samedi 27 août 2022

NASA, Boeing Prepare for Crew Flight Test


Boeing / NASA - Crew Flight Test (CFT) Mission patch.

Aug. 27, 2022

NASA and Boeing are targeting an early February 2023 launch for the first CST-100 Starliner flight with astronauts to the International Space Station.

Preparations are underway for the launch of NASA’s Boeing Crew Flight Test (CFT) as teams work to ready the hardware, crew, and mission support teams for flight as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program.

Image above: NASA’s Boeing Crew Flight Test (CFT) astronauts Barry “Butch” Wilmore and Sunita “Suni” Williams pose for a picture during T-38 pre-flight activities at Ellington Field. Photo Credits: NASA/Robert Markowitz.

Two NASA astronaut test pilots, Barry “Butch” Wilmore and Suni Williams, will fly on CFT to the space station, where they will live and work for approximately eight days. Mission and crew support teams and the CFT astronauts are continuing with preparations and training. NASA and Boeing teams recently conducted an integrated crew exercise to rehearse the prelaunch timeline and responses to various launch event scenarios. In the coming weeks, Wilmore and Williams will don their spacesuits and climb aboard their crew module to check out the vehicle systems and interfaces that support their health and safety.

Refurbishment of the CFT crew module following the first Orbital Flight Test in December 2019 is progressing. Its external shell and thermal protection system will be completed next, followed by preflight checks to finalize the crew module build and test phase. Production of a new service module also is progressing, with teams wrapping up acceptance testing of the thermal control system, installing the pressurant system and integrating the propulsion system. This service module incorporates the same valve mitigations as the OFT-2 spacecraft. That purge system performed as needed during OFT-2 and a similar system has been implemented into the service module for CFT as a preventative measure. Once both the crew module and service module are completed, the two will be mated for flight.

Boeing CST-100 Starliner. Animation Credit: Boeing

“The Starliner team has done an excellent job throughout the refurbishment process of incorporating all the learning from our uncrewed orbital test flight,” said Steve Stich, manager, NASA’s Commercial Crew Program. “We expect to do even more learning on our next flight with astronauts to set Starliner up for certification and future operational missions.”

For the crewed flight, Boeing’s Starliner will launch on 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.

Related links:

NASA’s Commercial Crew Program:

Commercial Space:

International Space Station (ISS):

Image (mentioned), Animation (mentioned), Text, Credits: NASA/Danielle Sempsrott.

Best regards,

Apollo 15 Catches Earth on the Horizon


NASA - Apollo 15 Mission patch.

Aug 27, 2022

This view of the crescent Earth over the Moon's horizon was taken during the Apollo 15 lunar landing mission. Apollo 15 launched from the Kennedy Space Center on July 26, 1971 via a Saturn V launch vehicle. Aboard was a crew of three astronauts: David R. Scott, mission commander; James B. Irwin, lunar module pilot; and Alfred M. Worden, command module pilot.

Designed to explore the Moon over longer periods, greater ranges, and with more instruments for the collection of scientific data than before, Apollo 15 included the introduction of a $40 million lunar roving vehicle (LRV) that reached a top speed of 16 kph (10 mph) across the Moon's surface.

Lunar Roving Vehicle (LRV). Animation Credits: NASA/Apollo

The successful Apollo 15 lunar landing mission was the first in a series of three advanced missions planned for the Apollo program. The primary scientific objectives were to observe the lunar surface, survey and sample material and surface features in a preselected area of the Hadley-Apennine region, setup and activate surface experiments, and conduct in-flight experiments and photographic tasks from lunar orbit. Apollo 15 televised the first lunar liftoff and recorded a walk in deep space by Worden. Both the Saturn V rocket and the LRV were developed at the Marshall Space Flight Center.

Related links:


Apollo 15:

Image Credit: NASA/Animation (mentioned), Text Credits: NASA/Monika Luabeya.


China makes progress in reusability with secretive third flight of spaceplane


CASC - China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation logo.

Aug. 27, 2022

Suborbital vehicle to combine with orbital spaceplane for fully reusable space transportation system

Image above: A Long March 2D carrying the Yunhai-1 (02) satellite lifts off from Jiuquan in 2019. The unrelated suborbital spaceplane also launched from Jiuquan, with no further details provided. Image Credits: CCTV/framegrab.

China has performed its first repeated use of a suborbital spaceplane as part of efforts to develop a fully reusable space transportation system.

The suborbital vehicle launched from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in the Gobi Desert on Friday, Aug. 26 Beijing time (Aug. 25 Eastern), according to CASC, China’s main space contractor.

The suborbital spaceplane later landed at Alxa Right Banner airport in Inner Mongolia. The short statement provided neither images of the craft nor information such as time, duration or apogee of the launch.

The launch occurred while an orbital spaceplane—launched Aug. 4 and an apparent part of a planned two-vehicle reusable system—continues to orbit the Earth.

China suborbital spaceplane. Image Credit: CASC

The clandestine mission marks the second flight for the suborbital spaceplane, which was developed by the China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology (CALT), a major CASC subsidiary.

CASC’s statement declared the complete success of the flight test, and represents a leap in the development of China’s space transportation technology from single-use to reusable.  

The first flight took place in July 2021, also launching vertically from Jiuquan and landing horizontally at Alxa Right Banner. CASC stated last year that the vehicle uses integrated aviation and space technologies.

The second flight followed 13 months later, after what CASC describes as inspection and maintenance.

Meanwhile CALT’s orbital spaceplane launched from Jiuquan Aug. 4 remains in orbit on its second mission. The suborbital and orbital spaceplanes could be combined to create a fully-reusable space transportation system.

The orbital vehicle could land Aug. 27, according to Orbital Focus, when the spacecraft’s ground track takes it over the Lop Nur airstrip in Xinjiang, the location of its landing after its first mission in 2020.

The CASC spaceplane project was apparently unveiled in 2017 when senior CALT official Chen Hongbo told Science and Technology Daily (Chinese) that an under-development reusable spacecraft would be tested in 2020 and ultimately be capable of carrying both crew and payloads.

A once-every-five-year space “white paper” released by the State Council Information Office in January stated that “successful demonstration flight tests on reusable launch vehicles have been carried out,” and that China would, “continue to strengthen research into key technologies for reusable space transport systems, and conduct test flights accordingly.”

