samedi 24 avril 2021

SpaceX Crew-2 Astronauts Join Station Crew


ISS - Expedition 65 Mission patch.

April 24, 2021

NASA astronauts Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur, along with JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) astronaut Akihiko Hoshide, and ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Thomas Pesquet  aboard the SpaceX Crew Dragon have arrived at the International Space Station.

Image above: The four new SpaceX Crew-2 astronauts joined the Expedition 65 crew today bringing the station population to 11. Image Credit: NASA TV.

Crew-2 joins Expedition 65 crew of crew of Shannon Walker, Michael Hopkins,  Victor Glover, and Mark Vande Hei of NASA, as well as Soichi Noguchi of JAXA and Roscosmos cosmonauts Oleg Novitskiy and Pyotr Dubrov.

The crew members first opened the hatch between the space station and the pressurized mating adapter at 7:05 a.m. EDT then opened the hatch to Crew Dragon.

 SpaceX Crew-2 hatch opening

NASA TV will continue to provide live coverage through the welcoming ceremony with leadership from NASA, ESA and JAXA to greet the crew on station. The welcome ceremony is targeted to begin about 7:45 a.m. with the following participants:

- Steve Jurczyk, acting NASA administrator
- Kathy Lueders, associate administrator, Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate, NASA Headquarters
- Hiroshi Yamakawa, president, JAXA
- Josef Aschbacher, director general, ESA

Follow along and get more information about the mission at:

Related links:

NASA Television:

Expedition 65:

Commercial Crew:

International Space Station (ISS):

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


First Aerial Color Image of Mars


NASA - Ingenuity Mars Helicopter logo.

April 24, 2021

Image above: First color image of the Martian surface taken by an aerial vehicle while it was aloft. Image Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech.

This is the first color image of the Martian surface taken by an aerial vehicle while it was aloft. The Ingenuity Mars Helicopter captured it with its color camera during its second successful flight test on April 22, 2021. At the time this image, Ingenuity was 17 feet (5.2 meters) above the surface and pitching (moving the camera’s field of view upward) so the helicopter could begin its 7-foot (2-meter) translation to the west – away from the rover. The image, as well as the inset showing a closeup of a portion of the tracks the Perseverance Mars rover and Mars surface features, demonstrates the utility of scouting Martian terrain from an aerial perspective.

The winding parallel discolorations in the surface reveal the tread of the six-wheeled rover. Perseverance itself is located top center, just out frame. “Wright Brothers Field” is in the vicinity of the helicopter’s shadow, bottom center, with the actual point of takeoff of the helicopter just below the image. A portion of the landing pads on two of the helicopter’s four landing legs can be seen in on the left and right sides of the image, and a small portion of the horizon can be seen at the upper right and left corners.

Image above: Close-up view of the first color image of the Martian surface taken by an aerial vehicle while it was aloft. Image Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech.

Mounted in the helicopter’s fuselage and pointed approximately 22 degree below the horizon, Ingenuity’s high-resolution color camera contains a 4208-by-3120-pixel sensor.

Ingenuity Mars Helicopter photos reconnaissance. Animation Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech

The Ingenuity Mars Helicopter was built by JPL, which also manages this technology demonstration project for NASA Headquarters. It is supported by NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate, and Space Technology Mission Directorate. NASA’s Ames Research Center and Langley Research Center provided significant flight performance analysis and technical assistance during Ingenuity’s development.  AeroVironment Inc., Qualcomm, Snapdragon, and SolAero also provided design assistance and major vehicle components. The Mars Helicopter Delivery System was designed and manufactured by Lockheed Space Systems, Denver.

More About Ingenuity

The Ingenuity Mars Helicopter was built by JPL, which also manages this technology demonstration project for NASA Headquarters. It is supported by NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate, and Space Technology Mission Directorate. NASA’s Ames Research Center and Langley Research Center provided significant flight performance analysis and technical assistance during Ingenuity’s development.

At NASA Headquarters, Dave Lavery is the program executive for the Ingenuity Mars Helicopter. At JPL, MiMi Aung is the project manager and J. (Bob) Balaram is chief engineer.

For more information about Ingenuity: and

Images (mentioned), Animation (mentioned), Text, Credits: NASA/Tony Greicius.

Best regards,

Crew Dragon Docks to Station Day After Launch


SpaceX & NASA - Dragon Crew-2 Mission patch.

April 24, 2021

NASA astronauts Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur, along with JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) astronaut Akihiko Hoshide, and ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Thomas Pesquet arrived at the International Space Station Saturday, as the SpaceX Crew Dragon Endeavour docked to the complex at 5:08 a.m. EDT while the spacecraft were flying 264 miles above the Indian Ocean.

Image above: The SpaceX Crew Dragon approaches its space station docking port with the Kibo laboratory module in the foreground. Image Credit: NASA TV.

Following Crew Dragon’s link up to the Harmony module, the astronauts aboard the Endeavour and the space station will begin conducting standard leak checks and pressurization between the spacecraft in preparation for hatch opening scheduled for 7:15 a.m.

SpaceX Crew-2 docking

Kimbrough, McArthur, Hoshide, and Pesquet will join the Expedition 65 crew of Shannon Walker, Michael Hopkins,  Victor Glover, and Mark Vande Hei of NASA, as well as Soichi Noguchi of JAXA and Roscosmos cosmonauts Oleg Novitskiy and Pyotr Dubrov. For a short time, the number of crew on the space station will increase to 11 people until Crew-1 astronauts Walker, Hopkins, Glover, and Noguchi return a few days later.

NASA Television and the agency’s website are continuing to provide live continuous coverage of the agency’s SpaceX Crew-2 mission.

Related links:

NASA Television:

Expedition 65:

Commercial Crew:

International Space Station (ISS):

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

Best regards,

vendredi 23 avril 2021

Space manned industrialization of the XXI century - the golden age of civilization. Part 17.2


Human Expansion in Space logo.

April 23, 2021


Here the seventeenth (at the request of the author, this article is published before part 14) article of a series of articles by Ph.D. Morozov Sergey Lvovich, expert in chronology and calendar systems, as well as space biology and medicine, Parliamentarian of Asgardia (AMP) the first space Nation.

Ph.D. Morozov Sergey Lvovich

Space manned industrialization of the XXI century - the golden age of civilization

Image above: Yuri Alekseevich Gagarin, the founder of manned astronautics, the first cosmonaut of the planet Earth, made his historic flight into space on April 12, 1961. This is the date when civilization entered the Universe.

On April 12, 1961, on the Vostok spacecraft, the USSR pilot-cosmonaut Yuri Alekseevich Gagarin made the world's first flight into outer space.

