lundi 19 mars 2018

Going for Atmospheric GOLD

NASA - Global-scale Observations of the Limb and Disk (GOLD) logo.

March 19, 2018

On Jan. 25, 2018, NASA’s Global-scale Observations of the Limb and Disk (GOLD) instrument was launched. GOLD is designed to track big events in the lower atmosphere, such as hurricanes or tsunamis, that create waves that can travel all the way up to this interface to space, changing wind patterns and causing disruptions. From the space side, flurries of energized particles and solar storms carry electric and magnetic fields and have the potential to disrupt Earth’s space environment. This combination of factors makes it difficult to predict changes in the ionosphere.

GOLD is novel in two ways: it marks the first time that a NASA science mission is flying an instrument as a commercially hosted payload, and it is the first time scientists will monitor the daily and hourly weather of the uppermost parts of Earth’s atmosphere where it meets the edge of space.

Roughly the size of a mini fridge, the 80-pound GOLD instrument is an imaging spectrograph that breaks light down into its component wavelengths and measures their intensities. Specifically, it measures far ultraviolet light, creating full-disk ultraviolet images of Earth from its geostationary vantage point above the Western Hemisphere.

 Global-scale Observations of the Limb and Disk (GOLD) satellite

GOLD will collect observations with a 30-minute cadence, much higher than any mission that has come before it. From these images, scientists can determine the temperature and relative amounts of different particles—such as atomic oxygen and molecular nitrogen—present in the neutral atmosphere, which is useful for determining how these neutral gases shape ionospheric conditions. These data will provide the first maps of the upper atmosphere’s changing temperature and composition all over the Americas.

This image of Earth was taken by the International Space Station crew in December 2017 and has been cropped and enhanced to improve contrast, and lens artifacts have been removed.

GOLD (Global-scale Observations of the Limb and Disk):

Images, Text, Credits: Satellite rendering by Chris Meaney, NASA Goddard's Conceptual Image Lab. Caption based on a story by Lina Tran, NASA/Yvette Smith/GSFC.


Soyuz Rocket Rolls Out at T-Minus Two Days to Launch

ISS - Expedition 55 Mission patch / ROSCOSMOS - Soyuz MS-08 Mission patch.

March 19, 2018

Image above: The Soyuz rocket is raised into a vertical position on the launch pad, Monday, March 19, 2018 at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Image Credit: Roscosmos.

A pair of U.S. astronauts and one Russian cosmonaut are just two days away from launching on a 50-hour, 34-orbit flight to the International Space Station. Flight Engineers Ricky Arnold and Drew Feustel will flank Soyuz Commander Oleg Artemyev inside the Soyuz MS-08 spacecraft and blast off Wednesday at 1:44 p.m. EDT from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

Roll-out of ILV Soyuz-FG with TPK Soyuz MS-08

The Soyuz rocket that will shoot the new Expedition 55-56 trio to space rolled out to its launch pad early this morning. A train slowly hauled the rocket, as it laid horizontally on its side, from the processing facility to its pad where it was raised vertically for servicing ahead of its launch.

All three crewmates are veteran space-flyers and are due to arrive at their new home Friday when they dock to the Poisk module at 3:41 p.m.  NASA TV will broadcast all the launch and docking activities including the hatch opening and crew greeting ceremony live.

Image above: Flying over Agentina seen by EarthCam on ISS, speed: 27'580 Km/h, altitude: 415,96 Km, image captured by Roland Berga (on Earth in Switzerland) from International Space Station (ISS) using ISS-HD Live application with EarthCam's from ISS on March 19, 2018 at 21:02 UTC.

Waiting for them onboard the orbital laboratory are Flight Engineers Scott Tingle and Norishige Kanai and Expedition 55 Commander Anton Shkaplerov who have been living in space since Dec. 17. The orbiting trio continues to ensure the station is flying in tip-top shape while conducting advanced space science to benefit humans on Earth and in space.

Related links:


Expedition 55:

Space Station Research and Technology:

International Space Station (ISS):

Images (mentioned), Video, Text, Credits: NASA/Mark Garcia/Roscosmos/ Aerospace/Roland Berga.

Best regards,

vendredi 16 mars 2018

Space Station Science Highlights: Week of Mar 12, 2018

ISS - Expedition 55 Mission patch.