Such projects face large technological and other challenges, Bleddyn Bowen of the University of Leicester told SpaceNews ahead of the second orbital spaceplane launch earlier this month.

“Spaceplanes and reusable orbital vehicles have come and gone, and come back again. There can be some marginal and varied uses for them but they are extremely expensive compared to conventional rockets because the stresses of atmospheric re-entry wreaks havoc on the materials and structures,” Bowen said.

“The Chinese development of spaceplane technology will be remarkable if they manage to overcome the problems Dyna-Soar and the Space Shuttle faced, and the challenges SpaceX’s Starship is now facing as well.”

Other reusable spacecraft or spaceplane projects are under consideration in China. The China Aerospace Science and Industry Corp. (CASIC) is working on its own spaceplane, named Tengyun, while commercial firm Space Transportation last year raised more than $46.3 million for its hypersonic spaceplane plans.

A number of Chinese rocket companies have also created presentations including small spaceplanes launching atop concepts for liquid rockets.

Related articles:

2nd launch of China Reusable Experimental Spacecraft

China’s Reusable Experimental Spacecraft

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

Images (mentioned), Text, Credits: Spacenews/By Andrew Jones.

Best regards,

vendredi 26 août 2022

Biomedical Research, Spacewalk Preps Wrap Week on Station


ISS - Expedition 67 Mission patch.

August 26, 2022

Biomedical research topped the science schedule for the Expedition 67 crew members at the end of the week. Meanwhile, the International Space Station is ramping up for another spacewalk to configure its third robotic arm.

Image above: An orbital sunrise illuminate’s Earth’s atmosphere silhouetting the cloud tops as the space station soared 264 miles above South America. Image Credit: NASA.

An astronaut’s skin experiences accelerated aging in microgravity and scientists are exploring if the space-caused molecular processes affect the way wounds heal. Observations of the skin healing biological mechanisms may inform advanced wound treatments and therapies for astronauts and Earthlings. Flight Engineers Kjell Lindgren, Bob Hines, and Jessica Watkins, all from NASA, with Samantha Cristoforetti of ESA (European Space Agency), have been supporting the biomedical experiment taking place inside the Kibo laboratory module this week. On Friday, the quartet continued practicing surgical techniques such as biopsies, suture splints, and wound dressing, inside Kibo’s Life Science Glovebox.

Two cosmonauts spent Friday reviewing procedures for an upcoming spacewalk to continue outfitting the European robotic arm (ERA). Cosmonauts Oleg Artemyev and Denis Matveev reviewed the tasks and maneuvers they will use when they exit the Poisk module’s airlock and translate towards the ERA in their Orlan spacesuits. The duo previously worked outside the station on Aug. 17, 2022, configuring the ERA when Artemyev’s spacesuit experienced a power issue officially ending the spacewalk after four hours and one minute.

Sunrise seen from International Space Station (ISS). Animation Credit: NASA

The station’s third robotic arm, from ESA, is attached to the Nauka multipurpose laboratory module and being tested for commanding and operations by Flight Engineer Sergey Korsakov. He partnered with his cosmonaut crewmates for the spacewalk procedures review on Friday and will assist Artemyev and Matveev in and out of their spacesuits and maneuver the ERA when they conduct their upcoming robotics spacewalk.

Related links:

Expedition 67:

The way wounds heal:

Kibo laboratory module:

Life Science Glovebox:

Poisk module:

Nauka multipurpose laboratory module:

Space Station Research and Technology:

International Space Station (ISS):

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

Best regards,

Hubble Views a Galactic Marvel


NASA - Hubble Space Telescope patch.

Aug 26, 2022

The galaxy featured in this image from NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope has a shape unlike many of the galaxies familiar to Hubble. Its thousands of bright stars evoke a spiral galaxy, but it lacks the characteristic ‘winding’ structure. The shining red blossoms stand out as well, twisted by clouds of dust – these are the locations of intense star formation. The galaxy also radiates a diffuse glow, much like an elliptical galaxy and its core of older, redder stars. This galactic marvel is known to astronomers as NGC 1156.

NGC 1156 is located around 25 million light-years from Earth, in the constellation Aries. It has a variety of different features that are of interest to astronomers. A dwarf irregular galaxy, it’s also classified as isolated, meaning no other galaxies are nearby enough to influence its odd shape and continuing star formation. The extreme energy of freshly formed young stars gives color to the galaxy, against the red glow of ionized hydrogen gas, while its center is densely packed with older generations of stars.

Hubble has captured NGC 1156 before. This new image features data from a galactic gap-filling program simply titled “Every Known Nearby Galaxy.” Astronomers noticed that Hubble had observed only three quarters of the galaxies within just over 30 million light-years of Earth in sufficient detail to study the makeup of the stars within them. They proposed that in between larger projects, Hubble could take snapshots of the remaining quarter, including NGC 1156. Gap-filling programs like this ensure the best use of Hubble’s valuable observing time.

Hubble Peers at Galactic Cherry Blossoms, Jul 12, 2019, first capture by Hubble

For more information about Hubble, visit:

Text Credits: European Space Agency (ESA)/NASA/Andrea Gianopoulos/Images Credits: ESA/Hubble & NASA, R. B. Tully, R. Jansen, R. Windhorst.


‘Levitating’ nanoparticles could push the limits of quantum entanglement


Quantum Physics logo.

Aug. 26, 2022

Interaction between glass spheres suspended in a vacuum might one day lead to advances in quantum computing.

Image above: Particles of glass suspended in laser beams can be made to interact (artist’s impression). Image Credit: Equinox Graphics Ltd.

Physicists have suspended tiny glass spheres in a vacuum and made them interact with one another at close distance. The ‘levitating’ nanoparticles have now been manipulated with enough precision to open new ways of probing the enigmatic twilight zone between the everyday world and the counter-intuitive quantum physics that governs objects at the atomic scale.

“This is certainly an important milestone which opens up new opportunities,” says Romain Quidant, a physicist who conducts similar experiments at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) in Zurich. The results were published on 25 August in Science (1). Levitating particles could one day act as a platform for quantum computing or pave the way for exquisitely sensitive measuring devices.

Laser levitation

Over the past decade, physicists have mastered various techniques for manipulating objects the size of virus particles — a few hundred nanometres across — in a vacuum, in particular using the gentle pressure exerted by laser light.

