jeudi 19 avril 2018

CERN’s SPS experiments restart

CERN - European Organization for Nuclear Research logo.

19 Apr 2018

Image above: The Super Proton Synchrotron (SPS), CERN’s second-largest accelerator. (Image: Julien Ordan/CERN).

At CERN, springtime usually marks the restart of the lab’s experiments. But while most eyes turn towards the restart of the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) and its experiments, the research programme at the Super Proton Synchrotron (SPS), CERN’s second-largest accelerator, has also resumed. This month witnesses the restart of data taking for a range of experiments fed with particle beams from the SPS. These experiments are an essential arm of CERN’s experimental programme, addressing areas as varied as precision tests of the Standard Model and studies of the quark–gluon state of matter, believed to have existed shortly after the Big Bang.

On 9 April, data taking restarted at three SPS experiments: NA58/COMPASS,  NA62, and NA63. NA58 directs several types of particle onto a variety of fixed targets to look at the ways in which elementary particles called quarks and gluons combine to make up protons, neutrons and other hadrons. This year the experiment is shooting quark­–antiquark pairs called pions at a proton target to collect the world’s largest data set on a hadron–hadron collision process called Drell–Yan mechanism, in order to make a fundamental test of the theory of the strong interaction between quarks and gluons.

NA62, another fixed-target experiment, aims to precisely test the Standard Model by looking for the super-rare decay of a positively charged particle known as a kaon into a positively charged pion and a neutrino–antineutrino pair. Earlier this year, the NA62 team reported the first candidate event for this decay, and the team aims to run the experiment for a record number of 218 days this year. If the Standard Model prediction for the number of events is correct, NA62 should see about 20 events with the data collected before the end of this year.

NA63 fires beams of electrons or antielectrons at a variety of fixed targets, among them large diamonds, to study radiation processes in strong electromagnetic fields like those seen in astrophysical objects such as highly magnetized neutron stars. On the cards for this year is a measurement of the so-called radiation reaction — the effect of the electromagnetic field emitted by an accelerated charged particle on the particle’s motion. Details of this effect are under debate, even though the effect has been known for over a hundred years.

The NA61/SHINE SPS experiment is set to restart data taking on 25 April. NA61 studies the production of hadrons using collisions between several types of hadron or nucleus and an assortment of nuclear targets. In store for this year are, among others, measurements of heavy hadrons with charm-type quarks produced in collisions between lead nuclei, and measurements of fragmentation of light nuclei. The first of these measurements are relevant for studying the quark–gluon state of matter, and the second are needed to understand the propagation of cosmic rays in the Milky Way.

Image above: Inside NA61, one of several experiments fed with particle beams from the SPS. (Image: Julien Ordan/CERN).

These are not the only experiments benefiting from particle beams from the SPS. NA64 and AWAKE are both set to start taking data in the coming months. With such a rich diversity of experiments linked to the SPS, the accelerator is so much more than a link in the accelerator chain taking protons to the LHC.


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.

Related article:

First LHC test collisions of 2018

Related links:

Large Hadron Collider (LHC):

Super Proton Synchrotron (SPS):

Standard Model:





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

Images (mentioned), Text, Credits: CERN/Ana Lopes.


Station Biomedical and Exercise Studies Impact Health on Earth and in Space

ISS - Expedition 55 Mission patch.

April 19, 2018

Biomedical research to improve health on Earth and in space dominated today’s science activities aboard the International Space Station. The Expedition 55 crew is helping scientists from around the world understand how life shaped by gravity adapts to living in outer space.

Image above: Doha, the capital city of Qatar, was photographed as the space station orbited over the northeastern coast of the Arabian Peninsula. Image Credit: NASA.

NASA astronauts Ricky Arnold and Drew Feustel joined forces today collecting and stowing their blood samples in a science freezer for a pair of human research studies. The samples will be analyzed later to detect the chemical responses and physiological changes that take place in the human body during a spaceflight mission.

