samedi 20 août 2022

Dragon Splashes Down With Scientific Cargo for Analysis


SpaceX - Dragon CRS-25 Mission patch.

August 20, 2022

Image above: Aug. 19, 2022: International Space Station Configuration. Four spaceships are docked at the space station including the SpaceX Crew Dragon Freedom and Russia’s Soyuz MS-21 crew ship and the Progress 80 and 81 resupply ships. Image Credit: NASA.

SpaceX’s uncrewed Dragon cargo spacecraft splashed down at 2:53 p.m. EDT Saturday, Aug. 20, north of Cape Canaveral off the Florida coast, marking the return of the company’s 25th contracted cargo resupply mission to the International Space Station for NASA. The spacecraft carried more than 4,000 pounds of valuable scientific experiments and other cargo back to Earth.

Dragon cargo splashes down. Animation Credit: NASA

Some of the scientific investigations returned by Dragon include:

- Space’s impact on materials: The Materials International Space Station Experiment-15-NASA (MISSE-15-NASA) experiment tests, qualifies, and quantifies the impact of the low-Earth orbit environment on new materials and components, such as spacecraft materials and wearable radiation protection. Successful experiment results could have applications both in the harsh environments of space and on Earth.

- Spacesuit cooling: Spacesuit Evaporation Rejection Flight Experiment (SERFE) demonstrates a new technology using water evaporation to remove heat from spacesuits and maintain appropriate temperatures for crew members and equipment during spacewalks. The investigation determines whether microgravity affects performance and evaluates the technology’s effect on contamination and corrosion of spacesuit material.

- Cell signaling in microgravity: The ESA (European Space Agency) sponsored investigation Bioprint FirstAid Handheld Bioprinter (Bioprint FirstAid) enables the rapid use of formerly prepared bio-inks, containing the patient’s own cells, to form a band-aid patch in the case of injury.

Related article:

Dragon Departs Station to Return Scientific Cargo to Earth

Related links:

Experiment-15-NASA (MISSE-15-NASA):

Spacesuit Evaporation Rejection Flight Experiment (SERFE):

Bioprint FirstAid Handheld Bioprinter (Bioprint FirstAid):

Space Station Research and Technology:

International Space Station (ISS):

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


vendredi 19 août 2022

Dragon Departs Station to Return Scientific Cargo to Earth


SpaceX - Dragon CRS-25 Mission patch.

August 19, 2022

Image above: The SpaceX Dragon cargo craft backs away from the space station moments after undocking from the Harmony module’s forward port during an orbital sunrise. Image Credit: NASA TV.

At 11:00 a.m. EDT, flight controllers on the ground sent commands to release the uncrewed SpaceX Dragon spacecraft from the forward port of the International Space Station’s Harmony module. At the time of release at 11:05 a.m., the station was flying about 259 miles over the Pacific Ocean.

The Dragon spacecraft successfully departed the space station one month after arriving at the orbiting laboratory to deliver about 4,000 pounds of scientific investigations and supplies.

SpaceX CRS-25 Dragon undocking and departure

Tomorrow, ground controllers at SpaceX in Hawthorne, California, will command a deorbit burn. After re-entering Earth’s atmosphere, the spacecraft will make a parachute-assisted splashdown off the coast of Florida. NASA TV will not broadcast the de-orbit burn and splashdown, and updates will be posted on the agency’s space station blog and Space News blog.

Dragon arrived at the space station July 16, following a launch two days prior on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. It was the company’s 25th commercial resupply services mission to the space station for NASA.

Related links:

Space Station Research and Technology:

International Space Station (ISS):

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

Best regards,

CASC - Long March-2D launches Yaogan-35 04 satellites


CASC - CZ-2D Y66 / Long March-2D Yaogan-35 Mission patch.

Aug 19, 2022

Long March-2D carrying Yaogan-35 04 satellites liftoff

A Long March-2D launch vehicle launched the fourth group of three Yaogan-35 satellites from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center, Sichuan Province, southwest China, on 19 August 2022, at 17:37 UTC (20 August, at 01:37 local time).

Long March-2D launches Yaogan-35 04 satellites

According to official sources, the satellites (遥感三十五号04组卫星A星、B星、C星; Yaogan-35 04 A, B and C) have entered the planned orbits successfully and will be “mainly used in scientific experiments, land and resources surveys, agricultural production estimates, and disaster prevention and mitigation.”

Yaogan-35 satellites

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

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


NASA Identifies Candidate Regions for Landing Next Americans on Moon


NASA - ARTEMIS Program logo.

Aug 19, 2022

As NASA prepares to send astronauts back to the Moon under Artemis, the agency has identified 13 candidate landing regions near the lunar South Pole. Each region contains multiple potential landing sites for Artemis III, which will be the first of the Artemis missions to bring crew to the lunar surface, including the first woman to set foot on the Moon.

Image above: Shown here is a rendering of 13 candidate landing regions for Artemis III. Each region is approximately 9.3 by 9.3 miles (15 by 15 kilometers). A landing site is a location within those regions with an approximate 328-foot (100-meter) radius. Image Credit: NASA.

“Selecting these regions means we are one giant leap closer to returning humans to the Moon for the first time since Apollo,” said Mark Kirasich, deputy associate administrator for the Artemis Campaign Development Division at NASA Headquarters in Washington. “When we do, it will be unlike any mission that’s come before as astronauts venture into dark areas previously unexplored by humans and lay the groundwork for future long-term stays.”

