samedi 11 février 2023

ISS - Depressurization in the Progress MS-21 (82P) cargo spacecraft


ROSCOSMOS - Russian Vehicles patch.

Feb 11, 2023

Specialists of the Mission Control Center near Moscow recorded a depressurization in the Progress MS-21 (82P) cargo ship, which is scheduled to undock from the International Space Station (ISS) on February 18, using telemetric information.

Image above: Progress MS-21 (82P) cargo spacecraft arrival at ISS on October 28, 2022. Image Credits: Roscosmos/NASA.

The passage hatch to the ship is closed, thus the Progress MS-21 is isolated from the total volume of the station. All equipment scheduled for removal is already in the spacecraft. The reasons for the depressurization are being investigated.

The temperature regime and pressure on board the ISS are normal, nothing threatens the life and health of the crew, their health is good.

Image above: Feb. 11, 2023: International Space Station Configuration. Five spaceships are parked at the space station including the Cygnus space freighter, the SpaceX Crew Dragon Endurance, and Russia’s Soyuz MS-22 crew ship and the Progress 82 and 83 resupply ships. Image Credit: NASA.

This incident did not have effect on today's docking with the ISS of the Progress MS-22 cargo spacecraft and will not affect the station's future flight program.

Related articles:

Crew Works Biology, Botany, and Physics after Cargo Ship’s Arrival

Progress 82 Cargo Craft Safely in Orbit Following Launch

Related links:

ROSCOSMOS Press Release:

Progress MS-21:

International Space Station (ISS):

Images (mentioned), Text, Credits: ROSCOSMOS/ Aerospace/Roland Berga.


Progress Resupply Mission Docks to Station


ROSCOSMOS - Russian Vehicles patch.

Feb 11, 2023

Progress MS-22 docking

Video above: The Progress MS-22 spacecraft autonomously docked to the aft port of the Zvezda service module, on the International Space Station, on 11 February 2023, at 08:45 UTC (03:45 EST). Progress MS-22 (ISS Progress 83 mission) delivers about three tons of food, fuel, and supplies for the Expedition 68 crew aboard the International Space Station. Video Credits: NASA TV/Roscosmos/SciNews.

Image above: Final approach of the Progress cargo ship to the International Space Station (ISS). Image Credits: NASA TV/Screen capture: Aerospace/Roland Berga.

An uncrewed Roscosmos Progress 83 spacecraft arrived at the International Space Station’s aft port of the Zvezda service module at 3:45 a.m. EST. The spacecraft launched on a Soyuz rocket at 1:15 a.m. EST Thursday, Feb. 9 (11:15 a.m. Baikonur time) from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

Image above: Feb. 11, 2023: International Space Station Configuration. Five spaceships are parked at the space station including the Cygnus space freighter, the SpaceX Crew Dragon Endurance, and Russia’s Soyuz MS-22 crew ship and the Progress 82 and 83 resupply ships. Image Credit: NASA.

Progress is delivering almost three tons of food, fuel and supplies to the International Space Station for the Expedition 68 crew.

Related links:

Zvezda service module:

International Space Station (ISS):

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


vendredi 10 février 2023

Crew Studies Brain, Digestion System and Waits for Saturday Space Delivery


ISS - Expedition 68 Mission patch.

Feb 10, 2023

The International Space Station will see a new cargo mission arrive early Saturday, replenishing the Expedition 68 crew. While they wait, the orbital residents continued exploring how microgravity affects the brain and the digestive system while maintaining orbital lab systems.

The ISS Progress 83 (83P) cargo craft continues its orbital trek to deliver nearly three tons of food, fuel, and supplies to the station’s residents. The resupply ship from Roscosmos will automatically dock to the Zvezda service module’s rear port at 3:49 a.m. EST on Saturday. Commander Sergey Prokopyev and Flight Engineer Dmitri Petelin will be on-duty to monitor the automated approach and rendezvous of the 83P. Afterward, the duo will wait for the pressure to equalize between the cargo craft and the station before opening the hatches and transferring the six-month supply of cargo.

Image above: Progress cargo automatically dock to the Zvezda service module (archive image). Image Credits: Roscosmos/NASA.

Prokopyev and Petelin called down to mission controllers on Friday and discussed preparations for the arrival of the 83P. The cosmonaut pair also reviewed operations for Zvezda’s telerobotically operated rendezvous system, or TORU, in the unlikely event the cargo craft would need to be remotely controlled from inside the station for a docking.

Human research dominated this week’s science operations as the crewmates have been studying how living in space impacts blood pressure and digestion. Flight Engineer Nicole Mann of NASA on Friday morning wore a head probe and attached sensors to her chest to measure her blood flow and learn how the brain regulates blood pressure in weightlessness. During the afternoon, she joined fellow NASA astronaut Josh Cassada for another investigation that observes the cardiorespiratory system while exercising on the station. Both studies have the potential to promote healthier humans on Earth and in space.

International Space Station (ISS). Animation Credit: ESA

Roscosmos Flight Engineer Anna Kikina joined Petelin once again Friday morning using biomedical monitoring equipment to observe how their digestion system behaves when eating a meal in space. After breakfast, the duo placed electrodes on themselves and conducted ultrasound scans of their gastrointestinal system for insights into the effects of microgravity on the human body.