In 2020, Uroš Delić at the University of Vienna and his collaborators stunned the physics community when they slowed particles’ centres of mass to what physicists call the quantum ground state, as if the particles were as cold as they could get (2). Reaching the ground state is the first step towards accessing and manipulating quantum behaviour, which is normally obtained only at subatomic scales, and requires objects to be cooled to near absolute zero. Although their centres of mass were in the ground state, the particles continued to be otherwise warm, thermally vibrating and rotating on themselves.

Physicist Lia Li recalls the community’s excitement when University of Vienna physicist Markus Aspelmeyer, the senior author of that paper, reported the quantum ground state at a conference, and subsequently posted a preprint on the arXiv server. “People were frantic,” says Li, who is chief executive of engineering firm Zero Point Motion in Bristol, UK. A handful of laboratories scrambled to replicate the results — and some were successful.

Some physicists, including Giorgio Gratta at Stanford University in California, work with slightly larger particles — one micrometre across or more — that have enough mass to exert an appreciable gravitational pull. “The primary idea is to search for new interactions at the microscale, or for deviations from Newtonian gravity,” he says.

Two by two

In the latest paper, Delić, Aspelmeyer and their collaborators made the first move towards juggling multiple levitated particles. They bounced a laser off a liquid-crystal panel inside a vacuum chamber, which split the beam into two. Next, they injected 200-nanometre-wide glass spheres into the chamber using an ultrasonic nebulizer, similar to devices used to treat asthma, until a nanosphere was caught in the focal point of each of the two laser beams.

This ‘optical levitation’ technique works because the rapid oscillations of the laser’s electric fields induce electric charges to appear equally rapidly at the opposite ends of each nanosphere, like the poles of a bar magnet. This polarization creates a force that pushes the particles towards the regions where the light is most intense — in this case, towards the laser beam’s focal point.

As the polarization quickly flips back and forth, it acts like the electric current inside an antenna that emits electromagnetic waves, explains co-author Benjamin Stickler, a theoretical physicist at the University of Duisburg-Essen in Duisburg, Germany. “Since you have accelerated charges, this emits radiation.” By adjusting the liquid-crystal panels, the researchers could bring the two focal points closer together. At distances of a few micrometres, the particles began to sense each other’s waves and the researchers could make them vibrate in unison, like masses connected by a series of springs.

Tuning the laser also allowed the team to turn off the force that one particle exerted on the other, without turning off the opposing force from the second particle. This produced ‘artificial’ laws of physics that seemed to violate Isaac Newton’s third law — that for each action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.

Quantum leap

Stickler says that the next task will be to use the laser light to cool both particles to their quantum ground state. At that point, it could become possible to put the particles into a state of quantum entanglement, meaning that some of their measurable properties — in this case, their positions — are more strongly correlated than would be allowed by the laws of classical, non-quantum physics.

Entanglement is a hallmark of quantum behaviour, which is usually observed only at subatomic scales. Physicists have long debated whether macroscopic objects are governed by their own set of laws, or whether quantum effects are just too hard to observe at those scales. A number of experimental efforts are probing this question by demonstrating quantum behaviour at larger and larger scales. Last year, two teams independently put pairs of micrometre-scale drums in an entangled state — the first time that this had been done for macroscopic objects.

Image above: Minuscule drums push the limits of quantum weirdness. The tiny aluminium membranes used by Kotler’s team to demonstrate quantum entanglement. Image Credits: Florent Lecoq and Shlomi Kotler/NIST.

But researchers say that such ‘clamped’ objects pose limitations: they are physically connected to a device, which makes it hard to keep delicate quantum states from being disrupted. With this in mind, Peter Zoller, a theoretical physicist at the University of Innsbruck in Austria, and others first envisioned using levitated nanoparticles for quantum experiments in 2010 (3—5). “You might even think about a nanoparticle being a small computer that you can control with laser light and move around,” says Zoller.

Another advantage of the levitation technique is that it should work just as well for trapping more than two particles, Stickler adds. Zoller agrees. “It’s immediately scalable to a much larger number,” he says.

When applied to individual atoms or ions, levitation and laser cooling have been “like a secret sauce in quantum computing”, says Zoller. The same could happen with nanoparticles.



1. Rieser, J. et al. Science 377, 987–990 (2022).

2. Delić, U. et al. Science 367, 892–895 (2020).

3. Barker, P. F. & Shneider, M. N. Phys. Rev. A 81, 023826 (2010).

4. Chang, D. E. et al. Proc. Natl Acad. Sci. USA 107, 1005–1010 (2009).

5. Romero-Isart, O., Juan, M. L., Quidant, R. & Cirac, J. I. New J. Phys. 12, 033015 (2010).

Images (mentioned), Text, Credits: Nature/Davide Castelvecchi.

Best regards,

Space Station Science Highlights: Week of August 22, 2022


ISS - Expedition 67 Mission patch.

Aug 26, 2022

Crew members aboard the International Space Station conducted scientific investigations during the week of Aug 22 that included student investigations run on Raspberry Pi computers on station, monitoring behavioral and cognitive adaptation in crew members, and testing air- and water-based systems to grow plants in space.

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

Student slices of Pi

Image above: This preflight image shows upgraded hardware for AstroPi, an ESA investigation where students conduct scientific investigations in space by writing programs for one of two Raspberry Pi computers on the space station. Image Credit: ESA.

AstroPi, an investigation from ESA (European Space Agency), offers students the opportunity to conduct scientific investigations in space by writing programs for two recently upgraded Raspberry Pi computers. The computers are equipped with hardware that measures the environment inside the space station, detects how the station moves through space, and picks up the Earth’s magnetic field. One is equipped with an infrared camera and the other with a standard visible spectrum camera. Education programs such as this one encourages interest in scientific and technical disciplines, and AstroPi in particular helps students appreciate and understand the benefits, challenges, and importance of space to Europe’s economy. During the week, crew members moved one of the AstroPi units to the Node 2 window, set up for night-time photography, and captured imagery of both units to help student teams develop frames of reference to use with their sensors.

Tracking effects of spaceflight

Image above: The SpaceX Dragon capsule, the 25th commercial resupply mission, departs the space station to return samples and hardware from multiple investigations to Earth, enabling researchers to continue data collection and analysis on the ground. Image Credit: NASA.