NASA identified the following candidate regions for an Artemis III lunar landing:

- Faustini Rim A
- Peak Near Shackleton
- Connecting Ridge
- Connecting Ridge Extension
- de Gerlache Rim 1
- de Gerlache Rim 2
- de Gerlache-Kocher Massif
- Haworth
- Malapert Massif
- Leibnitz Beta Plateau
- Nobile Rim 1
- Nobile Rim 2
- Amundsen Rim

Each of these regions is located within six degrees of latitude of the lunar South Pole and, collectively, contain diverse geologic features. Together, the regions provide landing options for all potential Artemis III launch opportunities. Specific landing sites are tightly coupled to the timing of the launch window, so multiple regions ensure flexibility to launch throughout the year.

To select the regions, an agencywide team of scientists and engineers assessed the area near the lunar South Pole using data from NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter and decades of publications and lunar science findings. In addition to considering launch window availability, the team evaluated regions based on their ability to accommodate a safe landing, using criteria including terrain slope, ease of communications with Earth, and lighting conditions. To determine accessibility, the team also considered combined capabilities of the Space Launch System rocket, the Orion spacecraft, and the SpaceX-provided Starship human landing system.

Artemis III Landing Region Candidates

Video above: NASA has announced the identification of 13 candidate landing regions near the Moon's South Pole for the Artemis III mission, the first crewed mission to the Moon's surface since 1972. This video features a data visualization showing the locations of all 13 regions, and highlights the interesting lunar topography and exploration potential of these areas Video Credits: NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center.

All regions considered are scientifically significant because of their proximity to the lunar South Pole, which is an area that contains permanently shadowed regions rich in resources and in terrain unexplored by humans.

“Several of the proposed sites within the regions are located among some of the oldest parts of the Moon, and together with the permanently shadowed regions, provide the opportunity to learn about the history of the Moon through previously unstudied lunar materials,” said Sarah Noble, Artemis lunar science lead for NASA’s Planetary Science Division.

The analysis team weighed other landing criteria with specific Artemis III science objectives, including the goal to land close enough to a permanently shadowed region to allow crew to conduct a moonwalk, while limiting disturbance when landing. This will allow crew to collect samples and conduct scientific analysis in an uncompromised area, yielding important information about the depth, distribution, and composition of water ice that was confirmed at the Moon’s South Pole.

The team identified regions that can fulfill the moonwalk objective by ensuring proximity to permanently shadowed regions, and also factored in other lighting conditions. All 13 regions contain sites that provide continuous access to sunlight throughout a 6.5-day period – the planned duration of the Artemis III surface mission. Access to sunlight is critical for a long-term stay at the Moon because it provides a power source and minimizes temperature variations.

“Developing a blueprint for exploring the solar system means learning how to use resources that are available to us while also preserving their scientific integrity”, said Jacob Bleacher, chief exploration scientist for NASA. “Lunar water ice is valuable from a scientific perspective and also as a resource, because from it we can extract oxygen and hydrogen for life support systems and fuel.”

NASA will discuss the 13 regions with broader science and engineering communities through conferences and workshops to solicit input about the merits of each region. This feedback will inform site selections in the future, and NASA may identify additional regions for consideration. The agency will also continue to work with SpaceX to confirm Starship’s landing capabilities and assess the options accordingly.

NASA will select sites within regions for Artemis III after it identifies the mission’s target launch dates, which dictate transfer trajectories and surface environment conditions.

Through Artemis, NASA will land the first woman and the first person of color on the Moon, paving the way for a long-term, sustainable lunar presence and serving as a steppingstone for future astronaut missions to Mars.

Related links:

NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO):

SpaceX-provided Starship human landing system:

For more information on Artemis, visit:

Image (mentioned), Video (mentioned), Text, Credits: NASA/Sean Potter/Vanessa Lloyd/Alana Johnson/Kathryn Hambleton.


Space Station Science Highlights: Week of August 15, 2022


ISS - Expedition 67 Mission patch.

Aug 19, 2022

Crew members aboard the International Space Station conducted scientific investigations during the week of Aug 15 that included examining soil microbial communities in space, tracking how the human body adapts to microgravity, and demonstrating a tool to test hearing in noisy environments. Crew members also prepared for the SpaceX Dragon’s 25th commercial resupply mission to return to Earth with samples and hardware from multiple investigations, enabling researchers to continue data collection and analysis on the ground.

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

Soil for space

Image above: This image shows a rack of tubes containing different cultures of bacteria to be added to sterile soil for the DynaMoS investigation, which examines how microgravity affects metabolic interactions in communities of soil microbes. Image Credits: Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.

DynaMos examines how microgravity affects metabolic interactions in communities of soil microbes. On Earth, communities of microorganisms carry out key functions in soil, including cycling of carbon and other nutrients and support of plant growth. This research focuses on the communities of soil microorganisms that decompose chitin, a building material similar to cellulose that is found in the exoskeletons of insects, the cell walls of fungi, and parts of many other organisms. Results could support design of life-support systems for future space missions that use the natural processes carried out by soil microorganisms. The investigation also could contribute to efforts to optimize soil microbe communities to enhance agricultural production on Earth. The space station serves as a platform for a variety of research studying how microgravity affects microbes, including those involved in human health. Crew members processed samples for the investigation during the week.

Astronaut adaptation

Standard Measures collects data from crew members on behavioral health and performance, cellular profiles and immunology, microbiome, biochemistry markers, sensorimotor changes, and cardiovascular health. Researchers use these data, collected throughout the life of the space station, to examine how crew members adapt to living and working in space, monitor countermeasure effectiveness, and support future research on planetary missions. During the week, crew members completed questionnaires and collected samples for the investigation.

