samedi 6 novembre 2021

Anton Shkaplerov is the new commander of the ISS


ISS - Expedition 66 Mission patch.

Nov. 6, 2021

The crew of the Crew-2 mission is nearing completion on board the International Space Station. NASA astronauts Shane Kimbrough and Megan MacArthur, ESA astronaut Thomas Pesquet, and JAXA astronaut Akihiko Hoshide are preparing to return to Earth. Today, November 6, 2021, a crew change took place on the ISS.

Transmission of the key of ISS

The shift transfer process at the station is a formal ceremony of signing documents between the two commanders: the European Space Agency astronaut Thomas Pesquet, who headed it since October 4, 2021, and the Roscosmos cosmonaut Anton Shkaplerov signed the corresponding transfer of authority act.

Hero of Russia, Roscosmos cosmonaut Anton Shkaplerov will lead the international crew of the 66th long-term expedition until his return to Earth, which is scheduled for spring 2022. Anton Shkaplerov left for his current mission on October 5, 2021 on the Soyuz MS-19 manned transport spacecraft. The current flight is the fourth in his space career.

The key of ISS

According to preliminary data from the American space agency NASA, the Crew Dragon spacecraft undocking is scheduled for November 7, 2021. After its undocking and until the arrival of the new crew, Roscosmos cosmonauts Anton Shkaplerov, Peter Dubrov and NASA astronaut Mark Vande Hai will continue to work on the International Space Station. Next week, the manned spacecraft Crew Dragon is expected to launch with the crew of the Crew-3 mission consisting of Raj Chari, Thomas Marshburn, Kayla Barron and Matthias Maurer.

Related links:

ROSCOSMOS Press Release:

ROSCOSMOS - International Space Station (ISS):

NASA - International Space Station (ISS):

ESA - International Space Station (ISS):

Expedition 66:

Commercial Crew:

Images, Text, Credits: ROSCOSMOS/MCC/ Aerospace/Roland Berga.

Best regards,

CASC - Long March-2D launches the first Yaogan-35 satellites


CASC - China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation logo.

Nov. 6, 2021

Long March-2D carrying first Yaogan-35 satellites liftoff

A Long March-2D launch vehicle launched the first three Yaogan-35 satellites from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center, Sichuan Province, southwest China, on 6 November 2021, at 03:00 UTC (11:00 local time).

Long March-2D launches the first Yaogan-35 satellites

According to official sources, the satellites (遥感三十五号卫星A星、B星、C星, Yaogan-35 A, B and C) have entered the planned orbits and will be “mainly used in scientific experiments, land and resources surveys, agricultural production estimates, and disaster prevention and mitigation.”

Yaogan-35 satellite

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

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


vendredi 5 novembre 2021

VR, Space Biology Studies as Crew Nears Departure


ISS - Expedition 66 Mission patch.

Nov. 5, 2021

A pair of astronauts aboard the International Space Station studied advanced piloting controls using virtual reality today. In the meantime, four Expedition 66 crewmates are turning their attention to returning to Earth this month.

An experiment sponsored by ESA (European Space Agency) is using virtual reality in the space environment to help engineers optimize workstations and interfaces for controlling future space robots and spacecraft. Commander Thomas Pesquet of ESA set up the Pilote experiment this morning for NASA Flight Engineer Megan McArthur who wore the virtual reality headset. She worked in the Columbus laboratory module wearing the VR goggles using a haptic controller to pilot and capture simulated spacecraft in a video game-like environment.

Image above: Astronauts (from left) Thomas Pesquet, Megan McArthur, Shane Kimbrough and Akihiko Hoshide talk to journalists on Earth before their return to Earth aboard the SpaceX Crew Dragon Endeavour. Image Credit: NASA TV.

Flight Engineers Shane Kimbrough of NASA and Akihiko Hoshide of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) worked throughout Friday on a variety of station hardware. Kimbrough worked in the in the U.S. Destiny laboratory module servicing thermal gear as Hoshide checked out lights and orbital plumbing systems in the Kibo laboratory module.

Kimbrough will also lead McArthur, Pesquet and Hoshide back to Earth inside the SpaceX Crew Dragon Endeavour. The quartet have been packing Endeavour with personal items and station hardware, as well as training on a computer for the ride back home. The four commercial crew astronauts will undock from the Harmony module’s space-facing port and splashdown off the coast of Florida ending a station mission that began in April.

International Space Station (ISS). Animation Credit: ESA

The orbiting lab’s other three crewmates, NASA Flight Engineer Mark Vande Hei and Roscosmos cosmonauts Pyotr Dubrov and Anton Shkaplerov, will continue their stay in space until spring next year.

Vande Hei trained throughout Friday for his role when he will be monitoring the Crew Dragon’s upcoming undocking and departure. He also checked U.S. toilet sensors before ending his day setting up hardware to collect biological samples. Shkaplerov continued cargo transfers inside the ISS Progress 79 resupply ship then photographed the Photobioreactor hybrid life support system experiment for inspection. Dubrov explored ways to maintain safe, sterile conditions when conducting microgravity biology research for the Aseptic study.

