samedi 19 juin 2021

China Space Station - Shenzhou-12 crew begins three-month mission


China Manned Space logo.

June 19, 2021

External view of China Space Station (中国空间站)

The Shenzhou-12 crew, astronauts Nie Haisheng (commander), Liu Boming and Tang Hongbo, opened the hatch and entered the Tianhe core module on 17 June 2021, at 10:48 UTC (18:48 China Standard Time).

Shenzhou-12 crew begins three-month mission

Shenzhou-12 (神舟十二号) will spend three months attached to the Tianhe core module (天和核心舱), the first and main component of the China Space Station (中国空间站), informally known as Tiangong (天宫, Heavenly Palace).

Shenzhou-12 (神舟十二号) crew report to the ground

Related articles:

China sends its first crew to its Space Station

Long March-7 Y3 launches Tianzhou-2 & Tianzhou-2 docking to the Tianhe Core Module

Tianhe completes in-orbit checks & Long March-7 Y3 ready to launch Tianzhou-2

China Space Station

CASC - Long March-5B Y2 launches the Tianhe Core Module

For more information about China National Space Administration (CNSA), visit:

Images, Video, Text, Credits: China Central Television (CCTV)/China National Space Administration (CNSA)/SciNews/ Aerospace/Roland Berga.


CASC - Long March-2C launches Yaogan-30-09 and Tianqi-14


CASC - China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation logo.

June 19, 2021

Long March-2C launches Yaogan-30-09 and Tianqi-14

A Long March-2C launch vehicle launched a new group of three Yaogan-30 remote sensing satellites from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center, Sichuan Province, southwest China, on 18 June 2021, at 06:30 UTC (14:30 China Standard Time).

Long March-2C launches -09 and Tianqi-14

The satellites (遥感三十号09) will work as part of a constellation for electromagnetic environment detection and related technological tests.

Yaogan-30 (遥感三十号) constellation

According to official sources, the satellites have entered the planned orbits. The mission also launched the Tianqi-14 (天启星座14, part of the Tianqi/Apocalypse Constellation).

Related articles:

CASC - Long March-4C launches Yaogan-31 04

CASC - Long March-4C launches Yaogan-31 03

CASC - Long March-4C launches Yaogan-31 02 satellites

Long March-2C launches new Yaogan-30 satellites

For more information about China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC):

Images, Video, Text, Credits: China Central Television (CCTV)/China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC)/SciNews/ Aerospace/Roland Berga.


Visions of the Future


Asgardia The Space Nation.

June 19, 2021


An anticipation text written by Asgardia Member Parliament (AMP) Roland(o) Berga, blogger specializing in space science and technology, founder and owner of Aerospace and Ambassador for Europe of Planetary Defense Foundation (PDF).

Roland(o) Berga

At the request of my parliamentary colleagues from the Information and Communications Committee (ICC), here are two visions of individual freedoms in a short-term future and a long-term future.

This article aims to help my colleagues in the Parliament of Asgardia to legislate their laws and regulations that will govern Asgardia the First Space Nation.

Short-term vision

My short-term vision for the start of the establishment of small habitable and permanent structures on the Moon and on Mars (to begin) and current space stations (including those in plans for the next few years), is as follows:

- Since these structures are small in terms of habitable space, we will not be able to guarantee the same rights of individual freedoms that future settlers had on Earth.

- Compared to the International Space Station (ISS), the private space granted to astronauts is slightly smaller than a phone booth (sleeper).

ESA astronaut Alexander Gerst on is crew sleeping quarter in ISS

- In addition when there are full staff (7 to 8 peoples on ISS for exemple), as there are only six berths, two astronauts must share one. Or he sleeps in a sleeping bag moored between the walls of the Space Station or sleep in the seats of the spacecraft.

- There is no privacy, even for the toilets, meals are taken together, they are together 24 hours a day, constant noise of machines. Radio communications with Earth, the chatting crew etc ... As the experience of the weightless shower system was inconclusive, you will have to get used to washing yourself with damp towels and not being very picky about your haircut (weightless).

- Impossible to escape even a minute from this environment, not possible to go out to "get some fresh air" because outside it is a space vacuum with temperatures well below zero. These range from 10 Kelvin (-263 ° C) to 100 Kelvin (-173 ° C), it depends on whether it is daytime (facing the sun) or night (when the Earth hides the sun). Therefore, individual freedom of movement is limited. On the Moon it will be the same.

ESA's Moon Base concept

- The duration of the missions are from a minimum of six months (for an orbital space station) to several years on Mars (counting 18 to 24 months for the outward and return journey). So those who have already felt ill-being during the "small" confinements during the COVID-19 pandemic, might as well tell them that it is not for them.

- So as a crew is international and from different cultures, in order to respect a "space truce" to maintain good relations in the crew or group of pioneers. So as in the Constitution of Asgardia, discussions of party politics and religion are taboo or even prohibited. As well as some propaganda and proselytism. So limitation of freedom of expression.

- Personal comfort as well as great gastronomy are concepts or put aside during the duration of your mission, in space (in zero gravity) the astronauts hardly have any taste, the food is generally very spicy and salty or sweeten to compensate for this loss of taste. But to avoid health problems in general these are flavor enhancers and sweeteners. Between two supplies (fresh food), the menu consists mainly of cans and bags of vacuum-dehydrated food. So not conducive to epicureans.

- As resources are limited and everything is recycled (urine, perspiration, ambient humidity), your water will always be the same (in space stations and spacecrafts), so the evening pee will be your morning coffee. Your excrement and food waste will be composted to make fertilizers and potting soil for crops in greenhouses, you will be happy to eat fresh vegetables and fruits and this will ensure your food independence between two supplies from Earth. When traveling in deep space, there will be no food and fuel supplies.

