samedi 26 mars 2022

NASA’s Roman Mission Will Test Competing Cosmic Acceleration Theories




NASA - Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope (WFIRST) patch.

March 26, 2022

A team of scientists has predicted the science return from one of NASA’s Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope’s groundbreaking planned surveys, which will analyze millions of galaxies strewn across space and time. The mission’s enormous, deep panoramas will provide the best opportunity yet to discern between the leading theories about what’s speeding up the universe’s expansion.

Roman will explore this mystery using multiple methods, including spectroscopy – the study of the color information in light. This technique will allow scientists to precisely measure how fast the universe expanded in different cosmic eras and trace how the universe has evolved.

Simulated Galaxy Redshift Cube Sequence

Video above: This video dissolves between six cubes to show the simulated distribution of galaxies at redshifts 9, 7, 5, 3, 2, and 1, with the corresponding cosmic ages shown. As the universe expands, the density of galaxies within each cube decreases, from more than half a million in the first cube to about 80 in the last. Each cube is about 100 million light-years across. Galaxies assembled along vast strands of gas separated by large voids, a foam-like structure echoed in the present-day universe on large cosmic scales. Video Credits: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center/F. Reddy and Z. Zhai, Y. Wang (IPAC) and A. Benson (Carnegie Observatories).

“Our study forecasts the science Roman’s spectroscopy survey will enable and shows how various adjustments could optimize its design,” said Yun Wang, a senior research scientist at Caltech/IPAC in Pasadena, California, and the lead author of the study. As the Roman Science Support Center, IPAC will be responsible for the mission’s spectroscopic science data processing, while the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore will be responsible for imaging science data processing, generating catalogs, and support for cosmology data processing pipelines. “While this survey is designed to explore cosmic acceleration, it will also offer clues about many other tantalizing mysteries. It will help us understand the first generation of galaxies, allow us to map dark matter, and even reveal information about structures that are much closer to home, right in our local group of galaxies.”

The Roman Space Telescope, planned for launch by May 2027, will provide such an enormous view of the universe that it will help scientists study cosmic mysteries in an unprecedented way. Each image will contain precise measurements of so many celestial objects that it will enable statistical studies that aren’t practical using telescopes with narrower views.

Animation above: This animation shows the sequence and layout of the Roman Space Telescope's High Latitude Spectroscopic Survey tiling pattern. Image Credits: NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center.

In current plans, Roman’s spectroscopy survey will cover nearly 2,000 square degrees, or about 5% of the sky, in just over seven months. The team’s results showed that the survey should reveal precise distances for 10 million galaxies from when the universe was between about 3-6 billion years old, since light that reaches the telescope began its journey when the universe was much younger. These measurements will allow astronomers to map the web-like large-scale structure of the cosmos. The survey will also unveil the distances for 2 million galaxies from even earlier in the universe’s history, when it was only between 2-3 billion years old – unexplored territory in large-scale cosmic structure.

The team’s results are published in The Astrophysical Journal.

Reading the Rainbow

Nearly all the information we receive from space comes from light. Roman will use light to capture images, but it will also study light by breaking it down into individual colors. The detailed wavelength patterns, called spectra, reveal information about the object that emitted the light, including how fast it’s moving away from us. Astronomers call this phenomenon “redshift” because when an object recedes, all of the light waves we receive from it are stretched out and shifted toward redder wavelengths.

In the 1920s, astronomers Georges Lemaître and Edwin Hubble used redshifts to make the startling discovery that, with very few exceptions, galaxies are racing away from us and each other at different speeds depending on their distance. By determining how quickly galaxies are receding from us, carried by the relentless expansion of space, astronomers can find out how far away they are – the more a galaxy’s spectrum is redshifted, the farther away it is.

Roman’s spectroscopy survey will create a 3D map of the universe by measuring accurate distances and positions of millions of galaxies. Learning how galaxy distribution varies with distance, and therefore time, will give us a window into how quickly the universe expanded in different cosmic eras.

Image above: This graphic illustrates how cosmological redshift works and how it offers information about the universe’s evolution. The universe is expanding, and that expansion stretches light traveling through space. The more it has stretched, the greater the redshift and the greater the distance the light has traveled. As a result, we need telescopes with infrared detectors to see light from the first, most distant galaxies. Image Credits: NASA, ESA, Leah Hustak (STScI).

This study will also connect galaxy distances with the echoes of sound waves from just after the big bang. These sound waves, called baryon acoustic oscillations (BAO), have grown with time due to the expansion of space and left their imprint on the cosmos by influencing galaxy distribution. For any modern galaxy, we are more likely to find another galaxy about 500 million light-years away than we are to find one slightly nearer or farther.

Looking farther out into the universe, to earlier cosmic times, means that this preferred physical distance between galaxies – the vestige of BAO ripples – decreases. This provides a measurement of the universe’s expansion history. Galaxy redshifts also encode information about their motion due to the gravity of their neighbors, called redshift space distortions, which helps astronomers trace the growth history of large-scale structure. Learning about the way the cosmos has expanded and how structure has grown within it over time will allow scientists to explore the nature of cosmic acceleration and test Einstein’s theory of gravity over the age of the universe.

Dark Energy Versus Modified Gravity

As the universe expands, the gravity of the matter within it should slow that expansion down. Astronomers were surprised to learn that the expansion of the universe is speeding up because it means that something about our picture of the cosmos is either wrong or incomplete. The mystery could be explained by adding a new energy component to the universe, which scientists have dubbed dark energy, or it could indicate that Einstein’s theory of gravity – the general theory of relativity – needs a modification.

