua satellite, senses emitted infrared and microwave radiation from Earth. The information is used to map such atmospheric phenomena as temperature, humidity, and cloud amounts and heights. In the AIRS imagery of Dorian, captured during the afternoon (local time) of Aug. 29, 2019, the large purple area indicates very cold clouds carried high into the atmosphere by deep thunderstorms. These clouds are also associated with heavy rainfall. Blue and green indicate warmer areas with shallower rain clouds, while the orange and red areas represent mostly cloud-free air.

Image above: Hurricane Dorian off the coast of Puerto Rico, as seen by the small satellite TEMPEST-D on Aug 28, 2019 (local time). The colors in the image reveal the heavy rain and moisture inside the storm. The least intense areas of rainfall are shown in green and most intense are yellow and pink. Image Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech.

In the second image, TEMPEST-D - a weather-observing satellite the size of a cereal box - captured imagery of Hurricane Dorian off the coast of Puerto Rico in the early morning hours (local time) of Aug. 28, 2019. At a vantage point 250 miles (400 kilometers) above the storm, the CubeSat used its miniaturized radio-wave-based instrument to see through the clouds, revealing areas with heavy rain and moisture being pulled into the storm. The green colors show moisture spiraling into the storm's center, and the yellow to pink colors correspond to the most intense rainfall. TEMPEST-D - short for Temporal Experiment for Storms and Tropical Systems Demonstration - is an experiment in shrinking weather satellites to a size that makes them inexpensive enough to be produced in multiples. The goal is eventual real-time storm coverage with many small satellites that can track storms around the world.

NASA’s CloudSat Images Dorian in 3D

NASA's CloudSat satellite provided a 3D animation after passing over Dorian, still a tropical storm at the time, near Puerto Rico. CloudSat uses an advanced cloud-profiling radar that "slices" through clouds, enabling us to see their height, their different layers and the areas where the heavier bands of rain are found within the storm system. The animation shows Dorian when it had maximum sustained winds of 52 mph (84 kph) with some cloud tops extending about 9 miles (15 kilometers) into the atmosphere. The colors represent the size of water or ice droplets inside the storm: Deep red and pink indicate larger droplets with areas of moderate and heavy rainfall.

NASA collects data from space, air, land and sea to increase our understanding of our home planet, improve lives and safeguard our future.

AIRS, in conjunction with the Advanced Microwave Sounding Unit (AMSU), provides a 3D look at Earth's weather and climate. Launched into Earth orbit in 2002, the AIRS and AMSU instruments are managed by JPL under contract to NASA. TEMPEST-D is a technology-demonstration mission led by Colorado State University and managed by JPL in partnership with Blue Canyon Technologies and Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. The mission is sponsored by NASA's Earth Ventures program and managed by the Earth Science Technology Office. The radiometer instrument was built by JPL and employs high-frequency microwave amplifier technology developed by Northrop Grumman. CloudSat is also managed by JPL, which developed the radar instrument, with hardware contributions from the Canadian Space Agency. Colorado State University provides scientific leadership and science data processing and distribution.

JPL is managed by Caltech in Pasadena for NASA.

More information about these missions is available here:

More information about NASA's Disasters Program is available here:

Images (mentioned), Text, Credits: NASA/JPL/Arielle Samuelson/Esprit Smith.


Swiss researchers discover an volcanic exomoon

Astrophysics - Exoplanets logo.

August 30, 2019

The discovery lava planet is an extreme version of the moon of Jupiter Io, the most volcanically active celestial body of our solar system.

Image above: The volcanic moon around the exoplanet 550 Wasp 49-b looks a lot like the moon of Jupiter, Io.

An international team led by the University of Bern announces the probable discovery of a volcanic moon around the exoplanet 550 Wasp 49-b. It is 550 light-years from Earth.

According to the description of the researchers in "The Astrophysical Journal," this lava planet is an extreme version of the moon of Jupiter Io, the most volcanically active celestial body in our solar system.

With its lava surface, it could look like the volcanic planet where the final duel of "Star Wars, episode III" takes place, but in more spectacular. It orbits indeed around a hot giant planet that goes around its sun in just three days, said the alma mater Bern in a statement.

Wasp 49-b is in the Hare constellation, south of Orion. Scientists were put on the track of this moon after detecting large amounts of sodium gas. It is a consequence of its extreme volcanism.

