samedi 24 juillet 2021

ROSCOSMOS - MCC carried out two more orbit corrections of the Nauka module


ROSCOSMOS - Nauka (Science) Module patch.

July 24, 2021

On Saturday, July 24, 2021, specialists of the flight control group of the multipurpose laboratory module "Science" at the Mission Control Center of TsNIIMash (part of the State Corporation Roscosmos) conducted two corrective maneuvers of the module launched on Wednesday to the International Space Station.

Image above: Skywatcher discovers Russia’s Nauka science module heading to the International Space Station (ISS).

The next pulses for further orbit alignment are scheduled for July 27th.

Related article:

Experts have worked out test corrections of the orbit of the "Nauka" module

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ROSCOSMOS Press Release:

RSC Energia:

Science Module "Nauka":

Image, Text, Credits: ROSCOSMOS/ Aerospace/Roland Berga.

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Hubble Views a Faraway Galaxy Through a Cosmic Lens


NASA / ESA - Hubble Space Telescope (HST) patch.

Jul 24, 2021

The center of this image from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope is framed by the tell-tale arcs that result from strong gravitational lensing, a striking astronomical phenomenon which can warp, magnify, or even duplicate the appearance of distant galaxies.

Gravitational lensing occurs when light from a distant galaxy is subtly distorted by the gravitational pull of an intervening astronomical object. In this case, the relatively nearby galaxy cluster MACSJ0138.0-2155 has lensed a significantly more distant inactive galaxy – a slumbering giant known as MRG-M0138 which has run out of the gas required to form new stars and is located 10 billion light-years away. Astronomers can use gravitational lensing as a natural magnifying glass, allowing them to inspect objects like distant dormant galaxies which would usually be too difficult for even Hubble to resolve.

This image was made using observations from eight different infrared filters spread across two of Hubble’s most advanced astronomical instruments: the Advanced Camera for Surveys and the Wide Field Camera 3. These instruments were installed by astronauts during the final two servicing missions to Hubble and provide astronomers with superbly detailed observations across a large area of sky and a wide range of wavelengths.

Hubble Space Telescope (HST)

For more information about Hubble, visit:

Image, Animation Credits: ESA/Hubble & NASA, A. Newman, M. Akhshik, K. Whitaker/Text Credits: NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Claire Andreoli.


Comet Mcholtz


Moscow Planetarium logo.

July 24, 2021

According to scientists, the main source of short-period comets is the Kuiper belt. The Oort Cloud is the supplier of almost all long-period comets entering the inner solar system. In extremely rare cases, interstellar objects can be captured while passing near the solar system and transferred by the gravity of the Sun into a heliocentric orbit, even becoming a short-period comet. Comet 96P / Machholz (96P / Machholz) is an example of such an object.

The comet was discovered by American amateur astronomer Donald McHoltz on May 12, 1986 at the peak of Loma Prieta in California. The comet has a fairly short orbital period around the Sun - 5.3 years. The comet is unique in several orbital characteristics: a highly elongated orbit (e = 0.959), an unusually high inclination to the ecliptic plane - 58 ° and an extremely low perihelion value - 0.123 AU. e. Not a single short-period comet has come so close to the Sun.

The comet has a very unusual chemical composition. Spectroscopic studies have shown that the content of cyanogen (C₂N₂) in its composition is 72 times less than in ordinary comets. All these data suggest that the comet flew into the solar system from interstellar space.

Source: Moscow Planetarium.

Related links:

ROSCOSMOS Press Release:

Moscow Planetarium:


Images, Text, Credits: ROSCOSMOS/Moscow Planetarium/ Aerospace/Roland Berga.

Best regards,

Experts have worked out test corrections of the orbit of the "Nauka" module


ROSCOSMOS - Nauka (Science) Module patch.

July 24, 2021

On Thursday, July 22, 2021, specialists of the flight control group of the multipurpose module "Nauka" in the Moscow Region Mission Control Center conducted two corrective maneuvers of the module launched the day before to the International Space Station.

The first maneuver took place at 18:07 Moscow time, when the engines of the module were turned on for 17.23 seconds. The impulse value was 1 m / s. The second switching on of the engines took place at 20:19 Moscow time and lasted 250.04 seconds. The impulse was 14.59 m / s.

Orbital parameters after two impulses:

    Orbital period: 90.17 min;
    Orbit inclination: 51.64 degrees;
    Minimum orbital altitude: 230.43 km;
    Maximum orbital altitude: 364.86 km.

Thus, the telemetry data confirmed the operability of the module's propulsion system. The next pulses for further orbit building are scheduled for tomorrow, July 23rd. Undocking and flooding of the Pirs module is scheduled for Saturday 24 July.

MCC carried out two corrections of the orbit of the "Nauka" module

On Friday, July 23, 2021, specialists of the flight control group of the multipurpose module "Nauka" at the Mission Control Center of TsNIIMash (part of the State Corporation "Roscosmos") conducted two corrective maneuvers of the module launched on Wednesday to the International Space Station.

The next pulses for further orbit alignment are scheduled for July 24th.

Related links:

ROSCOSMOS Press Release:

ROSCOSMOS Press Release:

RSC Energia:

Science Module "Nauka":

Image, Text, Credits: ROSCOSMOS/ Aerospace/Roland Berga.


vendredi 23 juillet 2021

Crewmembers Finish Science Experiments


ISS - Expedition 65 Mission patch.

July 23, 2021

The Expedition 65 crew capped off this week’s research activities aboard the International Space Station by making headway with various science experiments related to human health and materials performance.

Russian flight controllers continued systems testing Friday on the new Nauka Multipurpose Laboratory Module as it heads toward the International Space Station for a scheduled docking next week.

Image above: Expedition 65 Flight Engineer Thomas Pesquet of the European Space Agency is pictured inside the Columbus laboratory module setting up hardware for the GRIP experiment. Image Credit: NASA.

ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Thomas Pesquet finished the third part of three GRIP tasks. For the experiment, Pesquet performed a set of movements in the supine position. The GRIP experiment studies the long-duration spaceflight effects on the abilities of human subjects to regulate grip force and upper-limbs trajectories when manipulating objects during different kinds of movements.

