lundi 25 septembre 2017

Astronauts Research Adapting to Space and Plan for Spacewalks

ISS - Expedition 53 Mission patch.

September 25, 2017

International Space Station (ISS). Image Credit: NASA

The Expedition 53 crew members continued testing a new exercise device today while also exploring how their bodies are adapting to living in space. The station residents are also gearing up for three spacewalks planned in October.

Commander Randy Bresnik joined Paolo Nespoli for a workout session on the new Miniature Exercise Device-2 (MED-2). The duo tested the MED-2 for its ability to provide motion and resistance during crew workouts. The device is significantly smaller than previous space exercise systems potentially providing more room on future spacecraft.

Image above: NASA astronaut Joe Acaba works inside the cupola as the space station orbits above the Indian Ocean near Australia. Image Credit: NASA.

Flight Engineer Mark Vande Hei installed new lights on his crew quarters to test their ability to improve circadian rhythms, sleep, and cognitive performance. NASA astronaut Joe Acaba collected and stowed his blood and urine samples for a pair of experiments observing the physiological changes taking place in space.

Bresnik and Vande Hei are moving ahead with preparations for the first of three spacewalks set to begin Oct. 5. The spacewalkers inspected the tethers that will keep them attached to the station and began setting up their tools. The duo will remove and replace a leading end effector on the tip of the Canadarm2 during the first spacewalk scheduled to last about 6.5 hours.

Related links:

Miniature Exercise Device-2 (MED-2):

Expedition 53:

Space Station Research and Technology:

International Space Station (ISS):

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

Best regards,

Phantom Limb

NASA - Cassini International logo.

Sept. 25, 2017

The brightly lit limb of a crescent Enceladus looks ethereal against the blackness of space. The rest of the moon, lit by light reflected from Saturn, presents a ghostly appearance.

Enceladus (313 miles or 504 kilometers across) is back-lit in this image, as is apparent by the thin crescent. However, the Sun-Enceladus-spacecraft (or phase) angle, at 141 degrees, is too low to make the moon's famous plumes easily visible.

This view looks toward the Saturn-facing hemisphere of Enceladus. North on Enceladus is up. The above image is a composite of images taken with the Cassini spacecraft narrow-angle camera on March 29, 2017, using filters that allow infrared, green, and ultraviolet light. The image filter centered on 930 nm (IR) was is red in this image, the image filter centered on the green is green, and the image filter centered on 338 nm (UV) is blue.

The view was obtained at a distance of approximately 110,000 miles (180,000 kilometers) from Enceladus. Image scale is 0.6 miles (1 kilometer) per pixel.

The Cassini mission is a cooperative project of NASA, ESA (the European Space Agency) and the Italian Space Agency. The Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the mission for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington. The Cassini orbiter and its two onboard cameras were designed, developed and assembled at JPL. The imaging operations center is based at the Space Science Institute in Boulder, Colorado.

For more information about the Cassini-Huygens mission visit and The Cassini imaging team homepage is at and ESA's website:

Image, Text, Credits: NASA/Tony Greicius/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute.

Best regards,

NASA Infrared Data Targets Maria's Strongest Side

NASA - EOS Terra Mission patch / NASA - EOS Aqua Mission logo.

Sept. 25, 2017

Maria (Atlantic Ocean)

Infrared light provides valuable temperature data to forecasters and cloud top temperatures give clues about highest, coldest, strongest storms within a hurricane. NASA's Aqua satellite provided that data and showed strongest storms were in Hurricane Maria's southwestern quadrant.

Image above: On Sept. 24 at 2:35 a.m. EDT (0635 UTC) the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer or MODIS instrument aboard NASA's Aqua satellite analyzed Maria's cloud top temperatures in infrared light. Image Credits: NASA/NRL.

On Sept. 24 at 2:35 a.m. EDT (0635 UTC) the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer or MODIS instrument aboard NASA's Aqua satellite analyzed Maria's cloud top temperatures in infrared light. MODIS found cloud top temperatures of strong thunderstorms in Maria's quadrant as cold as or colder than minus 80 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 62.2 Celsius). Cloud top temperatures that cold indicate strong storms that have the capability to create heavy rain.

