mercredi 21 mars 2018

Expedition 55-56 Crew Heading to International Space Station

ROSCOSMOS - Soyuz MS-08 Mission patch.

March 21, 2018

Image above: The Soyuz MS-08 spacecraft carrying NASA astronauts Drew Feustel and Ricky Arnold, and Oleg Artemyev of the Russian space agency Roscosmos, lifts off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 1:44 p.m. EDT March 21, 2018 (11:44 p.m. Baikonur time). The crew is scheduled to dock to the International Space Station at 3:41 p.m. March 23, 2018. Image Credits: NASA/Joel Kowsky.

Three crew members, including NASA astronauts Drew Feustel and Ricky Arnold and Oleg Artemyev of the Russian space agency Roscosmos, are on their way to the International Space Station after launching from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 1:44 p.m. EDT Wednesday (11:44 p.m. Baikonur time).

Launch of Soyuz FG rocket carrying Soyuz MS-08

The Soyuz spacecraft carrying Feustal, Arnold and Oleg Artemyev of the Russian space agency Roscosmos is scheduled to dock to the space station’s Rassvet module at 3:41 p.m. Friday, March 23. Coverage of docking will begin at 3 p.m. on NASA Television and the agency’s website, followed at 5 p.m. by coverage of the opening of hatches between the spacecraft and station.

The arrival of Feustel, Arnold and Artemyev will restore the station's crew complement to six. They will join Scott Tingle of NASA, Expedition 55 Commander Anton Shkaplerov of Roscosmos and Norishige Kanai of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency. The crew members will spend more than five months conducting about 250 science investigations in fields such as biology, Earth science, human research, physical sciences and technology development.

Shkaplerov, Tingle and Kanai are scheduled to remain aboard the station until June 2018, while Feustel, Arnold and Artemyev are slated to return to Earth in August.

International Space Station (ISS). Image Credits: NASA/STS-130

This crew continues the long-term increase in crew size on the U.S. segment from three to four, allowing NASA to maximize time dedicated to research on the space station. Highlights of upcoming investigations include: a new facility to test materials, coatings and components of other large experiments in the harsh environment of space; a study on the effects of microgravity on bone marrow and blood cells produced in bone marrow; and a newly-developed passive nutrient delivery system for the Veggie plant growth facility.

Arnold, a former educator, will continue NASA’s Year of Education on Station, an initiative to engage students and educators in human spaceflight and science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) careers.

Image above: Expedition 55-56 crew members (from left) Ricky Arnold, Oleg Artemyev and Drew Feustel are seen in quarantine, behind glass, during a press conference at the Cosmonaut Hotel in Baikonur, Kazakhstan. Image Credit: NASA/Roscosmos.

For more than 17 years, humans have lived and worked continuously aboard the station, advancing scientific knowledge and demonstrating new technologies, making research breakthroughs not possible on Earth that will enable long-duration human and robotic exploration into deep space. A global endeavor, more than 200 people from 18 countries have visited the unique microgravity laboratory that has hosted more than 2,100 research investigations from researchers in more than 95 countries.

Related links:



Expedition 55:

International Space Station (ISS):

Images (mentioned), Video, Text, Credits: NASA/Karen Northon/Stephanie Schierholz/JSC/Gary Jordan/ROSCOSMOS TV.

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Earth’s atmosphere: new results from the International Space Station

NASA - SAGE III - ISS patch.

20 March 2018

With ESA’s help, the latest atmosphere monitor on the International Space Station is delivering results on our planet’s ozone, aerosol and nitrogen trioxide levels. Installed last year on the orbital outpost, NASA’s sensor tracks the Sun and Moon to probe the constituents of our atmosphere.

Sunrise seen from Space Station

The Station takes only 90 minutes for a complete circuit of our planet, experiencing 16 sunrises, 16 sunsets, and sometimes moonrises or moonsets, every day. By observing the Sun or Moon through the atmosphere, the Stratospheric Aerosol and Gas Experiment – SAGE – measures the quantity of ozone, aerosols and other gases.

The readings are complementing the long-term monitoring by Europe’s Copernicus Sentinel missions: launched last October, Sentinel-5P is the first in a series of Sentinels focusing on the atmosphere.

As the Station orbits, SAGE is continuously turned to point in the right direction by ESA’s six-legged Hexapod.

SAGE and Hexapod

Using position information from the Station, Hexapod’s computer calculates the movements of its six legs to track the Sun and Moon in the few seconds of their setting and rising. This will happen dozens of times each day over years.

SAGE was installed in February last year and the first results are now being released to the public. The results will be issued monthly, with the quality improving as more measurements are added.

“The installation and setting up could not have gone better and we are happy to see Hexapod working perfectly to keep SAGE pointing in the right direction,” said ESA’s Hexapod project manager Scott Hovland.

Moonrise from space

“The Hexapod and SAGE collaboration is an exemplary transatlantic cooperation and we are very happy to see the first results coming in.”