Related article:

Coverage Set for NASA’s SpaceX Crew-2 Return to Earth

Related links:

Expedition 66:

Pilote experiment:

Columbus laboratory module:

U.S. Destiny laboratory module:

Kibo laboratory module:

Commercial crew:

Harmony module:


Aseptic study:

Space Station Research and Technology:

International Space Station (ISS):

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

Best regards,

NASA, USGS Release First Landsat 9 Images


NASA / USGS - LandSat 9 Mission patch.

Nov 5, 2021

Landsat 9, a joint mission between NASA and the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) that launched Sept. 27, 2021, has collected its first light images of Earth.

Image above: Mangroves are prominent along the northwest coast of Australia. The first image collected by Landsat 9, on Oct. 31, 2021, shows mangroves clustered in protected inlets and bays on the edge of the Indian Ocean. Fluffy cumulus clouds and high-altitude cirrus clouds hover nearby. The aqua colors of the shallow near-shore waters give way to the deep, dark blues of the ocean. Image Credit: NASA.

The images, all acquired Oct. 31, are available online. They provide a preview of how the mission will help people manage vital natural resources and understand the impacts of climate change, adding to Landsat’s unparalleled data record that spans nearly 50 years of space-based Earth observation.

“Landsat 9’s first images capture critical observations about our changing planet and will advance this joint mission of NASA and the U.S. Geological Survey that provides critical data about Earth's landscapes and coastlines seen from space,” said NASA Administrator Bill Nelson. “This program has the proven power to not only improve lives but also save lives. NASA will continue to work with USGS to strengthen and improve accessibility to Landsat data so decision makers in America – and around the world – better understand the devastation of the climate crisis, manage agricultural practices, preserve precious resources and respond more effectively to natural disasters.”

These first light images shows Detroit, Michigan, with neighboring Lake St. Clair, the intersection of cities and beaches along a changing Florida coastline and images from Navajo Country in Arizona that will add to the wealth of data helping us monitor crop health and manage irrigation water. The new images also provided data about the changing landscapes of the Himalayas in High Mountain Asia and the coastal islands and shorelines of Northern Australia.

Landsat 9 is similar in design to its predecessor, Landsat 8, which was launched in 2013 and remains in orbit, but features several improvements. The new satellite transmits data with higher radiometric resolution back down to Earth, allowing it to detect more subtle differences, especially over darker areas like water or dense forests. For example, Landsat 9 can differentiate more than 16,000 shades of a given wavelength color; Landsat 7, the satellite being replaced, detects only 256 shades. This increased sensitivity will allow Landsat users to see much more subtle changes than ever before.

Image above: Landsat 9 carries two instruments designed to work together to capture a broad range of wavelengths: the Operational Land Imager 2 and the Thermal Infrared Sensor 2. Data from both instruments are shown in this image. Image Credit: NASA.

“First light is a big milestone for Landsat users – it’s the first chance to really see the kind of quality that Landsat 9 provides. And they look fantastic,” said Jeff Masek NASA’s Landsat 9 project scientist at Goddard Space Flight Center. “When we have Landsat 9 operating in coordination with Landsat 8, it’s going to be this wealth of data, allowing us to monitor changes to our home planet every eight days.”

Landsat 9 carries two instruments that capture imagery: the Operational Land Imager 2 (OLI-2), which detects visible, near-infrared and shortwave-infrared light in nine wavelengths, and the Thermal Infrared Sensor 2 (TIRS-2), which detects thermal radiation in two wavelengths to measure Earth’s surface temperatures and its changes.

These instruments will provide Landsat 9 users with essential information about crop health, irrigation use, water quality, wildfire severity, deforestation, glacial retreat, urban expansion, and more.

“The data and images from Landsat 9 are expanding our capability to see how Earth has changed over decades”, said Karen St. Germain, Earth Science Division director at NASA Headquarters in Washington. “In a changing climate, continuous and free access to Landsat data, and the other data in NASA’s Earth observing fleet, helps data users, including city planners, farmers and scientists, plan for the future.”

NASA’s Landsat 9 team is conducting a 100-day check-out period that involves testing the satellite’s systems and subsystems and calibrating its instruments in preparation for handing the mission over to USGS in January. USGS will operate Landsat 9 along with Landsat 8, and together the two satellites will collect approximately 1,500 images of Earth’s surface every day, covering the globe every eight days.

Landsat 9 satellite. Image Credit: NASA

“The incredible first pictures from the Landsat 9 satellite are a glimpse into the data that will help us make science-based decisions on key issues including water use, wildfire impacts, coral reef degradation, glacier and ice-shelf retreat and tropical deforestation,” said USGS Acting Director Dr. David Applegate. “This historic moment is the culmination of our long partnership with NASA on Landsat 9’s development, launch and initial operations, which will better support environmental sustainability, climate change resiliency and economic growth – all while expanding an unparalleled record of Earth's changing landscapes.” 