NOAA Hurricane Hunter aircraft showed that Maria now has a 30 nautical mile wide eye and indicated that air pressure within had dropped to 948 millibars. On Sept. 23 at 11:20 a.m. EDT (1520 UTC) the MODIS instrument aboard NASA's Terra satellite captured a visible image of Hurricane Maria and it's 30 nautical mile wide eye, when the storm was located east of the Bahamas.

Image above: On Sept. 23 at 11:20 a.m. EDT (1520 UTC) the MODIS instrument aboard NASA's Terra satellite captured this visible image of Hurricane Maria and it's 30 nautical mile wide eye east of the Bahamas. Image Credits: NASA Goddard MODIS Rapid Response Team.

The National Hurricane Center has noted that Maria has taken slightly more of a westward jog, and cautioned "Interests along the Carolina and Mid-Atlantic coasts should monitor the progress of Maria.  Tropical storm or hurricane watches may be needed for a portion of the coast later today, Sunday, Sept. 24."

At 5 a.m. EDT on Sunday, September 24, 2017, the eye of Hurricane Maria was located near 27.9 degrees north latitude and 72.7 degrees west longitude. That's about 530 miles (855 km) south-southeast of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina. Maria was moving toward the north near 9 mph (15 kph), and this general motion is expected to continue through Monday.

Reports from a NOAA Hurricane Hunter aircraft indicate that maximum sustained winds are now near 110 mph (175 kph) with higher gusts. Maria is a category 2 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale.  Some fluctuations in intensity are likely during the next day or so. Hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 60 miles (95 km) from the center and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 240 miles (390 km).  

NOAA Hurricane Hunter aircraft. Image Credit: NOAA

Fluctuations in intensity appear likely during the next 24 to 36 hours as Maria remains over warm water and in an environment of light or moderate vertical wind shear.  After that time, the hurricane is likely to encounter the colder water left by Hurricane Jose, which should cause a weakening trend.

On the forecast track, the core of Maria will be moving well east of the United States southeast coast during the next two days.

Maria continues to generate dangerous ocean conditions. Swells generated by Maria are increasing along portions of the southeastern United States coast and Bermuda and will be increasing along the Mid-Atlantic coast later today.  Swells also continue to affect Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, the northern coast of Hispaniola, the Turks and Caicos Islands, and the Bahamas. These swells are likely to cause life-threatening surf and rip current conditions.

For updates and effects on wind, storm surge and rainfall, visit:

Aqua Satellite:

Terra Satellite:

Images (mentioned), Text, Credits: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, by Rob Gutro.


dimanche 24 septembre 2017

ULA Successfully Launches NROL-42 Mission for the National Reconnaissance Office

ULA - NROL-42 Mission patch.

Sept. 24, 2017

Image above: A United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket carrying a payload for the National Reconnaissance Office lifted off from Space Launch Complex-3. Designated NROL-42, the mission is in support of national security. Image Credits: United Launch Alliance/Jeff Spotts.

A United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket carrying a payload for the National Reconnaissance Office lifted off  from Space Launch Complex-3 on Sept. 23, at 10:49:47 p.m. PDT. Designated NROL-42, the mission is in support of national security.

Atlas V NROL-42 Launch Highlights

“Congratulations to the entire team for overcoming multiple challenges throughout this launch campaign. From Hurricane Irma schedule impacts to replacing to a first stage battery this week – the team maintained a clear focus on mission success,” said Laura Maginnis, ULA vice president of Government Satellite Launch. “NROL-42 marks the 25th ULA-launched NRO mission, building upon our legacy of partnership with the NRO in providing reliable access to space for our nation’s most critical missions.”

Atlas V NROL-42 Mission Profile

This mission was launched aboard an Atlas V Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) 541 configuration vehicle, which includes a 5-meter payload fairing (PLF) and four solid rocket boosters. The Atlas booster for this mission was powered by the RD AMROSS RD-180 engine, and the Centaur upper stage was powered by the Aerojet Rocketdyne RL10C engine.

This is ULA’s sixth launch in 2017 and the 121st successful launch since the company was formed in December 2006.