Flight Engineers Frank Rubio of NASA and Koichi Wakata of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) worked on a variety of orbital maintenance tasks. Rubio continued working in the Tranquility module replacing components in the station’s bathroom, also known as the Waste and Hygiene Compartment. He later swapped metallic samples inside the Materials Science Laboratory to gain new insights into the development of metal alloys. Wakata worked in the Kibo laboratory module disassembling orbital plumbing gear before moving on to the Quest airlock and configuring batteries.

Related article (NASA):

NASA Invites Public to Virtually Share in Excitement of Crew Launch

Related links:

Expedition 68:

Zvezda service module:

Brain regulates blood pressure:

Cardiorespiratory system:

Tranquility module:

Metallic samples:

Materials Science Laboratory:

Kibo laboratory module:

Quest airlock:

Space Station Research and Technology:

International Space Station (ISS):

Image (mentioned), Animation (mentioned), Text, Credits: NASA/Heidi Lavelle.

Best regards,

NASA Selects Blue Origin to Launch Mars’ Magnetosphere Study Mission


Escape and Plasma Acceleration and Dynamics Explorers (ESCAPADE) patch.

Feb 10, 2023

NASA has awarded Blue Origin, LLC of Kent, Washington, a task order to provide launch service for the agency’s Escape and Plasma Acceleration and Dynamics Explorers (ESCAPADE) mission as part of the agency's Venture-Class Acquisition of Dedicated and Rideshare (VADR) launch services contract.

Image above: Illustration of the ESCAPADE spacecraft in orbit around Mars. Image Credits: Credits: Rocket Lab USA/UC Berkeley.

ESCAPADE will launch on Blue Origin’s New Glenn rocket from Space Launch Complex-36 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida. Launch is targeted for late 2024. Blue Origin is one of 13 companies NASA selected for VADR contracts in 2022. NASA’s Launch Services Program, based at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, manages the VADR contracts. As part of VADR, the fixed-price indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contracts have a five-year ordering period with a maximum total value of $300 million across all contracts.

ESCAPADE will study Mars’ magnetosphere – the magnetized area of space around the planet – using two identical small spacecraft, which will provide simultaneous two-point observations. The spacecraft will help provide researchers a better understanding of how the magnetosphere interacts with the solar wind, and how energy and plasma enter and leave the magnetosphere. Each satellite will carry three instruments: a magnetometer for measuring magnetic field, an electrostatic analyzer to measure ions and electrons, and a Langmuir probe for measuring plasma density and solar extreme ultraviolet flux.

It will take ESCAPADE about 11 months to arrive at Mars after leaving Earth’s orbit, where both spacecraft will spend several months adjusting their orbits before they are in position to best capture data about the magnetosphere. Studying different magnetospheres gives scientists a better understanding of space weather, which can protect astronauts and satellites both as they orbit Earth and explore the solar system. ESCAPADE is part of the NASA Small Innovative Missions for Planetary Exploration program.

Building on NASA's previous procurement efforts to foster development of new launch vehicles for NASA payloads, VADR provides FAA-licensed commercial launch services for payloads that can tolerate higher risk. By using a lower level of mission assurance, and commercial best practices for launching rockets, these highly flexible contracts help broaden access to space through lower launch costs.

Related links:

Escape and Plasma Acceleration and Dynamics Explorers (ESCAPADE):

Venture-Class Acquisition of Dedicated and Rideshare (VADR):

Image (mentioned), Text, Credits: NASA/Claire O’Shea/Joshua Finch/Kiana Raines/KSC/Leejay Lockhart.


NASA’s Lucy Asteroid Target Gets a Name


NASA - LUCY Mission patch.

Feb 10, 2023

The first asteroid to be visited by NASA's Lucy mission now has a name. The International Astronomical Union has approved the name (152830) Dinkinesh for the tiny main belt asteroid that the Lucy spacecraft will encounter on November 1, 2023. “Dinkinesh”, or ድንቅነሽ in Amharic, is the Ethiopian name for the human-ancestor fossil, also known as Lucy, which was found in that country and currently curated there. Dinkinesh means “you are marvelous” in Amharic.

Image above: This illustration shows the Lucy spacecraft passing one of the Trojan Asteroids near Jupiter. Image Credits: Southwest Research Institute.

In 1999, when the asteroid Dinkinesh was first discovered, it was given the provisional designation 1999 VD57. It earned an official number, (152830), several years later when its orbit was sufficiently well determined. But, like most of the millions of small asteroids in the main asteroid belt, it was left unnamed. However, once the Lucy team identified this asteroid as a target, the team proposed this new name, inspired by Lucy’s mission to explore remnants of the early solar system.

“This mission was named for Lucy because just as that fossil revolutionized our understanding of human evolution, we expect this mission to revolutionize our understanding of the origin and evolution of our solar system” said Keith Noll, Lucy project scientist, from NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. “We are excited to have another opportunity to honor that connection.”

The main reason the team has added Dinkinesh to Lucy’s already packed tour (10 asteroids, including the newly discovered satellites) is to test the innovative terminal tracking system, which is critical for precise imaging during these high speed encounters. While the asteroid is less than half a mile (less than a km) in diameter, it is an excellent opportunity to test out Lucy’s systems prior to the main scientific activities of the mission: learning about the never-before-explored Jupiter Trojan asteroids, which are in many ways fossils of our early solar system.

