samedi 17 septembre 2022

15 Ways the International Space Station Benefits Humanity Back on Earth


ISS - International Space Station emblem.

Sept. 17, 2022

The first decade of the International Space Station was the decade of construction. The second decade moved from initial studies to fully using the orbiting lab. We have now entered the decade of results.

15 of the ways the space station is benefiting humanity. Image Credit: NASA

With more than 20 years of experiments now conducted on the station, more breakthroughs are materializing than ever before.

Explore 15 of the ways the space station is benefiting humanity.

15 Benefits of Space Station Research

1. Producing the next generation of medical scanning technology

In their quest to study neutron stars, the team behind the NICER telescope created and patented an X-ray source that could be turned on and off very quickly. This also happened to be what a neuroradiologist at Massachusetts General Hospital needed for his quest to improve CT scans.

Traditional CT machines are large, heavy, and consume a lot of power. This makes them hard to deploy in environments with few resources. Rather than spinning the large X-ray machine around to capture a CT scan, the Massachusetts General Hospital and NICER teams worked together to create a stationary ring of these small new modulated X-ray sources that can be mounted around the patient, firing when needed. This technique can decrease the amount of radiation the patient is exposed to and enable a better image quality even at the lower radiation level.

Limiting radiation exposure is helpful for patients on Earth now and potentially for future astronauts on their way to Mars. The device has been patented, and additional work is now underway to take it from a prototype to a testable device.

Image above: A scan of a human hand obtained by Dr. Raj Gupta’s research team testing out the new CT scan technology. Image Credits: Raj Gupta, Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School.

2. Creating new drugs for disorders like Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy

An International Space Station study of the crystal structure of a protein associated with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD), an incurable genetic disorder, provided hints for compounds that might inhibit it. A professor at the University of Tsukuba in Tsukuba, Japan used those hints to design several promising compounds, including TAS-205. A 2015 study verified the safety of TAS-205 for use in humans, and a small clinical trial in human patients was published in 2017. A Phase 3 trial to examine the effectiveness of TAS-205 in situations similar to actual clinical use began in Dec. 2020 and will continue until 2027.

The research team estimates the drug may slow the progression of DMD by half, potentially doubling the lifespan of many patients.

3. Forming the components for producing artificial blood for animals

In addition to showing promise in drug development, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency’s (JAXA’s) other work on crystallizing proteins in microgravity inspired development of an artificial animal albumin. Albumin is the most abundant protein in blood but is difficult to crystallize on Earth. Researchers used the space station to crystalize albumin from cats and dogs to better understand the structures of these proteins and how they are formed. Veterinarians in animal hospitals have trouble providing blood transfusion treatments since there aren’t large stores of donated animal blood, an issue that could be positively impacted through potential application of this work to veterinary medicine.

Image above: Protein crystals formed in microgravity in the space station’s Kibo Module. Image Credit: NASA.

4. Robotic arm technology applications in an automotive factory

The creation of space station robot Robonaut led to the development of an industrial strength robotic glove. NASA and General Motors (GM) developed a Robonaut prototype and tested it on the station, where it successfully performed simple tasks alongside astronauts. The team then reconfigured the hand-like portion of Robonaut into a wearable device to help both astronauts and auto workers avoid hand fatigue and injury. Initially called Robo-Glove, the device now is commercially available as Ironhand, produced by Bioservo Technologies of Sweden.

5. Student research in space

People born after November 2000 have always known life with humans in space: they grew up in a world with an International Space Station orbiting overhead. Call them Generation Station, those for whom space has always seemed accessible, a place where scientists from around the globe conduct research. Numerous students from around the globe have even sent their own research or code to station. They have helped conduct DNA sequencing experiments as a part of the Genes in Space program, or controlled robots using their code as a part of the Kibo Robot Programming Challenge. Many have designed and deployed small satellites from the space station, sending their work into low-Earth orbit.

6. Lowering heat in cities and tracking water

Data from NASA’s ECOSTRESS payload has already had many applications. ECOSTRESS measures subtle changes in temperature to identify plant stress. Those same measurements can be used to identify extreme heat, such as that produced by fires or lava flows, and to study movement of warm water currents and heatwaves in cities.

ECOSTRESS data has been employed in efforts to reduce heat absorbed by city surfaces, better allocate water, reduce fire risk in forests, measure plant stress, search for geothermal energy sources, track mosquitos, and help farmers efficiently water their fields. For example, Cool Streets LA researchers studying different materials that could reduce urban heat used data from ECOSTRESS to see how the surface heat of neighborhoods changed as they applied coatings. They found a thin gray coating can make an asphalt roadway reflect the sun like a concrete roadway, reducing surrounding heat about 2 degrees F.

Image above: The suite of Earth-observing payloads attached to the Japanese Experiment Module is shown as the International Space Station orbits over the southern Pacific Ocean east of New Zealand in 2018. Image Credit: NASA.

7. Ultrasound procedures on Earth

For people who live in major cities with fully equipped hospitals, having access to quick and accurate medical imaging technology is not usually a problem. However, when medical facilities are not within easy reach, accessing this technology can mean the difference between life and death.