Stressors of long-duration spaceflight can affect the behavioral health and performance of crew members. Scientists need a standardized toolkit that rapidly and reliably assesses the risk of adverse cognitive or behavioral conditions during long-duration spaceflight missions. Behavioral Core Measures collects a suite of measurements that measures the ability of crew members to complete telerobotic operations within the first 24 hours after landing. This information could help determine what tasks a crewmember can perform when landing on the surface of Mars after months in weightlessness, for example. It also could help determine crew health and performance requirements and inform the design of space vehicles and surface architecture. This type of tool has applications for Earth-based operations that involve isolated, confined, and extreme environments, such as during Antarctic research expeditions as well. This investigation is only one of many conducted on the space station to determine how space affects the human mind and body. During the week, crew members conducted a robotic session for the investigation.

Plants in liquid and air

Current systems for growing plants in space are small, their water and nutrient delivery systems do not scale well for longer spaceflight, and they can have issues with maintenance and sanitation. XROOTS tests using hydroponic (liquid-based) and aeroponic (air-based) techniques to grow plants without soil or other traditional growth media, which could enable production of crops on a larger scale for future space exploration. Growth system components developed for this investigation also could enhance cultivation of plants on Earth in settings such as greenhouses. The space station hosts a variety of investigations into growing plants in space. XROOTS is currently in its third planting, and crew members conducted routine inspection of the seed cartridges and growing plants during the week.

Image above: The Expedition 67 crew inside the space station's Harmony module, clockwise from bottom: Roscosmos cosmonauts Oleg Artemyev and Denis Matveev, NASA astronauts Bob Hines and Kjell Lindgren, ESA astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti, Roscosmos cosmonaut Sergey Korsakov, and NASA astronaut Jessica Watkins. Image Credit: NASA.

Other investigations involving the crew:

- 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.

- NutrISS, an investigation from ESA, assesses body composition and energy balance using wearable sensors. Results could lead to improved physical health and quality of life for astronauts and better clinical management of malnourished, obese, or immobilized patients on Earth.

- Plasma Kristall-4 (PK-4), a collaboration between ESA and the Russian State Space Corporation (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.

- Butterfly IQ Ultrasound demonstrates a portable ultrasound device for use in space. This technology could provide critical medical capabilities to crews on long duration missions where immediate ground support is not an option. The device also has potential applications for medical care in remote and isolated settings on Earth.

- Wireless Compose-2, an investigation from ESA, demonstrates an infrastructure for wireless transmission of data and a smart shirt for measuring forces generated by the heart as it moves blood. This technology could help monitor the health of astronauts on future missions and this investigation also could improve use of the technology on the ground.

Space to Ground: Paving the Way: 08/26/2022

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:


Behavioral Core Measures:


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.


Protecting Artemis and lunar explorers from space radiation


ESA - Virgil Mission patch.

Aug. 26, 2022

In brief

“There’s no such thing as bad weather…”

The Artemis I mission, set to launch on 29 August, will mark a significant step in humankind’s return to the Moon.

While there are no human passengers on board this test flight, future missions will once again cast space explorers beyond the protective environments of Earth’s atmosphere and magnetic field and into the realm of unimpeded space radiation.



Astronauts weather the storm

While solar flares and small to medium-sized coronal mass ejections are unnervingly spectacular, these phenomena alone are unlikely to pose much risk to Artemis I or future crewed Moon missions.

‘Solar energetic particle events’ are the ones to watch out for. They occur when particles emitted by the Sun – mostly protons but also some ionised atoms like Helium – are sped up, accelerated to near relativistic velocities. It is these high-energy particles shot through space that can affect a spacecraft and its crew.

Solar particle events are associated with particularly big solar flares and coronal mass ejections, as it is these eruptions that can cause shockwaves that shove solar particles to dangerous speeds.

A solar eruption

When it comes to the Artemis missions, much of the radiation from a particle event would be blocked by the walls of the space capsule – Orion and its European Service Module were designed to ensure the reliability of essential systems during radiation events.

But the event could interfere with communications between the crew and teams on Earth, and the astronauts could have to seek refuge in a makeshift storm shelter, as happened on the Space Station in September 2017.

Yet, the Space Station was still well within the protection of Earth’s ‘magnetosphere’ – a protective bubble of magnetic field that the Moon doesn’t have.

Christer Fuglesang during his second spacewalk

“Leaving the magnetosphere is like leaving a safe harbour and venturing out into the open ocean…”  says Melanie Heil, Segment Coordinator of ESA’s Space Weather Office.

“Radiation exposure for astronauts at the Moon can be an order of magnitude higher than on the Space Station and several orders of magnitude higher than on Earth’s surface. Future astronauts will face higher risks from solar particle events: it is very important that we study the radiation environment beyond the magnetosphere and improve our ability to predict and prepare for solar storms.”

Near miss: the summer of ‘72

Exactly 50 years ago in August 1972, a series of powerful solar storms including significant solar particle events caused widespread disruption to satellites and ground-based communications systems on Earth.

Apollo 17 Harrison Scmitt and rover

The storms took place bang in the middle of NASA’s Apollo 16 and Apollo 17 Moon missions, with just a few months on either side. Fortunately, there were no human explorers outside the Earth’s protective magnetic field at the time. Had they encountered these storms from inside the command module, it is thought the radiation dose delivered would have caused acute radiation poisoning. For an astronaut on a spacewalk, it could be lethal.

“Reliable space weather services are a necessity for exploration and long-term habitation of the Moon,” says Juha-Pekka Luntama, ESA’s Head of Space Weather.

“A 1972-level event will happen again, and if we don’t stay vigilant, we may have astronauts in space and outside the protection of Earth’s magnetic field when it does.”

Measuring radiation at the Moon

Until now, we have mostly been concerned with the impacts of space weather on Earth’s infrastructure – power grids, communication systems, Earth-orbiting satellites and astronauts on the Space Station.

ESA’s Space Weather Service Network is spread across Europe, where experts process data from a wide range of radiation detectors onboard satellites in orbit and sensors on Earth.

The Moon as seen from the Space Station

With this they provide information and services to a range of ‘users’ from satellite, airline and power grid operators to aurora hunters. The Network will continue to provide its services during the Artemis I flight and report any significant space weather event, predicted or oncoming.

But for long-term human activity at the Moon, we need to monitor the lunar radiation environment directly.

Radiation research will be a major focus of the Artemis I test flight. The Orion capsule will carry radiation monitors from NASA and ESA, as well as a host of mannequins and CubeSats designed to help us better understand the radiation environment on the way to the Moon and its impact on human health.