Changing the equations that describe something as fundamental as gravity may seem extreme, but it’s been done before. Isaac Newton’s law of gravity couldn’t explain some of the things astronomers observed, such as a small but mysterious motion in Mercury’s orbit.

Astronomers ultimately realized that Einstein’s general theory of relativity perfectly accounted for problems that had surfaced, like Mercury’s orbital shift. Switching from Newton’s description of gravity to Einstein’s involved transforming modern physics by changing the way we view space and time – interconnected, instead of separate and constant.

Cosmic acceleration could be a sign that Einstein’s theory of gravity still isn’t quite right. General relativity is extremely well tested on physical scales about the size of our solar system, but less so as we move to larger, cosmological scales. The team simulated Roman’s performance and demonstrated that the mission’s enormous, deep 3D images of the universe will provide one of the best opportunities yet to discern between the leading theories that attempt to explain cosmic acceleration.

Simulated Galaxy Redshift Six Cube Comparison

Video above: These six cubes show the simulated distribution of galaxies at redshifts 9, 8, 5, 3, 2, and 1, with the corresponding cosmic ages shown. As the universe expands, the density of galaxies within each cube decreases, from more than half a million at top left to about 80 at lower right. Each cube is about 100 million light-years across. Galaxies assembled along vast strands of gas separated by large voids, a foam-like structure echoed in the present-day universe on large cosmic scales. Video Credits: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center/F. Reddy and Z. Zhai, Y. Wang (IPAC) and A. Benson (Carnegie Observatories).

“We can look forward to new physics in either case – whether we learn that cosmic acceleration is caused by dark energy or we find that we have to modify Einstein’s theory of gravity,” Wang said. “Roman will test both theories at the same time.”

Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope. Animation Credit: NASA

The Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope is managed at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, with participation by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory and Caltech/IPAC in Southern California, the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, and a science team comprising scientists from various research institutions. The primary industrial partners are Ball Aerospace and Technologies Corporation in Boulder, Colorado; L3Harris Technologies in Melbourne, Florida; and Teledyne Scientific & Imaging in Thousand Oaks, California.

Related links:

The Astrophysical Journal:

Baryon acoustic oscillations (BAO):

The Big Bang:

Active Galactic Nuclei:


Dark Energy and Dark Matter:

Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope:

Animations (mentioned), Images (mentioned), Videos (mentioned), Text, Credits: NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC)/By Ashley Balzer.


Orbiter 3D Printing


Orbiter 3D SL logo.

March 26, 2022

Bi-lingual article, English / Spanish
Artículo bilingüe, Inglés / Español

Dear friends and space enthusiasts and Asgardians, I present to you in this article a new branch (physical this time) of Aerospace, the 3D printing company, Orbiter 3D SL.

Estimados amigos y entusiastas del espacio y Asgardianos, les presento en este artículo una nueva sucursal (esta vez física) de Aerospace, la empresa de impresión 3D, Orbiter 3D SL.

Store-Workshop in Passatge Mercè Rodoreda 14, 08860 Castelldefels (Barcelona) Spain
Tienda-Taller en Passatge Mercè Rodoreda 14, 08860 Castelldefels (Barcelona) España

We have created (3D modeled and printed) three objects mainly focused on Asgardia, so part of the sales profits will be donated to Asgardia (only on products relating to Asgardia). The other models are aimed at space enthusiasts.

Hemos creado (modelado e impreso en 3D) tres objetos enfocados principalmente en Asgardia, por lo que parte de las ganancias de las ventas se donarán a Asgardia (solo en productos relacionados con Asgardia). Los otros modelos están destinados a los entusiastas del espacio.

The prices indicated are without shipping costs. / Los precios indicados son sin gastos de envío.

Here are the currently available items:

Estos son los artículos disponibles actualmente:

Asgardia Collectors / Coleccionistas de Asgardia:

Asgardia-1 satellite scale model / € 50
Modelo a escala del satélite Asgardia-1 / 50 €

Asgardia-1 satellite keyring / € 5
Llavero satélite Asgardia-1 / 5 €

Asgardia logo keyring / € 5
llavero con el logo de Asgardia / 5 €

Space enthusiasts / Entusiastas del espacio:

Antares rocket & Cygnus cargo payload / € 20
Cohete Antares y carga útil Cygnus / 20 €

Soyuz FG rocket with its support base / € 50
Cohete Soyuz FG con su base de apoyo / 50 €

SpaceX Falcon 9 with three different payloads and its fairing / Tesla Roadster / Starlink rack / Crew Dragon / € 130
SpaceX Falcon 9 con tres cargas útiles diferentes y su carenado / Tesla Roadster / Starlink rack / Crew Dragon / 130 €

Astronaut with EMU-1 pack and its support / € 15
Astronauta con el pack EMU-1 y su soporte / 15 €

Bust of Yuri Gagarin, various colors available, including imitation marble, bronze, gold, copper, silver / € 18
Busto de Yuri Gagarin, varios colores disponibles, incluyendo imitación mármol, bronce, oro, cobre, plata / 18 €

And on order: Yuri Gagarin's rocket (R-7), International Space Station (ISS) with a wingspan of 1.5 meters. Mars Exploration Rover (MER). Mars Perseverance Rover. Please note that these models are large and detailed and removable, they are not toys but exhibits and collectibles. They are delivered to you in separate parts that you can assemble and glue.