To care for astronauts aboard the International Space Station, crew members were trained to use a small ultrasound unit to examine fellow crew members through the Advanced Diagnostic Ultrasound in Microgravity (ADUM) study.

In partnership with the World Interactive Network Focused on Critical Ultrasound (WINFOCUS), the ADUM team took techniques developed for station astronauts and adapted them for use in remote areas on Earth by developing protocols for rapidly performing complex procedures with remote expert guidance and training. Using the ADUM methods, WINFOCUS has trained more than 45,000 physicians and physician extenders in over 60 countries. As local healthcare providers are empowered, more patients can access quality and timely diagnostic care, making the healthcare system more efficient by allowing for earlier diagnosis and treatment.

8. Apply station air filtration technology to fighting COVID and preserving food in grocery stores

Using NASA’s Advanced Astroculture (ADVASC) system, station crews successfully grew two generations of Arabidopsis plants, a model organism that is well understood and often used in fundamental biology experiments. The system provided precise control of environmental parameters for plant growth, including temperature, relative humidity, light, fluid nutrient delivery, and carbon dioxide and ethylene concentrations.

Scientists adapted the ADVASC system for use in air purification on Earth. Initially used to prolong the shelf life of fruits and vegetables in grocery stores, the technology drew the attention of winemakers, who used it in their cellars to enhance storage conditions. Multiple companies also now use this technology in air purifiers that were shown to be effective in eliminating the SARS-CoV-2 virus. The companies have produced and distributed numerous purifiers during the pandemic. A separate technology tested for detecting contaminants on the space station went on to be included in an air sensor used on Earth to generate a “virus propagation risk index” in shared spaces, letting people know to reduce crowding or take other steps to limit risk.

Image above: NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson observes the Advanced Astroculture soybean plant growth experiment. Image Credit: NASA.

9. Colloids and everyday household products

The latest formulation of Procter & Gamble (P&G)’s Febreze Unstopables TOUCH Fabric Spray with touch-activated scent release technology is the company’s first to incorporate materials based on its colloid research conducted on station.

Colloids are mixtures of tiny particles suspended in a liquid. They include natural mixtures such as milk and muddy water as well as manufactured products from shampoo to medicine. Studying colloids is complicated by the fact that gravity causes some particles to rise and others to sink. Microgravity removes that complication and makes possible research like the Advanced Colloid Experiments (ACE) conducted by NASA, the ISS National Laboratory, and P&G.

P&G says that the work on the station helped them envision and understand the formulation, allowing them to create a fluid that looks and feels like water. As of 2022, station research has contributed to three new patents for the company.

10. Creating artificial retinas in space

Artificial retinas could restore meaningful vision for the millions of people on Earth who suffer from retinal degenerative diseases. U.S.-based company LambdaVision has now flown experiments to the space station five times working toward their goal of manufacturing artificial retinas in microgravity. LambdaVision is evaluating a manufacturing process to develop artificial human retinas using a light-activated protein called bacteriorhodopsin, which could replace the function of damaged light-sensing cells in the eye. The process creates implants by applying layer after layer of a thin film. Microgravity may improve the quality and stability of the films by limiting the aggregation and sedimentation of particles that occur on Earth. The experiment that launched in Dec. 2021 demonstrated the manufacture of a 200-layer film for the first time in microgravity. This is a crucial step towards using the microgravity environment for life-changing medical manufacturing.

11. Making cancer treatments simpler for patients

The ISS National Lab sponsored PCG-5 study is focused on improving how drugs are delivered to patients. The study worked to grow a more uniform crystalline form of the monoclonal antibody Keytruda®, which is used to treat several types of cancers, including melanoma and lung cancer. Monoclonal antibodies do not dissolve easily in liquid. That makes it difficult to create a drug that can be given via an injection in a doctor’s office rather than intravenously, requiring patients to spend hours in a clinic setting to receive the drug.

The PCG-5, a Merck Research Laboratories study, produced high-quality crystalline suspensions that could make Keytruda® deliverable by injection, making treatment more convenient for patients and caregivers while significantly reducing cost. This work is ongoing, as is research on other potential therapeutics, according to Merck Research Laboratories.

12. DNA sequencing microorganisms around the solar system

Scientists use the International Space Station as a testing ground to study how to keep astronauts safe and healthy on long-duration missions. In 2016, NASA astronaut Kate Rubins successfully conducted the first DNA sequencing in space, opening the door to molecular biology research in spaceflight conditions. The team used a MinION (pronounced “min ion”) sequencing platform, a device no bigger than a cell phone, to read the nucleic acid bases in samples sent to the station for study.

This technology can enable scientists to quickly identify pathogens on the space station or on future exploration missions, and even potentially identify life on other planets in the solar system if it shares a common biochemistry with life as we know it on Earth. The use of the device in space can also help provide information to researchers using the device in remote locations on Earth.