Helga, the radiation dummy

ESA is also working on the European Radiation Sensor Array (ERSA) project – a series of devices that will provide real-time radiation monitoring on board the future crewed lunar Gateway space station.

Combining radiation measurements from the outside and inside of crewed spaces would allow researchers to see how much radiation ‘leaks’ in, and more accurately predict the risk to astronauts at the Moon when a space weather event is detected.

ESA researchers are also looking into the possibility of including radiation instruments on other uncrewed Moon orbiters, such as Lunar Pathfinder and future lunar telecommunication satellite networks.

Looking into the future

Our star can be unpredictable and temperamental, but when ‘active regions’ appear on the solar surface, they tend to remain there from days to several weeks. If we could monitor these regions even before they rotate into view of Earth, we could improve our forecasts for space weather around Earth and the Moon.

Introducing: ESA Vigil

Early observation of active regions on the solar disk – from where flares and mass ejections erupt – is one of the main goals of ESA’s upcoming Vigil mission. Targeted to launch in 2029, Vigil will head to the 5th Lagrangian point (L5), a unique position in space that will allow it to see the ‘side’ of the Sun before it rotates into view from Earth.

With Vigil, advance warnings for potentially hazardous space weather events are expected to be feasible several days before they’re in a position to endanger the health of astronauts in space or infrastructure on and around Earth. This would be particularly useful information for vulnerable lunar explorers and for planning high-risk activities such as EVAs.

Related links:

Artemis I:

ESA’s Space Weather Office:

Space weather:

Space Safety:

ESA’s Space Weather Service Network:

European Radiation Sensor Array (ERSA):

Lunar Pathfinder:

Vigil mission:

Images, Video, Text, Credits: ESA/NASA/S.Cristoforetti; CC BY-NC-SA 2.0/DLR.

Best regards,

jeudi 25 août 2022

DART Team Confirms Orbit of Targeted Asteroid


NASA - Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) logo.

Aug 25, 2022

Using some of the world’s most powerful telescopes, the DART investigation team last month completed a six-night observation campaign to confirm earlier calculations of the orbit of Dimorphos—DART’s asteroid target—around its larger parent asteroid, Didymos, confirming where the asteroid is expected to be located at the time of impact. DART, which is the world’s first attempt to change the speed and path of an asteroid’s motion in space, tests a method of asteroid deflection that could prove useful if such a need arises in the future for planetary defense.

“The measurements the team made in early 2021 were critical for making sure that DART arrived at the right place and the right time for its kinetic impact into Dimorphos,” said Andy Rivkin, the DART investigation team co-lead at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) in Laurel, Maryland. “Confirming those measurements with new observations shows us that we don’t need any course changes and we’re already right on target.”

Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART). Image Credit. NASA

However, understanding the dynamics of Dimorphos’ orbit is important for reasons beyond ensuring DART’s impact. If DART succeeds in altering Dimorphos’ path, the moonlet will move closer toward Didymos, shortening the time it takes to orbit it. Measuring that change is straightforward, but scientists need to confirm that nothing other than the impact is affecting the orbit. This includes subtle forces such as radiation recoil from the asteroid’s Sun-warmed surface, which can gently push on the asteroid and cause its orbit to change.

“The before-and-after nature of this experiment requires exquisite knowledge of the asteroid system before we do anything to it,” said Nick Moskovitz, an astronomer with Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, Arizona, and co-lead of the July observation campaign. “We don’t want to, at the last minute, say, ‘Oh, here’s something we hadn’t thought about or phenomena we hadn’t considered.’ We want to be sure that any change we see is entirely due to what DART did.”

Image above: On the night of July 7, 2022, the Lowell Discovery Telescope near Flagstaff, Arizona captured this sequence in which the asteroid Didymos, located near the center of the screen, moves across the night sky. The sequence is sped up by about 900 times. Scientists used this and other observations from the July campaign to confirm Dimorphos’ orbit and anticipated location at the time of DART’s impact. Image Credits: Lowell Observatory/N. Moskovitz.

In late September to early October, around the time of DART’s impact, Didymos and Dimorphos will make their closest approach to Earth in recent years at approximately 6.7 million miles (10.8 million kilometers) away. Since March 2021 the Didymos system had been out of range of most ground-based telescopes because of its distance from Earth, but early this July the DART Investigation Team employed powerful telescopes in Arizona and Chile — the Lowell Discovery Telescope at Lowell Observatory, the Magellan Telescope at Las Campanas Observatory and the Southern Astrophysical Research (SOAR) Telescope — to observe the asteroid system and look for changes in its brightness. These changes, called “mutual events,” occur when one of the asteroids passes in front of the other because of Dimorphos’ orbit, blocking some of the light they emit.   

“It was a tricky time of year to get these observations,” said Moskovitz. In the Northern Hemisphere, the nights are short, and it is monsoon season in Arizona. In the Southern Hemisphere, the threat of winter storms loomed. In fact, just after the observation campaign, a snowstorm hit Chile, prompting evacuations from the mountain where SOAR is located. The telescope was then shut down for close to ten days. “We asked for six half-nights of observation with some expectation that about half of those would be lost to weather, but we only lost one night. We got really lucky.”

In all, the team was able to extract from the data the timing of 11 new mutual events. Studying those changes in brightness enabled scientists to determine precisely how long it takes Dimorphos to orbit the larger asteroid and thereby predict where Dimorphos will be located at specific moments in time, including when DART makes impact. The results were consistent with previous calculations.

“We really have high confidence now that the asteroid system is well understood and we are set up to understand what happens after impact,” Moskovitz said.

Animation above: On the night of July 7, 2022, the Lowell Discovery Telescope near Flagstaff, Arizona captured this sequence in which the asteroid Didymos, located near the center of the screen, moves across the night sky. The sequence is sped up by about 900 times. Scientists used this and other observations from the July campaign to confirm Dimorphos’ orbit and anticipated location at the time of DART’s impact. Animation Credits: Lowell Observatory/N. Moskovitz.

Not only did this observation campaign enable the team to confirm Dimorphos’ orbital period and expected location at time of impact, but it also allowed team members to refine the process they will use to determine whether DART successfully changed Dimorphos’s orbit post-impact, and by how much.

