samedi 14 mai 2022

SpaceX Starlink 46 launch


SpaceX - Falcon 9 / Starlink Mission patch.

May 14, 2022

SpaceX Starlink 46 liftoff

A SpaceX Falcon 9 launch vehicle launched 53 Starlink satellites (Starlink-46) from Space Launch Complex 40 (SLC-40) at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida, on 14 May 2022, at 20:40 UTC (16:40 EDT).

SpaceX Starlink 46 launch & Falcon 9 first stage landing, 14 May 2022

Following stage separation, Falcon 9’s first stage landed on the “Just Read the Instructions” droneship, stationed in the Atlantic Ocean. It was the first mission (launch and landing) for this Falcon 9 first stage (B1073).

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


SpaceX Starlink 45


SpaceX - Falcon 9 / Starlink Mission patch.

May 14, 2022

SpaceX Starlink 45 liftoff

A SpaceX Falcon 9 launch vehicle launched 53 Starlink satellites (Starlink-45) from Space Launch Complex 4 East (SLC-4E) at Vandenberg Space Force Base in California, on 13 May 2022, at 22:07 UTC (15:07 PDT).

SpaceX Starlink 45 launch & Falcon 9 first stage landing, 13 May 2022

Following stage separation, Falcon 9’s first stage landed on the “Of Course I Still Love You” droneship, stationed in the Pacific Ocean. Falcon 9’s first stage (B1063) previously supported four missions: Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich, DART, and two Starlink mission.

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


vendredi 13 mai 2022

Crew Preps for Starliner During Human Research and Robotics


ISS - Expedition 67 Mission patch.

May 13, 2022

The International Space Station is getting ready to welcome Boeing’s new Starliner crew ship due to lift off next week on the company’s Orbital Flight Test-2 mission. Meanwhile, the seven-member Expedition 67 crew conmtinued its human research and robotics work today.

NASA Flight Engineers Kjell Lindgren and Bob Hines continued training for the arrival of the Starliner spacecraft targeted for 7:10 p.m. EDT on Friday, May 20. The duo reviewed the OFT-2 mission profile and practiced the remote commanding of Starliner on a computer. The device that sends and receives data from approaching commercial crew vehicles, Common Communications for Visiting Vehicles (C2V2), was activated earlier this week. Starliner will lift off atop the Atlas-V rocket from United Launch Alliance at 6:54 p.m. EDT on Thursday, May 19, from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida.

Image above: Starliner lift off atop the Atlas-V rocket from United Launch Alliance (ULA). Image Credits: ULA/Boeing.

Lindgren and Hines also started the day collecting and stowing their blood samples for later analysis. Hines then activated the Astrobee robotic free-flyer assistants inside the Kibo laboratory module. Lindgren later stowed the toaster-sized, cube-shaped robots after the autonomous devices spent the day demonstrating ways to detect and repair faulty station hardware.

Astronaut Jessica Watkins familiarized herself with Astrobee procedures and swapped components in the station’s waste and hygiene compartment located in the Tranquility module. Flight Engineer Samantha Cristoforetti from ESA (European Space Agency) spent all day Friday testing the rHEALTH ONE medical device for its ability to identify cells, microorganisms, and proteins in microgravity.

Image above: The International Space Station flies into an orbital sunset at an altitude of 266 miles above the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of South Africa. Image Credit: NASA.

Over in the station’s Russian segment, Commander Oleg Artemyev worked throughout Friday transferring water from the ISS Progress 80 cargo craft into the Zvezda service module. He also packed old station gear for disposal inside the ISS Progress 79 resupply ship. Flight Engineer Denis Matveev worked on ventilation systems and photographed the condition of panels inside Zvezda. Flight Engineer Sergey Korsakov continued testing the mobility of the European robotic arm attached to the Nauka multipurpose laboratory module.

Related links:

Expedition 67:


Kibo laboratory module:

Tranquility module:


Zvezda service module:

Nauka multipurpose laboratory module:

Space Station Research and Technology:

International Space Station (ISS):

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


Hubble Captures Giant Elliptical in the Head of the Serpent


NASA - Hubble Space Telescope patch.

May 13, 2022

This new NASA Hubble Space Telescope image spotlights the giant elliptical galaxy, UGC 10143, at the heart of galaxy cluster, Abell 2147, about 486 million light-years away in the head of the serpent, the constellation Serpens. UGC 10143 is the biggest and brightest member of Abell 2147, which itself may be part of the much larger Hercules Supercluster of galaxies. UGC 10143’s bright center, dim extended halo, and lack of spiral arms and star-forming dust lanes distinguish it as an elliptical galaxy. Ellipticals are often near the center of galaxy clusters, suggesting they may form when galaxies merge.

This image of UGC 10143 is part of a Hubble survey of globular star clusters associated with the brightest galaxies in galaxy clusters. Globular star clusters help astronomers trace the origin and evolution of their galactic neighbors. The Hubble survey looked at the distribution, brightness, and metal content of more than 35,000 globular star clusters.

The image uses data from Hubble’s Advanced Camera for Surveys. Any gaps were filled by Hubble’s Wide Field and Planetary Camera 2 and the Pan-STARRS collaboration. The color blue represents visible blue light, and reddish-orange represents near infrared light.