The launch of the spacecraft took place from the Baikonur cosmodrome at 9 hours 7 minutes Moscow time (06:07:00 UTC). The ship, weighing 4730 kg, completed one revolution around the Earth in 108 minutes and landed at 10 hours 55 minutes (07:55:00 UTC) near the village of Smelovka, Saratov region.

Image above: Yuri Gagarin in the cockpit of the Vostok-1 spacecraft on April 12, 1961, 1 hour before launch. Checking the systems of the ship.

Krichevsky S.V., Ivanova L.V. The impact of the first manned flight into space on the development of Russia and humanity //

Aerospace sphere. - 2021. - No. 1. - P. 6 - 17. DOI: 10.30981 / 2587-7992-2020-106-1-6-17.

Krichevsky S. It's time to master the Universe as a permanent place of residence. And not only to be proud of Gagarin's feat and celebrate the day of the first flight // Nezavisimaya gazeta. Application "SCIENCE". 13.04.2021 Krichevsky S.V. Humanization of the cosmos. It's time to master the Universe as a permanent residence. And not only to be proud of Gagarin's feat and celebrate the day of the first flight.

Image above: The world's first manned spacecraft "Vostok", which was launched on April 12, 1961, became the first spacecraft that made it possible to carry out a manned flight into outer space. Created by the leading designer O. G. Ivanovsky under the leadership of the general designer of OKB-1 S. P. Korolev (from 1958 to 1963).

Image above: Sergey Pavlovich Korolev (December 30, 1906 (January 12, 1907, - January 14, 1966).

Sergey Pavlovich Korolev is one of the main creators of world and Soviet rocket and space technology, a key figure in human space exploration, the founder of practical manned astronautics.

Under his leadership, the launch of the first artificial Earth satellite was organized and carried out on October 4, 1957, and the first cosmonaut of the planet, Yuri Gagarin, on April 12, 1961.

Image above: Sergey Pavlovich Korolev April 12, 1961 controls the launch of the Vostok-1 spacecraft with cosmonaut Yuri Alekseevich Gagarin.

Sergey Pavlovich Korolev is the "father" of space industrialization of the XXI century.

Image above: The Vostok-1 manned spacecraft, created by S.P. Korolev, on which cosmonaut Yuri Alekseevich Gagarin made the first ever space flight on April 12, 1961.

N. Armstrong (USA), - the first person to enter the lunar surface on July 20, 1969, - (from his speech at the first Starmus Science Festival in June 2011, dedicated to the 50th anniversary of the first human flight - USSR cosmonaut Yuri Alekseevich Gagarin - in space):

“The biggest challenge for us is to improve the human species. ... It is possible that in the future there will be a migration of people from the Earth both to natural planets and to artificial habitats. ... But if we want not only to survive, but to overcome all difficulties, we must continue to improve.

We must rise above our differences and become a true family of nations. We are proud of our heritage and our principles, and rightly so - they strengthen us, but they also bring us down. Based on our practice here on Earth, we are not yet qualified to populate and control a larger part of the universe than we do now.

We may or may not have enough time to grow as a species, to fully control our destiny. But there is still good reason for hope. And we have no other choice. Our instincts will undoubtedly push us to action".

S. Hawking (Great Britain, the world famous English theoretical physicist, cosmologist and astrophysicist, writer, director of research at the Center for Theoretical Cosmology at Cambridge University) (from speeches and publications 2006-2007, 2010): “the ultimate survival of mankind depends on colonization Solar system and beyond... Life on Earth is under increasing danger of being destroyed by a natural disaster such as a sudden global nuclear war, a genetically modified virus or other dangers that we have not yet thought about ”; "... humanity does not need to 'put all its eggs in one basket', and the only chance to survive in the long term is to subjugate the cosmos".

Image above: The launch of the Vostok spacecraft on April 12, 1961 with cosmonaut Yuri Alekseevich Gagarin on board.

The key role of artificial earth-level gravity on stationary and mobile Homeostatic arks (HA)

Civilization moves in its historical progressive development along a spiral (or steps) of socio-economic formations (OEF). There are 5 (five) of them:

1) primitive communal;

2) slaveholding;

3) feudal;

4) capitalist;

5) socialist (communist).

Currently, the Fifth OEF has completely exhausted itself. The transition to the Sixth CEF is inevitable. The earthly era of civilization is over. The cosmic era has begun. The idea of ​​creating a space state of Asgardia, in particular, testifies to this (Ashurbeyli, I.R., 2016).

It will be an "astronautical" or "information-space" OEF. It begins with the total international industrialization of space (TMIK), specifically - with the industrialization of the Moon (Morozov, 2018, 2019, 2020).

The exploration of the Moon, Mars and other space objects has the same main problem - the creation of artificial conditions for permanent comfortable living of people. This was also recognized by Elon Musk, who considers this issue to be the main problem of the colonization of Mars. Therefore, the development and construction of stationary GCs (Homeostatic Arks) equipped with earth-level artificial gravity systems on the planets of the solar system has no alternative.

“I think that going to Mars is not a fundamental issue. The fundamental question is building a base, a self-sufficient city on Mars. I want to emphasize that this is a very difficult and dangerous task not for the faint of heart. Chances are good that someone will die, there will be many difficulties, but it will be great if everything works out", Musk said.

Image above: “I think that going to Mars is not a fundamental issue. The fundamental question is the construction of a base, a self-sufficient city on Mars"- (Elon Musk).

Mars, in our opinion, should become an oasis of prosperity for civilization in the space desert, similar to our beautiful Earth today. This is a difficult task that today needs to be solved by simulating the construction of a full-fledged base, first on Earth and on the Moon in the first place, and then to implement it on Mars itself. Here Elon Musk is absolutely right.

From the birth of the first person on a stationary GC on the Moon in conditions of artificial gravity of the earth's level, the "cosmic" humanity will probably begin its countdown (Krichevsky S.V., 2020).

Home for the first space man, most likely, will be the Moon, not the Earth? It may be on the Moon that it will be most convenient to deploy mass design, production and construction of mobile GCs (planets and starships equipped with earth-level artificial gravity systems), on which civilization will conquer the Universe (Morozov, 2018).

The exploration of Mars and other objects of the solar system will begin with the exploration of the moon. The wealth and power of civilization will grow by the Moon.

"For humanity, the Moon is first of all the seventh continent of the Earth. We can say that she, like Eve, was created from the rib of Adam-Earth. The Moon, as a real wife, plays a serious role in the life of the Earth, starting with the great tides, and ending with the fact that it saves us by pulling back a lot of meteor impacts The moon needs to be explored simply as part of the Earth.

Image above: Ice traps in craters near the Moon's South Pole. The four areas circled in white are the coldest places with average annual surface temperatures of minus 220-250 degrees Celsius. Their diameter is about 50 kilometers. Trapped near the South Pole - up to ten billion tons of ice.