Image above: A view of the Earth at night as the space station orbits overhead. Image Credit: NASA.

Helping with hearing

During the week, crew members collected measurements for Acoustic Diagnostics. This ESA (European Space Agency) investigation tests the hearing of crew members before, during, and after flight and compares otoacoustic emissions (OAEs), or sounds naturally generated from within the inner ear, and hearing loss from exposure to noisy environments. A noisy environment can interfere with routine hearing test results and using OAEs as the investigation technique could avoid this problem. The advanced technology developed for this project also could improve diagnostic power and reduce the time required for OAE-based tests. Such advances may encourage more widespread use of this diagnostic tool for applications in occupational health on Earth.

Image above: NASA astronaut Bob Hines replaces a carbon dioxide bottle inside the station’s Advanced Plant Habitat, which supports commercial and fundamental plant and bioscience research. Another facility, Veggie, also supports fundamental space biology and plant experiments, including XROOTS, which tests hydroponic and aeroponic techniques. Image Credit: NASA.

Other investigations involving the crew:

- BioSentinel measures the effects of radiation and microgravity on Saccharomyces cerevisiae yeast. Scientists plan to compare the effects of the space station environment on this yeast to effects from a deep space mission. Results could provide insight into potential damage accumulated from exposure to space radiation and contribute to understanding of how long-term missions to deep space may affect humans.

- XROOTS uses the Veggie facility to test hydroponic (liquid-based) and aeroponic (air-based) techniques for growing plants, potentially enabling production of crops on a larger scale for future space exploration.

Veggie facility:

- Immunosenescence studies how microgravity affects immune function during flight and whether immune cells recover post-flight. Results could support development of treatments to protect astronauts during future long-duration spaceflight, and lead to development of more effective treatments for immune system aging on Earth.

- ISS Ham Radio sessions engage students, teachers, parents, and other members of the community in direct communication with astronauts via ground-based amateur radio units. This experience helps inspire interest in science, technology, engineering, and math.

- Plasma Kristall-4 (PK-4), a collaboration between ESA and the Russian State Space Agency (Roscosmos), studies how plasma crystals form in microgravity. Results could shed light on these common phenomena in space and possibly lead to new research methods, better spacecraft designs, and improvements in industries that use plasmas on Earth.

- Ring Sheared Drop examines formation of amyloid fibrils, which create a waxy plaque in the brain and may be involved in development of some neurological diseases. Investigation results may contribute to a better understanding of these diseases and development of potential treatments.

Space to Ground: A Critical Steppingstone: 08/19/2022

The space station, a robust microgravity laboratory with a multitude of specialized research facilities and tools, has supported many scientific breakthroughs from investigations spanning every major scientific discipline. The ISS Benefits for Humanity 2022 publication details the expanding universe of results realized from more than 20 years of experiments conducted on the station.

Related links:

Expedition 67:


Standard Measures:

Acoustic Diagnostics:

ISS National Lab:

Spot the Station:

Space Station Research and Technology:

International Space Station (ISS):

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

Best regards,

NASA Selects Proposals to Study Stellar Explosions, Galaxies, Stars


NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center logo.

August 19, 2022

NASA has selected four mission proposals submitted to the agency’s Explorers Program for further study. The proposals include missions that would study exploding stars, distant clusters of galaxies, and nearby galaxies and stars.

Image above: This image from NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope features the spiral galaxy Mrk (Markarian) 1337, which is roughly 120 million light-years away from Earth in the constellation Virgo. Image Credits: ESA/Hubble & NASA, A. Riess et al.

Two Astrophysics Medium Explorer missions and two Explorer Missions of Opportunity have been selected to conduct mission concept studies. After detailed evaluation of those studies, NASA plans to select one Mission of Opportunity and one Medium Explorer in 2024 to proceed with implementation. The selected missions will be targeted for launch in 2027 and 2028, respectively.

“NASA’s Explorers Program has a proud tradition of supporting innovative approaches to exceptional science, and these selections hold that same promise,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington. “From studying the evolution of galaxies to explosive, high-energy events, these proposals are inspiring in their scope and creativity to explore the unknown in our universe.”

NASA Explorer missions conduct focused scientific investigations and develop instruments that fill scientific gaps between the agency’s larger space science missions. The proposals were competitively selected based on potential science value and feasibility of development plans.

The two Medium Explorer teams selected at this stage will each receive $3 million to conduct a nine-month mission concept study. Astrophysics Medium Explorer mission costs are capped at $300 million each, excluding the launch vehicle. The selected proposals are:

UltraViolet EXplorer (UVEX)

- UVEX would conduct a deep survey of the whole sky in two bands of ultraviolet light, to provide new insights into galaxy evolution and the lifecycle of stars. The spacecraft would have the ability to repoint rapidly to capture ultraviolet light from the explosion that follows a burst of gravitational waves caused by merging neutron stars. UVEX would carry an ultraviolet spectrograph for detailed study of massive stars and stellar explosions.

- Principal investigator: Fiona Harrison at Caltech in Pasadena, California

Survey and Time-domain Astrophysical Research Explorer (STAR-X)

- The STAR-X spacecraft would be able to turn rapidly to point a sensitive wide-field X-ray telescope and an ultraviolet telescope at transient cosmic sources, such as supernova explosions and active galaxies. Deep X-ray surveys would map hot gas trapped in distant clusters of galaxies; combined with infrared observations from NASA’s upcoming Roman Space Telescope, these observations would trace how massive clusters of galaxies built up over cosmic history.