March 16, 2018

International Space Station (ISS). Image Credits: NASA/STS-132

The crew members aboard the International Space Station were busy this week with educational downlinks, emergency training and many hours of scientific operations, while also preparing for three new crew members to arrive following their March 21 launch.

Take a look at some of the science that happened this week aboard your orbiting laboratory:

Investigation studies changes to brain structure and function in spaceflight

Previous research and anecdotal evidence from astronauts suggests movement control and cognition can be affected in microgravity. Using MRI and fMRI imaging, NeuroMapping investigates whether long-duration spaceflight causes changes to brain structure and function. Changes in motor control or multi-tasking abilities are documented as well as the time it takes for the brain and body to recover from possible changes.

Image above: Cosmonaut Anton Shkaplerov and other crew members ate some of the red romaine lettuce that was harvested from the VEG-03 experiment. Image Credit: NASA.

This week, NASA astronaut Scott Tingle and JAXA astronaut Norishige Kanai completed NeuroMapping tests in both the “strapped in” and “free-floating” body configurations. The data were collected and downlinked to ground crews.

Crew members conduct fluid mechanics experiments

Using a Slosh study and a Wave Turbulence study, the FLUIDICS investigation examines fluid behavior under microgravity during satellite maneuvers and the impact of capillary effect on wave turbulence without being masked by the effect of gravity.

Beyond a better understanding of fluid movements and fuel tank development for future spacecraft, this experiment also helps to provide a better understanding of how the Earth’s oceans work, including the phenomenon of 'rogue waves'. More broadly, the expected results could help to improve climate prediction systems, and optimize the use of ocean renewable energy.

Image above: Dwarf wheat stalks grow in the Advanced Plant Habitat, a fully automated facility that is being used to support plant bioscience research on the space station in a large, enclosed, environmentally controlled chamber. Image Credit: NASA.

This week, the crew members executed two runs of the FLUIDICS investigation.

Crew begins first week of new ACME operations

The Advanced Combustion Microgravity Experiment (ACME) investigation is a set of studies of gaseous flames to be conducted in the Combustion Integration Rack (CIR), one of which being Electric-Field Effects on Laminar Diffusion Flames (E-FIELD Flames).

In E-FIELD Flames, an electric field with voltages as high as 10,000 volts is established between the burner and a mesh electrode. The motion of the charged ions, which are naturally produced within the flame, are strongly affected by a high-voltage electric field. The resulting ion-driven wind can dramatically influence the stability and sooting behavior of the flame. Measurements are made of electric-field strength, the ion current passing through the flame, and flame characteristics such as the size, structure, temperature, soot, and stability. Conducting the tests in microgravity enables new understanding and the development of less polluting and more efficient combustion technology for use on Earth.

This week marks the first week of E-FIELD flames operations with a very successful first set of ten flames ignited for studying the effects of an electric field on laminar diffusion flames. Preliminary results show that the high-voltage electric field created forces similar to buoyancy. This effect dramatically affected the flame’s shape, intensity, and soot production.

Space to Ground: Neuromapping: 03/16/2018

Other work was done on these investigations: Crew Earth Observations, Veg-03, EMCS, MagVector, Space Headaches, Wisenet, Transparent Alloys, DOSIS-3D, EIISS,  Lighting Effects, ELF, Meteor, Two Phase Flow, Manufacturing Device, Airway Monitoring, Radi-N2, and Plant Habitat.

Related links:



Advanced Combustion Microgravity Experiment (ACME):

Combustion Integration Rack (CIR):

Electric-Field Effects on Laminar Diffusion Flames (E-FIELD Flames):

Crew Earth Observations:




Space Headaches:


Transparent Alloys:



Lighting Effects:



Two Phase Flow:

Manufacturing Device:

Airway Monitoring:


Plant Habitat:

Spot the Station:

Space Station Research and Technology:

International Space Station (ISS):

Images (mentioned), Video (NASA), Text, Credits: NASA/Michael Johnson/Yuri Guinart-Ramirez, Lead Increment Scientist Expeditions 55 & 56.

Best regards,

NASA Science Heading to Space Ranges from the Upper Atmosphere to Microbes

SpaceX - Dragon CRS-14 Mission patch.

