samedi 30 avril 2016

CERN: A weasel puts down the world's largest particle accelerator

CERN - European Organization for Nuclear Research logo.

April 30, 2016

It's not the little beast that will eat the fat, and yet ... Friday at CERN, a weasel has managed to bypass the largest particle accelerator in the world. The animal did not survive.

A weasel was introduced Friday in the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN in Geneva. It is the cause of a short circuit causing a failure in the largest particle accelerator in the world. The repairs will take several days.

The LHC has experienced "severe electrical disturbance Friday at 5:30," said the CERN (CERN) in his daily activity report. The failure is due to a "short circuit caused by a weasel" on the collider. A transformer 66 kV was damaged.

Large Hadron Collider (LHC) and the guilty of failure: the weasel

Asked by the BBC's Arnaud Marsollier, spokesman for CERN, said the repairs would take several days. The animal did not survive the shock. "It's not the best week for the LHC!" Said CERN's report.

The LHC, located on the French-Swiss border, includes a tunnel-shaped ring of 27 kilometers. This is the most powerful particle accelerator in the world. He has confirmed the existence of the Higgs boson in 2012, considered the cornerstone of the fundamental structure of matter. It could pierce other mysteries of the composition of the Universe.


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.

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

Images, Text, Credits: CERN/ATS/ Aerospace/Roland Berga.


vendredi 29 avril 2016

Pluto: A Global Perspective & New Elevation Map of Pluto’s Sunken ‘Heart’

NASA - Nwe Horizons Mission logo.

April 29, 2016

(Click on the image for enlarge)

Image above: Pluto: A Global Perspective. Image Credits: NASA/JHUAPL/SWRI.

NASA’s New Horizons mission science team has produced this updated panchromatic (black-and-white) global map of Pluto. The map includes all resolved images of Pluto’s surface acquired between July 7-14, 2015, at pixel resolutions ranging from 18 miles (30 kilometers) on the Charon-facing hemisphere (left and right edges of the map) to 770 feet (235 meters) on the hemisphere facing New Horizons during the spacecraft’s closest approach on July 14, 2015 (map center). The non-encounter hemisphere was seen from much greater range and is, therefore, in far less detail.

The latest images woven into the map were sent back to Earth as recently as April 25, and the team will continue to add photos as the spacecraft transmits the rest of its stored Pluto encounter data. All encounter imagery is expected on Earth by early fall. The team is also working on improved color maps.

New Elevation Map of Pluto’s Sunken ‘Heart’. Image Credits: NASA/JHUAPL/SWRI.

This newest shaded relief view of the region surrounding the left side of Pluto’s heart-shaped feature – informally named Sputnik Planum – shows that the vast expanse of the icy surface is on average 2 miles (3 kilometers) lower than the surrounding terrain. Angular blocks of water ice along the western edge of Sputnik Planum can be seen “floating” in the bright deposits of softer, denser solid nitrogen.

Topographic maps of Pluto are produced from digital analysis of New Horizons stereo images acquired during the July 14, 2015 flyby. Such maps are derived from digital stereo-image mapping tools that measure the parallax – or the difference in the apparent relative positions – of individual features on the surface obtained at different times. Parallax displacements of high and low features are then used to directly estimate feature heights.

These topographic maps are works in progress and artifacts are still present in the current version. The map is artificially illuminated from the south, rather than the generally northern solar lighting of landscape during the time of the flyby. One of the many advantages of digital terrain maps is that they can be illuminated from any direction to best bring out different features.  North is up and the total relief in the scene is approximately 4 miles (6 kilometers) from the lowest to the highest features.

For more information about New Horizons, visit:

Images (mentioned), Text, Credits: NASA/Tricia Talbert.

Best regards,

NASA Research Gives New Insights into How the Moon Got 'Inked'

NASA - Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) patch.

April 29, 2016

A powerful combination of observations and computer simulations is giving new clues to how the moon got its mysterious "tattoos" -- swirling patterns of light and dark found at over a hundred locations across the lunar surface.

Image above: This is an image of the Reiner Gamma lunar swirl from NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter. Image Credits: NASA LRO WAC science team.