- Principal investigator: William Zhang at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland

The two Mission of Opportunity teams selected at this stage will each receive $750,000 to conduct a nine-month implementation concept study. NASA Mission of Opportunity costs are capped at $80 million each. The selected proposals are:

Moon Burst Energetics All-sky Monitor (MoonBEAM)

- In its orbit between Earth and the Moon, MoonBEAM would see almost the whole sky at any time, watching for bursts of gamma rays from distant cosmic explosions and rapidly alerting other telescopes to study the source. MoonBEAM would see gamma rays earlier or later than telescopes on Earth or in low orbit, and astronomers could use that time difference to pinpoint the gamma-ray source in the sky.

- Principal investigator: Chiumun Michelle Hui at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama

A LargE Area burst Polarimeter (LEAP)

- Mounted on the International Space Station, LEAP would study gamma-ray bursts from the energetic jets launched during the formation of a black hole after the explosive death of a massive star, or in the merger of compact objects. The high-energy gamma-ray radiation can be polarized, or vibrate in a particular direction, which can distinguish between competing theories for the nature of the jets.

- Principal investigator: Mark McConnell at the University of New Hampshire in Durham

The Explorers Program is the oldest continuous NASA program. The program is designed to provide frequent, low-cost access to space using principal investigator-led space science investigations relevant to the Science Mission Directorate’s astrophysics and heliophysics programs.

Since the launch of Explorer 1 in 1958, which discovered the Earth’s radiation belts, the Explorers Program has launched more than 90 missions, including the Uhuru and Cosmic Background Explorer (COBE) missions that led to Nobel prizes for their investigators.

The program is managed by NASA Goddard for NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington, which conducts a wide variety of research and scientific exploration programs for Earth studies, space weather, the solar system, and the universe.

For more information about the Explorers Program, visit:

Image (mentioned), Text, Credits: NASA/Alise Fisher/Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC).


Launch dates for Artemis I


NASA - ARTEMIS 1 Mission patch.

Aug. 19, 2022

With the rocket now on the launchpad, the Artemis I Moon mission is getting real: 29 August is the first opportunity for the SLS rocket to blast off from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center’s launchpad 39B in Florida, USA.

Artemis I on the launchpad at night

This first Artemis mission will put NASA’s Orion spacecraft and its European Service Module to the test during a journey beyond the Moon and back. The spacecraft will enter lunar orbit, using the Moon’s gravity to gain speed and propel itself almost half a million km from Earth – farther than any human-rated spacecraft has ever travelled.

Orion and European Service Module before being integrated in the SLS rocket

This journey will serve as a test of both the Orion spacecraft and its SLS rocket ahead of crewed flights to the Moon. In this instance, no crew will be on board Orion, and the spacecraft will be controlled by teams here on Earth. The second Artemis mission, however, will see four astronauts travel around the Moon on a flyby voyage around our natural satellite.

Artemis I – European Service Module perspective

Mission duration depends on the launch date and even time. It will last between 20 to 40 days, depending on how many orbits of the Moon mission designers decide to make. This flexibility in mission length is necessary to allow the mission to end as intended with a splashdown during daylight hours in the Pacific Ocean, off the coast of California, USA.

Artemis I step-by-step

Two more dates are available if weather is not ideal on 29 August. The Artemis Moon mission can also be launched on 2 September and 5 September.

Orion is the only spacecraft capable of human spaceflight outside Earth orbit and high-speed reentry from the vicinity of the Moon. More than just a crew module, Orion includes ESA’s European Service Module, the powerhouse that fuels and propels Orion.

The European Service Module – or ESM – provides for all astronauts’ basic needs, such as water, oxygen, nitrogen, temperature control, power and propulsion. Much like a train engine pulls passenger carriages and supplies power, the European Service Module will take the Orion capsule to its destination and back.

At the top of the mega Moon

The creation of the ESM has been a truly pan-European effort. Around 26 European companies were enlisted by ESA’s prime contractor, Airbus, to develop and build the module, which in total comprises more than 20 000 parts and components. From electrical equipment to engines, solar panels, fuel tanks and life-support elements, Europe’s world-class scientific and technological skills are at the heart of this mission.

Terrae Novae: Earth orbit, Moon and Mars

The Artemis I mission is the first of the Artemis programme to take humans to the Moon sustainably. Aside from the ESA’s service module for the Orion missions of which four are already ready or being built with contracts in place for two more. ESA is also supplying habitation and refuelling modules for the international lunar Gateway station that will orbit our natural satellite. The building of more European Service Module’s as well as a series of independent European lunar landers are to be decided at ESA’s Ministerial Council later this year as part of ESA’s exploration strategy Terrae Novae that includes landing a European astronaut on the Moon by 2030.

Related links:

Artemis I:

Artemis II:

International Lunar Gateway Station:

Orion spacecraft:

ESA’s Ministerial Council:

ESA’s exploration strategy Terrae Novae:

Images, Videos, Text, Credits: ESA/K. Oldenburg/NASA/J. Kowlsky.

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SpaceX Starlink 56 launch


SpaceX - Falcon 9 / Starlink Mission patch.

Aug. 19, 2022

Falcon 9 carrying Starlink 56 liftoff

A SpaceX Falcon 9 launch vehicle launched 53 Starlink satellites (Starlink-56 / Starlink 4-27) from Space Launch Complex 40 (SLC-40) at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida, on 19 August 2022, at 19:21 UTC (15:21 EDT).

SpaceX Starlink 56 launch & Falcon 9 first stage landing, 19 August 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 (B1062) previously supported eight missions: GPS III SV04, GPS III SV05, Inspiration4, Axiom-1, Nilesat 301 and three Starlink missions.