Y por encargo: el cohete de Yuri Gagarin (R-7), Estación Espacial Internacional (ISS) con una envergadura de 1,5 metros. Mars Exploration Rover (MER). Mars Perseverance Rover. Tenga en cuenta que estos modelos son grandes, detallados y extraíbles, no son juguetes, sino exhibiciones y coleccionables. Se le entregan en partes separadas que puede ensamblar y pegar.

We don't limit that to the theme of space, you can have all your projects printed with us, we have a 3D laser scanner to copy any object for after printing it in plastic.

Eso no lo limitamos al tema del espacio, puedes tener todos tus proyectos impresos con nosotros, contamos con un escáner láser 3D para copiar cualquier objeto para después imprimirlo en plástico.

We also sell Ender brand 3D printers (and their spare parts), we also have spools of plastic thread in various colors and four types of polymers (plastics).

También vendemos impresoras 3D marca Ender (y sus repuestos), también contamos con bobinas de hilo plástico en varios colores y cuatro tipos de polímeros (plásticos).

The store is open to the public from 4 p.m. at 8 p.m. (GMT) Monday to Friday.
La tienda está abierta al público de 16:00 a las 20:00 (GMT) de lunes a viernes.  

Orbiter 3D Printing website (to order):

Images, Text, Credits: Aerospace/Orbiter 3D SL/Roland Berga.

Best regards,

vendredi 25 mars 2022

10-Member Crew Juggles Human Research, Spacewalk Cleanup, and Robotics


ISS - Expedition 66 Mission patch.

March 25, 2022

The 10 Expedition 66 crew members aboard the International Space Station wrapped up the workweek exploring ways to adapt to microgravity, cleaning up after a spacewalk, and completing robotics work. The orbital crewmates also prepared a crew ship for departure and checked emergency gear.

NASA Flight Engineers Raja Chari and Kayla Barron took turns in the Columbus laboratory module on Friday studying how astronauts manipulate objects for ESA’s (European Space Agency) GRIP experiment. The duo sat in a specialized chair making gripping motions and tapping gestures as video cameras monitored their activities. Results may inform the design of intelligent spacecraft interfaces for a variety of gravity environments on lunar and planetary surfaces.

Image above: Astronaut Kayla Barron poses for a portrait with spacewalkers (from left) Matthias Maurer and Raja Chari before the beginning of Wednesday’s spacewalk. Image Credit: NASA.

Chari also joined ESA Flight Engineer Matthias Maurer in the U.S. Quest airlock for cleanup duties after this week’s spacewalk. The duo spent six hours and 54-minutes during a spacewalk on Wednesday installing thermal gear and electronics components on the orbiting lab. Maurer later tested the EasyMotion suit that stimulates muscles while working out on the U.S. Destiny laboratory module’s exercise cycle. Researchers are exploring the effectiveness of the suit which may enhance and shorten the duration of working out in weightlessness.

NASA astronauts Tom Marshburn and Mark Vande Hei worked throughout the day on maintenance activities. Marshburn serviced components on a unique incubator that can generate artificial gravity inside the Cell Biology Experiment Facility. Vande Hei cleaned ventilation systems inside station crew quarters.

International Space Station (ISS). Animation Credit: ESA

Vande Hei is now turning his attention to his upcoming crew departure on March 30 with cosmonauts Anton Shkaplerov and Pyotr Dubrov. He ended Friday finalizing computer tasks necessary before he returns to Earth. Shkaplerov scanned and loaded cargo inside the Soyuz MS-19 crew ship that will take the trio home. Shkaplerov also joined Dubrov and evaluated the lower body negative pressure suit for its ability to counteract the effects of weightlessness on the human body.

Dubrov also partnered with Roscosmos cosmonaut Sergey Korsakov as they completed check out activities of the European Robotic Arm’s controls inside the Nauka multipurpose laboratory module. Korsakov also had a session with cosmonauts Oleg Artemyev and Denis Matveev reviewing station emergency procedures and hardware.

Related links:

Expedition 66:

Columbus laboratory module:

GRIP experiment:

U.S. Quest airlock:

EasyMotion suit:

U.S. Destiny laboratory module:

Cell Biology Experiment Facility:

Lower body negative pressure suit:

Nauka multipurpose laboratory module:

Space Station Research and Technology:

International Space Station (ISS):

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

Best regards,

Mass matters when quarks cross a quark–gluon plasma


CERN - ALICE Experiment logo.

March 25, 2022

A new analysis by the ALICE collaboration confirms the expected role of quark mass in the interactions of quarks with a quark–gluon plasma

Image above: The ALICE experiment, seen here during the closing of the massive doors of its magnet. (Image: CERN).

Unlike electrons, quarks cannot wander freely in ordinary matter. They are confined by the strong force within hadrons such as the protons and neutrons that make up atomic nuclei. However, at very high energy densities, such as those that are achieved in collisions between nuclei at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), a different phase of matter exists in which quarks and the mediators of the strong force, gluons, are not confined within hadrons. This form of matter, called a quark–gluon plasma, is thought to have filled the universe in the first few millionths of a second after the Big Bang, before atomic nuclei formed.

At the Rencontres de Moriond conference today, the ALICE collaboration at the LHC reported an analysis of head-on collisions between lead nuclei showing that quark mass matters when quarks cross a quark–gluon plasma.

Hadrons containing charm and beauty quarks, the heavier cousins of the up and down quarks that make up protons and neutrons, offer an excellent way to study the properties of the quark–gluon plasma, such as its density. A charm quark is much heavier than a proton, and a beauty quark is as heavy as five protons. These quarks are produced in the very first instants of the collisions between nuclei, before the formation of the quark–gluon plasma that they then traverse. Therefore, they interact with the plasma’s constituents throughout its entire evolution.