This is the first time a rocky moon has been discovered beyond our solar system. Further research is needed to confirm this, the authors note.

Related links:

The Astrophysical Journal:

INSPIRE HEP - WASP-42 b and WASP-49 b: two new transiting sub-Jupiters:

University of Bern (Unibe):

Image, Text, Credits: AFP/Unibe/ Aerospace/Roland Berga.

Best regards,

jeudi 29 août 2019

Space Biology Research as Preps Begin for Japan Cargo Mission

ISS - Expedition 60 Mission patch.

August 29, 2019

The Expedition 60 crew focused on a variety of biomedical research and life science activities aboard the International Space Station today. The astronauts are still cleaning up after last week’s spacewalk while preparing for an upcoming Japanese cargo mission.

Flight Engineers Nick Hague and Andrew Morgan spent Thursday morning collecting their blood, urine and saliva samples. The samples are being processed and analyzed for the Fluid Shifts study. The long-running research explores vascular changes including head and eye pressure caused by living in microgravity.

Image above: An camera on the International Space Station captured views of Hurricane Dorian as it churned over the Atlantic Ocean north of Puerto Rico. Image Credit: NASA.

Morgan moved on and continued organizing a multitude of tools used during a spacewalk last week to install a new commercial crew docking port. During the afternoon, he joined astronaut Luca Parmitano for eye pressure measurements using a tonometer.

Hague set up a 3D camera in the Harmony module and videotaped a cinematic virtual reality experience of himself at work for Earth audiences. He finally tested a communications panel that will send commands to Japan’s HTV-8 cargo craft planned to arrive at the station in mid-September. The HTV-8 will deliver new batteries for the station’s Port-6 truss power channels.

NASA astronaut Christina Koch checked on mice studied in space for their genetic similarity to humans and potential therapeutic insights. She also discussed with a nutritionist on the ground how the food aboard the orbiting lab affects her appetite.

International Space Station (ISS). Image Credit: NASA

Cosmonauts Alexey Ovchinin and Alexander Skvortsov explored microbes in the Russian side of the station to learn how to fight space viruses and spacecraft contamination. The duo then continued unpacking cargo from the Soyuz MS-14 spaceship that arrived Monday night.

Another crew ship, the Soyuz MS-15, is being processed for its launch to the station on Sept. 25. Commander Oleg Skripochka will lead Flight Engineer Jessica Meir and Spaceflight Participant Hazzaa Ali Almansoori on a six-hour ride to their new home in space. The new trio along with their backups began two days of qualification exams today.

Related links:

Expedition 60:

Fluid Shifts:


Harmony module:

Virtual reality experience:

Food aboard the orbiting lab:

Space viruses:

Spacecraft contamination:

Space Station Research and Technology:

International Space Station (ISS):

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


OSIRIS-REx’s Final Four Sample Site Candidates in 3D

NASA - OSIRIS-REx Mission logo.

Aug. 29, 2019

This animated flyover of each of the four candidate sample collection sites on asteroid Bennu, selected by NASA’s OSIRIS-REx asteroid sample return mission, was produced using close-range data from the OSIRIS-REx Laser Altimeter (OLA), an instrument contributed by the Canadian Space Agency. It illustrates the location of each site on Bennu, the topography of each site, and the potential sampling regions that the spacecraft will target, which are 10 meters in diameter.

OSIRIS-REx’s Final Four Sample Site Candidates in 3D

Video above: This animated flyover of each of the four candidate sample collection sites on asteroid Bennu, selected by NASA’s OSIRIS-REx asteroid sample return mission, was produced using close-range data from the OSIRIS-REx Laser Altimeter (OLA), an instrument contributed by the Canadian Space Agency. Video Credits: NASA/Goddard/University of Arizona/CSA/York University/MDA.

The laser altimeter on NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft, contributed by the Canadian Space Agency, has produced the highest resolution topographic maps ever of any planetary body. These maps of asteroid Bennu provide three-dimensional, detailed views of the OSIRIS-REx mission’s final four candidate sample collection sites, which are designated Nightingale, Kingfisher, Osprey and Sandpiper.

OLA is equipped with two lasers and uses a steerable mirror to rapidly scan the asteroid’s surface to produce detailed images of boulders, craters and other geological features. OLA collected scans using its low-energy laser transmitter (LELT) during the spacecraft’s low altitude orbit – approximately 700 meters above Bennu’s surface. The LELT is designed to fire 10,000 light pulses per second at the asteroid, and three-dimensional terrain models of the four sites were produced using these light pulses.