Hubble Space Telescope (HST)

For more information about Hubble, visit:

Image, Animation Credits: NASA, ESA, and W. Harris (McMaster University); Image processing: G. Kober (NASA Goddard/Catholic University of America)/Text Credits: NASA/Andrea Gianopoulos.


Space Station Science Highlights: Week of May 9, 2022


ISS - Expedition 67 Mission patch.

May 13, 2022

Crew members aboard the International Space Station conducted scientific investigations during the week of May 9 that included testing the effects of spaceflight on hearing, monitoring blood flow in the brain, and demonstrating function of a medical diagnostic device in microgravity.

International Space Station (ISS). Animation Credit: ESA

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

What’s that sound?

To assess the possible adverse effects of noise on the space station and the microgravity environment on human hearing, Acoustic Diagnostics, an investigation from ESA (European Space Agency), tests the hearing of crew members before, during, and after flight. While the symptoms of mild hearing impairment can be temporary, it is important to detect them as early as possible before they lead to more significant issues. For this project, researchers developed a testing device with improved diagnostic power that also could reduce the duration of hearing tests. A portable device that works in noisy environmental conditions could have applications in occupational health settings on Earth, too. During the week, crew members took measurements for the investigation.

Brain blood flow

The brain needs a reliable blood supply and is capable of self-regulating blood flow even when the heart and blood vessels cannot maintain an ideal blood pressure. Cerebral Autoregulation, an investigation from the Japan Aerospace Agency (JAXA), tests how microgravity affects this self-regulation, measuring blood flow in the brain before, during, and after a long-duration spaceflight. After returning to Earth, many astronauts experience lightheadedness, which may be related to changes in brain blood flow. Understanding these changes could improve efforts to treat or provide countermeasures for the condition. On Earth, millions of people experience lightheadedness or even faint when the brain cannot compensate for a sudden drop in blood pressure. Understanding how to improve the brain’s self-regulation of blood flow could benefit these people as well. Crew members set up and performed a session for the investigation during the week.

Medical monitoring for deep space

Animation above: ESA astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti sets up for the rHealth investigation, which tests whether a modified commercial off-the-shelf device can accurately diagnose certain medical conditions in microgravity. Such a device could help crew members monitor their health on future deep-space exploration missions. Animation Credit: NASA.

To monitor their health on future deep-space exploration missions, crew members face unique challenges such as limited space for medical devices and the inability to return samples to Earth for analysis. The rHEALTH demonstration tests whether a modified commercial off-the-shelf device can accurately diagnose certain medical conditions in microgravity. The device employs flow cytometry, a method using lasers to sort and identify cells that can analyze cell count and cell characteristics; detect microorganisms, biomarkers, and proteins; and diagnose health disorders such as blood cancers. This technology also could provide timely, cost-effective, reliable, and convenient diagnostic tests for patients in remote settings on Earth. The crew worked on hardware operations for the investigation during the week.

Other investigations involving the crew:

Image above: This image shows the space station’s cupola with a laptop in the foreground displaying WorldMap, a tool the crew uses for Crew Earth Observations (CEO). Crew members take photographs to document human-caused changes to the planet and natural dynamic events such as hurricanes. WorldMap identifies the location on Earth in view of the station and tags the locations of current CEO targets. Image Credit: NASA.

- For CEO, crew members take photographs of the Earth, recording human-caused changes such as urban growth and reservoir construction and natural events such as hurricanes, floods, and volcanic eruptions. Images are used in disaster response and for a variety of scientific research, including studies of algal blooms and melting ice shelves. Crews receive a daily list of specific targets.

- XROOTS uses hydroponic (liquid-based) and aeroponic (air-based) techniques to grow plants without soil or other traditional growth media. Current space-based plant systems do not scale up well in space, and hydroponic and aeroponic techniques could enable production of crops on a larger scale for future space exploration.

Image above: NASA astronaut Bob Hines processes samples for Food Physiology, a study aimed at defining food systems requirements and more efficient dietary interventions to maintain crew health and performance on space missions. Image Credit: NASA.

- Food Physiology characterizes the effects of an enhanced spaceflight diet on immune function and the gut microbiome. Results could help define targeted, efficient dietary interventions and requirements for a food system to maintain crew health and performance on future long-duration missions.

- The ESA GRASP investigation examines how our central nervous system integrates information from different sensations such as sight and hearing to coordinate grasping an object. This investigation could provide insight into how the body adapts to microgravity and how to best treat the loss of vestibular function on Earth.

- Airborne Particulate Monitor (APM) demonstrates an instrument for measuring and quantifying the concentration of particles in spacecraft air. Results could support design of better environmental monitoring hardware for space vehicles and habitats, which becomes more important as mission duration increases. The technology also has applications in environmental monitoring and air pollution studies on Earth.

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

- 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: Science Season: 05/13/2022

Related links:

Expedition 67:

Acoustic Diagnostics:

Cerebral Autoregulation:


ISS National Lab:

Spot the Station:

Space Station Research and Technology:

International Space Station (ISS):

Images (mentioned), Animation (mentioned), Video (NASA), Text, Credits: NASA/Ana Guzman/John Love, ISS Research Planning Integration Scientist Expedition 67.