Just like electrically charged particles crossing an ordinary gas can tell us about its density, through the energy they lose in the crossing, heavy quarks can be used to determine the density of the quark–gluon plasma through the energy they lose in strong interactions with the plasma’s constituents. However, before using the energy loss in the plasma to measure the plasma’s density, physicists need to validate the theoretical description of this loss.

A fundamental prediction of the theory of the strong force is that quarks that have a larger mass lose less energy than their lighter counterparts because of a mechanism known as the dead-cone effect, which prevents the radiation of gluons and thus of energy in a cone around the quark’s direction of flight.

In their new study of head-on collisions between lead nuclei, the ALICE collaboration tested this prediction using measurements of charm-quark-containing particles called D mesons. They measured D mesons produced right after the collisions from initial charm quarks, called ‘prompt’ D mesons, as well as ‘non-prompt’ D mesons produced later in the decays of B mesons, which contain the heavier beauty quarks. They presented the measurements in terms of the nuclear modification factor, which is a scaled ratio of particle production in lead–lead collisions to that in proton–proton collisions (figure below). They found that the production of non-prompt D mesons (blue markers in the figure) in lead–lead collisions is less suppressed than that of prompt D mesons (red markers).

Graphic above: Comparison of the nuclear modification factor of D mesons produced from initial charm quarks (red) and from the decays of hadrons containing beauty quarks (blue), as a function of the particles’ transverse momentum. Particle-production suppression (deviation from unity) is attributed to quark interactions in the quark–gluon plasma. (Image: CERN).

These results are described well by models in which beauty quarks lose less energy than charm quarks in the quark–gluon plasma, because of their larger mass. They thus confirm the theoretical expectations of the role of quark mass in the interactions of quarks with the quark–gluon plasma. In addition, the measurements are sensitive to B mesons that have low energies. This is crucial when it comes to using beauty quarks to determine the density and other properties of the plasma.

Further measurements with the upgraded ALICE detector in the next run of the LHC, which is scheduled to start this coming summer, will help to better understand the theoretical description of the energy loss that quarks experience when they cross the quark–gluon plasma.


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:

Rencontres de Moriond conference:

Large Hadron Collider (LHC):


Upgraded ALICE detector:

New study:

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

Image (mentioned), Graphic (mentioned), Text, Credits: CERN/By ALICE collaboration.


Hubble Spies a Stunning Spiral


NASA - Hubble Space Telescope patch.

March 25, 2022

This cosmic portrait – captured with the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope’s Wide Field Camera 3 – shows a stunning view of the spiral galaxy NGC 4571, which lies approximately 60 million light-years from Earth in the constellation Coma Berenices. This constellation – whose name translates as Bernice’s Hair – was named after an Egyptian queen who lived more than 2,200 years ago.

As majestic as spiral galaxies like NGC 4571 are, they are far from the largest structures known to astronomers. NGC 4571 is part of the Virgo cluster, which contains more than a thousand galaxies. This cluster is in turn part of the larger Virgo supercluster, which also encompasses the Local Group containing our own galaxy, the Milky Way.

This image comes from a large program of observations designed to produce a treasure trove of combined observations from two great observatories: Hubble and the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA). ALMA is a vast telescope consisting of 66 high-precision antennas high in the Chilean Andes, which together observe at wavelengths between infrared and radio waves. This allows ALMA to detect the clouds of cool interstellar dust which give rise to new stars. Hubble’s razor-sharp observations at ultraviolet wavelengths, meanwhile, allow astronomers to pinpoint the location of hot, luminous, newly formed stars. Together, the ALMA and Hubble observations provide a vital repository of data to astronomers studying star formation, as well as laying the groundwork for future science with the NASA/ESA/CSA James Webb Space Telescope.

Hubble Space Telescope (HST)

For more information about Hubble, visit:

Text Credits: European Space Agency (ESA)/NASA/Andrea Gianopoulos/Image, Animation Credits: ESA/Hubble & NASA, J. Lee and the PHANGS-HST Team.

Best regards,

Space Station Science Highlights: Week of March 21, 2022


ISS - Expedition 66 Mission patch.

March 25, 2022

Crew members aboard the International Space Station conducted scientific investigations during the week of March 21 that included testing a method of producing semiconductor crystals, analysis of how microgravity affects a person’s ability to grip and manipulate objects, and pairing two exterior observatories to respond to celestial events.

Animation above: The CubeSat for CubeSat Satellite Demonstrator floats aboard the space station. This investigation tests lightweight, energy efficient attitude-control technology for small satellites. Animation Credit: NASA.

The space station, continuously inhabited by humans for 21 years, has supported many scientific breakthroughs. A robust microgravity laboratory with dozens of research facilities and tools, the station supports investigations spanning every major scientific discipline, conveying benefits to future space exploration and advancing basic and applied research on Earth. The orbiting lab also provides a platform for a growing commercial presence in low-Earth orbit that includes research, satellite services, and in-space manufacturing.