“This is really a tiny little asteroid,” said Hal Levison, Lucy principal investigator, from Southwest Research Institute’s (SwRI) Boulder office. “Some of the team affectionately refer to it as ‘Dinky.’ But, for a small asteroid, we expect it to be a big help for the Lucy mission.”

Image above: A size comparison of (152830) Dinkinesh (shown in blue in the artist concept) to the main belt asteroid (2867) Steins and the near-Earth asteroid (101955) Bennu. Steins is currently the smallest, independently-orbiting main belt asteroid whose surface has been well imaged by a spacecraft (ESA Rosetta). The near-Earth asteroid Bennu was recently explored by NASA's OSIRIS-REx spacecraft with a sample return expected this September. As a tiny main belt asteroid, Dinkinesh will serve as a link between these two populations. Image Credits: Montage by NASA Goddard, Image of Steins: ESA/OSIRIS team, Image of Bennu: NASA/Goddard/University of Arizona.

While the main purpose of this encounter is as an engineering test, mission scientists are also excited for what this tiny asteroid might teach us. This will be the smallest main belt asteroid ever explored, and it is much closer in size to near-Earth asteroids that were recently studied by spacecraft than the main belt asteroids previously visited by other missions.

“At closest approach, if all goes smoothly, we expect Dinkinesh to be 100s of pixels across as seen from Lucy’s sharpest imager,” says Simone Marchi, deputy principal investigator, also from SwRI. “While we won’t be able to see all the details of the surface, even the general shape may indicate whether near-Earth asteroids – which originate in the main belt – change significantly once they enter near-Earth space.”

Dinkinesh may reveal yet another aspect of the evolutionary history of our solar system.

Lucy’s principal investigator is based out of the Boulder, Colorado branch of Southwest Research Institute, headquartered in San Antonio, Texas. NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, provides overall mission management, systems engineering, and safety and mission assurance. Lockheed Martin Space in Littleton, Colorado, built the spacecraft. Lucy is the 13th mission in NASA’s Discovery Program. NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, manages the Discovery Program for the Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington.

For more information about NASA’s Lucy mission, visit:

Images (mentioned), Text, Credits: NASA/Madison Arnold/GSFC/Nancy Jones/Southwest Research Institute/Written by Katherine Kretke.

Best regards,

Space Station Science Highlights: Week of Feb. 6, 2023


ISS - Expedition 68 Mission patch.

Feb 10, 2023

Crew members aboard the International Space Station conducted scientific investigations during the week of Feb. 6 that included assessing cardiovascular and respiratory changes in spaceflight, testing the brain’s ability to regulate blood flow, and monitoring radiation exposure with optical fibers.

Image above: The waxing gibbous Moon is pictured above Earth's horizon as the International Space Station orbits some 250 miles above the Gulf of Mexico. Image Credit: NASA.

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

Assessing blood pressure regulation

Spaceflight causes changes to the human body that can affect an astronaut’s capacity to maintain blood pressure. Many astronauts experience lightheadedness or faint when they return to Earth, which may be related to changes in blood flow to the brain. These conditions represent a challenge for future long-duration missions, particularly those that involve activities in different levels of gravity, such as on Mars or the Moon. Crew members conducted two investigations that address blood pressure issues during the week.

CARDIOBREATH, an investigation from the Canadian Space Agency (CSA), studies the combined effect of cardiovascular and respiratory changes on blood pressure regulation during spaceflight. Results could support development of ways to deal with these risks. Since spaceflight-induced changes to the body resemble those associated with aging, the investigation also may contribute to better health care and improved quality of life for the elderly on Earth.

Even when the heart cannot maintain an ideal blood pressure, the brain can adjust to self-regulate its blood flow. Cerebral Autoregulation, a Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) investigation, tests whether this ability improves in microgravity. A better understanding of how blood flow changes in space could lead to improved treatments and possible countermeasures for space-related lightheadedness. On Earth, when the brain cannot compensate for a sudden drop in blood pressure, a person can become lightheaded or have fainting episodes. Results could help address this problem as well.

Image above: Roscosmos cosmonauts Dmitri Petelin and Anna Kikina and NASA astronaut Nicole Mann pose inside the International Space Station's Columbus laboratory module. Image Credit: Roscosmos.

Real-time radiation monitoring

Lumina, an investigation from ESA (European Space Agency), monitors the radiation dose inside the space station with a dosimeter that uses optical fibers that darken when exposed to radiation. This technology could provide reliable, real-time measurements in complex radiation environments such as those on future space exploration missions. The dosimeter also could show fluctuations in levels of ionizing radiation in real time, providing 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 as well. During the week, crew members transferred collected data to the ground via a dedicated app.

Other investigations involving the crew:

- FLUIDICS, an ESA investigation, evaluates behaviors of liquid in a sphere as a model for what happens in a spacecraft’s fuel tank. Results could support improvements in satellite fuel management and expand satellite lifespan. This investigation also may help provide a better understanding of Earth’s oceans and optimize the use of ocean-based renewable energy.

- ESA’s GRASP 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.

- Sphere Camera-1, sponsored by the ISS National Lab, evaluates the performance of an ultra-high-resolution camera in microgravity. Results could support design and development of cameras with greater resolution, detail, and sharpness for imaging needs on future exploration missions, including to the Moon and Mars.