Commander Akihiko Hoshide, a Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency astronaut, reconfigured the Cell Biology Experiment Facility – Left (CBEF-L), which is used to conduct space plant research. CBEF-L is an upgraded version of an original facility aboard the space station and provides new capabilities and resources, such as a full high-definition video interface, ethernet, 24 power supply, and a larger-diameter centrifugal test environment.

Hoshide, Pesquet, and NASA Flight Engineers Mark Vande Hei, Shane Kimbrough, and Megan McArthur also took turns undergoing eye exams using a remote ultrasound device. Some astronauts have reported experiencing vision changes during and after spaceflight, and the exams provide insight into how spaceflight affects the eye health of crews throughout the mission.

International Space Station (ISS). Animation Credit: NASA

Kimbrough and McArthur continued conducting runs for the Investigating the Structure of Paramagnetic Aggregates from Colloidal Ellipsoids, or InSPACE-4. For the investigation, the pair took turns distributing particles within the sample vial and activated research equipment. InSpace-4 studies the assembly of tiny structures from colloids using magnetic fields and could shed light on how to harness nanoparticles to fabricate and manufacture new materials.

Additionally, McArthur had a chance to complete a Robotic On-Board Trainer for Research (ROBoT-r) session as part of the Behavioral Core Measures experiment. The purpose of the study is to reliably assess the risk of adverse cognitive or behavioral conditions during extended spaceflight missions. Sessions are completed monthly, starting within two weeks of an astronaut’s arrival on station.

Related links:

Expedition 65:



Behavioral Core Measures:

Space Station Research and Technology:

International Space Station (ISS):

Image (mentioned), Animation (mentioned), Text, Credits: NASA/Deepthi Cauligi.

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China’s space station is preparing to host 1,000 scientific experiments


CMS - China Manned Space logo.

July 23, 2021

Researchers around the world are eagerly awaiting the completion of Tiangong, to study topics from dark matter and gravitational waves to the growth of cancer and pathogenic bacteria.

Image above: Chinese astronaut Nie Haisheng works inside the Tianhe module. Image Credit: Jin Liwang/Xinhua/eyevine.

China launched the core of its space station in April, and sent three astronauts up in June. But although it probably won’t be complete until late 2022, there is already a long queue of experiments from across the world waiting to go up. Scientists in China told Nature that the China Manned Space Agency (CMSA) has tentatively approved more than 1,000 experiments, several of which have already been launched.

Before April, the International Space Station (ISS) was the only space laboratory in orbit, and many researchers say Tiangong (or ‘heavenly palace’) is a welcome addition for astronomical and Earth observation, and for studying how microgravity and cosmic radiation affect phenomena such as bacterial growth and fluid mixing.

However, others argue that crewed space stations are costly, and serve more of a political than a scientific purpose.

“Increased scientific access to space is of scientific benefit globally, no matter who builds and operates platforms,” says Julie Robinson, chief scientist for human exploration and operations at NASA Headquarters, in Washington DC.

“We need more space stations, because one space station is definitely not enough,” adds Agnieszka Pollo, an astrophysicist at the National Centre for Nuclear Research in Warsaw, who is part of a team sending an experiment to study γ-ray bursts.

Open to the world

The ISS was launched in 1998, as a partnership between space agencies from the United States, Russia, Europe, Japan and Canada (see ‘Variations on a theme’). It has housed more than 3,000 experiments since then, but China is barred from it because of US rules that prohibit NASA from using funds for collaboration with China.

Although most experiments slated for Tiangong will involve Chinese researchers, China says that its space station will be open to collaboration from all countries, including the United States.

In June 2019, the CMSA and the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA), which promotes collaboration in space, selected nine experiments — in addition to the 1,000 that China has tentatively approved — to go up once the space station is complete. Simonetta Di Pippo, director of UNOOSA in Vienna, says these involve 23 institutions in 17 nations.

China previously launched two small space labs — Tiangong-1 and Tiangong-2. These hosted more than 100 experiments, circling Earth for a number of years, but are no longer in orbit.

The space station offers brand new facilities, and China is encouraging experiments not attempted in space before, says Tricia Larose, a medical researcher at the University of Oslo, who is leading a project planned for 2026. “They’re saying, yes, build your hardware, make it brand new, do something that has never been done before, and send it up to us.”

Although most projects approved so far are led by Chinese researchers, many have international collaborators, says Zhang Shuang-Nan, an astrophysicist at the Chinese Academy of Science’s (CAS’s) Institute of High Energy Physics in Beijing, who advises the CMSA.

‘The playrooms of scientists’

The first section of Tiangong to arrive was a core module known as Tianhe (‘harmony of the heavens’). In late May, a cargo ship named Tianzhou-2 (‘heavenly ship’) was sent up and docked, delivering fuel, space suits and experimental equipment. In June, three Chinese astronauts — or ‘taikonauts’ — aboard Shenzhou-12 (‘divine vessel’) also docked, entering the 17-metre-long chamber that will be their home for the next three months.

Over the next year or more, the CMSA will send another eight missions to Tiangong. Two will deliver the Wentian (‘quest for heavens’) and Mengtian (‘dreaming of heavens’) modules, which will mainly house scientific experiments (see ‘China’s first space station’).

Image credits: Adrian Mann/Stocktrek Images/Alamy

These will be “the playrooms of scientists”, says Paulo de Souza, a physicist at Griffith University in Brisbane, Australia, who develops sensors used in space.

The space station will have more than 20 experimental racks, which are mini-labs with closed, pressurized environments, says Yang Yang, director of international cooperation at the CAS Technology and Engineering Center for Space Utilization in Beijing. Outside, there will be 67 connection points for research hardware facing Earth or the sky, says Yang, and a powerful central computer will process data from experiments before beaming them back to Earth.

Organoids and dark matter

The experiments being sent up to the new space station encompass numerous fields. Zhang is the principal investigator for HERD (High Energy Cosmic-Radiation Detection facility), which is a partnership involving Italy, Switzerland, Spain and Germany, slated for 2027. This particle detector will study dark matter and cosmic rays, and will cost some 1 billion to 2 billion yuan (US$155 million to $310 million), says Zhang.

Zhang and Pollo are also involved in POLAR-2, which will study the polarization of γ-rays emitted from large and distant explosions, with the goal of clarifying the properties of γ-ray bursts, and possibly even gravitational waves.