- During spacewalks or trips to the Moon or Mars, in your spacesuit you will wear diapers, because there are no public toilets in space or on the Moon or Mars. Generally the outings last several hours, you will be exposed to solar and cosmic radiations and to micro meteorites (very rare). In orbit of the Earth you will also be exposed to space debris. Your 100% safety is never guaranteed, you usually receive a waiver to sign that you are aware of the risks.

Lunar dust

- Lunar and Martian dust are toxic and abrasive, it will be necessary to equip the bases with decontamination airlocks and the astronauts will have to follow the procedures to the letter.

- We will not be able to send at the crews or pioneers anything, for example a private birthday cake or other foodstuffs and other products that do not comply with strict health standards to avoid any contamination. Information and news from Earth will have to be delayed or even censored so as not to disturb the morale and mission of astronauts and stettlers. So the limitation of information and postal rights.

Still want to become an astronaut? As I often say: It's not a job but a vocation (in this first step).

Long-term vision (a century)

- Spacecrafts and Space Stations will be much larger with technologies that are under development and other technologies that do not yet exist. You will have much less inconvenience than during the first steps, that of the pioneers. Your comfort and safety will be significantly improved, you will no longer be exposed to solar and cosmic radiation, you will have your own cabin with private toilet and an artificial gravity device.

Futuristic spaceship

- The Lunar and Martian bases will be cities and there will be industries, mines, permafrost water extraction plants, nuclear power plants (on Mars) and solar power plants for energy (on the Moon), space ports, transport systems, astronomical observatories, laboratories, telecommunications centers, factories, greenhouses for food crops etc ...

SpaceX, Elon Musk vision of Mars settlement

- In the future, the crews and settlers will be more comfortable and will regain certain freedoms that were restricted during the beginnings of human expansion in space.

And at this time the space will become accessible to everyone as long as you are in good health physically and mentally.


Regarding individual freedoms, it will not be possible to apply the same laws and regulations in an unchangeable manner over time. It will be necessary to adapt them to the circumstances. In addition, over time, societies evolve, mentalities change. There is no guarantee at all that a presently written law or regulation will not be obsolete in the future. This is why the parliament of Asgardia must always be vigilant and active in legislation to correct, amend or even reform laws and regulations over time.

It will also have the problem of territoriality which will arise, for the moment the space is governed by international agreements which are similar to those of the maritime code. That is to say that space is considered as international like international waters on seas on Earth. But the question will arise of the territoriality of the grounded spatial bases established on other planets or moons. For spacecraft and other vehicles, their nationality will be determined by who built them or their owners.

Related link:

Asgardia The Space Nation:

Related articles:

Радиация, лунная пыль и автономное существование / Radiation, Moon dust and autonomous existence

ROSCOSMOS and CNSA published the Roadmap of the NMLS project (Moon Base)

Exodus of civilization into space - The space age of civilization began its new Third stage (civil). Part 18.3

Dust: An Out-of-This World Problem 

ESA investigates cultured meat as novel space food

Exodus of civilization into space - Selenic Strategy - UN Ideology in the XXI Century. Part 18.1

Measuring Moon Dust to Fight Air Pollution

Exodus of civilization into space - Creation of the first ever mobile homeostatic ark (HA) in the USA. Part 16

Colonization of the Moon - The source of the power, wealth and power of civilization in the Universe. Part 17.3

Voyager Station: The first space hotel (could never) see the light of day in 2027?

First permanent habitat on Mars, the lava tunnels of Olympus Mons

Space Colony Artwork from the '70

ESA seeking dust-proof materials for lunar return

Top Five Technologies Needed for a Spacecraft to Survive Deep Space

How NASA Will Protect Astronauts From Space Radiation at the Moon

The radiation showstopper for Mars exploration

Living in space

ExoMars highlights radiation risk for Mars astronauts, and watches as dust storm subsides

Bricks from Moon dust

The toxic side of the Moon

CERN - A superconducting shield for astronauts

Testing Mars and Moon soil for sheltering astronauts from radiation

Images, Animation, Credits: NASA’s Glenn Research Center/ESA/SpaceX/Space Digital Artwork/Text written by Roland Berga.

Best regards, Roland Berga (aka

vendredi 18 juin 2021

Space Station Science Highlights: Week of June 14, 2021


ISS - Expedition 65 Mission patch.

Jun 18, 2021

Scientific investigations conducted aboard the International Space Station the week of June 14 included studies of plant gene expression, protein crystal production, and additive manufacturing in space. On Wed., ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Thomas Pesquet and NASA astronaut Shane Kimbrough performed initial tasks for installing the Integrated Roll-Out Solar Array (IROSA) during a 7 hour and 15 minute spacewalk. These panels will increase the energy available for research and other activities aboard the space station.

The space station has been continuously inhabited by humans for 20 years, supporting many scientific breakthroughs. The orbiting lab provides a platform for long-duration research in microgravity and for learning to live and work in space, experience that supports Artemis, NASA’s program to go forward to the Moon and on to Mars.

Space to Ground: iROSA Spacewalk: 06/18/2021

Here are details on some of the microgravity investigations currently taking place:

Peering at plant genes

APEX-07 examines how microgravity and other environmental factors of spaceflight affect plant gene expression. Previous research shows that microgravity influences which genes turn on or off, which proteins are present in what amounts, and modifications made to those proteins. RNA controls all of these processes, and small RNAs (sRNAs) may play a critical role in regulating expression in spaceflight. Researchers plan to analyze the role of RNA regulation on gene expression in both roots and shoots of plants. Results could answer basic questions about spaceflight’s effects on plants at the level of gene expression. This could help facilitate adaptation of plants to serve as a source of food on future long-duration space missions. A better understanding of how extreme environments affect plant gene expression also could contribute to improved adaptations to food crops in such environments on Earth. During the week, crew members configured the Veggie facility and installed petri plates for the investigation.