Image above: NASA astronaut Frank Rubio works on Particle Vibration, an ESA investigation that examines the mechanisms behind particles self-organizing in fluids. Fluids containing dispersed solid particles are used in cooling systems for heat exchangers and solar energy collectors in space and in nuclear reactors and electronics on Earth. Image Credit: NASA.

- Particle Vibration, an investigation from ESA, examines the mechanisms of self-organization of particles in fluids. Results could improve our understanding of fluids with dispersed solid particles, which are used in cooling systems for heat exchangers and solar energy collectors in space and in nuclear reactors and electronics on Earth.

- Plant Habitat-03 assesses whether epigenetic adaptations in one generation of plants grown in space can transfer to the next generation. Results could provide insight into how to grow repeated generations of crops to provide food and other services on future space missions.

- Veg-05 uses the station’s Veggie facility to grow dwarf tomatoes and examine the effect of light quality and fertilizer on fruit production, microbial food safety, nutritional value, taste acceptability by the crew, and overall behavioral health benefits. Growing plants to provide fresh food and enhance the overall living experience for crew members supports future long-duration missions.

Space to Ground: Multifaceted Module: Feb. 10, 2023

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.

ISS Benefits for Humanity 2022:

Related links:

Expedition 68:


Cerebral Autoregulation:



ISS National Lab:

Spot the Station:

Space Station Research and Technology:

International Space Station (ISS):

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


Shenzhou-15 Taikonauts take their 1st spacewalk outside China Space Station (CSS)


CMS - China Manned Space logo.

Feb 10, 2023

Mission commander Fei Junlong and Zhang Lu performed a seven-hour-long EVA on Feb. 9 (10 February, in China).

Image above: Commander Fei Junlong during the first Shenzhou-15 mission spacewalk, on Feb. 9, 2023, imaged by Wentian module panoramic camera B. Image Credit: CMSA.

Two Chinese taikonauts (astronauts in Chinese) headed outside the China Space Station (CSS) on Thursday (Feb. 9) for a seven-hour-long spacewalk, the first of the ongoing Shenzhou 15 mission.

Shenzhou-15 mission commander Fei Junlong and Zhang Lu exited the Wentian experiment module airlock in the early morning hours of Feb. 9 and returned inside at 11:16 a.m. EST (16:16 GMT) after completing a series of tasks. The third Shenzhou-15 mission member, Deng Qingming, supported his crewmates from inside Tiangong (Celestial Palace in Chinese).

The duo of Fei and Zhang installed external pumps outside Mengtian during the spacewalk, to aid the thermal control and function of the experiment module and the science apparatus mounted on its exterior.

Shenzhou-15 astronauts complete first spacewalk

Video above: According to the China National Space Administration (CNSA), the first extravehicular activity of the Shenzhou-15 (神舟十五) mission was completed on 9 February 2023, at 16:16 UTC (10 February, at 00:16 China Standard Time), when astronauts Junlong Fei (费俊龙, commander) and Lu Zhang (张陆) safely returned to the Wentian Laboratory Module  (问天实验舱).

Fei and Zhang also performed tasks related to Mengtian module payload airlock, which allows taikonauts (astronauts) using the station robotic arms to deploy science payloads and small satellites. Experiments were installed outside Mengtian using the airlock for the first time in January.

Image above: Performing tasks related to Mengtian module payload airlock, using the station robotic arms.

Mengtian module launched in November last year, and its docking at Tiangong module marked the completion of the T-shaped orbital outpost.

China's human spaceflight agency announced that the extravehicular activity had taken place only after its completion. It did not provide a start time for the EVA. The agency had stated somewhat vaguely on Wednesday (Feb. 8) that the planned spacewalk would take place in the near future.

The three Shenzhou-15 crewmates launched to the China Space Station (CSS) on Nov. 29 of last year (2022) and have now spent more than 70 days in orbit. They are expected to conduct two to three further EVAs during their six-month-long mission.

The arrival of Shenzhou-15 at China Space Station (CSS) to join the Shenzhou 14 crew marked China's first crew handover and the start of the operational phase of the newly constructed space station. The country plans to keep the China Space Station (CSS) permanently crewed for at least a decade.

Related articles:

China Space Station (CSS) - Shenzhou-15 docking & Shenzhou-15 hatch opening

China Space Station (CSS) - Shenzhou-15 launch

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

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


ISRO - The second launch of the SSLV launch vehicle


ISRO - Indian Space Research Organisation logo.

Feb 10, 2023

The second launch of SSLV (SSLV-D2)

ISRO’s SSLV-D2 rocket was launched for the second time from the First Launch Pad (FLP) of the Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SDSC), Sriharikota, India, on 10 February 2023, at 03:48 UTC (09:18 IST).

SSLV-D2 - the second launch of SSLV

For its second developmental flight (D2), the Small Satellite Launch Vehicle (SSLV) launched EOS-07 (156.3 kg), Janus-1 (11.5 kg) for Antaris and AzaadiSAT-2 (8.7 kg) satellites into 450 km circular orbit.

Image above: ISRO SSLV-D2 mission, payloads dispenser. Image Credit: ISRO

JANUS-1 (11.5 kg): It is a software-defined 6U satellite by Antaris (USA), built and operable using their cloud based software platform. It will host five payloads running on their SatOS satellite software. XDLINX Labs and Ananth Technologies are their primary manufacturing partners.

