samedi 18 juin 2022

SpaceX - Falcon 9 launches SARah-1


SpaceX - Falcon 9 / SARah-1 Mission patch.

June 18, 2022

Falcon 9 carrying SARah-1 liftoff

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launched the SARah-1 Earth observation satellite from Space Launch Complex 4 East (SLC-4E) at Vandenberg Space Force Base in California, on 18 June 2022, at 14:19 UTC (07:19 PDT).

Falcon 9 launches SARah-1 and Falcon 9 first stage landing

Following stage separation, Falcon 9’s first stage landed on Landing Zone 4 at Vandenberg Space Force Base in California. Falcon 9’s first stage (B1071) previously launched the NROL-87 and NROL-85 missions.

SARah-1 satellite

SARah is a new operational reconnaissance system consisting of several satellites developer and built by Airbus Defence and Space.


Airbus Space:

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


vendredi 17 juin 2022

Crew Wraps Week with Research Hardware Work, Cygnus Packing


ISS - Expedition 67 Mission patch.

June 17, 2022

Space research hardware kept the Expedition 67 crew busy on Friday as the four astronauts and three cosmonauts turned on free-flying robots, configured nanosatellites, and replaced a fuel bottle inside a furnace. The septet also split its day inside the International Space Station with Earth observations, spacesuit helmet work, and cargo packing.

The Astrobee robotic assistants were flying autonomously inside the Kibo laboratory module today streaming video of their activities to mission controllers on Earth. NASA Flight Engineer Bob Hines configured the cube-shaped Astrobees to test their ability to navigate and visualize the inside of Kibo on their own.

Image above: NASA astronaut and Expedition 67 Flight Engineer Bob Hines is pictured during cargo operations and inventory tasks inside the Cygnus space freighter from Northrop Grumman. Image Credit: NASA.

ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti swapped a fuel bottle inside the Electrostatic Levitation Furnace that enables safe observations of high-temperature phenomena in microgravity. She started the day partnering with NASA Flight Engineer Jessica Watkins collecting blood samples and processing them in a centrifuge. Watkins also photographed Earth landmarks in North America, Spain, and Africa while verbally providing descriptions to assist researchers on the ground.

NASA Flight Engineer Kjell Lindgren checked out components on a U.S. spacesuit helmet before continuing to pack Northrop Grumman’s Cygnus space freighter. Cristoforetti and Watkins both joined Lindgren at the end of the day as they loaded Cygnus with trash and discarded gear ahead of its departure later this month.

In the Russian segment of the orbiting lab, Commander Oleg Artemyev tested a set of nanosatellites before their future deployment. He also assisted Cristoforetti while she pedaled on an exercise cycle for a physical fitness evaluation. Flight Engineer Denis Matveev spent Friday servicing a Russian oxygen generator while Flight Engineer Sergey Korsakov worked on configuration tasks and computer maintenance inside the Nauka multipurpose laboratory module.

International Space Station (ISS). Animation Credit: NASA

The International Space Station Flight Control Team has decided to postpone the first limited reboost of the International Space Station by the Northrop Grumman Cygnus resupply vehicle from Saturday to Monday to refine the duration and magnitude of the activity in the wake of Thursday’s debris avoidance maneuver. The postponement will have no impact on station operations.

This Cygnus mission is the first to feature this enhanced capability as a standard service for NASA, following a test of the maneuver which was performed in 2018 during Cygnus’s ninth resupply mission. Cygnus arrived at the orbital outpost in February and is slated to depart from the space station later this month when it will be deorbited to burn up harmlessly in the Earth’s atmosphere.

Related links:

Expedition 67:


Kibo laboratory module:

Electrostatic Levitation Furnace:

Photographed Earth landmarks:

Nauka multipurpose laboratory module:

Space Station Research and Technology:

International Space Station (ISS):

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


Teams on Track for Artemis I Wet Dress Rehearsal Test


NASA - ARTEMIS-1 Mission patch.

June 17, 2022

NASA is on track to begin the approximately two-day wet dress rehearsal for the agency’s Artemis I mission. The test will begin at approximately 5 p.m. EDT June 18 with “call to stations,” when the launch team arrives at their consoles inside the Launch Control Center at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The rehearsal will run the Artemis I launch team through operations to load propellant into the rocket’s tanks, conduct a full launch countdown, demonstrate the ability to recycle the countdown clock, and also drain the tanks to give them an opportunity to practice the timelines and procedures they will use for launch.

A Full Moon Over Artemis. Image Credit: NASA

Approximate times for milestones during the test are below. During the test, the timing for some events on account of several planned operational demonstrations tied to specific capabilities and test objectives may differ from the day of launch countdown. These demonstrations include tests on the cryogenic systems and an approximately three-minute hold inside the terminal count, which would not normally occur on launch day. If needed, the test team may also hold as necessary to verify conditions before resuming the countdown, or use the test window or extend beyond it, if consumables and resources allow them to complete test objectives.