Landsat 9 data will be available to the public, for free, from USGS’s website once the satellite begins normal operations:

NASA manages the Landsat 9 mission development. Teams from NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, also built and tested the TIRS-2 instrument. NASA’s Launch Services Program, based at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, managed the mission’s launch. The USGS Earth Resources Observation and Science (EROS) Center will operate the mission and manage the ground system, including maintaining the Landsat archive. Ball Aerospace in Boulder, Colorado, built and tested the OLI-2 instrument. United Launch Alliance is the rocket provider for Landsat 9’s launch. Northrop Grumman in Gilbert, Arizona, built the Landsat 9 spacecraft, integrated it with instruments, and tested it.

Related article:

NASA Launches New Mission to Monitor Earth’s Landscapes

For more information on Landsat 9 and the Landsat program, visit:

Images (mentioned), Text, Credits: NASA/Robert Margetta/Tylar Greene/GSFC/Jake Richmond.


Space Station Science Highlights: Week of November 1, 2021


ISS - Expedition 66 Mission patch.

Nov 5, 2021

Crew members aboard the International Space Station conducted scientific investigations during the week of Nov. 1 that included examining whether beneficial bacteria can improve immune function, mapping radiation exposure inside the space station, and collecting student-requested images of Earth. The launch of Crew-3 mission astronauts and additional science experiments aboard a SpaceX Crew Dragon has been rescheduled, with a launch date still to be determined.

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.

Image above: An astronaut slices a red chile pepper during a taste test of peppers grown as part of the Plant Habitat-04 investigation, one of the longest and most challenging plant experiments attempted aboard the orbiting laboratory. NASA astronaut Mark Vande Hei conducted the first harvest of the pepper crop on Oct. 29, 2021, and crew members sanitized the peppers and conducted a taste test. The Crew-3 astronauts will take over the crop when they arrive and conduct a final harvest late November. Image Credit: NASA.

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

A boost from beneficial bacteria

Probiotics, an investigation of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), studies whether probiotics or beneficial bacteria can improve immune function and the intestinal microbiota, or the community of organisms living in the digestive tract, on long-duration space missions. Results could shed light on changes that may take place in bacteria during spaceflight and benefit efforts to reduce infections. Exposing probiotics to space radiation, microgravity, and other stresses of spaceflight could provide new insight into how these bacteria cope with extreme conditions. Probiotics could be incorporated into food on future space missions to help protect the health of crew members. Results also could benefit efforts to improve the shelf life of probiotics and make it more feasible to use them to protect the health of people in extreme environments on Earth, including in remote areas and disaster zones. During the week, crew members collected saliva and fecal samples and answered questionnaires for the investigation.

Determining the dose

Image above: This image shows a detector (bright orange pack) for the DOSIS-3D investigation, which creates a 3D map of radiation distribution and levels inside the space station. Image Credit: NASA.

Crew members continually receive exposure to varying levels of radiation while in space, which can be harmful to their health. An investigation from ESA (European Space Agency), DOSIS-3D uses several active and passive detectors to determine the radiation dose and create a three-dimensional map pinpointing the distribution and levels of radiation at various locations inside the space station. The investigation also measures the energy and charge of heavy ions, tracks exposure to free neutrons, and determines the average radiation dose absorbed throughout a mission. These data could help scientists make recommendations for protecting crew members from space radiation in the future. The experiment also could provide insight into monitoring radiation exposure of commercial and military airline crews and other workers exposed to radiation on Earth.

Giving classrooms a view from space

Image above: The Niger River in the African nation of Mali is pictured from the International Space Station as it orbits 259 miles above the southwestern Sahara Desert. Image Credit: NASA.

Students remotely control a digital camera mounted on the space station to take photographs of coastlines, mountain ranges, and other interesting features and phenomena on Earth for Sally Ride EarthKAM. The EarthKAM team posts the images online, where they are available to the public and participating classrooms. Students and educators have the chance to participate in a space mission and to develop teamwork, communication, and problem-solving skills while conducting collaborative investigations. Participating students track the orbit of the space station and check the weather to ensure a clear view of the target before requesting images. University of Alabama in Huntsville students operate as flight controllers. The Sally Ride EarthKAM camera has been aboard the space station since Expedition 1 and its multiple annual missions have taken tens of thousands of images. Crew members set up hardware components for a week-long imaging session and activated the camera as needed during the week.

Other investigations involving the crew:

- PK-4, a collaboration between ESA and the Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos), studies complex plasmas, low-temperature gaseous mixtures of ionized gas, neutral gas, and micron-sized particles. Understanding how plasma crystals form in microgravity could shed light on these common phenomena in space and possibly lead to new research methods, better spacecraft designs, and improvements in industries that use plasmas on Earth.

- Touching Surfaces tests laser-structured antimicrobial surfaces as a method for reducing microbial contamination aboard the space station. Results from this ESA investigation could help determine the most suitable design for antimicrobial surfaces for spacecraft and habitats as well as for terrestrial applications such as public transportation and clinical settings.

- Pilote, an investigation from ESA, tests the effectiveness of remote operation of robotic arms and space vehicles using virtual reality and haptics, or simulated touch and motion. Results may influence the design of workstations and interfaces for future spacecraft and space habitats.