March 16, 2018

SpaceX Dragon commercial resupply, arrival at ISS. Image Credit: NASA

A Dragon spacecraft scheduled to launch into orbit no earlier than April 2, carries the 14th SpaceX commercial resupply mission to the International Space Station for NASA. Lifted into orbit atop a Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, Dragon takes supplies, equipment and scientific research to crew members living and working aboard the station.

This flight delivers scientific investigations looking at severe thunderstorms on Earth, the effects of microgravity on production of high-performance products from metal powders, and growing food in space. Dragon also carries cargo for research in the National Laboratory, operated by the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS), including testing the effects of the harsh space environment on materials, coatings and components; identifying potential pathogens aboard the station; and investigating an antibiotic-releasing wound patch.

Image above: From left, Matthew Romeyn and Dr. Ye Zhang, project scientists, place Arabidopsis seeds in Veggie Passive Orbital Nutrient Delivery System (PONDS) units inside a laboratory at the Space Station Processing Facility at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Image Credits: NASA/Daniel Casper.

Highlights of research to be delivered to the station include:

Capturing Sprites and Elves

The Atmosphere-Space Interactions Monitor (ASIM) surveys severe thunderstorms in Earth’s atmosphere and upper-atmospheric lightning, or transient luminous events. These include sprites, flashes caused by electrical break-down in the mesosphere; the blue jet, a discharge from cloud tops upward into the stratosphere; and ELVES, concentric rings of emissions caused by an electromagnetic pulse in the ionosphere.

Image above: A view of ASIM being prepared for launch. Image Credit: NASA.

ASIM advances understanding of the effect of thunderstorms on Earth’s atmosphere, helping to improve atmospheric models and meteorological and climatological predictions. It also contributes to understanding the effect of dust storms, urban pollutants, forest fires, and volcanoes on cloud formation, as well as electrification and intensification of hurricanes and their relation to eye-wall lightning activity.

Metal Powder Fabrication

The NASA Sample Cartridge Assembly (MSL SCA-GEDS-German) experiment determines underlying scientific principles for a fabrication process known as liquid phase sintering, in microgravity and Earth-gravity conditions.

On earth, liquid phase sintering works like building a sandcastle with just-wet-enough sand; heating a powder forms interparticle bonds and formation of a liquid phase accelerates this solidification, creating a rigid structure. But in microgravity, settling of powder grains does not occur and larger pores form, creating more porous and distorted samples than Earth-based sintering. Sintering has diverse applications on Earth, including in metal cutting tools, automotive engine connecting rods, and self-lubricating bearings. It has potential as a way to perform in-space fabrication and repair, such as building structures on the moon or creating replacement parts during extraterrestrial exploration.

Testing Materials in Space

The Materials ISS Experiment Flight Facility (MISSE-FF) provides a unique platform for testing how materials, coatings, and components react in the harsh environment of space, which includes exposure to ultraviolet and ionizing radiation, atomic oxygen, charged particles, thermal cycles, electromagnetic radiation, and micro-meteoroids.

Image above: The Materials ISS Experiment Flight Facility (MISSE-FF) with MISSE Sample Carriers (MSCs) in the fully open position exposing samples/experiments to the harsh environment of space in low-Earth Orbit (LEO). Image courtesy of Alpha Space. Image Credit: Alpha Space.

A continuation of previous MISSE payloads, MISSE-FF’s new design eliminates the need for Extravehicular Activities (EVA) for these investigations. New technology includes power and data collection options and the ability to take pictures of each sample on a monthly basis, or more often if required, allowing scientists to monitor sample status throughout flight. The testing benefits a variety of industries, including automotive, aeronautics, energy, space, and transportation.

Patching up Wounds

NanoRacks Module 74 Wound Healing (Wound Healing) tests a patch containing an antimicrobial hydrogel that promotes healing of a wound while acting as a scaffold for regenerating tissue. Reduced fluid motion in microgravity allows more precise analysis of the hydrogel behavior and controlled release of the antibiotic from the patch.

This novel patch could serve as a non-surgical treatment for military combat wounds and reduce sepsis, or systemic inflammation, usually caused by contamination of an open wound. Currently, no wound dressing can sustain release of antibiotics or other agents directly to the wound site while simultaneously maintaining the structural integrity necessary for successful wound healing.

