samedi 13 novembre 2021

SpaceX Starlink 31 launch


SpaceX - Falcon 9 / Starlink Mission patch.

Nov. 13, 2021

SpaceX Starlink 31 launch

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launched 53 Starlink satellites (Starlink-31) from Space Launch Complex 40 (SLC-40) at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida, on 13 November 2021, at 12:19 UTC (07:19 EST).

SpaceX Starlink 31 launch & Falcon 9 first stage landing, 13 November 2021

Following stage separation, Falcon 9’s first stage landed on the “Just Read the Instructions” droneship, stationed in the Atlantic Ocean. Falcon 9’s first stage (B1058) previously supported eight missions: Demo-2, ANASIS-II, CRS-21, Transporter-1 and four Starlink missions.

Related links:



Image, Video, Text, Credits: SpaceX/SciNews/ Aerospace/Roland Berga.


vendredi 12 novembre 2021

Detectors for a new era of ATLAS physics


CERN - European Organization for Nuclear Research logo.

Nov. 12, 2021

The New Small Wheel system joins the ATLAS experiment after nearly a decade of design and construction

Image above: NSW “A” positioned in place inside the ATLAS experiment. (Image: CERN).

The High-Luminosity upgrade of the Large Hadron Collider (HL-LHC) will dramatically increase the rate of collisions in the ATLAS experiment. While offering an opportunity for physicists to explore some of the rarest processes in the universe, the large collision rate brings new challenges – in particular, higher radiation levels and significantly more data. The ATLAS collaboration is adapting to deal with these challenges by upgrading all parts of its detectors with new, state-of-the-art instruments.

“The Muon New Small Wheels (NSW) are the first new detectors in ATLAS specifically designed to handle high-luminosity conditions,” says ATLAS Spokesperson Andreas Hoecker. “The installation of the second – and final – NSW follows nearly a decade of dedicated efforts by ATLAS members, who designed, constructed and assembled this high-tech muon detector from scratch.”

Cutting-edge technology

The ATLAS NSW system is made up of two wheel-shaped detectors, sitting at opposite ends of the experimental cavern. Named in comparison to ATLAS’s 25-metre “big wheel” detectors, each NSW weighs more than 100 tonnes and is nearly 10 metres in diameter.

More important than size is function. The NSW detectors are at the forefront of detector design, using two innovative gaseous detector technologies: micromegas (MM) and small-strip thin-gap chambers (sTGC). These provide both fast and precise muon-tracking capabilities. “The improved spatial resolution allowed by the NSW will be especially critical for the ATLAS “trigger”, the system that decides which collision events to store and which to discard. The trigger will rely on the NSW’s excellent resolution to confirm whether a particle originated from the interaction point, thus reducing our chances of saving data from unwanted background events,” says Mario Antonelli, NSW Phase 1 Upgrade Project Leader.

The readout capabilities of the overall system are staggering: two million MM readout channels and 350,000 sTGC electronic readout channels. Each wheel has 16 sectors, each containing two layers of MM and sTGC chambers with four measurement planes apiece, providing the physicists with useful redundancy as they trace a muon’s track through the detectors.

Assembly of the NSW chambers at CERN. (Image: CERN)

The dance of detectors

While 2021 has seen the NSW detectors journey underground, this was not their first time on the move. “The NSW effort was multinational, with members from across the global ATLAS collaboration contributing to construction and design,” says Philipp Fleischmann, ATLAS Muon System Project Leader.

After the original wheels were officially retired, NSW “A” was driven from Building 191 to the ATLAS surface hall on 6 July and, six days later, lowered into the ATLAS cavern where it was moved into its final position between the calorimeter endcap cryostat and the endcap toroid magnets. This momentous occasion was repeated for the NSW “C” four months later, as it was lowered into the ATLAS cavern on 4 November.

“That the team managed to keep the project on track despite a global pandemic and the tragic loss of their project leader, Stephanie Zimmermann, is a testament to their incredible talent and dedication,” says ATLAS Technical Coordinator Ludovico Pontecorvo.

Image above: NSW “C” enters the ATLAS surface hall, located just above the experiment, on 14 October 2021. (Image: CERN).

New wheels in motion

The NSW detectors will be instrumental in Run 3 data taking, as a moderate increase in luminosity is already planned for the LHC. While waiting to see the wheels in action, the ATLAS collaboration turns its focus to the next major upgrades of the experiment. “The next long shutdown of the LHC (LS3, scheduled for 2025) will be the last before the HL-LHC begins operation,” says Francesco Lanni, ATLAS Upgrade Coordinator. “We have a lot to accomplish in the intervening years, including the construction and assembly of an entire new inner tracking system. But with each new upgrade, we get one step closer to the next chapter of LHC physics and the exciting discoveries that may lay within.”