In October, the team will again use ground-based telescopes around the world to look for mutual events and calculate Dimorphos’ new orbit, expecting that the time it takes the smaller asteroid to orbit Didymos will have shifted by several minutes. These observations will also help constrain theories that scientists around the world have put forward about Dimorphos’ orbit dynamics and the rotation of both asteroids.

Johns Hopkins APL manages the DART mission for NASA's Planetary Defense Coordination Office as a project of the agency’s Planetary Missions Program Office. DART is the world's first planetary defense test mission, intentionally executing a kinetic impact into Dimorphos to slightly change its motion in space. While neither asteroid poses a threat to Earth, the DART mission will demonstrate that a spacecraft can autonomously navigate to a kinetic impact on a relatively small target asteroid and that this is a viable technique to deflect an asteroid on a collision course with Earth if one is ever discovered. DART will reach its target on Sept. 26, 2022.

Related links:

DART (Double Asteroid Redirection Test):

Planetary Defense:


Images (mentioned), Animation (mentioned), Text, Credits: NASA/Tricia Talbert/Josh Handal/Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory/Justyna Surowiec.


SpaceX, Soyuz Crew Swaps Ramping Up as Life Science Continues


ISS - Expedition 67 Mission patch.

August 25, 2022

NASA and SpaceX have announced the date for the upcoming Crew-5 launch to the International Space Station. The space station is also orbiting higher today to prepare for next month’s Soyuz crew vehicle swap.

The fifth crewed operational mission aboard a SpaceX Dragon spacecraft has been given a launch date of Oct. 3 from Florida’s Kennedy Space Center. The four SpaceX Crew-5 crewmates, Commander Nicole Mann, Pilot Josh Cassada, and Mission Specialists Koichi Wakata and Anna Kikina will dock Dragon Endurance to the forward port on the station’s Harmony module about 24 hours later.

Image above: The SpaceX Crew-5 crewmates pose for a portrait. From left are, Anna Kikina of Roscosmos; Josh Cassada and Nicole Mann, both from NASA; and Koichi Wakata of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency. Image Credit: SpaceX.

Several days after that, the four SpaceX Crew-4 astronauts will enter the Dragon Freedom crew ship and undock from Harmony’s space-facing port for a parachute-assisted splashdown off the coast of Florida. Freedom Commander Kjell Lindgren, Pilot Bob Hines, with Mission Specialists Jessica Watkins and Samantha Cristoforetti, have been living and working on the orbital lab as Expedition 67 Flight Engineers since April 27.

The space station received an orbital boost on Wednesday night when Russia’s ISS Progress 81 cargo craft, docked to the Zvezda service module’s aft port, fired its engines for just over six minutes in preparation for a pair of Soyuz crew ships coming and going in late September. NASA astronaut Frank Rubio will take a ride to the station with cosmonauts Sergey Prokopyev and Dmitri Petelin aboard the Soyuz MS-22 crew ship when they launch from the Baikonur Cosmodrome on Sept. 21.

Later in September, Soyuz Commander Oleg Artemyev with Expedition 67 Flight Engineers Denis Matveev and Sergey Korsakov will return back to Earth inside the Soyuz MS-21 spacecraft. The trio joined the Expedition 67 crew on March 18 following a short trip to the station’s Prichal docking module that began with a launch from Baikonur.

International Space Station (ISS). Animation Credit: ESA

Meanwhile, space research benefitting humans living on and off the Earth is still ongoing aboard the orbital lab. Lindgren, Hines, Watkins, and Cristoforetti were back inside the Kibo laboratory module today exploring how skin heals in microgravity. The quartet, using the Life Science Glovebox, is observing space-caused molecular processes that may inform advanced wound treatments and therapies for astronauts and Earthlings.

Artemyev and Matveev continued researching on Thursday how weightlessness affects the human digestive system. Once again, the duo performed ultrasound scans following their breakfast period to learn more about the digestion process to improve crew health and treat Earth-bound conditions. Korsakov participated in an ear, nose, and throat study in the morning, then moved on to learn how international crews and mission controllers can communicate more effectively.

Related articles:

NASA, SpaceX Adjust Crew-5 Launch Date

Определена дата пуска миссии Crew-5 с Анной Кикиной / The launch date of the Crew-5 mission with Anna Kikina has been determined

Related links:

Expedition 67:

Harmony module:

Zvezda service module:

Prichal docking module:

Space Station Research and Technology:

International Space Station (ISS):

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

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NASA’s Perseverance Makes New Discoveries in Mars’ Jezero Crater


NASA - Mars 2020 Perseverance Rover logo.

Aug 25, 2022

The rover found that Jezero Crater’s floor is made up of volcanic rocks that have interacted with water.

Image above: NASA’s Perseverance Mars rover took this selfie near rock nicknamed “Rochette,” found on Jezero Crater’s floor, on Sept. 10, 2021, the 198th Martian day, or sol, of the mission. Image Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS.

Scientists got a surprise when NASA’s Perseverance Mars rover began examining rocks on the floor of Jezero Crater in spring of 2021: Because the crater held a lake billions of years ago, they had expected to find sedimentary rock, which would have formed when sand and mud settled in a once-watery environment. Instead, they discovered the floor was made of two types of igneous rock – one that formed deep underground from magma, the other from volcanic activity at the surface.

The findings are described in four new papers published Thursday, Aug. 25. In Science, one offers an overview of Perseverance’s exploration of the crater floor before it arrived at Jezero’s ancient river delta in April 2022; a second study in the same journal details distinctive rocks that appear to have formed from a thick body of magma. The other two papers, published in Science Advances, detail the unique ways that Perseverance’s rock-vaporizing laser and ground-penetrating radar established that igneous rocks cover the crater floor.

Rock of Ages

Igneous rocks are excellent timekeepers: Crystals within them record details about the precise moment they formed.

“One great value of the igneous rocks we collected is that they will tell us about when the lake was present in Jezero. We know it was there more recently than the igneous crater floor rocks formed,” said Ken Farley of Caltech, Perseverance’s project scientist and the lead author of the first of the new Science papers. “This will address some major questions: When was Mars’ climate conducive to lakes and rivers on the planet’s surface, and when did it change to the very cold and dry conditions we see today?”

Image above: Perseverance took this close-up of a rock target nicknamed “Foux” using its WATSON (Wide Angle Topographic Sensor for Operations and eNgineering) camera, part of the SHERLOC instrument on the end of the rover’s robotic arm. The image was taken July 11, 2021, the 139th Martian day, or sol, of the mission. Image Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS.

