Category: Science

Got a hand me down child’s telescope and took …

Got a hand me down child’s telescope and took this picture tonight. Very fun, expect more

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A giant Saturnian storm at near Infrared wavel…

A giant Saturnian storm at near Infrared wavelengths. The warm gases powering the storm make it glow brightly compared to the rest of the planet. Credit: ESO, L Fletcher

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Space Station Science Highlights: Week of Sept…

ISS – Expedition 60 Mission patch.

Sept. 7, 2019

Recent scientific studies conducted on the International Space Station include growing crystals and moss in space and studying how microgravity affects fluids in the body. The Expedition 60 crew enjoyed time off for the Labor Day holiday and also began preparing for the arrival of a JAXA H-II Transfer Vehicle, HTV-8, currently scheduled for Sept. 14. The space station provides a platform for long-duration research on how living in microgravity affects the human body and testing technologies for traveling farther into deep space, which supports Artemis, NASA’s plans to go forward to the Moon and on to Mars.

Here are details on some of the science conducted on the orbiting laboratory during the week of Sept. 2:

Drawing a better bull’s-eye on cancer proteins

The crew took microscopic images of solutions and crystals in the wells of experiment growth plates for the Microgravity Crystals investigation. This experiment crystallizes a membrane protein that is integral to tumor growth and cancer survival. Efforts to crystallize this protein on Earth have yielded unsatisfactory results, but previous research indicates that crystals grow more successfully on the space station. Large, well-ordered protein crystals can provide detailed knowledge of the three-dimensional structure of proteins. Results may support development of cancer treatments that more effectively home in on their intended target, producing fewer side effects.

Measuring how fluid shifts affect vision and eye structure

Image above: This Chibis hardware creates and measures Lower Body Negative Pressure as part of the Fluid Shifts experiment. Image Credit: NASA.

The crew performed the second of three weeks of measurements and ultrasound scans for Fluid Shifts. This investigation measures how much fluid shifts from the lower to the upper body and in or out of cells and blood vessels in microgravity in an effort to determine how these shifts affect fluid pressure in the head, vision and eye structures. The experiment also measures response to a technique of subjecting the lower half of the subject’s body to slightly lower pressure, which creates enough difference in pressure to draw fluid from the head toward the feet. This procedure, called lower body negative pressure, could help mitigate some of the effects of space flight-induced fluid shifts. Astronauts can experience vision and eye changes during and after long-duration space flight and study results may lead to development of ways to prevent these effects.

Growing tiny plants in space

Image above: NASA astronaut Nick Hague works on hardware for Space Moss, an investigation that grows mosses aboard the space station to determine how microgravity affects their growth, development and other features. Image Credit: NASA.

The crew initiated the third run of Space Moss, inserting it into the Plant Experiment unit and attaching the unit to the Cell Biology Experiment Facility (CBEF) incubator. This investigation determines how microgravity affects the growth, development and other features of moss. Tiny plants without roots, mosses need only a small area for growth, an advantage for their potential use in space and future bases on the Moon or Mars.

Other investigations on which the crew performed work:

– Rodent Research-17 (RR-17) uses young and old mice to evaluate the physiological, cellular and molecular effects of microgravity and spaceflight.

Image above: NASA astronaut Christina Koch works on the rodent research facility Habitat unit, which can house as many as 10 mice for up to 90 days, making possible investigations such as Rodent Research-17. Image Credit: NASA.

– The Micro-15 investigation examines the mechanisms behind observations that microgravity affects stem cell differentiation and proliferation and gene expression using three-dimensional cultures of mammalian stem cells.

– The ISS Experience creates virtual reality videos from footage covering different aspects of crew life, execution of science and the international partnerships involved on the space station.

– BEST studies the use of DNA sequencing to identify unknown microbial organisms on the space station and to understand how humans, plants and microbes adapt to living in space. It uses a swab-to-sequencer process that does not require culturing of organisms.

– Food Acceptability examines changes in the appeal of food aboard the space station during long-duration missions. “Menu fatigue” from repeatedly consuming a limited choice of foods may contribute to the loss of body mass often experienced by crew members, potentially affecting astronaut health, especially as mission length increases.

– Probiotics studies whether beneficial bacteria, or probiotics, can improve the intestinal microbiota of crew members and perhaps help improve their immune function on long-duration space missions.

– Standard Measures captures a consistent and simple set of measures from crew members throughout the ISS Program to characterize adaptive responses to and risks of living in space.

Space to Ground: Category 5: 09/06/2019

Related links:

Expedition 60:


Microgravity Crystals:

Fluid Shifts:

Space Moss:

Spot the Station:

Space Station Research and Technology:

International Space Station (ISS):

Images (mentioned), Video (NASA9, Text, Credits: NASA/Michael Johnson/Vic Cooley, Lead Increment Scientist Expedition 60.