Larose plans to send up 3D blobs of healthy and cancerous intestinal tissue, known as organoids. She wants to find out whether the very-low-gravity environment will slow or stop the growth of the cancerous cells, which might lead to new therapies.

Image above: Taikonuat' Liu Boming performs Chinese second ever spacewalk after arriving at Tiangong in June. Image Credits: Jin Liwang/Xinhua/eyevine.

Other projects from scientists in India and Mexico will study ultraviolet emissions from nebulae and infrared data from Earth to study meteorological conditions and what drives intense storms.

Despite many of the projects being partnerships between Chinese and Western scientists, geopolitical tensions have made collaborations more difficult, notes Larose. She says Norway has yet to sign a bilateral agreement with China that would give her project the green light. Merlin Kole, an astrophysicist at the University of Geneva in Switzerland, who is also working on POLAR-2, adds that stricter adherence to export regulations means there is added bureaucracy around sending electronic hardware to China.

But Di Pippo says that tensions have so far had no impact on the progress of projects selected by UNOOSA, adding that the agency is discussing with the CMSA to send more experiments to Tiangong by the end of next year.

Scientific bang for buck

Some scientists have argued that crewed space stations are a waste of money — the cost of Tiangong has not been made public, but the ISS cost some €100 billion (US$118 billion) to build and maintain for its first decade.

“You’d get a much bigger scientific bang for the buck with robotic missions,” says Gregory Kulacki, an analyst on China security issues for the Union of Concerned Scientists, an advocacy group headquartered in Cambridge, Massachusetts. “Within China, as within the United States, there has been a tension between scientists who want to do the best science they possibly can, and who prefer robotic missions, and governments who want to use human space-flight programmes largely for political purposes.”

Core Module 4 docking to complete China Space Station. Animation Credit: CNSA

But other researchers point out that although satellites offer an alternative for some observations, for many experiments, particularly those requiring microgravity, crewed space stations are essential. They provide a home for long-term observations, data-processing capacity and access for astronauts who can perform maintenance tasks and run experiments.

Furthermore, as well as housing experiments from researchers, Tiangong is intended to test human space-travel technologies to support China’s space-exploration goals, says Zhang.

With current ISS funding only running to sometime between 2024 and 2028, it’s also possible that Tiangong will eventually become Earth’s only space station in operation.

Tiangong is projected to operate for at least a decade, and China already has plans to launch other spacecraft to work in tandem with it. The China Survey Space Telescope, or Xuntian (‘survey the heavens’), is a two-metre optical telescope that will rival NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope and periodically dock with Tiangong for refuelling and maintenance. Set to launch in 2023, it will have a larger field of view for peering into the deep Universe than does Hubble.


Related link:

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

Images (mentioned), Animation (mentioned), Text, Credits: Nature/Smriti Mallapaty.


Artificial Intelligence Helps Improve NASA’s Eyes on the Sun


NASA - Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) patch.

July 23, 2021

A group of researchers is using artificial intelligence techniques to calibrate some of NASA’s images of the Sun, helping improve the data that scientists use for solar research. The new technique was published in the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics on April 13, 2021.

A solar telescope has a tough job. Staring at the Sun takes a harsh toll, with a constant  bombardment by a never-ending stream of solar particles and intense sunlight. Over time, the sensitive lenses and sensors of solar telescopes begin to degrade. To ensure the data such instruments send back is still accurate, scientists recalibrate periodically to make sure they understand just how the instrument is changing.

Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO). Animation Credit: NASA

Launched in 2010, NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory, or SDO, has provided high-definition images of the Sun for over a decade. Its images have given scientists a detailed look at various solar phenomena that can spark space weather and affect our astronauts and technology on Earth and in space. The Atmospheric Imagery Assembly, or AIA, is one of two imaging instruments on SDO and looks constantly at the Sun, taking images across 10 wavelengths of ultraviolet light every 12 seconds. This creates a wealth of information of the Sun like no other, but – like all Sun-staring instruments – AIA degrades over time, and the data needs to be frequently calibrated.

Image above: This image shows seven of the ultraviolet wavelengths observed by the Atmospheric Imaging Assembly on board NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory. The top row is observations taken from May 2010 and the bottom row shows observations from 2019, without any corrections, showing how the instrument degraded over time. Image Credits: Luiz Dos Santos/NASA GSFC.

Since SDO’s launch, scientists have used sounding rockets to calibrate AIA. Sounding rockets are smaller rockets that typically only carry a few instruments and take short flights into space –  usually only 15 minutes. Crucially, sounding rockets fly above most of Earth’s atmosphere, allowing instruments on board to to see the ultraviolet wavelengths measured by AIA. These wavelengths of light are absorbed by Earth’s atmosphere and can’t be measured from the ground. To calibrate AIA, they would attach an ultraviolet telescope to a sounding rocket and compare that data to the measurements from AIA. Scientists can then make adjustments to account for any changes in AIA’s data.

Images above: The Sun seen by AIA in 304 Angstrom light in 2021 before degradation correction (above) and with corrections from a sounding rocket calibration (below). Images Credits: NASA GSFC.

There are some drawbacks to the sounding rocket method of calibration. Sounding rockets can only launch so often, but AIA is constantly looking at the Sun. That means there’s downtime where the calibration is slightly off in between each sounding rocket calibration.

“It’s also important for deep space missions, which won’t have the option of sounding rocket calibration,” said Dr. Luiz Dos Santos, a solar physicist  at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, and lead author on the paper. “We’re tackling two problems at once.”

Virtual calibration

With these challenges in mind, scientists decided to look at other options to calibrate the instrument, with an eye towards constant calibration. Machine learning, a technique used in artificial intelligence, seemed like a perfect fit.

As the name implies, machine learning requires a computer program, or algorithm, to learn how to perform its task.

First, researchers needed to train a machine learning algorithm to recognize solar structures and how to compare them using AIA data. To do this, they give the algorithm images from sounding rocket calibration flights and tell it the correct amount of calibration they need. After enough of these examples, they give the algorithm similar images and see if it would identify the correct calibration needed. With enough data, the algorithm learns to identify how much calibration is needed for each image.

Because AIA looks at the Sun in multiple wavelengths of light, researchers can also use the algorithm to compare specific structures across the wavelengths and strengthen its assessments.