Janus-1 satellite

AzaadiSAT is an Indian Earth observation 8U Cubesat weighing around 8 kg developed by the Space Kidz India as a test payload on the second launch of the Small Satellite Launch Vehicle (SSLV).

AzaadiSAT-2 satellite

Related articles:

ISRO completes investigation into SSLV launch failure

The first flight of India’s small satellite vehicle results in loss of payload

ISRO - The first launch of SSLV-D1

Related links:

Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO):


Images, Video, Text, Credit: Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO)/Antaris/SciNews/ Aerospace/Roland Berga.

Best regards,

Russian satellite breaks up in orbit, generating cloud of debris


U.S. Space Force's 18th Space Defense Squadron (18th SDS) patch.

Feb 10, 2023

Kosmos 2499 broke apart in early January, according to the U.S. Space Force.

Image above:  Artist's illustration of a satellite breakup in Earth orbit. Image Credits: ESA/ID&Sense/ONiRiXEL, CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO.

A mysterious Russian satellite broke apart early last month, creating a cloud of debris that could linger in Earth orbit for a while.

The Kosmos 2499 spacecraft disintegrated on the night of Jan. 3, according to the U.S. Space Force's 18th Space Defense Squadron (18th SDS), which tracks human-made objects in orbit.

The breakup event generated at least 85 pieces of trackable debris, 18th SDS said via Twitter on Monday (Feb. 6). That cloud of space junk is orbiting 726 miles (1,169 kilometers) above Earth — so high that it'll likely take a century or more for atmosphere drag to bring it down.

U.S. Space Force's 18th Space Defense Squadron (18th SDS) on Twitter

The 18th SDS did not speculate about the cause of the breakup. And that's far from the only mystery surrounding Kosmos 2499.

The satellite launched to Earth orbit in May 2014 atop a Russian Rockot vehicle along with three Rodnik military communications satellites, according to's Anatoly Zak.

Kosmos 2499 wasn't officially on the launch manifest; U.S. satellite trackers initially cataloged it as a piece of debris called Object E, Zak wrote. But then the "debris" began making maneuvers, apparently closing in on the Rockot's Briz-M upper stage.

"By the end of October [2014], the U.S. officially re-classified Object E as 'payload' instead of a 'fragment' and finally cataloged it as Kosmos 2499 (with a 'translated' spelling 'COSMOS 2499')," Zak wrote. "The U.S. military was now rechecking orbital parameters of the mysterious satellite three or four times a day!"

Animation above: satellite breaks up in orbit. Animation Credit:ESA/ID&Sense/ONiRiXEL, CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO.

Analyses of orbital elements indicate that Kosmos 2499 got within just 0.47 miles (0.76 kilometers) of the Briz-M on Nov. 9, 2014, according to Zak. The spacecraft soon backed off but made an even closer approach on Nov. 25, coming within 0.33 miles (0.53 km) of the rocket body.

Such activities led to speculation that Kosmos 2499 and Kosmos 2491, a seemingly similar object that launched to Earth orbit in December 2013, were testing tech that could allow spacecraft to chase down and perhaps even disable other satellites. Indeed, Oleg Ostapenko, then the head of Russia's federal space agency Roscosmos, addressed such rumors at a press conference in December 2014.

"According to Ostapenko, the satellites were developed in cooperation between Roscosmos and the Russian Academy of Sciences and were used for peaceful purposes, including unspecified research by educational institutions," Zak wrote. "'They completed their mission,' Ostapenko said, without elaborating what that mission had been."

Despite Ostapenko's words, Kosmos 2499 remained active, off and on, for several more years. For example, the satellite — which ground observations suggest was less than 1 foot (0.3 meters) wide — conducted some maneuvers in early 2017, according to Zak.

But Kosmos 2499's maneuvering days are now done, as the satellite has given up the ghost. And its death has added yet more debris to an already cluttered environment.

According to the European Space Agency (ESA), about 36,500 pieces of space junk at least 4 inches (10 centimeters) wide zoom around our planet. And those are just the objects big enough to be tracked; Earth orbit likely hosts more than 130 million objects at least 1 millimeter across, so we are very close to the Kessler Syndrome.

Even the shards at the low end of that size spectrum can do damage to satellites and other spacecraft, considering how fast orbiting objects move. For example, the International Space Station, which orbits at an average altitude of roughly 250 miles (400 km), zooms around the planet at about 17,500 mph (28,000 kph).

Related articles:

Two big pieces of space junk nearly collide in orbital 'bad neighborhood'

Russia to launch mission to rescue stranded ISS crew after meteoroid strike

The current state of space debris

The cost of space debris

CleanSat: new satellite technologies for cleaner low orbits

The number of space debris reached a "critical point"

Related links:

U.S. Space Force's 18th Space Defense Squadron (18th SDS):

European Space Agency (ESA):

ESA's Space Safety - Space Debris:

NASA Orbital Debris Program Office:

Kessler Syndrome:

Images (mentioned), Animation (mentioned), Text, Credits: Zak/ Wall.


jeudi 9 février 2023

Biomedical Science, Space Plumbing as Crew Waits for Cargo Delivery


ISS - Expedition 68 Mission patch.