OSIRIS-REx probe. Image Credit: NASA

High-resolution maps of the four potential sample sites will allow the OSIRIS-REx team to assess the safety and accessibility of each region, locate landmarks that will help the spacecraft navigate during sample collection and identify areas of fine-grained material compatible with OSIRIS-REx’s sampling mechanism. These maps will be crucial for selecting the final two sample collection sites in December.

OLA’s LELT will continue to gather Bennu data in tandem with the other instruments on the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft. The final selection of a primary and backup sample collection site will be announced in December 2019, and sample collection is scheduled for the latter half of 2020.

Related article:

NASA Mission Selects Final Four Site Candidates for Asteroid Sample Return

Related link:

OSIRIS-REx (Origins Spectral Interpretation Resource Identification Security Regolith Explorer):

Image (mentioned), Video (mentioned), Text, Credits: NASA/Karl Hille/Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, by Nancy Neal Jones.

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NASA Estimates Heavy Rainfall in Hurricane Dorian

NASA & JAXA - Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) patch / NASA - EOS Terra Mission patch.

Aug. 29, 2019

Dorian (Atlantic Ocean)

Hurricane Dorian is packing heavy rain as it moves toward the Bahamas as predicted by NOAA’s NHC or National Hurricane Center. NASA analyzed the storm and found heavy rainfall in the storm.

Image above: This image shows estimated rainfall accumulations for the region affected by Hurricane Dorian over the 24 hour period of Aug.27 11:59 UTC to Aug. 28 11:59 UTC. The imagery was generated using the Integrated Multi-satEllite Retrievals for GPM (IMERG) “early run” product. The data indicates that up to 120 mm (4.72 inches) of rainfall accumulated in certain regions during the 24 hour period. Image Credits: NASA/Jacob Reed.

NASA has the ability to peer under the “hood” or clouds of a tropical cyclone and estimate the rainfall rates occurring. After looking into Dorian’s clouds, imagery was generated using the Integrated Multi-satEllite Retrievals for GPM or IMERG “early run” product, at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. IMERG uses a constellation of satellites united by the GPM Core Observatory to provide global observations of Earth’s precipitation every 30 minutes.

IMERG estimated rainfall accumulations for the region affected by Hurricane Dorian over the 24 hour period of August 27 at (7:59 a.m. EDT) 11:59 UTC to August 28 at (7:59 a.m. EDT) 11:59 UTC. “The data indicates that up to 120 mm (4.72 inches) of rainfall accumulated in certain regions during the 24 hour period,” said Jacob Reed of NASA Disasters Program, GPM at NASA Goddard.

NHC said that Dorian is expected to produce the following rainfall accumulations this weekend into early next week: The central Bahamas…2 to 4 inches, isolated 6 inches; the northwestern Bahamas and coastal sections of the Southeastern United States…4 to 8 inches, isolated 12 inches. This rainfall may cause life-threatening flash flood.

Image above: On Aug. 28, 2019 at 1:30 p.m. EDT, the MODIS instrument aboard NASA’s Terra satellite provided a visible image of Dorian as it became a hurricane near St. Thomas and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Image Credits: NASA Worldview, Earth Observing System Data and Information System (EOSDIS).

On Aug. 29 at 5 a.m. EDT (0900 UTC), NOAA’s NHC said the center of Hurricane Dorian was located near latitude 20.5 degrees north and longitude 66.6 degrees west. That puts Dorian’s center about 150 miles (240 km) north-northwest of San Juan, Puerto Rico and about 425 miles (685 km) east-southeast of the southeastern Bahamas.

Dorian is moving toward the northwest near 13 mph (20 kph), and this general motion is expected to continue through Friday.  A west-northwestward motion is forecast to begin Friday night and continue into the weekend.

Maximum sustained winds are near 85 mph (140 kph) with higher gusts. Strengthening is forecast during the next few days, and Dorian is expected to become a major hurricane on Friday. The minimum central pressure based on earlier Air Force Reserve Hurricane Hunter data is 991 mb (29.27 inches).

NHC said “On this track, Dorian should move over the Atlantic well east of the southeastern and central Bahamas today and on Friday, and approach the northwestern Bahamas on Saturday.”