Related links:


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


jeudi 18 août 2022

Dragon Departing Friday; Cosmonauts Clean Up After Spacewalk


ISS - Expedition 67 Mission patch.

August 18, 2022

The Expedition 67 crew will wait an extra day before seeing a U.S. space freighter depart the International Space Station. In the meantime, the cosmonauts are cleaning up following a shorter-than-planned spacewalk after a power issue on a Russian Orlan spacesuit.

Mission managers representing NASA and SpaceX waved off Thursday’s undocking of the Dragon cargo craft due to adverse weather conditions at the splashdown site off the coast of Florida. Dragon is now due to leave the Harmony module’s forward port at 11:05 a.m. EDT on Friday.

Image above: The SpaceX Dragon resupply ship approaches the space station on July 16, 2022, during an orbital sunrise above the Pacific Ocean. Image Credit: NASA TV.

Four of the station’s astronauts including Kjell Lindgren, Bob Hines, and Jessica Watkins, all from NASA, with Samantha Cristoforetti of ESA (European Space Agency), will finish packing Dragon with critical research samples early Friday morning before closing the commercial resupply ship’s hatch. Dragon is scheduled to parachute back to Earth on Saturday loaded with over 4,000 pounds of cargo including completed scientific experiments for analysis. NASA TV, on the agency’s app and website, begins its live undocking coverage at 10:45 a.m. on Friday.

During a four-hour and one-minute spacewalk on Wednesday, Commander Oleg Artemyev and Flight Engineer Denis Matveev installed a pair of cameras on the European robotic arm (ERA) and removed parts attached to the arm’s end effector. Today, the cosmonauts powered down their Orlan spacesuits and removed suit components. Flight Engineer Sergey Korsakov reconfigured the Poisk module back to normal operations.

International Space Station (ISS). Animation Credit: NASA

Just over two hours after Thursday’s spacewalk began, Artemyev informed Russian mission controllers his spacesuit was experiencing abnormal battery readings. Mission controllers directed Artemyev to return to the Poisk’s airlock and connect his spacesuit to the station’s power supply. Matveev continued his tasks before cleaning up and heading back to Poisk after managers called off the robotic maintenance excursion. Korsakov maneuvered the ERA to a safe post-spacewalk configuration while the cosmonaut spacewalkers were never in any danger.

Related article:

Russian Spacewalk Ends Early After Battery Power Issue

Related links:


Expedition 67:

Harmony module:

Poisk module:

Space Station Research and Technology:

International Space Station (ISS):

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

Best regards,

NASA Telescopes Capture Stellar Delivery Service for Black Hole


NASA - Chandra X-ray Observatory patch.

Aug 18, 2022

Astronomers may have witnessed a galaxy’s black hole delivery system in action. A new study using data from NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory and Hubble Space Telescope outlines how a large black hole may have been delivered to the spiral galaxy NGC 4424 by another, smaller galaxy.

Image Credits: X-ray: NASA/CXC/Swinburne Univ. of Technology/A. Graham et al.; Optical: NASA/ESA/STScI.

NGC 4424 is located about 54 million light-years from Earth in the Virgo galaxy cluster. The main panel of this image, which has been previously released, shows a wide-field view of this galaxy in optical light from Hubble. The image is about 45,000 light-years wide. The center of this galaxy is expected to host a large black hole estimated to contain a mass between about 60,000 and 100,000 Suns. There are also likely to be millions of stellar-mass black holes, which contain between about 5 and 30 solar masses, spread throughout the galaxy.

The inset features a close-up view of NGC 4424 that shows Chandra X-ray data (blue) plus a version of the optical data (red) that has had light from a model of NGC 4424 subtracted from the image to show other faint features. This inset image is about 1,700 light-years across. The elongated red object is a cluster of stars that the authors of the new study have nicknamed “Nikhuli,” a name relating to the Tulini festive period of celebrating and wishing for a rich harvest. This name is taken from the Sumi language from the Indian state of Nagaland. The Chandra data shows a point source of X-rays.

Image above: Close-up view of NGC 4424. Image Credits: X-ray: NASA/CXC/Swinburne Univ. of Technology/A. Graham et al.; Optical: NASA/ESA/STScI.

The researchers determined Nikhuli is likely the center of a small galaxy that has had most of its stars stripped away as it collides with the larger galaxy NGC 4424. Nikhuli has also been stretched out by gravitational forces as it falls towards the center of NGC 4424, giving it an elongated shape. Currently, Nikhuli is about 1,300 light-years from the center of NGC 4424, or about 20 times closer than the Earth is to the Milky Way’s giant black hole.

One possible explanation for the Chandra X-ray source in the inset is that matter from Nikhuli is falling rapidly into a stellar-mass black hole. However, because these smaller black holes are expected to be rare in a cluster the size of Nikhuli, the authors argue it is more likely from material falling slowly onto a more massive black hole weighing between about 40,000 and 150,000 Suns. This is similar to the expected size of the black hole in the center of NGC 4424. These results imply that Nikhuli is likely acting as a delivery system for NGC 4424’s supply of black holes, in this case bringing along a massive one. If the center of NGC 4424 contains a massive black hole, Nikhuli’s massive black hole should end up orbiting it. The distance separating the pair should then shrink until gravitational waves are produced and the two massive black holes merge with each other.