Best regards,

Work Continues to Return Artemis I Moon Rocket Back to Launch Pad for Next Test


NASA - ARTEMIS-1 Mission patch.

May 13, 2022

Teams at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida continue to work on the main tasks needed to prepare the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket and Orion spacecraft to return to launch pad 39B for the next wet dress rehearsal attempt.

Image above:  The Artemis 1 Space Launch System rocket and Orion spacecraft are in view atop the mobile launcher on Launch Pad 39B at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on April 14, 2022. Image Credits: NASA/Ben Smegelsky.

After re-tightening the flange bolts on the tail service mast umbilical lines to address a hydrogen leak identified during the previous wet dress rehearsal, engineers determined the seals on the bolts are no longer relaxing, and the system should remain tightly sealed during propellant loading. As a precaution, teams also moved the location of a heavy cantilevered filter on the tail service mast umbilical, which filters out any contaminants in the gaseous helium – a purge gas – that travels through the drain assist purge line. Engineers did not identify any leaks at its previous location, but relocating the filter will ensure it does not contribute to future leaks. Engineers conducted additional leak checks and have not detected any leaks at ambient air temperature.

Additionally, after replacing the helium check valve on the interim cryogenic propulsion stage (ICPS), engineers found a damaged rubber O-ring seal in the flight side of the quick disconnect – the area that separates the ICPS from the mobile launcher during launch. The O-ring came loose and entered the valve, preventing the valve from sealing correctly. Teams removed the flight and ground side of the quick disconnect system and replaced support hardware that was downstream of the check valve. Work is underway to determine the root cause to prevent any recurrences. Next, teams will re-pressurize the system and test the replaced hardware on the upper stage.

The supplier for gaseous nitrogen completed upgrades to its facility to meet the requirements for the next wet dress rehearsal attempt. Engineers will test the system next week to ensure its ready to support tanking operations. During wet dress rehearsal and launch, teams pump gaseous nitrogen into dry structures to protect avionics during propellant loading.

Teams also completed additional work needed, such as inspecting the Orion spacecraft for water damage that may have occurred during a heavy thunderstorm at the spaceport during the initial wet dress rehearsal attempt. Teams determined there was no damage to the systems inside the capsule and continue with inspections and wrapping up other work before retracting the platforms inside the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) to prepare to roll SLS and Orion back to the launch pad. NASA will announce dates for rolling out to the pad and the next wet dress rehearsal attempt once work inside the VAB and testing of the nitrogen system are nearing completion.

Related articles:

NASA’s Artemis I Moon Rocket to Depart Launch Pad 39B Today

Artemis I WDR Update: Teams Working Solution to Continue Propellant Loading Operations

Artemis I Update: Countdown is Underway for Wet Dress Rehearsal

NASA Prepares for Next Artemis I Wet Dress Rehearsal Attempt

Artemis I WDR Update: Go to Proceed for Tanking – Countdown Resumes

NASA ‘Go’ for Artemis I Wet Dress Rehearsal

Standing tall: Moon rocket milestone for Artemis

NASA Readies Rocket for Artemis I Wet Dress Rehearsal

Related links:

Artemis I:

Space Launch System (SLS):

Orion spacecraft:

Image (mentioned), Text, Credit: NASA.

Best regards,

NASA’s ECOSTRESS Detects ‘Heat Islands’ in Extreme Indian Heat Wave


ISS - ECOSTRESS Mission logo.

May 13, 2022

The instrument aboard the space station documents blistering temperatures in urban areas around Delhi during the historic heat wave on the Indian subcontinent.

Image above: NASA’s ECOSTRESS instrument made this image of ground temperatures near Delhi (lower right), around midnight on May 5. The urban “heat islands” of Delhi and smaller villages peaked at 102 degrees Fahrenheit (39 degrees Celsius) while nearby fields were about 40 degrees Fahrenheit cooler. Image Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech.

A relentless heat wave has blanketed India and Pakistan since mid-March, causing dozens of deaths, fires, increased air pollution, and reduced crop yields. Weather forecasts show no prospect of relief any time soon. NASA’s Ecosystem Spaceborne Thermal Radiometer Experiment on Space Station instrument (ECOSTRESS) has been measuring these temperatures from space, at the highest spatial resolution of any satellite instrument.

This image, taken shortly before local midnight on May 5, shows urban areas and agricultural lands northwest of Delhi (the large red area in the lower right) that are home to about 28 million people. The image covers about 4,800 square miles (12,350 square kilometers).

Cities are usually markedly warmer than the surrounding countryside due to human activities and the materials used in the built environment. The image clearly delineates these urban “heat islands.” Nighttime temperatures in Delhi and several smaller villages were above 95 degrees Fahrenheit (35 degrees Celsius), peaking at about 102 degrees F (39 degrees C), while the rural fields nearby had cooled to around 60 degrees F (15 degrees C). This data suggests that city dwellers are experiencing considerably higher temperatures than the average temperatures reported for their regions.