Blood samples were also drawn from mice as Japanese astronaut Norishige Kanai continued his week-long research activities for the Mouse Stress Defense experiment. Those samples will be processed in centrifuge, stowed in a freezer then analyzed to detect the processes that lead to muscle and bone loss in microgravity. Astronauts could benefit from the results and stay healthier on longer missions farther into space.

Image above: Flying over North Pacific Ocean, seen by EarthCam on ISS, speed: 27'622 Km/h, altitude: 403,11 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 April 19, 2018 at 19:40 UTC.

Exercise is a very important contributor to maintaining stronger bones and muscles in space. However, exercise devices are bulky and can impact spacecraft habitability. Arnold tested a newer, smaller device today called the Miniature Exercise Device-2 that provides a range of motion and resistance workouts while maximizing habitable spacecraft volume.

Related links:

Chemical responses:

Physiological changes:

Miniature Exercise Device-2:

Expedition 55:

Space Station Research and Technology:

International Space Station (ISS):

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

Best regards,

NASA Takes First 3-D Microscopic Image on the Space Station

ISS - International Space Station logo.

April 19, 2018

Standard flat imagery of space science is a thing of the past for researchers at NASA’s Glenn Research Center and Procter & Gamble Co. (P&G).  Using the International Space Station’s newly upgraded microscope, the Light Microscopy Module (LMM), scientists can now see microscopic particles in 3-dimensional images.

On April 12, researchers first viewed the particles, called colloids, in 3-D, during the ongoing Advanced Colloids Experiments (ACE). Colloids are suspensions of microscopic particles in a liquid, and they are found in products ranging from milk to fabric softener. Consumer products often use colloidal gels to distribute specialized ingredients, for instance droplets that soften fabrics, but the gels must serve two opposite purposes: they have to disperse the active ingredient so it can work, yet maintain an even distribution so the product does not spoil.

NASA Takes First 3-D Microscopic Image on the Space Station

Video above: A composite 3-D model of NASA's Advanced Colloids Experiment. Video Credits: P&G, NASA and the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space.

Researchers are using the Advanced Colloids Experiment-Temperature-6 (ACE-T-6) investigation, which has been in development for eight years, to study the behavior of colloids in gels and creams. The team plans to use the results to improve product shelf life and provide for more efficient product packaging.

ACE-T-6 has used a variety of imaging techniques with hardware developed by Glenn and ZIN Technologies, Inc. Now because of last year’s confocal upgrade to the LMM, researchers are able to view micron-sized particles in consecutive 2-D layers, or slices, and combine them into 3-D models that can be viewed from any angle. These models greatly increase the ability for scientific observations of how colloidal systems evolve.

Advanced Colloids Experiment-Temperature-6 (ACE-T-6) on ISS. Image Credit: NASA

In a microgravity environment, particles in these systems settle 100,000 times slower than on Earth, allowing observation during days or weeks instead of just minutes, revealing previously hidden thermo-dynamic interactions.

ACE will continue using this imaging technology through 2019. Researchers will study particle shapes, coatings, chemistry and manipulation with magnetic fields by observing these now visible particle interactions.

P&G has partnered with NASA in research and innovation for more than 10 years to investigate the mechanisms of consumer product shelf life. Researchers can apply knowledge gained from the Advanced Colloids Experiments to improving the stabilizers within gels and creams found within consumer products, which in turn could ultimately improve shelf-life. As a result, the research may lead to commercial enhancements like improved battery performance and solar cells, and better consumer products such as shampoo and pharmaceuticals.

Related links:

NASA’s Glenn Research Center:

Light Microscopy Module (LMM):

Advanced Colloids Experiments (ACE):

Advanced Colloids Experiment-Temperature-6 (ACE-T-6):

Confocal upgrade to the LMM:

International Space Station (ISS):

Image (mentioned), Video (mentioned), Text, Credits: NASA/Ronald Coulter/NASA Glenn Research Center/Debbie Lockhart.

Best regards,

Two Hubble Views of the Same Stellar Nursery

NASA - Hubble Space Telescope patch.