Key to the success of the New Small Wheel was its former project leader, ATLAS physicist Stephanie Zimmermann. Her sudden death in November 2020 left a hole in the tight-knit NSW family. In her honour – and wishing to fulfil her dream of seeing the NSW installed – a photo of Stephanie was attached to NSW “A” as it was lowered into the experiment.

A full obituary was published in tribute to Stephanie in the CERN Bulletin:

Learn more:

Wheels in motion for ATLAS upgrade, CERN Courier, October 2021:

First ATLAS New Small Wheel nears completion, ATLAS News, June 2021:

Watch the lowering of the New Small Wheel detector in 360°, live event, July 2021:

Read the original article on the ATLAS website:


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

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

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

Related links:

Large Hadron Collider (HL-LHC):


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

Images (mentioned), Text, Credits: CERN/By Katarina Anthony.

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Space Station Science Highlights: Week of November 8, 2021


ISS - Expedition 66 Mission patch.

Nov 12, 2021

International Space Station (ISS). Image Credit: NASA

Crew members aboard the International Space Station conducted scientific investigations during the week of Nov. 8 that included testing new cooling technology for spacesuits, collecting crew health measures, and conducting a ham radio session with students on the ground.

Crew changeovers were the focus of much of the activity taking place aboard the orbiting lab this past week. NASA astronauts Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur, JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) astronaut Akihiko Hoshide, and ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Thomas Pesquet returned to Earth on Monday after a mission of more than six months. The Crew-3 team, NASA astronauts Raja Chari, Tom Marshburn, and Kayla Barron and ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Matthias Maurer, arrived aboard a SpaceX Crew Dragon on Thursday, Nov. 11. Along with them came a number of new science experiments.

Image above: The SpaceX Crew Dragon Endeavour as seen from the space station shortly after undocking to carry the members of Crew-2 back to Earth. Image Credit: NASA.

The space station has been continuously inhabited by humans for 21 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:

Suiting up

During the week, crew members performed water sampling for SERFE. The investigation demonstrates a new technology using water evaporation to remove heat from spacesuits to maintain appropriate temperatures for crew members and equipment during space walks. The investigation evaluates the technology’s effect on contamination and corrosion of spacesuit material and could help determine whether microgravity affects its temperature maintenance performance.

Collecting core health measurements

Crew members donned the Actiwatch, a wearable monitor that collects data on circadian rhythms, sleep-wake patterns, and activity, for Standard Measures. The ongoing project ensures consistent capture of a set of health measures from crew members to characterize the adaptive responses to and risks of living in space. Researchers add these data to a repository that enables high-level monitoring of countermeasures and meaningful interpretation of health and performance outcomes, supporting future research on planetary missions.

Image above: This image taken from the space station shows an ocean area around the Bahamas. Image Credit: NASA.

Ask an astronaut

Crew members conducted an ISS HAM session with South Yarra Primary School, South Yarra, Victoria, Australia during the week. ISS Ham Radio engages students, teachers, parents, and other members of the community in direct communication between astronauts and ground-based ham radio units. Before a scheduled session, students learn about radio waves, amateur radio, and related science topics and conduct research to prepare their questions for the crew. This experience helps inspire interest in science, technology, engineering, and math.

Other investigations involving the crew:

- A recently published study analyzed data from NICER, an instrument on the exterior of the space station that takes high-precision measurements of neutron stars and other X-ray astrophysics phenomena. The analysis provides useful methods for determining characteristics of potential black holes.

Published study:

Image above: Chile pepper plants continue to thrive aboard the space station for the Plant Habitat-04 investigation. Crew-3 is scheduled to tend to the plants and conduct a second harvest of peppers for analysis and taste tests. Image Credit: NASA.

- Plant Habitat-04 involves microbial analysis and crew assessment of flavor, texture, and nutrition of the first chile peppers grown in space.

- Food Acceptability looks at how the appeal of food changes during long-duration missions. Whether crew members like and actually eat food has a direct effect on caloric intake and associated nutritional benefits.

- 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 scientists anticipate radiation flares and guide reaction to them.

Space to Ground: A Science Exchange In Orbit: 11/12/2021

Related links:

Expedition 66:



Standard Measures:

ISS Ham Radio:

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.


Reflected Starlight Bathes Forming Star in New Hubble Image


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

Nov 12, 2021

Image Credits: NASA, ESA, and K. Stapelfeldt (Jet Propulsion Laboratory); Processing; Gladys Kober (NASA/Catholic University of America).

This NASA Hubble Space Telescope image captures a portion of the reflection nebula IC 2631 that contains a protostar, the hot, dense core of a forming star that is accumulating gas and dust. Eventually the protostar may gravitationally gather enough matter to begin nuclear fusion and emit its own energy and starlight.

Reflection nebulae are clouds of gas and dust that reflect the light from nearby stars. The starlight scatters through the gas and dust like a flashlight beam shining on mist in the dark and illuminates it. Because of the way light scatters when it hits the fine dust of the interstellar medium, these nebulae are often bluish in color.