Ecosystem Spaceborne Thermal Radiometer Experiment on Space Station instrument (ECOSTRESS)

ECOSTRESS measures the temperature of the ground itself, which is very similar to air temperature at night (though the ground may be warmer than the air in daylight hours). The instrument launched to the space station in 2018. Its primary mission is to identify plants’ thresholds for water use and water stress, giving insight into their ability to adapt to a warming climate. However, ECOSTRESS also records other heat-related phenomena, like this heat wave. With a pixel size of about 225 feet (70 meters) by 125 feet (38 meters), its high-resolution images serve as a powerful tool for understanding aspects of the weather event that might be overlooked by traditional observation networks.

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California built and manages the ECOSTRESS mission for the Earth Science Division in the Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington. ECOSTRESS is an Earth Venture Instrument mission; the program is managed by NASA’s Earth System Science Pathfinder program at NASA's Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia.

Ecosystem Spaceborne Thermal Radiometer Experiment on Space Station instrument (ECOSTRESS):

Images (mentioned), Text, Credits: NASA/JPL/Jane J. Lee/Andrew Wang.


jeudi 12 mai 2022

Life Science, Robotics on Station Today; Starliner Nears Launch


ISS - Expedition 67 Mission patch.

May 12, 2022

International Space Station (ISS). Animation Credit: NASA

Human research, space botany, and robotics were the main research themes for the Expedition 67 crew aboard the International Space Station on Thursday. Meanwhile, mission managers conducted a Flight Readiness Review ahead of the launch of Boeing’s Orbital Flight Test-2 (OFT-2) mission scheduled for next week.

The orbiting lab’s four astronauts, including Flight Engineers Kjell Lindgren, Bob Hines, Jessica Watkins, and Samantha Cristoforetti, kicked off the day with a quick health check. The quartet used the EveryWear app on an iPad that collects and downloads medical data for review by doctors on Earth. A variety of hardware such as a smart shirt that records cardiac activity, a wireless sensor that monitors heart rate, and a tonometer that measures pressure in eyes and blood vessels, contributes to the data that EveryWear collects.

Image above: NASA astronauts (from left) Kjell Lindgren, Bob Hines, Kayla Barron, and Jessica Watkins work inside the Columbus laboratory module on May 2, 2022. Image Credit: NASA.

Lindgren, Hines, and Watkins also took turns collecting and stowing their blood and urine samples for later analysis. Cristoforetti spent most of her morning on the Acoustic Diagnostics experiment that explores how the station’s noise levels affect a crew member’s hearing.

Lindgren also worked on the XROOTS botany study that investigates using hydroponic and aeroponic techniques to grow plants in microgravity. Afterward, he joined Hines and reviewed procedures for operating the Astrobee robotic free-flying assistants. Watkins and Cristoforetti worked on orbital plumbing tasks and cupola window maintenance respectively.

Image above: The Boeing CST-100 Starliner spacecraft is lifted at the Vertical Integration Facility at Space Launch Complex-41 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida on May 4, 2022, ahead of its second Orbital Flight Test (OFT-2) to the International Space Station for NASA's Commercial Crew Program. Image Credits: NASA/Frank Michaux.

The station’s three cosmonauts, Commander Oleg Artemyev and Flight Engineers Denis Matveev and Sergey Korsakov, continued their complement of science and maintenance tasks in the station’s Russian segment.

NASA and Boeing mission managers completed a Flight Readiness Review on Wednesday and are proceeding toward the launch of the OFT-2 mission at 6:54 p.m. EDT on Thursday, May 19. Boeing’s unpiloted Starliner will lift off from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida and automatically dock to the Harmony module’s forward port about 24 hours later. It will stay at the station for cargo and test operations for five to 10 days before parachuting back to Earth.

Related article:

Coverage Set for NASA’s Boeing OFT-2 Briefings, Events, Broadcast

Related links:

Expedition 67:


Acoustic Diagnostics:

XROOTS botany study:



Harmony module:

Space Station Research and Technology:

International Space Station (ISS):

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


Scientists Grow Plants in Lunar Soil


NASA - ARTEMIS Program logo.

May 12, 2022

NASA-funded study breaks new ground in plant research

In the early days of the space age, the Apollo astronauts took part in a visionary plan: Bring samples of the lunar surface material, known as regolith, back to Earth where they could be studied with state-of-the-art equipment and saved for future research not yet imagined. Fifty years later, at the dawn of the Artemis era and the next astronaut return to the Moon, three of those samples have been used to successfully grow plants. For the first time ever, researchers have grown the hardy and well-studied Arabidopsis thaliana in the nutrient-poor lunar regolith.

Image above: Rob Ferl, left, and Anna-Lisa Paul looking at the plates filled part with lunar soil and part with control soils, now under LED growing lights. At the time, the scientists did not know if the seeds would even germinate in lunar soil. Image Credits: UF/IFAS photo by Tyler Jones.

“This research is critical to NASA’s long-term human exploration goals as we’ll need to use resources found on the Moon and Mars to develop food sources for future astronauts living and operating in deep space,” said NASA Administrator Bill Nelson. “This fundamental plant growth research is also a key example of how NASA is working to unlock agricultural innovations that could help us understand how plants might overcome stressful conditions in food-scarce areas here on Earth.”

