samedi 4 janvier 2014

Highlights from CERN in 2013












CERN - European Organization for Nuclear Research logo.

Jan. 4, 2014

It's been a fruitful year for CERN. In his end-of-year message to everyone at CERN, Director-General Rolf Heuer writes:

"(2013) has shown how decades of diligent groundwork, a hallmark of CERN and particle physics, along with a deep-seated sense of the values of the organization, lay the foundations for success."

This success has come in 2013 in many forms.

The Large Hadron Colllider (LHC) came to the end of its highly successful first three-year run in February, giving way to a busy programme of maintenance and consolidation of CERN's entire accelerator chain that will enable the LHC to restart at higher energies in 2015. CERN’s experimental teams have continued to analyse data during this period, and many of them have embarked on upgrades of their own.


Image above: This year saw a busy programme of maintenance and consolidation across the accelerator chain. Here, an engineer works on the CMS detector (Image: Anna Pantelia/CERN ).

The LHC experiments ATLAS and CMS confirmed in March that the new boson found in 2012 is indeed a Higgs boson and continued to probe its properties. ALICE took data from lead-proton collisions and continued its steady programme of upgrade and consolidation work. LHCb observed a new matter-antimatter asymmety in the decays of the of the B0s meson and measured one of the rarest processes in physics. After reaching the remarkable figure of 100 petabytes of stored data early in the year, CERN’s computing capacity was expanded significantly with an extension to the Data Centre at CERN as well as the establishment of a new data centre in Budapest, Hungary – ready to deal with the torrent of data to come when the LHC starts up again.

The year was busy for the rich research programme beyond the LHC. Teams at ISOLDE showed that atomic nuclei can be pear shaped and measured the ionization potential of the rarest element on Earth; antiproton experiments made world-beating measurements on the antiproton and looked at the effects of gravity on antimatter and the CLOUD collaboration shed new light on the effect of cosmic rays on the formation of clouds in the atmosphere.

The laboratory hosted its first ever TEDxCERN event, and opened the local tourist trail "Passport to the Big Bang". Some 70,000 people visited in September for the Open Days, which provided a rare opportunity for many to see the LHC underground. A collection of CERN photographs were put under a creative commons licence and CERN celebrated 20 years of putting World Wide Web software in the public domain by restoring the first website to its original URL (here: http://info.cern.ch/hypertext/WWW/TheProject.html) and recreating the world's first widely available web browser, the line-mode browser.

CERN - To discover the secret of the matter. Image Credit: CERN

CERN continued to strengthen ties around the world. Israel is to become CERN’s 21st Member State – the first new member since 1999 – and Ukraine is set to join as an Associate Member. For the future, the programme to upgrade the LHC to deliver more collisions was recognized as the top priority in the updated European Strategy for Particle Physics, approved by CERN Council in May.

Finally, the year 2013 saw a number of prestigious awards. In October, Peter Higgs and François Englert shared the Nobel prize in physics for "the theoretical discovery of a mechanism that contributes to our understanding of the origin of mass of subatomic particles, and which recently was confirmed through the discovery of the predicted fundamental particle, by the ATLAS and CMS experiments at CERN’s Large Hadron Collider.” Other prizes for the laboratory included the Prince of Asturias award, the UNESCO Niels Bohr gold medal, and the Edinburgh medal awarded to CERN and to Peter Higgs.

Note:

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 20 Member States.

Related links:

Large Hadron Colllider (LHC): http://home.web.cern.ch/about/accelerators/large-hadron-collider

LHC experiments ATLAS: http://home.web.cern.ch/about/experiments/atlas

LHC experiments CMS: http://home.web.cern.ch/about/experiments/cms

ALICE: http://home.web.cern.ch/about/experiments/alice

For more information about European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN), visit: http://home.web.cern.ch/

Images (mentioned), Text, Credits: CERN / Cian O'Luanaigh.

Best regards, Orbiter.ch

vendredi 3 janvier 2014

First 2014 Asteroid Discovered











Asteroid Watch.

Jan. 3, 2014


Image above: This animated GIF shows Asteroid 2014 AA, discovered by the NASA-sponsored Catalina Sky Survey on Jan. 1, 2014, as it moved across the sky. Image Credit: CSS/LPL/UA.