Image above: A portion of the Western Australian coast on the Indian Ocean is pictured from the International Space Station as it orbits 265 miles above. Image Credit: NASA.

Growing better crystals

RTPCG-2 demonstrates a new method that could produce higher-quality protein crystals, which are easier to analyze. Improved production of high-resolution protein crystals could help companies identify new targets and develop better drugs to treat a variety of diseases on Earth. Better methods for production could lead to broader application of protein crystal growth in space, generating interest from pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies and supporting increased commercial use of the space station. The crew observed and took photos of the crystal growth screening plate, where crystals have been growing for roughly two weeks under varying conditions.

Printing parts on demand

The Additive Manufacturing Facility (AMF) can produce parts, entire experiments, tools, and other components on demand, enabling repairs, upgrades, and manufacture of new equipment and hardware. Additive manufacturing builds a part layer by layer, an efficient process that reduces cost, mass, and production time. Made in Space previously successfully tested its extrusion-based 3D printing method in microgravity, and the AMF can use a variety of space-rated composites as feed stock. The facility’s design allows for easy upgrades to add new functionality and methods in the future. Crew members used AMF to print parts for the AstroRad Vest during the week.

Other investigations on which the crew performed work:

Image above: A vial from Lyophilization-2 floats inside the space station. This investigation examines gravity’s effects on freeze-dried materials, which can have improved chemical and physical stability. Image Credit: NASA.

- Lyophilization-2 examines how gravity affects freeze-dried materials and could result in improved freeze-drying processes for the pharmaceutical and other industries. Freeze-drying also has potential use for long-term storage of medications and other resources on future exploration missions.

Image above: NASA astronaut Shane Kimbrough processes sample packs for Oral Biofilms in Space, which studies how microgravity affects oral bacterial communities and potential ways to counteract harmful changes. Image Credit: NASA.

- Oral Biofilms in Space studies how gravity affects the structure, composition, and activity of oral bacteria in the presence of common oral care agents. Findings could support development of novel treatments to fight oral diseases such as caries, gingivitis, and periodontitis.

Image above: NASA astronaut Megan McArthur with fresh peppers and avocados delivered to the space station aboard SpaceX’s Crew Dragon resupply ship. The Food Acceptability investigation looks at how the appeal of food changes during long-duration missions and the effect of food selections on crew caloric intake and associated nutritional benefits. Image Credit: NASA.

- Food Acceptability looks at how the appeal of food changes during long-duration missions. Whether crew members like and actually eat foods directly affects caloric intake and associated nutritional benefits.

- Aging-like symptoms such as bone loss and muscle atrophy occur more rapidly in space. MHU-6, an investigation from the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), examines the molecular mechanism behind these symptoms.

- Antimicrobial Coatings tests a coating to control microbial growth on different materials that represent high-touch surfaces on the space station. Some microbes change characteristics in microgravity, potentially creating new risks to crew health and spacecraft.

- Standard Measures collects a set of core measurements from astronauts before, during, and after long-duration missions to create a data repository to monitor and interpret how humans adapt to living in space.

- Food Physiology examines the effects of an enhanced spaceflight diet on immune function, the gut microbiome, and nutritional status indicators, with the aim of documenting how dietary improvements may enhance adaptation to spaceflight.

- ISS Ham Radio provides students, teachers, parents, and others the opportunity to communicate with astronauts using ham radio units. Before a scheduled call, students learn about the station, radio waves, and other topics, and prepare a list of questions on topics they have researched.

International Space Station (ISS). Animation Credit: ESA

Related links:

Expedition 65:



Additive Manufacturing Facility (AMF):

AstroRad Vest:

ISS National Lab:

Spot the Station:

Space Station Research and Technology:

International Space Station (ISS):

Images (mentioned), Animation (mentioned), Video (NASA), Text, Credits: NASA/Ana Guzman/John Love, ISS Research Planning Integration Scientist Expedition 65.


Leptoquarks, the Higgs boson and the muon’s magnetism


CERN - European Organization for Nuclear Research logo.

June 18, 2021

A new study shows that a class of new unknown particles that could account for the muon’s magnetism, known as leptoquarks, also affects the Higgs boson’s transformation into muons

Image above: Displays of candidate events for a Higgs boson decaying into two muons, as recorded by CMS (left) and ATLAS (right). (Image: CERN).

Zoom into an online particle physics conference, and the chances are you’ll hear the term muon anomaly. This is a longstanding tension with the Standard Model of particle physics, seen in the magnetism of a heavier cousin of the electron called a muon, that has recently been strengthened by measurements made at Fermilab in the US.

In a paper accepted for publication in Physical Review Letters, a trio of theorists including Andreas Crivellin of CERN shows that a class of new unknown particles that could account for the muon anomaly, known as leptoquarks, also affects the transformation, or “decay”, of the Higgs boson into muons.

Leptoquarks are hypothetical particles that connect quarks and leptons, the two types of particles that make up matter at the most fundamental level. They are a popular explanation for the muon anomaly and other anomalies seen in certain decays of particles called B mesons.

In their new study, Crivellin and his colleagues explored how two kinds of leptoquarks that could explain the muon anomaly would affect the rare decay of the Higgs boson into muons, of which the ATLAS and CMS experiments recently obtained the first indications.

They found that one of the two kinds of leptoquarks increases the rate at which this Higgs decay takes place, while the other one decreases it.