Prior to Call to Stations

    The Orion crew module hatch is closed (will occur at ~L-37.5 hours for launch)
    The crew access arm is retracted (will occur at ~L-30 hours for launch)
    Leak checks are completed on the Orion spacecraft and the launch abort system is closed (will occur at ~L-29 hours, 30 minutes for launch)

5 p.m. EDT, June 18 – L-45 hours, 40 minutes and counting

    The launch team arrives on their stations and the countdown begins (L-45, 40 minutes hours)
    Fill the water tank for the sound suppression system (L-45 hours)
    Orion spacecraft power up start (L-41 hours)
    SLS core stage is powered up (L-35 hours, 20 minutes)
    Final preparations of the four RS-25 engines complete (L-30 hours, 30 minutes)
        Engines will not fire during this test

1:40 a.m., June 20 – L-13 hours and counting 

    The SLS interim cryogenic propulsion stage (ICPS) is powered up (L-12 hours, 50 minutes)
    All non-essential personnel leave Launch Complex 39B (L-12 hours)

6 a.m. – L-8 hours, 40 minutes and counting

    Built in countdown hold begins and lasts approximately 1.5 hours (L-8 hours, 40 minutes)
    The launch director and mission management team chair conduct a weather and tanking briefing (L-8 hours, 20 minutes)
    The launch director and mission management team chair decide if they are “go” or “no-go” to begin tanking the rocket (L-7 hours, 50 minutes)

6:40 a.m. – L-8 hours and counting

    7:35 a.m.: Core stage liquid oxygen (LOX) chilldown start (L-7 hours, 05 minutes)
    8:15 a.m.: Core stage LOX slow fill start (L-6 hours, 25 minutes)
    8:30 a.m.: Core stage LOX fast fill start (L-6 hours, 10 minutes)
    8:35 a.m.: Core stage liquid hydrogen (LH2) chilldown start (L-6 hours, 5 minutes)
    8:40 a.m.: Core stage LH2 slow fill start (L-6 hours)
    9:00 a.m.: Core stage LH2 fast fill start (L-5 hours, 40 minutes)

10:10 a.m. – L-4 hours, 30 minutes and counting 

    10:10 a.m.: Core stage LH2 topping start (L-4 hours, 30 minutes)
    10:15 a.m.: ICPS LH2 chilldown (L-4 hours, 25 minutes)
    10:15 a.m.: Core stage LH2 replenish start (L-4 hours 25 minutes)
    10:20 a.m.: Orion communications system activation start (L-4 hours, 20 minutes)
    10:40 a.m.: ICPS LH2 fast fill (L-4 hours)

11:10 a.m. – L-3 hours, 30 minutes and counting 

    11:15 a.m.: Core stage LOX topping start (L-3 hours, 25 minutes)
    11:20 a.m.: Core stage LOX replenish start (L-3 hours, 20 minutes)
    11:20 a.m.: ICPS LOX chilldown start (L-3 hours, 20 minutes)
    11:25 a.m.: ICPS LH2 validation and leak test start (L-3 hours, 15 minutes)
    11:30 a.m.: ICPS LOX fast fill start (L-3 hours, 10 minutes)
    11:40 a.m.: ICPS LH2 tanks load topping start (L-3 hours)
    11:40 a.m.: ICPS/SLS telemetry data verified with Mission Control Center and SLS Engineering Support Center (L-3 hours)
    12 p.m.: ICPS LH2 replenish start (L-2 hours, 40 minutes)
    12 p.m.: ICPS LOX validation and leak test (L-2 hours, 40 minutes)
    12:20 p.m.: ICPS LOX topping start (L-2 hours, 20 minutes)
    12:30 p.m.: ICPS LOX replenish start (L-2 hours, 10 minutes)
    12:40 p.m.: WDR-specific core stage LOX/LH2 stop flow and recover test (L-2 hours through L-55 minutes)

2 p.m. – L-40 minutes and holding 

    2 p.m.: Final NASA test director briefing begins
    2 p.m.: Built in 30-minute countdown hold begins
    2:25 p.m.: The launch director polls the team to ensure they are “go” for terminal count for test purposes

2:30 p.m. – T-10 minutes and counting (WDR Run 1)

        2:34 p.m.
            Orion ascent pyros are armed (T-6 minutes)
            Orion set to internal power (T-6 minutes)
            Core stage LH2 terminate replenish (T-5 minutes, 57 seconds)

        2:36 p.m.
            Core stage auxiliary power unit starts (T-4 minutes)
            Core stage LOX terminate replenish (T-4 minutes)
            ICPS LOX terminate replenish (T-3 minutes, 30 seconds)

        2:38 p.m.
            ICPS switches to internal battery power (T-1 minute, 56 seconds)
            Core stage switches to internal power (T-1 minute, 30 seconds)
            3 minute launch ready hold (T-1 minute, 30 seconds)
                Wet dress rehearsal only
            ICPS enters terminal countdown mode (T-1 minute, 20 seconds)

        2:41 p.m.
            ICPS LH2 terminate replenish (T-50 seconds)
            Ground launch sequencer sends “cut-off” command (T-33 seconds)

Perform Critical Safing and Planned Recycle back to T-10 minutes and holding (takes approximately one hour)

T-10 minutes and counting  (WDR Run 2)

    Orion ascent pyrotechnics are armed (T-6 minutes)
    Orion set to internal power (T-6 minutes)
    Core stage LH2 terminate replenish (T-5 minutes, 57 seconds)
    Core stage auxiliary power unit starts (T-4 minutes)
    Core stage LOX terminate replenish (T-4 minutes)
    ICPS LOX terminate replenish (T-3 minutes, 30 seconds)
    ICPS switches to internal battery power (T-1 minute, 56 seconds)
    Core stage switches to internal power (T-1 minute, 30 seconds)
    ICPS enters terminal countdown mode (T-1 minute, 20 seconds)
    ICPS LH2 terminate replenish (T-50 seconds)
    Ground launch sequencer sends “Go for automated launch sequencer” command (T-33 seconds)
    Core stage flight computer to automated launching sequencer (T-30 seconds)
    Ground launch sequencer manual cut-off at T-9.34 seconds

Teams will then proceed conducting critical safing and core and upper stage cryogenic fuel drain operations.