To start, they would teach the algorithm what a solar flare looked like by showing it solar flares across all of AIA’s wavelengths until it recognized solar flares in all different types of light. Once the program can recognize a solar flare without any degradation, the algorithm can then determine how much degradation is affecting AIA’s current images and how much calibration is needed for each.

“This was the big thing,” Dos Santos said. “Instead of just identifying it on the same wavelength, we’re identifying structures across the wavelengths.”

This means researchers can be more sure of the calibration the algorithm identified. Indeed, when comparing their virtual calibration data to the sounding rocket calibration data, the machine learning program was spot on.

Image above: The top row of images show the degradation of AIA’s 304 Angstrom wavelength channel over the years since SDO’s launch. The bottom row of images are corrected for this degradation using a machine learning algorithm. Image Credits: Luiz Dos Santos/NASA GSFC.

With this new process, researchers are poised to constantly calibrate AIA’s images between calibration rocket flights, improving the accuracy of SDO’s data for researchers.

Machine learning beyond the Sun

Researchers have also been using machine learning to better understand conditions closer to home.

One group of researchers led by Dr. Ryan McGranaghan - Principal Data Scientist and Aerospace Engineer at ASTRA LLC and NASA Goddard Space Flight Center -  used machine learning to better understand the connection between Earth’s magnetic field and the ionosphere, the electrically charged part of Earth’s upper atmosphere. By using data science techniques to large volumes of data, they could apply machine learning techniques to develop a newer model that helped them better understand how energized particles from space rain down into Earth’s atmosphere, where they drive space weather.

As machine learning advances, its scientific applications will expand to more and more missions. For the future, this may mean that deep space missions – which travel to places where calibration rocket flights aren’t possible – can still be calibrated and continue giving accurate data, even when getting out to greater and greater distances from Earth or any stars.

Related links:

Astronomy & Astrophysics:

SDO (Solar Dynamics Observatory):

Images (mentioned), Animation (mentioned), Text, Credits: NASA/By Susannah Darling.

Best regards,

Space Station Science Highlights: Week of July 19, 2021


ISS - Expedition 65 Mission patch.

July 23, 2021

Crew members aboard the International Space Station conducted scientific investigations during the week of July 19 that included studies of how tardigrades adapt to stressful environments, using sound to capture and manipulate objects, and the effects of space station vibrations on experiments.

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.

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

Watching water bears

Image above: Akihiko Hoshide of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) studies microbes called tardigrades, also known as water bears, for the Cell Science-04 biology experiment, which seeks to identify genes that adapt best to the harsh environment of microgravity. Image Credit: NASA.

Tardigrades are microscopic creatures that can tolerate extreme environments, also known as water bears due to their habitat and appearance. Researchers have sequenced the genome of the tardigrade Hypsibius exemplaris and developed methods for measuring how different environmental conditions affect its gene expression. Cell Science-04 aims to identify the genes involved in how the creatures adapt and survive in high stress environments, both short-term and across multiple generations. The results could advance understanding of the stress factors affecting humans in space. The tardigrades were thawed and injected into cassettes in the Bioculture Facility last week, and this week, crew members removed one set for preservation, with the other set to remain for two months.

Touchless tweezers

Image above: Preflight view of the Ultrasonic Tweezers trapping a polystyrene sphere. The investigation seeks to develop acoustic tweezers that use sound to allow for remote and contactless manipulation of materials in a microgravity context. Image Credits: CNES/S. Rouquette.

Ultrasonic Tweezers, an ESA (European Space Agency) investigation, demonstrates using sound for remote, contactless manipulation of materials in microgravity. The device creates an ultrasound beam that traps an object, which then can be placed in precise locations by moving the sound beam. This technology has been demonstrated on the ground but only for manipulating lightweight objects (such as polystyrene) and working in a vertical position. Potential applications include health care settings, such as for removing kidney stones or targeted delivery of drugs. During the week, crew members used the technique to perform various scenarios of capturing and moving small marbles.

Whole lotta shakin’ going on

SAMS-II is an ongoing study of the small forces such as vibrations on the space station that are caused by operation of hardware (including that used for experiments), crew activities, dockings, and maneuvering. Results help provide a better understanding of the types of vibrations that can affect scientific experiments. Measurements are taken on an as-needed basis and data made available to the scientific community. During the week, crew members set up SAMS-II to monitor experiments using the Materials Science Laboratory (MSL) and KERMIT microscope.

Other investigations on which the crew performed work:

Image above: ESA astronaut Thomas Pesquet conducts a session for the InSPACE-4 inside the Microgravity Science Glovebox. This physics investigation could provide insight into how to harness nanoparticles to fabricate and manufacture new materials. Image Credit: NASA.

- InSPACE-4 studies using magnetic fields to assemble tiny structures from colloids, or particles suspended in a liquid. Results could provide insight into how to harness nanoparticles to fabricate and manufacture new materials.

- GRIP, an ESA investigation, studies how spaceflight affects the grip force and movements that crew members use to manipulate objects. Results could identify potential hazards astronauts may face when they move between environments with different levels of gravity, such as landing on Mars after a lengthy voyage in space.

- ESA’s AstroPi uses two computers equipped with a variety of sensors and cameras to support an education program for schools across Europe that allows students to compete on a number of thematic software and hardware challenges.

- 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.

- 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.

Space to Ground: Cool Flames: 07/23/2021

Related links:

Expedition 65:

Cell Science-04:

Bioculture Facility:

Ultrasonic Tweezers:


Materials Science Laboratory (MSL):

KERMIT microscope:

ISS National Lab:

Spot the Station:

Space Station Research and Technology:

International Space Station (ISS):

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


Better understanding of Earth’s atmospheric chemistry from studying Mars?


ESA - Mars Express Mission patch.

July 23, 2021

Long-term studies of ozone and water vapour in the atmosphere of Mars could lead to better understanding of atmospheric chemistry for the Earth. A new analysis of data from ESA's Mars Express mission has revealed that our knowledge of the way these atmospheric gases interact with each other is incomplete.

Using four martian years of observations from the SPICAM (Spectroscopy for the Investigation of the Characteristics of the Atmosphere of Mars) instrument, which corresponds to seven and a half Earth years, a team of researchers from Europe and Russia uncovered the gap in our knowledge when trying to reproduce their data with a global climate model of Mars.