Image above: NASA astronaut Kate Rubins prepares for a run of the Biomolecule Sequencer experiment. It seeks to demonstrate, for the first time, that DNA sequencing is feasible in an orbiting spacecraft. A space-based DNA sequencer could identify microbes, diagnose diseases, help researchers understand crew member health, and has the potential to help detect DNA-based life elsewhere in the solar system. Image Credit: NASA.

NASA astronaut Kate Rubins prepares for a run of the Biomolecule Sequencer experiment. It demonstrated, for the first time, that DNA sequencing is feasible in an orbiting spacecraft. A space-based DNA sequencer could identify microbes, diagnose diseases, help researchers understand crew member health, and potentially help detect DNA-based life elsewhere in the solar system. Credits: NASA

13. Monitoring heat safety on Earth

Core body temperature rises faster during exercise on the space station than it does on Earth. ESA’s (European Space Agency’s) ThermoLab experiment has investigated body temperature regulation and cardiovascular adaptations in crew members since 2009.

Technology that measures body temperature developed for the study by German company Dräge has begun to make a difference on Earth. The devices are deployed in many clinics to monitor infant incubators and patients during surgery and have been used to study how extreme heat affects farmers in Kenya and Burkina Faso. Other applications of the device include monitoring for signs of fatigue in people working in extreme conditions, including firefighters and fighter pilots.

14. Better understanding the fundamental science of our world

Many experiments on station are uncovering new information and providing clues to long-standing scientific mysteries. This information helps researchers to further humanity’s understanding of things like combustion or fluid physics, which can lead to improvements in everything from fuel efficiency to electronics cooling.

When researchers on NASA’s FLEX study analyzed fire suppressants by studying burning fuel droplets, they made a surprising discovery: continued, low temperature “burning” after apparent flame extinction. Now known as cool flames, this combustion process is distinct from the flames that keep us warm by the campfire. Typical flames produce soot, carbon dioxide, and water. Cool flames produce carbon monoxide and formaldehyde. Learning more about the behavior of these chemically different flames could lead to the development of more-efficient, less-polluting vehicles.

15. Talking with station and inspiring the next generation

Conversations with astronauts, story times recorded by crew members, and educational science video recorded aboard station bring all of humanity along on its exploration of the cosmos. Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS) provides students from around the world the chance to ask questions directly to an astronaut in orbit while learning the technical basics of ham radio operations. The program has now connected more than 250,000 participants with the space station and over 100 crew members. Hundreds of thousands of additional students have connected to astronauts through educational downlink as well, helping inspire the next generation of scientists and engineers.

Image above: A student stands at a microphone as he asks NASA astronaut Serena M. Auñón-Chancellor a question during a downlink event. Image Credit: NASA.

Related links:


Phase 3 trial:

crystallizing proteins:


Kibo Robot Programming Challenge:


Advanced Diagnostic Ultrasound in Microgravity (ADUM):

Advanced Astroculture (ADVASC):

Advanced Colloid Experiments (ACE):


DNA sequencing:



Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS):

Spot the Station:

Space Station Research and Technology:

International Space Station (ISS):

Images (mentioned), Video, Text, Credits: NASA/Ana Guzman.

Best regards,

China Space Station (CSS) - Shenzhou-14 astronauts second spacewalk


CMS - China Manned Space logo.

Sept. 17, 2022

Shenzhou-14 astronauts begin second spacewalk

According to the China National Space Administration (CNSA), the second extravehicular activity of the Shenzhou-14 mission began on 17 September 2022. At 05:35 UTC (13:35 China Standard Time), astronaut Cai Xuzhe successfully opened the airlock of the Wentian Laboratory Module (问天实验舱).

Shenzhou-14 astronauts begin second spacewalk

By 07:33 UTC (15:33 China Standard Time), astronaut Cai Xuzhe (蔡旭哲) and astronaut Chen Dong (陈冬, commander) successfully exited the Wentian Laboratory Module and began the planned activities.

Shenzhou-14 astronauts complete second spacewalk

According to the China National Space Administration (CNSA), the second extravehicular activity of the Shenzhou-14 mission has been successfully completed.

Shenzhou-14 astronauts complete second spacewalk

On 17 September 2022, at 09:47 UTC (17:47 China Standard Time), astronauts Cai Xuzhe (蔡旭哲) and Chen Dong (陈冬, commander) returned inside the Wentian Laboratory Module. During the spacewalk, the astronauts installed various equipment and verified the extravehicular rescue capability.

