samedi 22 octobre 2022

ROSCOSMOS - Soyuz-2.1b launches Skif-D and three Gonets-M satellites



Oct. 22, 2022

Soyuz-2.1b carrying Skif-D and three Gonets-M satellites liftoff

A Soyuz-2.1b rocket launched the Skif-D demonstration satellite and three Gonets-M communications satellites from the Vostochny Cosmodrome, Russia, on 22 October 2022, at 19:57 UTC (23 October, at 04:57 local time).

Soyuz-2.1b launches Skif-D and three Gonets-M satellites

According to Roscosmos, the low-Earth orbit “Gonets-M” (Гонец-М) satellites are “designed to transmit data and provide mobile satellite communications services”, while Skif-D (Скиф-Д) is a “demonstration satellite is designed to test new technical solutions for high-speed Internet”, the first satellite of the Sfera project (Сфера).

Gonets-M (Гонец-М) satellite

Skif-D (Скиф-Д) satellite

This is the first launch of a Soyuz-2 launch vehicle using entirely “Naphthyl”, described by Roscosmos as “an environmentally safe type of hydrocarbon fuel with the use of polymer additives” that “provides increased efficiency”.


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


ISRO - OneWeb 14 launch (OneWeb India-1 mission)


ISRO - OneWeb Launch 14 Mission patch.

Oct. 22, 2022

GSLV Mk-III launch vehicle carrying OneWeb 14 Mission liftoff

A GSLV Mk-III launch vehicle (LVM3-M2) launched 36 OneWeb satellites (OneWeb India-1 mission) from the Second Launch Pad (SLP) of thee Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SDSC) SHAR, Sriharikota, India, on 22 October 2022, at 18:37 UTC (23 October, at 00:07 local time).

OneWeb 14 launch (OneWeb India-1 mission)

The OneWeb India-1 mission is the fourteenth launch for the OneWeb constellation and the first using ISRO’s Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle Mark III (GSLV Mk-III).

Image above: OneWeb's satellites are built in Florida under a joint venture with Airbus, called OneWeb Satellites.

Related articles:

India on track for OneWeb launch in second half of October

OneWeb takes $229 million charge for canceled Soyuz launches

Related links:


Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO):
Images, Video, Text, Credits: OneWeb/Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO)/SciNews/ Aerospace/Roland Berga.

Best regards,

Soyuz-2.1v launch vehicle launched from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome



Oct. 22, 2022

On Friday, October 21, 2022, from the Plesetsk cosmodrome in the Arkhangelsk region, in the interests of the Russian Ministry of Defense, a Soyuz-2.1v light-class launch vehicle was launched with spacecraft on board.

The spacecraft have been assigned serial numbers Cosmos-2561 and Cosmos-2562.

Related links:

ROSCOSMOS Press Release:


Ministry of Defence:

Images, Text, Credits: ROSCOSMOS/ Aerospace/Roland Berga.


vendredi 21 octobre 2022

Household Chores, Space Research Wrap Up Station Workweek


ISS - Expedition 68 Mission patch.

October 21, 2022

Chores and science wrapped up the week for the Expedition 68 crew aboard the International Space Station.  The orbital residents will also see a resupply ship leave the orbital lab on Sunday.

NASA Flight Engineer Frank Rubio spent Friday afternoon rearranging cargo inside the Zarya module to maximize stowage space in the 24-year-old module. Hardware and other station cargo are constantly being moved around the station modules to support science experiments and maintenance activities. With cargo missions going back and forth at the station, it is necessary for the astronauts to keep track of where everything is and keep the gear neatly arranged for easy access.

Image above: Expedition 68 crew members participate in a conference with mission controllers on the ground before the departure of the SpaceX Crew-4 astronauts. Image Credit: NASA.

NASA astronaut Nicole Mann spent her day on orbital plumbing tasks, analyzing water samples for microbes, and inspecting ammonia cartridges. Mann also spent some time on human research activities collecting her blood samples, participating in hearing and cognition tests, and configuring wrist-worn devices that monitor a crew member’s sleep-wake cycle, or circadian rhythm.

NASA Flight Engineer Josh Cassada worked throughout Friday on life support maintenance inside the Harmony and Tranquility modules. Cassada checked thermal control system components in both modules and collected fluid samples from the life support devices for analysis back on Earth. The first-time space flyer also participated in a standard hearing test.

International Space Station (ISS). Animation Credits: NASA

Working in the Columbus laboratory module, Flight Engineer Koichi Wakata of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) recirculated fluids and nourished vegetables growing for the XROOTS space botany study. The agricultural investigation explores hydroponic and aeroponic methods, soilless techniques, to grow crops in space to sustain crews farther away from Earth.