Water reserves have been found on the Moon under the surface of the polar regions. In the form of such permafrost. It is difficult to say how deeply these reserves are spread, how large they are, as our institute is engaged in this. Therefore, the polar regions of the Moon are more promising and interesting for us today.

The development will begin precisely from the polar regions. These will be rotational expeditions, as oilmen work now.

Image above: © Photo: NASA / Goddard Space Flight Center / DLR / ASU; Overlay: M. Elvis, A. Krosilowski, T. Milligan Potential sites for cosmological telescopes in craters on the far side of the Moon. On the right - the scale of heights.

Scientists naturally think about the development of science, about the creation of a lunar astrophysical observatory. The moon now presents unique opportunities for radio astronomy. Near the Earth, everything is filled with radio noise, radio spam from millions of radio stations, mobile phones, so the best place for radio astronomers is the Moon, and even better is its reverse side, which is generally ideally protected from this earthly noise".

Image above: Scientific Director of the Space Research Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Academician Lev Zelyoniy.

Lev Zelyoniy, scientific director of the Space Research Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences, is a friend of Jimmy Green, NASA's planetary leader. They have known him since the 1970s. In parallel, they made a career in space science, and now they often meet. Recently, almost at the same time, Lev Zelyony became the scientific director of the IKI Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences, and Jim Green became the chief scientist of NASA.

"The Moon presents unique opportunities for radio astronomy. Near the Earth, everything is filled with radio noise, radio spam from millions of radio stations, mobile phones, so the best place for radio astronomers is the Moon, and even better is its reverse side, which is generally ideally protected from this earthly noise. A special a group to create an electromagnetic reserve there".

“The moon was at first much closer to Earth than it is today - 80,000 miles compared to 238,000 miles today. The gravity of the newly formed moon helped stabilize the rotation of the Earth, which at that time made a full revolution in about five hours. The moon slowed it down to the 24 hours we know today.

Jim Green, NASA's chief scientist and lead author of the new study, said: “The moon appears to represent a significant protective barrier from solar wind for the Earth, which was critical to the Earth's ability to maintain its atmosphere. New research has shown that the newly formed Moon could have protected Earth - which did not yet have an atmosphere - from deadly solar flares".

Image above: Jim Green has been NASA Chief Scientist beginning May 1, 2018. Credits: NASA. National Aeronautics and Space Administration Page Last Updated: Apr 10, 2019 Page Editor: Ron Mochinski NASA Official: Brian Dunbar.

It would be correct from the very beginning of the exploration of the Moon to prohibit any industrial infrastructure on its reverse side, so that it would be possible to calmly carry out only scientific work and listen to the electromagnetic noise of the Universe. "

“The Moon allows assembling, among other things, huge radio telescopes - the installations are very massive and heavy, it is difficult to assemble them in orbit, but on the Moon it can be done gradually.

First, build a setup with one sensitivity, then add equipment, build up mass and get a new, higher sensitivity, and so on. In this way, very good results can be achieved, which are difficult, if not impossible, to achieve in orbit".

("Scientific Director of the Institute of Space Research of the Russian Academy of Sciences Lev Zelyoniy on when we will fly to the moon and why".

Image above: Morozov Sergey Lvovich. Candidate of Medical Sciences. (The power, might and wealth of civilization will grow with the Moon).

Next article, Part 17.3: "Colonization of the Moon - the source of the power, wealth and power of civilization in the Universe, - the strategic "engine" of space industrialization of the XXI century"

Related articles:

Exodus of civilization into space - Humanity's strategy to create stationary and mobile Homeostatic arks. Part 17.1

Exodus of civilization into space - Tsiolkovsky Galactic State. Part 9

Exodus of civilization into space - Symbol of the End of the XXI century. Part 8

Exodus of civilization into space - Stopping the process of increasing value added. Part 7

Exodus of civilization into space - The sixth socio-economic formation of civilization. Part 6

Exodus of civilization into space - Space man. Part 5

Exodus of civilization into space - Biological End of the World. Part 4

Exodus of civilization into space - Geochronological Ice Ages, periods, eras. Part 3

Exodus of civilization into space - Astrophysical End of the World. Part 2

The ideology of space expansion - Space calendar. Part 1

Related links:

About Ph.D. Morozov Sergey Lvovich:

Original article in Russian on Zen.Yandex:

Asgardia website:

Author: Ph.D. Morozov Sergey Lvovich / Zen.Yandex. Editor / Translation: Roland Berga. 


Statement by Roscosmos and CNSA (China) on the creation of the Lunar Station


Russia & China go to the Moon logo.

April 23, 2021

The Roscosmos State Corporation and the Chinese National Space Administration have adopted a joint statement on cooperation in the creation of the International Scientific Lunar Station (INLS).

China and Russia Agreed to Build Research Base on Moon

“Taking into account the experience of the Russian Federation and the People's Republic of China in the field of space science, the creation and use of space technology and space technologies, recognizing the mutual interest in the creation of the International Scientific Lunar Station, guided by the legislation of their states, generally recognized principles and norms of international law, international treaties, of which their states are participants, and to carry out cooperation on the principles of equality, openness and honesty, hereby jointly publish a statement on cooperation in the field of creating an MNLS, ”the document says.

MNLS is a complex of experimental research facilities created on the surface and / or in orbit around the Moon with the possible involvement of other countries, international organizations and other international partners. It is designed to carry out multidisciplinary and multipurpose research activities, including the exploration and use of the moon, lunar observations, fundamental research experiments and technology verification, with the possibility of long-term unmanned operation with the prospect of ensuring the presence of a person.

Russian - China Lunar Station

At the same time, the parties emphasize that the MNLS is open to all international partners interested in cooperation in the planning, justification, design, development, implementation and operation of the MNLS, strengthening research exchanges and promoting the peaceful exploration and use of outer space in the interests of all mankind. The parties welcome the material and non-material contribution of international partners to cooperation in the field of the creation of MNLS in any aspect of the mission at every stage and are convinced that cooperation will be mutually beneficial for all participants.

Image above: One of the earliest Chinese projects for a modular science station on the moon. Noteworthy are vertical solar panels. Such should allow to provide power to the station in the circumpolar regions of the satellite, where the Sun is low above the horizon.

Russia and China traditionally strive to develop cooperation in the field of space technologies, space science and the use of outer space. To date, within the framework of interaction in the field of lunar and deep space exploration, an Agreement has been signed and is being successfully implemented between the Roscosmos State Corporation and the Chinese National Space Administration on cooperation in the framework of coordination of the Russian mission with the Luna-Resurs-1 orbital spacecraft and the Chinese research mission the polar region of the Moon "Chang'e-7", as well as the Agreement between the State Corporation "Roscosmos" and the Chinese National Space Administration on cooperation in the creation of a joint data center for the exploration of the Moon and deep space.