ARTEMIS-1 Mission Profile. Image Credit: NASA

NASA is streaming live video of the rocket and spacecraft at Launch Pad 39B and will provide live commentary on the agency’s website beginning with tanking operations on June 20. Activity at the launch pad will likely not be visible during the majority of the countdown, but some venting may be seen during propellant loading.

Related articles:

Artemis I Moon Rocket Heads Back to Launch Pad for Testing

Artemis I Moon Rocket to Return to Launch Pad 39B in Early June

Artemis I Mission Availability

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

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:

Images (mentioned), Text, Credits: NASA/Tiffany Fairley.

Best regards,

Hubble Snaps a Sea of Sequins


NASA - Hubble Space Telescope patch.

June 17, 2022

This star-studded image shows the globular cluster Terzan 9 in the constellation Sagittarius, toward the center of the Milky Way. The NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope captured this glittering scene using its Wide Field Camera 3 and Advanced Camera for Surveys.

Globular clusters are stable, tightly bound groups of tens of thousands to millions of stars. As this image demonstrates, the hearts of globular clusters are densely packed with stars. Terzan 9 is dotted with so many glittering stars that it resembles a sea of sequins, or a vast treasure chest crammed with gold.

This starry snapshot is from a Hubble program investigating globular clusters located toward the heart of our home galaxy, the Milky Way. The Milky Way’s central region holds a tightly packed group of stars known as the galactic bulge, which is rich in interstellar dust. This dust makes globular clusters near the galaxy’s center difficult to study, as it absorbs starlight and can even change the apparent colors of stars in these clusters. Hubble's sensitivity at both visible and infrared wavelengths allows astronomers to measure how star colors change due to interstellar dust. Knowing a star’s true color and brightness allows astronomers to estimate its age, and thereby estimate the globular cluster’s age.

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, R. Cohen.


Space Station Science Highlights: Week of June 13, 2022


ISS - Expedition 67 Mission patch.

June 17, 2022

Crew members aboard the International Space Station conducted scientific investigations during the week of June 13 that included autonomous monitoring of equipment acoustics, analyzing sloshing and turbulence in liquids, and testing a fiber optic radiation dosimeter.

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

Sounds good

Image above: Sensors for the SoundSee Mission, which tests using an audio sensor on Astrobee to monitor the station’s acoustic environment. Monitoring sound can provide early indication of equipment failure, improving crew health and safety by keeping life support and exercise equipment in good working order and reducing crew workload. Image Credit: NASA.

The SoundSee Mission, sponsored by the ISS National Lab, tests using an audio sensor on Astrobee to monitor the station’s acoustic environment. Microphones collect acoustic information, and the free-flying Astrobee robot determines the sensor’s position. Monitoring sound can provide early indication of equipment failure, improving crew health and safety by keeping life support and exercise equipment in good working order and reducing crew workload. Autonomous audio monitoring of equipment on Earth has potential applications in manufacturing, home settings, health care, and infrastructure development. The crew prepared the Astrobee and conducted operations for SoundSee during the week.

Liquid management

Image above: Hardware for the ESA FLUIDICS investigation, which uses liquid-filled spheres to analyze sloshing and wave turbulence. A better understanding of these behaviors could improve the guidance and precision of satellites and measurement and management of liquid fuel. Image Credit: NASA.

An investigation from ESA (European Space Agency), FLUIDICS uses liquid-filled spheres to observe and analyze sloshing and wave turbulence. A better understanding of liquid sloshing in a tank in microgravity could improve the guidance and precision of satellites and optimize the life spans of these craft through better fuel management. Wave turbulence at the surface of liquids is affected by gravity on Earth, but in microgravity, scientists can study only the liquid’s surface tension. Examining wave turbulence could provide insights into measuring the volume of liquid in a sphere and improve the ability to determine how much fuel is left in a tank. On Earth, results from this investigation could provide a better understanding of Earth’s oceans, help improve climate prediction systems, and optimize the use of ocean-based renewable energy. During the week, crew members initiated runs of the experiment.

Illuminating radiation dose

Lumina, an ESA investigation, demonstrates a dosimeter that uses optical fibers to monitor the radiation dose received by crew members. The fibers darken when exposed to radiation, providing reliable measurements in complex radiation environments. Monitoring radiation is a key capability for future longer-term space exploration, and this technology could help protect crew members by enabling them to anticipate and respond to potentially dangerous radiation flares. This technology also has potential applications in the medical and nuclear industries on Earth. During the week, crew members collected and transferred data from the Lumina device.

Image above: Maludam National Park on the South China Sea in East Malaysia is shown in this image taken as the International Space Station orbits 261 miles above the Maludam Peninsula. Image Credit: NASA.

Other investigations involving the crew:

- 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.

- Mochii demonstrates a miniature scanning electron microscope to measure tiny particles that can cause vehicle and equipment malfunctions and threaten crew health. Currently, samples must be returned to Earth for analysis, which can take several months. This technology could enable rapid identification of particles, helping to keep crews and vehicles safe on future missions.