Understanding ozone on Mars (click on the image for enlarge)

Ozone and water vapour do not make good atmospheric companions. The ozone (O3) is produced when molecules of carbon dioxide (CO2), which comprises 95% of the martian atmosphere, are split apart by ultraviolet radiation from the Sun. In turn, the ozone can be split apart by molecules called hydrogen radicals (HOX), which contain an atom of hydrogen and one or more atoms of oxygen. The hydrogen radicals themselves are produced when water vapour is split apart by ultraviolet light.

On Mars, since the carbon dioxide is ubiquitous, there should be a global signature of ozone – unless a particular region contains water vapour. In that circumstance, the water will be split into hydrogen radicals, which will react with the ozone molecule and pull it apart.

Thus, wherever SPICAM detected water vapour, it should have seen a decrease in ozone. The more water vapour, the less ozone. The team investigated this inverse relationship, also known as an anticorrelation. They found that they could reproduce the general inverse nature of it with a climate model but not achieve the precise relationship. Instead, for a given amount of water vapour, the model produced only 50% of the ozone seen in the SPICAM data.

“It suggests that the efficiency of ozone destruction is overstated in the computer simulations,” says Franck Lefèvre, of the Laboratoire atmosphères, milieux, observations spatiales (LATMOS), CNRS/Sorbonne Université, France, who led the study.

At present, however, the reason for this over-estimation is not clear. Understanding the behaviour of hydrogen radicals on Mars is essential. “It plays a key role in the atmospheric chemistry of Mars but also in the global composition of the planet,” says Franck.

The chemical model used in this work was built specifically by Franck and colleagues to analyse Mars. It was based on a model of part of the Earth’s upper atmosphere; the mesosphere. Here, between roughly 40-80 kilometres in altitude, the chemistry and conditions are broadly similar to those found in Mars’s atmosphere.

Ten things you did not know about Mars: 5. Ozone (click on the image for enlarge)

Indeed, the discrepancy found in the models could have important repercussions for the way we simulate the Earth’s climate using atmospheric models. This is because the mesosphere on Earth contains part of the ozone layer, which will experience the same interactions with HOX as take place on Mars.

“HOX chemistry is important for the global equilibrium of the Earth’s ozone layer,” says Franck.

So, understanding what is happening in the atmosphere of Mars could benefit the precision with which we can perform climate simulations on Earth. And with so much data now available from SPICAM, the modelling has clearly shown that there is something we don’t understand.

Could that something be the action of clouds?

When Franck and colleagues introduced calculations for the way HOX is absorbed by the icy particles that make up clouds on Mars, they found that more ozone survived in their models. This is because HOX molecules were absorbed before they could pull apart the ozone. But this only partially explained their results.

“It doesn't work in all the cases,” says Franck. And so the team are looking elsewhere too.

One particular area for further study is measuring reaction rates at the low temperatures found in the martian atmosphere and Earth’s mesosphere. At present, these are not well known, and so could also be skewing the models.

Now that the current work has highlighted in a quantitative way where the gaps lie in our knowledge, the team will collect more data using other UV instruments operating at Mars and continue their investigations and update the model.

Mars Express

“With Mars Express, we have a completed the longest survey of the martian atmosphere to date, regardless of the mission. We started in 2004, and now have 17 years of data, which has led us to look at almost seven martian years in a row, including four martian years of combined ozone and water vapour measurements before the UV channel of SPICAM, which measured ozone, ceased operating near the end of 2014. This is unique in the story of planetary exploration,” adds Franck Montmessin, also from LATMOS, and the principal investigator of the SPICAM instrument.

Building on the extraordinary dataset from Mars Express, new results are now coming in from ESA’s Trace Gas Orbiter, which has been circling Mars since October 2016. It carries two instruments, ACS (Atmospheric Chemistry Suite) and NOMAD (Nadir and Occultation for MArs Discovery) that are analysing the martian atmosphere. NASA’s Maven mission also carries ultraviolet equipment that monitors ozone abundance. So, the vital piece of information that finally unlocks this mystery could come at any time.

The long-term monitoring of atmospheric parameters and their variations by Mars Express provides a unique data set with which to study the martian atmosphere as a complex dynamic system.

“Maybe adding up all these years together will eventually hold the key to how the HOX really controls the martian atmosphere, benefiting our understanding of planetary atmospheres in general,” says Franck Montmessin.

Notes for editors:

Relationship between the ozone and water vapor columns on Mars as observed by SPICAM and calculated by a global climate model, by F. Lefèvre, et al. (2021) is published in Journal of Geophysical Research: Planets 126, e2021JE006838.

Mars Express:

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

Best regards,

jeudi 22 juillet 2021

Crewmembers Focus on Science and Prepare for Upcoming Dockings and Undockings


ISS - Expedition 65 Mission patch.

July 22, 2021

A delay in the undocking events scheduled for tomorrow gave the crew of Expedition 65 aboard the International Space Station extra time to focus on training, science, and maintenance today.

Russia’s Multipurpose Laboratory Module (MLM) launched on July 21, and to provide more time for Russian flight controllers to check out MLM’s status, the undocking of the Russian Progress 77 and Pirs docking compartment has been postponed until Saturday, July 24. The space station crew has been notified. Progress 77 undocking with the Pirs docking compartment is now scheduled for 8:28 am EDT. Live coverage on NASA TV, the agency’s website, and the NASA app will begin at 8 am.

On Thursday, June 29, MLM is scheduled to dock at the station. Named Nauka, after the Russian word for “science,” MLM will serve as a new science facility, docking port, and spacewalk airlock for future operations.

Multipurpose Laboratory Module (MLM) "Nauka" (Science). Image Credit: Wikimedia

Once Pirs and Progress 77 are decoupled from the station on Saturday, they will undergo a de-orbit maneuver that will send it towards Earth to disintegrate in Earth’s atmosphere. In preparation, Russian Cosmonauts Pyotr Dubrov and Oleg Novitskiy performed a series of maintenance tasks today.