"These patterns, called 'lunar swirls,' appear almost painted on the surface of the moon," said John Keller of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. "They are unique; we've only seen these features on the moon, and their origin has remained a mystery since their discovery." Keller is project scientist for NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) mission, which made the observations.

Lunar swirls can be tens of miles across and appear in groups or just as an isolated feature. Previous observations yielded two significant clues about their formation: First, they appear where ancient bits of magnetic field are embedded in the lunar crust (although not every "fossil" magnetic field on the moon has a lunar swirl). Second, the bright areas in the swirls appear to be less weathered than their surroundings. The space environment is harsh; many things can cause material exposed to space to change chemically and darken over time, including impacts from microscopic meteorites and the effects of the solar wind – a million-mile-per-hour stream of electrically conducting gas blown from the surface of the sun.

Those clues led to three prominent theories about how the swirls formed. The swirls and the magnetic fields could both have formed from plumes of material ejected by comet impacts. Alternatively, perhaps when fine dust particles get lofted by micrometeorite impacts, an existing magnetic field over the swirls sorts them according to their susceptibility to magnetism, forming light and dark patterns with different compositions. Finally, since particles in the solar wind (electrons and ions) are electrically charged, they respond to magnetic forces. Perhaps the magnetic field shields the surface from weathering by the solar wind.

In the new research, teams of scientists created computer models that provide new insights into how the magnetic shield hypothesis could work. "The problem with the magnetic shield idea is that the embedded magnetic fields on the moon are very weak – about 300 times weaker than Earth's magnetic field," said Bill Farrell of NASA Goddard. "It's hard to see how they would have the strength to deflect the solar wind ions." Farrell leads Goddard's DREAM-2 Center for Space Environments (Dynamic Response of the Environment at Asteroids, the Moon, and moons of Mars) which is funded by NASA's Solar System Exploration Research Virtual Institute (SSERVI) to conduct the model research.

Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO). Image Credit: NASA

The new models reveal that the magnetic field can create a strong electric field when the solar wind attempts to flow through. It is this brawny electric potential of many hundreds of Volts that could deflect and slow particles in the solar wind. This would reduce the weathering from the solar wind, leaving brighter regions over protected areas. The new models are published separately as a series of three papers, one in Icarus on March 1, 2016 by lead author Andrew Poppe of the University of California at Berkeley; one in the Journal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics on June 18, 2015 by lead author Shahab Fatemi of University of California, Berkeley; and one in the Journal of Geophysical Research: Planets on November 25, 2015 by lead author Michael Zimmerman of The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, Laurel, Maryland.

New observations from LRO appear to provide support for the magnetic shield hypothesis, but don't rule out the other ideas. "Until you have somebody making measurements on the lunar surface we may not get a definitive answer, but the new observations that analyze the swirls in ultraviolet and far-ultraviolet light are consistent with earlier observations that indicate the swirls are less weathered than their surroundings," said Keller. The new observations are the subject of two papers published in Icarus by lead author Brett Denevi of The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, Laurel, Maryland on January 21, 2016 and lead author Amanda Hendrix of the Planetary Science Institute, Tucson, Arizona on February 4, 2016.

The DREAM-2 teams want to continue to develop their models to see how the magnetic shield responds to different strengths of the solar wind and various times of the lunar day, when the solar wind blows from different directions. They also want to model the physical and chemical processes of space weathering to better understand how it can change the lunar surface. The LRO team plans to modify the LAMP instrument (Lyman Alpha Mapping Project) on LRO to improve its signal-to-noise ratio for dayside observations, which will dramatically improve its ability to study this problem.

The research was funded by the LRO mission and the DREAM-2 center. DREAM-2 is part of SSERVI at NASA's Ames Research Center in California’s Silicon Valley. LRO is managed by NASA Goddard for the Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington.

Related links:

NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO):

DREAM-2 Center for Space Environments (Dynamic Response of the Environment at Asteroids, the Moon, and moons of Mars):

NASA's Solar System Exploration Research Virtual Institute (SSERVI):

Icarus on March 1, 2016:

Journal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics on June 18, 2015:

Journal of Geophysical Research: Planets on November 25, 2015:

NASA's Ames Research Center:

Images (mentioned), Text, Credits: NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center/Bill Steigerwald.