Scientists at the University of Florida have made a breakthrough discovery — decades in the making — that could both enable space exploration and benefit humanity. “Here we are, 50 years later, completing experiments that were started back in the Apollo labs,” said Robert Ferl, a professor in the Horticultural Sciences department at the University of Florida, Gainesville, and a communicating author on a paper published on May 12, 2022, in Communications Biology. “We first asked the question of whether plants can grow in regolith. And second, how might that one day help humans have an extended stay on the Moon.”

Image above: Anna-Lisa Paul, left, and Rob Ferl, working with the lunar soils in their lab. Image Credits: UF/IFAS photo by Tyler Jones.

The answer to the first question is a resounding yes. Plants can grow in lunar regolith. They were not as robust as plants grown in Earth soil, or even as those in the control group grown in a lunar simulant made from volcanic ash, but they did indeed grow. And by studying how the plants responded in the lunar samples, the team hopes to go on to answer the second question as well, paving the way for future astronauts to someday grow more nutrient-rich plants on the Moon and thrive in deep space.

To Boldly Go, We Must Boldly Grow

“To explore further and to learn about the solar system we live in, we need to take advantage of what’s on the Moon, so we don’t have to take all of it with us,” said Jacob Bleacher, the Chief Exploration Scientist supporting NASA’s Artemis program at NASA Headquarters in Washington. Bleacher points out that this is also why NASA is sending robotic missions to the Moon’s South Pole where it’s believed there may be water that can be used by future astronauts. “What’s more, growing plants is the kind of thing we’ll study when we go. So, these studies on the ground lay the path to expand that research by the next humans on the Moon.”

Arabidopsis thaliana, native to Eurasia and Africa, is a relative of mustard greens and other cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts. It also plays a key role for scientists: due to its small size and ease of growth, it is one of the most studied plants in the world, used as a model organism for research into all areas of plant biology. As such, scientists already know what its genes look like, how it behaves in different circumstances, even how it grows in space.

Working with Teaspoon-sized Samples

Image above: Placing a plant grown during the experiment in a vial for eventual genetic analysis. Image Credits: UF/IFAS photo by Tyler Jones.

To grow the Arabidopsis, the team used samples collected on the Apollo 11, 12, and 17 missions, with only a gram of regolith allotted for each plant. The team added water and then seeds to the samples. They then put the trays into terrarium boxes in a clean room. A nutrient solution was added daily.

“After two days, they started to sprout!” said Anna-Lisa Paul, who is also a professor in Horticultural Sciences at the University of Florida, and who is first author on the paper. “Everything sprouted. I can’t tell you how astonished we were! Every plant – whether in a lunar sample or in a control – looked the same up until about day six.”

Image above: Anna-Lisa Paul tries moistening the lunar soils with a pipette. The scientists found that the soils repelled water (were hydrophobic), causing the water to bead-up on the surface. Active stirring of the material with water was required to break the hydrophobicity and uniformly wet the soil. Once moistened, the lunar soils could be wetted by capillary action for plant culture. Image Credits: UF/IFAS photo by Tyler Jones.

After day six, however, it was clear that the plants were not as robust as the control group plants growing in volcanic ash, and the plants were growing differently depending on which type of sample they were in. The plants grew more slowly and had stunted roots; additionally, some had stunted leaves and sported reddish pigmentation.

After 20 days, just before the plants started to flower, the team harvested the plants, ground them up, and studied the RNA. In a biological system, genes are decoded in multiple steps. First, the genes, or DNA, are transcribed into RNA.  Then the RNA is translated into a protein sequence.  These proteins are responsible for carrying out many of the biological processes in a living organism.  Sequencing the RNA revealed the patterns of genes that were expressed, which showed that the plants were indeed under stress and had reacted the way researchers have seen Arabidopsis respond to growth in other harsh environments, such as when soil has too much salt or heavy metals.

Image above: By day 16, there were clear physical differences between plants grown in the volcanic ash lunar simulant, left, compared with those grown in the lunar soil, right. Image Credits: UF/IFAS photo by Tyler Jones.

Additionally, the plants reacted differently depending on which sample – each collected from different areas on the Moon – was used. Plants grown in the Apollo 11 samples were not as robust as the other two sets. Nonetheless, the plants did grow.

Sowing the Seeds for Future Research

This research opens the door not only to someday growing plants in habitats on the Moon, but to a wide range of additional questions. Can understanding which genes plants need to adjust to growing in regolith help us understand how to reduce the stressful nature of lunar soil? Are materials from different areas of the Moon more conducive to growing plants than others? Could studying lunar regolith help us understand more about the Mars regolith and potentially growing plants in that material as well? All of these are questions that the team hopes to study next, in support of the future astronauts traveling to the Moon.

“Not only is it pleasing for us to have plants around us, especially as we venture to new destinations in space, but they could provide supplemental nutrition to our diets and enable future human exploration,” said Sharmila Bhattacharya, program scientist with NASA’s Biological and Physical Sciences (BPS) Division. “Plants are what enable us to be explorers.”

This research is part of the Apollo Next Generation Sample Analysis Program, or ANGSA, an effort to study the samples returned from the Apollo Program in advance of the upcoming Artemis missions to the Moon’s South Pole. BPS helped support this work, which also supports other fundamental plant research, including Veggie, PONDS, and Advanced Plant Habitat.