- Lumina is an ESA investigation demonstrating real-time monitoring of radiation dose received by crew members using a dosimeter with optical fibers that darken when exposed to radiation. Monitoring ionizing radiation is a key challenge for future space exploration and this dosimeter could help anticipate radiation flares and guide reaction to them.

- Arduino, Raspberry Pi, and other single board computers have increased in power, reliability, and availability while decreasing in cost. SpaceDuino studies the technical capabilities and economic benefits of this off-the-shelf hardware and open-source software in microgravity.

- APM demonstrates an instrument to measure and quantify the concentration of both small and large particles in spacecraft air. Data could help show the efficiency of current filtration systems and support design of better hardware for environmental monitoring of future space vehicles and habitats, helping to keep crews safe on future missions.

- An investigation from the Canadian Space Agency (CSA), VECTION looks at changes in an astronaut’s ability to judge body motion and orientation and estimate distances. Results could help address issues these changes create for astronauts.

- Flame Design studies the production and control of soot, which can adversely affect combustion efficiency, emissions, and equipment lifetime. Part of the ACME series of studies, this investigation could lead to more efficient and cleaner burner designs.

Space to Ground: A Spice of Life: 11/05/2021

Related links:

Expedition 66:




EarthKAM images:

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 66.

Best regards,

NASA Takes Additional Steps to Investigate Hubble Instruments in Safe Mode


NASA - Hubble Space Telescope patch.

Nov 5, 2021

NASA is continuing work to resolve an issue that has suspended science operations on the Hubble Space Telescope. The science instruments entered a safe mode configuration on Oct. 25 after detecting a loss of specific data synchronization messages.

Hubble Space Telescope (HST). Image Credit: NASA

The Hubble team is focusing its efforts to isolate the problem on hardware that commands the instruments and is part of the Science Instrument Command and Data Handling Unit.  Specifically, the team is analyzing the circuitry of the Control Unit, which generates synchronization messages and passes them onto the instruments.

While analyzing the Control Unit, the team is working to identify potential workarounds for the issue.  These include possible changes to instrument flight software that could check for these lost messages and compensate for them without putting the instruments into safe mode. These workarounds would first be verified using ground simulators to ensure they work as planned.

Over the weekend of Oct. 30, the team prepared to turn on parts of the Near Infrared Camera and Multi Object Spectrometer (NICMOS) instrument to collect data on this issue, allowing the team to determine how frequently this problem occurs. Installed in 1997, NICMOS has been inactive since 2010, when the Wide Field Camera 3 became operational. NICMOS allowed the team to use an instrument to collect information on these lost messages while keeping the active instruments off as a safety precaution. Since NICMOS was recovered on Nov. 1, no additional synchronization messages have been lost.

The team is now taking steps to recover Hubble’s Advanced Camera for Surveys (ACS) instrument from safe mode and start collecting science with that instrument at the beginning of next week.  The team will make the decision on Sunday after analyzing the latest data. If a lost message is seen before then, the decision to activate ACS will also be revisited.  The team is proceeding cautiously to ensure the safety of the instruments and avoid additional stresses on the hardware. Therefore, only ACS will be used in this capacity next week. ACS was selected as the first instrument to recover as it faces the fewest complications should a lost message occur.

Over the next week, the team will continue analyzing the Control Unit design diagrams and data associated with the lost messages to determine what may have caused this problem.  They will also be looking into potential instrument software changes that could help address it.  Once the team better understands the frequency of the problem and has determined the time needed to implement possible software changes, they will discuss a plan for returning the other instruments to science operations.

Related article:

Hubble Remains in Safe Mode, NASA Team Investigating

Related links:

Hubble Space Telescope (HST):

Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC):

Image (mentioned), Text, Credits: NASA/Jamie Adkins/Elizabeth Landau/GSFC/Claire Andreoli.

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CASC - Long March-6 launches SDGSAT-1


CASC - Long March-6 / SDGSAT-1 Mission patch.

Nov. 5, 2021

Long March-6 carrying SDGSAT-1 liftoff

A Long March-6 launch vehicle launched the SDGSAT-1 satellite from the Taiyuan Satellite Launch Center, Shanxi Province, China, on 5 November 2021, at 02:19 UTC (10:19 local time).

Long March-6 launches SDGSAT-1

SDGSAT-1 (Sustainable Development Science Satellite 1, also known as 广目地球科学卫星, Guangmu Earth Science Satellite, CASEarth) has three payloads of thermal infrared, low light level and multispectral imager, with 300 km wide data acquisition capability. It can achieve global coverage within 11 days.

SDGSAT-1 satellite

The satellite aims to detect parameters representing the interaction between human activities and the Earth environment.

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

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


jeudi 4 novembre 2021

40 years of the station "Venera-14"


CCCP - Venera-13 / Venera-14 stamp.

Nov. 4, 2021

40 years ago, on November 4, 1981, the robotic interplanetary probe Venera-14 went into space to land on the surface of the most fiery planet in the solar system and transmit the first ever color images from its surface. The station was developed by engineers of the S.A. Lavochkin (part of the Roscosmos State Corporation).