“The current measurements of the Higgs decay to muons are not sufficient to see this increase or decrease, and the muon anomaly has yet to be confirmed,” says Crivellin. “But if future measurements, at the LHC or future colliders, display such a change, and the muon anomaly is confirmed, it will be possible to pick out which of the two kinds of leptoquarks would be more likely to explain the muon anomaly.”


CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, is one of the world’s largest and most respected centres for scientific research. Its business is fundamental physics, finding out what the Universe is made of and how it works. At CERN, the world’s largest and most complex scientific instruments are used to study the basic constituents of matter — the fundamental particles. By studying what happens when these particles collide, physicists learn about the laws of Nature.

The instruments used at CERN are particle accelerators and detectors. Accelerators boost beams of particles to high energies before they are made to collide with each other or with stationary targets. Detectors observe and record the results of these collisions.

Founded in 1954, the CERN Laboratory sits astride the Franco–Swiss border near Geneva. It was one of Europe’s first joint ventures and now has 23 Member States.

Related article:

ALICE finds that charm hadronisation differs at the LHC

Related links:

Strengthened by measurements made at Fermilab in the US:

Physical Review Letters:

Standard Model:

Higgs boson:

CMS experiment:

ATLAS experiment:

Large Hadron Collider (LHC):

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

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

Best regards,

Total Solar Eclipses Shine a Light on the Solar Wind with Help from NASA’s ACE Mission


NASA - Advanced Composition Explorer (ACE) patch.

June 18, 2021

From traversing sand dunes in the Sahara Desert to keeping watch for polar bears in the Arctic, a group of solar scientists known as the “Solar Wind Sherpas” led by Shadia Habbal, have traveled to the ends of the Earth to scientifically observe total solar eclipses – the fleeting moments when the Moon completely blocks the Sun, temporarily turning day into night. With the images, they’ve uncovered a surprising finding about the Sun’s wind and its wispy outer atmosphere – the corona – which is only visible in its entirety during an eclipse.

NASA’s Advanced Composition Explorer, or ACE, spacecraft. Image Credit: NASA

From more than a decade’s worth of total eclipse observations taken around the world, the team noticed that the corona maintains a fairly constant temperature, despite dynamical changes to the region that occur on an 11-year rotation known as the solar cycle. Similarly, the solar wind – the steady stream of particles the Sun releases from the corona out across the solar system – matches that same temperature.

“The temperature at the sources of the solar wind in the corona is almost constant throughout a solar cycle,” said Shadia Habbal, a solar researcher at the University of Hawaii who led the study. “This finding is unexpected because coronal structures are driven by changes in the distribution of magnetized plasmas in the corona, which vary so much throughout the 11-year magnetic solar cycle.”

The new findings, published in the Astrophysical Journal Letters, are helping scientists better understand the solar wind, which is a key component of space weather that can impact electronics hardware and astronaut activities in space. The results could also help scientists understand a longstanding solar mystery: how the corona gets to be over a million degrees hotter than lower atmospheric layers.

Image above: Special filters enable scientists to measure different temperatures in the corona during total solar eclipses, such as this one seen in Mitchell, Oregon, on August 21, 2017. The red light is emitted by charged iron particles at 1.8 million degrees Fahrenheit and the green are those at 3.6 million degrees Fahrenheit. Image Credits: Image produced by M. Druckmuller and published in Habbal et al. 2021.

More Than Just Pretty Pictures

Scientists have used total solar eclipses for over a century to learn more about our universe, including deciphering the Sun’s structure and explosive events, finding evidence for the theory of general relativity, and even discovering a new element – helium. While instruments called coronagraphs are able to mimic eclipses, they’re not good enough to access the full extent of the corona that is revealed during a total solar eclipse. Instead, astronomers must travel to far-flung regions of the Earth to observe the corona during eclipses, which occur about every 12 to 18 months and only last a few minutes.

Through travels to Australia, Libya, Mongolia, Oregon, and beyond, the team gathered 14 years of high-resolution total solar eclipse images from around the world. They captured the eclipses using cameras equipped with specialized filters to help them measure the temperatures of the particles from the innermost part of the corona, the sources of the solar wind.

The researchers used light emitted by two common types of charged iron particles in the corona to determine the temperature of the material there. The results unexpectedly showed that the amount of the cooler particles – which were more abundant and found to contribute most of the solar wind material – were surprisingly consistent at different times during the solar cycle. The sparse hotter material varied much more with the solar cycle while the solar wind speed varied from 185 to 435 miles per second.

Image above: A close-up view of a prominence (the pinkish areas) – the coolest and most complex magnetic structure in the corona. Prominences are directly linked to overlying hot arches (the grey loops) in the corona. Their dynamics drive the variable solar wind and eruptions called coronal mass ejections. Prominences are also thought to be directly linked to regional temperature changes in the corona throughout a solar cycle, as they increase with solar activity. Image Credits: Habbal et al. 2021.

“That means that whatever is heating the majority of the corona and solar wind is not very dependent on the Sun’s activity cycle,” said Benjamin Boe, a solar researcher at the University of Hawaii involved in the new research.

The finding is surprising as it suggests that while the majority of solar wind is originating from sources that have a roughly constant temperature, it may have wildly different speeds. “So now the question is, what processes keep the temperature of the sources of the solar wind at a constant value?” Habbal said.