Hubble Sees Galaxy Hiding in the Night Sky

NASA - Hubble Space Telescope patch.

April 29, 2016

This striking NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope image captures the galaxy UGC 477, located just over 110 million light-years away in the constellation of Pisces (The Fish).

UGC 477 is a low surface brightness (LSB) galaxy. First proposed in 1976 by Mike Disney, the existence of LSB galaxies was confirmed only in 1986 with the discovery of Malin 1. LSB galaxies like UGC 477 are more diffusely distributed than galaxies such as Andromeda and the Milky Way. With surface brightnesses up to 250 times fainter than the night sky, these galaxies can be incredibly difficult to detect.

Most of the matter present in LSB galaxies is in the form of hydrogen gas, rather than stars. Unlike the bulges of normal spiral galaxies, the centers of LSB galaxies do not contain large numbers of stars. Astronomers suspect that this is because LSB galaxies are mainly found in regions devoid of other galaxies, and have therefore experienced fewer galactic interactions and mergers capable of triggering high rates of star formation.

LSB galaxies such as UGC 477 instead appear to be dominated by dark matter, making them excellent objects to study to further our understanding of this elusive substance. However, due to an underrepresentation in galactic surveys — caused by their characteristic low brightness — their importance has only been realized relatively recently.

Hubble orbiting Earth

More information:

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

For images and more information about Hubble Space Telescope:

Text credits: European Space Agency (ESA)/NASA/Ashley Morrow/Image, Video, Credits: ESA/Hubble & NASA, Acknowledgement: Judy Schmidt.


Unique Fragment from Earth’s Formation Returns after Billions of Years in Cold Storage

ESO - European Southern Observatory logo.

29 April 2016

Tailless Manx comet from Oort Cloud brings clues about the origin of the Solar System

Artist's impression of the unique rocky comet C/2014 S3 (PANSTARRS)

Astronomers have found a unique object that appears to be made of inner Solar System material from the time of Earth’s formation, which has been preserved in the Oort Cloud far from the Sun for billions of years. Observations with ESO’s Very Large Telescope, and the Canada France Hawai`i Telescope, show that C/2014 S3 (PANSTARRS) is the first object to be discovered on a long-period cometary orbit that has the characteristics of a pristine inner Solar System asteroid. It may provide important clues about how the Solar System formed.

In a paper to be published today in the journal Science Advances, lead author Karen Meech of the University of Hawai`i’s Institute for Astronomy and her colleagues conclude that C/2014 S3 (PANSTARRS) formed in the inner Solar System at the same time as the Earth itself, but was ejected at a very early stage.

Their observations indicate that it is an ancient rocky body, rather than a contemporary asteroid that strayed out. As such, it is one of the potential building blocks of the rocky planets, such as the Earth, that was expelled from the inner Solar System and preserved in the deep freeze of the Oort Cloud for billions of years [1].

The unique rocky comet C/2014 S3 (PANSTARRS)

Karen Meech explains the unexpected observation: “We already knew of many asteroids, but they have all been baked by billions of years near the Sun. This one is the first uncooked asteroid we could observe: it has been preserved in the best freezer there is.”

C/2014 S3 (PANSTARRS) was originally identified by the Pan-STARRS1 telescope as a weakly active comet a little over twice as far from the Sun as the Earth. Its current long orbital period (around 860 years) suggests that its source is in the Oort Cloud, and it was nudged comparatively recently into an orbit that brings it closer to the Sun.

The team immediately noticed that C/2014 S3 (PANSTARRS) was unusual, as it does not have the characteristic tail that most long-period comets have when they approach so close to the Sun. As a result, it has been dubbed a Manx comet, after the tailless cat. Within weeks of its discovery, the team obtained spectra of the very faint object with ESO’s Very Large Telescope in Chile.