In the 1980s of the last century, the scientific program "Venus" was actively developing in the USSR, the first spacecraft of the series were already launched, which flew past the planet and made the first soft landing. When developing the upcoming stations, the engineers faced the most difficult task: to carry out soil sampling and its comprehensive analysis in conditions of high temperatures. By that time, it was known about the caustic atmosphere of Venus and the terrible conditions on its surface, where the temperature reaches 500 C, and the pressure is a hundred times higher than that of the Earth.

Such a task required innovative solutions and partial changes in the design of the apparatus. To test them, the engineers made 18 experimental machines of the station and carried out many tests.

The total mass of the Venera-14 spacecraft was 4394.5 kg. The mass of the descent vehicle is 1632.71 kg, the mass of the lander on the surface of Venus is 750 kg. Corrective propulsion system "Venera-14" is filled with 641.35 kg of fuel: 225.8 kg of fuel and 415.55 kg of oxidizer. The launch to Venus was carried out from an intermediate near-earth orbit with an altitude of 178 by 159 km. The impulse of the second switching on of the engine of the DM unit was 3990.5 m / s. On November 4, at 9 hours 53 minutes 50.6 seconds, the apparatus separated from the upper stage.

On November 14, the first correction of the Venus-14 trajectory was carried out. The correction impulse was 7.3 m / s, which was within the tolerance, while the engine worked at low thrust for 4.1 seconds. Fuel consumption was 15.05 kg. A month before landing, checks began on the relay modes on the decimeter channel, turning on the centimeter and meter channels of the radio complex, as well as EA 079 tape recorders, on which information received from the descent vehicles was to be recorded.

With the approach to Venus, operations began to prepare the descent vehicle for landing. Due to the increase in the heat flux from the Sun on January 4, 1982, the shutter of the radiation heater of the descent vehicle was closed. On February 19, the automatic blocking of the cold circuit of the descent vehicle was turned on and the fan was turned off, and on March 2, a regular cooling was carried out immediately for 11 hours, which made it possible to increase the operating time of the PA on the planet's surface. As a result, the temperature inside the instrument container at the time of separation of the descent vehicle from the flight vehicle was −14.5 ° C.

On February 25, the second correction of the Venera-14 trajectory was carried out. During the operation of the propulsion system, the on-board transmitter was turned off, and telemetry information was recorded on the on-board tape recorder. After reverse turns of the vehicle to the initial spatial position, which was before the correction, the transmitter turned on according to the PVU mark.

The Venera-14 lander landed on the planet's surface ~ 1000 km from the Venera-13 landing vehicle. The coordinates of the landing point of the spacecraft were 13 ° 15 'south latitude (nominal –16 ° ± 1 °) and 310 ° 09' longitude (nominal 314 ° ± 1 °). For the first 4 minutes, the VB02 MSU worked, while information about its operation and the operation of the "Peanut" equipment was transmitted to the Earth. Then the telephotometer covers were thrown off, and the transmission of images interspersed with TM information from other devices began.

56 minutes after landing, a full cycle of filming the surface of Venus with the second telephotometer ended (the first one finished at the 31st minute). At the 57th minute, the extraction of useful information from the signal received from the lander stopped due to a decrease in its level below the threshold. Thus, the program of operation of the Venera-14 descent vehicle was completed in full.

Artist's view of Venera-14

In the following days after landing, the information received from the descent vehicle and recorded on the on-board tape recorders was reproduced. Subsequently, communication sessions with the Venera-14 spacecraft were carried out once every 3-5 days and were mainly devoted to the reproduction of scientific information recorded in standby mode from tape recorders. Thus, work continued on the study of interplanetary space. In particular, studies of X-rays, gamma rays and magnetic fields in outer space, characteristics of the solar wind, cosmic rays and interplanetary plasma continued. The last communication session with "Venus-14" was held on April 9, 1983. The program was implemented successfully and in full.

Related article:

40th anniversary of the "Venus-13" mission

Related links:

ROSCOSMOS Press Release:


NPO Lavochkin:

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


The international experiment SIRIUS-21 starts


ROSCOSMOS - SIRIUS-21 Mission patch.

Nov. 4, 2021

The third stage of the international experiment SIRIUS (Scientific International Research In Unique terrestrial Station) starts at the site of the Institute of Biomedical Problems of the Russian Academy of Sciences. As part of this 240-day isolation study, 70 experiments will be carried out related to preparation for further space exploration by humans.

During the experiment simulating a flight to the moon, it is planned to collect scientific data on a number of problems that the crew of the space expedition will have to face:

- Classic unfavorable factors of space flight and pressurized chamber experiment: sensory deprivation, monotony, limited social contacts, limited living space and controlled habitat;

- Factors of autonomous interplanetary flight, including limiting the resources of the expedition and extravehicular activities on the planet's surface;

- Professional activities of the crew (docking of transport ships, landing of the lunar module, control of robotic equipment);

- Communication delay up to 5 minutes one way;

- The formation of a crew of a mixed gender and nationality;

- Performing joint international experiments in close cooperation with developers and research directors;

- Working off emergency situations.

The participants of the experiment, as well as members of the international crew of the SIRIUS-21 mission will be: Oleg Blinov (Russia), Victoria Kirichenko (Russia), Ekaterina Karjakina (Russia), William Brown (USA), Ashley Kowalski (USA) and Saleh Omar al Ameri (UAE).