Related articles & link:

China Space Station (CSS) - Shenzhou-14 astronauts complete first spacewalk

China Space Station (CSS) - Shenzhou-14 astronauts begin first spacewalk

China Space Station (CSS) - Rice grows in the Wentian Laboratory Module

China Space Station (CSS) - Shenzhou-14 astronauts enter Wentian

China Space Station (CSS) - Wentian docking

China Space Station (CSS) - Wentian launch

CSS - Long March-5B ready to launch Wentian & Xuntian space telescope prototype phase

China Space Station (CSS) - Tianzhou-3 undocking

China Space Station (CSS) - Shenzhou-14 hatch opening

China Space Station (CSS) - Shenzhou-14 Crew launch & Shenzhou-14 docking

China Space Station (CSS) - Tianzhou-4 docking

China Space Station (CSS) - Tianzhou-4 launch

What’s next for the China Space Station in 2022 and 2023

For more information about China National Space Administration (CNSA), visit:

Images, Videos, Text, Credits: China National Space Administration (CNSA)/China Central Television (CCTV)/SciNews/ Aerospace/Roland Berga.


vendredi 16 septembre 2022

Crew Works Space Agriculture, Physics Research as Station Orbits Higher


ISS - Expedition 67 Mission patch.

September 16, 2022

Farming, foam, and fire research kept the astronauts busy at the end of the week aboard the International Space Station. The pace of microgravity research is picking up with the Expedition 67 crew spending more time studying a wide array of space phenomena to promote the well-being of humans on and off the Earth.

NASA Flight Engineer Kjell Lindgren harvested vegetables on Friday after a 30-day growing period inside the Veggie botany facility for the XROOTS space agriculture study. Researchers are investigating using soilless methods, specifically hydroponic and aeroponic techniques, to produce crops in microgravity and feed crews on missions beyond low-Earth orbit.

Image above: Astronaut Bob Hines explores how a crew member’s cognition and perception are affected in microgravity for the GRIP expleriment. Image Credit: NASA.

NASA astronaut Bob Hines looked at foams, or dispersions of bubbles in a liquid, inside the KERMIT microscope today using the microgravity environment to reveal microstructures not possible on Earth. Observations may lead to more advanced space research opportunities and improved consumer products and materials design on Earth.

Robotics is a very important part of the space station with three external manipulators, or robotic arms, for payload operations outside the station and experimental gear inside the station to assist the astronauts. One investigation is researching the ability to control robots on a planetary surface from a spacecraft in orbit. NASA Flight Engineer Jessica Watkins set up the Surface Avatar laptop computer in the Columbus laboratory module on Friday to begin studying ways, such as haptic controls, user interfaces, and virtual reality, to command and control surface-bound robots from long distances.

International Space Station (ISS). Animation Credit: ESA

Astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti of ESA (European Space Agency) spent her day servicing combustion research and other lab hardware. She first opened up the Combustion Integrated Rack and connected components that support the Solid Fuel Ignition and Extinction fire growth and suppression investigation. The two-time station resident also reloaded software on a laptop computer, worked on orbital plumbing tasks, and took a cognition test for the Standard Measures study.

The space station is orbiting higher after the docked ISS Progress 81 cargo craft fired its engines for one minute and 46 seconds on Thursday. The orbital reboost places the station at the correct altitude for the upcoming departure and arrival of a pair of Soyuz crew ships.

Commander Oleg Artemyev will soon lead the ride back to Earth with Flight Engineers Denis Matveev and Sergey Korsakov inside the Soyuz MS-21 crew ship. The trio have been aboard the orbiting lab since March 18 docking to the Prichal module less than three-and-a-half hours after launching from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. The three cosmonauts spent Friday checking communications systems inside the Soyuz vehicle and conditioning their bodies for the return to Earth’s gravity after six months living and working in weightlessness.

Image above: At the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, NASA astronaut Frank Rubio performs preflight checkouts in the Soyuz MS-22 spacecraft. Rubio is scheduled to launch with crewmates Roscosmos cosmonaut Sergey Prokopyev and Dmitri Petelin Sept. 21 for a six-month mission on the International Space Station. Image Credits: NASA/Victor Zelentsov.

Just over a week before the cosmonaut threesome returns home, NASA astronaut Frank Rubio will blast off from Baikonur with Roscosmos cosmonauts Sergey Prokopyev and Dmitri Petelin. The three crewmates will take a short trip to the station’s Rassvet module inside the Soyuz MS-22 crew ship and begin a six-month station mission as Expedition 68 Flight Engineers.

Related article:

NASA Sets TV Coverage for Crewed Soyuz Mission to Space Station

Related links:

Expedition 67:




KERMIT microscope:

Surface Avatar:

Columbus laboratory module:

Combustion Integrated Rack:

Solid Fuel Ignition and Extinction:

Standard Measures:

Prichal module:

Rassvet module:

Space Station Research and Technology:

International Space Station (ISS):

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

Best regards,

Jupiter to Reach Opposition, Closest Approach to Earth in 70 Years!


NASA - Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) logo.

September 16, 2022

Stargazers can expect excellent views of Jupiter the entire night of Monday, Sept. 26 when the giant planet reaches opposition. From the viewpoint of Earth’s surface, opposition happens when an astronomical object rises in the east as the Sun sets in the west, placing the object and the Sun on opposite sides of Earth.