Image above: Hubble observed a small part of IC2631 in a survey looking at the disks of newly-formed stars. Image Credits: NASA, ESA, K. Stapelfeldt (Jet Propulsion Laboratory), and ESO; Processing; Gladys Kober (NASA/Catholic University of America).

Hubble observed this nebula while looking for disks of gas and dust around young stars. Such disks are left over from the formation of the star and may eventually form planets.

Hubble Space Telescope (HST). Animation Credit: NASA

Related articles:

Hubble’s Advanced Camera for Surveys Instrument Resumes Science, Investigation Continues (Update)

NASA Takes Additional Steps to Investigate Hubble Instruments in Safe Mode

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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Snoopy to Fly on NASA's Artemis I Moon Mission


NASA - Eyes on the Stars patch.

Nov 12, 2021

For more than 50 years, Snoopy has contributed to the excitement for NASA human spaceflight missions, helping inspire generations to dream big. NASA has shared an association with Charles M. Schulz and Snoopy since Apollo missions and continues under Artemis with new educational activities. Up next -- Snoopy will ride along as the zero gravity indicator on Artemis I.

Image above: Snoopy as a zero gravity indicator. Image Credits: 2021 Peanuts Worldwide LLC.

Artemis I is an uncrewed flight test of the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket and Orion spacecraft around the Moon launching in early 2022 before missions with astronauts. Zero gravity indicators are small items carried aboard spacecraft that provide a visual indicator when a spacecraft has reached the weightlessness of microgravity. Without astronauts aboard Orion, Snoopy will help share the journey with the world as he rides along in the cabin with a manikin and two other “passengers.”

Apollo Era

Already a well-known household character, Snoopy was used to encourage NASA’s spaceflight safety initiative during the time of Apollo. Schulz created comic strips of Snoopy on the Moon, capturing public excitement about America’s achievements in space.

In May 1969, Apollo 10 astronauts Gene Cernan, John Young and Thomas Stafford traveled all the way to the Moon for one final checkout before the lunar landing attempt. The mission required the lunar module to skim the Moon's surface to within 50,000 feet and "snoop around" scouting the Apollo 11 landing site, leading the crew to name the lunar module "Snoopy." The Apollo command module was labeled "Charlie Brown," after Snoopy’s loyal owner. Snoopy’s first flight to space was in 1990 when he was able to catch a ride on the space shuttle Columbia during the STS-32 mission.

NASA's Silver Snoopy award. Image Credit: NASA

The agency’s Silver Snoopy award was created during the Apollo era and remains to this day. It is a high honor awarded to NASA employees and contractors by astronauts, celebrating achievements related to mission success and human flight safety. Each silver pin given with this award, depicting astronaut Snoopy, was flown in space. Continuing the tradition, Artemis I will also carry a package of silver snoopy pins for future recognitions.

Apollo 50th Anniversary

In 2019, NASA and Peanuts Worldwide celebrated the 50th Anniversary of the launch of Apollo 10 and the history of their partnership in NASA’s safety and human space flight awareness program. Leading up to the anniversary, NASA and Peanuts collaborated on STEM activities, a mini-documentary and other new products that share the excitement of science, technology, engineering and math with the next generation of explorers. The collaboration, formalized though a Space Act Agreement, provided an opportunity to update Snoopy’s spacesuit and introduce new space-themed programming with content about NASA’s deep space exploration missions, 50 years after the initial collaboration began during the Apollo era.

Under the anniversary collaboration, NASA provided support for a number of new Peanuts programs that focused on modern-day astronaut Snoopy and space themes, including a STEM-based curriculum for students in kindergarten through 5th grade about America’s deep space exploration objectives. NASA centers across the nation joined the celebration as well with local exhibits or STEM activities capitalizing on the Apollo 10 mission’s unique call sign for the Lunar Lander of Snoopy. Snoopy also participated in the celebration on the National Mall in Washington to celebrate the 50th Apollo 11 Moon landing, which also took place in 1969.

Image above: NASA astronaut Eugene A. Cernan, lunar module pilot of the Apollo 10 prime crew, is seen at a press conference held on April 26, 1969, at the Manned Spacecraft Center (now NASA's Johnson Space Center) in Houston. Image Credit: NASA.

NASA participated in other Apollo anniversary collaborations with Peanuts and its partners. Peanuts partnered with McDonalds for a "Discover Space with Snoopy" Happy Meal featuring Snoopy in his persona as the "world famous astronaut" and "the first beagle on the Moon," as well as STEM-focused books, activities, and toys. Peanuts and its partner company WildBrain also premiered the first season of “Snoopy in Space,” on Apple TV+ in 2019. NASA supported Peanuts and its partners with reviews of STEM content and NASA mission information.

Astronaut Snoopy was featured as a balloon in the 2019 Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade and as a plush doll floating aboard the International Space Station. During coverage of the holiday celebration, NASA astronauts Jessica Meir and Christina Koch delivered a message alongside Snoopy from aboard the space station, highlighting the partnership along with the 20th anniversary of continuous human presence on station, which is helping prepare future exploration with Artemis.