About BPS

NASA’s Biological and Physical Sciences Division pioneers scientific discovery and enables exploration by using space environments to conduct investigations not possible on Earth. Studying biological and physical phenomenon under extreme conditions allows researchers to advance the fundamental scientific knowledge required to go farther and stay longer in space, while also benefitting life on Earth.

Related Articles

Plants grown in Apollo lunar regolith present stress-associated transcriptomes that inform prospects for lunar exploration

NASA Studies ‘New’ 50-Year-Old Lunar Sample to Prep for Return to Moon

Related links:

NASA’s Biological and Physical Sciences Division:

Apollo Next Generation Sample Analysis Program (ANGSA):


Images (mentioned), Text, Credits: NASA/Bill Keeter.

Best regards,

Earth from Orbit: NOAA Debuts First Imagery from GOES-18


NASA & NOAA - GOES T Mission patch.

May 12, 2022

On May 11, 2022, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, or NOAA, shared the first images of the Western Hemisphere from its Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite-T (GOES-T). Later designated GOES-18, the satellite’s Advanced Baseline Imager (ABI) instrument recently captured stunning views of Earth.

Launched by NASA on March 1, GOES-18 lifted off at 4:38 p.m. EST from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station’s Space Launch Complex 41 in Florida. The ABI views Earth with 16 different channels, each measuring energy at different wavelengths along the electromagnetic spectrum to obtain information about Earth’s atmosphere, land, and ocean.

Learn more: GOES Overview and History:

Related article:

ULA - Atlas V launches GOES-T

Related link:

Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite-T (GOES-T):

Image Credit: NOAA/Text Credits: NASA/Yvette Smith.


Astronomers reveal first image of the black hole at the heart of our galaxy


ESO - European Southern Observatory logo.

May 12, 2022

First image of our black hole

Meet Sgr A*: Zooming into the black hole at the centre of our galaxy

The image is a long-anticipated look at the massive object that sits at the very centre of our galaxy. Scientists had previously seen stars orbiting around something invisible, compact, and very massive at the centre of the Milky Way. This strongly suggested that this object — known as Sagittarius A* (Sgr A*, pronounced "sadge-ay-star") — is a black hole, and today’s image provides the first direct visual evidence of it.

Making of the image of the black hole at the centre of the Milky Way

Size comparison of the two EHT black holes

Although we cannot see the black hole itself, because it is completely dark, glowing gas around it reveals a telltale signature: a dark central region (called a shadow) surrounded by a bright ring-like structure. The new view captures light bent by the powerful gravity of the black hole, which is four million times more massive than our Sun.

Image above: The Milky Way and the location of its central black hole as viewed from the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array.

European infrastructure involved in the EHT collaboration

Video montage of the Event Horizon Telescope observatories

“We were stunned by how well the size of the ring agreed with predictions from Einstein’s Theory of General Relativity," said EHT Project Scientist Geoffrey Bower from the Institute of Astronomy and Astrophysics, Academia Sinica, Taipei. "These unprecedented observations have greatly improved our understanding of what happens at the very centre of our galaxy, and offer new insights on how these giant black holes interact with their surroundings." The EHT team's results are being published today in a special issue of The Astrophysical Journal Letters.

Side by side of the first two images of black holes

Comparison of the sizes of two black holes: M87* and Sagittarius A*

Because the black hole is about 27 000 light-years away from Earth, it appears to us to have about the same size in the sky as a doughnut on the Moon. To image it, the team created the powerful EHT, which linked together eight existing radio observatories across the planet to form a single “Earth-sized” virtual telescope [1]. The EHT observed Sgr A* on multiple nights in 2017, collecting data for many hours in a row, similar to using a long exposure time on a camera.

Montage of the Event Horizon Telescope observatories (day)

Montage of the Event Horizon Telescope observatories (night)

EHT, a planet-scale array
EHT, a planet-scale array

In addition to other facilities, the EHT network of radio observatories includes the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) and the Atacama Pathfinder EXperiment (APEX) in the Atacama Desert in Chile, co-owned and co-operated by ESO on behalf of its member states in Europe. Europe also contributes to the EHT observations with other radio observatories — the IRAM 30-meter telescope in Spain and, since 2018, the NOrthern Extended Millimeter Array (NOEMA) in France — as well as a supercomputer to combine EHT data hosted by the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Germany. Moreover, Europe contributed with funding to the EHT consortium project through grants by the European Research Council and by the Max Planck Society in Germany.

First image of our black hole (with wider background)

Locations of the telescopes that make up the EHT array

“It is very exciting for ESO to have been playing such an important role in unravelling the mysteries of black holes, and of Sgr A* in particular, over so many years,” commented ESO Director General Xavier Barcons. “ESO not only contributed to the EHT observations through the ALMA and APEX facilities but also enabled, with its other observatories in Chile, some of the previous breakthrough observations of the Galactic centre.” [2]

The EHT achievement follows the collaboration’s 2019 release of the first image of a black hole, called M87*, at the centre of the more distant Messier 87 galaxy.