The previous two stages of the experiment - SIRIUS-17 and SIRIUS-19 - were carried out in 2017 and 2019, respectively. Within the framework of the first stage, simulating a 17-day space flight, the features of adaptation of the human body to the conditions of isolation in a pressurized object were investigated. A citizen of the Federal Republic of Germany participated in the experiment along with five Russian volunteers. At the second stage, the duration of the experiment simulating a real space flight to the Moon increased to 120 days. It was attended by four Russians and two US citizens.

Related links:

ROSCOSMOS Press Release:



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

Best regards,

Station Readies for Crew Departure Amid Science and Cargo Work


ISS - Expedition 66 Mission patch.

Nov. 4, 2021

Four International Space Station astronauts continue packing their U.S. spacecraft as they plan for a return to Earth this month. Meanwhile, the Expedition 66 crew continued its ongoing space research and maintenance aboard the orbital lab.

Flight Engineers Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur of NASA, who are also the commander and pilot of NASA’s SpaceX Crew-2 mission respectively, have been loading and readying the Crew Dragon Endeavour for its upcoming undocking and splashdown. The duo may undock for the ride back to Earth as early as Sunday, Nov. 7, with astronauts Akihiko Hoshide of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) and Thomas Pesquet of ESA (European Space Agency) ending a mission that began in April. NASA and SpaceX are continuing to review launch and return opportunities for Crew-3 and Crew-2, respectively.

Image above: The city lights of southern India and the island nation of Sri Lanka, beneath the Earth’s airglow, are pictured from the station as it orbited above the Indian Ocean. Image Credit: NASA.

Kimbrough also spent the day uninstalling incubator components before inspecting portable emergency gear. McArthur photographed a variety of space station tools for a survey. Hoshide replaced air filters as Pesquet organized cables and checked camera sensors.

NASA Flight Engineer Mark Vande Hei, who is over halfway through his near yearlong mission, opened up the Microgravity Science Glovebox on Thursday morning and began setting up a semiconductor crystal experiment. The study takes advantage of microgravity and lessons from previous studies to produce higher-quality semiconductor crystals potentially resulting in smaller, more powerful electronic devices.

International Space Station (ISS). Animation Credit: NASA

The station’s two cosmonauts, Pyotr Dubrov and Anton Shkaplerov from Roscosmos, focused their activities today on the docked ISS Progress 78 and 79 resupply ships. The duo checked docking components on the both cargo craft while also unpacking science gear from the Progress 79 spacecraft.

Related articles:

NASA SpaceX Crew-2 to Discuss Station Mission, Upcoming Splashdown

NASA, SpaceX Reviewing Commercial Crew Rotation Plans

Related links:

Expedition 66:


Microgravity Science Glovebox:

Semiconductor crystal experiment:

Space Station Research and Technology:

International Space Station (ISS):

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


Hubble Images Colorful Planetary Nebula Ringed by Hazy Halo


NASA - Hubble Space Telescope patch.

Nov 4, 2021

Image above: NGC 2438 is a planetary nebula. NASA, ESA, K. Knoll (NASA Goddard), and S. Öttl (Leopold Franzens Universität Innsbruck), et. al.; Processing: Gladys Kober (NASA/Catholic University of America).

NGC 2438 is a planetary nebula, formed after the death of a Sun-like star. The medium-sized star would have expelled its outer layers of gas into space as it died, leaving behind a white-dwarf core. A halo of glowing gas over 4.5 light-years across surrounds the nebula's brighter inner ring. Many round or nearly round planetary nebulae display these halo structures, and astronomers have been investigating how they evolve. NGC 2438 was one of the nebulae studied, and researchers found that the nebula’s halo glows due to the ionizing radiation of the central white dwarf.

In this color-filled image, blue represents oxygen (O III), green is hydrogen (H-alpha), orange is nitrogen (N II), and red is sulfur (S II).

Image above: The colorful planetary nebula, NGC 2438, appears to lie on the outskirts of the open star cluster, M46 (NGC 2437). The nebula is actually in the foreground between us and the star cluster. Image Credits: NASA, ESA, K. Knoll (NASA Goddard), S. Öttl (Leopold Franzens Universität Innsbruck), et. al., and DSS; Processing: Gladys Kober (NASA/Catholic University of America).

Hubble Space Telescope (HST). Animation Credit: NASA

This Hubble Space Telescope image was captured by Hubble’s Wide Field and Planetary Camera 2, which gave it its distinctive stair-shape. One of the camera’s four detectors provided a magnified view, which would be shrunk down in the final image to match the other three, creating the unique shape. For more information on the Wide Field and Planetary Camera 2 image shape, visit:

Related article:

Hubble Remains in Safe Mode, NASA Team Investigating

Related link:

Hubble Space Telescope (HST):

Images (mentioned), Animation (mentioned), Text, Credits: NASA/Andrea Gianopoulos/GSFC/Claire Andreoli.

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NASA SpaceX Crew-2 to Discuss Station Mission, Upcoming Splashdown


SpaceX - Dragon Crew-2 Mission patch.