Animation above: NASA astronaut Robert Hines works on the Combustion Integrated Rack (CIR), the space station’s platform for research such as studies on fire safety, fuel efficiency, and extinguishing flames. Animation Credit: NASA.

- The Combustion Integrated Rack (CIR) provides a platform for combustion investigations in microgravity. These include studies on fuel efficiency, extinguishing flames, and control of soot.

- XROOTS uses hydroponic (liquid-based) and aeroponic (air-based) techniques to grow plants without traditional growth media, which could enable production of crops on a larger scale for future space exploration.

- Actiwatch Spectrum is a monitor worn on the wrist of a crew member that measures motion and ambient lighting to analyze the wearer’s circadian or daily rhythms, sleep-wake patterns, and activity. Data on how much crew members sleep and how much light they are exposed to throughout the mission could help define light requirements, sleep protocols, and workload plans to maximize crew health and performance on future exploration missions.

- Transparent Alloys - METCOMP, an investigation from ESA, uses specific organic materials that solidify like a metal yet remain transparent so researchers can examine the alloy solidification process. Alloys are used in a wide variety of applications from smartphones to aircraft, and lighter, stronger versions could benefit consumers and industry.

- 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: One Million Hours: 06/17/2022

The space station is a robust microgravity laboratory with a multitude of specialized research facilities and tools. Over more than two decades of continuous operation, it has supported many scientific breakthroughs from investigations spanning every major scientific discipline. The orbiting lab conveys benefits to future space exploration, advances basic and applied research on Earth, and provides a platform for a growing commercial presence in low-Earth orbit.

Related links:

Expedition 67:

SoundSee Mission:

ISS National Lab:




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,

SpaceX Starlink 48 launch


SpaceX - Falcon 9 / Starlink Mission patch.

June 17, 2022

SpaceX Starlink 48 liftoff

A SpaceX Falcon 9 launch vehicle launched 53 Starlink satellites (Starlink-48) from Launch Complex 39A (LC-39A) at Kennedy Space Center in Florida, on 17 June 2022, at 16:09 UTC (12:09 EDT).

SpaceX Starlink 48 launch & Falcon 9 first stage landing, 17 June 2022

Following stage separation, Falcon 9’s first stage landed on the “A Shortfall of Gravitas” droneship, stationed in the Atlantic Ocean. Falcon 9’s first stage (B1060) previously supported twelve missions: Transporter-2, GPS-III Space Vehicle 03, Turksat-5A and nine Starlink missions.

Related links:



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


CMS on the lookout for new physics


CERN - CMS Experiment logo.

June 17, 2022

The CMS experiment awaits LHC Run 3 to explore several analyses showing small disagreements with theory expectations

A view of the CMS detector (Image: CERN)

With Run 3 of the LHC just around the corner, the LHC experiments are still publishing new results based on the previous runs’ data. Despite no new discoveries being announced, small deviations from expectations are appearing in a small number of analyses. At the current level these deviations can still be attributed to random fluctuations in data, but they indicate regions that need to be investigated closely once the new stream of collisions arrives. Below are a few examples published recently by the CMS collaboration.

In 2017 CMS recorded a spectacular collision event containing four particle jets in the final state. The invariant mass of all four jets was 8 TeV and the jets could be divided into two pairs with a 1.9 TeV invariant mass each. Such a configuration could be produced if a new particle with an 8 TeV mass was created in the collision of proton beams, and subsequently decayed into a pair of – again, new – particles, with masses of 1.9 TeV. In a new analysis recently published by CMS, a search for such twin pairs of jets with matching invariant masses is performed for data collected up to the end of LHC Run 2. Surprisingly, a second event with similarly striking properties was found, with a 4-jet mass of 8.6 TeV and 2-jet masses of 2.15 TeV. These two events can be clearly seen in the plot below, where the 4-jet events are plotted as a function of the 2-jet and 4-jet mass.

Image above: Number of events observed (colour scale), plotted as a function of four-jet mass and the average mass of the two dijets. The two points in the top right correspond to the two interesting events. (Image: CMS).

While nearly all observed events with two pairs of jets are produced by strong interactions between the colliding photons, events with such high invariant masses are extremely unlikely. The probability of seeing two events at these masses without any new phenomena being present is of the order of 1 in 20 000, corresponding to a local significance of 3.9σ. While this may appear to be a very strong signal at first, given that the area of masses that are being analysed is large it is important to also look at global significance, which indicates the probability of observing an excess anywhere in the analysed region. For the two events the global significance is only 1.6σ.

Two other searches for new heavy particles are reporting small excesses in data. In a search for high mass resonances decaying into a pair of W bosons (that then decay into leptons) the highest deviation corresponds to a signal hypothesis with a mass of 650 GeV, with local significance at 3.8σ and global significance of 2.6σ. In a search for heavy particles decaying into a pair of bosons (WW, WZ or other combinations, also including Higgs bosons) that subsequently decay into pairs of jets, the data diverge from expectations in two places. The signal hypothesis is a W’ boson with a mass of 2.1 or 2.9 TeV, decaying into a WZ pair and the highest local significance is 3.6σ, with a global significance of 2.3σ.

Another new result comes from searches looking for extra Higgs boson particles decaying into tau pairs. For a new particle with a 100 GeV mass there is a small excess seen in the data with 3.1σ local and 2.7σ global significance. Interestingly, this coincides with a similar excess seen by CMS in a previous search for low-mass resonances in the two-photon final state. Another excess is visible in the high-mass range, with the largest deviation from the expectation observed for a mass of 1.2 TeV with a local (global) significance of 2.8σ (2.4σ).