Careful study of the light reflected by C/2014 S3 (PANSTARRS) indicates that it is typical of asteroids known as S-type, which are usually found in the inner asteroid main belt. It does not look like a typical comet, which are believed to form in the outer Solar System and are icy, rather than rocky. It appears that the material has undergone very little processing, indicating that it has been deep frozen for a very long time. The very weak comet-like activity associated with C/2014 S3 (PANSTARRS), which is consistent with the sublimation of water ice, is about a million times lower than active long-period comets at a similar distance from the Sun.

The unique rocky comet C/2014 S3 (PANSTARRS)

The authors conclude that this object is probably made of fresh inner Solar System material that has been stored in the Oort Cloud and is now making its way back into the inner Solar System.

A number of theoretical models are able to reproduce much of the structure we see in the Solar System. An important difference between these models is what they predict about the objects that make up the Oort Cloud. Different models predict significantly different ratios of icy to rocky objects. This first discovery of a rocky object from the Oort Cloud is therefore an important test of the different predictions of the models. The authors estimate that observations of 50–100 of these Manx comets are needed to distinguish between the current models, opening up another rich vein in the study of the origins of the Solar System.

The unique rocky comet C/2014 S3 (PANSTARRS)

Co-author Olivier Hainaut (ESO, Garching, Germany), concludes: “We’ve found the first rocky comet, and we are looking for others. Depending how many we find, we will know whether the giant planets danced across the Solar System when they were young, or if they grew up quietly without moving much.”


[1] The Oort cloud is a huge region surrounding the Sun like a giant, thick soap bubble. It is estimated that it contains trillions of tiny icy bodies. Occasionally, one of these bodies gets nudged and falls into the inner Solar System, where the heat of the sun turns it into a comet. These icy bodies are thought to have been ejected from the region of the giant planets as these were forming, in the early days of the Solar System.

More information:

This research was presented in a paper entitled “Inner Solar System Material Discovered in the Oort Cloud”, by Karen Meech et al., in the journal Science Advances.

The team is composed of Karen J. Meech (Institute for Astronomy, University of Hawai`i, USA), Bin Yang (ESO, Santiago, Chile), Jan Kleyna (Institute for Astronomy, University of Hawai`i, USA), Olivier R. Hainaut (ESO, Garching, Germany), Svetlana Berdyugina (Institute for Astronomy, University of Hawai’i, USA; Kiepenheuer Institut für Sonnenphysik, Freiburg, Germany), Jacqueline V. Keane (Institute for Astronomy, University of Hawai`i, USA), Marco Micheli (ESA, Frascati, Italy), Alessandro Morbidelli (Laboratoire Lagrange/Observatoire de la Côte d’Azur/CNRS/Université Nice Sophia Antipolis, France) and Richard J. Wainscoat (Institute for Astronomy, University of Hawai`i, USA).

ESO is the foremost intergovernmental astronomy organisation in Europe and the world’s most productive ground-based astronomical observatory by far. It is supported by 16 countries: Austria, Belgium, Brazil, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Finland, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom, along with the host state of Chile. ESO carries out an ambitious programme focused on the design, construction and operation of powerful ground-based observing facilities enabling astronomers to make important scientific discoveries. ESO also plays a leading role in promoting and organising cooperation in astronomical research. ESO operates three unique world-class observing sites in Chile: La Silla, Paranal and Chajnantor. At Paranal, ESO operates the Very Large Telescope, the world’s most advanced visible-light astronomical observatory and two survey telescopes. VISTA works in the infrared and is the world’s largest survey telescope and the VLT Survey Telescope is the largest telescope designed to exclusively survey the skies in visible light. ESO is a major partner in ALMA, the largest astronomical project in existence. And on Cerro Armazones, close to Paranal, ESO is building the 39-metre European Extremely Large Telescope, the E-ELT, which will become “the world’s biggest eye on the sky”.


Research paper:

Photos of the VLT:

Canada France Hawai`i Telescope:

ESO’s Very Large Telescope (VLT):

Pan-STARRS1 telescope:

Images, Video, Text, Credits: ESO/M. Kornmesser/L. Calçada/K. Meech (IfA/UH)/CFHT.