April 19, 2018

These NASA Hubble Space Telescope images compare two diverse views of the roiling heart of a vast stellar nursery, known as the Lagoon Nebula. The images, one taken in visible and the other in infrared light, celebrate Hubble’s 28th anniversary in space.

The colorful visible-light image at left reveals a fantasy landscape of ridges, cavities, and mountains of gas and dust. This dust-and-gas landscape is being sculpted by powerful ultraviolet radiation and hurricane-like stellar winds unleashed by a monster young star. Located at the center of the photo, the star, known as Herschel 36, is about 200,000 times brighter than our Sun. This hefty star is 32 times more massive and 40,000 times hotter than our Sun. Herschel 36 is still very active because it is young by a star’s standards, only 1 million years old.

Image above: These NASA Hubble Space Telescope images compare two diverse views of the roiling heart of a vast stellar nursery, known as the Lagoon Nebula. The images, one taken in visible and the other in infrared light, celebrate Hubble’s 28th anniversary in space. Image Credits: NASA, ESA, and STScI.

The blistering radiation and powerful stellar winds (streams of subatomic particles) are pushing dust away in curtain-like sheets. As the monster star throws off its natal cocoon of material, it is suppressing star formation around it.

However, at the dark edges of this dynamic bubble-shaped ecosystem, stars are forming within dense clouds of gas and dust. Dark, elephant-like “trunks” of material represent dense pieces of the cocoon that are resistant to erosion by the searing ultraviolet light and serve as incubators for fledgling stars.

A monster young star 200,000 times brighter than our Sun is blasting powerful ultraviolet radiation and hurricane-like stellar winds, carving out a fantasy landscape of ridges, cavities, and mountains of gas and dust.

Image above: This colorful image, taken by NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope, celebrates the Earth-orbiting observatory’s 28th anniversary of viewing the heavens, giving us a window seat to the universe’s extraordinary tapestry of stellar birth and destruction. Image Credits: NASA, ESA, and STScI.

The star-filled image at right, taken by Hubble in near-infrared light, reveals a very different view of the Lagoon Nebula compared to its visible-light portrait. Making infrared observations of the cosmos allows astronomers to penetrate vast clouds of gas and dust to uncover hidden gems. Hubble’s view offers a sneak peek at the dramatic vistas NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope will provide.

Lagoon Nebula Zoom and Flythrough

Video above: This video zooms into the core of a rich star-birth region called the Lagoon Nebula, located in the constellation Sagittarius in the direction of our Milky Way galaxy’s central bulge. Video Credits: NASA, ESA, and G. Bacon, D. Player, J. DePasquale, F. Summers, and Z. Levay (STScI) Acknowledgement: Fujii, Digitized Sky Survey, ESO/VPHAS, and Crisp.

The most obvious difference between Hubble’s infrared and visible photos of this region is the abundance of stars that fill the infrared field of view. Most of them are more distant, background stars located behind the nebula itself. However, some of these pinpricks of light are young stars within the Lagoon Nebula. The giant star Herschel 36, near the center of the frame, shines even brighter in this infrared view.

Dark smudges known as Bok globules mark the thickest parts of the nebula, where dust protects still-forming stars and their planets. While Hubble cannot penetrate these dusty clumps, Webb will be able to see through them.


The Lagoon Nebula resides 4,000 light-years away. The image shows a region of the nebula measuring about 4 light-years across.

The observations were taken by Hubble’s Wide Field Camera 3 between Feb. 12 and Feb. 18, 2018.

For additional images and videos, visit:

For NASA's Hubble website:

For Hubble Europe's release:

For the 1996 Hubble Lagoon Nebula Release:

Images (mentioned), Video (mentioned), Text, Credits: NASA/Karl Hille/Space Telescope Science Institute/Donna Weaver/Ray Villard.


mercredi 18 avril 2018

Lab Tests and Life Science as Station Orbits Higher Today

ISS - Expedition 55 Mission patch.

April 18, 2018

A docked Russian cargo craft automatically fired its engines this morning boosting the International Space Station’s altitude a little higher. During the rest of the day, the Expedition 55 crew supported life science and swapped out station hardware.