Two cosmonauts, Flight Engineers Anna Kikina and Dmitri Petelin, kicked off Friday morning with heart research. The duo attached electrodes to themselves to monitor their cardiac bioelectric activity and understand how microgravity affects their heart function. Kikina then spent the rest of the day on lab maintenance work. Petelin joined Commander Sergey Prokopyev and closed the hatch to the ISS Progress 80 cargo craft before its departure on Sunday ending an eight-month mission docked to the Poisk module.

Related links:

Expedition 68:

Zarya module:

Harmony module:

Tranquility module:

Columbus laboratory module:


Poisk module:

Space Station Research and Technology:

International Space Station (ISS):

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


Space Station Science Highlights: Week of October 17, 2022


ISS - Expedition 68 Mission patch.

Oct 21, 2022

Crew members aboard the International Space Station conducted scientific investigations during the week of Oct. 17 that included testing new techniques for growing plants in space, examining how an enhanced diet may affect adaptation to microgravity, and assessing a fiber optic dosimeter for measuring radiation inside the space station.

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

New ways to grow plants

Animation above: NASA astronaut Frank Rubio checks plants growing in the space station’s Veggie facility for the XROOTS investigation, which tests hydroponic and aeroponic systems as alternatives to traditional plant growth media. Image Credit: NASA.

The XROOTS investigation uses the Veggie facility to test hydroponic (liquid-based) and aeroponic (air-based) techniques to grow plants without soil or other traditional growth media. Current space-based plant systems are small and use particulate media-based water and nutrient delivery systems, which do not scale well in a space environment and can have maintenance and sanitation issues. Hydroponic and aeroponic techniques could provide an alternative that enables production of crops on a larger scale for future space exploration. In addition, components developed for this investigation could enhance cultivation of plants in terrestrial settings such as greenhouses, contributing to better food security for people on Earth. This investigation is just one example of ongoing research to grow plants in orbit and prepare for living on other planets. During the week, crew members performed fluid management and inspected seed cartridges and plants.

Toward a better space diet

Food Physiology characterizes the effects of an enhanced spaceflight diet on immune function, the gut microbiome, and nutritional status indicators. Diet can be easily and meaningfully altered on Earth or during flight and documenting the effect of dietary improvements on human physiology could provide guidance for using diet to enhance adaptation to spaceflight. Few human studies document simultaneous changes in multiple physiological systems related to diet, in part due to the complexity and difficulty in accurately monitoring dietary intake over prolonged periods.

Image above: Expedition 68 crew members participate in an evening conference with International Space Station mission controllers on the ground. From front to back, NASA astronaut Josh Cassada; JAXA astronaut Koichi Wakata; ESA astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti; and NASA astronauts Frank Rubio, Nicole Mann, and Bob Hines. Image Credit: NASA.

This investigation could contribute to understanding how complex organisms adapt to spaceflight, and results may support developing targeted, efficient dietary interventions to maintain crew health and performance along with food system requirements to support these interventions. Insights and analyses from this study could have significant scientific and medical applications for people on Earth as well. Crew members conducted diet briefs with investigators during the week.

Read a feature in Spanish about NASA astronaut Frank Rubio’s participation in this investigation here:

Monitoring radiation with optical fibers

Lumina, an investigation from ESA (European Space Agency), monitors the radiation dose inside the space station using a dosimeter with optical fibers that darken when exposed to radiation. The dosimeter could provide reliable, real-time dose measurements in complex radiation environments, a key capability needed for future space exploration. An embedded fiber-based dosimeter that provides real-time measurement of fluctuations in levels of ionizing radiation also could provide the ability to anticipate and react appropriately to potentially dangerous radiation flares. Fiber-based dosimeters show promise for use in the medical and nuclear industries on Earth. During the week, crew members transferred collected data to the ground via a dedicated app.

Image above: A quarter Moon is visible above Earth's horizon in this image taken as the International Space Station orbits 268 miles above the Indian Ocean south of Australia. Image Credit: NASA.

Other investigations involving the crew:

- The human brain can self-regulate blood flow even when the heart and blood vessels cannot maintain an ideal blood pressure. Cerebral Autoregulation, a Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) investigation, tests whether this self-regulation improves in microgravity. The investigation could improve understanding of blood flow changes and support countermeasures for space-related lightheadedness and people on Earth affected by fainting episodes known as syncope.

Image above: Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) astronaut Koichi Wakata conducts a session for GRASP, an ESA investigation that examines the effect of microgravity on coordination of the hand and visual environment to control reaching for and grasping an object. Image Credit: NASA.

- GRASP, an ESA investigation, examines the effect of microgravity on coordination of the hand and visual environment to control reaching for and grasping an object. Results could help researchers evaluate how the brain adapts to microgravity and inform the development of better systems and procedures for living in space.

- ESA’s GRIP investigation studies how microgravity affects a person’s ability to regulate the force of their grip and trajectory of upper limbs when manipulating objects. Data could identify potential hazards for astronauts as they move between gravitational environments and contribute to the design of systems for controlling rovers, robots, and other exploration tools.