Chandra X-ray Observatory. Animation Credits: NASA/CXC

A paper describing these results appeared in the December 2021 issue of The Astrophysical Journal, and a preprint is available online. The authors of the study are Alister Graham (Swinburne Astronomy Online, Australia), Roberto Soria (University of the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing, China), Bogdan Ciambur (The Paris Observatory, France), Benjamin Davis (New York University in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates), and Douglas Swartz (NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama). NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center manages the Chandra program. The Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory's Chandra X-ray Center controls science operations from Cambridge, Massachusetts, and flight operations from Burlington, Massachusetts.

Read more from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory:

For more Chandra images, multimedia and related materials, visit:

The Astrophysical Journal:

Images (mentioned), Animation (mentioned), Text, Credits: NASA/Lee Mohon.

Best regards,

Huge volcanic eruptions: time to prepare


Natural Disasters logo.

Aug. 18, 2022

More must be done to forecast and try to manage globally disruptive volcanic eruptions. The risks are greater than people think.

Image above: Tonga Geological Services staff making observations of the Hunga Tonga–Hunga Ha‘apai volcano. Image Credits: Tonga Geological Services/ZUMA/Alamy.

The massive eruption of the Hunga Tonga–Hunga Ha‘apai volcano this January in Tonga, in the south Pacific Ocean, was the volcanic equivalent of a ‘near miss’ asteroid whizzing by the Earth. The eruption was the largest since Mount Pinatubo in the Philippines blew in 1991, and the biggest explosion ever recorded by instruments.

Ash fell over hundreds of kilometres, affecting infrastructure, agriculture and fish stocks. The damage caused amounted to 18.5% of Tonga’s gross domestic product. Submarine cables were severed, cutting off Tonga’s communications with the outside world for several days; farther afield, the blast created a worldwide shockwave and tsunamis that reached Japanese and North and South American coastlines. Mercifully, the eruption lasted only about 11 hours. Had it gone on for longer, released more ash and gas or occurred in more densely populated areas of southeast Asia, or near a high concentration of vital shipping lanes, electricity grids or other crucial global infrastructure, it would have had repercussions for supply chains, climate and food resources worldwide (1).

The world is woefully unprepared for such an event. The Tongan eruption should be a wake-up call. Recent data from ice cores suggest that the probability of an eruption with a magnitude of 7 (10 or 100 times larger than Tonga) or greater this century is 1 in 6 (2). Eruptions of this size have, in the past, caused abrupt climate change and the collapse of civilizations, and have been associated with the rise of pandemics (3).

And yet, little investment has gone into limiting what an eruption of this magnitude could do. Impacts would cascade across transport, food, water, trade, energy, finance, and communication in our globally connected world.

Over the next century, large-scale volcanic eruptions are hundreds of times more likely to occur than are asteroid and comet impacts, put together (4). The climatic impact of these events is comparable, yet the response is vastly different. ‘Planetary defence’ receives hundreds of millions of dollars in funding each year, and has several global agencies devoted to it. In September, NASA’s Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) mission will try to nudge an asteroid’s trajectory, testing capabilities for future asteroid deflection. That advance-preparation project will cost over US$300 million. By contrast, there is no coordinated action, nor large-scale investment, to mitigate the global effects of large-magnitude eruptions. This needs to change.

Deep impact

Although researchers have long known of the drastic impacts of large-scale volcanic eruptions, the likelihood of such an event has only recently been clarified.

The recurrence rate of large eruptions can be determined by searching the long-term records for sulfate spikes, stemming from the gas released during globally significant events. In 2021, researchers looked at ice cores from both poles and identified 1,113 signatures of eruptions in the Greenland ice and 737 in Antarctica, occurring between 60,000 and 9,000 years ago. They found 97 events that probably had a climatic impact equivalent to that of a magnitude 7 eruption or greater. They concluded that magnitude-7 events happen about once every 625 years, and magnitude-8 events (also called super-eruptions) about once every 14,300 years2. That’s more frequent than suggested by previous assessments — using geological records and statistical techniques — that found recurrence intervals of 1,200 years for magnitude 7 and 17,000 years for magnitude 8 (5).

Image above: Mount Rinjani in Indonesia was the site of a magnitude-7 eruption in 1257. Image Credit: Michael Cassidy.

The last magnitude-7 event was in Tambora, Indonesia, in 1815. In the archipelago, an estimated 100,000 people died as a result of volcanic flows, tsunamis, the deposition of heavy rocks and ash on crops and houses, and subsequent effects. Globally, temperatures dropped about 1 °C on average, causing the ‘year without a summer’. The eastern United States and much of Europe endured mass crop failures, and the resulting famines led to violent uprisings and disease epidemics.

The world is very different now. In some ways, it is more resilient: volcanoes are better monitored, there is better education and awareness, and health-care and food systems have improved. In other ways, the risks to humanity are increasing. Thanks to changes in ocean and atmospheric circulation caused by climate change, a large-magnitude eruption in the tropics could cause 60% more cooling in the next century compared with today (6). The frequency of eruptions could also increase as geophysical forces on the planet’s surface shift because of ice melt, changes in precipitation and sea-level rise (7).

Although the cooling effects of sulfate aerosols in the stratosphere might counteract warming from greenhouse gases (the world is already around 1.1 °C warmer than in the pre-industrial era), the impact of a large volcanic eruption would be abrupt and immense, with uneven effects on weather, rainfall and temperature.

The global population is eight times larger now than in 1800, and the trade it relies on has grown more than 1,000-fold since then. As the COVID-19 pandemic and the war in Ukraine have shown, the modern world is highly dependent on global trade for food, fuel and resources; a disaster in one spot can cause price spikes and shortages far away.