The tau pair final state was also used to look for hypothetical new particles called leptoquarks. This is of particular interest since leptoquarks could potentially explain the flavour anomalies that have been observed by the LHCb experiment, so if the anomalies are indeed a manifestation of some new phenomena, this would be a way to independently look at these phenomena from a different angle. No excess has been found by CMS so far, but the analysis is only just beginning to be sensitive to the range of leptoquark parameters that could fit the flavour anomalies, so more data is needed to fully explore the leptoquark hypothesis.

The new LHC data-taking period is set to start in July, at higher energy and with significantly upgraded detectors, promising a fresh stream of data for searches for new phenomena.


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.

Read more in the CERN Courier and CMS publications:

Related links:

CMS experiment:

LHCb experiment:

Large Hadron Collider (LHC):

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

Images (mentioned), Text, Credits: CERN/By Piotr Traczyk.

Best regards,

jeudi 16 juin 2022

Life Science, Debris Avoidance Maneuver Takes Place on Station


ISS - Expedition 67 Mission patch.

June 16, 2022

The Expedition 67 crew studied advanced physics, continued its human research, and worked on space gardening inside the International Space Station on Thursday. The orbital residents are also readying the Cygnus space freighter for its departure next week.

NASA Flight Engineer Jessica Watkins split her day between physics research hardware and sample processing. She stowed components from the Transparent Alloys industrial manufacturing experiment and returned the Microgravity Science Glovebox to its standard configuration. Watkins also collected blood and urine samples throughout the day and stowed them in a science freezer for future analysis.

Space botany and fluid physics were on the research schedule as well for Flight Engineers Kjell Lindgren of NASA and Samantha Cristoforetti of ESA (European Space Agency). Lindgren nourished radishes and mizuna greens growing for the XROOTS hydroponics and aeroponics study. Cristoforetti ran a pair of experiment sessions for the Fluidics study that is exploring how fuel behaves in microgravity.

Image above: The Cygnus space freighter, with its prominent cymbal-shaped UltraFelx solar arrays, approaches the station on Feb. 21, 2022. Image Credit: NASA.

NASA astronaut Bob Hines worked on communications hardware and serviced centrifuge components inside the Human Research Facility. Hines also worked throughout the day with Lindgren, Watkins, and Cristoforetti loading the Cygnus resupply ship with trash and discarded gear ahead of its departure on June 23. NASA TV will broadcast Cygnus’ release from the Canadarm2 robotic arm on the agency’s app and website.

The orbiting lab’s three cosmonauts focused on their complement of research today exploring how to improve space operations. Commander Oleg Artemyev and Flight Engineer Sergey Korsakov took turns participating in an investigation that may inform piloting and robotics control techniques on future planetary missions. Flight Engineer Denis Matveev set up dosimeters for a long-running radiation detection experiment before removing a sensor that monitored his heart activity for 24 hours.

Earth From Cupola - ISS Timelapse

This afternoon, the International Space Station’s Progress 81 thrusters fired for 4 minutes, 34 seconds in a Pre-Determined Debris Avoidance Maneuver (PDAM) to provide the complex and extra measure of distance away from the predicted track of a fragment of Russian Cosmos 1408 debris.

The thruster firing occurred at 2:03 p.m. Central time. The crew was never in any danger and the maneuver had no impact on station operations.

Without the maneuver, it was predicted that the fragment could have passed within around a half mile from the station.

The PDAM increased the station’s altitude by 3/10 of a mile at apogee and 7/10 of a mile at perigee and left the station in an orbit of 261.2 x 257.3 statute miles.

ISS reboost by Progress cargo spacecraft. Image Credit: NASA

The scheduled reboost of the station on Saturday to test Northrop Grumman’s Cygnus NG-17 vehicle’s reboost capability for the first time will still be conducted, but with a slightly reduced engine firing duration to preserve the phasing for Russian Soyuz launch and landing operations in September.

On Saturday, June 18, the Cygnus spacecraft will perform its first limited reboost of the International Space Station. Cygnus’s gimbaled delta velocity engine will be used to adjust the space station’s orbit through a reboost of the altitude of the space station. This Cygnus mission is the first to feature this enhanced capability as a standard service for NASA, following a test of the maneuver which was performed in 2018 during Cygnus’s ninth resupply mission. Cygnus arrived to the orbital outpost in February and is slated to depart from space station later this month where it will burn up harmlessly in the Earth’s atmosphere.

Related links:


Expedition 67:

Transparent Alloys:

Microgravity Science Glovebox:



Human Research Facility:

Canadarm2 robotic arm:

Piloting and robotics:

radiation detection:

Space Station Research and Technology:

International Space Station (ISS):

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


Dead Star Caught Ripping Up Planetary System


NASA - Hubble Space Telescope patch.

Jun 16, 2022

A star's death throes have so violently disrupted its planetary system that the dead star left behind, called a white dwarf, is siphoning off debris from both the system's inner and outer reaches. This is the first time astronomers have observed a white dwarf star that is consuming both rocky-metallic and icy material, the ingredients of planets.

Image above: This illustration shows a white dwarf star siphoning off debris from shattered objects in a planetary system. The Hubble Space Telescope detects the spectral signature of the vaporized debris that revealed a combination of rocky-metallic and icy material, the ingredients of planets. The findings help describe the violent nature of evolved planetary systems and the composition of its disintegrating bodies. Illustration Credits: NASA, ESA, Joseph Olmsted (STScI).