- 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 people on Earth.

- 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.

- 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.

Space to Ground: Flawless Splashdown: 10/21/2022

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:



Food Physiology:


ISS National Lab:

Spot the Station:

Space Station Research and Technology:

International Space Station (ISS):

Images (mentioned), Animation (mentioned), Video (NASA), Text, Credits: NASA/Carrie Gilder/John Love, ISS Research Planning Integration Scientist Expedition 68.

Best regards,

Hubble Views a Turbulent Stellar Nursery


NASA - Hubble Space Telescope patch.

Oct 21, 2022

The lives of newborn stars are tempestuous, as this image of the Herbig-Haro objects HH 1 and HH 2 from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope depicts. Both objects are in the constellation Orion and lie around 1,250 light-years from Earth. HH 1 is the luminous cloud above the bright star in the upper right of this image, and HH 2 is the cloud in the bottom left. While both Herbig-Haro objects are visible, the young star system responsible for their creation is lurking out of sight, swaddled in the thick clouds of dust at the center of this image. However, an outflow of gas from one of these stars is streaming out from the central dark cloud and is visible as a bright jet. Astronomers once thought the bright star between that jet and the HH 1 cloud was the source of these jets, but it is an unrelated double star that formed nearby.

Herbig-Haro objects are glowing clumps found around some newborn stars. They form when jets of gas thrown outwards from these young stars collide with surrounding gas and dust at incredibly high speeds. In 2002, Hubble observations revealed that parts of HH 1 are moving at more than 248 miles (400 kilometers) per second!

Hubble’s Wide Field Camera 3 captured this turbulent stellar nursery using 11 different filters at infrared, visible, and ultraviolet wavelengths. Each of these filters is sensitive to just a small slice of the electromagnetic spectrum, and they allow astronomers to pinpoint interesting processes that emit light at specific wavelengths.

In the case of HH 1 and 2, two groups of astronomers requested Hubble observations for two different studies. The first delved into the structure and motion of the Herbig-Haro objects visible in this image, giving astronomers a better understanding of the physical processes occurring when outflows from young stars collide with surrounding gas and dust. The second study investigated the outflows themselves to lay the groundwork for future observations with the NASA/ESA/CSA James Webb Space Telescope. Webb, with its ability to peer past the clouds of dust enveloping young stars, will revolutionize the study of outflows from young stars.

Hubble Space Telescope (HST)

For more information about Hubble, visit:

Wide Field Camera 3:

Text Credits: European Space Agency (ESA)/NASA/Andrea Gianopoulos/Image, Animation Credits: ESA/Hubble & NASA, B. Reipurth, B. Nisini. 


To explore space means defying dust


ESA - European Space Agency emblem.

Oct. 21. 2022

As the world’s space agencies prepare to return to the Moon and explore the planets, space materials engineers have been getting to grips with a challenging enemy: dust. The abrasive, talcum-like dust enshrouding the Moon and other planetary surfaces can obscure surfaces, wear away at coatings and clog space mechanisms.

Moon surface scenario

For ESA, dust contamination is an urgent issue for coming missions such as the international lunar Gateway – a planned station in lunar orbit including European modules, which will serve as a basecamp for sojourns down to the Moon’s surface – and the Argonaut European Large Logistics Lander, EL3, intended to transport cargo for lunar settlers, which would remain on the Moon for prolonged periods.

ESA is also responsible for the robotic Sample Transfer Arm of the international Mars Sample Return campaign – with the crucial role of taking samples from Mars rovers to place them on an ascent rocket for return to Earth. Dust could potentially interfere with the 2.5-m-long arm’s mechanisms.

Gateway over Moon

The Agency’s materials engineers met with their international counterparts at the recent ISMSE-13/ICPMSE-15 Materials in the Space Environment conference at Leiden in the Netherlands, with dust control among the major themes under discussion.

They presented research including a dedicated Planetary Dust Simulation Facility – currently taking shape at ESA’s ESTEC technology centre in the Netherlands – which will be used to investigate charging effects and dust-induced thermal and optical shifts in surfaces. They have also been evaluating the effects of dust on spacesuit textiles and with actual moondust worth more than its weight in gold, they are evaluating the most suitable lunar simulants for test purposes.

Planetary Dust Simulation Facility

Dust to dust – on the Moon and beyond

James Gaier, retired NASA scientist who worked on the Apollo programme, chaired a dedicated panel discussion at the conference. He noted that “Lunar dust is present all across the Moon, created by the steady bombardment of micrometeorites pulverising the rocky surface into fine particles. Unlike terrestrial dust it has never been weathered by water or wind, so that even microscopic particles still maintain edges of razor sharpness. And the unfiltered energy of lunar sunshine can impart the dust with serious static cling.”

Lunar dust particle

Looking further afield, the same is true of the Martian surface – complete with wind to shift it around the planet – as well as rocky moons lacking atmospheres and many asteroids.