Best regards,

Satellites 11 and 12 join working Galileo fleet

ESA - Galileo Programme logo.

29 April 2016

Europe’s latest navigation satellites, launched last December, have been officially commissioned into the Galileo constellation, and are now broadcasting working navigation signals.

Galileos 11 and 12 were launched together on a Soyuz rocket from Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana on 17 December.

Galileo, Europe’s global navigation system

The satellites’ navigation payloads were submitted to a gamut of tests, centred on ESA’s Redu centre in Belgium, which possesses a 20 m-diameter antenna to analyse the satellites’ signals in great detail.

For users to navigate with metre-level accuracy, Galileo must keep extremely accurate time. Because light travels at a fixed speed – just under 30 cm every billionth of a second – the time it takes for Galileo signals to reach a user’s receiver on the ground can be converted into distance.

ESA’s centre in Redu

All the receiver has to do is multiply the travel time by the speed of light, pinpointing its location from at least four satellites.

The satellites’ onboard atomic clocks – while the most precise ever flown for navigation purposes – must be kept synched by Galileo’s global ground segment, which also keeps track of the satellites’ exact positions in space.

The tests were therefore essential to ensure these latest additions to the fleet met their performance targets while also meshing with the global Galileo system.

Galileos 11 and 12

Coordinated from the Galileo Control Centres in Oberbfaffenhofen in Germany (which controls the satellite platforms) and Fucino in Italy (which oversees the provision of navigation services to users), the success of these tests mean these satellites have now been integrated into the Galileo constellation.

Four satellites have now completed commissioning since the beginning of this year – satellites 9 and 10 joined the constellation in February.

December liftoff

Information about the status of the constellation is published on the European Service Centre website:

Two more satellites will be launched by Soyuz from French Guiana in May and, for the first time for Galileo, four will be carried on a customised Ariane 5 this autumn.

If all goes as planned, Galileo will end this year with a total of 18 navigation satellites in orbit.

About Galileo

Galileo is Europe’s civil global satellite navigation system. Galileo will allow users worldwide to know their exact position in time and space with great precision and reliability. Once complete, the Galileo system will consist of 30 satellites and the ground infrastructure to enable the provision of positioning, navigation and timing services.

The Galileo programme is funded and owned by the EU. The European Commission has the overall responsibility for the programme; it manages and oversees the implementation of all programme activities. 

Galileos in orbit

Galileo’s deployment, the design and development of the new generation of systems and the technical development of infrastructure are entrusted to ESA. The definition, development and in-orbit validation phases of the Galileo programme were carried out by ESA, and co-funded by ESA and the European Commission.

The European Global Navigation Satellite System Agency (GSA) is ensuring the uptake and security of Galileo. From 2017 Galileo operations and provision of Galileo services will be entrusted to the GSA.

Related links:

Galileo Tour:

EC Galileo website:

European GNSS Agency:

Images, Text, Credits: ESA/Jacky Huart/A. Gonin/CNES/Arianespace/Optique Vidéo du CSG/Hrouffie De Francisci.


On the Road to Finding Other Earths

JPL - Jet Propulsion Laboratory logo.

April 29, 2016

Image above: This illustration shows the prototype starshade, a giant structure designed to block the glare of stars so that future space telescopes can take pictures of planets.

Scientists are getting closer to finding worlds that resemble our own "blue marble" of a planet. NASA's Kepler mission alone has confirmed more than 1,000 planets outside our solar system -- a handful of which are a bit bigger than Earth and orbit in the habitable zones of their stars, where liquid water might exist. Some astronomers think the discovery of Earth's true analogs may be around the corner. What are the next steps to search for life on these potentially habitable worlds?

Scientists and engineers are actively working on two technologies to help with this challenge: the starshade, a giant flower-shaped spacecraft; and coronagraphs, single instruments that fit inside telescopes. Both a starshade and a coronagraph block the light of a star, making it easier for telescopes to pick up the dim light that reflects off planets. This would enable astronomers to take pictures of Earth-like worlds -- and then use other instruments called spectrometers to search the planets' atmospheres for chemical clues about whether life might exist there.