However, because of how it forms, igneous rock isn’t ideal for preserving the potential signs of ancient microscopic life Perseverance is searching for. In contrast, determining the age of sedimentary rock can be challenging, particularly when it contains rock fragments that formed at different times before the rock sediment was deposited. But sedimentary rock often forms in watery environments suitable for life and is better at preserving ancient signs of life.

That’s why the sediment-rich river delta Perseverance has been exploring since April 2022 has been so tantalizing to scientists. The rover has begun drilling and collecting core samples of sedimentary rocks there so that the Mars Sample Return campaign could potentially return them to Earth to be studied by powerful lab equipment too large to bring to Mars.

Mysterious Magma-Formed Rocks

A second paper published in Science solves a longstanding mystery on Mars. Years ago, Mars orbiters spotted a rock formation filled with the mineral olivine. Measuring roughly 27,000 square miles (70,000 square kilometers) – nearly the size of South Carolina – this formation extends from the inside edge of Jezero Crater into the surrounding region.

Image above: NASA’s Perseverance Mars rover looks out at an expanse of boulders on the floor of Jezero Crater in front of a location nicknamed “Santa Cruz” on Feb. 16, 2022, the 353rd Martian day, or sol, of the mission. Image Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASU/MSSS.

Scientists have offered various theories why olivine is so plentiful over such a large area of the surface, including meteorite impacts, volcanic eruptions, and sedimentary processes. Another theory is that the olivine formed deep underground from slowly cooling magma – molten rock – before being exposed over time by erosion.

Yang Liu of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California and her co-authors have determined that last explanation is the most likely. Perseverance abraded a rock to reveal its composition; studying the exposed patch, the scientists homed in on the olivine’s large grain size, along with the rock’s chemistry and texture.

Using Perseverance’s Planetary Instrument for X-ray Lithochemistry, or PIXL, they determined the olivine grains in the area measure 1 to 3 millimeters – much larger than would be expected for olivine that formed in rapidly cooling lava at the planet’s surface.

“This large crystal size and its uniform composition in a specific rock texture require a very slow-cooling environment,” Liu said. “So, most likely, this magma in Jezero wasn’t erupting on the surface.”

Unique Science Tools

The two Science Advances papers detail the findings of science instruments that helped establish that igneous rocks cover the crater floor. The instruments include Perseverance’s SuperCam laser and a ground-penetrating radar called RIMFAX (Radar Imager for Mars’ Subsurface Experiment).

SuperCam is equipped with rock-vaporizing laser that can zap a target as small as a pencil tip from up to 20 feet (7 meters) away. It studies the resulting vapor using a visible-light spectrometer to determine a rock’s chemical composition. SuperCam zapped 1,450 points during Perseverance’s first 10 months on Mars, helping scientists arrive at their conclusion about igneous rocks on the crater floor.

In addition, SuperCam used near-infrared light – it’s the first instrument on Mars with that capability – to find that water altered minerals in the crater floor rocks. However, the alterations weren’t pervasive throughout the crater floor, according to the combination of laser and infrared observations.

“SuperCam’s data suggests that either these rock layers were isolated from Jezero’s lake water or that the lake existed for a limited duration,” said Roger Wiens, SuperCam’s principal investigator at Purdue University and Los Alamos National Laboratory.

RIMFAX marks another first: Mars orbiters carry ground-penetrating radars, but no spacecraft on the surface of Mars have before Perseverance. Being on the surface, RIMFAX can provide unparalleled detail, and surveyed the crater floor as deep as 50 feet (15 meters).

Its high-resolution “radargrams” show rock layers unexpectedly inclined up to 15 degrees underground. Understanding how these rock layers are ordered can help scientists build a timeline of Jezero Crater’s formation.

“As the first such instrument to operate on the surface of Mars, RIMFAX has demonstrated the potential value of a ground-penetrating radar as a tool for subsurface exploration,” said Svein-Erik Hamran, RIMFAX’s principal investigator at the University of Oslo in Norway.

The science team is excited by what they’ve found so far, but they’re even more excited about the science that lies ahead.

More About the Mission

A key objective for Perseverance’s mission on Mars is astrobiology, including the search for signs of ancient microbial life. The rover will characterize the planet’s geology and past climate, pave the way for human exploration of the Red Planet, and be the first mission to collect and cache Martian rock and regolith (broken rock and dust).

Subsequent NASA missions, in cooperation with ESA (European Space Agency), would send spacecraft to Mars to collect these sealed samples from the surface and return them to Earth for in-depth analysis.

The Mars 2020 Perseverance mission is part of NASA’s Moon to Mars exploration approach, which includes Artemis missions to the Moon that will help prepare for human exploration of the Red Planet.

JPL, which is managed for NASA by Caltech in Pasadena, California, built and manages operations of the Perseverance rover.

For more about Perseverance: and

Related links:

Mars Sample Return (MSR):

Planetary Instrument for X-ray Lithochemistry (PIXL):


Radar Imager for Mars’ Subsurface Experiment (RIMFAX):



Images (mentioned), Text, Credits: NASA/Tony Greicius/Karen Fox/Alana Johnson/JPL/Andrew Good.


Webb Detects Carbon Dioxide in Exoplanet Atmosphere


NASA / ESA / CSA-ASC - James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) patch.

August 25, 2022

Webb demonstrates its spectroscopic power with the first unequivocal detection of carbon dioxide in a planetary atmosphere outside the Solar System.

Illustration (Artist’s Impression) of WASP-39 b and Its Star

WASP-39 b is a hot gas giant with a mass roughly one quarter that of Jupiter (about the same as Saturn) and a diameter 1.3 times that of Jupiter. Its extreme puffiness is related in part to its high temperature (about 900 °C). Unlike the cooler, more compact gas giants in our Solar System, WASP-39 b orbits very close to its host star — only about one eighth of the distance between the Sun and Mercury — completing one circuit in just over four Earth-days. The planet’s discovery, reported in 2011, was based on ground-based detections of the subtle, periodic dimming of light from its host star as the planet transits, or passes in front of the star.

Transiting planets like WASP-39 b, whose orbits we observe edge-on rather than from above, can provide researchers with ideal opportunities to probe planetary atmospheres.