Interests in the northwestern and central Bahamas should monitor the progress of Dorian. Swells are likely to begin affecting the east-facing shores of the Bahamas and the southeastern United States coast during the next few days.  These swells are likely to cause life-threatening surf and rip current conditions.

- Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM):

- EOS Terra:

For updated forecasts, visit NOAA’s NHC:

Images (mentioned), Text, Credits: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, by Rob Gutro.


NASA's ECOSTRESS Detects Amazon Fires from Space

ISS - ECOSTRESS Mission logo.

August 29, 2019

Image above: ECOSTRESS imagery of fires burning in the Bolivian Amazon on Aug. 23, 2019. Red areas show regions hotter than the sensor was designed to measure (approximately 220 degrees Fahrenheit, or 104 degrees Celsius). Dark wispy areas indicate thick smoke. Image Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech.

NASA's Ecosystem Spaceborne Thermal Radiometer Experiment on Space Station (ECOSTRESS) captured imagery of fires in the Amazon regions of Brazil and Bolivia on Aug. 23, 2019.

The red areas in the images - in eastern Bolivia and northern Brazil - are where surface temperatures exceeded the maximum measurable temperature of the instrument's sensor (approximately 220 degrees Fahrenheit, or 104 degrees Celsius), highlighting the burning areas along the fire fronts. The dark, wispy areas indicate thick smoke - thick enough to obscure much of the fire from view. The measurements cover areas of about 77 by 77 yards (70 by 70 meters) each, or about the size of a football field.

Image above: ECOSTRESS imagery of fires burning in the Brazilian Amazon on Aug. 23, 2019. Red areas show regions hotter than the sensor was designed to measure (approximately 220 degrees Fahrenheit, or 104 degrees Celsius). Dark wispy areas indicate thick smoke. Image Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech.

The primary mission of ECOSTRESS is to measure the temperature of plants from the vantage point of the International Space Station. However, it can also detect other heat-related phenomena like heat waves, volcanoes and fires. Due to the space station's unique orbit, ECOSTRESS acquires imagery of the same areas at different times of day as it passes by overhead - instead of crossing over each area at the same time of day like satellites in some other orbits do. This is particularly important when trying to acquire cloud-free imagery over perennially cloudy areas like the Amazon.

 International Space Station (ISS). Image Credit: NASA

ECOSTRESS launched to the space station on June 29, 2018. NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, built and manages the ECOSTRESS mission for the Earth Science Division in the Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington. ECOSTRESS is an Earth Venture Instrument mission; the program is managed by NASA's Earth System Science Pathfinder program at NASA's Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia.

More information about ECOSTRESS is available here:

International Space Station (ISS):

Images (mentioned), Text, Credits: NASA/JPL/Esprit Smith.


mercredi 28 août 2019

Crew Returns to Science After Coordinating Space Traffic

ISS - Expedition 60 Mission patch.

August 28, 2019

The Expedition 60 crew is back on track with ongoing space research today after coordinating a flurry of space traffic at the International Space Station. The astronauts are also continuing to clean up after last week’s spacewalk.

The SpaceX Dragon is back on Earth after splashing down Tuesday afternoon in the Pacific Ocean. The commercial space freighter delivered critical science experiments to the station last month and returned samples for scientists around the world to analyze.

Image above: NASA astronaut Christina Koch conducts science operations inside Japan’s Kibo laboratory module with a science freezer that preserves biological research samples for later analysis. Image Credit: NASA.

Flight Engineers Andrew Morgan of NASA and Luca Parmitano of ESA (European Space Agency) took turns today organizing spacewalking tools in the U.S. Quest airlock. Morgan also cleaned cooling loops inside the U.S. spacesuits he and fellow astronaut Nick Hague wore last week to install the International Docking Adapter-3.

Parmitano also documented his meals today for a space nutrition study sponsored by ESA. Living in microgravity for a long time impacts the body and nutritionists are seeking the ideal diet to maintain astronaut health.

International Space Station (ISS). Animation Credit: NASA

Astrobee, the free-flying robotic assistant, was testing and calibrating its mobility today inside Japan’s Kibo laboratory module as NASA astronaut Christina Koch monitored. She also printed new station emergency procedures to accommodate a pair of Russian Soyuz crew ships that were required to switch docking ports.