Apollo astronauts who encountered lunar dust first-hand during Apollo landings of up to a few days on the Moon’s surface highlighted the challenge it presents for longer-duration stays in their mission debriefs.

Lunar dust clinging to spacesuit

Apollo 12 Commander Pete Conrad noted: “I think probably one of the most aggravating, restricting facets of lunar surface exploration is the dust and its adherence to everything no matter what kind of material, whether it be skin, suit material, metal, no matter what it be and its restrictive friction-like action to everything it gets on.” He added that even spacesuit outer layers were starting to be worn through.

Apollo 17 Commander Gene Cernan agreed: “I think dust is probably one of our greatest inhibitors to a nominal operation on the Moon. I think we can overcome other physiological or physical or mechanical problems except dust.”

More recently, China’s Yutu-1 rover is believed to have been immobilised during its second day on the Moon by lunar dust clogging its moving parts.

Dusty lunar touchdowns

Simulating dust interaction with lunar lander thruster plume

Terming lunar dust contamination as unfinished business from Apollo, Carlos Soares of the Contamination Control Engineering team at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) explained that the problem begins during touchdown – depending on the size of lander involved, its rocket thrusters could dislodge tonnes of lunar regolith during touchdown, which might then lodge on lander surfaces as well as covering the entire landing area.

Microscopic close-ups of simulated lunar dust

JPL has therefore developed a complex modelling-based framework to simulate lunar landing events, starting with recreating Apollo landings, to help enable degradation assessments. To help validate these simulations, thruster plume testing has been performed using the German Aerospace Center’s high vacuum plume test facility STG-CT. The framework has also been applied to other planetary landing scenarios, including a touchdown on Europa, the ice-encrusted moon of Jupiter.

A team led by Italy’s National Aerospace Research Centre (CIRA) also presented their work on developing a specially tailored dust-proof polymer, with surface properties modified to form ‘non-stick’ surfaces.

Novel space environments and issues

Shuttle aglow with atomic oxygen

Co-organised with French space agency CNES French aerospace lab Onera, and the Integrity Testing Laboratory Canada, ISMSE-13/ICPMSE-15 on 18-23 September marked the first time that the international space materials engineering community had gathered in person for four years, joined by participants from the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency JAXA and the China National Space Administration (CNSA) as well as national space agencies.

ESA materials engineer and co-organiser Adrian Tighe explains: “In one form or another this event has been running for four decades now, where we get together to discuss many of the problems the space sector is currently grappling with in terms of the space environment and its effect on materials.

“So as well as the dust topic, we saw for instance a focus on issues arising with satellites flying really close to Earth – at so-called ‘Very Low Earth Orbit’ altitudes – where highly erosive atomic oxygen encountered at the top of the atmosphere could be an issue for planned constellations as well as the challenge of simulating orbital debris damage at a materials level, which is proving an increasingly significant factor in highly-trafficked orbits.


“Then there’s the growing trend around commercialisation, including the wish to use more ‘commercial off the shelf’ parts for cheaper, faster space missions, in place of traditional space-qualified components and materials – but requiring a balancing act in terms of performance, radiation tolerance and so on. Then came discussions on whole new manufacturing and testing methodologies based on concepts such as digitalisation and modelling, artificial intelligence and machine learning, opening up lots of novel possibilities!”

ISMSE-13/ICPMSE-15 was hosted at Leiden’s Naturalis Biodiversity Centre, making possible a fascinating talk on the preservation process of dinosaur bones before they are put on display, and lending context to a discussion on ‘biomimetics’ for space – mimicking natural systems and lifetimes for engineering purposes.

Related article:

ESA seeking dust-proof materials for lunar return

Related links:



Sample Transfer Arm:

Mars Sample Return:


Yutu-1 rover:


Italy’s National Aerospace Research Centre (CIRA):

French space agency CNES:

French aerospace lab Onera:

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL):

Integrity Testing Laboratory Canada:

Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA):

China National Space Administration (CNSA):

Naturalis Biodiversity Centre:

Images, Text, Credits: ESA/ATG/Thales Alenia Space/NASA/JSC.

Best regards,

Why NASA Is Trying to Crash Land on Mars


NASA - Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) logo.

Oct. 21, 2022

Like a car’s crumple zone, the experimental SHIELD lander is designed to absorb a hard impact.

Image above: An illustration of SHIELD, a Mars lander concept that would allow lower-cost missions to reach the Red Planet’s surface by safely crash landing, using a collapsible base to absorb the impact. Image Credit: California Academy of Sciences.

NASA has successfully touched down on Mars nine times, relying on cutting-edge parachutes, massive airbags, and jetpacks to set spacecraft safely on the surface. Now engineers are testing whether or not the easiest way to get to the Martian surface is to crash.