ESA has a history of tracking the Sun from the Space Station: working for more than nine years, its SOLAR facility created the most precise reference on the Sun’s energy output ever.

The next ESA sensor to be launched to the Station is the Atmospheric Space Interactions Monitor, which will point straight down at Earth to investigate high-altitude electrical storms.

International Space Station (ISS)

To be attached next month, it will capture images of elusive electrical discharges called red sprites, blue jets and elves. These powerful electrical charges can reach high above the stratosphere and have implications for how our atmosphere protects us from space radiation.

Related links:

SAGE first results:

Stratospheric Aerosol and Gas Experiment – SAGE:

Atmosphere Space Interactions Monitor:


European space laboratory Columbus:

International Space Station Benefits for Humanity:

Images, Text, Credits: ESA/NASA.


Chinese space station risks crashing in France

CASC - Tiangong-1 Mission patch.

March 21, 2018

Tiangong-1, the out-of-control Chinese station is getting closer to Earth, which it is expected to strike between late March and early April.

Tiangong-1 in perdition. Image Credit: CASC

Last October, we learned that China had lost control of the space station Tiangong-1 launched into space in 2011. Today, the "heavenly palace" of its French name, is about to enter the world. 'atmosphere. It is expected to crash on land between March 29 and April 6, according to the European Space Agency (ESA).

The machine, which still weighs nearly 8 tons for 10 meters long, should disintegrate in part before hitting our planet. That being the case, the risk of debris falling on earth is real, says the "Parisien" French daily. As for the location of the impact, it is difficult for the experts to pronounce with certainty.

Observatories on alert

The geographical area evoked by ESA is rather ... wide. Indeed, Australia, India, Africa, and the United States could be concerned. Just like France in an area including Corsica, Perpignan, Toulon or Lourdes.

Animation above: Fragmentation of the Jules Verne ESA's ATV during his atmospheric reentry. Animation Credit: ESA.

Not enough to panic in the minute so far, since the space station still navigates into orbit at some 250 kilometers above sea level. The observatories will nevertheless be alert as of March 26, according to the French daily.

Meanwhile you can follow the trajectory of the "heavenly palace" almost live on the site satflare:

Related article:

Uncontrolled crash on Earth of a Chinese space station:

For more information about CASC, visit:

China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC):

Image (mentioned), Animation (mentioned), Text, Credits: AFP/ESA/ Aerospace/Roland Berga.


mardi 20 mars 2018

Crew Ready for Launch as Station Preps for Spacewalk and Dragon Mission

ISS - Expedition 55 Mission patch.

March 20, 2018

Image above: Expedition 55-56 crew members (from left) Ricky Arnold, Oleg Artemyev and Drew Feustel are seen in quarantine, behind glass, during a press conference at the Cosmonaut Hotel in Baikonur, Kazakhstan. Image Credit: NASA/Roscosmos.

A Soyuz rocket stands at its launch pad at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan ready to blast off Wednesday with three Expedition 55-56 crew members to the International Space Station. In the following two weeks the expanded Expedition 55 crew will conduct a spacewalk and welcome a new SpaceX Dragon cargo craft.

Today, NASA astronauts Ricky Arnold and Drew Feustel and cosmonaut Oleg Artemyev held a press conference while in quarantine at the Cosmonaut Hotel talking to journalists behind a glass partition. The trio will blast off inside the Soyuz MS-08 spacecraft Wednesday at 1:44 p.m. EDT for a two-day ride to the station. The experienced space travelers will dock to the orbital laboratory’s Poisk module Friday at 3:41 p.m. NASA TV will begin its live launch coverage at 12:45 p.m.

Image above: Flying over Argentina seen by EarthCam on ISS, speed: 27'579 Km/h, altitude: 416,69 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 20, 2018 at 20:11 UTC.

Feustel and Arnold will then get busy preparing for a March 29 spacewalk while familiarizing themselves with space station operations. Both astronauts are experienced spacewalkers and will work to install wireless antennas on the Tranquility module and replace cameras on the Port-1 truss structure. The spacewalk will be broadcast live on NASA TV and is expected to start at 8:10 a.m. and last about six and a half hours.

SpaceX is ramping up for a launch no earlier than April 2 of its Dragon commercial cargo craft to resupply the Expedition 55 crew with new science gear and crew supplies. The crew onboard the station has been configuring the orbital lab to enable the new research such as the Wound Healing and Metabolic Tracking experiments.

Related articles:

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

New science gear:

Related links:

live launch coverage:


Expedition 55:

Space Station Research and Technology:

International Space Station (ISS):

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

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Higgs results take centre stage at annual Moriond conference

CERN - European Organization for Nuclear Research logo.