Related article:

Роскосмос показал первый модуль новой орбитальной станции / Roscosmos showed the first module of the new orbital station

Related links:

ROSCOSMOS Press Release:

China National Space Administration (CNSA), visit:

Images, Text, Credits: ROSCOSMOS/CNSA/CAST/ Aerospace/Roland Berga.

Best regards,

Hubble Celebrates 31st Birthday with Giant Star on the Edge of Destruction


NASA & ESA - Hubble Space Telescope patch.

April 23, 2021

Hubble Celebrates its 31st anniversary with a magnificent view of AG Carinae

In celebration of the 31st anniversary of the launching of the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope, astronomers aimed the celebrated observatory at one of the brightest stars seen in our galaxy to capture its beauty.

The giant star featured in this latest Hubble Space Telescope anniversary image is waging a tug-of-war between gravity and radiation to avoid self-destruction. The star, called AG Carinae, is surrounded by an expanding shell of gas and dust — a nebula — that is shaped by the powerful winds of the star. The nebula is about five light-years wide, which equals the distance from here to our nearest star, Alpha Centauri.

Wide-Field View of AG Carinae

The huge structure was created from one or more giant eruptions several thousand years ago. The star’s outer layers were blown into space, the expelled material amounting to roughly 10 times the mass of our Sun. These outbursts are typical in the life of a rare breed of star called a Luminous Blue Variable (LBV), a brief unstable phase in the short life of an ultra-bright, glamorous star that lives fast and dies young. These stars are among the most massive and brightest stars known. They live for only a few million years, compared to the roughly 10-billion-year lifetime of our own Sun. AG Carinae is a few million years old and resides 20 000 light-years away inside our Milky Way galaxy. The star’s expected lifetime is between 5 million and 6 million years.

LBVs have a dual personality. They appear to spend years in  semi-quiescent bliss and then they erupt in a petulant outburst, during which their luminosity increases — sometimes by several orders of magnitude. These behemoths are stars in the extreme, far different from normal stars like our Sun. In fact AG Carinae is estimated to be up to 70 times more massive than our Sun and shines with the blinding brilliance of 1 million suns.

Animation of AG Carinae

Major outbursts such as the one that produced the nebula featured in this image occur a few times during a LBV’s lifetime. A LBV star only casts off material when it is in danger of self-destruction. Because of their massive forms and super-hot temperatures, luminous blue variable stars like AG Carinae are in a constant battle to maintain stability. It’s an arm-wrestling contest between radiation pressure from within the star pushing outward and gravity pressing inward. This arm-wrestling match results in the star’s expanding and contracting. The outward pressure occasionally wins the battle, and the star expands to such an immense size that it blows off its outer layers, like a volcano erupting. But this outburst only happens when the star is on the verge of coming apart. After the star ejects the material, it contracts to its normal (large) size, settles back down, and becomes stable again.

LBV stars are rare: fewer than 50 are known among the galaxies in our local group of neighbouring galaxies. These stars spend tens of thousands of years in this phase, a blink of an eye in cosmic time. Some are expected to end their lives in titanic supernova blasts, which enrich the Universe with the heavier elements beyond iron.

Zoom Into AG Carinae

Like many other LBVs, AG Carinae remains unstable. It has experienced lesser outbursts that have not been as powerful as the one that created the present nebula. Although AG Carinae is semi-quiescient now, its searing radiation and powerful stellar wind (streams of charged particles) have been shaping the ancient nebula, sculpting intricate structures as outflowing gas slams into the slower-moving outer nebula. The wind is travelling at up to 1 million kilometres per hour, about 10 times faster than the expanding nebula. Over time, the hot wind catches up with the cooler expelled material, ploughs into it, and pushes it farther away from the star. This “snowplough” effect has cleared a cavity around the star.

The red material is glowing hydrogen gas laced with nitrogen gas. The diffuse red material at upper left pinpoints where the wind has broken through a tenuous region of material and swept it into space. The most prominent features, highlighted in blue, are filamentary structures shaped like tadpoles and lopsided bubbles. These structures are dust clumps illuminated by the star’s light. The tadpole-shaped features, most prominent at left and bottom, are denser dust clumps  that have  been sculpted by the stellar wind. Hubble’s sharp vision reveals these delicate-looking structures in great detail.

Pan of AG Carinae

The image was taken in visible and ultraviolet light. Hubble is ideally suited for observations in ultraviolet light because this wavelength range can only be viewed from space.
More information

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

Each year in the month of April, ESA/Hubble uses the telescope’s anniversary as an opportunity to develop special initiatives to engage and involve the public in this annual milestone. You can explore all of the ESA/Hubble 31st Anniversary initiatives that have been and will be announced on this page. You can engage with ESA/Hubble’s 31st anniversary activities on social media using #Hubble31.

As Hubble celebrates it’s 31st year of operations, below are some captivating facts about the famous observatory’s achievements and impact:

- Launched on 24 April 1990, the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope has made more than 1.5 million observations of about 48 000 celestial objects.

- In its 31-year lifetime, the telescope has racked up more than 181 000 orbits around our planet, totaling over 7.2 billion kilometres.

- Hubble observations have produced more than 169 terabytes of data, which are available to present and future generations of researchers.

- Astronomers using Hubble data have published more than 18 000 scientific papers, with more than 900 of those papers published in 2020.

The observations were conducted as part of the Hubble observing program 16434 (PI: Christopher Britt). They were taken with Hubble's Wide Field Camera 3 UVIS channel.


Space Sparks Episode 3:

ESA/Hubble 31 Webpage:

Images of Hubble:

HubbleSite release:


Wide Field Camera 3:

Images, Text, Credits: ESA/Hubble/Bethany Downer/NASA, ESA and STScI/Digitized Sky Survey 2/Acknowledgement: Davide De Martin/Videos: NASA, ESA and STScI.


NASA’s SpaceX Crew-2 Astronauts Headed to International Space Station


SpaceX & NASA - Dragon Crew-2 Mission patch.

Apr 23, 2021

NASA’s SpaceX Crew-2 astronauts are in orbit following their early morning launch bound for the International Space Station for the second commercial crew rotation mission aboard the microgravity laboratory. The international crew of astronauts lifted off at 5:49 a.m. EDT Friday from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Image above: A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying the company's Crew Dragon spacecraft is launched on NASA’s SpaceX Crew-2 mission to the International Space Station with NASA astronauts Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur, ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Thomas Pesquet, and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) astronaut Akihiko Hoshide onboard, Friday, April 23, 2021, at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Image Credit: NASA.

The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket propelled the Crew Dragon spacecraft with NASA astronauts Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur, along with JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency)  astronaut Akihiko Hoshide and ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut  Thomas Pesquet, into orbit to begin a six-month science mission on the space station.