During a transit, some of the starlight is eclipsed by the planet completely (causing the overall dimming) and some is transmitted through the planet’s atmosphere. The atmosphere filters out some colours more than others, depending on factors such as what it is made of, how thick it is, and whether or not there are clouds. (We observe this effect in our own atmosphere as the colour and quality of daylight changes depending on how hazy or humid the air is, or where the Sun is in the sky.)

Hot Gas Giant Exoplanet WASP-39 b (NIRSpec Transmission Spectrum)

Because different gases absorb different combinations of colours, researchers can analyse small differences in the brightness of the transmitted light across a spectrum of wavelengths and hence determine exactly what an atmosphere is made of. With its combination of inflated atmosphere and frequent transits, WASP-39 b is an ideal target for this technique, known as transmission spectroscopy. The team used Webb’s Near-Infrared Spectrograph (NIRSpec) to make this detection.

In the resulting spectrum of the exoplanet’s atmosphere, the small hill between 4.1 and 4.6 microns is anything but trivial to exoplanet researchers. It is the first clear, detailed, indisputable evidence for carbon dioxide ever detected in a planet outside the Solar System.

“As soon as the data appeared on my screen, the whopping carbon dioxide feature grabbed me,” said Zafar Rustamkulov, a graduate student at Johns Hopkins University in the United States and member of the transiting exoplanet team. “It was a special moment, crossing an important threshold in exoplanet sciences.”

Hot Gas Giant Exoplanet WASP-39 b (NIRSpec Transit Light Curves)

Even without the strong carbon dioxide feature, this spectrum would be remarkable. No observatory has ever measured such subtle differences in the brightness of so many individual colours across the 3- to 5.5-micron range in an exoplanet transmission spectrum before. Access to this part of the spectrum is crucial for measuring the abundances of gases like water and methane, as well as carbon dioxide, which are thought to exist in the atmospheres of many different types of exoplanets.

“Detecting such a clear signal of carbon dioxide on WASP-39 b bodes well for the detection of atmospheres on smaller, terrestrial-sized planets,” said Natalie Batalha of the University of California at Santa Cruz, USA, who leads the team of researchers studying transiting exoplanets with Webb.

“It's amazing to see the ESA NIRSpec instrument producing this incredible data so early in the mission, when we know we can still improve on the data quality moving forward,” added Sarah Kendrew, ESA Webb MIRI Instrument and Calibration Scientist at the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, USA.

Understanding the composition of a planet’s atmosphere is important because it tells us something about the origin of the planet and how it evolved. “Carbon dioxide molecules are sensitive tracers of the story of planet formation,” said team member Mike Line of Arizona State University, USA. “By measuring this carbon dioxide feature, we can determine how much solid versus how much gaseous material was used to form this gas giant planet. In the coming decade, Webb will make this measurement for a variety of planets, providing insights into the details of how planets form and the uniqueness of our own Solar System.”

Space Sparks Episode 4: Webb Detects Carbon Dioxide in Exoplanet Atmosphere

These results also build upon existing research by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope. “Over the last few decades the Hubble Space Telescope has been setting the precedent for what mysteries these atmospheres contain, from clouds scattering obscuring molecular features, to detections of water vapour absorption, and escaping atmospheres,” said team member Hannah Wakeford of University of Bristol in the United Kingdom. “Webb will complement and extend these studies with higher resolution, wavelength coverage, and precision to reveal the key trends in the data pointing to the formation and evolution of these planets.”

The NIRSpec prism observation of WASP-39 b is just one part of a larger investigation that includes observations of the planet using a number of instruments, as well as observations of two other transiting planets. The investigation, which is part of the Early Release Science program, was designed to provide the exoplanet research community with robust Webb data as soon as possible.

“Seeing the data for the first time was like reading a poem in its entirety, when before we only had every third word,” added team member Laura Kreidberg of the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy in Heidelberg, Germany. “These first results are just the beginning; the Early Release Science data have shown that Webb performs beautifully, and smaller and cooler exoplanets (more like our own Earth) are within its reach.”

James Webb Space Telescope (JWST)

“The goal is to analyse the Early Release Science observations quickly and develop open-source tools for the science community to use,” explained Vivien Parmentier from Oxford University in the United Kingdom. “This enables contributions from all over the world and ensures that the best possible science will come out of the coming decades of observations.”
More information:

Webb is the largest, most powerful telescope ever launched into space. Under an international collaboration agreement, ESA provided the telescope’s launch service, using the Ariane 5 launch vehicle. Working with partners, ESA was responsible for the development and qualification of Ariane 5 adaptations for the Webb mission and for the procurement of the launch service by Arianespace. ESA also provided the workhorse spectrograph NIRSpec and 50% of the mid-infrared instrument MIRI, which was designed and built by a consortium of nationally funded European Institutes (The MIRI European Consortium) in partnership with JPL and the University of Arizona.

Webb is an international partnership between NASA, ESA and the Canadian Space Agency (CSA).

These results will be published next week in Nature. The data was obtained during the Webb Early Release Science (DD-ERS) program #1366.

NIRSpec was built for the European Space Agency (ESA) by a consortium of European companies led by Airbus Defence and Space (ADS) with NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Centre providing its detector and micro-shutter subsystems.


Collection of Webb’s First Images:

ESA Webb Seeing Farther Interactive Brochure:

ESA NIRSpec Fact Sheet:

ESA Exoplanet Missions Timeline:

Science Paper:

Release on ESA website:

Release on STScI website:

Release on NASA website:

James Webb Space Telescope (JWST):

Images Credits: NASA, ESA, CSA, and J. Olmsted (STScI)/NASA, ESA, CSA, and L. Hustak (STScI). Science: The JWST Transiting Exoplanet Community Early Release Science Team/NASA, ESA, CSA, and L. Hustak (STScI). Science: The JWST Transiting Exoplanet Community Early Release Science Team/Video Credits: Directed by: Bethany Downer and Nico Bartmann/Editing: Nico Bartmann/Web and technical support: Enciso Systems/Written by: Bethany Downer/Music: STAN DART - Organic Life/Footage and photos: NASA, ESA, CSA, and STScI, NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center Conceptual Image Lab, ESO, E. Slawik, N. Risinger, D. De Martin,  D. Lennon, E. Sabbi, N. Bartmann, M. Zamani/Animation Credits: NASA/ESA/Text Credits: ESA/Bethany Downer/Ninja Menning.

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