The Dynamic Sun

The team also compared the eclipse data with measurements taken from NASA’s Advanced Composition Explorer, or ACE, spacecraft, which sits in space 1 million miles away from Earth in the direction of the Sun and was also essential in revealing the properties of the dynamic component of the solar wind. The variable speeds of the dynamic wind were distinguished by the variability of the iron charge states associated with them. The spacecraft data showed that the speeds of the particles seen in the variable solar wind changed in relationship to the iron charge states associated with them. The high temperature sheaths around events called prominences, discovered from eclipse observations, were found to be responsible for the dynamic wind and the occasional coronal mass ejection – a large cloud of solar plasma and embedded magnetic fields released into space after a solar eruption.

While the team doesn’t know why the sources of the solar wind are at the same temperature, they think the speeds vary depending on the density of the region they originated from, which itself is determined by the underlying magnetic field. Fast-flying particles come from low-density regions, and slower ones from high-density regions. This is likely because the energy is distributed between all the particles in a region. So in areas where there are fewer particles, there’s more energy for each individual particle. This is similar to splitting a birthday cake – if there are fewer people, there’s more cake for each person.

The new findings provide new insights into the properties of the solar wind, which is a key component of space weather that can impact space-based communication satellites and astronomical observing platforms. The team plans to continue traveling the globe to observe total solar eclipses. They hope their efforts may eventually shed a new light on the longstanding solar mystery: how the corona reaches a temperature of a million degrees, far hotter than the solar surface.

Related links:

Learn more about ACE:

NASA's Parker Solar Probe and the Curious Case of the Hot Corona:

Revealing the Physics of the Sun with Parker Solar Probe:

Images (mentioned), Text, Credits: NASA/Lina Tran/GSFC/By Mara Johnson-Groh.


jeudi 17 juin 2021

Station Crew Preps for Sunday Spacewalk, Works Space Science


ISS - Expedition 65 Mission patch.

June 17, 2021

International Space Station (ISS). Animation Credit: NASA

The Expedition 65 crew is checking spacesuits and tools following Wednesday’s spacewalk while also getting ready for a second spacewalk on Sunday. There was also time aboard the International Space Station for ongoing research and maintenance.

Astronauts Shane Kimbrough and Thomas Pesquet completed Wednesday’s spacewalk after seven hours and 15 minutes beginning the installation of a pair of new roll out solar arrays. The duo now turns its attention to a Sunday spacewalk to continue more solar array installation work on the orbiting lab’s P-6 truss segment. NASA TV will begin its live coverage at 6:30 a.m. EDT for all the spacewalk activities.

Astronaut Shane Kimbrough on Twitter

The spacewalkers and their assistants NASA Flight Engineers Megan McArthur and Mark Vande Hei began Thursday morning relaxing. The quartet then spent the day checking spacesuit components, organizing spacewalk tools and calling down to the ground for a conference with specialists.

Space science continued today, as Commander Akihiko Hoshide spent some time servicing samples for a study to improve quality and extend the shelf-life of medicines on Earth and in space. Vande Hei also worked a couple of hours on the Oral Biofilms experiment investigating how bacteria is affected by microgravity and ways to counteract harmful changes.

Image above: Astronaut Thomas Pesquet is pictured attached to the end of the Canadarm2 robotic arm during a spacewalk to install new roll out solar arrays. Image Credit: NASA TV.

Cosmonaut Pyotr Dubrov began Thursday morning exploring how microgravity impacts the immune system before moving on and studying ways to maximize the effectiveness of space exercise. Fellow Roscosmos Flight Engineer Oleg Novitskiy worked on a variety of Russian station hardware and swapped samples inside the Electromagnetic Levitator for a study observing chill-cooled industrial alloys.

Related links:

Expedition 65:

P-6 truss segment:

Medicines on Earth and in space:

Oral Biofilms:

Immune system:

Space exercise:

Electromagnetic Levitator:

Chill-cooled industrial alloys:

Space Station Research and Technology:

International Space Station (ISS):

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

Best regards,

Mars helicopter kicks up ‘cool’ dust clouds — and unexpected science


NASA - Mars Helicopter Ingenuity logo.

June 17, 2021

Videos of the surprising phenomenon could help researchers to better understand natural ‘dust devils’ blowing across the red planet.

Animation above: NASA’s Ingenuity helicopter is the first spacecraft to successfully achieve controlled flight on another planet. Animation Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASU/MSSS.

Ingenuity, NASA’s pint-sized Mars helicopter, has kicked up some surprising science on its flights over the red planet. When whizzing through the Martian air, its blades sometimes stir up a dust cloud that envelops and travels along with the tiny chopper.

In several videos of Ingenuity’s flights, planetary scientists have seen dust whirling beneath the helicopter’s rotors — even when Ingenuity is flying as high as 5 metres above the Martian surface. That suggests that dust can get lifted and transported in the thin Martian air more easily than researchers had suspected.

“It’s really cool,” says Mark Lemmon, a planetary scientist at the Space Science Institute in Boulder, Colorado.

Animation above: On its fourth flight, on 30 April, Ingenuity kicked up a large bolus of dust that travelled along with the helicopter as it flew, as shown in this video taken by Perseverance. Animation Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASU/MSSS/SSI.

Mars is a dusty planet, so it’s not surprising that the helicopter kicks up dust during takeoff and landing, much as helicopters on Earth do when operating in the desert. Engineers designed Ingenuity to operate with a lot of dust blowing around as it takes off and lands. But scientists are surprised by how the dust interacts with the drone during flight. By watching how Ingenuity entrains dust as it flies, researchers can better understand the dynamics of Mars’s thin atmosphere, where tornado-like ‘dust devils’ often form when the Sun heats the air and afternoon winds begin to blow.

“There’s an unanticipated atmospheric science experiment coming out of this,” says Jim Bell, a planetary scientist at Arizona State University in Tempe.