ULA's next launch is the NROL-52 for the National Reconnaissance Office. The launch is scheduled for Oct. 5 from Space Launch Complex-41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida.

An artist's concept of SBIRS GEO in space. Image Credit: Lockheed Martin

The EELV program was established by the U.S. Air Force to provide assured access to space for Department of Defense and other government payloads. The commercially developed EELV program supports the full range of government mission requirements, while delivering on schedule and providing significant cost savings over the legacy launch systems.

With more than a century of combined heritage, United Launch Alliance is the nation’s most experienced and reliable launch service provider. ULA has successfully delivered more than 120 satellites to orbit that aid meteorologists in tracking severe weather, unlock the mysteries of our solar system, provide critical capabilities for troops in the field and enable personal device-based GPS navigation.

For more information on ULA, visit the ULA website at

Images (mentioned), Videos, Text, Credit: United Launch Alliance (ULA).


samedi 23 septembre 2017

Weekly Recap From the Expedition Lead Scientist, week of September 18, 2017

ISS - Expedition 53 Mission patch.

Sept. 23, 2017

(Highlights: Week of September 18, 2017) - Crew members on the International Space Station wrapped up a low-temperature combustion investigation that was sparked by a discovery made during a previous run of experiments aboard the orbiting laboratory, and could help scientists develop new engines and fuels that are more efficient and less harmful to the environment.

Image above: The Zero Boil-OFF Tank (ZBOT) on the International Space Station has a large "ullage" bubble and several smaller bubbles around it. The experimental hardware uses an experimental fluid to test active heat removal and forced jet mixing as alternative means for controlling tank pressure for volatile fluids. Image Credit: NASA.

“Cool flames” were first discovered during the Flammability and Extinction (FLEX) study on the space station in 2013. The Cool Flames investigation followed in an effort to better understand this unique burning behavior. The final run of Cool Flames Investigation led to the dismantling and stowing of the hardware, bringing the operations for the study on the space station to a close. Data from the investigation will now be analyzed by Earth scientists. Some types of fuels initially burn very hot, then appear to go out — but they continue burning at a much lower temperature with no visible flames. These phenomena are called cool flames. The Cool Flames Investigation provides new insight into this phenomenon, as well as new data on fire safety in space.

The Advanced Research Thermal Passive Exchange (ARTE) investigation was also completed. This new heat pipe design reduces the weight of thermal systems while also increasing their efficiency. Scientists want to evaluate the performance of the ARTE heat pipes to keep the overall mass low and save on energy. We won’t have to actively cool some areas with a fan, or actively heat other areas. If successful, this highly conductive pipe could be integrated into future spacecraft, aircraft of supercomputer systems on Earth.

Image above: NASA astronaut Randy Bresnik conducts a study into muscle atrophy on the International Space Station. He conducted an ultrasound on his calf muscle while exercising using a mechanism created by ESA. Image Credit: NASA.

As ARTE completed a heating investigation, the Zero Boil-Off Tank (ZBOT) study was working on better ways to regulate cryogenic fluid or gas. Rocket fuel, spacecraft heating and cooling systems and sensitive scientific instruments rely on very cold cryogenic fluids. Heat from the environment around the cryogenic tanks can cause their pressures to rise, which requires releasing or "boiling off" fluid to release the excess pressure, or actively cooling the tanks in some way. ZBOT uses an experimental fluid to test active heat removal to control tank pressure for volatile fluids.

Cryogenic tanks require complicated storage and flow solutions for fluids that act as both liquid and gas, depending on their temperatures. Results from this investigation into phase change and heat transport will provide data that could improve models used to design lightweight, efficient, and long-duration cryogenic storage in space for fuel tanks and engines, but can also help in the development of storage facilities in laboratories and other industries on Earth.

Image above: ESA astronaut Paolo Nespoli works on packing the SpaceX-Dragon cargo craft, which returned to Earth this week, returning a variety of technological and biological research. Image Credit: NASA.