Early Wednesday morning (Jan. 1, 2014), while New Year's 2014 celebrations were still underway in the United States, the Catalina Sky Survey near Tucson, Ariz., collected a single track of observations with an immediate follow-up on what was possibly a very small asteroid -- 7 to 10 feet (2 to 3 meters) in size -- on a potential impact trajectory with Earth.

Designated 2014 AA, which would make it the first asteroid discovery of 2014, the track of observations on the object allowed only an uncertain orbit to be calculated. However, if this was a very small asteroid on an Earth-impacting trajectory, it most likely entered Earth's atmosphere sometime between 11 a.m. PST (2 p.m. EST) Wednesday and 6 a.m. PST (9 a.m. EST) Thursday.

Using the only available observations, three independent projections of the possible orbit by the independent orbit analyst Bill Gray, the Minor Planet Center in Cambridge, Mass., and Steve Chesley, of NASA's Near-Earth Object Program Office at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., are in agreement that 2014 AA would hit Earth's atmosphere. According to Chesley, the potential impact locations are widely distributed because of the orbit uncertainty, falling along an arc extending from Central America to East Africa. The most likely impact location of the object was just off the coast of West Africa at about 6 p.m. PST (9 p.m. EST) Jan. 1.

It is unlikely asteroid 2014 AA would have survived atmospheric entry intact, as it was comparable in size to asteroid 2008 TC3, which was about 7 to 10 feet (2 to 3 meters) in size. 2008 TC3 completely broke up over northern Sudan in October 2008. Asteroid 2008 TC3 is the only other example of an object discovered just prior to hitting Earth. So far, there have been a few weak signals collected from infrasound stations in that region of the world that are being analyzed to see if they could be correlated to the atmospheric entry of 2014 AA.

NASA's Near-Earth Object Program at NASA Headquarters, Washington, manages and funds the search, study and monitoring of asteroids and comets whose orbits periodically bring them close to Earth. JPL manages the Near-Earth Object Program Office for NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington. JPL is a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena.

More information about asteroids and near-Earth objects is available at: http://neo.jpl.nasa.gov/ , http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/asteroidwatch and via Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/asteroidwatch

Image (mentioned), Text, Credits: NASA / JPL / DC Agle.

Best regards, Orbiter.ch

Decade-Old Rover Adventure Continues on Mars and Earth














NASA - Mars Exploration Rover "Spirit" (MER-A) patch. / NASA - Mars Exploration Rover "Opportunity" (MER-B) patch.

Jan. 3, 2014

 Outcrop on 'Murray Ridge' Section of Martian Crater Rim

Image above: NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity observed this outcrop on the "Murray Ridge" portion of the rim of Endeavour Crater as the rover approached the 10th anniversary of its landing on Mars. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornell Univ./Arizona State Univ.

Eighth graders didn't have Facebook or Twitter to share news back then, in January 2004. Bekah Sosland, 14 at the time, learned about a NASA rover landing on Mars when the bouncing-ball video on the next morning's Channel One news in her Fredericksburg, Texas, classroom caught her eye.


Image above: Bekah Sosland was an eighth-grade student in Fredericksburg, Texas, when NASA's Mars Exploration Rovers Spirit and Opportunity landed on Mars in January 2004. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech.

"I wasn't particularly interested in space at the time," she recalled last week inside the spacecraft operations facility where she now works at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif.  "I remember I was talking with friends, and out of the corner of my eye I noticed this thing bouncing and rolling on a red surface. I watched as it stopped and opened up, and it had this rover inside."

That animation portrayed how NASA landed the Mars rovers Spirit and Opportunity three weeks apart, using airbags to cushion the impact at the start of the missions, planned to last for three months. Spirit reached Mars on Jan. 4, 2004, Universal Time (Jan. 3, PST) and worked for six years. Opportunity landed on Jan. 25, UT (Jan. 24, PST) and is still exploring, with Sosland now on the team planning what it does each day.

10th Anniversary Special Products: http://mars.nasa.gov/mer10/

"I watched that news and said, 'This is amazing: a rover on another planet!' Gears started turning in my head that day about engineering and space -- thinking about a career. It was definitely a milestone in my life and something I'll always remember."

On her path to that career, high-school teacher Brett Williams in Fredericksburg inspired her to build real rockets, and she completed a 2013 engineering degree from the University of Texas, Austin. But nobody in 2004 was predicting that either Spirit or Opportunity might still be roving Mars in summer 2013, which is when Sosland joined JPL.