Best regards,
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Before Lunar Eclipse

Before Lunar Eclipse

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Mars 2020 All Packed Up in The Descent Stage

Mars 2020 All Packed Up in The Descent Stage

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OneWeb brings fiber-like internet for the Arct…

London, UK (SPX) Sep 06, 2019

OneWeb, whose goal is to connect everyone everywhere, today announced the details of its Arctic high-speed, low-latency internet service. OneWeb will deliver 375 Gbps of capacity above the 60th parallel North. With service starting in 2020, there will be enough capacity to give fiber-like connectivity to hundreds of thousands of homes, planes, and boats, connecting millions across the Arctic.
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Russia Launches Rokot Space Rocket to Orbit Mi…

Plesetsk, Russia (Sputnik) Sep 02, 2019

Russia’s Space Forces have launched a Rokot carrier rocket with a military spacecraft from the Plesetsk space centre in the north of the country, the Defence Ministry said.

“All pre-launch operations and the launch of the Rokot space rocket were successful. The ground assets of the Space Forces carried out control over the launch and the flight of the launch vehicle”, the ministry said.
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JAXA Spacecraft Carries Science, Technology to…

JAXA – H-II Transfer Vehicle-8 (HTV-8) Mission patch.

Sept. 6, 2019

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) cargo ship H-II Transfer Vehicle-8 (HTV-8) is scheduled to lift off Sept. 10 at 5:33 p.m. EDT (6:33 a.m. Japan Standard Time) to the International Space Station from Japan’s Tanegashima Space Center, 10 years after JAXA launched its first HTV mission. HTV-8 arrives at the space station on Sept. 14.

Image above: The Japanese Space Agency (JAXA) developed an uncrewed cargo transfer craft, called the H-II Transfer Vehicle (HTV), to deliver supplies to the International Space Station. This image shows the HTV-7 resupply ship after its release from the Canadarm2 robotic arm as the space station orbited above the Pacific Ocean some 311 miles west of Baja California. Image Credit: NASA.

Here are details about some of the scientific investigations and facilities heading to the orbiting lab on HTV-8.

Preparing for dusty landings

The new Hourglass investigation examines how different levels of gravity affect the behavior of granular materials such as regolith, dust that covers the surface of planets and planetary-like bodies. A better understanding of the behavior of these granular materials supports design of spacecraft for future landings on the Moon, Mars and other celestial bodies.

Image above: Samples for the Hourglass investigation include lunar, Mars and Phobos regolith simulants, Alumina beads, and Toyoura and Slica sands. Image Credit: NASA.

Scientists are conducting similar research on regolith and granular materials using the space station’s Hermes research facility. Hermes provides long duration exposure to microgravity and the vacuum of space.

Better space-to-ground and space-to-space communication 

The Demonstration of Small Optical Communication System (SOLISS) investigation demonstrates new technology for future broadband data communication in space. SOLISS is an optical system mounted on the Japanese Experiment Module (JEM), an external platform providing continuous exposure to space for a variety of experiments. SOLISS technology allows transmission of large amounts of data from the space station, as well as from satellites in geostationary orbit to ground stations.

Related article:

JAXA and Sony CSL to Conduct In-Orbit Demonstrations of Long-Distance Laser Communication

Predicting flammability in microgravity

FLARE explores the flammability of materials in microgravity by burning various solid fuels under different conditions inside a flow tunnel. Microgravity significantly affects how combustion occurs, but current tests of the flammability of materials for crewed space missions do not consider the effect of gravity. This investigation demonstrates a new way to predict flammability in microgravity that could fill this gap and significantly improve fire safety aboard spacecraft on future exploration missions. Final components of the FLARE module arrive on the cargo ship.

Related links:

H-II Transfer Vehicle-8 (HTV-8):



Small Optical Communication System (SOLISS):

Japanese Experiment Module (JEM):


JAXA HTV-8 Mission:

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,
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Vega Flight VV15: Findings of the Independent …

Paris, France (SPX) Sep 06, 2019

The Independent Inquiry Commission, tasked with analyzing the failure of Vega Flight VV15, submitted its findings on Wednesday, September 4, 2019.

Co-chaired by the Inspector General of the European Space Agency (ESA); and the Senior Vice President, Technical and Quality of Arianespace; the Commission was appointed on Thursday, July 11, 2019.

According to its assigned task, after hav
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Satellite Captures Four Tropical Cyclones from…

Greenbelt MD (SPX) Sep 06, 2019

On Sept. 4, 2019, a loose chain of tropical cyclones lined up across the Western Hemisphere. At the time of this image (1:10 p.m. EDT) Hurricane Juliette in the East Pacific and Hurricane Dorian in the Atlantic were both category 2 storms.

Meanwhile, Tropical Storm Fernand packed sustained winds of 45 mph and had just recently made landfall over northeastern Mexico. Gabrielle strengthened
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