A new JPL "Crazy Engineering" video visits both technologies at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California:

Crazy Engineering: Starshade/Coronagraph

"Coronagraphs are like visors in your car -- you use them to block the light of the sun so you can see the road," said Nick Siegler, the program chief technologist for NASA's Exoplanet Exploration Program Office at JPL. "Starshades, on the other hand, are separate spacecraft that fly in front of other telescopes, so they are more like driving behind a big truck in front of you to block the light of the sun." Siegler is featured in the Crazy Engineering video.

The starshade would be a large structure about the size of a baseball diamond that deploys in space and flies in front of a space telescope. To view an animation of the starshade unfurling in space, and footage of a prototype at Northrop Grumman's Astro Aerospace in Carpinteria, California, visit:

Coronagraphs, which use tiny masks to block the light of stars from within a telescope, are also currently in development at JPL, as part of NASA's Wide-Field Infrared Survey Telescope, or WFIRST, mission, led by NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. A feature story describing how these structures might help glean signs of life on other planets is online at:

Image, Video, Text, Credits: NASA/JPL/Whitney Clavin.


jeudi 28 avril 2016

PSLV-C33 Successfully Launches India's Seventh Navigation Satellite IRNSS-1G

ISRO - Indian Space Research Organisation logo.

April 28, 2016

Image above: Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV), flying on the PSLV-C33 mission in the PSLV-XL configuration launch.

In its thirty fifth flight (PSLV-C33), ISRO's Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle successfully launched the 1425 kg IRNSS-1G, the seventh satellite in the Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System (IRNSS) today afternoon (April 28, 2016) from Satish Dhawan Space Centre SHAR, Sriharikota. This is the thirty fourth consecutively successful mission of PSLV and the thirteenth in its 'XL' configuration.

Honourable Prime Minister of India, Mr. Narendra Modi, heartily thanked and congratulated all the ISRO scientists and team ISRO for completing IRNSS constellation and dedicated IRNSS to the nation as ‘NavIC’ (Navigation Indian Constellation).  He appreciated India’s space community for making the country proud through such achievements which have helped in improving the life of common man.

PSLV-C33 launches IRNSS-1G satellite

After PSLV-C33 lift-off at 1250 hrs (12:50 pm) IST from the First Launch Pad with the ignition of the first stage, the subsequent important flight events, namely, strap-on ignitions and separations, first stage separation, second stage ignition, heat-shield separation, second stage separation, third stage ignition and separation, fourth stage ignition and satellite injection, took place as planned. After a flight of 19 minutes 42 seconds, IRNSS-1G was injected into an elliptical orbit of 283 km X 20,718 km inclined at an angle of 17.867 degree to the equator (very close to the intended orbit) following which the satellite successfully separated from the PSLV fourth stage.

After separation, the solar panels of IRNSS-1G were deployed automatically. ISRO's Master Control Facility (MCF) at Hassan, Karnataka took over the control of the satellite. In the coming days, four orbit manoeuvres will be conducted from MCF to position the satellite in the Geostationary Orbit at 129.5 deg East longitude.

IRNSS-1G is the seventh of the seven satellites constituting the space segment of the Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System. IRNSS-1A, 1B, 1C, ID, IE and 1F,  the first six satellites of the constellation, were successfully launched by PSLV on July 02, 2013, April 04, 2014, October 16, 2014, March 28, 2015, January 20, 2016 and March 10, 2016 respectively. All the six satellites are functioning satisfactorily from their designated orbital positions.

IRNSS navigation satellite

IRNSS is an independent regional navigation satellite system designed to provide position information in the Indian region and 1500 km around the Indian mainland. IRNSS provides two types of services, namely, Standard Positioning Services (SPS) - provided to all users and Restricted Services (RS) -  provided to authorised users.

A number of ground facilities responsible for satellite ranging and monitoring, generation and transmission of navigation parameters, etc., have been established in eighteen locations across the country.  Today’s successful launch of IRNSS-1G, the seventh and final member of IRNSS constellation, signifies the completion of the IRNSS constellation.