Ingenuity is what NASA calls a technology demonstration, whose only goal is to show that flight on Mars is possible. So "anything we can learn from it scientifically is icing on the cake", says Brian Jackson, a physicist at Boise State University in Idaho who studies Martian dust.

Bizarre dust clouds

Space scientists and amateur image processors have been analysing images and videos of the helicopter that NASA has posted online.

The agency's Perseverance rover carried Ingenuity to the surface of Mars in February. Its job is to roll around Jezero Crater and explore the rocks that were once part of an ancient lake, to look for signs of past life. In April, Ingenuity became the first machine to achieve powered flight on another planet. It has made seven flights so far.

Image above: Dust devils like this one, 20 kilometres high and captured by NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, regularly swirl across the Martian surface. Image Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UA.

On the first two flights, Ingenuity kicked up a fair amount of dust as it rose 3 to 5 metres above the surface, but it didn’t travel far from its takeoff point and the dust cloud phenomenon wasn’t pronounced. On its third flight, the helicopter rose 5 metres and then flew north from its takeoff point, kicking up a cloud from several light-coloured patches it flew over on the Martian surface. Those patches might be small hollows where dust has collected in the Martian landscape, says Lemmon. “A lot more dust comes up at that moment” when the helicopter flies over them, he says.

Ingenuity’s blades spin at more than 2,400 revolutions per minute — a dizzying rate necessary for the helicopter to achieve lift in the Martian atmosphere, which is just 1% the density of Earth's.

It was Ingenuity’s fourth flight, on 30 April, that really intrigued scientists. A video, recorded by Perseverance from a vantage point nearby, shows the helicopter rise, disappear from view, and then re-appear while enveloped in an enormous cloud of dust following a 133-metre flight.

The video confirms that Ingenuity was flying along with the 3.5-metre-per-second wind, says Håvard Grip, the helicopter's chief pilot at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. "The dust was getting carried beneath us," he says.

Lemmon plans to compare tracks on the Martian surface left behind by natural dust devils with those where the helicopter kicked up the most dust. That will help researchers to better understand how winds blowing across Mars can lift dust and spin it into dust devils. The Martian atmosphere is so thin that scientists have had a hard time explaining how so much dust gets aloft, says Jackson. "We have to know how that first step in the process works," he says.

Mars Helicopter Ingenuity. Image Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Ingenuity ran into some trouble on its sixth flight, on 22 May; it began wobbling because of a glitch in its navigation system, but managed to land safely. On its seventh flight, on 8 June, it flew 106 metres with no problem.

The helicopter has been wildly successful in demonstrating flight on other worlds, says Grip. In the future, bigger helicopters could travel long distances and scout out areas where wheeled vehicles cannot travel. "It's just so clear that this is definitely a way that could be used to explore Mars," he says.

Ingenuity will now tag along as Perseverance begins to roll south from its landing site. The helicopter will probably make additional flights every two weeks or so from now until the end of August, when operations are expected to draw to a close.

Perseverance has been exploring the rocks that make up Jezero Crater’s ancient lake bed. Team scientists are in the process of deciding where to drill to collect their first geological sample — either from the fractured rock that makes up the crater floor, or from a dune-laden region nearby. It will be the first in a collection of rock cores that are destined for pickup by future spacecraft, which will fly the material back to Earth — in the first-ever sample return from Mars.


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, the NASA Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate, and the NASA Space Technology Mission Directorate. NASA’s Ames Research Center and Langley Research Center provided significant flight performance analysis and technical assistance.

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.

JPL, which is managed for NASA by Caltech in Pasadena, California, built and manages operations of the Ingenuity Mars Helicopter.

For more information about Ingenuity: and

Images (mentioned), Animations (mentioned), Text, Credits: NASA/JPL/Nature/Alexandra Witze.

Best regards,

SpaceX - Falcon 9 launches GPS III SV05


SpaceX - Falcon 9 / GPS III SV05 Mission patch.

June 17, 2021

Falcon 9 launches GPS III SV05

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launched the GPS III Space Vehicle 05 mission (GPS III SV05) from Space Launch Complex 40 (SLC-40) at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida, on 17 June 2021, at 16:09 UTC (14:09 EDT).

Falcon 9 launches GPS III SV05 and Falcon 9 first stage landing

GPS III SV05 is the United States Space Force’s fifth Global Positioning System III space vehicle (SV).

Falcon 9’s first stage landing on the “Just Read the Instructions” drone-ship

Following stage separation, Falcon 9’s first stage (B1062) landed on the “Just Read the Instructions” drone-ship, stationed in the Atlantic Ocean, having previously supported launch of GPS III Space Vehicle 04.

GPS III SV05 satellite

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launches the U.S. Space Force’s fifth third-generation navigation satellite for the Global Positioning System. The satellite was built by Lockheed Martin.


Lockheed Martin Space:

Images, Video, Text Credits: Lockheed Martin/SpaceX/SciNews/ Aerospace/Roland Berga.


Space sustainability rating to shine light on debris problem


ESA - Space for sustainability logo.

June 17, 2021

There’s a problem brewing overhead. Invisible to the naked eye and relatively unheard of, it threatens our future in space – space debris.

A new ‘Space Sustainability Rating’ is currently in development that will shed light on the problem, scoring space operators on the sustainability of their missions, increasing the transparency of their contributions to protecting the space environment and encouraging and recognising responsible behaviour.

Space Sustainability Rating graphic

The global initiative, launched by the World Economic Forum, is the first of its kind. In a situation in which no single government or authority has the power to set and enforce strict rules of behaviour for all space-faring organisations, this project promises to be a game changer.

Much like the energy efficiency and nutrition labels now common on household items, food products and consumer goods, the Space Sustainability Rating will make clear what individual companies and organisations are doing to sustain and improve the health of the near-Earth environment.