The crew also prepared for another upcoming event: the scheduled arrival of Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner at the space station on July 31 as part of  NASA’s Boeing Orbital Flight Test-2 (OFT-2) mission. NASA Flight Engineers Mark Vande Hei and Shane Kimbrough along with station Commander Akihiko Hoshide, a Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency astronaut, received training on procedures relating to the approach, docking, and undocking of Starliner.

Boeing Starliner CST-100. Animation Credit: Boeing

A full suite of science interspersed these maintenance and training tasks. The crew continued its focus on eye health, remotely guided by scientists on Earth. NASA astronaut Megan McArthur along with Hoshide and Vande Hei set up hardware and helped each other administer drops that dilate their eyes so that onboard equipment can capture 3-D images of their eyes’ internal structures. They also performed vision tests. The low gravity on the space station can change eye shape in some astronauts, so monitoring eye health is important to ensuring crew health.

Astronauts also continued work on science experiments that could provide insight into how to harness nanoparticles to fabricate and manufacture new materials. McArthur, Vande Hei, and Kimbrough all ran tests for the Investigating the Structure of Paramagnetic Aggregates from Colloidal Ellipsoids, or InSPACE-4, study. Magnetic fields used in the experiment, when combined with the station’s low gravity, allow particles to be observed in a suspended state, which is ideal for monitoring their interactions with light and heat.

Image above: Fresh vegetables float around NASA astronaut and Expedition 65 Flight Engineer Megan McArthur. She and other astronauts are participating in a study to evaluate the effects of menu fatigue on crew. Image Credit: NASA.

In addition, Kimbrough, Vande Hei, and McArthur completed surveys about their recent meals that will allow scientists to study menu fatigue. In space, menu fatigue can have serious consequences. Lost appetites could result in astronauts not eating enough food, which may lead to body mass loss, nutritional deficiencies, and other health issues, particularly on long-duration missions.

Meanwhile, ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Thomas Pesquet focused his attention on testing how the KEyence Research Microscope Testbed (KERMIT) would work in different locations on the station. KERMIT is designed to streamline imaging and analysis through a single platform with easy operation by the station crew as well as by remote operatiors on the ground. With real-time guidance from researchers on Earth, Pesquet moved KERMIT along with other equipment that can characterize vibrational disturbances caused by the microscope when in use. He then tested whether KERMIT’s functionality could be retained in this new location.

Related links:

Expedition 65:

Multipurpose Laboratory Module (MLM):

Progress 77 and Pirs docking compartment:

Boeing Orbital Flight Test-2 (OFT-2):

Change eye shape:


Menu fatigue:

Space Station Research and Technology:

International Space Station (ISS):

Images (mentioned), Animation (mentioned), Text, Credits: NASA/Mohi Kumar.


NASA’s InSight Reveals the Deep Interior of Mars


NASA - InSight Mars Lander Mission patch.

Jul 22, 2021

Three papers published today share new details on the crust, mantle, and molten core of the Red Planet.

Animation above: Clouds drift over the dome-covered seismometer, known as SEIS, belonging to NASA's InSight lander, on Mars. Animation Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech.

Before NASA’s InSight spacecraft touched down on Mars in 2018, the rovers and orbiters studying the Red Planet concentrated on its surface. The stationary lander’s seismometer has changed that, revealing details about the planet’s deep interior for the first time.

Three papers based on the seismometer’s data were published today in Science, providing details on the depth and composition of Mars’ crust, mantle, and core, including confirmation that the planet’s center is molten. Earth’s outer core is molten, while its inner core is solid; scientists will continue to use InSight’s data to determine whether the same holds true for Mars.

“When we first started putting together the concept of the mission more than a decade ago, the information in these papers is what we hoped to get at the end,” said InSight’s principal investigator Bruce Banerdt of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California, which leads the mission. “This represents the culmination of all the work and worry over the past decade.”

InSight’s seismometer, called the Seismic Experiment for Interior Structure (SEIS), has recorded 733 distinct marsquakes. About 35 of those – all between magnitudes 3.0 and 4.0 – provided the data for the three papers. The ultrasensitive seismometer enables scientists to “hear” seismic events from hundreds to thousands of miles away.

Image above: NASA’s InSight lander detected a marsquake, represented here as a seismogram, on July 25, 2019, the 235th Martian day, or sol, of its mission. Seismologists study the wiggles in seismograms in order to confirm whether they’re really seeing a quake or noise caused by wind. Image Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech.

Peering Into Mars

Seismic waves vary in speed and shape when traveling through different materials inside a planet. Those variations on Mars have given seismologists a way to study the planet’s inner structure. In turn, what the scientists learn about Mars can help improve the understanding of how all rocky planets – including Earth – formed.

Like Earth, Mars heated up as it formed from the dust and larger clumps of meteoritic material orbiting the Sun that helped to shape our early solar system. Over the first tens of millions of years, the planet separated into three distinct layers – the crust, mantle, and core – in a process called differentiation. Part of InSight’s mission was to measure the depth, size, and structure of these three layers.

Each of the papers in Science focuses on a different layer. The scientists found the crust was thinner than expected and may have two or even three sub-layers. It goes as deep as 12 miles (20 kilometers) if there are two sub-layers, or 23 miles (37 kilometers) if there are three.

Beneath that is the mantle, which extends 969 miles (1,560 kilometers) below the surface.

At the heart of Mars is the core, which has a radius of 1,137 miles (1,830 kilometers). Confirming the size of the molten core was especially exciting for the team. “This study is a once-in-a-lifetime chance,” said Simon Stähler of the Swiss research university ETH Zurich, lead author of the core paper. “It took scientists hundreds of years to measure Earth’s core; after the Apollo missions, it took them 40 years to measure the Moon’s core. InSight took just two years to measure Mars’ core.”

Hunting for Wiggles

The earthquakes most people feel come from faults caused by tectonic plates shifting. Unlike Earth, Mars has no tectonic plates; its crust is instead like one giant plate. But faults, or rock fractures, still form in the Martian crust due to stresses caused by the slight shrinking of the planet as it continues to cool.

InSight scientists spend much of their time searching for bursts of vibration in seismograms, where the tiniest wiggle on a line can represent a quake or, for that matter, noise created by wind. If seismogram wiggles follow certain known patterns (and if the wind is not gusting at the same time), there’s a chance they could be a quake.