Jupiter’s opposition occurs every 13 months, making the planet appear larger and brighter than any other time of the year. But that’s not all. Jupiter will also make its closest approach to Earth in the last 70 years! This happens because Earth and Jupiter do not orbit the Sun in perfect circles – meaning the planets will pass each other at different distances throughout the year. Jupiter’s closest approach to Earth rarely coincides with opposition, which means this year’s views will be extraordinary. At its closest approach, Jupiter will be approximately 365 million miles in distance from Earth. The massive planet is approximately 600 million miles away from Earth at its farthest point.

Image above: This photo of Jupiter, taken from the Hubble Space Telescope on June 27, 2019, features the Giant Red Spot, a storm the size of Earth that has been raging for hundreds of years. Image Credits: NASA, ESA, A. Simon (Goddard Space Flight Center), and M.H. Wong (University of California, Berkeley).

“With good binoculars, the banding (at least the central band) and three or four of the Galilean satellites (moons) should be visible,” said Adam Kobelski, a research astrophysicist at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. “It’s important to remember that Galileo observed these moons with 17th century optics. One of the key needs will be a stable mount for whatever system you use.”

Kobelski recommends a larger telescope to see Jupiter’s Great Red Spot and bands in more detail; a 4 inch-or-larger telescope and some filters in the green to blue range would enhance the visibility of these features.

According to Kobelski, an ideal viewing location will be at a high elevation in a dark and dry area.

“The views should be great for a few days before and after Sept. 26,” Kobelski said. “So, take advantage of good weather on either side of this date to take in the sight. Outside of the Moon, it should be one of the (if not the) brightest objects in the night sky.”

Image above: As the Moon rose over the Wasatch Mountains near Salt Lake City on Feb. 27, 2019, the planet Jupiter could be seen, along with three of its largest moons. Stargazers should have a similar view during Jupiter in Opposition on Monday, Sept. 26. Image Credits: NASA/Bill Dunford.

Jupiter has 53 named moons, but scientists believe that 79 moons have been detected in total. The four largest moons, Io, Europa, Ganymede, and Callisto, are called the Galilean satellites. They are named after the man who first observed them in 1610, Galileo Galilei. In binoculars or a telescope, the Galilean satellites should appear as bright dots on either side of Jupiter during opposition.

NASA’s Juno spacecraft, which has been orbiting Jupiter for six years, is dedicated to exploring the planet’s surface and its moons. Juno began its journey in 2011 and reached Jupiter five years later. Since 2016, the spacecraft has provided incredible images and data about Jupiter’s lively atmosphere, interior structures, internal magnetic field, and magnetosphere.

What's Up: September 2022 Skywatching Tips from NASA

Scientists believe studying Jupiter can lead to breakthrough discoveries about the formation of the solar system. Juno’s mission was recently extended until 2025 or until the end of the spacecraft’s life. Learn more about Juno.

The next major project for Jupiter exploration is the Europa Clipper. This spacecraft will explore Jupiter’s iconic moon, Europa, which is known for its icy shell. NASA scientists theorize a vast ocean lies beneath the surface and aim to determine if Europa has conditions able to sustain life. Targeted launch for Europa Clipper is currently set for October 2024.

Related links:


Europa Clipper:

Images (mentioned), Video, Text, Credits: NASA/Beth Ridgeway/JPL/By Lane Figueroa.


Rocket Lab - Electron launches “The Owl Spreads Its Wings” (StriX-1)


Rocket Lab - Electron / “The Owl Spreads Its Wings” (StriX-1) patch.

Sept. 16, 2022

Electron carrying “The Owl Spreads Its Wings” (StriX-1) liftoff

Rocket Lab’s Electron launch vehicle launched the “The Owl Spreads Its Wings” mission, to deliver the StriX-1 satellite to low Earth orbit, from Launch Complex 1, Pad B, on Mahia Peninsula, New Zealand, on 15 September 2022, at 20:38 UTC (16 September, at 08:38 NZT).

Electron launches “The Owl Spreads Its Wings” (StriX-1)

The mission is Rocket Lab’s 30th Electron launch overall. StriX-1 is Synspective’s first commercial satellite for its synthetic aperture radar (SAR) satellite constellation to deliver imagery that can detect millimeter-level changes to the Earth’s surface from space, independent of weather conditions on Earth and at any time of the day or night.

Strix-1 satellite

Rocket Lab:

Images, Video, Text, Credits: Rocket Lab/SciNews/ Aerospace/Roland Berga.


Space Station Science Highlights: Week of September 12, 2022


ISS - Expedition 67 Mission patch.

Sep 16, 2022

Crew members aboard the International Space Station conducted scientific investigations during the week of Sept. 12 that included examining adaptation of hand movements in space, studying properties of foams and emulsions, and analyzing how fuel temperature affects flammability.

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

Ensuring reach does not exceed grasp

Animation above: NASA astronaut Bob Hines conducts a session for the ESA (European Space Agency) GRASP investigation, which examines how the central nervous system uses gravity as a frame of reference to control reaching for and grasping an object. Animation Credits: NASA.