During Crew Dragon’s flight, SpaceX will command the spacecraft from its mission control center in Hawthorne, California, and NASA teams will monitor space station operations throughout the flight from Mission Control Center at the agency’s Johnson Space Center in Houston.

SpaceX Crew-2 launch and Falcon 9 first stage landing

“It has been an incredible year for NASA and our Commercial Crew Program, with three crewed launches to the space station since last May,” said NASA Acting Administrator Steve Jurczyk. “This is another important milestone for NASA, SpaceX, and our international partners at ESA and JAXA, and for the future of scientific research on board the space station. It will be an exciting moment to see our crews greet one another on station for our first crew handover under the Commercial Crew Program.”

The Crew Dragon spacecraft, named Endeavour, will dock autonomously to the forward port of the station’s Harmony module about 5:10 a.m. Saturday, April 24. NASA Television, the NASA App, and the agency’s website are providing ongoing live coverage through docking, hatch opening, and the ceremony to welcome the crew aboard the orbital outpost.

The Crew-2 mission is the second of six crewed missions NASA and SpaceX will fly as part of the agency’s Commercial Crew Program. This mission has several firsts, including:

- First commercial crew mission to fly two international partners;

- First commercial crew handover between astronauts on the space station as Crew-1 and Crew-2 astronauts will spend about five days together on station before Crew-1 returns to Earth;

- First reuse of the Crew Dragon spacecraft and Falcon 9 rocket on a crew mission –Crew Dragon Endeavour flew the historic Demo-2 mission and the Falcon 9 flew astronauts on the Crew-1 mission; and,

- First time two commercial crew spacecraft will be docked to station at the same time.

“When I see a launch I immediately think of what it took to reach this milestone and the dedication of all the people who made it happen,” said Steve Stich, manager of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program. “There’s obviously a long way to go, but now we can celebrate the Crew-2 launch and look forward to seeing them join their other Expedition 65 colleagues as we prepare to bring Crew-1 home next week.”

Kimbrough, McArthur, Hoshide, and Pesquet will join the Expedition 65 crew of Shannon Walker, Michael Hopkins,  Victor Glover, and Mark Vande Hei of NASA, as well as Soichi Noguchi of JAXA and Roscosmos cosmonauts Oleg Novitskiy and Pyotr Dubrov. For a short time, the number of crew on the space station will increase to 11 people until Crew-1 astronauts Walker, Hopkins, Glover, and Noguchi return a few days later.

The is the second commercial crew mission to fly a JAXA astronaut. When Hoshide joins astronaut Noguchi during the commercial crew handover period, it will mark the first time two JAXA astronauts are on station at the same time.

“I am extremely honored to witness the successful launch today. It is my utmost pleasure and also for Japan that Japanese astronauts Soichi Noguchi and Aki Hoshide boarded the operational spacecraft of Crew Dragon twice in a row,” said Hiroshi Sasaki, Vice President for Human Spaceflight and Space Exploration. “I believe this is brought by the many years of close cooperation cultivated amongst the international partners, especially between U.S. and Japan through the ISS program. I hope Aki will play an integral role as the second Japanese ISS commander along with his colleague astronauts, creating fruitful outcomes and expanding the human frontier to the Lunar Gateway, the surface of the Moon and even beyond.”

Crew-2 also is the first commercial crew mission to fly an ESA astronaut. Pesquet is the first of three ESA crew members assigned to fly to station on commercial crew spacecraft, kicking off a continuous stay of ESA astronauts on the space station for about a year and a half – in total – for the first time in more than 20 years.

"This is a thrilling time for human spaceflight and this new success of the Commercial Crew Program embodies it – congratulations once again to NASA and SpaceX,” said David Parker, director of human and robotic exploration at ESA. “Starting with astronaut Thomas Pesquet, ESA is delighted to join this new space station chapter, paving the way to the future of exploration side by side with diverse partners. Six months of excellent science and state-of-the-art technology demonstrations now await him, and we know he cannot wait to start working."

Crew-2 Astronauts

Image above: Crew-2 Astronauts - Megan McArthur, Thomas Pesquet, Akihiko Hoshide, Shane Kimbrough. Image Credit: NASA.

Shane Kimbrough is commander of the Crew Dragon spacecraft and the Crew-2 mission. Kimbrough is responsible for all phases of flight, from launch to re-entry. He also will serve as an Expedition 65 flight engineer aboard the station. Selected as a NASA astronaut in 2004, Kimbrough first launched aboard space shuttle Endeavour for a visit to the station on the STS-126 mission in 2008, and then aboard a Russian Soyuz spacecraft for his first long-duration mission for Expedition 49/50 in 2016. He has spent a total of 189 days in space and performed six spacewalks. Kimbrough also is a retired U.S. Army colonel and earned a bachelor’s degree in aerospace engineering from the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York, and a master’s degree in operations research from the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta.

Megan McArthur is the pilot of the Crew Dragon spacecraft and second-in-command for the mission. McArthur is responsible for spacecraft systems and performance. She also will be a long-duration space station crew member, making her first trip to the space station. Selected as an astronaut in 2000, McArthur launched on space shuttle Atlantis as a mission specialist on STS-125, the final Hubble Space Telescope servicing mission, in 2009. McArthur operated the shuttle’s robotic arm over the course of the 12 days, 21 hours she spent in space, capturing the telescope and moving crew members during the five spacewalks needed to repair and upgrade it. She holds a bachelor’s degree in aerospace engineering from the University of California, Los Angeles and a doctorate in oceanography from the University of California, San Diego.

Akihiko Hoshide is a mission specialist for Crew-2. As a mission specialist, he will work closely with the commander and pilot to monitor the spacecraft during the dynamic launch and re-entry phases of flight. Once aboard the station, Hoshide will become a flight engineer for Expedition 65. Hoshide joined the National Space Development Agency of Japan (NASDA, currently JAXA) in 1992 and was selected as an astronaut candidate in February 1999. Hoshide is a veteran of two spaceflights. In June 2008, he flew to the International Space Station on the STS-124 mission to deliver the Japanese Experiment Module "Kibo" to the station. From July to November 2012, he stayed on the space station for 124 days as a flight engineer for the Expedition 32/33 mission. The Crew Dragon will be the third spacecraft that Noguchi has flown to the orbiting laboratory.

Thomas Pesquet also will be a mission specialist for Crew-2, working with the commander and pilot to monitor the spacecraft during the dynamic launch and re-entry phases of flight. Pesquet also will become a long-duration crew member aboard the space station. He was selected as an astronaut candidate by ESA in May 2009 and worked as a Eurocom, communicating with astronauts during spaceflights from the mission control center. He previously flew as part of Expeditions 50 and 51, launching aboard a Russian Soyuz spacecraft in October 2016 and spending 196 days in space, returning to Earth in June 2017. His mission also included two spacewalks to maintain the station: one to replace batteries on an electrical channel, and one to detect a cooling leak and service the robotic arm.