Image above: This prototype base for SHIELD – a collapsible Mars lander that would enable a spacecraft to intentionally crash land on the Red Planet, absorbing the impact – was tested in a drop tower at JPL on Aug. 12 to replicate the impact it would encounter landing on Mars. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech.

Rather than slow a spacecraft’s high-speed descent, an experimental lander design called SHIELD (Simplified High Impact Energy Landing Device) would use an accordion-like, collapsible base that acts like the crumple zone of a car and absorbs the energy of a hard impact.

Image above: This drop tower at JPL includes a bow launch system, which can hurl test articles 110 mph into the ground, re-creating the forces they would experience during a Mars landing. Image Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech.

The new design could drastically reduce the cost of landing on Mars by simplifying the harrowing entry, descent, and landing process and expanding options for possible landing sites.

NASA Tests Ways to Crash Land on Mars

Video above: SHIELD is a Mars lander concept that could allow lower-cost missions to visit the Martian surface by using an impact-absorbing, collapsible base to safely crash land. Video Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech.

“We think we could go to more treacherous areas, where we wouldn’t want to risk trying to place a billion-dollar rover with our current landing systems,” said SHIELD’s project manager, Lou Giersch of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California. “Maybe we could even land several of these at different difficult-to-access locations to build a network.”

Car Crashes, Mars Landings

Much of SHIELD’s design borrows from work done for NASA’s Mars Sample Return campaign. The first step in that campaign involves the Perseverance rover collecting rock samples in airtight metal tubes; a future spacecraft will carry those samples back to Earth in a small capsule and safely crash land in a deserted location.

Studying approaches for that process led engineers to wonder if the general idea was reversible, said Velibor Ćormarković, SHIELD team member at JPL.

“If you want to land something hard on Earth, why can’t you do it the other way around for Mars?” he said. “And if we can do a hard landing on Mars, we know SHIELD could work on planets or moons with denser atmospheres.”

To test the theory, engineers needed to prove SHIELD can protect sensitive electronics during landing. The team used a drop tower at JPL to test how Perseverance’s sample tubes would hold up in a hard Earth landing. Standing nearly 90 feet (27 meters), it features a giant sling – called a bow launch system – that can hurl an object into the surface at the same speeds reached during a Mars landing.

Ćormarković previously worked for the auto industry, testing cars that carried crash dummies. In some of those tests, the cars ride on sleds that are accelerated to high speeds and crashed into a wall or deformable barrier. There are a number of ways to accelerate the sleds, including using a sling akin to the bow launch system.

“The tests we’ve done for SHIELD are kind of like a vertical version of the sled tests,” Ćormarković said. “But instead of a wall, the sudden stop is due to an impact into the ground.”

Smashing Success

On Aug. 12, the team gathered at the drop tower with a full-size prototype of SHIELD’s collapsible attenuator – an inverted pyramid of metal rings that absorb impact. They hung the attenuator on a grapple and inserted a smart phone, a radio, and an accelerometer to simulate the electronics a spacecraft would carry.

Sweating in the summer heat, they watched SHIELD slowly rise to the top of the tower.

“Hearing the countdown gave me goose bumps,” said Nathan Barba, another SHIELD project member at JPL. “The whole team was excited to see if the objects inside the prototype would survive the impact.”

In just two seconds, the wait was over: The bow launcher slammed SHIELD into the ground at roughly 110 miles per hour (177 kilometers per hour). That’s the speed a Mars lander reaches near the surface after being slowed by atmospheric drag from its initial speed of 14,500 miles per hour (23,335 kilometers per hour) when it enters the Mars atmosphere.

Previous SHIELD tests used a dirt “landing zone,” but for this test, the team laid a steel plate 2 inches (5 centimeters) thick on the ground to create a landing harder than a spacecraft would experience on Mars. The onboard accelerometer later revealed SHIELD impacted with a force of about 1 million newtons – comparable to 112 tons smashing against it.

High-speed camera footage of the test shows that SHIELD impacted at a slight angle, then bounced about 3.5 feet (1 meter) into the air before flipping over. The team suspects the steel plate caused the bounce, since no bounce occurred in the earlier tests.

Upon opening the prototype and retrieving the simulated electronic payload, the team found the onboard devices – even the smart phone – survived.

“The only hardware that was damaged were some plastic components we weren’t worried about,” Giersch said. “Overall, this test was a success!”

The next step? Designing the rest of a lander in 2023 and seeing just how far their concept can go.

Related link:

NASA’s Mars Sample Return campaign:

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


jeudi 20 octobre 2022

Household Tasks, Human Research on Station Before Cargo Missions Ends


ISS - Expedition 68 Mission patch.

October 20, 2022

Household maintenance tasks were the main objective aboard the International Space Station on Thursday as the Expedition 68 crew members configured crew quarters and serviced the orbiting lab’s toilet. The station residents also had time during the day for human research activities, robotics training, and upcoming cargo mission preparations.