Nov 4, 2021

NASA’s SpaceX Crew-2 astronauts will answer media questions about their time aboard the International Space Station at 12:30 p.m. EDT Friday, Nov. 5, as they prepare to return to Earth later this month.

Image above: NASA SpaceX Crew-2 astronauts Akihiko Hoshide of JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency), left, Thomas Pesquet of ESA (European Space Agency), and Megan McArthur and Shane Kimbrough of NASA participate in the Space Olympics onboard the International Space Station. Image Credits: ESA/NASA–T. Pesquet.

Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur of NASA, Akihiko Hoshide of JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency), and Thomas Pesquet of ESA (European Space Agency) will participate in the news conference, their final one from orbit. The event will air on NASA Television, the NASA app, and the agency’s website.

Interested media must RSVP to the newsroom at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston by calling: 281-483-5111 no later than two hours before the start of the event. To ask questions, reporters must dial into the news conference no later than 12:20 p.m. Questions may also be submitted in advance using #AskNASA.

Crew-2 astronauts have been living and working on the station since their launch April 23, 2021. During their science expedition mission aboard the orbiting laboratory, they conducted hundreds of experiments, ranging from growing chile peppers and cotton to studying water bears and tracking microbes. The astronauts tested new technologies in robotics and augmented reality, and captured imagery of Earth to support research about our changing home planet. Additionally, they completed several spacewalks to upgrade the station’s solar arrays.

The SpaceX Crew Dragon Endeavour spacecraft carrying Crew-2 will undock from the space station later this month, splashing down off the coast of Florida to conclude their mission. As of Friday, Nov. 5, they will have spent 196 days in space.

If operations permit, Endeavour will conduct an approximately 2-hour automated flight around the station after undocking, allowing Crew-2 astronauts to capture high resolution imagery of it.

NASA’s SpaceX Crew-2 mission is the second crew rotation mission of the Crew Dragon and Falcon 9 as part of the agency’s Commercial Crew Program. Regular, long-duration commercial crew rotation missions enable NASA to continue the important research and technology investigations taking place aboard the station. Such research benefits people on Earth and lays the groundwork for future exploration of the Moon and Mars starting with the agency’s Artemis missions, which includes landing the first woman and person of color on the lunar surface.

Follow Kimbrough, McArthur, Hoshide, and Pesquet on social media, and learn more about their scientific journey and download images and video on NASA’s website.

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Related article:

NASA, SpaceX Reviewing Commercial Crew Rotation Plans

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Image (mentioned), Text, Credits: NASA/Sean Potter/Joshua Finch/Stephanie Schierholz/JSC/Megan Dean.


NASA Statement on Artemis Lunar Lander Court Decision


NASA - ARTEMIS Program logo.

Nov 4, 2021

Image above: Illustration of SpaceX Starship human lander design that will carry the first NASA astronauts to the surface of the Moon under Artemis. Image Credit: SpaceX.

NASA was notified Thursday that the U.S. Court of Federal Claims denied Blue Origin’s bid protest, upholding NASA’s selection of SpaceX to develop and demonstrate a modern human lunar lander. NASA will resume work with SpaceX under the Option A contract as soon as possible.

In addition to this contract, NASA continues working with multiple American companies to bolster competition and commercial readiness for crewed transportation to the lunar surface. There will be forthcoming opportunities for companies to partner with NASA in establishing a long-term human presence at the Moon under the agency’s Artemis program, including a call in 2022 to U.S. industry for recurring crewed lunar landing services.

Through Artemis missions, NASA will lead the world in landing the first woman and first person of color on the lunar surface, conduct extensive operations on and around the Moon, and get ready for human missions to Mars.

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Image (mentioned), Text, Credits: NASA/Robert Margetta/Monica Witt.


Astronomers make most distant detection yet of fluorine in star-forming galaxy


ESO - European Southern Observatory logo.

Nov. 4, 2021

Artist’s impression of the galaxy NGP–190387

A new discovery is shedding light on how fluorine — an element found in our bones and teeth as fluoride — is forged in the Universe. Using the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA), in which the European Southern Observatory (ESO) is a partner, a team of astronomers have detected this element in a galaxy that is so far away its light has taken over 12 billion years to reach us. This is the first time fluorine has been spotted in such a distant star-forming galaxy.

“We all know about fluorine because the toothpaste we use every day contains it in the form of fluoride,” says Maximilien Franco from the University of Hertfordshire in the UK, who led the new study, published today in Nature Astronomy. Like most elements around us, fluorine is created inside stars but, until now, we did not know exactly how this element was produced. “We did not even know which type of stars produced the majority of fluorine in the Universe!”

Artist’s impression of a Wolf–Rayet star

Franco and his collaborators spotted fluorine (in the form of hydrogen fluoride) in the large clouds of gas of the distant galaxy NGP–190387, which we see as it was when the Universe was only 1.4 billion years old, about 10% of its current age. Since stars expel the elements they form in their cores as they reach the end of their lives, this detection implies that the stars that created fluorine must have lived and died quickly.