"I certainly never thought I'd have an opportunity to work on Opportunity," she said. "That only became possible because this mission has been going so incredibly long. The reason Opportunity has worked so long is the people who built it and operate it. I'm loving that I can be a part of this team now."


Image above: John Callas has been a leader of NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Project since the project's inception in 2000, and has been the project manager since 2006. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech.

Most of the engineers who operated Spirit and Opportunity during the three-month prime missions in 2004 have switched to other projects, including later Mars spacecraft. Sosland is among several on Opportunity's team today who were in school a decade ago.

Unlike her, Mike Seibert in late 2003 was eagerly tracking the run-up to the rover landings, while he was an engineering undergraduate at the University of Colorado. He had even ordered cardboard 3-D glasses in anticipation of images from stereo cameras on Spirit and Opportunity.

"I was living in my fraternity's house in Boulder that January. People thought I was weird, wearing 3-D glasses and looking at those pictures from Mars," said Seibert.

Less than two years later, he was working on the rover team at JPL. He has, since then, served as a mission manager and in other roles for both Spirit and Opportunity and participated in many key moments of the extended missions.

The dramatic landings and overland expeditions of Spirit and Opportunity have also inspired countless students who have not gained a chance to work on the rover team, but have participated in the adventure online by exploring images from the rovers or other activities.


Image above: This illustration depicts how each of the twin Mars rovers Spirit and Opportunity landed on Mars in January, 2004, cushioned inside airbags that bounced several times before coming to rest. The rover and a three-petal landing platform were folded up inside the set of inflated bags for each landing. Image Credit: NASA

What an adventure it's been. Though Spirit and Opportunity were built as nearly identical twins, and both succeeded in the main goal of finding evidence for ancient watery environments on Mars, their stories diverged early.

Spirit was sent to a crater where the basin's shape and apparent inflow channels seen from orbit suggested a lake once existed. Opportunity's landing area, almost exactly halfway around the planet, was selected mainly on the basis of a water-clue mineral detected from orbit, rather than landform shapes. Spirit's destination did not pan out initially. The crater may have held a lake, but if there are any lakebed sediments, they are thoroughly buried under later volcanic deposits. Opportunity, the luckier twin, landed a stone's throw from an exposure of layered rock that within weeks yielded compositional and textural evidence of a water-rich ancient environment.

video
Mars Rovers landing

Within the initial three-month missions and without expectation of surviving a full year, each rover set out cross-country toward other destinations: hills on the horizon for Spirit and craters exposing deeper layers for Opportunity. Spirit drove a total of 4.8 miles (7.7 kilometers), some of that with one of its six wheels not rotating. Loss of use of a second wheel while the rover was in a sand trap contributed to the 2010 end of that mission. Opportunity has driven 24 miles (38.7 kilometers) and is still going strong.

One key to Spirit and Opportunity working for years, instead of a few months, has been winds that occasionally remove some of the dust accumulating on solar panels that generate the rovers' electricity. Also, the ground crew became adept at managing each rover's power consumption and taking advantage of slopes for favorably tilting the rovers toward the sun during Martian winters.

"Ultimately, it's not only how long the rovers work or how far they drive that's most important, but how much exploration and scientific discovery these missions have accomplished," said JPL's John Callas, project manager for NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Project, who has worked on the Spirit and Opportunity missions for more than 13 years.

By driving to outcrops miles from their landing sites, both rovers reached evidence about multiple episodes of Martian history, "traveling across time as well as across Martian terrain," he said. Opportunity is currently exploring outcrops on the rim of Endeavour Crater, which is 14 miles (22 kilometers) in diameter.

"Opportunity is still in excellent health for a vehicle of its age," Callas said. "The biggest science may still be ahead of us, even after 10 years of exploration."

The science achievements have already provided major advances in understanding of Mars.

Ten Years Ago, Spirit Rover Lands on Mars

Image above: This mosaic image taken on Jan. 4, 2004, by the navigation camera on the Mars Exploration Rover Spirit, shows a 360 degree panoramic view of the rover on the surface of Mars. Spirit operated for more than six years after landing in January 2004 for what was planned as a three-month mission. Image Credit: NASA/JPL.

The rovers' principal investigator, Steve Squyres of Cornell University, Ithaca, N.Y., described some of the key findings, starting with what Spirit found after driving from the crater floor where it landed into hills to the east:

"In the Columbia Hills, we discovered compelling evidence of an ancient Mars that was a hot, wet, violent place, with volcanic explosions, hydrothermal activity, steam vents -- nothing like Mars today.