Here are details on some of the microgravity investigatio.ns currently taking place:

Higher quality crystals

Image above: A crew member installs samples for Hicari, an investigation from JAXA that demonstrates a method to produce high-quality crystals of Silicon-Germanium (SiGe) semiconductor material. Image Credit: NASA

Hicari, an investigation from the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), demonstrates a method to produce high-quality crystals of Silicon-Germanium (SiGe) semiconductor material using the Japanese Experiment Module Gradient Heating Furnace (GHF). The investigation continues a series of tests begun in 2013. SiGe crystals show potential as materials for electronic devices that are superior to silicon and could reduce energy consumption. This crystal production method could support development of more efficient solar cells and semiconductor-based electronics. During the week, crew members loaded Hicari sample cartridges into the GHF to initiate runs of the investigation.

Gravity and gripping

The way humans grip and manipulate objects evolved in the presence of gravity and relies on various cues, including the weight of an object and concepts such as “up” and “down.” In microgravity, these forces and cues change. The ESA (European Space Agency) GRIP investigation studies how spaceflight affects the force of a person’s grip and the movements they use to manipulate objects. Results could help identify potential hazards for astronauts as they move between gravitational environments, such as landing on the Moon or Mars. The study also could contribute to the design of touch-based interfaces such as remote control used on future exploration of deep space or planets and systems used on Earth. Crew members conducted sessions for the investigation during the week.

Coordinating celestial observations

Image above: A view of NICER, a NASA facility that studies neutron stars. The OHMAN investigation pairs NICER with JAXA’s MAXI to provide real-time observations of transient celestial events involving neutron stars and black holes. Image Credit: NASA.

OHMAN coordinates observations between two external payloads: MAXI, a JAXA facility that continuously monitors the sky for X-ray sources, and NICER, a NASA facility that studies neutron stars. Black holes, neutron stars, and white dwarfs sometimes suddenly grow brighter as they ingest matter from a neighboring star. These events include important information about the nature of these objects, but often last only minutes or hours and may be missed by observers. Now, when MAXI detects a suddenly brightening object, OHMAN alerts NICER, which can aim right at the object for closer observation. This could help astronomers learn more about the physics of these objects, leading to a better understanding of the origins of matter and energy in the universe. Crew members connected cables to enable future operations of OHMAN during the week.

Other investigations involving the crew:

- Space Tango - Cubelab Satellite Demonstrator tests attitude-control technology for small satellites that is energy efficient, lightweight, and not subject to friction wear. This technology could enhance the attitude maneuvering capabilities of small satellites in support of future space missions.

- Wireless Compose-2, an investigation from ESA, demonstrates a wireless network infrastructure for sensor monitoring and data transmission to support scientific experiments in microgravity. Results could contribute to development of new technologies for monitoring the health of astronauts and people on the ground and hardware that provides more precise control of free-flying robots.

- SQuARE studies objects and built spaces and how crew members use them over time. Results could contribute to better design for future spacecraft and habitats.
- Space Biofilms characterizes the structure and gene expression of biofilms that form in space by analyzing a fungal species grown on different materials. Biofilm formation can cause equipment malfunction and human illnesses and could be a problem on future long-term human space missions.

- ESA’s Acoustic Diagnostics tests the hearing of crew members before, during, and after flight to assess the possible adverse effects on human hearing of noise and the microgravity environment aboard the space station. Long-term exposure to noise could become an issue on longer-duration flights.

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

- Touching Surfaces, an ESA investigation, tests antimicrobial surfaces to help determine those most appropriate for future spacecraft and habitats as well as for terrestrial applications such as public transportation and clinical settings.

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

Space to Ground: Preserving for Posterity: 03/25/2022

Related links:

Expedition 66:

Gradient Heating Furnace (GHF):





ISS National Lab:

Spot the Station:

Space Station Research and Technology:

International Space Station (ISS):

Animation (mentioned), Images (mentioned), Video (NASA), Text, Credits: NASA/Ana Guzman/John Love, ISS Research Planning Integration Scientist Expedition 66.


ATLAS nets top quark produced together with a photon


CERN - ATLAS Experiment logo.

March 25, 2022

With its high statistical significance, the result represents the first observation of electroweak top-quark–photon production

Image above: The ATLAS detector during final upgrade work for the upcoming Run 3 of the LHC. (Image: CERN).

The top quark is very special. It’s the heaviest known elementary particle and therefore strongly interacts with the Higgs boson. The top quark’s interactions with other particles provide promising leads for searches for physics beyond the Standard Model. By taking accurate measurements of its properties using rare processes, physicists can explore new physics phenomena at the highest energies.

At the ongoing Rencontres de Moriond conference, the ATLAS collaboration at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) announced the observation of one of these rare processes: the production of a single top quark in association with a photon through the electroweak interaction. With a statistical significance well above five standard deviations, the result represents the first observation of top-quark–photon production. This achievement was far from straightforward, as the search for this process was dominated by a large number of background collision events that mimic top-quark–photon production.

In their new analysis, the ATLAS researchers analysed the full LHC Run 2 data set, recorded by the detector between 2015 and 2018. They focused on collision events where the top quark decays via a W boson to an electron or a muon and a neutrino, and to a bottom quark. They further narrowed their search by seeking out a particular characteristic of top-quark–photon events: a “forward jet”, which is a spray of particles that is commonly produced and travels at small angles to the LHC’s proton beams.

To separate the top-quark–photon events from the background events, the ATLAS researchers used a neural network, which receives as input a number of variables or features, and finds the combination of those features that most accurately classifies a data event according to signal or background types.

The statistical significance of the ATLAS measurement of top-quark–photon production is 9.1 standard deviations – well above the 5 standard-deviation threshold required to claim observation of a process in particle physics. The expected significance, based on the Standard Model prediction, was 6.7 standard deviations.