The moon and the arc of the Milky Way

Size equivalent of the shadow of Sagittarius A*

The two black holes look remarkably similar, even though our galaxy’s black hole is more than a thousand times smaller and less massive than M87* [3]. "We have two completely different types of galaxies and two very different black hole masses, but close to the edge of these black holes they look amazingly similar,” says Sera Markoff, Co-Chair of the EHT Science Council and a professor of theoretical astrophysics at the University of Amsterdam, the Netherlands. "This tells us that General Relativity governs these objects up close, and any differences we see further away must be due to differences in the material that surrounds the black holes.”

ALMA and the centre of the Milky Way

APEX scratching the sky

This achievement was considerably more difficult than for M87*, even though Sgr A* is much closer to us. EHT scientist Chi-kwan (‘CK’) Chan, from Steward Observatory and Department of Astronomy and the Data Science Institute of the University of Arizona, USA, explains: “The gas in the vicinity of the black holes moves at the same speed — nearly as fast as light — around both Sgr A* and M87*. But where gas takes days to weeks to orbit the larger M87*, in the much smaller Sgr A* it completes an orbit in mere minutes. This means the brightness and pattern of the gas around Sgr A* were changing rapidly as the EHT Collaboration was observing it — a bit like trying to take a clear picture of a puppy quickly chasing its tail.”

APEX and snowy Chajnantor

Animation of the EHT network's radio telescopes

The researchers had to develop sophisticated new tools that accounted for the gas movement around Sgr A*. While M87* was an easier, steadier target, with nearly all images looking the same, that was not the case for Sgr A*. The image of the Sgr A* black hole is an average of the different images the team extracted, finally revealing the giant lurking at the centre of our galaxy for the first time.

Anatomy of a Black Hole

The effort was made possible through the ingenuity of more than 300 researchers from 80 institutes around the world that together make up the EHT Collaboration. In addition to developing complex tools to overcome the challenges of imaging Sgr A*, the team worked rigorously for five years, using supercomputers to combine and analyse their data, all while compiling an unprecedented library of simulated black holes to compare with the observations.

Wide-field view of the centre of the Milky Way

Artist's animation of the Milky Way

Scientists are particularly excited to finally have images of two black holes of very different sizes, which offers the opportunity to understand how they compare and contrast. They have also begun to use the new data to test theories and models of how gas behaves around supermassive black holes. This process is not yet fully understood but is thought to play a key role in shaping the formation and evolution of galaxies.

Sagittarius A* in the constellation of Sagittarius

“Now we can study the differences between these two supermassive black holes to gain valuable new clues about how this important process works,” said EHT scientist Keiichi Asada from the Institute of Astronomy and Astrophysics, Academia Sinica, Taipei. “We have images for two black holes — one at the large end and one at the small end of supermassive black holes in the Universe — so we can go a lot further in testing how gravity behaves in these extreme environments than ever before.”

Clustering and averaging the images of Sagittarius A* and M87*

Progress on the EHT continues: a major observation campaign in March 2022 included more telescopes than ever before. The ongoing expansion of the EHT network and significant technological upgrades will allow scientists to share even more impressive images as well as movies of black holes in the near future.

[1] The individual telescopes involved in the EHT in April 2017, when the observations were conducted, were: the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA), the Atacama Pathfinder EXperiment (APEX), the IRAM 30-meter Telescope, the James Clerk Maxwell Telescope (JCMT), the Large Millimeter Telescope Alfonso Serrano (LMT), the Submillimeter Array (SMA), the UArizona Submillimeter Telescope (SMT), the South Pole Telescope (SPT). Since then, the EHT has added the Greenland Telescope (GLT), the NOrthern Extended Millimeter Array (NOEMA) and the UArizona 12-meter Telescope on Kitt Peak to its network.

ALMA is a partnership of the European Southern Observatory (ESO; Europe, representing its member states), the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF), and the National Institutes of Natural Sciences (NINS) of Japan, together with the National Research Council (Canada), the Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST; Taiwan), Academia Sinica Institute of Astronomy and Astrophysics (ASIAA; Taiwan), and Korea Astronomy and Space Science Institute (KASI; Republic of Korea), in cooperation with the Republic of Chile. The Joint ALMA Observatory is operated by ESO, the Associated Universities, Inc./National Radio Astronomy Observatory (AUI/NRAO) and the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan (NAOJ). APEX, a collaboration between the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy (Germany), the Onsala Space Observatory (Sweden) and ESO, is operated by ESO. The 30-meter Telescope is operated by IRAM (the IRAM Partner Organizations are MPG [Germany], CNRS [France] and IGN [Spain]). The JCMT is operated by the East Asian Observatory on behalf of The National Astronomical Observatory of Japan; ASIAA; KASI; the National Astronomical Research Institute of Thailand; the Center for Astronomical Mega-Science and organisations in the United Kingdom and Canada. The LMT is operated by INAOE and UMass, the SMA is operated by Center for Astrophysics | Harvard & Smithsonian and ASIAA and the UArizona SMT is operated by the University of Arizona. The SPT is operated by the University of Chicago with specialised EHT instrumentation provided by the University of Arizona.

The Greenland Telescope (GLT) is operated by ASIAA and the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory (SAO). The GLT is part of the ALMA-Taiwan project, and is supported in part by the Academia Sinica (AS) and MOST. NOEMA is operated by IRAM and the UArizona 12-meter telescope at Kitt Peak is operated by the University of Arizona.