"At Opportunity's landing site, we found evidence of an early Mars that had acidic groundwater that sometimes reached the surface and evaporated away, leaving salts behind. It was an environment with liquid water, but very different from the environment that Spirit told us about.

"When Opportunity got to the rim of Endeavour Crater, we began a whole new mission.  We found gypsum veins and a rich concentration of clay minerals. The clay minerals tell us about water chemistry that was neutral, instead of acidic -- more favorable for microbial life, if any ever began on Mars."

"Because of the rovers' longevity, we essentially got four different landing sites for the price of two."

The evidence the rovers glean from rocks at these sites may not be the only huge benefit of the adventures, though.  Bekah Sosland and Mike Seibert may be examples of something even greater.

Squyres said, "I'm incredibly proud of the science we've done on this mission, but in the end, perhaps our most important legacy will turn out to be the young people who have seen what we've done and made career choices based on that. If an outcome of our mission is to help inspire a new generation of explorers to do even better than we did, that will be the greatest thing we could have accomplished."

Mars Exploration Rover. Image Credit: NASA/JPL

The Mars Exploration Rover Project is one strong element in a robust program of NASA's ongoing and future Mars missions preparing for human missions there by the 2030s.

The Mars Odyssey and Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter missions have been studying the Red Planet since arriving there in 2001 and 2006, respectively. NASA's next-generation Mars rover, Curiosity, is examining an area that once offered conditions favorable for microbial life. NASA launched the Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution, or MAVEN, mission two months ago, to begin orbiting in September 2013. The agency plans to launch a mission to Mars in 2016 called Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport, or InSight, to learn about the deep interior of Mars. A Curiosity-size rover planned for launch in 2020 has the task to check for evidence of past life on Mars.

Special products for the 10th anniversary of the twin rovers' landings, including a gallery of selected images, are at http://mars.nasa.gov/mer10/ .

JPL, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the Mars Exploration Rover Project for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington. For more information about the project's twin rovers, Spirit and Opportunity, visit http://www.nasa.gov/rovers and http://marsrovers.jpl.nasa.gov . You can follow the project on Twitter and on Facebook at: http://twitter.com/MarsRovers and http://www.facebook.com/mars.rovers

Images (mentioned), Video, Text, Credits: NASA / JPL.

Greetings, Orbiter.ch

jeudi 2 janvier 2014

Two Solar Flares Say Goodbye 2013 and Welcome 2014












NASA - Solar Dynamics Observatory patch.

Jan. 2, 2014


Image above: Several wavelengths of light are combined in this New Year's Day solar flare image, categorized as an M9.9 and peaking at 1:52 p.m. EST on Jan. 1, 2014. Each wavelength represents material at a different temperatures, helping scientists understand how it is moved and heated through these events. Image Credit: NASA/SDO.

The sun ushered out 2013 and welcomed 2014 with two mid-level flares on Dec. 31, 2013 and Jan. 1, 2014. Solar flares are powerful bursts of radiation. Harmful radiation from a flare cannot pass through Earth's atmosphere to physically affect humans on the ground, however -- when intense enough -- they can disturb the atmosphere in the layer where GPS and communications signals travel. This disrupts the radio signals for as long as the flare is ongoing, anywhere from minutes to hours.


Image above: This image was captured on Jan. 2, 2014, by NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory’s Helioseismic and Magnetic Imager, or HMI, instrument, designed to study the magnetic field at the solar surface, or photosphere. Image Credit: NASA/SDO/HMI.

To see how this event may impact Earth, please visit NOAA's Space Weather Prediction Center at http://spaceweather.gov, the U.S. government's official source for space weather forecasts, alerts, watches and warnings.

The first flare (below) was categorized as an M6.4 and it peaked at 4:58 p.m EST on Dec. 31. The second (above) was categorized as an M9.9 and peaked at 1:52 p.m. EST on Jan. 1. Both flares emerged from the same active region on the sun, AR1936.


Image above: An M6.4 class solar flare erupts from the sun in this image from NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory, which was captured on Dec. 31, at 4:59 p.m. EST. The image shows light in the 304 Angstrom wavelength, which is typically colorized in red. Image Credit: NASA/SDO.

Imagery of the flares was captured by NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory, which keeps a constant watch on the sun, collecting new data every 12 seconds.