The initial wiggles are primary, or P, waves, which are followed by secondary, or S, waves. These waves can also show up again later in the seismogram after reflecting off layers inside the planet.

“What we’re looking for is an echo,” said Amir Khan of ETH Zurich, lead author of the paper on the mantle. “We’re detecting a direct sound – the quake – and then listening for an echo off a reflector deep underground.”

These echoes can even help scientists find changes within a single layer, like the sub-layers within the crust.

InSight Mars Lander. Image Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech

“Layering within the crust is something we see all the time on Earth,” said Brigitte Knapmeyer-Endrun of the University of Cologne, lead author on the paper about the crust. “A seismogram’s wiggles can reveal properties like a change in porosity or a more fractured layer.”

One surprise is that all of InSight’s most significant quakes appear to have come from one area, Cerberus Fossae, a region volcanically active enough that lava may have flowed there within the last few million years. Orbiting spacecraft have spotted the tracks of boulders that may have rolled down steep slopes after being shaken loose by marsquakes.

Curiously, no quakes have been detected from more prominent volcanic regions, like Tharsis, home to three of the biggest volcanoes on Mars. But it’s possible many quakes – including larger ones – are occurring that InSight can’t detect. That’s because of shadow zones caused by the core refracting seismic waves away from certain areas, preventing a quake’s echo from reaching InSight.

Waiting for the Big One

These results are only the beginning. Scientists now have hard data to refine their models of Mars and its formation, and SEIS detects new marsquakes every day. While InSight’s energy level is being managed, its seismometer is still listening and scientists are hopeful they’ll detect a quake bigger than 4.0.

“We’d still love to see the big one,” said JPL’s Mark Panning, co-lead author of the paper on the crust. “We have to do lots of careful processing to pull the things we want from this data. Having a bigger event would make all of this easier.”

Panning and other InSight scientists will share their findings at 9 a.m. PDT (12 p.m. EDT) on July 23 in a livestreamed discussion on NASA Television, the NASA app, the agency’s website, and multiple agency social media platforms, including the JPL YouTube and Facebook channels.

More About the Mission

JPL manages InSight for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate. InSight is part of NASA’s Discovery Program, managed by the agency’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. Lockheed Martin Space in Denver built the InSight spacecraft, including its cruise stage and lander, and supports spacecraft operations for the mission.

A number of European partners, including France’s Centre National d’Études Spatiales (CNES) and the German Aerospace Center (DLR), are supporting the InSight mission. CNES provided the Seismic Experiment for Interior Structure (SEIS) instrument to NASA, with the principal investigator at IPGP (Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris). Significant contributions for SEIS came from IPGP; the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research (MPS) in Germany; the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH Zurich) in Switzerland; Imperial College London and Oxford University in the United Kingdom; and JPL. DLR provided the Heat Flow and Physical Properties Package (HP3) instrument, with significant contributions from the Space Research Center (CBK) of the Polish Academy of Sciences and Astronika in Poland. Spain’s Centro de Astrobiología (CAB) supplied the temperature and wind sensors.

Related links:

Seismic Experiment for Interior Structure (SEIS): https://c/Users/good/AppData/Local/Microsoft/Windows/INetCache/Content.Outlook/RMMQ7DRS/SEIS

InSight Mars Lander:

Images (mentioned), Animation (mentioned), Text, Credits: NASA/Naomi Hartono/Karen Fox/Alana Johnson/JPL/Andrew Good.

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Astronomers make first clear detection of a moon-forming disc around an exoplanet


ALMA - Atacama Large Millimetre/submillimeter Array logo.

July 22, 2021

Wide and close-up views of a moon-forming disc as seen with ALMA

Using the Atacama Large Millimetre/submillimeter Array (ALMA), in which the European Southern Observatory (ESO) is a partner, astronomers have unambiguously detected the presence of a disc around a planet outside our Solar System for the first time. The observations will shed new light on how moons and planets form in young stellar systems.

The PDS 70 system as seen with ALMA

“Our work presents a clear detection of a disc in which satellites could be forming,” says Myriam Benisty, a researcher at the University of Grenoble, France, and at the University of Chile, who led the new research published today in The Astrophysical Journal Letters. “Our ALMA observations were obtained at such exquisite resolution that we could clearly identify that the disc is associated with the planet and we are able to constrain its size for the first time,” she adds.

Moon-forming disc around the PDS 70c exoplanet as seen with ALMA

The disc in question, called a circumplanetary disc, surrounds the exoplanet PDS 70c, one of two giant, Jupiter-like planets orbiting a star nearly 400 light-years away. Astronomers had found hints of a “moon-forming” disc around this exoplanet before but, since they could not clearly tell the disc apart from its surrounding environment, they could not confirm its detection — until now.

The dwarf star PDS 70 in the constellation Centaurus

In addition, with the help of ALMA, Benisty and her team found that the disc has about the same diameter as the distance from our Sun to the Earth and enough mass to form up to three satellites the size of the Moon.

But the results are not only key to finding out how moons arise. “These new observations are also extremely important to prove theories of planet formation that could not be tested until now,” says Jaehan Bae, a researcher from the Earth and Planets Laboratory of the Carnegie Institution for Science, USA, and author on the study.

Widefield image of the sky around PDS 70

Planets form in dusty discs around young stars, carving out cavities as they gobble up material from this circumstellar disc to grow. In this process, a planet can acquire its own circumplanetary disc, which contributes to the growth of the planet by regulating the amount of material falling onto it. At the same time, the gas and dust in the circumplanetary disc can come together into progressively larger bodies through multiple collisions, ultimately leading to the birth of moons.

But astronomers do not yet fully understand the details of these processes. “In short, it is still unclear when, where, and how planets and moons form,” explains ESO Research Fellow Stefano Facchini, also involved in the research.

Artist’s animation of the PDS70 system

“More than 4000 exoplanets have been found until now, but all of them were detected in mature systems. PDS 70b and PDS 70c, which form a system reminiscent of the Jupiter-Saturn pair, are the only two exoplanets detected so far that are still in the process of being formed,” explains Miriam Keppler, researcher at the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy in Germany and one of the co-authors of the study [1].

“This system therefore offers us a unique opportunity to observe and study the processes of planet and satellite formation,” Facchini adds.