This exciting measurement will allow physicists to look for hints of new interactions that might exist beyond the reach of the LHC. In particular, physicists can now use this process to infer information on new particles that could alter the top-quark–photon interaction. Further studies with new analysis techniques and a significantly larger data set from the upcoming Run 3 of the LHC promise an exciting road ahead.


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:

Rencontres de Moriond conference:

Large Hadron Collider (LHC):


Standard Model:

Higgs boson:

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

Image (mentioned), Text, Credits: CERN/By ATLAS collaboration.

Best regards,

Bizarre space circle captured in unprecedented detail


Astrophysics logo.

March 25, 2022

Astronomers have sighted only a handful of odd radio circles, and are trying to pin down what causes them.

Image above: The odd radio circle’s large outer circle is possibly more than a million light years across. Image Credits: J. English (U. Manitoba)/EMU/MeerKAT/DES(CTIO).

Astronomers have captured a close-up image of a rare and mysterious space object, prompting a renewed push to discover its origin. Odd radio circles (ORCs) are gigantic rings of radio waves. Only five have ever been sighted, and never in such spectacular detail.

The image of ORC J2103-6200, also called ORC1, was captured by the high-resolution MeerKAT radio telescope in South Africa, which has given researchers unprecedented information about these rare phenomena. Details are reported in a preprint, posted on the arXiv (1) this week, and will be published in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society (2).

“This discovery will start new scientific research among astronomers,” says Alice Pasetto, a radio astronomer at the National Autonomous University of Mexico in Mexico City.

The new MeerKAT radio data shows that the ORC’s large outer circle is possibly more than a million light years across, ten times the diameter of the Milky Way, with a series of smaller rings inside. “It really reminds me of a Fabergé egg or a soap bubble,” says Bärbel Koribalski, a radio astronomer at Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation in Sydney.

The first three ORCs, including ORC1, were discovered using the Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder (ASKAP) telescope in 2019. A fourth was identified in archival data from India’s Giant MetreWave Radio Telescope in 2013, and a fifth was discovered by Koribalski in newer ASKAP data last year (3). Most of the ORCs have a galaxy at their centre, which astronomers suggest might have something to do with their creation. Also puzzling to scientists is the fact that ORCs have been spied only in radio wavelengths and have not been detected by optical or X-ray telescopes.

Origin unknown

Researchers have proposed three theories to explain the origin of ORCs. The first is that they are created from a shock wave from the centre of their galaxy, similar to what happens when two supermassive black holes merge.

The second theory is that they result from the activities of an active galactic nucleus, with radio jets spewing particles to create the ORC’s shape. The third theory is that ORCs are shells caused by starbursts in the centre of their galaxies. “Like a detective, we’re gathering more and more clues as to what this object possibly could be,” says Koribalski.

The ORCs detected so far have mostly been found using ASKAP, because of its huge field of view. Radio telescopes are generally able to view an area the size of the Moon, whereas ASKAP can scan areas 100 times bigger. Once ASKAP had spotted ORC1, MeerKAT was used to examine it in more detail because its higher resolution provides a much sharper radio image.

“The ORC project is a great example of the clever use of MeerKAT by its users, playing to its strengths: ASKAP observes large swathes of the sky and can discover relatively rare types of objects; MeerKAT can then follow up to study them in greater detail,” said Fernando Camilo, chief scientist at the South African Radio Astronomy Observatory in Cape Town, in a press release. The observatory built and operates MeerKAT.

Koribalski says that other high-resolution radio telescopes around the world will probably soon be pointing towards these objects, particularly once the next generation of these instruments come online in the next few years. These include the Square Kilometre Array, which will have thousands of antennas across two sites in Australia and South Africa, and the Next Generation Very Large Array in the United States.

“Without any doubt, radio astronomers will be attracted to this new kind of object,” says Pasetto.



1. Norris, R. et al. Preprint at arXiv (2022).

2. Norris, R. et al. Mon. Not. R. Astron. Soc. (2022).

3. Koribalski, B. et al. Mon. Not. R. Astron. Soc. Lett. 505, L11–L15 (2021).

Image (mentioned), Text, Credits: Nature/Jacinta Bowler.


jeudi 24 mars 2022

Station Nears Crew Departure and First Private Astronaut Mission


ISS - Expedition 66 Mission patch.

March 24, 2022

The Expedition 66 crew is turning its attention to the departure of three crew members late next week following the completion of a pair of spacewalks. The International Space Station is also gearing up to welcome the first private astronaut mission aboard a SpaceX Dragon vehicle in early April.

Image above: Astronaut Matthias Maurer is pictured during a spacewalk to install thermal gear and electronics components on the space station as it orbited 268 miles above the Pacific Ocean. Image Credit: NASA TV.

Two astronauts had medical checkups and a light duty day today following Wednesday’s spacewalk to install thermal gear and electronics components on the orbiting lab. Flight Engineers Raja Chari and Matthias Maurer spent a few moments Thursday morning getting blood pressure, temperature, and heart rate and breathing checks. The duo spent six hours and 54 minutes on Wednesday working outside the orbital lab readying it for a third roll-out solar array and connecting cables to the Bartolomeo science platform on the Columbus laboratory module. They were joined Thursday afternoon by NASA astronauts Kayla Barron and Tom Marshburn for a conference with spacewalk specialists on the ground.