Mission Objectives

The Crew-2 members will conduct science and maintenance during a six-month stay aboard the orbiting laboratory and will return no earlier than Oct. 31. The Crew Dragon spacecraft can stay in orbit for at least 210 days, which is a NASA requirement.

Adding more crew members aboard the microgravity laboratory increases the time available for scientific activities. The November 2020 arrival of the Crew-1 astronauts more than doubled crew hours spent on scientific research and support activities, and Crew-2 will continue the important investigations and technology demonstrations that are preparing for future Artemis missions to the Moon, helping us improve our understanding of Earth’s climate, and improving life on our home planet. An important scientific focus on this expedition is continuing a series of Tissue Chips in Space studies. Tissue chips are small models of human organs containing multiple cell types that behave much the same as they do in the body. Another important element of Crew-2’s mission is augmenting the station’s solar power system by installing the first pair of six new ISS Roll-out Solar Arrays.

Crew Dragon also is delivering almost 250 pounds of cargo, new science hardware, and experiments, including a university student-led investigation to study possible causes for suppressed immune response in microgravity.

During their stay on the orbiting laboratory, Crew-2 astronauts expect to see a range of U.S. commercial spacecraft, including the Northrop Grumman Cygnus; SpaceX cargo Dragon; Boeing CST-100 Starliner, on its uncrewed flight to station; and NASA’s SpaceX Crew-3 Dragon; which is targeted for launch no earlier than Oct. 23. During Crew-2, astronauts also will conduct a variety of spacewalks outside the space station, including the solar array installation.

At the conclusion of the mission, the Crew-2 astronauts will board Crew Dragon, which will then autonomously undock, depart the space station, and re-enter Earth’s atmosphere. Crew Dragon also will return to Earth important and time-sensitive research. NASA and SpaceX are capable of supporting seven splashdown sites located off Florida's east coast and in the Gulf of Mexico. Upon splashdown, the SpaceX recovery ship will pick up the crew and return to shore.

NASA’s Commercial Crew Program is delivering on its goal of safe, reliable, and cost-effective transportation to and from the International Space Station from the United States through partnership with American private industry. This partnership is changing the arc of human spaceflight history by opening access to low-Earth orbit and the International Space Station to more people, more science, and more commercial opportunities.

The space station remains the springboard to NASA's next great leap in space exploration, including future missions to the Moon and, eventually, to Mars. For more than 20 years, humans have lived and worked continuously aboard the International Space Station, advancing scientific knowledge and demonstrating new technologies, making research breakthroughs not possible on Earth. As a global endeavor, 243 people from 19 countries have visited the unique microgravity laboratory that has hosted more than 3,000 research and educational investigations from researchers in 108 countries and areas.

Learn more about NASA’s Commercial Crew program at:

Related links:

NASA Television:


Understanding of Earth’s climate:

Tissue Chips in Space:

ISS Roll-out Solar Arrays:

International Space Station (ISS):

Images (mentioned), Video, Text, Credits: NASA/Katherine Brown/Josh Finch/Stephanie Schierholz/JSC/Leah Cheshier/Megan Sumner/KSC/Kyle Herring/Kathleen Ellis/NASA TV/SciNews.

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jeudi 22 avril 2021

Station Astronauts Relax Before SpaceX Crew Launches


ISS - Expedition 65 Mission patch.

April 22, 2021

Five Expedition 65 astronauts are off-duty today relaxing one day before four Commercial Crew astronauts launch toward the International Space Station. The orbiting lab’s two cosmonauts focused on Russian science and life support maintenance tasks throughout Thursday.

NASA Commander Shannon Walker and Flight Engineers Michael Hopkins, Victor Glover and Mark Vande Hei of NASA including Soichi Noguchi of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) took it easy on the station today. The quintet is relaxing before gearing up for six days of crew swap activities. They will get back to work on Friday with more space research and preparations for the arrival of the SpaceX Crew-2 astronauts early Saturday.

Image above: The SpaceX Crew Dragon Endeavour sits atop the Falcon 9 rocket during a sunset at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Image Credits: NASA/Joel Kowsky.

Cosmonauts Oleg Novitskiy and Pyotr Dubrov stayed busy on Thursday in the station’s Russian segment. The duo partnered up for a study to maximize the effectiveness of space exercise. Novitskiy then checked out power systems while Dubrov worked on life support gear.

SpaceX Crew-2 Commander Shane Kimbrough and Pilot Megan McArthur will launch Friday at 5:49 a.m. to the station aboard the Crew Dragon Endeavour. The NASA duo will be flanked by Mission Specialists Akihiko Hoshide of JAXA and Thomas Pesquet of the European Space Agency. The veteran foursome will dock on Saturday at 5:10 a.m. to the Harmony module’s forward-facing international docking adapter. NASA TV begins its continuous launch and docking coverage on Friday at 1:30 a.m.

SpaceX Crew Dragon docking at ISS. Animation Credits: NASA/SpaceX

The new quartet’s arrival will set in motion the next crew swap as the SpaceX Crew-1 astronauts turn their attention toward returning to Earth on April 28. Hopkins will lead his crewmates Glover, Walker and Noguchi as they undock from the station then parachute inside the Crew Dragon Resilience to a splashdown off the coast of Florida just a few hours later.

Vande Hei will stay behind with Novitskiy, Dubrov and the four SpaceX Crew-2 astronauts. They will remain at the station as the Expedition 65 crew until the next series of crew swaps planned for later this year begins.

Related links:

NASA Television:

Expedition 65:


Effectiveness of space exercise:

Harmony module:

Space Station Research and Technology:

International Space Station (ISS):

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


NASA’s Ingenuity Mars Helicopter Logs Second Successful Flight


NASA - Ingenuity Mars Helicopter logo.

Apr 22, 2021

The small rotorcraft’s horizons were expanded on its second flight.

Perseverance’s Mastcam-Z Video of Second Flight

Video above: NASA’s Ingenuity Mars Helicopter hovers over Jezero Crater during its second experimental flight test on April 22, 2021. The imagery was captured by the Perseverance rover’s Mastcam-Z imager. Video Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASU/MSSS.

NASA’s Ingenuity helicopter successfully completed its second Mars flight on April 22 – the 18th sol, or Martian day, of its experimental flight test window. Lasting 51.9 seconds, the flight added several new challenges to the first, which took place on April 19, including a higher maximum altitude, longer duration, and sideways movement.