The hatches are open on the Soyuz MS-14 spacecraft after its automated docking to the Zvezda service module Monday night. Cosmonauts Alexey Ovchinin and Alexander Skvortsov will be unloading space cargo from the MS-14 over the next several days before packing it with return gear. The Soyuz will parachute back to Earth in Kazakhstan with no crew onboard and carrying cargo on Sept. 6.

Related articles:

Dragon Splashes Down in Pacific Ocean Packed With Science and Cargo

Russian Spacecraft Second Docking Attempt Successful

Related links:

Expedition 60:

U.S. Quest airlock:

Space nutrition study:


Zvezda service module:

Space Station Research and Technology:

International Space Station (ISS):

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

Best regards,

Landsat Illustrates Five Decades of Change to Greenland Glaciers

NASA - Landsat-8 Mission logo.

Aug. 28, 2019

Ice fronts have retreated, rocky peaks are more exposed, fewer icebergs drift to the ocean: the branching network of glaciers that empty into Greenland’s Sermilik Fjord has changed significantly in the last half century. Comparing Landsat images from 1972 and 2019, those changes and more come into view.

Images above: Glaciers in southeastern Greenland including, from top, Helheim, Fenris and Midgard are seen in a Landsat 8 image from Aug. 12, 2019 (bottom image), and a composite image from Landsat 1 scenes collected in September 1972 (top image). Comparing images across the span of the Landsat mission provides a record of almost five decades of change to this region of southeast Greenland. Images Credits: NASA/Christopher Shuman.

The glaciers appear brownish grey in this true-color Landsat 8 satellite image from Aug. 12, 2019. The color indicates that the surface has melted, a process that concentrates dust and rock particles and leads to a darker recrystallized ice sheet surface.

Landsat satellite. Image Credit: NASA

The darker melt surface in 2019 extends much farther onto the ice sheet than it did in 1972, when the first Landsat satellite gathered data on the area, said Christopher Shuman, a glaciologist with the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. Landsat is a joint mission of NASA and the U.S. Geological Survey.

Helheim Glacier, one of the largest and fastest flowing of its kind in Greenland, has retreated approximately 4.7 miles (7.5 kilometers) up a wide fjord in the time between the two scenes, leaving a jumble of sea ice where its calving front used to be. To the east, Midgard Glacier has retreated approximately 10 miles (16 kilometers), splitting into two branches farther up the fjord. Changes to the rocky outcrops of the area’s mountains and smaller tributary glaciers are also visible by comparing the two Landsat images.

Image above: The Helheim Glacier is seen in a close-up of the images above. One of the largest glaciers in Greenland, Helheim has retreated approximately 4.7 miles (7.5 kilometers) between when these Landsat scenes were collected in 1972 (top image) and 2019 (bottom image). As the glacier lost ice over the last 47 years, the cliff walls along the glacier and the rocky outrcrops in the middle become more exposed. Images Credits: NASA/ Chris Shuman.

“There’s a lot more bare rock visible now, which used to be covered with ice,” Shuman said. “And all these little glaciers are all getting slammed, as well as the bigger ones like Helheim, Fenris and Midgard. There are scores of examples of change just in this one area.”

In a close-up of the Helheim Glacier, a patch of open water is visible right at the calving front. Three days after Landsat 8 collected the image over Helheim and its neighboring glaciers, NASA’s Oceans Melting Greenland (OMG) project flew over that open patch of water in an airplane and dropped a temperature-measuring probe that detected warm water at the ice front. OMG is examining how oceans melt glaciers from below, even as air temperatures warm the ice from above.

Image above: NASA’s Oceans Melting Greenland campaign flew over a region of open water at the calving front of Helheim Glacier on Aug. 15, 2019, dropping a temperature probe that detected warm water. The open water is visible in the 2019 Landsat image above. Image Credits: NASA /Josh Willis.

Unusually warm air temperatures this summer have caused record melt across Greenland. Approximately 90% of the surface of Greenland’s ice sheet melted at some point between July 30 and Aug. 2, during which time an estimated 55 billion tons of ice melted into the ocean, according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center. Shuman also tracked the unusual warm weather at the top of the Greenland Ice Sheet, 10,550 feet (3,216 meters) above sea level, where temperatures were above freezing for more than 16.5 hours total during July 30 and 31.

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Images (mentioned), Text, Credits: NASA/Sara Blumberg/GSFC/Kate Ramsayer.


Gaia untangles the starry strings of the Milky Way

ESA - Gaia Mission patch.