The four astronauts also called down to mission controllers and discussed the upcoming private astronaut mission from Axiom currently targeted for launch no earlier than April 3. NASA, SpaceX, and Axiom mission managers will hold a media teleconference one hour after NASA’s Flight Readiness Review, or approximately Friday at 6 p.m. EDT following their flight readiness review. Former NASA astronaut Michael Lopez-Alegria will command the Axiom-1 mission with Pilot Larry Connor and Mission Specialists Eytan Stibbe and Mark Pathy aboard the SpaceX Dragon Endeavour vehicle.

Image above: NASA astronaut and Expedition 66 Flight Engineer Mark Vande Hei poses for a photo on Feb. 10, 2022, while configuring the Combustion Integrated Rack in the U.S. Destiny laboratory module of the International Space Station to support a pair of fire safety experiments. Image Credit: NASA.

In the meantime, NASA Flight Engineer Mark Vande Hei is nearing his return to Earth with cosmonauts Anton Shkaplerov and Pyotr Dubrov on March 30. The trio will enter the Soyuz MS-19 crew ship, undock from the Rassvet module, and parachute to landing in Kazakhstan. Vande Hei will land with a NASA-record breaking 355 days in space surpassing former NASA astronaut Scott Kelly’s single spaceflight record of 340 days.

Shkaplerov continued packing the Soyuz MS-19 crew ship while Dubrov helped the station’s three newest crew members get familiar with space station systems. Veteran cosmonaut Oleg Artemyev with first time space-flyers Sergey Korsakov and Denis Matveev are in the first week of six-and-a-half month mission that began on March 18 when they arrived aboard the Soyuz MS-21 crew ship.

Related articles:

NASA to Provide Live Coverage of Record-Setting US Astronaut Return

Astronauts Complete Spacewalk to Install Station Upgrades

NASA, Space Station Partners Approve First Axiom Mission Astronauts

Related links:

Expedition 66:

Columbus laboratory module:

Space Station Research and Technology:

International Space Station (ISS):

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

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NASA, ESA Assign Astronauts to Space Station Mission on Crew Dragon


NASA - Commercial Crew Program patch.

March 24, 2022

NASA and ESA (European Space Agency) have selected two astronauts to launch on NASA’s SpaceX Crew-7 mission to the International Space Station.

Image above: ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Andreas Mogensen and NASA astronaut Jasmin Moghbeli. Image Credit: NASA.

NASA astronaut Jasmin Moghbeli and ESA astronaut Andreas Mogensen will serve as spacecraft commander and pilot, respectively, for the mission. Two mission specialists will be announced later, following review by NASA and its international partners.

The mission is expected to launch no earlier than 2023 on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Moghbeli, Mogensen, and the additional mission specialists will join an expedition crew aboard the space station.

This will be the first spaceflight for Moghbeli, who became a NASA astronaut in 2017. Moghbeli is from Baldwin, New York, and earned a bachelor’s degree in aerospace engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and a master’s degree in aerospace engineering from the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California. As an AH-1W Super Cobra pilot and Marine Corps test pilot, she has flown more than 150 missions accruing 2,000 hours of flight time in more than 25 different aircraft. She also graduated with honors from the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School in Patuxent River, Maryland. At the time of her selection as an astronaut, Moghbeli was testing H-1 helicopters and serving as the quality assurance and avionics officer for VMX-1. She is also the proud mom of twin girls.

This will be Mogensen’s second trip to the space station as a veteran of the ESA 10-day Iriss mission in 2015, for which he served as a flight engineer. Mogensen was the flight engineer on Soyuz TMA-18M spacecraft during launch and Soyuz TMA-16M during the return flight. Mogensen has logged 9 days, 20 hours, and 9 minutes in space. He was born in Copenhagen, Denmark, and graduated with an international baccalaureate from the Copenhagen International School, a master’s degree in aeronautical engineering from Imperial College London, and a doctorate in aerospace engineering from the University of Texas at Austin. In 2015, Mogensen became the first Danish person to go to space and currently is serving as the European astronaut liaison officer to NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston.

NASA’s Commercial Crew Program works with the U.S. aerospace industry to provide safe, reliable, and cost-effective transportation to and from the International Space Station on American-made rockets and spacecraft launching from American soil.

For more than 21 years, humans have lived and worked continuously aboard the International Space Station, advancing scientific knowledge and demonstrating new technologies, making research breakthroughs not possible on Earth. As a global endeavor, 253 people from 19 countries have visited the unique microgravity laboratory that has hosted more than 3,000 research and educational investigations from researchers in 109 countries and areas.

The station is a critical testbed for NASA to understand and overcome the challenges of long-duration spaceflight and to expand commercial opportunities in low-Earth orbit. As commercial companies focus on providing human space transportation services and developing a robust low-Earth orbit economy, NASA is free to focus on building spacecraft and rockets for deep space missions to the Moon and Mars.

Find more information on NASA’s Commercial Crew Program at:

Related links:

Low-Earth orbit economy:

Commercial Space:

International Space Station (ISS):

Image (mentioned), Text, Credits: NASA/Sean Potter/Joshua Finch/JSC/Courtney Beasley.


Fifty Years Later, Curators Unveil One of Last Sealed Apollo Samples


Apollo Next Generation Sample Analysis Program (ANGSA) logo.

Mar 24, 2022

Like a time capsule that was sealed for posterity, one of the last unopened Apollo-era lunar samples collected during Apollo 17 has been opened under the careful direction of lunar sample processors and curators in the Astromaterials Research and Exploration Science (ARES) Division at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston. This precious and well-preserved sample will serve as a narrow window into the permanent, geological record of Earth’s closest celestial neighbor – the Moon.