PDS 70b and PDS 70c, the two planets making up the system, were first discovered using ESO’s Very Large Telescope (VLT) in 2018 and 2019 respectively, and their unique nature means they have been observed with other telescopes and instruments many times since [2].

Zooming in on the PDS 70 system

The latest high resolution ALMA observations have now allowed astronomers to gain further insights into the system. In addition to confirming the detection of the circumplanetary disc around PDS 70c and studying its size and mass, they found that PDS 70b does not show clear evidence of such a disc, indicating that it was starved of dust material from its birth environment by PDS 70c.

An even deeper understanding of the planetary system will be achieved with ESO’s Extremely Large Telescope (ELT), currently under construction on Cerro Armazones in the Chilean Atacama desert. “The ELT will be key for this research since, with its much higher resolution, we will be able to map the system in great detail,” says co-author Richard Teague, a researcher at the Center for Astrophysics | Harvard & Smithsonian, USA. In particular, by using the ELT’s Mid-infrared ELT Imager and Spectrograph (METIS), the team will be able to look at the gas motions surrounding PDS 70c to get a full 3D picture of the system.

[1] Despite the similarity with the Jupiter-Saturn pair, note that the disc around PDS 70c is about 500 times larger than Saturn's rings.

[2] PDS 70b was discovered using the Spectro-Polarimetric High-contrast Exoplanet REsearch (SPHERE) instrument, while PDS 70c was found using the VLT’s Multi Unit Spectroscopic Explorer (MUSE). The two-planet system has been investigated using the X-shooter instrument too, also installed on ESO’s VLT.

More information:

This research was presented in the paper “A Circumplanetary Disk Around PDS 70c” to appear in The Astrophysical Journal Letters.

The team is composed of Myriam Benisty (Unidad Mixta Internacional Franco-Chilena de Astronomía, CNRS, Departamento de Astronomía, Universidad de Chile, Santiago de Chile, Chile and Université Grenoble Alpes, CNRS, Grenoble, France [UGA]), Jaehan Bae (Earth and Planets Laboratory, Carnegie Institution for Science, Washington DC, USA), Stefano Facchini (European Southern Observatory, Garching bei München, Germany), Miriam Keppler (Max Planck Institute for Astronomy, Heidelberg, Germany [MPIA]), Richard Teague (Center for Astrophysics | Harvard & Smithsonian, Cambridge, MA, USA [CfA]), Andrea Isella (Department of Physics and Astronomy, Rice University, Houston, TX, USA), Nicolas T. Kurtovic (MPIA), Laura M. Perez (Departamento de Astronomía, Universidad de Chile, Santiago de Chile, Chile [UCHILE]), Anibal Sierra (UCHILE), Sean M. Andrews (CfA), John Carpenter (Joint ALMA Observatory, Santiago de Chile, Chile), Ian Czekala (Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics, Pennsylvania State University, PA, USA, Center for Exoplanets and Habitable Worlds, Davey Laboratory, Pennsylvania State University, PA, USA, Center for Astrostatistics, Davey Laboratory, Pennsylvania State University, PA, USA and Institute for Computational & Data Sciences, Pennsylvania State University, PA, USA), Carsten Dominik (Anton Pannekoek Institute for Astronomy, University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands), Thomas Henning (MPIA), Francois Menard (UGA), Paola Pinilla (MPIA and Mullard Space Science Laboratory, University College London, Holmbury St Mary, Dorking, UK) and Alice Zurlo (Núcleo de Astronomía, Facultad de Ingeniería y Ciencias, Universidad Diego Portales, Santiago de Chile, Chile and Escuela de Ingeniería Industrial, Facultad de Ingeniería y Ciencias, Universidad Diego Portales, Santiago de Chile, Chile).

ESO is the foremost intergovernmental astronomy organisation in Europe and the world’s most productive ground-based astronomical observatory by far. It has 16 Member States: Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Finland, Germany, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom, along with the host state of Chile and with Australia as a Strategic Partner. ESO carries out an ambitious programme focused on the design, construction and operation of powerful ground-based observing facilities enabling astronomers to make important scientific discoveries. ESO also plays a leading role in promoting and organising cooperation in astronomical research. ESO operates three unique world-class observing sites in Chile: La Silla, Paranal and Chajnantor. At Paranal, ESO operates the Very Large Telescope and its world-leading Very Large Telescope Interferometer as well as two survey telescopes, VISTA working in the infrared and the visible-light VLT Survey Telescope. Also at Paranal ESO will host and operate the Cherenkov Telescope Array South, the world’s largest and most sensitive gamma-ray observatory. ESO is also a major partner in two facilities on Chajnantor, APEX and ALMA, the largest astronomical project in existence. And on Cerro Armazones, close to Paranal, ESO is building the 39-metre Extremely Large Telescope, the ELT, which will become “the world’s biggest eye on the sky”.

The Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA), an international astronomy facility, is a partnership of ESO, the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) and the National Institutes of Natural Sciences (NINS) of Japan in cooperation with the Republic of Chile. ALMA is funded by ESO on behalf of its Member States, by NSF in cooperation with the National Research Council of Canada (NRC) and the Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST) and by NINS in cooperation with the Academia Sinica (AS) in Taiwan and the Korea Astronomy and Space Science Institute (KASI). ALMA construction and operations are led by ESO on behalf of its Member States; by the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO), managed by Associated Universities, Inc. (AUI), on behalf of North America; and by the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan (NAOJ) on behalf of East Asia. The Joint ALMA Observatory (JAO) provides the unified leadership and management of the construction, commissioning and operation of ALMA.


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Images: ESO/ALMA (ESO/NAOJ/NRAO)/Benisty et al./IAU and Sky & Telescope/Digitized Sky Survey 2. Acknowledgement: Davide De Martin/Videos: ESO/L. Calçada, ALMA (ESO/NAOJ/NRAO)/Benisty et al./ESO, N. Risinger (, DSS, ALMA (ESO/NAOJ/NRAO)/Benisty et al. Music: Astral electronic/Text: ESO/Bárbara Ferreira/Stefano Facchini/Max Planck Institute for Astronomy/Miriam Keppler/Center for Astrophysics | Harvard & Smithsonian/Richard Teague/Earth and Planets Laboratory, Carnegie Institution for Science/Jaehan Bae.