Astronaut Snoopy launched to the station aboard a Cygnus spacecraft on Northrop Grumman’s 12th cargo resupply mission. In the parade and on the space station, Snoopy sported a spacesuit modeled after NASA's Orion Crew Survival System, which is worn by astronauts while inside the Orion spacecraft on Artemis missions to the Moon. The Astronaut Snoopy balloon will appear again in the 2021 Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.

Snoopy, Artemis Generation

Today, the partnership continues. For Snoopy’s flight on the Artemis I mission, he will be outfitted in a custom orange flight suit complete with gloves, boots, and a NASA patch. Peanuts is releasing a new suite of curriculum and short videos with its partner, GoNoodle, to encourage kids to learn about gravity, teamwork, and space exploration while they follow Snoopy along on his Artemis I journey. In addition to the doll and Sliver Snoopy pins, a pen nib from Charles M. Schulz’s Peanuts studio will make the trek on Artemis I wrapped in a space themed comic strip as part of a collection of mementos selected by NASA to fly aboard the Orion spacecraft. A new season of “Snoopy in Space” will also be released on Apple TV+ that explores the planets and what conditions are necessary to find life in the universe. NASA supported Peanuts with the series through reviews of STEM content and NASA mission information.

Under Artemis, NASA is working to land the first woman and the first person of color on the Moon and lead the next steps of human exploration for future missions to Mars. Artemis I will pave the way for a series of increasingly complex missions to establish a long-term presence at the Moon.

Learn more about Artemis:

Related links:

Apollo 10:

Silver Snoopy award:

Space Act Agreement:

Orion Crew Survival System:

Orion Spacecraft:

Images (mentioned), Text, Credits: NASA/Cheryl Warner.


jeudi 11 novembre 2021

The Station Crew Welcomed Four New Members


ISS - Expedition 66 Mission patch.

Nov. 11, 2021

Animation above: SpaceX Crew Dragon docking the International Space Station (ISS). Animation Credit: SpaceX.

Running more than 30 minutes ahead of schedule, the SpaceX Crew-3 astronauts docked to the International Space Station at 6:32 p.m. EST Thursday, Nov. 11, less than 24 hours after launching from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. NASA astronauts Raja Chari, Tom Marshburn, Kayla Barron, and ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Matthias Maurer opened the hatch of their Crew Dragon spacecraft Endurance at 8:25 p.m. and participated in a welcome ceremony with their new Expedition 66 crewmates at 9 p.m.

SpaceX Crew-3 hatch opening

On board to welcome them were fellow astronaut Mark Vande Hei, Expedition 66 Commander Anton Shkaplerov and Flight Engineer Pyotr Dubrov of Roscosmos. Joining the welcome ceremony from Earth were Kathy Lueders, NASA associate administrator for Space Operations, NASA and Josef Aschbacher, ESA director-general.

Image above: The Expedition 66 crew poses for a photo after SpaceX Crew-3’s arrival to station. Image Credit: NASA TV.

The newest crew to the microgravity laboratory is the agency’s third crew rotation mission with SpaceX and will remain on board until April 2022 as a part of Expedition 66.

Related articles:

Crew Dragon Endurance Docked to the Space Station

NASA’s SpaceX Crew-3 Astronauts Headed to International Space Station

Related links:

Expedition 66:

Commercial Crew:

International Space Station (ISS): 

Animation (mentioned), Image (mentioned), Video, Text, Credits: NASA/Norah Moran/NASA TV/SciNews.

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ISS orbit correction scheduled for November 16 canceled


ROSCOSMOS - Russian Vehicles patch.

Nov. 11, 2021

The orbital altitude of the International Space Station was increased on the evening of November 10, 2021 to avoid collisions with space debris. This made it possible to increase the orbital altitude of the ISS by about 1.2 kilometers.

International Space Station (ISS)

Earlier, in order to form ballistic conditions before launching into near-earth orbit and landing of the Soyuz MS-20 manned transport vehicle, the planned correction of the ISS orbit was planned to be carried out on November 16, but the evasion maneuver made the day before was calculated by the ballistics specialists of the TsNIIMash Mission Control Center (part of the Roscosmos State Corporation ) in such a way that the need for correction on November 16 disappeared. In this regard, the flight management of the Russian segment of the International Space Station decided to cancel it.

Roscosmos cosmonauts Anton Shkaplerov and Peter Dubrov and NASA astronaut Mark Vande Hai are currently working on board the International Space Station. Tomorrow morning they will be joined by the crew of the Crew-3 mission - astronauts Thomas Marshburn, Raja Chari, Kayla Barron and Matthias Maurer. In December, as expected, space flight participants from Japan, Yusaku Maezawa and Yozo Hirano, will visit the station; they will be delivered to the ISS by the Soyuz MS-20 manned transport spacecraft commanded by Roscosmos cosmonaut Alexander Misurkin.