GRASP, an investigation from ESA (European Space Agency), examines how the central nervous system integrates information from different senses such as sight and hearing to coordinate hand movements. Researchers specifically seek to better understand whether and how gravity acts as a frame of reference to control reaching for and grasping an object. The absence of traditional up and down in space requires the brain to adapt, and this investigation could provide insight into how that adaptation occurs. Results could help crew members better adapt to conditions in the space station and on spacewalks. The investigation also could shed light on how to best treat loss of vestibular or balance function on Earth. Crew members performed GRASP protocol sessions in seated, supine, and free configurations during the week.

Stabilizing foams and emulsions

Foams (dispersions of bubbles in a liquid) and emulsions (dispersions of droplets in a liquid) are in many foods and consumer and personal care products and used by a variety of industries. The Foams and Emulsions investigation examines their properties and performance, including using particles of various shapes and degrees of surface roughness to stabilize them. Gravity-related factors such as particle buoyancy complicate such research on Earth, and microgravity enables better examination of the microstructures of foams and emulsions. Stabilizing particles can be manufactured from eco-friendly materials, and this investigation could provide insight into more effective use of such particles. Further, data on the packing structures of foams and emulsions could guide engineering designs that use as little material as possible. During the week, crew members set up hardware, prepared samples for insertion into the KERMIT microscope, and swapped out samples for the third run of the experiment.

Image above: The Andes Mountain range pictured from the International Space Station as it orbits 264 miles above the coast of central Chile in South America. Image Credit: NASA.

Modeling fire behavior

SOFIE-GEL, an investigation sponsored by the ISS National Lab, studies burning in microgravity, specifically how fuel temperature affects material flammability. Results could improve understanding of the behavior of early fire growth and help researchers determine optimal fire suppression techniques. Effective fire suppression is critical to ensuring crew safety in facilities on future space missions. Microgravity removes the complicating aspects of buoyancy and studying flames in space could help refine computer models of combustion for applications in space and on Earth. SOFIE-GEL is part of extensive research on fire behavior and control in space. During the week, crew members began preparing the Solid Fuel Ignition and Extinction (SoFIE) hardware insert for the Combustion Integrated Rack (CIR) for upcoming investigation operations.

Other investigations involving the crew:

Image above: ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti processes microbe samples collected for Veggie Monitoring. This investigation is expected to help establish requirements to protect plant-growth systems, plants, and crew members from contamination on future long-duration missions. Image Credit: NASA

- Veggie Monitoring collects microbial samples from the surface of the Veggie plant production system. Longer exploration missions require space-based systems used for growing plants, and this investigation could help establish requirements to protect these systems and the plants and crew from contamination.

- 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 such as Alzheimer’s. Investigation results may contribute to a better understanding of these diseases and development of potential treatments.

- Standard Measures collects a set of core measurements, including data on behavioral health and performance, cellular profiles and immunology, the microbiome, biochemistry markers, sensorimotor changes, and cardiovascular health. These data help researchers characterize adaptive responses to living and working in space and monitor the effectiveness of countermeasures.

- Mission X: Train like an Astronaut is a worldwide educational initiative supported by ESA and the national space agencies of Austria, Belgium, Colombia, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Spain, the United Kingdom, and the United States to encourage healthy and active lifestyles among children. Lessons and activities are linked to a curriculum with a focus on science, health, and nutrition.

- ESA’s Lumina demonstrates a dosimeter using optical fibers to monitor in real time the radiation dose received by crew members. Monitoring radiation exposure is key to crew safety, and this technology also has potential applications in the medical and nuclear industries on Earth.

- Surface Avatar, an ESA investigation, evaluates command of multiple autonomous robots in space. Results could provide information on what challenges future missions might face with orbit-to-ground setups to remotely operate robots.

Space to Ground: Windows to the World

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:


Foams and Emulsions:



ISS National Lab:

Solid Fuel Ignition and Extinction (SoFIE):

Spot the Station:

Space Station Research and Technology:

International Space Station (ISS):

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


How do satellites monitor the ozone layer?


ESA - Sentinel-5P Mission logo.

Sept. 16, 2022

The ozone layer in our upper atmosphere protects Earth from the harmful effects of ultraviolet radiation. The use of human-produced chemicals in our atmosphere used for many years depleted Earth’s ozone layer. However, the reduction in the consumption of ozone-depleting substances driven by the Montreal Protocol – an international treaty designed to protect the ozone layer – has allowed for the ozone hole to slowly recover. This global agreement demonstrates the power of international commitment and immediate global action in protecting our environment.

ESA has been involved in monitoring the ozone for over two decades. Today, 16 September, marks the International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer and we take a closer look at how satellite instruments carefully monitor the ozone layer over the South Pole.

Ozone hole extension 2022

Atmospheric conditions of ozone vary naturally depending on temperature, weather, latitude and altitude. However, these natural phenomena couldn’t explain the levels of depletion observed in the mid-1970s by scientists. They discovered that certain human-made chemicals, called chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), commonly used in fridges and aerosol cans, created extremely low ozone concentrations that appear over Antarctica from August to December each year.