The team believes that Wolf–Rayet stars, very massive stars that live only a few million years, a blink of the eye in the Universe’s history, are the most likely production sites of fluorine. They are needed to explain the amounts of hydrogen fluoride the team spotted, they say. Wolf–Rayet stars had been suggested as possible sources of cosmic fluorine before, but astronomers did not know until now how important they were in producing this element in the early Universe.

Wide-field view of the sky around the galaxy NGP–190387

“We have shown that Wolf–Rayet stars, which are among the most massive stars known and can explode violently as they reach the end of their lives, help us, in a way, to maintain good dental health!” jokes Franco.

Besides these stars, other scenarios for how fluorine is produced and expelled have been put forward in the past. An example includes pulsations of giant, evolved stars with masses up to few times that of our Sun, called asymptotic giant branch stars. But the team believes these scenarios, some of which take billions of years to occur, might not fully explain the amount of fluorine in NGP–190387.

Zooming in on a Wolf–Rayet star in the remote NGP–190387 galaxy

“For this galaxy, it took just tens or hundreds of millions of years to have fluorine levels comparable to those found in stars in the Milky Way, which is 13.5 billion years old. This was a totally unexpected result,” says Chiaki Kobayashi, a professor at the University of Hertfordshire. “Our measurement adds a completely new constraint on the origin of fluorine, which has been studied for two decades.”

The discovery in NGP–190387 marks one of the first detections of fluorine beyond the Milky Way and its neighbouring galaxies. Astronomers have previously spotted this element in distant quasars, bright objects powered by supermassive black holes at the centre of some galaxies. But never before had this element been observed in a star-forming galaxy so early in the history of the Universe.

Artist's animation of the galaxy NGP–190387

The team’s detection of fluorine was a chance discovery made possible thanks to the use of space and ground-based observatories. NGP–190387, originally discovered with the European Space Agency’s Herschel Space Observatory and later observed with the Chile-based ALMA, is extraordinarily bright for its distance. The ALMA data confirmed that the exceptional luminosity of NGP–190387 was partly caused by another known massive galaxy, located between NGP–190387 and the Earth, very close to the line of sight. This massive galaxy amplified the light observed by Franco and his collaborators, enabling them to spot the faint radiation emitted billions of years ago by the fluorine in NGP–190387.

Future studies of NGP–190387 with the Extremely Large Telescope (ELT) — ESO’s new flagship project, under construction in Chile and set to start operations later this decade — could reveal further secrets about this galaxy. “ALMA is sensitive to radiation emitted by cold interstellar gas and dust,” says Chentao Yang, an ESO Fellow in Chile. “With the ELT, we will be able to observe NGP–190387 through the direct light of stars, gaining crucial information on the stellar content of this galaxy.”
More information:

This research was presented in the paper "The ramp-up of interstellar medium enrichment at z > 4" to appear in Nature Astronomy (

The team is composed of M. Franco (Centre for Astrophysics Research, University of Hertfordshire, UK [CAR]), K. E. K. Coppin (CAR), J. E. Geach (CAR), C. Kobayashi (CAR), S. C. Chapman (Department of Physics and Atmospheric Science, Dalhousie University, Canada and National Research Council, Herzberg Astronomy and Astrophysics, Canada), C. Yang (European Southern Observatory, Chile), E. González-Alfonso (Universidad de Alcalá, Departamento de Física y Matematicas, Spain), J. S. Spilker (Department of Astronomy, University of Texas at Austin, USA), A. Cooray (Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of California, Irvine, USA), M. J. Michałowski (Astronomical Observatory Institute, Faculty of Physics, Poland)

The European Southern Observatory (ESO) enables scientists worldwide to discover the secrets of the Universe for the benefit of all. We design, build and operate world-class observatories on the ground — which astronomers use to tackle exciting questions and spread the fascination of astronomy — and promote international collaboration in astronomy. Established as an intergovernmental organisation in 1962, today ESO is supported by 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’s headquarters and its visitor centre and planetarium, the ESO Supernova, are located close to Munich in Germany, while the Chilean Atacama Desert, a marvellous place with unique conditions to observe the sky, hosts our telescopes. ESO operates three observing sites: La Silla, Paranal and Chajnantor. At Paranal, ESO operates the Very Large Telescope and its 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. Together with international partners, ESO operates APEX and ALMA on Chajnantor, two facilities that observe the skies in the millimetre and submillimetre range. At Cerro Armazones, near Paranal, we are building “the world’s biggest eye on the sky” — ESO’s Extremely Large Telescope. From our offices in Santiago, Chile we support our operations in the country and engage with Chilean partners and society.

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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Finding the stars that help with our dental health (ESOcast 244 Light):

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Images Credits: ESO/M. Kornmesser/ESO/L. Calçada/ESO/Digitized Sky Survey 2. Acknowledgement: Davide De Martin/Videos Credits: ESO/L. Calçada/M. Kornmesser/Digitized Sky Survey 2/N. Risinger ( Kornmesser/Text Credits: ESO/Bárbara Ferreira/Chentao Yang/University of Hertfordshire/Centre for Astrophysics Research, University of Hertfordshire/Chiaki Kobayashi/Maximilien Franco.

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