Related article:

Planned correction of the ISS orbit altitude is scheduled for November 16

Related links:

ROSCOSMOS Press Release:

Soyuz MS-20:



International Space Station (ISS):

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


Crew Dragon Endurance Docked to the Space Station


SpaceX - Dragon Crew-3 Mission patch.

Nov. 11, 2021

Crew Dragon Endurance arrival to the International Space Station (ISS)

NASA astronauts Raja Chari, Tom Marshburn, Kayla Barron, and ESA astronaut Matthias Maurer arrived at the International Space Station at 6:32 p.m. EST Thursday, Nov. 11. Crew Dragon Endurance docked to the orbital complex while the spacecrafts were flying 260 miles above the eastern Caribbean Sea.

Crew Dragon Endurance arrival to the International Space Station (ISS)

Following Crew Dragon’s link up to the Harmony module, the astronauts aboard the Endurance and the space station will begin conducting standard leak checks and pressurization between the spacecraft in preparation for hatch opening scheduled for approximately 8:10 p.m.

Crew Dragon Endurance at 3 meters of the docking port

Chari, Marshburn, Barron, and Maurer will join the Expedition 66 crew of Mark Vande Hei of NASA and cosmonauts Anton Shkaplerov and Pyotr Dubrov of Roscosmos for a planned six-month mission living and working aboard the microgravity laboratory to advance scientific knowledge and demonstrate new technologies for future human and robotic exploration missions as part of NASA’s Moon and Mars exploration approach, including lunar missions through NASA’s Artemis program.

SpaceX Crew-3 docking

The welcome ceremony is at approximately 8:45 p.m. with time subject to change.

Image above: Nov. 11, 2021: International Space Station Configuration. Five spaceships are parked at the space station including Northrop Grumman’s Cygnus space freighter; the SpaceX Crew Dragon vehicle; and Russia’s Soyuz MS-19 crew ship and Progress 78 and 79 resupply ships.

NASA’s SpaceX Crew-3 mission lifted off at 9:03 p.m. on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon spacecraft from Launch Complex 39A at Kennedy Space Center in Florida for the agency’s third crew rotation mission.

Related article:

NASA’s SpaceX Crew-3 Astronauts Headed to International Space Station

Related links:


Commercial Crew:

Commercial Space:

International Space Station (ISS):

Images, Video, Text, Credits: NASA/Norah Moran/NASA TV/SciNews/ Aerospace/Roland Berga.

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Hubble Surveys A Snowman Sculpted from Gas and Dust


NASA - Hubble Space Telescope patch.

Nov 11, 2021

Image above: The Hubble Space Telescope captured just a small segment of the larger Snowman Nebula. Image Credits: NASA, ESA, and J. Tan (Chalmers University of Technology); Processing; Gladys Kober (NASA/Catholic University of America).

The Snowman Nebula is an emission nebula that resides in the constellation Puppis in the southern sky, about 6,000 light-years away from Earth. Emission nebulae are diffuse clouds of gas that have become so charged by the energy of nearby massive stars that they glow with their own light. The radiation from these massive stars strips electrons from the nebula’s hydrogen atoms in a process called ionization. As the energized electrons revert from their higher-energy state to a lower-energy state, they emit energy in the form of light, causing the nebula’s gas to glow.

Hubble Space Telescope (HST). Animation Credits: NASA/ESA

From a telescope on Earth, the Snowman looks a bit like a dual-lobed ball of gas, but this Hubble Space Telescope image captures the details of sweeping curves of bright gas and dark knots of dust in a small section of the nebula. The Snowman is also known as Sharpless 2-302, one of the objects in a catalog of mostly emission nebulae that was compiled by astronomer Stewart Sharpless as he sought to identify areas of interstellar ionized hydrogen, or HII regions.

Image above: The Hubble Space Telescope captured just a small segment of the larger Snowman Nebula. Image Credits: NASA, ESA, J. Tan (Chalmers University of Technology), and DSS; Processing; Gladys Kober (NASA/Catholic University of America).

This image was captured as part of a survey of massive- and intermediate-size “protostars,” or newly forming stars. Astronomers used the infrared sensitivity of Hubble’s Wide Field Camera 3 to look for hydrogen ionized by ultraviolet light from the protostars, jets from the stars, and other features.

Related articles:

Hubble’s Advanced Camera for Surveys Instrument Resumes Science, Investigation Continues (Update)

NASA Takes Additional Steps to Investigate Hubble Instruments in Safe Mode

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.


Black hole found hiding in star cluster outside our galaxy


ESO - European Southern Observatory logo.

Nov. 11, 2021

Artist’s impression of the black hole in NGC 1850 distorting its companion star

Using the European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope (ESO’s VLT), astronomers have discovered a small black hole outside the Milky Way by looking at how it influences the motion of a star in its close vicinity. This is the first time this detection method has been used to reveal the presence of a black hole outside of our galaxy. The method could be key to unveiling hidden black holes in the Milky Way and nearby galaxies, and to help shed light on how these mysterious objects form and evolve.