Since the ban on CFCs, the ozone layer has been recovering. Projections indicate that it will have healed in the non-polar northern hemisphere by the 2030s, in the southern hemisphere by the 2050s and in the polar regions by the 2060s.

The ozone hole over the South Pole in 2022

The size of the ozone hole fluctuates on a regular basis. From August to October, the ozone hole increases in size – reaching a maximum between mid-September and mid-October.

When temperatures high up in the stratosphere start to rise in the southern hemisphere, the ozone depletion slows, the polar vortex weakens and finally breaks down, and by the end of December ozone levels usually return to normal.

In both 2020 and 2021, there were exceptionally large ozone holes over the Antarctic while in 2019, there was an extremely small ozone hole owing to unusual meteorological conditions.

Diego Loyola, from the German Aerospace Center (DLR), commented: “Total ozone measurements from the Copernicus Sentinel-5P satellite produced by DLR, show that this year’s ozone hole opened during mid-August and shows a similar extension – around 23 million sq km in mid-September – as during the years 2020 and 2021.”

Ozone hole area duration and extension as monitored by the German Aerospace Center

Satellite observations of the total ozone column – the total thickness of the ozone layer – have been at the core of ozone layer monitoring, dating back to 1979 for providing daily observations on a global scale.

However, the total ozone column does not provide information about how ozone varies with height. The latter is important as how and at what altitude ozone depletion takes place, and where first signs of recovery are expected. Also, where climate affects stratospheric ozone, depends on altitude.


There are various techniques to observe how ozone changes with altitude. Downward looking satellites and their instruments– particularly those measuring reflected visible and ultraviolet solar radiation such as SCIAMACHY, OMI, GOME-2 and Copernicus Sentinel-5P’s Tropomi – also allow for deriving the vertical distribution of ozone for daily monitoring of the Antarctic ozone hole.

New images from the Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute (KNMI) show the vertical distribution of ozone in a cross-section through the circumpolar vortex (wind fields) that creates a natural border between areas with high ozone concentrations and the ozone hole over the South Pole.

This is the first time that Tropomi ozone profile measurements have been used for the monitoring of the ozone hole over the South Pole.

Sentinel-5P ozone profile measurements in the polar vortex

Pepijn Veefkind, Senior Scientist at KNMI, commented, “In the short ultraviolet wavelengths, the light that Tropomi measures is backscattered by the upper layers of the atmosphere. With increasing wavelengths, more and more of the measured light is backscattered by lower layers of the atmosphere. This allows us to derive the ozone profile with a vertical resolution of approximately 6-10 km.”

These type of satellite observations will likely remain available throughout the 21st century. The European Copernicus satellite programme – and in particular its Sentinel-4 and -5 satellite missions –are already planned beyond the year 2040 and will continue the task of monitoring the atmosphere.

Satellites can also scan the atmosphere by looking from the side which are known as ‘limb’ observations. The advantage of such observations is that their vertical layering is rather detailed. However, the disadvantage is that they do not provide the full global overview. Furthermore, many of these limb satellites are aged or aging, and many of them will not be replaced.

Claus Zehner, Sentinel-5P, Altius and Flex Missions Manager, commented, “The upcoming Atmospheric Limb Tracker for Investigation of the Upcoming Stratosphere, otherwise known as Altius, mission will fill a very important gap in the continuation of ‘limb’ measurements for atmospheric science – providing higher vertically resolved ozone profile spatial resolution and better insight in ozone trend monitoring.”


The mission carries a high-resolution spectral imager and will deliver profiles of ozone and other trace gases in the upper atmosphere to support services such as weather forecasting, and to monitor long-term ozone trends at different altitudes.

Altius is scheduled to be launched in 2025 on a Vega-C rocket from Europe’s Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana.

Copernicus Service on ozone monitoring

The Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service (CAMS), operated by the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) provides a variety of data to monitor the ozone hole and predict how it will change in the future.

3D rendering of the ozone hole evolution in 2022

CAMS combines measurements from satellite instruments, including Sentinel-5P, and in situ sensors with its numerical models to provide quality information about the state of the ozone layer, as well as forecasts of the status of the ozone hole.

The status of the currently ongoing ozone hole is displayed below as a 3D rendered animation.

Related links:

Observing the Earth:



International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer:






Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service (CAMS):

European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF):

Images, Videos, Text, Credits: ESA/Contains modified Copernicus Sentinel data (2022)/processed by DLR/Contains modified Copernicus Sentinel data (2022)/processed by KNMI and DLR/QinetiQ Space/Contains modified Copernicus Sentinel data (2022)/processed by CAMS/ECMWF.

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NASA Pursues Astronaut Lunar Landers for Future Artemis Moon Missions


NASA - ARTEMIS Program logo.

September 16, 2022

NASA is seeking proposals for sustainable lunar lander development and demonstration as the agency works toward a regular cadence of Moon landings. Through Artemis missions, NASA is preparing to return humans to the Moon, including the first woman and first person of color, for long-term scientific discovery and exploration.

Image above: An image of an artist's illustration of an Artemis astronaut stepping from a Moon lander onto the lunar surface. Image Credit: NASA.