NASA Flight Engineers Frank Rubio and Nicole Mann partnered together on Thursday afternoon testing power supply assemblies inside a pair crew quarters located in the Harmony module. The electrical devices were swapped between the two crew quarters to troubleshoot and recreate a fan failure signature.

Image above: Astronaut Frank Rubio has fun with fluid physics as he observes the behavior of a free-flying water bubble inside the space station. Image Credit: NASA.

Mann also gathered hardware and prepared the station’s new toilet so NASA Flight Engineer Josh Cassada could replace components inside the bathroom located in the Tranquility module. Rubio started his day charging spacesuit batteries and checking the power supply inside the Quest airlock.

Astronaut Koichi Wakata from the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) strapped sensors to himself that measured his aerobic capacity during a workout session on an exercise cycle in the morning. Wakata also collected his urine samples and placed them in a science freezer for future analysis. The four-time station visitor later stowed research hardware completing a pair of similar experiments studying how the central nervous system adapts to weightlessness. The biology studies are helping doctors understand how the human body adapts to living and working in space on long-term missions.

International Space Station (ISS). Animation Credit: ESA

Cosmonaut Anna Kikina of Roscosmos spent Thursday continuing to train on the European robotic arm. She practiced operating and controlling the robotic manipulator from inside the Nauka multipurpose laboratory module. Heart research was also on the agenda as Commander Sergey Prokopyev and Flight Engineer Dmitri Petelin attached electrodes to themselves and measured their cardiac bioelectric activity while resting.

The ISS Progress 80 resupply ship is due to end its cargo mission this weekend when it undocks from the Poisk module on Sunday at 6:46 p.m. EDT. Prokopyev packed trash and obsolete gear inside the Progress 80 for disposal on Thursday afternoon. The cargo craft will reenter Earth’s atmosphere above the Pacific Ocean for a fiery, but safe destruction about three-and-a-half hours later.

Related links:

Expedition 68:

Harmony module:

Tranquility module:

Quest airlock:

Aerobic capacity:

Exercise cycle:

Poisk module:

Space Station Research and Technology:

International Space Station (ISS):

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


CERN - ALICE explores the hidden charm of quark–gluon plasma


CERN - European Organization for Nuclear Research logo.

Oct. 20, 2022

The ALICE collaboration shows that different bound states of a charm quark and its antimatter counterpart are differently modified by quark–gluon plasma, opening new avenues for studying this special state of matter and its effects

A lead–lead collision event recorded by ALICE in 2015. (Image: ALICE collaboration)

Quark–gluon plasma is an extremely hot and dense state of matter in which the elementary constituents – quarks and gluons – are not confined inside composite particles called hadrons, as they are in the protons and neutrons that make up the nuclei of atoms. Thought to have existed in the early universe, this special phase of matter can be recreated at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) in collisions between lead nuclei.

A new analysis from the international ALICE collaboration at the LHC investigates how different bound states of a charm quark and its antimatter counterpart, also produced in these collisions, are affected by quark–gluon plasma. The results open new avenues for studying the strong interaction – one of the four fundamental forces of nature – in the extreme temperature and density conditions of quark–gluon plasma.

Bound states of a charm quark and a charm antiquark, known as charmonia or hidden-charm particles, are held together by the strong interaction and are excellent probes of quark–gluon plasma. In the plasma, their production is suppressed due to “screening” by the large number of quarks and gluons present in this form of matter. The screening, and thus the suppression, increases with the temperature of the plasma (see illustration below) and is expected to affect different charmonia to varying degrees. For example, the production of the ψ(2S) state, which is ten times more weakly bound and 20% more massive than the J/ψ state, is expected to be more suppressed than that of the J/ψ state.

Large Hadron Collider (LHC). Animation Credit: CERN

This hierarchical suppression is not the only fate of charmonia in quark–gluon plasma. The large number of charm quarks and antiquarks in the plasma – up to about a hundred in head-on collisions – also gives rise to a mechanism, called recombination, that forms new charmonia and counters the suppression to a certain extent (see illustration). This process is expected to depend on the type and momentum of the charmonia, with the more weakly bound charmonia possibly being produced through recombination later in the evolution of the plasma, and charmonia with the lowest (transverse) momentum having the highest recombination rate.

Previous studies, which used data from CERN’s Super Proton Synchrotron and subsequently from the LHC, have shown that the production of the ψ(2S) state is indeed more suppressed than that of the J/ψ. ALICE has also previously provided evidence of the recombination mechanism in J/ψ production. But, until now, no studies of ψ(2S) production at low particle momentum had been precise enough to provide conclusive results in this momentum regime, preventing a complete picture of ψ(2S) production from being obtained.

The ALICE collaboration has now reported the first measurements of ψ(2S) production down to zero transverse momentum, based on lead–lead collision data from the LHC collected in 2015 and 2018.