Russia’s Progress 69 resupply ship docked to the Zvezda service module fired its thrusters boosting the station’s orbit today. The two-minute, six-second burn establishes the correct orbit when three crew members undock and land in June and a two-orbit rendezvous capability for the Progress 70P resupply craft when it launches in July.

Image above: Mexico, Baja California and the southern coast of the state of California are pictured as the International Space Station orbited above the Pacific Ocean. Image Credit: NASA.

NASA crewmates Scott Tingle, Ricky Arnold and Drew Feustel became lab assistants today as they collected and stowed their own blood, urine and saliva samples in a science freezer. Two long-running human research experiments, Biochemical Profile and Repository, are basing their results on the analysis of these samples helping scientists understand how microgravity impacts the human body.

Tingle later tested the Miniature Exercise Device-2 for providing a range of motion and resistance exercise while taking up less space aboard the station. Feustel installed new firewall gear in the Harmony module before replacing manifold bottles in the Combustion Integrated Rack. Arnold worked with commercial science hardware then processed samples for a protein crystal growth student experiment.

Image above: Flying over North Pacific Ocean, seen by EarthCam on ISS, speed: 27'611 Km/h, altitude: 409,52 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 April 19, 2018 at 01:33 UTC.

Mice are being observed on the orbital lab today to understand the physiological signals that lead to muscle and bone loss in space. Norishige Kanai from the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency collected blood samples from the mice to be processed, analyzed and stowed in a science freezer. Scientists are studying the effectiveness of a drug therapy to prevent those stresses and signals that cause weakened bones and muscles.

Related links:

Biochemical Profile:


Miniature Exercise Device-2:

Student experiment:

Expedition 55:

Space Station Research and Technology:

International Space Station (ISS):

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

Best regards,

NASA Planet Hunter on Its Way to Orbit

SpaceX - TESS Mission patch.

April 18, 2018

Image above: NASA’s next planet-hunter, the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS), successfully launched on a SpaceX Falcon 9 on April 18, 2018. TESS will search for new worlds outside our solar system for further study. Image Credit: NASA Television.

NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) launched on the first-of-its-kind mission to find worlds beyond our solar system, including some that could support life.

TESS, which is expected to find thousands of new exoplanets orbiting nearby stars, lifted off at 6:51 p.m. EDT Wednesday on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. At 7:53 p.m., the twin solar arrays that will power the spacecraft successfully deployed.

SpaceX Falcon 9 launches TESS - Falcon 9 first stage landing

“We are thrilled TESS is on its way to help us discover worlds we have yet to imagine, worlds that could possibly be habitable, or harbor life,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. “With missions like the James Webb Space Telescope to help us study the details of these planets, we are ever the closer to discovering whether we are alone in the universe.”

Over the course of several weeks, TESS will use six thruster burns to travel in a series of progressively elongated orbits to reach the Moon, which will provide a gravitational assist so that TESS can transfer into its 13.7-day final science orbit around Earth. After approximately 60 days of check-out and instrument testing, the spacecraft will begin its work.

NASA TESS deployment

“One critical piece for the science return of TESS is the high data rate associated with its orbit,” said George Ricker, TESS principal investigator at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s (MIT) Kavli Institute for Astrophysics and Space Research in Cambridge. “Each time the spacecraft passes close to Earth, it will transmit full-frame images taken with the cameras. That’s one of the unique things TESS brings that was not possible before.”

For this two-year survey mission, scientists divided the sky into 26 sectors. TESS will use four unique wide-field cameras to map 13 sectors encompassing the southern sky during its first year of observations and 13 sectors of the northern sky during the second year, altogether covering 85 percent of the sky.

Image above: Illustration of the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) in front of a lava planet orbiting its host star. TESS will identify thousands of potential new planets for further study and observation. Image Credits: NASA/GSFC.

TESS will be watching for phenomena called transits. A transit occurs when a planet passes in front of its star from the observer’s perspective, causing a periodic and regular dip in the star’s brightness. More than 78 percent of the approximately 3,700 confirmed exoplanets have been found using transits.