Feb 9, 2023

The Expedition 68 crew is looking forward to a delivery mission that will arrive at the International Space Station this weekend. Meanwhile, space science and orbital plumbing took up the orbital residents’ day as well as more cleanup work following last week’s spacewalk.

Nearly three tons of food, fuel, and supplies, is on its way to replenish the seven residents living aboard the orbital outpost. The ISS Progress 83 (83P) resupply ship launched at 1:15 a.m. EST on Thursday and is orbiting Earth racing toward the space station. The 83P will automatically dock to the Zvezda module’s rear port at 3:49 a.m. on Saturday beginning a six-month stay at the station. NASA TV will cover the space freighter’s arrival live on the agency’s app and website.

Image above: The waxing gibbous Moon is pictured above Earth’s horizon from the International Space Station. Image Credit: NASA.

NASA Flight Engineer Josh Cassada began his day with brain research attaching sensors to his head and chest to measure his blood flow for the Cerebral Autoregulation investigation. The research takes place inside the Kibo laboratory module and explores how the brain regulates blood pressure in weightlessness.

Astronauts Nicole Mann of NASA and Koichi Wakata of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) kicked off their day collecting blood and urine samples for processing and stowage. The duo, with Cassada, then took turns cleaning cooling loops inside a pair of Extravehicular Mobility Units, or spacesuits. Cassada also serviced the emergency jetpacks that spacewalkers would use to maneuver back to the station in the unlikely event they became untethered from the station.

International Space Station (ISS) sunrise. Animation Credit: NASA

Wakata also worked a couple of hours inside the Kibo lab removing the water recovery system from inside the module’s multipurpose small payload rack. NASA astronaut Frank Rubio spent a good portion of his day replacing components in the Waste and Hygiene Compartment, the station’s bathroom, located inside the Tranquility module. Rubio then ended his work day tending to tomato plants growing inside the Veggie space botany facility located in the Columbus laboratory module.

Roscosmos Flight Engineers Dmitri Petelin and Anna Kikina continued researching how microgravity affects the digestive system. The duo placed electrodes on themselves and conducted ultrasound scans of their gastrointestinal system shortly after breakfast. Station Commander Sergey Prokopyev spent some time inside the Columbus lab configuring video hardware that records how clouds of highly charged particles, or plasma crystals, behave in microgravity. He then spent the rest of the afternoon in the Zvezda service module working on maintenance activities.

Related article:

Progress Cargo Craft Lifts Off to Resupply Crew

Related links:


Expedition 68:

Cerebral Autoregulation:

Kibo laboratory module:

Tranquility module:


Columbus laboratory module:

Digestive system:

Plasma crystals:

Zvezda service module:

Space Station Research and Technology:

International Space Station (ISS):

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

Best regards,

NASA’s NuSTAR Telescope Reveals Hidden Light Shows on the Sun




NASA - Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array (NuSTAR) patch.

Feb 9, 2023

Some of the hottest spots in the Sun’s atmosphere appear in the telescope’s X-ray view.

Images above: Wavelengths of light from three space observatories are overlapped to provide a unique view of the Sun in the image at left. The high-energy X-ray light detected by one of those observatories, NASA’s NuSTAR, is seen isolated at right; a grid was added to indicate the Sun’s surface. Images Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/JAXA.

Even on a sunny day, human eyes can’t see all the light our nearest star gives off. A new image displays some of this hidden light, including the high-energy X-rays emitted by the hottest material in the Sun’s atmosphere, as observed by NASA’s Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array (NuSTAR). While the observatory typically studies objects outside our solar system – like massive black holes and collapsed stars – it has also provided astronomers with insights about our Sun.

In the composite image above (left), NuSTAR data is represented as blue and is overlaid with observations by the X-ray Telescope (XRT) on the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency’s Hinode mission, represented as green, and the Atmospheric Imaging Assembly (AIA) on NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO), represented as red. NuSTAR’s relatively small field of view means it can’t see the entire Sun from its position in Earth orbit, so the observatory’s view of the Sun is actually a mosaic of 25 images, taken in June 2022.

The high-energy X-rays observed by NuSTAR appear at only a few locations in the Sun’s atmosphere. By contrast, Hinode’s XRT detects low-energy X-rays, and SDO’s AIA detects ultraviolet light – wavelengths that are emitted across the entire face of the Sun.

Image above: The Sun appears different depending on who’s looking. From left, NASA’s NuSTAR sees high-energy X-rays; the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency’s Hinode mission sees lower energy X-rays; and NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory sees ultraviolet light. Image Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/JAXA.

NuSTAR’s view could help scientists solve one of the biggest mysteries about our nearest star: why the Sun’s outer atmosphere, called the corona, reaches more than a million degrees – at least 100 times hotter than its surface. This has puzzled scientists because the Sun’s heat originates in its core and travels outward. It’s as if the air around a fire were 100 times hotter than the flames.

The source of the corona’s heat could be small eruptions in the Sun’s atmosphere called nanoflares. Flares are large outbursts of heat, light, and particles visible to a wide range of solar observatories. Nanoflares are much smaller events, but both types produce material even hotter than the average temperature of the corona. Regular flares don’t happen often enough to keep the corona at the high temperatures scientists observe, but nanoflares may occur much more frequently – perhaps often enough that they collectively heat the corona.