Sustainability rating enters next phase

The SSR initiative has been developed over the past two years by the Forum, ESA and a joint team led by the Space Enabled Research Group at the MIT Media Lab, with collaboration from BryceTech and the University of Texas at Austin.

For the crucial next step, the Space Center (eSpace) at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Lausanne (EPFL) has been selected to lead and operate the Space Sustainability Rating in preparation for its roll out.

“The Forum is very glad to support such an innovative approach to the global challenge of space debris,” says Nikolai Khlystov, Community Lead for Mobility and Space at the World Economic Forum.

“Incentivising better behaviour by enabling actors to compete on sustainability will create a ‘race to the top’ and eSpace at EPFL is a great organisation to take the SSR to the next level.”

ESA measures the impact

The SSR rating system will score the sustainability of spaceflight operators based on factors ranging from data sharing, choice of orbit, measures taken to avoid collisions and plans to de-orbit satellites at end of mission to how easily their satellites can be detected and identified from the ground. There will be ‘bonus marks’ for adding optional elements, such as grappling fixtures, that could be used for the possible future active removal of debris.

Sentinel-1A fragment impact in space

“The SSR aims to influence behaviour by all spaceflight actors, especially commercial entities, and help bring into common usage the sustainable practices that we desperately require,” said Holger Krag, Head of ESA’s Space Safety Programme.

"To achieve this, the SSR rating includes a peer-reviewed assessment of the short- and long-term risks that any mission presents to other operators and for our orbital environment in general."

Powered by ESA expertise

ESA’s Space Debris Office, located at the Agency’s ESOC mission control centre in Darmstadt, Germany, has for years studied the debris environment, becoming a world-leading authority on this issue of global concern.

The Agency’s role in the development of the Space Sustainability Rating includes helping to define the ‘rating architecture’, i.e. the criteria on which space missions should be judged, and providing expert analysis, data and technical know-how developed over many years.

What are satellites up against when it comes to space debris?

One particularly important component of the SSR is the new methodology for quantifying the space debris risk associated with a mission. It takes into account the additional burden the new mission poses to the operations of existing ones and its potential impact on the long-term evolution of the space debris environment.

Once the rating system has entered operation, ESA will support EPFL in evaluating this potential impact for new space missions. The Agency will also take a seat on the Space Sustainability Rating Advisory Board, as well as continuing to assist in many other ways.

Rewarding good behaviour

Satellites have become the backbone of our modern economies, providing navigation services, telecommunications, weather forecasting, climate monitoring and television broadcasts among many other critical services. Humankind’s reliance on space infrastructure is set to increase sharply with the launch of large constellations of small satellites designed to boost global internet access among other important services.

There are currently close to 4,000 active satellites in orbit, including the inhabited outposts of the International Space Station and the Tiangong Space Station, currently under construction.

Distribution of space debris in orbit around Earth

Exponential growth

As many more organisations from many more countries prepare to launch new missions, this number is set to grow exponentially. This will inevitably increase the risk of collisions and raises questions about the capacity of economically vital near-Earth orbits to safely and sustainably accommodate so many craft.

By voluntarily joining the new SSR system, spacecraft operators, launch service providers and satellite manufacturers will be able to secure one of four levels of certification that they can advertise widely to demonstrate their mission’s commitment to sustainability.

Boosting transparency and doing right

This will increase transparency – without disclosing any mission-sensitive or proprietary commercial information – and is expected to incentivise good behaviour by other stakeholders in addressing the problem of space debris. A favourable score for a particular rated operator might, for example, result in lower insurance costs or improved funding conditions from financial backers.

Ghosts of historic space endeavours – old satellites and rocket bodies – litter Earth orbits. While missions are being developed to remove some of these objects, it's vital that we don't repeat the mistakes of the past. The Space Sustainability Rating will play an important part in wider measures to ensure the responsible use of space, and its sustainable future for all.

About the Space Sustainability Rating

Over the two-year development period of the SSR, numerous operators within the space industry have been engaged in the evolution of the rating system and there is already widespread interest in this new tool. Several companies, including Airbus, Astroscale, AXA XL, elseco, Lockheed Martin, Planet, SpaceX and Voyager Space Holdings, have actively supported the SSR concept and expressed interest in participating once it is publicly launched. More information via the World Economic Forum website:

Related links:

Space Enabled Research Group at the MIT Media Lab:


University of Texas at Austin:

Space Center (eSpace) at EPFL:

Space Debris:

Safety & Security:

Images, Video, Text, Credits: European Space Agency (ESA).


China sends its first crew to its Space Station


CNSA - China Space Station - Shenzhou-12 Mission patch.

June 17, 2021

The Long March-2F Y12 launch vehicle

The Long March-2F Y12 launch vehicle is an improved model, designed for “high reliability and safety” according to the chief designer Rong Yi. Long March-2F Y12 is scheduled to launch the Shenzhou-12 crewed spacecraft from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center, Gansu Province, China, on 17 June 2021.

Shenzhou-12 launch

The Long March-2F Y12 launch vehicle launched the Shenzhou-12 crewed spacecraft from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center, Gansu Province, China, on 17 June 2021, at 01:22 UTC (09:22 China Standard Time).

Shenzhou-12 launch

Shenzhou-12 (神舟十二号) transports the first three astronauts, Nie Haisheng (commander), Liu Boming and Tang Hongbo, to the China Space Station (中国空间站), informally known as Tiangong (天宫, Heavenly Palace).

Shenzhou-12 docking

The Shenzhou-12 crewed spacecraft autonomously docked to the Tianhe core module on 17 June 2021, at 07:54 UTC (15:54 China Standard Time).