“So far, the engineering telemetry we have received and analyzed tell us that the flight met expectations and our prior computer modeling has been accurate,” said Bob Balaram, chief engineer for the Ingenuity Mars Helicopter at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California. “We have two flights of Mars under our belts, which means that there is still a lot to learn during this month of Ingenuity.”

For this second flight test at “Wright Brothers Field,” Ingenuity took off again at 5:33 a.m. EDT (2:33 a.m. PDT), or 12:33 p.m. local Mars time. But where Flight One topped out at 10 feet (3 meters) above the surface, Ingenuity climbed to 16 feet (5 meters) this time. After the helicopter hovered briefly, its flight control system performed a slight (5-degree) tilt, allowing some of the thrust from the counter-rotating rotors to accelerate the craft sideways for 7 feet (2 meters).

“The helicopter came to a stop, hovered in place, and made turns to point its camera in different directions,” said Håvard Grip, Ingenuity’s chief pilot at JPL. “Then it headed back to the center of the airfield to land. It sounds simple, but there are many unknowns regarding how to fly a helicopter on Mars. That’s why we’re here – to make these unknowns known.”

Operating an aircraft in a controlled manner at Mars is far more difficult than flying one on Earth. Even though gravity on Mars is about one third that of Earth’s, the helicopter must fly with the assistance of an atmosphere with only about 1% of the density at Earth’s surface. Each second of each flight provides an abundance of Mars in-flight data for comparison to the modeling, simulations, and tests performed back here on Earth. And NASA also gains its first practical experience operating a rotorcraft remotely at Mars. These datasets will prove invaluable for potential future Mars missions that could enlist next-generation helicopters to add an aerial dimension to their explorations.

Image above: NASA’s Mars Perseverance rover acquired this image using its left Mastcam-Z camera. Mastcam-Z is a pair of cameras located high on the rover’s mast. This is one still frame from a sequence captured by the camera while taking video. This image was acquired on Apr. 22, 2021. Image Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS.

The Ingenuity Mars Helicopter project is a high-risk, high-reward technology demonstration. If Ingenuity were to encounter difficulties during its 30-sol mission, the science-gathering of NASA’s Perseverance Mars rover mission wouldn’t be impacted.

As with the first test, the Perseverance rover obtained imagery of the flight attempt from 211 feet (64.3 meters) away at “Van Zyl Overlook” using its Navcam and Mastcam-Z imagers. The initial set of data – including imagery – from the flight was received by the Ingenuity team beginning at 9:20 a.m. EDT (6:20 a.m. PDT).

“For the second flight, we tried a slightly different approach to the zoom level on one of the cameras,” said Justin Maki, Perseverance project imaging scientist and Mastcam-Z deputy principal investigator at JPL. “For the first flight, one of the cameras was fully zoomed in on the takeoff and landing zone. For the second flight we zoomed that camera out a bit for a wider field of view to capture more of the flight.”

Because the data and imagery indicate that the Mars Helicopter not only survived the second flight but also flew as anticipated, the Ingenuity team is considering how best to expand the profiles of its next flights to acquire additional aeronautical data from the first successful flight tests on another world.

Image above: The Ingenuity Mars Helicopter’s navigation camera captures the helicopter's shadow on the surface of Jezero Crater during rotorcraft’s second experimental test flight on April 22, 2021. Image Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech.

More About Ingenuity

The Ingenuity Mars Helicopter was built by JPL, which also manages this technology demonstration project for NASA Headquarters. It is supported by NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate, and Space Technology Mission Directorate. NASA’s Ames Research Center and Langley Research Center provided significant flight performance analysis and technical assistance during Ingenuity’s development.

At NASA Headquarters, Dave Lavery is the program executive for the Ingenuity Mars Helicopter. At JPL, MiMi Aung is the project manager and J. (Bob) Balaram is chief engineer.

For more information about Ingenuity: and

More About Perseverance

A key objective for Perseverance’s mission on Mars is astrobiology, including the search for signs of ancient microbial life. The rover will characterize the planet’s geology and past climate, pave the way for human exploration of the Red Planet, and be the first mission to collect and cache Martian rock and regolith (broken rock and dust).

Subsequent NASA missions, in cooperation with ESA (European Space Agency), would send spacecraft to Mars to collect these sealed samples from the surface and return them to Earth for in-depth analysis.

The Mars 2020 Perseverance mission is part of NASA’s Moon to Mars exploration approach, which includes Artemis missions to the Moon that will help prepare for human exploration of the Red Planet.

JPL, which is managed for NASA by Caltech in Pasadena, California, built and manages operations of the Perseverance rover.

For more about Perseverance: and

Images (mentioned), Video (mentioned), Text, Credits: NASA/Tony Greicius/Alana Johnson/Grey Hautaluoma/JPL/DC Agle.

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How Scientists Are Using the International Space Station to Study Earth’s Climate


ISS - International Space Station patch.

Apr 22, 2021

On Earth, we often look toward the sky longing to know what resides in the rest of the universe. Meanwhile, 250 miles above our planet, the International Space Station is looking back.

Above us, multiple Earth-observing instruments are mounted on the exterior of several of the station’s modules, including a limb full of cameras, boxes, and tools that hangs off the edge of the station’s Japanese Experiment Module (JEM). Earth-observing CubeSats regularly deploy from the station’s airlock. Astronauts take photos of the planet from the orbiting lab’s windows. This outpost even conducts Earth science experiments. All of this work provides insight into the climate of our home and how we might prepare for coming changes.

Animation above: A diagram of the Earth-observing payloads currently mounted off the side of the Japanese Experiment Module. Animation Credit: NASA.

“If you don’t have a good understanding of how things might change, you are in a very poor position to be able to handle it when they do,” says William Stefanov, manager of the Exploration Science Office at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston.

Weather reflects the conditions of the atmosphere over a short period of time, and climate is how the atmosphere "behaves" over decades, hundreds of years, or even geological time spans, says Stefanov.

That means the factors influencing our climate must be tracked over long periods. Its more than 20 years in orbit makes the space station a great place to collect this long-term data. The combined information creates a unique data set that helps us inform climate decisions and potentially develop solutions to environmental issues.

Eyes on Earth

The space station affords a unique planetary perspective with an orbital path passing over 90 percent of the Earth’s population. Its approximately 52 degrees of orbital inclination allows astronauts and Earth-observing payloads to see the sun rise and set 16 times each day across the world.

“That orbit allows the space station to pass over different spots of Earth at different times of day or night and collect data. It is a fundamentally different data set than most other remote sensing instruments collect on free-flying satellites,” says Stefanov.

Image above: The suite of Earth-observing payloads attached to the Japanese Experiment Module is shown as the International Space Station orbits over the southern Pacific Ocean east of New Zealand. Image Credit: NASA.