March 20, 2018

Nearly six years after its discovery by the ATLAS and CMS experiments at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN, the Higgs boson remains in the spotlight at particle physics conferences. At the 53rd annual Rencontres de Moriond conference taking place between 10 and 24 March 2018 in La Thuile in the Aosta Valley in Italy, ATLAS and CMS have unveiled a suite of new measurements of the properties of the scalar boson associated with the Brout-Englert-Higgs field. These results come from the examination of data from proton-proton collisions at an energy of 13 TeV that the LHC delivered in 2015 and 2016. The data sets used by ATLAS and CMS each contained around two million Higgs bosons, of which around 10,000 were readily accessible to the detectors.

Since all elementary particles gain their respective masses through interactions with the Brout-Englert-Higgs field, studying how these particles interact with the Higgs boson itself is of the utmost importance. CMS and ATLAS studied the various processes through which the Higgs bosons are produced in proton-proton collisions and the different transformations they subsequently undergo. Their experimental observations demonstrated good agreement with the theoretical predictions from the Standard Model of particle physics.

Image above: ollision events* recorded by ATLAS (left) and CMS (right) showing characteristics of a Higgs produced in proton-proton collisions at 13 TeV (Image: left – ATLAS/CERN, right – Tom McCauley/CMS/CERN).

When a Higgs boson – a heavy and unstable particle – is produced in interactions between colliding protons, it transforms (or “decays”) almost instantaneously into lighter and more-stable particles; these transformations may involve intermediary particles and each type of transformation is called a “decay channel”. However, these lighter particles may also have been produced by known and well-understood processes, which make up the background when looking for rarer particles like the Higgs boson. Detectors such as ATLAS and CMS are designed to identify the end products of such decays, using this information to determine the source particle that was produced in the collisions and separate the source particle’s signal from the background of known processes.

The new data enable physicists to examine individual decay channels even more closely to probe the fundamental laws of the universe and search for signs of physics beyond the Standard Model. One way to do so is to look for subtle deviations from theoretical predictions, which might arise, for example, due to the unaccounted-for presence of particles of dark matter. To look for such deviations, physicists consider two parameters for the different decay channels. The first is a channel’s decay likelihood, which is the probability of a given heavy particle following one particular decay channel out of several possibilities. For instance, around one in five Higgs bosons will transform into two W bosons. The second parameter is the rate at which certain interactions between colliding protons produce the Higgs boson in the first place; it is determined by studying properties such as the momenta and the angle of flight of the particles detected by the experiments or by identifying instances where additional particles are produced along with the Higgs boson.

In the context of these parameters, ATLAS presented an important result for two specific production modes each involving decays into two W bosons. The number of Higgs bosons counted by ATLAS that followed these production-and-decay paths is in strong agreement with the number expected according to the Standard Model. ATLAS also combined data from the two “cleanest” Higgs decay channels (to pairs of photons and to pairs of Z bosons) and measured with unprecedented precision the variations in Higgs production rates in these channels versus properties such as the momenta of the decay end-products. Furthermore, ATLAS presented searches for Higgs decays to particles not present in the Standard Model – such as “dark” Z bosons – which might herald the discovery of particles of dark matter. They did not find evidence for a decay to “dark” Z bosons in the current data.

Large Hadron Collider (LHC). Animation Credit: CERN

Similarly, CMS examined five prominent decay channels (where the Higgs boson transforms into pairs of: W bosons, Z bosons, photons, tau (τ) leptons or b quarks), and compared their production rates and their decay likelihoods with the predictions from the Standard Model. CMS obtained a result about 17% above the predictions, which is compatible with the Standard Model but not perfectly so; more scrutiny of these measurements with additional data is needed before drawing further conclusions. CMS also looked for Higgs decays to forms of “invisible” matter but found no evidence for these processes at the present level of sensitivity.

Both experiments also presented strong evidence for instances where a Higgs boson is produced along with a pair of top quarks. Studying these instances allows scientists to probe the interactions between the two heaviest elementary particles we know of.

ATLAS and CMS also measured the mass of the Higgs boson with a precision up to 12% higher than before, using advances in analysis techniques combined with larger data sets available thanks to the exceptional performance of the LHC in the last few years. Their measurements of the Higgs mass are 124.98 ± 0.28 GeV and 125.26 ± 0.21 GeV respectively.

Other results from ATLAS and CMS, as well as presentations made by ALICE and LHCb, can be found on the Moriond conference websites: Electroweak physics and QCD physics. The LHC experiments are now preparing their detectors to receive 2018’s first collisions, which are expected in April.


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

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

Founded in 1954, the CERN Laboratory sits astride the Franco–Swiss border near Geneva. It was one of Europe’s first joint ventures and now has 22 Member States.

* See high-resolution images from ATLAS at and from CMS at

Related links:

Large Hadron Collider (LHC):



Higgs boson:

Brout-Englert-Higgs field:

W bosons:

Z bosons:

Dark matter:

Rencontres de Moriond:

Electroweak physics:

QCD physics:

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

Animation (mentioned), Image (mentioned), Text, Credits: CERN/Achintya Rao.

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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 Argentina 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,