The newly found black hole was spotted lurking in NGC 1850, a cluster of thousands of stars roughly 160 000 light-years away in the Large Magellanic Cloud, a neighbour galaxy of the Milky Way.

NGC1850 as seen with the Very Large Telescope and Hubble

“Similar to Sherlock Holmes tracking down a criminal gang from their missteps, we are looking at every single star in this cluster with a magnifying glass in one hand trying to find some evidence for the presence of black holes but without seeing them directly,” says Sara Saracino from the Astrophysics Research Institute of Liverpool John Moores University in the UK, who led the research now accepted for publication in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society. “The result shown here represents just one of the wanted criminals, but when you have found one, you are well on your way to discovering many others, in different clusters.”

This first “criminal” tracked down by the team turned out to be roughly 11 times as massive as our Sun. The smoking gun that put the astronomers on the trail of this black hole was its gravitational influence on the five-solar-mass star orbiting it.

Location of the NGC 1850 cluster in the constellation Dorado

Astronomers have previously spotted such small, “stellar-mass” black holes in other galaxies by picking up the X-ray glow emitted as they swallow matter, or from the gravitational waves generated as black holes collide with one another or with neutron stars.

However, most stellar-mass black holes don’t give away their presence through X-rays or gravitational waves. “The vast majority can only be unveiled dynamically,” says Stefan Dreizler, a team member based at the University of Göttingen in Germany. “When they form a system with a star, they will affect its motion in a subtle but detectable way, so we can find them with sophisticated instruments.”

The Large Magellanic Cloud revealed by VISTA

This dynamical method used by Saracino and her team could allow astronomers to find many more black holes and help unlock their mysteries. “Every single detection we make will be important for our future understanding of stellar clusters and the black holes in them,” says study co-author Mark Gieles from the University of Barcelona, Spain.

The detection in NGC 1850 marks the first time a black hole has been found in a young cluster of stars (the cluster is only around 100 million years old, a blink of an eye on astronomical scales). Using their dynamical method in similar star clusters could unveil even more young black holes and shed new light on how they evolve. By comparing them with larger, more mature black holes in older clusters, astronomers would be able to understand how these objects grow by feeding on stars or merging with other black holes. Furthermore, charting the demographics of black holes in star clusters improves our understanding of the origin of gravitational wave sources.

A journey to NGC 1850

To carry out their search, the team used data collected over two years with the Multi Unit Spectroscopic Explorer (MUSE) mounted at ESO’s VLT, located in the Chilean Atacama Desert. “MUSE allowed us to observe very crowded areas, like the innermost regions of stellar clusters, analysing the light of every single star in the vicinity. The net result is information about thousands of stars in one shot, at least 10 times more than with any other instrument,” says co-author Sebastian Kamann, a long-time MUSE expert based at Liverpool’s Astrophysics Research Institute. This allowed the team to spot the odd star out whose peculiar motion signalled the presence of the black hole. Data from the University of Warsaw’s Optical Gravitational Lensing Experiment and from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope enabled them to measure the mass of the black hole and confirm their findings.

How to find a black hole with MUSE

ESO’s Extremely Large Telescope in Chile, set to start operating later this decade, will allow astronomers to find even more hidden black holes. “The ELT will definitely revolutionise this field,” says Saracino. “It will allow us to observe stars considerably fainter in the same field of view, as well as to look for black holes in globular clusters located at much greater distances.”

Artist’s animated view of the black hole in NGC 1850 distorting its companion star

More information

This research was presented in a paper to appear in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society (

The team is composed of S. Saracino (Astrophysics Research Institute, Liverpool John Moores University, UK [LJMU]), S. Kamann (LJMU), M. G. Guarcello (Osservatorio Astronomico di Palermo, Palermo, Italy), C. Usher (Department of Astronomy, Oskar Klein Centre, Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden), N. Bastian (Donostia International Physics Center, Donostia-San Sebastián, Spain, Basque Foundation for Science, Bilbao, Spain & LJMU), I. Cabrera-Ziri (Astronomisches Rechen-Institut, Zentrum für Astronomie der Universität Heidelberg, Heidelberg, Germany), M. Gieles (ICREA, Barcelona, Spain and Institut de Ciències del Cosmos, Universitat de Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain), S. Dreizler (Institute for Astrophysics, University of Göttingen, Göttingen, Germany [GAUG]), G. S. Da Costa (Research School of Astronomy and Astrophysics, Australian National University, Canberra, Australia), T.-O. Husser (GAUG) and V. Hénault-Brunet (Department of Astronomy and Physics, Saint Mary’s University, Halifax, Canada).

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.