Drug Development in Space

Comparative Real-time Metabolic Activity Tracking for Improved Therapeutic Assessment Screening Panels (Metabolic Tracking) examines effects of microgravity on the metabolic impact of five different therapeutic compounds, evaluating the use of autobioluminescent human tissue culture for continuous tracking of metabolic activity without destroying the sample. This investigation determines the feasibility of developing improved pharmaceuticals in microgravity using a new method to test the metabolic impacts of drug compounds. This could lead to more effective, less expensive drugs.
These investigations are just a sample of the new science to be conducted aboard the orbiting microgravity laboratory. Follow @ISS_Research for more information about science happening on station.

Related links:

Commercial Resupply:

Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS):

Atmosphere-Space Interactions Monitor (ASIM):

NASA Sample Cartridge Assembly (MSL SCA-GEDS-German):

Materials ISS Experiment Flight Facility (MISSE-FF):

NanoRacks Module 74 Wound Healing (Wound Healing):

Metabolic Tracking:

Space Station Research and Technology:

International Space Station (ISS):

Images (mentioned), Text, Credits: NASA/Michael Johnson/JSC/International Space Station Program Science Office/Melissa Gaskill.

Best regards,

Rose-Colored Jupiter

NASA - JUNO Mission logo.

March 16, 2018

This image captures a close-up view of a storm with bright cloud tops in the northern hemisphere of Jupiter.                                                            

NASA’s Juno spacecraft took this color-enhanced image on Feb. 7 at 5:38 a.m. PST (8:38 a.m. EST) during its 11th close flyby of the gas giant planet. At the time, the spacecraft was 7,578 miles (12,195 kilometers) from the tops of Jupiter’s clouds at 49.2 degrees north latitude.

Citizen scientist Matt Brealey processed the image using data from the JunoCam imager. Citizen scientist Gustavo B C then adjusted colors and embossed Matt Brealey's processing of this storm.

JunoCam's raw images are available for the public to peruse and process into image products at:        

More information about Juno is at: and

Image, Text, Credits: NASA/Tony Greicius/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS/Matt Brealey/Gustavo B C.


jeudi 15 mars 2018

While launch awaits, the science does not

ISS - Expedition 55 Mission patch.

March 15, 2018

Image above: At the Cosmonaut Hotel crew quarters in Baikonur, Kazakhstan, the Expedition 55 prime and backup crew members pose for pictures by a Soyuz model as part of their pre-launch activities. From left to right are prime crew members Ricky Arnold of NASA, Oleg Artemyev of Roscosmos and Drew Feustel of NASA, and backup crew members Alexey Ovchinin of Roscosmos and Nick Hague of NASA. Image Credit: Roscosmos.

As the International Space Station orbits Earth with three occupants already onboard, on the ground below in Baikonur, Kazakhstan, three more crewmates are engaged in activities leading up to a March 21 liftoff on a Soyuz MS-08 spacecraft to join them. (You can watch this launch live on NASA TV, with coverage beginning at 12:45 p.m. EDT.)

Today the future Expedition 55-56 crew members, NASA Flight Engineers Ricky Arnold and Drew Feustel, along with Soyuz Commander Oleg Artemyev, engaged with journalists for media day, sharing how they will continue work on hundreds of experiments in biology, biotechnology, physical science and Earth science aboard humanity’s only permanently occupied microgravity laboratory. This crew will build on the trend of long-term increase in U.S. crew size from three to four, allowing NASA to maximize time dedicated time for investigative research.

Image above: Flying over South Atlantic Ocean seen by EarthCam on ISS, speed: 27'568 Km/h, altitude: 421,96 Km, image captured by Roland Berga (on Earth in Switzerland) from International Space Station (ISS) using ISS-HD Live application with EarthCam's from ISS on March 15, 2018 at 18:10 UTC.

Meanwhile, off the Earth, the Expedition 55 crew reconfigured the JEM Airlock in support of an upcoming experiment: Materials on ISS Experiment – Flight Facility (MISSE-FF) payload operations. This study exposes sample plates containing a variety of surface materials to the harsh environs of space outside the station for varying durations. Data collected will inform satellite designers how different materials can degrade over time—a topic of great importance when it comes to designing and building spacecraft and structures to withstand a journey through the cosmos.