Updates will be provided as needed.

Related Links:

Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Space Weather: http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/sunearth/spaceweather/index.html

View Other Past Solar Activity: http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/sunearth/multimedia/Solar-Events.html

Images (mentioned), Text, Credit: NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center / Karen C. Fox.

Greetings, Orbiter.ch

mercredi 1 janvier 2014

Hubble Sees Cloudy Super-Worlds With Chance for More Clouds












NASA - Hubble Space Telescope patch.

Jan. 1, 2013

 Artist's interpretation of a cloudy exoplanet

Scientists using NASA's & ESA's Hubble Space Telescope have characterized the atmospheres of two of the most common type of planets in the Milky Way galaxy and found both may be blanketed with clouds.

The planets are GJ 436b, located 36 light-years from Earth in the constellation Leo, and GJ 1214b, 40 light-years away in the constellation Ophiuchus. Despite numerous efforts, the nature of the atmospheres surrounding these planets had eluded definitive characterization until now. The researchers described their work as an important milestone on the road to characterizing potentially habitable, Earth-like worlds beyond the solar system. Their findings appear in separate papers in the Jan. 2 issue of the journal Nature.

The two planets fall in the middle range in mass, between smaller, rockier planets such as Earth and larger gas giants such as Jupiter. GJ 436b is categorized as a "warm Neptune" because it is much closer to its star than frigid Neptune is to the sun. GJ 1214b is known as a "super-Earth" because of its size. Both GJ 436b and GJ 1214b can be observed transiting, or passing in front of, their parent stars. This provides an opportunity to study these planets in more detail as starlight filters through their atmospheres.

One of the papers presents an atmospheric study of GJ 436b based on such transit observations with Hubble, led by Heather Knutson of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, Calif. The Hubble spectra were featureless and revealed no chemical fingerprints whatsoever in GJ 436b's atmosphere.

"Either this planet has a high cloud layer obscuring the view, or it has a cloud-free atmosphere that is deficient in hydrogen, which would make it very unlike Neptune," said Knutson. "Instead of hydrogen, it could have relatively large amounts of heavier molecules such as water vapor, carbon monoxide, and carbon dioxide, which would compress the atmosphere and make it hard for us to detect any chemical signatures."

Planet Comparison Graphic (Illustration)

Observations similar to those obtained for GJ 436b had been obtained previously for GJ 1214b. The first spectra of this planet also were featureless, but indicated GJ 1214b's atmosphere was dominated by water vapor or hydrogen, with high-altitude clouds.

Using Hubble, astronomers led by Laura Kreidberg and Jacob Bean of the University of Chicago took a closer look at GJ 1214b. They found what they consider definitive evidence of high clouds blanketing the planet and hiding information about the composition and behavior of the lower atmosphere and surface. The new Hubble spectra also revealed no chemical fingerprints in GJ 1214b's atmosphere, but the data were so precise they could rule out cloud-free compositions of water vapor, methane, nitrogen, carbon monoxide, or carbon dioxide for the first time.

"Both planets are telling us something about the diversity of planet types that occur outside of our own solar system; in this case we are discovering we may not know them as well as we thought," said Knutson. "We'd really like to determine the size at which these planets transition from looking like mini-gas giants to something more like a water world or a rocky, scaled-up version of the Earth. Both of these observations are fundamentally trying to answer that question."

More information:

The Hubble Space Telescope is a project of international cooperation between ESA and NASA.

For images and more information about exoplanet GJ 1214b, visit: http://hubblesite.org/news/2014/06

For more information about the Hubble Space Telescope, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/hubble

ESA Hubble site: http://www.spacetelescope.org

Images Credits: Courtesy Space Telescope Science Instutute / NASA, ESA, and A. Feild and G. Bacon (STScI)/ Text: NASA / J.D. Harrington.

Happy New Year 2014! Best regards, Orbiter.ch

lundi 30 décembre 2013

Hubble Eyes Galaxy as Flat as a Pancake











NASA - Hubble Space Telescope patch.

Dec. 30, 2013


Located some 25 million light-years away, this new Hubble image shows spiral galaxy ESO 373-8. Together with at least seven of its galactic neighbors, this galaxy is a member of the NGC 2997 group. We see it side-on as a thin, glittering streak across the sky, with all its contents neatly aligned in the same plane.