Black Hole Discovered in Galaxy Next Door (ESOcast 245 Light):

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Text Credits: ESO/Bárbara Ferreira/ICREA, Barcelona, Spain and Institut de Ciències del Cosmos, Universitat de Barcelona/Mark Gieles/Institute for Astrophysics, University of Göttingen/Stefan Dreizler/Astrophysics Research Institute, Liverpool John Moores University/Sebastian Kamann/Sara Saracino/Images Credits: ESO/M. Kornmesser/ESO, NASA/ESA/R. Gilmozzi/S. Casertano, J. Schmidt/ESO, IAU and Sky & Telescope/ESO/VMC Survey/Videos Credits: ESO, N. Risinger (, DSS, NASA/ESA/M. Romaniello. Music: Azul Cobalto/ESO/L. Calçada, NASA/ESA/M. Romaniello. Acknowledgement: J.C. Muñoz-Mateos/ESO/M. Kornmesser.

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NASA’s SpaceX Crew-3 Astronauts Headed to International Space Station


SpaceX - Dragon Crew-3 Mission patch.

Nov 11, 2021

Image above: A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying the company's Crew Dragon spacecraft is launched on NASA’s SpaceX Crew-3 mission to the International Space Station with NASA astronauts Raja Chari, Tom Marshburn, Kayla Barron, and ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Matthias Maurer onboard, Wednesday, Nov. 10, 2021, at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Image Credits: NASA/Joel Kowsky.

NASA’s SpaceX Crew-3 astronauts are in orbit following their launch to the International Space Station on the third commercial crew rotation mission aboard the microgravity laboratory. The international crew of astronauts lifted off at 9:03 p.m. EST Wednesday from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket propelled the Crew Dragon Endurance spacecraft with NASA astronauts Raja Chari, Tom Marshburn, and Kayla Barron, as well as ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Matthias Maurer, into orbit to begin a six-month science mission on the space station.

SpaceX Crew-3 launch and Falcon 9 first stage landing

This mission is the first spaceflight for astronauts Chari, Barron, and Maurer, and the third for Marshburn. Marshburn is the sixth person to launch from Earth on three different spacecraft.

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

“With Raja, Thomas, Kayla and Mattias on their way to the International Space Station just days after Crew-2’s return, we’re seeing the power of American ingenuity right before our eyes,” Nelson said. “NASA’s partnership with SpaceX is not only critical for cutting-edge research, but also for international collaboration. The space station brings together nations around the world for the benefit of all. Godspeed, Crew-3 – I can’t wait to see all that you accomplish.”

Image above: SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft successfully separates from the Falcon 9 rocket’s second stage, sending the Crew-3 astronauts on their solo journey to the International Space Station on Nov. 10, 2021. Photo credit: NASA.

The Crew Dragon Endurance will dock autonomously to the forward port of the station’s Harmony module around 7:10 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 11. NASA Television, the NASA app, and the agency’s website are providing ongoing live coverage through docking, hatch opening, and the ceremony to welcome the crew aboard the orbital outpost.

“Ensuring our crews have safe transportation and continued access to space is an enormous responsibility,” said Steve Stich, manager with NASA’s Commercial Crew Program. “We know the crew is excited to get on station and settle into their long duration mission. The NASA and SpaceX team remains vigilant in support of their safe arrival and eventual return to Earth.”

Chari, Marshburn, Barron, and Maurer will join the Expedition 66 crew of NASA astronaut Mark Vande Hei and cosmonauts Anton Shkaplerov and Pyotr Dubrov of Roscosmos. Crew-3 is the second commercial crew mission to fly an ESA astronaut.

“It is always thrilling to watch a rocket launch, especially when an international crew of astronauts is sitting atop it. Matthias Maurer is the second ESA astronaut to be launched in a Crew Dragon spacecraft under the U.S. Commercial Crew Program,” said Josef Aschbacher, ESA director general. “We are delighted to see him fly alongside NASA astronauts to the International Space Station, continuing a long history of international collaboration in space for the benefit of Earth. On behalf of ESA, I’d like to wish all Crew-3 astronauts a productive and enjoyable mission.”

The Crew-3 astronauts will spend approximately six months aboard the space station conducting new and exciting scientific research in areas such as materials science, health technologies, and plant science to prepare for human exploration beyond low-Earth orbit and to benefit life on Earth.

The Crew-3 mission continues NASA’s efforts to restore and maintain American leadership in human spaceflight. 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.

Crew-3 Astronauts

Chari is commander of the Crew Dragon spacecraft and the Crew-3 mission. He is responsible for all phases of flight, from launch to re-entry. He also will serve as an Expedition 66 flight engineer aboard the station. This will be the first spaceflight for Chari, who was selected as a NASA astronaut candidate in 2017. He was born in Milwaukee, but considers Cedar Falls, Iowa, his hometown. He is a colonel in the U.S. Air Force and joins the mission with extensive experience as a test pilot. He has accumulated more than 2,500 hours of flight time during his career.