The financial losses resulting from a large-magnitude eruption are estimated to be in the multi-trillions (8), roughly comparable to those of the pandemic. Given the estimated recurrence rate for a magnitude-7 event, this equates to more than US$1 billion per year. Investing in crisis preparedness and mitigation would be far cheaper than reacting to a disaster. We call for increased attention to, and coordination in, research aimed at forecasting, preparedness and mitigation. Below we suggest what these efforts might look like; for further reading, see the Supplementary Information.

Pinpoint the risks

Of the 97 large-magnitude volcanic eruptions detected in ice-core records, only a handful could be attributed to specific volcanoes. The sites of others remain a mystery, including some that occurred startlingly recently — for example, the eruptions that led to the ‘Late Antique Little Ice Age’ in the mid-sixth century. Estimates show that up to 80% of magnitude-6 eruptions before ad 1 are currently missing from the global geological record (9), with especially poor data for oceanic islands such as the Kuriles, as well as Indonesia and the Philippines, countries with some of the highest densities of volcanoes.

Some 1,300 volcanoes have erupted at some point during the past 10,000 years, meaning they are considered active. But there are probably many other active volcanoes: their recent eruptions might not be known because their locations haven’t been studied, or they may have lain dormant for a long time but still be capable of a large explosive event. Identifying potentially active volcanoes (10) requires a comprehensive approach.

Further research into historical and geological records — including marine and lake cores, especially in neglected regions such as southeast Asia — would help to pinpoint volcanic hazards and map out where large eruptions tend to happen.

Regions of heightened vulnerability and exposure to volcanic threats should also be identified. That will require interdisciplinary research to locate the highest global risks to trade, energy, critical infrastructure, food and water security, and finance (1). There are likely to be pinch points where large volcanic threats overlie dense trade networks, for example the Straits of Malacca — between Peninsular Malaysia and Sumatra in Indonesia — and the Mediterranean Sea.

Improve monitoring

Only 27% or so of the eruptions since 1950 have been monitored with at least one instrument such as a seismometer (11). Data from only about one-third of these eruptions have been collected by the global database for volcanic unrest, WOVOdat. Improved ground-based monitoring of known active volcanoes — including measures of seismicity, gas release and ground deformation — could provide better advance warning of eruptions, especially when combined with emerging analyses that are aided by artificial intelligence.

Where local ground-based monitoring is not feasible, particularly in remote areas, satellite and aerial observation become essential. In addition to monitoring thermal, gas and deformation changes, satellites could provide real-time mass eruption rates, plume heights and imagery for disaster relief. But current satellites lack the necessary resolution in time and space.

Animation above: Satellite imagery of the Hunga Tonga–Hunga Ha‘apai volcano before and after the eruption of 14 January 2022. Animation Credits: Maxar/Getty.

For example, after the Tongan eruption, it was 12 hours before the first radar images, from the European Union’s Sentinel-1A probe, captured changes at the volcano. Often, volcanologists must also rely upon the generosity of private satellite companies to provide real-time high-resolution imagery, as was the case when Capella Space, based in San Francisco, California, provided images one day after the explosive eruption of La Soufrière, in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, began in April 2021.

A four-year pilot project by the Committee on Earth Observation Satellites (CEOS) showed that existing satellite-radar images of ground deformation could be harnessed to help to track volcano activity in Latin America. CEOS recommended a host of steps to speed up transmission of data to local observatories, improve data interpretation and expand the strategy to other regions (12).

For more than two decades, volcanologists have called for a dedicated volcano-observing satellite to be launched. Much progress has been achieved by sharing satellites, yet a step-change in volcano surveillance could be achieved with a dedicated satellite observing in the infrared (13), or high-altitude drones that acts as pseudo-satellites for months at a time.

Ramp up preparedness

To increase resilience at the community level and to support the humanitarian responses, real-time monitoring and simulations of ash fallout, gas plumes and other hazards, such as volcanic flows, should be fed into real-time, targeted communication. This ‘nowcasting’ advice could be delivered by SMS, instructing someone to ‘clear volcanic ash off your roof to prevent collapse, as 50 centimetres of ash is expected over the next 2 hours’, for example, or directing them to the nearest centres for emergency supplies and health-care.

Increased emphasis on community-focused education and awareness can help to prepare people who live in vulnerable regions. The Volcano Ready Communities Project in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, run by the University of the West Indies Seismic Research Centre,is a recent success story. It contributed to the effective evacuation of 20,000 people before the 2021 explosive eruptions, with no loss of life. Similar community-awareness programmes should be scaled up around the globe.

Building greater resilience into critical infrastructure such as energy grids and communications networks could lessen regional impacts. Global policy agreements could prioritize transport of important commodities such as oil, gas, fertilizers, food, electronics and crucial metal resources, as well as ensuring that countries do not act in their own narrow interest by, for example, instigating export bans that could exacerbate food shortages. Global bodies such as the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction have not yet undertaken such focused efforts.

Research volcano geoengineering

Some of the most widespread impacts of large-magnitude eruptions stem from the stratospheric injection of sulfur aerosols that block sunlight and abruptly cool the Earth. Research into how to counteract them could help to curtail a volcanic winter.

Studies have considered the use of sulfates to counteract human-induced warming by deflecting solar radiation. The opposite scenario rarely gets attention. It is theoretically possible to release a short-lived warming agent, such as a hydrofluorocarbon, to counteract the cooling of sulfates (14), or to use a high-altitude aircraft to release non-toxic substances that bind to sulfate aerosols to enhance their removal from the atmosphere, in a manner similar to cirrus-cloud thinning. Such efforts might have significant costs and side effects, such as acid rain, as well as large potential benefits.