NASA’s Kepler spacecraft found more than 2,600 exoplanets, most orbiting faint stars between 300 and 3,000 light-years from Earth, using this same method of watching for transits. TESS will focus on stars between 30 and 300 light-years away and 30 to 100 times brighter than Kepler’s targets.

The brightness of these target stars will allow researchers to use spectroscopy, the study of the absorption and emission of light, to determine a planet’s mass, density and atmospheric composition. Water, and other key molecules, in its atmosphere can give us hints about a planets’ capacity to harbor life.

“The targets TESS finds are going to be fantastic subjects for research for decades to come,” said Stephen Rinehart, TESS project scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. “It’s the beginning of a new era of exoplanet research.”

NASA’s New Planet Hunter: TESS

Video above: This video provides an overview of the TESS mission, which will monitor bright, nearby stars for evidence of orbiting planets. Video Credits: NASA GSFC.

Through the TESS Guest Investigator Program, the worldwide scientific community will be able to conduct research beyond TESS’s core mission in areas ranging from exoplanet characterization to stellar astrophysics, distant galaxies and solar system science.

TESS is a NASA Astrophysics Explorer mission led and operated by MIT and managed by Goddard. George Ricker, of MIT’s Kavli Institute for Astrophysics and Space Research, serves as principal investigator for the mission. TESS’s four wide-field cameras were developed by MIT’s Lincoln Laboratory. Additional partners include Orbital ATK, NASA’s Ames Research Center, the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, and the Space Telescope Science Institute. More than a dozen universities, research institutes and observatories worldwide are participants in the mission.

Related links:

NASA’s Kepler:

TESS Guest Investigator Program:

NASA Astrophysics Explorer:

TESS (Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite):

Images (mentioned), Videos, Text, Credits: SpaceX/NASA/Felicia Chou/Karen Northon/Goddard Space Flight Center/Claire Saravia/Kennedy Space Center/Joshua Finch/SciNews.


Proton-M launches Blagovest military communications satellite


April 18, 2018

Illustration image of Proton-M rocket launch (Amazon-5)

Russia’s Proton-M rocket made its first flight in six months Thursday, on track to deploy a Blagovest military communications satellite. Launch occurred from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 04:12 local time (22:12 UTC on Wednesday), ahead of over nine hours of flight to deployment of its passenger.

Thursday’s launch is carrying the Blagovest No.12L satellite, the second spacecraft in a new series of communications satellites for Russia’s Ministry of Defence. After launch the satellite is likely to be renamed Kosmos 2526 under the designation scheme that Russia uses for its military spacecraft. Few details about the spacecraft have been made public.

Blagovest – meaning Good News – is a project that has been funded by the Russian military. Each satellite carries a payload of Ka and Q-band transponders. Although the satellites are being launched for the Ministry of Defence, they are reportedly equipped for telephony, broadcasting and internet services – which will support a dual-use mission with commercial service as well as linking Russia’s military bases.

Blagovest satellite

The Blagovest spacecraft are built by ISS Reshetnev – the successor to the Soviet-era NPO PM design bureau that was headed by Mikhail Reshetnev. Blagovest is based around the Ekspress 2000 bus that has previously been used for the civilian Ekspress-AM5 and AM6 and Yamal 401 satellites. Once in orbit the satellite will deploy a pair of solar arrays to generate power. It is expected to remain in service for fifteen years.

The Blagovest constellation is expected to consist of at least four satellites in geostationary orbit. It will include spacecraft at longitudes of 45 and 128 degrees East – Kosmos 2520 operates at 45 degrees East.

Thursday’s launch of Blagovest No.12L follows the successful deployment of Blagovest No.11L, the first satellite in the series, last August. Now known as Kosmos 2520, Blagovest No.11L was deployed by a Proton-M rocket with a Briz-M upper stage flying out of Site 81/24 at the Baikonur Cosmodrome. Blagovest No.12L is riding to orbit aboard the same type of rocket, flying from the same launch pad.

Images, Text,Credits: ROSCOSMOS/NASA Graham/Günter Space Page.