NASA astronaut Randy Bresnik , ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Paolo Nespoli and Russian cosmonaut Sergey Ryazanskiy participated in research into muscle atrophy in space with the Myotendinous and Neuromuscular Adaptation to Long-term Spaceflight (Sarcolab-3) study involving the Muscle Atrophy Research & Exercise System (MARES). This investigation studies the adaptation and deterioration of the soleus, or calf muscle, where it joins the Achilles tendon, which links it to the heel and carries loads from the entire body. Muscle fiber samples are taken from crew members before and after flight and analyzed for changes in structural or chemical properties. MRI and ultrasound tests and electrode stimulation are conducted to help assess muscle and tendon changes caused by microgravity exposure.

Space to Ground: Busy Crew: 09/22/2017

Video above: NASA's Space to Ground is a weekly update on what is happening on the International Space Station. Social media users can post with #spacetoground to ask questions or make a comment. Video Credit: NASA.

By understanding the mechanisms behind loss of muscle mass in space, scientists can develop countermeasures that are more effective for the crews -- pharmacological, dietary or exercise-based – and maintain or improve the health and performance of astronauts in orbit. Scientists also can gain insight into certain muscular conditions on Earth. Solutions developed for astronauts could be used for rehabilitation of patients with a variety of muscular conditions.

International Space Station (ISS). Image Credit: NASA

Progress was made on other investigations this week, including: Tropical Cyclone, Combustion Integration Rack (CIR), Long Duration Sorbent Testbed (LDST), Marrow, Actiwatch, Dosetracker, ACME, Fine Motor Skills, FIR LMM, Rodent Research-9, and Lighting Effects.

Related links:

Cool Flames investigation:

Advanced Research Thermal Passive Exchange (ARTE):

Zero Boil-Off Tank (ZBOT):


Muscle Atrophy Research & Exercise System (MARES):

Tropical Cyclone:

Combustion Integration Rack (CIR):

Long Duration Sorbent Testbed (LDST):




Fine Motor Skills:



Rodent Research-9:

Lighting Effects:

Space Station Research and Technology:

International Space Station (ISS):

Images (mentioned), Video (mentioned), Text, Credits: NASA/Kristine Rainey/John Love, Lead Increment Scientist Expeditions 53 & 54.

Best regards,

vendredi 22 septembre 2017

Hubble's Cool Galaxy with a Hot Corona

NASA - Hubble Space Telescope patch.

Sept. 22, 2017

Galaxy NGC 6753, imaged here by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope, is a whirl of color — the bursts of blue throughout the spiral arms are regions filled with young stars glowing brightly in ultraviolet light, while redder areas are filled with older stars emitting in the cooler near-infrared.

But there is more in this galaxy than meets the Hubble eye.  At 150 million light-years from Earth, astronomers highlighted NGC 6753 as one of only two known spiral galaxies that were both massive enough and close enough to permit detailed observations of their coronas. Galactic coronas are huge, invisible regions of hot gas that surround a galaxy’s visible bulk, forming a spheroidal shape. Coronas are so hot that they can be detected by their X-ray emission, far beyond the optical radius of the galaxy. Because they are so wispy, these coronas are extremely difficult to detect.

Galactic coronas are an example of telltale signs astronomers seek to help them determine how galaxies form. Despite the advances made in past decades, the process of galaxy formation remains an open question in astronomy. Various theories have been suggested, but since galaxies come in all shapes and sizes — including elliptical, spiral, and irregular — no single theory has so far been able to satisfactorily explain the origins of all the galaxies we see throughout the Universe.

Hubble Space Telescope

For images and more information about Hubble, visit:

Image, Animation, Credits: ESA/Hubble & NASA, Acknowledgement: Judy Schmidt/Text Credits: European Space Agency/NASA/Karl Hille.

Best regards,

Soaring Over Jupiter

NASA - JUNO Mission logo.

Sept. 22, 2017

This striking image of Jupiter was captured by NASA’s Juno spacecraft as it performed its eighth flyby of the gas giant planet.

The image was taken on Sept. 1, 2017 at 2:58 p.m. PDT (5:58 p.m. EDT). At the time the image was taken, the spacecraft was 4,707 miles (7,576 kilometers) from the tops of the clouds of the planet at a latitude of about -17.4 degrees.

Citizen scientist Gerald Eichstädt processed this image using data from the JunoCam imager. Points of interest are “Whale's Tail” and "Dan's Spot.”

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/Gerald Eichstädt.