28 August 2019

Rather than leaving home young, as expected, stellar ‘siblings’ prefer to stick together in long-lasting, string-like groups, finds a new study of data from ESA’s Gaia spacecraft.

Gaia tracing starry strings in the Milky Way

Exploring the distribution and past history of the starry residents of our galaxy is especially challenging as it requires astronomers to determine the ages of stars. This is not at all trivial, as ‘average’ stars of a similar mass but different ages look very much alike.

To figure out when a star formed, astronomers must instead look at populations of stars thought to have formed at the same time – but knowing which stars are siblings poses a further challenge, since stars do not necessarily hang out long in the stellar cradles where they formed.

“To identify which stars formed together, we look for stars moving similarly, as all of the stars that formed within the same cloud or cluster would move in a similar way,” says Marina Kounkel of Western Washington University, USA, and lead author of the new study.

Stellar groups and strings in the Milky Way – face-on view

“We knew of a few such ‘co-moving’ star groups near the Solar System, but Gaia enabled us to explore the Milky Way in great detail out to far greater distances, revealing many more of these groups.”

Marina used data from Gaia’s second release to trace the structure and star formation activity of a large patch of space surrounding the Solar System, and to explore how this changed over time. This data release, provided in April 2018, lists the motions and positions of over one billion stars with unprecedented precision.

The analysis of the Gaia data, relying on a machine learning algorithm, uncovered nearly 2000 previously unidentified clusters and co-moving groups of stars up to about 3000 light years from us – roughly 750 times the distance to Proxima Centauri, the nearest star to the Sun. The study also determined the ages for hundreds of thousands of stars, making it possible to track stellar ‘families’ and uncover their surprising arrangements.

Stellar families in Gaia’s sky

“Around half of these stars are found in long, string-like configurations that mirror features present within their giant birth clouds,” adds Marina.

“We generally thought young stars would leave their birth sites just a few million years after they form, completely losing ties with their original family – but it seems that stars can stay close to their siblings for as long as a few billion years.”

The strings also appear to be oriented in particular ways with respect to our galaxy’s spiral arms – something that depends upon the ages of the stars within a string. This is especially evident for the youngest strings, comprising stars younger than 100 million years, which tend to be oriented at right angles to the spiral arm nearest to our Solar System.

Stellar groups and strings in the Milky Way – edge-on view

The astronomers suspect that the older strings of stars must have been perpendicular to the spiral arms that existed when these stars formed, which have now been reshuffled over the past billion years.

“The proximity and orientation of the youngest strings to the Milky Way’s present-day spiral arms shows that older strings are an important ‘fossil record’ of our galaxy’s spiral structure,” says co-author Kevin Covey, also of Western Washington University, USA.

“The nature of spiral arms is still debated, with the verdict on them being stable or dynamic structures not settled yet. Studying these older strings will help us understand if the arms are mostly static, or if they move or dissipate and re-form over the course of a few hundred million years – roughly the time it takes for the Sun to orbit around the galactic centre a couple of times.”

Gaia was launched in 2013, and is on a mission to chart a three-dimensional map of our galaxy, pinpointing the locations, motions, and dynamics of roughly one percent of the stars within the Milky Way, along with additional information about many of these stars. Further Gaia releases, including more and increasingly precise data, are planned for the coming decade, providing astronomers with the information they need to unfold the star-formation history of our galaxy.


“Gaia is a truly ground-breaking mission that is revealing the history of the Milky Way – and its constituent stars – like never before,” adds Timo Prusti, Gaia project scientist at ESA.

“As we will determine the ages for a larger number of stars distributed throughout our galaxy, not just those residing in compact clusters, we’ll be in an even better position to analyse how these stars have evolved over time.”

Notes for editors:

“Untangling the Galaxy I: Local Structure and Star Formation History of the Milky Way” by M. Kounkel and K. Covey is published in the Astronomical Journal.

The study uses data from Gaia’s second release (DR2), provided in April 2018:


Text Credits: ESA/Timo Prusti/Western Washington University/Kevin Covey/Marina Kounkel/Images: Courtesy of M. Kounkel & K. Covey (2019)/Gaia/DPAC; Data: M. Kounkel & K. Covey (2019)/Video: ESA/Gaia/DPAC; Data: M. Kounkel & K. Covey (2019); Animation: S. Jordan / T. Sagristá / Gaia Sky ( – CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO/Animation: ESA.