Mounted on the outside of the orbiting laboratory, international payloads such as ECOSTRESS, GEDI, OCO-3, DESIS, TSIS (also known as TSIS-1), and HISUI individually collect climate-related data. In combination, they provide a unique set of measurements that could push the leading edge of environmental research.

“The OCO-3 team wants to understand plants and their role in the carbon cycle,” says OCO-3 Project Scientist Annmarie Eldering of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab in Southern California. “It turns out our space station neighbor ECOSTRESS is looking at how plants respond to stress. And then there is GEDI, which is looking at how much plant material is on the ground. Scientists who are thinking about plants and their role in the carbon cycle are super excited. We have heard lots of discussion about how we can use all the data together to better understand plants.”

The OCO-3 sensor uses sunlight reflections through the atmosphere to measure variations in atmospheric carbon dioxide, observing changes of less than a single part per million.

Animation above: OCO-2, predecessor to OCO-3, data integrated into an atmospheric model shows atmospheric carbon dioxide levels over Earth. Animation Credit: NASA.

“Most gases like ozone, carbon monoxide, or water vapor double or triple in atmospheric concentration when they are polluted, so it is pretty easy to detect. But for carbon dioxide, it is uniquely difficult to see the changes,” says Eldering.

Measuring those small changes could be key to answering long-standing questions about atmospheric carbon dioxide.

“Fortunately for us, the plants and ocean absorb about half of human-generated carbon dioxide emissions every year. But there are still mysteries around how they do that, why the amount is different each year, and how absorption is going to happen in the future,” says Eldering. “Our data are meant to help answer those kind of questions.”

Carbon storage and removal also has been investigated both inside and outside station. Photobioreactor examined whether microalgae could help close the carbon loop in life support systems, and Kuwait’s Experiment: E. coli C5 studied the effect of microgravity on E. coli bacteria that were modified to consume carbon dioxide as a food source. Images taken by former space station payload HICO even helped develop an algorithm to detect Harmful Algal Blooms. Algae play a major role in the global carbon cycle, and blooms are responsible for much of the ocean’s carbon absorption.

With other devices such as SAGE-III tracking ozone, ISS-LIS and ASIM monitoring lightning, and TSIS tracking the total energy flowing into Earth from the Sun, station experiments advance numerous climate records and models.

“Climate change presents what is perhaps humankind’s greatest environmental challenge,” says former TSIS principal investigator and University of Colorado Boulder professor Peter Pilewskie. “Monitoring the energy that flows into, within, and out of the system underpins our ability to understand how the climate system works, recognize that it is changing, and identify those mechanisms responsible for climate change.”

International Space Station (ISS). Animation Credit: NASA

Station offers a standardized, capable platform to house Earth observation experiments such as TSIS. The size of a football field and equipped with numerous attachment points, plenty of data capacity, and a large power supply (slated to become even larger with the upcoming installation of the iROSA solar panels, the space station can host a wide variety of instruments simultaneously.

The availability of these resources made station a great last-minute option for the TSIS team to quickly get their payload into orbit. After some delays, the team was facing potential failure of previous tracking instruments before TSIS could launch.

“It started to get pretty dire, because accuracy of the climate record is maintained at its highest possible level when the data record is continuous,” says Pilewskie. “Because of space station, we were able to continue this record.”

After researchers learn the basics of creating a payload for the space station, they can apply that knowledge to future station projects. Pilewskie is already working on his next experiment, CLARREO Pathfinder, scheduled to launch in the next few years.

“The value that we gained from operating an instrument on station that needed to point very precisely cannot be understated,” says Pilewskie. “We have to do the same thing with CLARREO Pathfinder, so we are using some of the same motors that we use to drive the TSIS instruments.”

CLARREO plans to study Earth’s climate by taking measurements of sunlight reflected by Earth and the Moon with five to ten times lower uncertainty than measurements from existing sensors.

Image above: Taken by NASA astronaut Mike Hopkins, this picture shows Earth's limb, or horizon, from the International Space Station as it orbits above the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Chile. Image Credit: NASA.

The human element

It is not only sensors monitoring our planet from above. People do as well.

The windows of the space station provide an opportunity for astronaut photography and manual collection of climate data. Astronauts have taken more than 4 million images of Earth from space (over 3.5 million from the space station), contributing to one of the longest running records of how Earth has changed over time. Crew Earth Observations currently support a number of urban night lighting studies, glacier and volcano monitoring, and studies of atmospheric processes affected by powerful volcanic eruptions. The images also are used in ecological investigations, including a collaborative project called AMASS, which tracked bird migration routes and the effects of changes occurring along those routes.

Image above: Expedition 60 crew members take turns capturing images of rapidly intensifying Hurricane Dorian from the cupola inside the International Space Station on Aug. 30 as it churned over the Atlantic Ocean. Image Credit: NASA.

These images also support disaster relief efforts for events such as hurricanes and wildfires. After receiving notification a natural disaster has occurred, scientists on the ground determine whether the crew will be able to see that area while orbiting overhead. If so, the crew captures and sends imagery back to Earth. The pictures are then georeferenced for use by hazard teams on the ground. Astronaut imagery has been useful for wildfire events, for example, showing responders where the smoke plume is going.

Deploying beyond station

Station extends its climate science impact by deploying CubeSats into low-Earth orbit. These shoe box-sized devices, which contain technology demonstrations or test new types of climate science, launch to station along with thousands of pounds of other research investigations and cargo supplies. Astronauts unload and prep them on station and then deploy them out of the station airlock.

“A lot of our smaller satellites, CubeSats, are getting rides because of the space station. That has been a great resource for small programs, especially universities or NASA centers trying to get some small projects going. CubeSats might be their first stepping stone to larger things,” says TSIS and NanoRacks-MinXSS principal investigator Tom Woods. “Space station offers a lot of opportunities to get these smaller things into space.”

NASA ScienceCasts: Keeping an Eye on Earth

More than 250 CubeSats have been released from station, including many climate centric payloads. For example:

- The student-designed NanoRacks-MinXSS CubeSat targeted a better understanding of solar X-ray energy and how it affects the layers of Earth’s upper atmosphere.

- The DIWATA-1 satellite provides remote sensing information to the Philippines by observing meteorological disasters such as typhoons and localized heavy rains.

- The HARP CubeSat helps us better understand how clouds and aerosols impact weather, climate, and air quality.

As Earth’s climate changes, the International Space Station will be watching from above, helping provide unique insights needed to keep our planet safe.

Related links:








Kuwait’s Experiment: E. coli C5:





iROSA solar panels:

CLARREO Pathfinder:

Crew Earth Observations:




Space Station Research and Technology:

International Space Station (ISS):

Animations (mentioned), Images (mentioned), Video (mentioned), Text, Credits: NASA/Ana Guzman/JSC/International Space Station Program Research Office/Erin Winick Anthony.