Although individual nanoflares are too faint to observe amid the Sun’s blazing light, NuSTAR can detect light from the high-temperature material thought to be produced when a large number of nanoflares occur close to one another. This ability enables physicists to investigate how frequently nanoflares occur and how they release energy.

The observations used in these images coincided with the 12th close approach to the Sun, or perihelion, by NASA’s Parker Solar Probe, which is flying closer to the our star than any other spacecraft in history. Taking observations with NuSTAR during one of Parker’s perihelion passes enables scientists to link activity observed remotely in the Sun’s atmosphere with the direct samples of the solar environment taken by the probe.

More About the Mission

NuSTAR launched on June 13, 2012. A Small Explorer mission led by Caltech in Pasadena, California, and managed by JPL for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington, it was developed in partnership with the Danish Technical University (DTU) and the Italian Space Agency (ASI). The telescope optics were built by Columbia University, NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, and DTU. The spacecraft was built by Orbital Sciences Corp. in Dulles, Virginia. NuSTAR’s mission operations center is at the University of California, Berkeley, and the official data archive is at NASA’s High Energy Astrophysics Science Archive Research Center. ASI provides the mission’s ground station and a mirror data archive. Caltech manages JPL for NASA.

Related links:

Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array (NuSTAR):

Hinode mission:

Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO):

Parker Solar Probe:

Images (mentioned), Text, Credits: NASA/Naomi Hartono/JPL/Calla Cofield.


Progress Cargo Craft Lifts Off to Resupply Crew


ROSCOSMOS - Russian Vehicles patch.

Feb 9, 2023

Image above: The ISS Progress 83 cargo craft ascends to Earth orbit after launching on time from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Image Credit: NASA TV.

The uncrewed Roscosmos Progress 83 is safely in orbit headed for the International Space Station following launch at 1:15 a.m. EST Thursday, Feb. 9 (11:15 a.m. Baikonur time) from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

The resupply ship reached preliminary orbit and deployed its solar arrays and navigational antennas as planned, on its way to meet up with the orbiting laboratory and its Expedition 68 crew members.

Progress MS-22 launch

Progress will dock to the aft port of the Zvezda service module two days later, on Saturday, Feb. 11 at 3:49 a.m. EST. Live coverage on NASA TV of rendezvous and docking will begin at 3 a.m.

Progress will deliver almost three tons of food, fuel and supplies to the space station.

Related links:


International Space Station (ISS):

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


Hubble Captures the Start of a New Spoke Season at Saturn



NASA / ESA - Hubble Space Telescope (HST) patch.

Feb 9, 2023

New images of Saturn from NASA's Hubble Space Telescope herald the start of the planet's "spoke season" surrounding its equinox, when enigmatic features appear across its rings. The cause of the spokes, as well as their seasonal variability, has yet to be fully explained by planetary scientists.

Image above: NASA's Hubble Space Telescope has observation time devoted to Saturn each year, thanks to the Outer Planet Atmospheres Legacy (OPAL) program, and the dynamic gas giant planet always shows us something new. This latest image heralds the start of Saturn's "spoke season" with the appearance of two smudgy spokes in the B ring, on the left in the image. The shape and shading of spokes varies – they can appear light or dark, depending on the viewing angle, and sometimes appear more like blobs than classic radial spoke shapes, as seen here. The ephemeral features don't last long, but as the planet's autumnal equinox approaches on May 6, 2025, more will appear. Scientists will be looking for clues to explain the cause and nature of the spokes. It's suspected they are ring material that is temporarily charged and levitated by interaction between Saturn's magnetic field and the solar wind, but this hypothesis has not been confirmed. Image Credits: NASA, ESA, and Amy Simon (NASA-GSFC); Image Processing: Alyssa Pagan (STScI).

Like Earth, Saturn is tilted on its axis and therefore has four seasons, though because of Saturn's much larger orbit, each season lasts approximately seven Earth years. Equinox occurs when the rings are tilted edge-on to the Sun. The spokes disappear when it is near summer or winter solstice on Saturn. (When the Sun appears to reach either its highest or lowest latitude in the northern or southern hemisphere of a planet.) As the autumnal equinox of Saturn's northern hemisphere on May 6, 2025, draws near, the spokes are expected to become increasingly prominent and observable.

The suspected culprit for the spokes is the planet's variable magnetic field. Planetary magnetic fields interact with the solar wind, creating an electrically charged environment (on Earth, when those charged particles hit the atmosphere this is visible in the northern hemisphere as the aurora borealis, or northern lights). Scientists think that the smallest, dust-sized icy ring particles can become charged as well, which temporarily levitates those particles above the rest of the larger icy particles and boulders in the rings.

The ring spokes were first observed by NASA's Voyager mission in the early 1980s. The transient, mysterious features can appear dark or light depending on the illumination and viewing angles.

"Thanks to Hubble's OPAL program, which is building an archive of data on the outer solar system planets, we will have longer dedicated time to study Saturn’s spokes this season than ever before," said NASA senior planetary scientist Amy Simon, head of the Hubble Outer Planet Atmospheres Legacy (OPAL) program.

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

Saturn's last equinox occurred in 2009, while NASA's Cassini spacecraft was orbiting the gas giant planet for close-up reconnaissance. With Cassini's mission completed in 2017, and the Voyager spacecrafts long gone, Hubble is continuing the work of long-term monitoring of changes on Saturn and the other outer planets.