[2] A strong basis for the interpretation of this new image was provided by previous research carried out on Sgr A*. Astronomers have known the bright, dense radio source at the centre of the Milky Way in the direction of the constellation Sagittarius since the 1970s. By measuring the orbits of several stars very close to our galactic centre over a period of 30 years, teams led by Reinhard Genzel (Director at the Max –Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics in Garching near Munich, Germany) and Andrea M. Ghez (Professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of California, Los Angeles, USA) were able to conclude that the most likely explanation for an object of this mass and density is a supermassive black hole. ESO's facilities (including the Very Large Telescope and the Very Large Telescope Interferometer) and the Keck Observatory were used to carry out this research, which shared the 2020 Nobel Prize in Physics.

[3] Black holes are the only objects we know of where mass scales with size. A black hole a thousand times smaller than another is also a thousand times less massive.
More information

This research was presented in six papers published today in The Astrophysical Journal Letters:

The EHT collaboration involves more than 300 researchers from Africa, Asia, Europe, North and South America. The international collaboration aims to capture the most detailed black hole images ever obtained by creating a virtual Earth-sized telescope. Supported by considerable international efforts, the EHT links existing telescopes using novel techniques — creating a fundamentally new instrument with the highest angular resolving power that has yet been achieved.

The EHT consortium consists of 13 stakeholder institutes; the Academia Sinica Institute of Astronomy and Astrophysics, the University of Arizona, the Center for Astrophysics | Harvard & Smithsonian, the University of Chicago, the East Asian Observatory, Goethe-Universitaet Frankfurt, Institut de Radioastronomie Millimétrique, Large Millimeter Telescope, Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy, MIT Haystack Observatory, National Astronomical Observatory of Japan, Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics, and Radboud University.

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

APEX, Atacama Pathfinder EXperiment, is a 12-metre diameter telescope, operating at millimetre and submillimetre wavelengths — between infrared light and radio waves. ESO operates APEX at one of the highest observatory sites on Earth, at an elevation of 5100 metres, high on the Chajnantor plateau in Chile’s Atacama region. The telescope is a collaboration between the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy (MPIfR), the Onsala Space Observatory (OSO), and ESO.

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.


Related video:

What it Takes to Image a Black Hole

Main papers:
Paper I: The Shadow of the Supermassive Black Hole in the Center of the Milky Way:
Paper II: EHT and Multi-wavelength Observations, Data Processing, and Calibration:

Paper III: Imaging of the Galactic Center Supermassive Black Hole:

Paper IV: Variability, Morphology, and Black Hole Mass:

Paper V: Testing Astrophysical Models of the Galactic Center Black Hole:

Paper VI: Testing the Black Hole Metric:

Supplementary papers:

Selective Dynamical Imaging of Interferometric Data:

Millimeter Light Curves of Sagittarius A* Observed during the 2017 Event Horizon Telescope Campaign:

A Universal Power Law Prescription for Variability from Synthetic Images of Black Hole Accretion Flows:

Characterizing and Mitigating Intraday Variability: Reconstructing Source Structure in Accreting Black Holes with mm-VLBI:

ESO EHT web page:
EHT Website & Press Release:

Images of ALMA:

Images of APEX:



30-meter Telescope operated by IRAM:






Greenland Telescope (GLT):


UArizona 12-meter telescope at Kitt Peak:

ESO Very Large Telescope (VLT):

ESO Very Large Telescope Interferometer (VLTI):

Keck Observatory:

Images Credits: EHT Collaboration/ESO/José Francisco Salgado ( collaboration (acknowledgment: Lia Medeiros, xkcd)/ESO/M. Kornmesser/ALMA/APEX/INAOE, LMT/N. Patel, GLT/EAO-W. Montgomerie, JCMT/D. Harvey, SMT/N. Billot, 30m/Wikipedia, SPT/S. R. Schimpf, SMA/IRAM, NOEMA/Wikipedia, Kitt Peak/N. Risinger ( Calçada/ESO/S. Guisard ( Tafreshi (, C. Duran/ESO, Carlos A. Durán/ESO and Digitized Sky Survey 2. Acknowledgment: Davide De Martin and S. Guisard (, IAU and Sky & Telescope/Videos Credits: ESO/L. Calçada, N. Risinger (, DSS, VISTA, VVV Survey/D. Minniti DSS, Nogueras-Lara et al., Schoedel, NACO, GRAVITY Collaboration, EHT Collaboration (Music: Azul Cobalto)/ESO/M. Kornmesser, EHT Collaboration/ESO, ALMA (ESO/NAOJ/NRAO), IRAM/Diverticimes, NOEMA, F. Xavier Cuvelier, mediomix, Thalia Traianou (Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy) and B. Tafreshi ( Calçada/ESO/M. Kornmesser/L. Calçada/C. M. Fromm (University Würzburg, Germany), L. Rezzolla (University Frankfurt, Germany), EHT Collaboration/Text Credits: ESO, Bárbara Ferreira/EHT Project Director, JIVE and University of Leiden, Huib Jan van Langevelde/EHT Project Scientist, Institute of Astronomy and Astrophysics, Academic Sinica, Taipei and University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa, US, Geoffrey Bower. 

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