Archival data from NASA's Hubble Space Telescope and other NASA observatories were essential in diagnosing this case of cosmic cannibalism. The findings help describe the violent nature of evolved planetary systems and can tell astronomers about the makeup of newly forming systems.

The findings are based on analyzing material captured by the atmosphere of the nearby white dwarf star G238-44. A white dwarf is what remains of a star like our Sun after it sheds its outer layers and stops burning fuel though nuclear fusion. "We have never seen both of these kinds of objects accreting onto a white dwarf at the same time," said Ted Johnson, the lead researcher and recent University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) bachelor's graduate. "By studying these white dwarfs, we hope to gain a better understanding of planetary systems that are still intact."

The findings are also intriguing because small icy objects are credited for crashing into and "irrigating" dry, rocky planets in our solar system. Billions of years ago comets and asteroids are thought to have delivered water to Earth, sparking the conditions necessary for life as we know it. The makeup of the bodies detected raining onto the white dwarf implies that icy reservoirs might be common among planetary systems, said Johnson.

"Life as we know it requires a rocky planet covered with a variety of elements like carbon, nitrogen, and oxygen," said Benjamin Zuckerman, UCLA professor and co-author. "The abundances of the elements we see on this white dwarf appear to require both a rocky and a volatile-rich parent body – the first example we've found among studies of hundreds of white dwarfs."

Demolition Derby

Theories of planetary system evolution describe the transition between a red giant star and white dwarf phases as a chaotic process. The star quickly loses its outer layers and its planets' orbits dramatically change. Small objects, like asteroids and dwarf planets, can venture too close to giant planets and be sent plummeting toward the star. This study confirms the true scale of this violent chaotic phase, showing that within 100 million years after the beginning of its white dwarf phase, the star is able to simultaneously capture and consume material from its asteroid belt and Kuiper belt-like regions.

Image above: This illustrated diagram of the planetary system G238-44 traces its destruction. The tiny white dwarf star is at the center of the action. A very faint accretion disk is made up of the pieces of shattered bodies falling onto the white dwarf. The remaining asteroids and planetary bodies make up a reservoir of material surrounding the star. Larger gas giant planets may still exist in the system. Much farther out is a belt of icy bodies such as comets, which also ultimately feed the dead star. Illustration Credits: NASA, ESA, Joseph Olmsted (STScI).

The estimated total mass eventually gobbled up by the white dwarf in this study may be no more than the mass of an asteroid or small moon. While the presence of at least two objects that the white dwarf is consuming is not directly measured, it's likely one is metal-rich like an asteroid and another is an icy body similar to what's found at the fringe of our solar system in the Kuiper belt.

Though astronomers have cataloged over 5,000 exoplanets, the only planet where we have some direct knowledge of its interior makeup is Earth. The white dwarf cannibalism provides a unique opportunity to take planets apart and see what they were made of when they first formed around the star.

The team measured the presence of nitrogen, oxygen, magnesium, silicon and iron, among other elements. The detection of iron in a very high abundance is evidence for metallic cores of terrestrial planets, like Earth, Venus, Mars, and Mercury. Unexpectedly high nitrogen abundances led them to conclude the presence of icy bodies. "The best fit for our data was a nearly two-to-one mix of Mercury-like material and comet-like material, which is made up of ice and dust," Johnson said. "Iron metal and nitrogen ice each suggest wildly different conditions of planetary formation. There is no known solar system object with so much of both."

Death of a Planetary System

When a star like our Sun expands into a bloated red giant late in its life, it will shed mass by puffing off its outer layers. One consequence of this can be the gravitational scattering of small objects like asteroids, comets, and moons by any remaining large planets. Like pinballs in an arcade game, the surviving objects can be thrown into highly eccentric orbits.

"After the red giant phase, the white dwarf star that remains is compact – no larger than Earth. The wayward planets end up getting very close to the star and experience powerful tidal forces that tear them apart, creating a gaseous and dusty disk that eventually falls onto the white dwarf's surface," Johnson explained.

The researchers are looking at the ultimate scenario for the Sun's evolution, 5 billion years from now. Earth might be completely vaporized along with the inner planets. But the orbits of many of the asteroids in the main asteroid belt will be gravitationally perturbed by Jupiter and will eventually fall onto the white dwarf that the remnant Sun will become.

For over two years, the research group at UCLA, the University of California, San Diego and the Kiel University in Germany, has worked to unravel this mystery by analyzing the elements detected on the white dwarf star cataloged as G238-44. Their analysis includes data from NASA's retired Far Ultraviolet Spectroscopic Explorer (FUSE), the Keck Observatory's High Resolution Echelle Spectrometer (HIRES) in Hawaii, and the Hubble Space Telescope's Cosmic Origins Spectrograph (COS) and Space Telescope Imaging Spectrograph (STIS).

The team's results were presented at an American Astronomical Society (AAS) press conference on Wednesday, June 15, 2022.

Dead Star Caught Ripping Up Planetary System

Video above: A star’s death throes have so violently disrupted its planetary system that the dead star left behind, called a white dwarf, is siphoning off debris from both the system’s inner and outer reaches. This is the first time astronomers have observed a white dwarf star that is consuming both rocky-metallic and icy material, the ingredients of planets. Archival data from NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope and other NASA observatories were essential in diagnosing this case of cosmic cannibalism. The findings help describe the violent nature of evolved planetary systems and can tell astronomers about the makeup of newly forming systems. Video Credits: NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center; Lead Producer: Paul Morris.