Shenzhou-12 docking

Shenzhou-12 (神舟十二号) transports the first three astronauts, Nie Haisheng (commander), Liu Boming and Tang Hongbo, to the China Space Station (中国空间站), informally known as Tiangong (天宫, Heavenly Palace). The Tianhe core module (天和核心舱) is the first and main component of CSS, with the Tianzhou-2 (天舟二号) cargo spacecraft already docked.

The first taikonauts (astronauts in Chinese) on board the China Space Station

Shenzhou-12 hatch opening: the Shenzhou-12 crew entered the Tianhe core moduleon 17 June 2021, at 10:48 UTC (18:48 China Standard Time).

The first taikonauts on board the China Space Station

Taikonauts Nie Haisheng (commander), Liu Boming and Tang Hongbo will spend three months on board Tianhe core module (天和核心舱), the first and main component of the China Space Station (中国空间站), informally known as Tiangong (天宫, Heavenly Palace).

For more information about China National Space Administration (CNSA), visit:

Images, Videos, Text Credits: China Central Television (CCTV)/CASC/China National Space Administration (CNSA)/ SciNews/ Aerospace/Roland Berga.

Best regards,

mercredi 16 juin 2021

The Summer 2021 issue of ROOM is available now


ROOM #36 cover.

June 16, 2021

G7 nations commit to the safe and sustainable use of space

G7 leaders from Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the USA, the UK and the EU pledged to take action to tackle the growing hazard of space debris as Earth orbits becomes increasingly crowded and dangerous.

In a statement issued at the end of the G7 summit, hosted in Cornwall at the weekend by the UK, nations pledged support for “the safe and sustainable use of space to support humanity’s ambitions now and in the future”.

The announcement was welcomed by Clive Simpson, Editor-in-Chief of ROOM Space Journal of Asgardia, which regularly champions issues around space sustainability.

Writing in the just published Summer 2021 issue of ROOM, he calls for global space companies and national agencies to take more responsibility, and suggests the space industry urgently needs stringent sustainability guidelines.

“As global populations grapple with the daily effects of climate change and pollution, the lessons of how we have mismanaged the environment and its resources are plain to see. The same is true for space, even if the outcomes of our inactions today may only become apparent in the future,” he says.

“While space sustainability has been a topic of discussion among academics and technologists for decades, the importance of protecting Earth's orbital environment and the expanding sphere of our new domain has never been more relevant.”

Simpson says that, in the absence of robust, internationally agreed and long-term sustainability laws and guidelines, it is doubtful that commercial space companies - and some state players - can be relied on to police themselves in the space realm.

“The questions surrounding space debris and the threat it poses become more urgent with every launch and, at present, the solutions on any level are far from certain. Now is the time to make sustainability a priority,” he adds.

Space debris (Illustration)

One of the biggest global challenges facing the growing space sector is orbital congestion and space debris - with a currently estimated 900,000 pieces of space debris, some of which could stay in orbit for hundreds of years and present a real danger to the rapidly increasing number of new satellites being launched every year.

In a joint statement the G7 nations recognised the growing hazard of space debris and increasing congestion in Earth orbit:

- As the orbit of our planet is a fragile and valuable environment that is becoming increasingly crowded, which all nations must act together to safeguard, we agree to strengthen our efforts to ensure the sustainable use of space for the benefit and in the interests of all countries.

- We welcome the United Nation’s Long Term Sustainability Guidelines and call on others to join us in implementing these guidelines.

- We welcome all efforts, public and commercial, in debris removal and on-orbit servicing activities and undertake to encourage further institutional or industrial research and development of these services.

- We recognise the importance of developing common standards, best practices and guidelines related to sustainable space operations alongside the need for a collaborative approach for space traffic management and co-ordination.

- We call on all nations to work together, through groups like the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space, the International Organization for Standardization and the Inter-Agency Space Debris Coordination Committee, to preserve the space environment for future generations.

The G7 announcement is viewed as a significant milestone in recognising the need to develop common standards on sustainable space operations, and to collaborate on space traffic management and coordination.

Simonetta Di Pippo, Director of the UN Office for Outer Space Affairs, said: “There is an urgent need to stabilise global space operations. We must future-proof activities now to deliver a safe, secure and sustainable space environment for tomorrow.

“I welcome this clear commitment by G7 leaders to put space sustainability at the heart of the political agenda. Only through such leadership, with all nations working together, will we preserve the space environment for future generations.”

Mert Evirgen, of Northern Space Security, also advocates the need for legally binding guidelines in his article Collision avoidance - time for agreement on space sustainability, which appears in the Summer 2021 issue of ROOM.

“It is now up to the international space community to show that it is serious about managing the space environment in a responsible and sustainable fashion. Adherence to the principles articulated within these guidelines would be a good place to start,” he says.

                                                                             *         *         *

The Summer 2021 issue of ROOM is available now. It contains a wealth of high quality special reports and articles, including: China’s ascending commercial space sector (Blaine Curcio), Robotic systems for psychological support (Anastasia Stepanova), Autonomous robots in space (Saber Fallah & Tatiana Farcas), Collaboration and competition in lunar exploration (Natalia Larrea Brito & Charlotte Croison), Is NewSpace really so new? (Walter Peeters), The next ‘unthinkable’ – global disruption from a solar storm (Calogero Nicosia), Space research in embryology (Irena Ogneva) and A shared vision for space exploration (Gabriel Swiney).

For your own digital or print copy click here - subscription offers:

Related links:

ROOM Space Journal:

Asgardia The Space Nation:

Images, Text, Credits: ROOM/Clive Simpson/Editor for Aerospace/Roland Berga.

Best regards,