"Despite years of excellent observations by the Cassini mission, the precise beginning and duration of the spoke season is still unpredictable, rather like predicting the first storm during hurricane season," Simon said.

While our solar system's other three gas giant planets also have ring systems, nothing compares to Saturn's prominent rings, making them a laboratory for studying spoke phenomena. Whether spokes could or do occur at other ringed planets is currently unknown. "It's a fascinating magic trick of nature we only see on Saturn – for now at least," Simon said.

Hubble's OPAL program will add both visual and spectroscopic data, in wavelengths of light from ultraviolet to near-infrared, to the archive of Cassini observations. Scientists are anticipating putting these pieces together to get a more complete picture of the spoke phenomenon, and what it reveals about ring physics in general.

Saturn's Rings Are Acting Strange

Video above: Since their discovery by NASA's Voyager mission in the 1980s, temporary "spoke" features across Saturn's rings have fascinated scientists, yet eluded explanation. Saturn's upcoming autumnal equinox of the northern hemisphere on May 6, 2025, means that spoke season has come again. NASA's Hubble Space Telescope will be on the job studying the spokes, thanks to time dedicated to Saturn in the mission’s ongoing Outer Planet Atmospheres Legacy (OPAL) program. Image Credits: NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center; Lead Producer: Paul Morris.

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

Related links:

Hubble Space Telescope (HST):


Image (mentioned), Animation (mentioned), Video (mentioned), Text, Credits: NASA/Andrea Gianopoulos/GSFC/Amy Simon/Claire Andreoli/STScI/Leah Ramsay and Ray Villard.

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mercredi 8 février 2023

Resupply Rocket Ready for Launch, Crew Works Science and Plumbing


ISS - Expedition 68 Mission patch.

Feb 8, 2023

A new cargo mission stands ready to launch early Thursday and dock to the International Space Station two days later. Meanwhile, the Expedition 68 crew switched roles between space scientists and orbital plumbers on Wednesday promoting advanced knowledge and maintaining life support systems.

A rocket packed with about three tons of food, fuel, and supplies, is ready to launch from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan and resupply the crew. The ISS Progress 83 (83P) cargo craft will blast off at 1:15 a.m. EST on Thursday for a two-day trek to the orbital outpost. The 83P will orbit Earth 34 times before catching up to the space station and docking automatically at 3:49 a.m. on Saturday to the Zvezda service module’s rear port. NASA TV will cover both events live on the agency’s app and website.

Image above: Bringing More Power to Space Station. Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency astronaut Koichi Wakata is pictured in his Extravehicular Mobility Unit, or spacesuit, during his spacewalk on Feb. 2, 2023. He and NASA astronaut Nicole Mann, who took this photo, installed a modification kit on the International Space Station's starboard truss structure that will enable the future installation of the orbiting lab's next roll-out solar array. Four solar arrays, or iROSAs, have been installed so far, and two additional arrays will be mounted to the installed platforms during future spacewalks. Image Credits: NASA/Nicole Mann.

Brain research was on the science schedule on Wednesday as NASA Flight Engineer Nicole Mann explored how it regulates blood pressure in weightlessness. She set up medical monitoring hardware inside the Kibo laboratory module to learn how the brain manages blood flow with potential benefits for humans living on Earth and in space.

Flight Engineer Koichi Wakata of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) worked throughout Wednesday processing his blood and urine samples using the Human Research Facility. He spun the blood samples in a centrifuge then collected the biomedical samples and stowed them in a science freezer for later analysis.

Image above: Astronaut Koichi Wakata is pictured during his second spacewalk on Feb. 2, 2023, installing hardware to enable the future installation of the orbiting lab’s next roll-out solar array. Image Credit: NASA.

From performing advanced space research to working on orbital plumbing, the well-trained astronauts and cosmonauts also ensure their orbital home and workplace remains in tip-top shape. NASA Flight Engineer Frank Rubio was back inside the Tranquility module inspecting a new toilet for a test of its operations before it sees use in the Orion crew ship on the upcoming Artemis missions to the Moon. NASA Flight Engineer Josh Cassada spent his day carefully inspecting module hatch seals and cleaning smoke detectors inside the Unity module.

The three Expedition 68 cosmonauts spent their day servicing a variety of life support components and conducting human research. Roscosmos Commander Sergey Prokopyev charged batteries in a carbon dioxide monitor and downloaded its data for review on the ground. Flight Engineers Dmitri Petelin and Anna Kikina partnered together for ultrasound scans of the gastrointestinal tract to understand how microgravity affects the digestive system. The cosmonaut trio also split its day working electronics maintenance and plumbing tasks.

International Space Station (ISS). Animation Credit: ESA

All seven crew members gathered together after lunch time and practiced their emergency response skills using computer tablets for guidance. The septet familiarized themselves with procedures for reacting to unlikely contingencies such as a depressurization event, a chemical leak, or a fire. The orbital residents also located emergency equipment and coordinated communications with mission controllers from around the world.

Related links:


Expedition 68:

Zvezda service module:

Kibo laboratory module:

Human Research Facility:

Tranquility module:

Unity module:

Space Station Research and Technology:

International Space Station (ISS):

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