The measurements show that, regardless of particle momentum, the ψ(2S) state is suppressed about two times more than the J/ψ. This is the first time that a clear hierarchy in suppression has been observed for the total production of charmonia at the LHC. A similar observation was previously reported by the LHC collaborations for bound states of a bottom quark and its antiquark.

Image above: Illustration of the effect of quark–gluon plasma on the formation of charmonia in lead-nuclei collisions. When the plasma temperature increases, the more weakly bound ψ(2S) state is more likely to be “screened”, and thus not form, due to the larger number of quarks and gluons in the plasma (the coloured circles). The increase in the number of charm quarks and antiquarks (c and c̄) can lead to the formation of additional charmonia by quark recombination. (Image: ALICE collaboration).

When further studied as a function of particle momentum, the ψ(2S) suppression is seen to be reduced towards lower momentum. This feature, which was previously observed by ALICE for the J/ψ state, is a signature of the recombination process.

Future higher-precision studies of these and other charmonia using data from LHC Run 3, which started in July, may lead to a definitive understanding of the modification of hidden-charm particles and, as a result, of the strong interaction that holds them together, in the extreme environment of quark–gluon plasma.


CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, is one of the world’s largest and most respected centres for scientific research. Its business is fundamental physics, finding out what the Universe is made of and how it works. At CERN, the world’s largest and most complex scientific instruments are used to study the basic constituents of matter — the fundamental particles. By studying what happens when these particles collide, physicists learn about the laws of Nature.

The instruments used at CERN are particle accelerators and detectors. Accelerators boost beams of particles to high energies before they are made to collide with each other or with stationary targets. Detectors observe and record the results of these collisions.

Founded in 1954, the CERN Laboratory sits astride the Franco–Swiss border near Geneva. It was one of Europe’s first joint ventures and now has 23 Member States.

Related links:

Large Hadron Collider (LHC):


Super Proton Synchrotron (SPS):


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

Images (mentioned), Animation (mentioned), Text, Credits: CERN/By ALICE collaboration.

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SpaceX Starlink 64 launch


SpaceX - Falcon 9 / Starlink Mission patch.

Oct. 20, 2022

Falcon 9 carrying Starlink 64 liftoff

A SpaceX Falcon 9 launch vehicle launched 54 Starlink satellites (Starlink-64 / Starlink 4-36) to low-Earth orbit, from Space Launch Complex 40 (SLC-40) at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida, on 20 October 2022, at 14:50 UTC (10:50 EDT).

SpaceX Starlink 64 launch & Falcon 9 first stage landing, 20 October 2022

Following stage separation, Falcon 9’s first stage landed on the “A Shortfall of Gravitas” droneship, stationed in the Atlantic Ocean. Falcon 9’s first stage (B1062) previously supported nine missions: GPS III SV04, GPS III SV05, Inspiration4, Axiom-1, Nilesat 301 and four Starlink missions.

Related links:


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


Webb Uncovers Dense Cosmic Knot In The Early Universe


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

Oct. 20, 2022

Webb continues its search into the earliest times of our Universe, revealing the surprising formation of a massive galaxy cluster around a powerful, red quasar.

Webb's View Around the Extremely Red Quasar SDSS J165202.64+172852.3

Astronomers looking into the early Universe have made a surprising discovery using the NASA/ESA/CSA James Webb Space Telescope. Webb’s spectroscopic capabilities, combined with its infrared sensitivity, have uncovered a cluster of massive galaxies in the process of formation around an extremely red quasar. The result will expand our understanding of how galaxies in the early Universe coalesced into the cosmic web we see today.

The quasar in question, SDSS J165202.64+172852.3, is an “extremely red” quasar that exists in the very early Universe, 11.5 billion years ago. Quasars are a rare, incredibly luminous type of active galactic nucleus (AGN). This quasar is one of the most powerful known galactic nuclei that’s been seen at such an extreme distance. Astronomers had speculated that the quasar’s extreme emission could cause a “galactic wind”, pushing free gas out of its host galaxy and possibly greatly influencing future star formation there.

Webb’s View of the Extremely Red Quasar SDSS J165202.64+172852.3

An AGN is a compact region at the centre of a galaxy, which is emitting enough electromagnetic radiation to outshine all the galaxy’s stars. AGNs, including quasars, are powered by gas falling into a supermassive black hole at the centre of their galaxy. They typically emit vast amounts of light across all wavelengths, but this galactic core is a member of an unusually red class. In addition to its intrinsic red colour, the galaxy’s light has been further redshifted by its vast distance. That made Webb, having unparalleled sensitivity in infrared wavelengths, perfectly suited to examine the galaxy in detail.

To investigate the movement of the gas, dust and stellar material in the galaxy, the team used the telescope’s Near Infrared Spectrograph (NIRSpec). This powerful instrument can simultaneously gather spectra across the telescope’s whole field of view, instead of just from one point at a time – a technique known as integral field unit (IFU) spectroscopy. This enabled them to simultaneously examine the quasar, its galaxy and the wider surroundings.