Being able to affect volcanic behaviour directly might seem inconceivable, but so did the deflection of asteroids until the formation of NASA’s Planetary Defense Coordination Office in 2016. Numerous examples from geothermal exploration show that it is technically possible to penetrate magmatic bodies in the crust with little collateral damage. In 2024, researchers plan to drill into a magma pocket at the Krafla test bed in Iceland, to provide a ‘long-term magma observatory’ and test sensing equipment to potentially improve volcanic prediction. Research should also be undertaken to assess if it is possible to manipulate the magma or surrounding rocks to moderate eruption explosivity — one such project, Magma Outgassing During Eruptions and Geothermal Exploration, has funding from the European Research Council to 2026.

Whether scientists should conduct any volcano engineering, which has obvious risks, is a matter for debate. But such a debate requires rigorous theoretical and experimental research to underpin it. In our view, the lack of investment, planning and resources to respond to big eruptions is reckless.

Will humanity learn from volcanology’s near miss in Tonga, or will a large-magnitude eruption be the next planet-disrupting event to catch the world unawares after the pandemic? Discussions must start now.

Nature 608, 469-471 (2022)



1. Mani, L., Tzachor, A. & Cole, P. Nature Commun. 12, 4756 (2021).

2. Lin, J. et al. Clim. Past 18, 485–506 (2021).

3. Newhall, C., Self, S. & Robock, A. Geosphere 14, 572–603 (2018).

4. Trilling, D. E. et al. Astron. J. 154, 170 (2017).

5. Rougier, J., Sparks, R. S. J., Cashman, K. V. & Brown, S. K. Earth Planet. Sci. Lett. 482, 621–629 (2018).

6. Aubry, T. J. et al. Nature Commun. 12, 4708 (2021).

7. Aubry, T. J. et al. Bull. Volcanol. 84, 58 (2022).

8. Mahalingam, A. et al. Impacts of Severe Natural Catastrophes on Financial Markets (Cambridge Centre for Risk Studies, 2018).

9. Deligne, N. I., Coles, S. G. & Sparks, R. S. J. J. Geophys. Res. Solid Earth 115, B06203 (2010).

10. Giordano, G. & Caricchi, L. Annu. Rev. Earth Planet. Sci. 50, 231–259 (2022).

11. Costa, F. et al. Disaster Prev. Manag. 28, 738–751 (2019).

12. Pritchard, M. E. et al. J. Appl. Volcanol. 7, 5 (2018).

13. Ramsey, M. S., Harris, A. J. L. & Watson, I. M. Bull. Volcanol. 84, 6 (2021).

14. Fuglestvedt, J. S., Samset, B. H. & Shine, K. P. Geophys. Res. Lett. 41, 8627–8635 (2014).

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Deep down temperature shifts give rise to eruptions

Dramatic Changes at Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha‘apai

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Images (mentioned), Animation (mentioned), Text, Credits: Nature/Michael Cassidy.


Introducing Huginn


ESA - Huginn Mission patch.

Aug. 18, 2022

ESA astronaut Andreas Mogensen of Denmark is set to return to the International Space Station for his first long-duration Station mission. With only one year left before his launch in mid-2023, a name for the mission has been chosen: Huginn.

This name, chosen by Andreas, originates in Norse mythology with Huginn and Muninn – two raven accomplices of the god Odin. Together, the two symbolise the human mind, with Huginn representing thought, and Muninn, memory.

ESA astronaut Andreas Mogensen

These birds are not mere spies or messengers for the highest god, they also serve as his confidants and advisors, speaking with human language. At dawn, Odin sends them out to fly across the whole of Midgard, in order to gather worldly knowledge to report back each evening.

The parallels between this ancient tale and human spaceflight are clear – during his time on the Station, Andreas will conduct many cutting-edge scientific experiments, the results of which will be translated to improving life back here on Earth. As Andreas himself explains:

"Astronauts are explorers that travel into space to gather information and expand our knowledge of our world, much like Huginn, who was sent out each day to fly around the world and bring back information to Odin.

SpaceX Crew-7, Huginn mission patch, 2023

“I'm very pleased with the name Huginn, as it is so symbolic of my upcoming mission to the International Space Station,” Andreas continued. “The patch that ESA has designed around the name is also beautiful and unique."

The mission patch itself, created by ESA graphic designer Karen Lochtenberg, is rendered in the red and white of the Danish flag, alongside ESA’s own ‘Deep Space Blue’. Like many patches before it, it is rich in symbolism relating to the ethos of the mission.

Huginn is depicted flying to the right, moving into the future as he glides over an Earth-rise horizon, which could also be seen as the Moon or Mars. Huginn’s wing includes shading in the shape of Andreas’ homeland, Denmark, while the white of the wing’s highlight – referred to by the designer as the ‘swoosh’ – depicts the journey to the Space Station itself from Andreas’ birthplace in Copenhagen.

ESA astronaut Andreas Mogensen training for spacewalks

Two stripes on Huginn’s back depict the distinctive solar arrays of the Station, and also represent that this is Andreas’ second Station mission. Six stars adorning the sky of this patch form a constellation that resembles the Viking symbol for 'safe travels'.

Andreas is scheduled to fly on a SpaceX Crew Dragon as part of Crew-7 to the International Space Station, but is also ready as backup pilot for Crew-6. He previously spent 10 days in space on a Space Station mission called ‘iriss’ in 2015.

You can follow along with Andreas’ latest mission, Huginn, via his Twitter, or ESA’s channels.

Related links:

Human and Robotic Exploration:

Science & Exploration:

Images, Text, Credits: ESA/S. Corvaja/NASA.