Image above: NASA’s SpaceX Crew-3 astronauts are seen inside SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft before lifting off on the agency’s Crew-3 mission on Nov. 10, 2021, from Kennedy Space Center’s Launch Complex 39A. From left are ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Matthias Maurer and NASA astronauts Tom Marshburn, Raja Chari, and Kayla Barron. Photo credit: SpaceX.

Marshburn is the pilot of the Crew Dragon spacecraft and second-in-command for the mission. He is responsible for spacecraft systems and performance. Once aboard station, he will serve as an Expedition 66 flight engineer, and is scheduled to assume command of station for Expedition 67. Marshburn is a Statesville, North Carolina, native who became an astronaut in 2004. Prior to serving in the astronaut corps, the medical doctor served as flight surgeon at NASA Johnson and later became medical operations lead for the International Space Station. The Crew-3 mission will be his third visit to the space station, having flown on three different spacecraft, and his second long-duration mission. Marshburn previously served as a crew member of STS-127 in 2009 flying aboard NASA’s Space Shuttle Endeavour, and Expedition 34/35, which concluded in 2013, using a Russian Soyuz spacecraft.

Barron is a mission specialist for Crew-3. She will work closely with the commander and pilot to monitor the spacecraft during the dynamic launch and re-entry phases of flight. Once aboard the station, she will become a flight engineer for Expedition 66. Barron was born in Pocatello, Idaho, but considers Richland, Washington, her hometown. She earned a bachelor’s degree in systems engineering from the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, in 2010, and a master’s degree in nuclear engineering from the University of Cambridge, in England, in 2011, where she was  a Gates Cambridge Scholar. Barron earned her submarine warfare officer qualification and deployed three times while serving aboard the USS Maine. Her current rank in the U.S. Navy is a Lt. Cmdr. At the time of her selection as an astronaut candidate, in 2017, she was serving as the flag aide to the superintendent of the U.S. Naval Academy. Crew-3 will be Barron’s first spaceflight.

Maurer also will be a mission specialist for Crew-3, working with the commander and pilot to monitor the spacecraft during the dynamic launch and re-entry phases of flight. He also will become a long-duration crew member aboard the space station. Like Chari and Barron, he will be making his first trip to space with the Crew-3 mission. Maurer comes from Sankt Wendel, in the German state of Saarland. Before becoming an astronaut, Maurer held a number of engineering and research roles, both in a university setting and at ESA. In 2016, Maurer spent 16 days on an undersea mission as part of a NASA’s Extreme Environment Mission Operations space analog.

Learn more about NASA’s SpaceX Crew-3 mission at:

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Images (mentioned), Video, Text, Credits: NASA/Robert Margetta/Josh Finch/Stephanie Schierholz/JSC/Gary Jordan/Megan Dean/KSC/Kyle Herring/Kathleen Ellis/NASA TV/SciNews.

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JAXA - Epsilon-5 launches Innovative Satellite Technology Demonstration-2


JAXA - Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency logo.

Nov. 11, 2021

Epsilon-5 launch

JAXA’s fifth Epsilon Launch Vehicle (イプシロンロケット5, Epsilon-5) launched the Innovative Satellite Technology Demonstration-2 mission from the from the Uchinoura Space Center, in Kagoshima, Japan, on 9 November 2021, at 00:55:15 UTC (09:55:16 Japan Standard Time, JST).

Epsilon-5 launches Innovative Satellite Technology Demonstration-2

The main payload is the RApid Innovative payload demonstration SatellitE-2 (小型実証衛星2号機, RAISE-2), along with TeikyoSat-4 and E-SSOD.

Innovative Satellite Technology Demonstration-2

Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA):

Images, Video, Text, Credits: Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA)/SciNews/ Aerospace/Roland Berga.


mercredi 10 novembre 2021

Mocha Swirls in Jupiter’s Turbulent Atmosphere


NASA - JUNO Mission logo.

Nov 10, 2021

During its 36th low pass over Jupiter, NASA’s Juno spacecraft captured this view of striking cloud bands and swirls in the giant planet’s mid-southern latitudes. The dark, circular vortex near the center of the image is a cyclone that spans roughly 250 miles (about 400 kilometers). The color at its center is likely to be the result of descending winds that cleared out upper-level clouds, revealing darker material below.

Citizen scientist Brian Swift used a raw JunoCam image digitally projected onto a sphere to create this view. It has been rotated so that north is up. The original image was taken on Sept. 2, 2021, at 4:09 p.m. PDT (7:09 p.m. EDT). At the time, the spacecraft was about 16,800 miles (about 27,000 kilometers) above Jupiter’s cloud tops, at a latitude of about 31 degrees south.

JUNO orbiting around Jupiter

JunoCam’s raw images are available for the public to peruse and process into image products. More information about NASA citizen science can be found on our NASA Solve page and our NASA Science site.

Related links:


NASA Solve page:

NASA Science site:

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Image data: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS/Image processing by Brian Swift © CC BY/Animation: NASA/Text Credits: NASA/Michael Bock.