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

The Hubble Space Telescope is a project of international cooperation between NASA and ESA (European Space Agency). NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, manages the telescope. The Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) in Baltimore, Maryland, conducts Hubble science operations. STScI is operated for NASA by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy, in Washington, D.C.

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Images (mentioned), Animation (mentioned), Video (NASA), Text, Credits: NASA/Andrea Gianopoulos/GSFC/Claire Andreoli/STSi/Claire Blome/Ray Villard/University of California/Ted Johnson.


NASA Updates Astronaut Assignments for Boeing Starliner Test Flight


Boeing & NASA - Starliner CFT-1 Mission patch.

June 16, 2022

NASA will fly two astronaut test pilots aboard the agency’s Boeing Crew Flight Test (CFT) mission to the International Space Station, where they will live and work off the Earth for about two weeks.

Image above: NASA astronauts Suni Williams, left, Barry "Butch" Wilmore, center, and Mike Fincke, right, watch as a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket with Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner spacecraft aboard is rolled out of the Vertical Integration Facility to the launch pad at Space Launch Complex 41 ahead of the Orbital Flight Test-2 (OFT-2) mission, Wednesday, May 18, 2022, at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida. Image Credits: NASA/Joel Kowsky.

CFT commander Barry “Butch” Wilmore, whom NASA assigned to the prime crew in October 2020, will join NASA astronaut Suni Williams, who will serve as pilot. Williams previously served as the backup test pilot for CFT while assigned as commander of NASA’s Boeing Starliner-1 mission, Starliner’s first post-certification mission. As CFT pilot, Williams takes the place of NASA astronaut Nicole Mann, originally assigned to the mission in 2018. NASA reassigned Mann to the agency’s SpaceX Crew-5 mission in 2021.

Based upon current space station resources and scheduling needs, a short duration mission with two astronaut test pilots is sufficient to meet all NASA and Boeing test objectives for CFT, which include demonstrating Starliner’s ability to safely fly operational crewed missions to and from the space station. To protect against unforeseen events with crew transportation to the station, NASA may extend the CFT docked duration up to six months and add an additional astronaut later, if needed.

NASA astronaut Mike Fincke, whom the agency previously assigned as the Joint Operations Commander for CFT, will now train as the backup spacecraft test pilot and remains eligible for assignment to a future mission. Fincke’s unique expertise will continue to benefit the team as he retains his position as flight test lead, filling a vital role in Starliner certification.

"Mike Fincke has dedicated the last nine years of his career to these first Boeing missions and Suni the last seven. Butch has done a marvelous job leading the team as the spacecraft commander since 2020,” said Reid Wiseman, chief, Astronaut Office at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston. “It was great to see Starliner’s successful journey to the International Space Station during the Orbital Flight Test-2 (OFT-2) mission last month. We are all looking forward to cheering on Butch and Suni as they fly the first crewed Starliner mission."

Wilmore, Williams, and Fincke each have flown previously as long-duration crew members aboard the space station.

NASA astronaut Jeanette Epps continues to prepare for an upcoming long duration mission aboard Starliner-1. NASA also has identified backup flight opportunities for Epps on the SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft for additional scheduling and resource flexibility. Epps has begun cross-training on the SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft to prepare for this possibility.

Meanwhile, NASA and Boeing are continuing to conduct OFT-2 data reviews while assessing future CFT launch opportunities. Following successful completion of the uncrewed OFT-2 mission, the Starliner crew module has returned to Boeing’s Commercial Crew and Cargo Processing Facility at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, where it will undergo system checkouts and vehicle inspections. The Starliner team is in the process of delivering the initial test flight data to NASA and jointly determining forward work ahead of a crewed flight. These engineering and program reviews are expected to continue for several weeks, culminating in a launch schedule assessment at the end of July, based upon spacecraft readiness, space station scheduling needs, and Eastern Range availability.

“Starliner and the Atlas V performed well during all phases of OFT-2, and now we are taking a methodical look at each system to determine what needs to be upgraded or improved ahead of CFT, just as we do with every other crewed flight,” said Steve Stich, manager, NASA’s Commercial Crew Program. “Additionally, Butch, Suni, and Mike have been instrumental in the development of Starliner on the path to having a second space station crew transportation system.”

For the crewed flight test, Boeing’s Starliner will launch aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket from Space Launch Complex-41 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida.

Following a successful CFT mission, NASA will begin the final process of certifying the Starliner spacecraft and systems for crew missions to the space station. Regular, long-duration commercial crew rotation missions enable NASA to continue the important research and technology investigations taking place aboard the orbiting laboratory. Such research benefits people on Earth and lays the groundwork for future exploration of the Moon and Mars, starting with the agency’s Artemis missions, which include landing the first woman and first person of color on the lunar surface.

Find out more about NASA’s Commercial Crew Program at:

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Image (mentioned), Text, Credits: NASA/Joshua Finch/Gina Anderson/KSC/Brittney Thorpe/Jennifer Wolfinger/JSC/Dan Huot/Megan Dean.

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ESA pursues a shared European vision for the future of space transportation


ESA - European Space Agency emblem.