We see so many galaxies like this — flat, stretched-out pancakes — that our brains barely process their shape. But let us stop and ask: Why are galaxies stretched out and aligned like this?

Try spinning around in your chair with your legs and arms out. Slowly pull your legs and arms inwards, and tuck them in against your body. Notice anything? You should have started spinning faster. This effect is due to conservation of angular momentum, and it’s true for galaxies, too.

This galaxy began life as a humongous ball of slowly rotating gas. Collapsing in upon itself, it spun faster and faster until, like pizza dough spinning and stretching in the air, a disc started to form. Anything that bobbed up and down through this disk was pulled back in line with this motion, creating a streamlined shape.

NASA / ESA - Hubble Space Telescope

Angular momentum is always conserved — from a spinning galactic disk 25 million light-years away from us, to any astronomer, or astronomer-wannabe, spinning in an office chair.

More information:

The Hubble Space Telescope is a project of international cooperation between ESA and NASA.

For more information about Hubble Space Telescope, visit: http://www.spacetelescope.org and http://hubblesite.org

Images, Text, Credits: ESA/Hubble & NASA.

Best regards, Orbiter.ch

Medical Science for Crew as Year Nears End












ISS - International Space Station patch.

Dec. 30, 2013

The six-member Expedition 38 crew is getting ready for another eventful year of scientific research, finishing up 2013 with medical research activities. Both NASA and Russian spacewalkers also are cleaning up after three fast-paced spacewalks.

With one exception, all station systems are powered up and running normally following two spacewalks by NASA astronauts Rick Mastracchio and Mike Hopkins to replace a degraded cooling system pump module. The new pump module is working well, which allows electrical systems cooled by that loop to be put back into full service. The last string of power to the European Space Agency’s Columbus laboratory is scheduled to be brought back on line Tuesday.


Image above: NASA astronaut Mike Hopkins enjoys time in the Cupola, which affords the most broad views of Earth.

Read about the first U.S. spacewalk to replace the pump module: http://www.orbiterchspacenews.blogspot.ch/2013/12/spacewalkers-remove-degraded-ammonia.html

Read about the final U.S. spacewalk to install the pump module: http://www.orbiterchspacenews.blogspot.ch/2013/12/spacewalkers-complete-installation-of.html

Hopkins started his day working in the Human Research Facility (HRF) and collecting biological samples for stowage inside a science freezer. In the afternoon he used the HRF’s space linear acceleration mass measurement device (SLAMMD) to calculate his body mass. SLAMMD subjects a crew member to a known force and the resulting acceleration provides a body mass measurement that is accurate to within a half-pound.

Read how astronauts measure their body mass: http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/640.html

Japanese astronaut Koichi Wakata also joined Hopkins for SLAMMD measurements in the afternoon. Earlier in the day, Wakata set up gear for the SPRINT study that evaluates the use of high-intensity, low-volume exercise to minimize muscle and bone loss and heart shrinkage during long-duration space missions. He also checked instrumentation inside the Combustion Integrated Rack used for experiments involving flames and flame suppression.

Read more about SPRINT: http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/972.html


Image above: The Caribbean country of Cuba is pictured in this high oblique image with a Russian Soyuz spacecraft in the foreground.

Mastracchio partnered with Hopkins in the morning for spinal scans using the Ultrasound 2 probe and software. The scans were conducted with assistance from ground doctors who were viewing the session in real-time. Throughout the day, Mastracchio worked various maintenance tasks such as sampling the station’s water for analysis, changing out a flash disc on a camera and removing a jumper cable in the Unity node.

Read about the Spinal Ultrasound experiment: http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/944.html

Commander Oleg Kotov and Flight Engineer Sergey Ryazanskiy are cleaning up after a Friday spacewalk that lasted 8 hours and 7 minutes. They started Monday stowing their spacewalk tools and checking them into the inventory management system. Afterward, they returned the Zvezda service module and the Pirs docking compartment to their normal post-spacewalk configuration.

Read more about the Russian spacewalk: http://www.orbiterchspacenews.blogspot.ch/2013/12/station-cosmonauts-complete-spacewalk.html

Flight Engineer and veteran cosmonaut Mikhail Tyurin installed a dosimeter to detect radiation. He also connected cables on water tanks and checked fans inside Zvezda.

For more information about the Space Station (ISS), visit: http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/main/index.html

Images, Text, Credit: NASA.

Greetings, Orbiter.ch