Under the solicitation, Human Landing System Sustaining Lunar Development, NASA has provided requirements for companies interested in developing and demonstrating astronaut Moon landers. These efforts will pave the way for multiple companies to provide recurring Moon landing services beyond the Artemis III mission, which is planned for no earlier than 2025.

Companies selected under this contract will be required to perform one uncrewed and one crewed lunar landing demonstration. NASA will certify any lander system to meet its requirements prior to the crewed demonstration mission(s).

“Work done under this solicitation, in addition to current lander development and studies taking place, will help build the foundation for long-term deep space exploration,” said Lisa Watson-Morgan, program manager for the Human Landing System Program at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. “Partnering with American companies to do that work now allows us to leverage NASA’s knowledge and expertise to encourage technological innovations for a sustained presence at the Moon.”

The final call for proposals comes after NASA incorporated industry feedback on the draft solicitation, released March 31, encouraging companies to send comments to help shape a key component of the agency’s human exploration Artemis architecture. NASA also hosted a virtual industry day in April to present an overview of the solicitation and to provide companies an opportunity to ask clarifying questions and provide comments.

NASA’s existing contract with SpaceX includes both an uncrewed and a crewed lunar landing demonstration that is part of the Artemis III mission, marking humanity’s first return to the Moon in more than 50 years. The agency plans to exercise an option under this contract, known as Option B, asking the company to evolve its current Artemis III Starship Human Landing System design to meet an extended set of requirements for sustaining missions at the Moon and conduct another crewed demonstration landing.

These concurrent sustaining lander development efforts will meet NASA’s needs for recurring, long-term access to the lunar surface, such as the ability to dock with Gateway for crew transfer, accommodate an increased crew size, and deliver more mass to the surface.

NASA’s Artemis efforts include sending a suite of new science instruments and technology demonstrations to study the Moon, landing the first woman and first person of color on the Moon, and more. The agency will leverage its Artemis experiences and technologies to prepare for the next giant leap – sending astronauts to Mars.

Proposals for the sustainable lunar lander development and demonstration are due Nov. 15.

For more information about this procurement, visit:

Related links:



Science instruments and technology demonstrations:

Image (mentioned), Text, Credits: NASA/Vanessa Lloyd/Kathryn Hambleton/Marshall Space Flight Center/Jena Rowe.


jeudi 15 septembre 2022

Crew Studies Foams, Fires, and Liquids to Benefit Humans On and Off the Earth


ISS - Expedition 67 Mission patch.

September 15, 2022

Foams, fires, and liquids in space were the main research topics aboard the International Space Station on Thursday to improve the quality of life for humans living on and off the Earth. The Expedition 67 crew also checked out a new U.S. toilet while gearing up for crew departure activities at the end of the month.

A host of space physics research took place in microgravity on Thursday as the crew explored how weightlessness affects a variety of phenomena that humans are familiar with on Earth. The lack of gravity impacts the characteristics and behavior of Earth-bound phenomena revealing new properties and insights helping scientists and engineers develop advanced products and applications benefitting both astronauts and Earthlings.

Image above: NASA astronauts Bob Hines and Jessica Watkins look out from a window on the cupola, the International Space Station’s “window to the world.” Image Credit: NASA.

NASA Flight Engineer Jessica Watkins turned her attention on Thursday to the Foams and Emulsions experiment looking at samples in the KERMIT microscope with the purpose of improving the consumer products industry. Flight Engineer Kjell Lindgren of NASA swapped samples in the Microgravity Science Glovebox for the Ring Sheared Drop fluid physics study to learn about the formation of destructive protein clusters responsible for neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s. Finally, astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti of ESA (European Space Agency) reconfigured components for the Solid Fuel Ignition and Extinction investigation that explores fire growth and fire safety techniques in space.

NASA Flight Engineer Bob Hines started his day with a cognition test for the Standard Measures study. The human research experiment seeks to characterize the adaptive responses to and the risks of living in space. Hines then spent the afternoon configuring components and testing the performance of the new U.S. toilet system located in the station’s Tranquility module.

International Space Station (ISS). Animation Credit: NASA

Meanwhile, three cosmonauts are nearing their crew departure after living and working on the space station for six months. Commander Oleg Artemyev staged cargo today for packing inside the Soyuz MS-21 crew ship that has been docked to the Prichal docking module since March 18. Roscosmos Flight Engineers Denis Matveev and Sergey Korsakov also kicked off preparations for their ride back to Earth at the end of September. Additionally, Matveev spent Thursday studying how to improve the space lab environment for biotechnology experiments. Korsakov worked throughout the day on Russian electronics and computer maintenance.

Related links:

Expedition 67:

Foams and Emulsions:

KERMIT microscope:

Microgravity Science Glovebox:

Ring Sheared Drop:

Formation of destructive protein clusters:

Solid Fuel Ignition and Extinction:

Standard Measures:

Tranquility module:

Prichal docking module:

Space Station Research and Technology:

International Space Station (ISS):

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

Best regards,