On Friday, Flight Engineer Scott Tingle of NASA will wrap up the week talking to science teachers—and lots of them—via an educational in-flight event with the National Science Teachers Association National Conference. During this downlink highlighting the Year of Education on Station, teachers from as far as the United Arab Emirates will pose their own burning questions for the astronaut and learn more about how to living—and working—is accomplished in microgravity.

Related links:

Materials on ISS Experiment – Flight Facility (MISSE-FF):


Expedition 55:

Space Station Research and Technology:

International Space Station (ISS):

Images (mentioned), Text, Credits: NASA/Mark Garcia/ Aerospace/Roland Berga.

Best regards,

NASA Powers on New Instrument Staring at the Sun

ISS - International Space Station logo.

March 15, 2018

NASA has powered on its latest space payload to continue long-term measurements of the Sun's incoming energy. Total and Spectral solar Irradiance Sensor (TSIS-1), installed on the International Space Station, became fully operational with all instruments collecting science data as of this March.

"TSIS-1 extends a long data record that helps us understand the Sun’s influence on Earth’s radiation budget, ozone layer, atmospheric circulation, and ecosystems, and the effects that solar variability has on the Earth system and climate change," said Dong Wu, TSIS-1 project scientist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.

Animation above: Shown here: TSIS-1 getting extracted from the trunk of the SpaceX Dragon capsule. Animation Credits: NASA Goddard.

The instrument was launched from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket on Dec. 15, 2017. After a two-week pause, TSIS-1 was extracted from the trunk of the SpaceX Dragon capsule and integrated onto its permanent home on the space station.

For over two months, the operations team at the University of Colorado Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics (LASP) in Boulder, Colorado have been testing TSIS-1. First, the team tested the all-important pointing platform that directs the solar instruments at the Sun.

Next came testing of the solar instruments. TSIS-1 studies the total amount of light energy emitted by the Sun using the Total Irradiance Monitor, one of two sensors onboard. This sensor's data will give us a better understanding of Earth’s primary energy supply and provide information to help improve models simulating the planet’s climate. The monitor first started collecting science data – called "first light"— on January 11th after its doors were opened to fully view the Sun. The sensor extends a 40-year measurement of the Sun's total energy to Earth.

Image above: Follow NASA's TSIS-1 from its launch to its installation aboard the International Space Station to its collection of science data. Image Credits: NASA Goddard.

The second onboard sensor, called the Spectral Irradiance Monitor, measures how the Sun’s energy is distributed over the ultraviolet, visible and infrared regions of light. Measuring the distribution of the Sun's energy is important because each wavelength of light interacts with Earth's atmosphere differently.

For instance, spectral irradiance measurements of the Sun's ultraviolet radiation are critical to understanding the ozone layer — Earth's natural sunscreen that protects life from harmful radiation. The sensor experienced first light on March 4th when full science data collection began. TSIS-1's Spectral Irradiance Monitor extends a 15-year record of spectral irradiance measurements. 

"All systems are operating within their expected ranges," said Peter Pilewskie, TSIS-1 lead scientist LASP. "A lot of hard work remains for the team to interpret and validate the TSIS-1 data."

Animation above: Shown here: the pointing platform directs the solar instruments at the Sun. Perched on the space station, the instrument operates like a sunflower and follows the Sun from sunrise to its sunset, which occurs every 90 minutes. At sunset, TSIS-1 rewinds, recalibrates and waits for the next sunrise Animation Credits: University of Colorado Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics (LASP).

NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center has overall responsibility for the development and operation of TSIS-1 on the International Space Station for the next 5 years.  LASP under contract with NASA, is responsible for providing the solar irradiance measurements and providing them to the Goddard Earth Science Data and Information Services Center, the archive and distribution center for TSIS-1 data, so they are available to the scientific community.

For more information on the TSIS-1 mission, visit

Space Station Research and Technology:

International Space Station (ISS):

Image (mentioned), Animations (mentioned), Text, Credits: NASA/Sara Blumberg/Goddard Space Flight Center, by Kasha Patel.