Wide Field Hubble View of Extremely Red Quasar SDSS J165202.64+172852.3

Spectroscopy was critical to understand the movement of the various outflows and winds surrounding the quasar. The motions of the gases affect the light that they emit and reflect, causing it to be red- or blueshifted in proportion to their speed and direction [1]. The team was able to see and characterise this movement by tracking ionised oxygen in the NIRSpec spectra. The IFU observations were especially useful, with the team taking full advantage of the ability to collect spectra from a wide area around the quasar itself.

Previous studies by, among others, the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope and the Near-Infrared Integral Field Spectrometer instrument on the Gemini-North telescope called attention to the quasar’s powerful outflows, and astronomers had speculated that its host galaxy could be merging with some unseen partner. But the team was not expecting Webb’s NIRSpec data to clearly indicate that they were not just looking at one galaxy, but at least three more swirling around it. Thanks to the IFU spectra over a broad area, the motions of all this surrounding material could be mapped, resulting in the conclusion that SDSS J165202.64+172852.3 was in fact part of a dense knot of galaxy formation.

There are few galaxy protoclusters known at this early time. It’s hard to find them, and very few have had time to form since the Big Bang,” said astronomer Dominika Wylezalek of Heidelberg University in Germany, who led the study into this quasar. “This may eventually help us understand how galaxies in dense environments evolve… It’s an exciting result.”

James Webb Space Telescope (JWST). Animation Credits: NASA/ESA

Using the IFU observations from NIRSpec, the team was able to confirm three galactic companions to this quasar and show how they are connected. Archive data from Hubble hints that there may be even more. Images from Hubble’s Wide Field Camera 3 had shown extended material surrounding the quasar and its galaxy, prompting its selection for this study into its outflow and the effects on its host galaxy. Now, the team suspects they could have been looking at the core of a whole cluster of galaxies – only now revealed by Webb’s crisp imaging.

"Our first look at the data quickly revealed clear signs of major interactions between the neighbouring galaxies,” shared team member Andrey Vayner of Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, USA. “The sensitivity of the NIRSpec instrument was immediately apparent, and it was clear to me that we are in a new era of infrared spectroscopy."

The three confirmed galaxies are orbiting each other at incredibly high speeds, an indication that a great deal of mass is present. When combined with how closely they are packed into the region around this quasar, the team believes this marks one of the densest known areas of galaxy formation in the early Universe. “Even a dense knot of dark matter isn’t sufficient to explain it,” Wylezalek says. “We think we could be seeing a region where two massive halos of dark matter are merging together.”

The study conducted by Wylezalek’s team is part of Webb’s investigations into the early Universe. With its unprecedented ability to look back in time, the telescope is already being used to investigate how the first galaxies were formed and evolved, and how black holes formed and influenced the structure of the Universe. The team is planning follow-up observations into this unexpected galaxy proto-cluster, and hope to use it to understand how dense, chaotic galaxy clusters like this one form, and how it’s affected by the active, supermassive black hole at its heart.

They aim first to return to the question of galactic winds and quasar feedback. Quasars have long been suspected as the culprit of reduced star formation in their host galaxies by this feedback mechanism, but firm evidence to link the two has been difficult to come by. The present observations are just the first in a set which will study three quasars with Webb, each at different times in the past of the Universe.

“To disentangle the incredibly bright light of a distant quasar from the much dimmer host and its companions is almost impossible from the ground. Uncovering the details of the galactic winds that may produce feedback is even more challenging,” shared team member David Rupke of Rhodes College in Memphis, USA. “Now with Webb, we can already see that’s changing.”

This research was completed as part of Webb’s Early Release Science (ERS) Programs. These observations are taking place during the first 5 months of Webb science operations. The Webb observations that yielded this result were taken from the ERS program #1335.


[1] When light waves are emitted by a moving source, they can be squashed together or stretched apart from our perspective here on Earth, depending on the direction the source is moving. If a light source moves away from us, the stretching shifts its light into redder wavelengths, and if the source is moving towards us its light becomes bluer. This is known as the Doppler effect, analogous to how sound waves are shifted when emitted by a moving vehicle such as an ambulance. Light waves can also be redshifted because the space between it and us is expanding - so-called cosmological redshift.
More information

These results will be published in the The Astrophysical Journal Letters. (Link below)

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).


Collection of Webb’s First Images:

ESA Webb Seeing Farther Interactive Brochure:

Release on STScI website:

Science paper:

NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope (HST):

ESA James Webb Space Telescope (JWST):

Images, Animation Credits: ESA/Webb, NASA & CSA, D. Wylezalek, A. Vayner & the Q3D Team, N. Zakamska/ESA/Hubble, NASA, N. Zakamska/Text Credits: ESA/Webb/Bethany Downer/Ninja Menning/Heidelberg University, Germany/Dr. Dominika Wylezalek.

Best regards,