Before NASA goes back for more samples – this time at the Moon’s South Pole during the agency’s upcoming Artemis missions – the Apollo Next Generation Sample Analysis Program, or ANGSA, is studying some of the last few lunar samples that NASA has kept unopened, in pristine condition, awaiting the day when scientists equipped with improved scientific and technologic methods could examine them.

Image above: The Apollo 17 core sample 73001 processing team in front of the newly opened sample at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston. From left, Charis Krysher, Andrea Mosie, Juliane Gross and Ryan Zeigler. Image Credits: NASA/Robert Markowitz.

“We have had an opportunity to open up this incredibly precious sample that’s been saved for 50 years under vacuum,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington, “and we finally get to see what treasures are held within.”

That day finally came for sample 73001, which was first vacuum sealed on the Moon and then stored in a second protective outer vacuum tube inside the nitrogen-purged processing cabinets in Johnson’s lunar laboratory. Back in December 1972, astronauts Eugene Cernan and Harrison “Jack” Schmitt collected the lunar regolith by hammering thin, cylindrical sample-collection devices, or drive tubes, into a landslide deposit in the Moon’s Taurus-Littrow Valley, capturing layers of ancient history for scientists to pore over.

This sample, 73001, is the lower half of a double drive tube. The upper drive tube, sample 73002, was returned from the Moon in a normal, unsealed container, which  was opened in 2019. The ANGSA science team has been studying its layers of small rocks and soil and is eager to see what the lower half holds.

Image above: A close-up of Apollo 17 lunar core sample 73001 being taken out of its drive tube for the first time since it was collected by Apollo astronauts in December 1972 at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston. Image Credits: NASA/Robert Markowitz.

Before the ARES team extruded the drive tube of 73001, extensive scans were taken at the University of Texas at Austin using X-ray CT technology to capture high-resolution 3D images of the sample’s makeup inside the tube.

“This will be the permanent record of what the material inside the core looks like before it got pushed out and divided into half-centimeter increments,” said Ryan Zeigler, Apollo sample curator. “The drive tube was very full, which is one of the things we learned with the CT scans, and it caused a slight complication in how we were initially planning to extrude it, but we have been able to adapt using these scans.”

Last month, the team first worked to capture any gas present within the outer protective tube and, finally, by piercing the inner container, to extract any lunar gases remaining inside.

“We have extracted gas out of this core, and we hope that will help scientists when they’re trying to understand the lunar gas signature by looking at the different aliquots [samples taken for chemical analysis],” Zeigler said.

The analyses and CT scans ensured there were no big surprises when opening up this scientific gift; and, together, they helped create a roadmap for the dissection. Before the main event on March 21 and 22, deputy Apollo sample curator Juliane Gross also performed dry runs of the extrusion process with a mock-up core in the lab at Johnson.

Image above: An x-ray computed tomography image of Apollo 17 core sample 73001 taken at the University of Texas at Austin, a member of the Apollo Next Generation Sample Analysis team. Image Credits: The University of Texas at Austin.

Gross likened the extrusion process to putting together furniture – except with one’s arms constrained by the massive gloves of the glovebox. Extruding the sample using specialized tools required a meticulous level of organization.

“We did this step by step, trying not to lose all the tiny pieces and screws,” Gross said.

In the end, it was much like a grueling workout – with soreness radiating through her arms and shoulders. But Gross will quickly tell you that it was worth it.

“We are the first people who got to actually see this soil for the first time,” Gross said. “It’s just the best thing in the world – like a kid in the candy store, right?”

The Apollo program gave NASA the chance to try sampling methods they believed would work on the Moon based on what worked on Earth – and evolve those methods with each mission.

“Terrestrial samples and lunar samples are very different, so the Artemis team has already taken that into account as they design their tools,” Zeigler said. “They didn’t start with Apollo 11. They didn’t start from scratch. They started with Apollo 17 and what worked really well and are moving forward from there toward Artemis.”

Apollo 17 astronaut collecting sample on the Moon soil. Animation Credit: NASA

And because Artemis astronauts will go beyond the more familiar lunar equator to the South Pole, with its sometimes cryogenic, or frozen conditions, and its dramatic lighting, the lunar soil there offers tantalizing prospects for study.

“The Moon’s South Pole is a great place for potentially building up large deposits of what we call volatiles, [substances that evaporate at normal temperatures, like water ice and carbon dioxide]” said Lori Glaze, director of the Planetary Science Division at NASA Headquarters, “These volatiles can give us clues about where water came from in this part of the solar system – whether from comets, asteroids, solar wind, or otherwise.”

And while the Apollo samples have provided NASA insights into Earth’s natural satellite, new pristine samples from exotic locations on the lunar surface – and below the surface – will help the agency better understand its volatile reservoirs and geologic evolution.

“We have an opportunity to address some really important questions about the Moon by learning from what has been recorded and preserved in the regolith of these Apollo samples,” said NASA Astromaterials Curator Francis McCubbin, “We curated these samples for the long term, so that scientists 50 years in the future could analyze them. Through Artemis, we hope to offer the same possibilities for a new generation of scientists.”

Learn more about how NASA studies Apollo samples and other celestial bodies at:

Related links:

Astromaterials Research and Exploration Science (ARES):

Apollo Next Generation Sample Analysis Program (ANGSA):

University of Texas at Austin:

NASA’s Johnson Space Center (JSC):


Images (mentioned), Animation (mentioned), Text, Credits: NASA/Nilufar Ramji/JSC/Catherine Ragin Williams.