June 16, 2022

As the European Space Agency prepares to begin operations of its next-generation Vega-C and Ariane 6 launch systems complemented by the reusable Space Rider orbital transportation system, work is underway to define the future of European space transportation capabilities for the coming decade and beyond.

ESA, together with partners, is elaborating a vision of the future of space transportation in Europe. The objective is to identify the activities required to unleash Europe’s technological potential as a global competitor, with an industrial landscape that fosters innovation and drives cost reduction.

Identifying critical technologies is a key feature of this approach.

Work has been underway since summer 2021 to identify features of a future European space transportation infrastructure. The next phase will be to define a technology roadmap that allows ESA, Europe’s national space agencies and institutions, and both established and start-up space companies to match the intense technical and commercial competition coming from the USA, China, Russia and India.

More than 100 representatives of Europe’s space sector are preparing to gather on 28 June in Palermo, Sicily for an intensive series of roundtable discussions.

Giorgio Tumino, ESA’s Chief Technical Advisor for Space Transportation, is leading the elaboration of this vision and organising the Palermo gathering, called “Shared Vision for the Future of Space Transportation in Europe”.

Critically, he says, concepts for a “Vision 2030+” must be discussed independently of the needs and constraints of existing programmatic frameworks. “We need to think about the future without being held back by the parameters of today,” he says.

Encouragingly, he adds, work done so far has been supported by technical experts from institutions of ESA’s Member States: “There are elements for a vision of the future from the technical and technological perspective.”

One key focus of the Palermo meeting is to share ESA’s Vision 2030+ with industry and consolidate a technology development strategy, because it is important to define coordinated actions by Europe’s institutions and companies. 2030, he notes, is coming soon – it is the “next step, not the step after the next”.

Following the Space Summit held in Toulouse in February 2022, another focus is to share the steps ESA is taking to prepare an informed decision on human exploration, including human space transportation capabilities in Europe, as these may become an additional dimension of Vision 2030+. At Palermo, discussions will grapple with the question of competition versus cooperation between institutional and private-sector actors spread across many European countries.

Future STS concepts

ESA, its national partners and other European institutions which rely on space services may also need to redefine their roles. Going from being project leaders – the traditional role of a space agency – to project enablers means learning to work with private sector actors and their objectives, rather than hiring them to fulfil a specified mission.

That new role may see agencies work to de-risk ambitious technology development efforts to smooth the path from concept to reality. Agencies may also need to act as “anchor customers” to ensure a coordinated European procurement of end-services by, for example, guaranteeing a minimum yearly order.

In that context, Tumino says, an important objective of the Palermo gathering will be to identify where to focus resources for the best return on investment.

Daniel Neuenschwander, ESA’s Director of Space Transportation, says the event in Palermo will be a unique opportunity to share objectives and work with European stakeholders to further elaborate Vision 2030+ in preparation for November’s ESA Council at Ministerial Level. “Our objective is to identify the paths we need to follow to unleash European technological potential and position Europe as a key space power in a competitive global space sector,” he says.

The final event programme and list of roundtable participants is now available at: Interested participants should register to attend by 19 June 2022.

Related article:

Vega-C set for inaugural launch

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Space Transportation:

Image, Text, Credit: European Space Agency (ESA). 


mercredi 15 juin 2022

Advanced Space Biology and Tech Research Informing Mission Success


ISS - Expedition 67 Mission patch.

June 15, 2022

The International Space Station hummed with research activity today as the Expedition 67 crew members continued exploring how microgravity affects the human body. The orbital residents also tested ways autonomous robots can assist astronauts and researched how fuel behaves in the weightless environment of space.

NASA Flight Engineer Bob Hines worked throughout Wednesday processing blood and urine samples collected from crew members and stowing them in a science freezer for later analysis. The astronaut also configured wrist-worn sleep monitoring devices, known as Actiwatches, that station residents wear periodically for research purposes. Data, including sleep-wake activity and light exposure, is downloaded to scientists on Earth to review how living in space affects an astronaut’s sleep cycle.

Image above: Astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti works on U.S. spacesuits inside the International Space Station’s Quest airlock. Image Credit: NASA.

The Astrobee robotic free-flyers were activated today inside the Kibo laboratory module. NASA astronaut Jessica Watkins outfitted the toaster-sized robotic assistants with acoustic monitors and let them autonomously fly around Kibo for a technology demonstration. The experiment tests using listening techniques to monitor the health of spacecraft systems and detect potential issues.

NASA Flight Engineer Kjell Lindgren kicked off his day configuring video cables inside the Cell Biology Experiment Facility before photographing landmarks over Europe and Asia. Afterward, he partnered with Watkins after lunchtime for cargo operations inside the Cygnus space freighter. The private resupply ship from Northrop Grumman is due to complete its station mission at the end of June.

ISS flyby over the Earth

ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti studied fluid physics using distilled water and a specialized low-viscous liquid inside the Columbus laboratory module today. The Fluidics experiment explores ways to optimize fuel management in satellites and may even provide insights on the behavior of Earth’s ocean waves.

Commander Oleg Artemyev continued partnering today with Flight Engineer Sergey Korsakov to learn how to exercise more effectively in weightlessness. Artemyev also charged video camera and laptop computer batteries while Korsakov serviced Russian life support equipment. Flight Engineer Denis Matveev researched piloting and robotic techniques for future planetary missions then attached a sensor to himself to measure his cardiac activity for 24 hours.

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Kibo laboratory module:

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Columbus laboratory module:


Space Station Research and Technology:

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