For more information about Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), visit:

Images, Video, Text, Credits: Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO)/SciNews/Günter Space Page.


"Russian Doll" Galaxy Clusters Reveal Information About Dark Energy

NASA - Chandra X-ray Observatory patch.

April 28, 2016

Astronomers have used data from NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory, ESA’s Planck and a large list of optical telescopes to develop a powerful new method for investigating dark energy, the mysterious energy that is currently driving the accelerating expansion of the universe.

The technique takes advantage of the observation that the outer reaches of galaxy clusters, the largest structures in the universe held together by gravity, show similarity in their X-ray emission profiles and sizes. More massive clusters are simply scaled up versions of less massive ones.

“In this sense, galaxy clusters are like Russian dolls, with smaller ones having a similar shape to the larger ones,” said Andrea Morandi of the University of Alabama at Huntsville, who led the study. “Knowing this lets us compare them and accurately determine their distances across billions of light years.”

By using these galaxy clusters as distance markers, astronomers can measure how quickly the Universe was expanding at different times since the Big Bang. According to Einstein’s theory of general relativity, the rate of expansion is determined by the properties of dark energy plus the amount of matter in the Universe, where the latter is mostly made up of unseen material called dark matter.

Images above: These four galaxy clusters were part of a large survey of over 300 clusters used to investigate dark energy, the mysterious energy that is currently driving the accelerating expansion of the Universe. In these composite images, X-rays from NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory (purple) have been combined with optical light from the Hubble Space Telescope and Sloan Digital Sky Survey (red, green, and blue). Images Credits: X-ray: NASA/CXC/Univ. of Alabama/A. Morandi et al; Optical: SDSS, NASA/STScI.

If the assumed cosmological parameters (e.g., the properties of dark energy or dark matter) are incorrect, then distant clusters will not appear to be similar, that is their sizes will be larger or smaller than expected. The cosmological parameters are then adjusted so that all of the different clusters, with different masses and different distances, appear to be similar. The process is akin to determining the unknown weight of an object by adding or subtracting known weights to a balance scale until the two sides balance.

These latest results confirm earlier studies that the properties of dark energy have not changed over billions of years. They also support the idea that dark energy is best explained by the “cosmological constant,” which Einstein first proposed and is equivalent to the energy of empty space.

“Although we’ve looked hard at other explanations,” said co-author Ming Sun, also of the University of Alabama at Huntsville, “it still appears that dark energy behaves just like Einstein's cosmological constant.”

The researchers studied 320 galaxy clusters with distances from Earth that ranged from about 760 million light years to about 8.7 billion light years. This spans the era where dark energy caused the once-decelerating universe to accelerate, a discovery that shocked many astronomers when it was made almost two decades ago.

To determine more precise results than with the Chandra X-ray data alone, the researchers combined this data with information on the expansion rate of the universe from optical observations of supernovas, and work from Planck on the cosmic microwave background, the leftover radiation from the Big Bang.

Chandra X-ray Observatory. Image Credits: NASA/CXC

“The nature of dark energy is one of the biggest mysteries in physics, so it’s crucial to invent new tools for studying its properties, since different methods can have very different assumptions, strengths and weaknesses,” said Morandi. “We think this new technique has the ability to provide a big leap forward in our understanding of dark energy.”

A paper describing these results appeared in the April 11th, 2016 issue of the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society journal and is available online. NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, manages the Chandra program for NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington. The Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory in Cambridge, Massachusetts, controls Chandra's science and flight operations.

Read More from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory:

For more Chandra images, multimedia and related materials, visit:

Images (mentioned), Text, Credits: NASA/Lee Mohon/Marshall Space Flight Center/Molly Porter/Chandra X-ray Center/Megan Watzke.


NASA's Fermi Telescope Helps Link Cosmic Neutrino to Blazar Blast

NASA - Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope logo.

April 28, 2016

Nearly 10 billion years ago, the black hole at the center of a galaxy known as PKS B1424-418 produced a powerful outburst. Light from this blast began arriving at Earth in 2012. Now astronomers using data from NASA's Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope and other space- and ground-based observatories have shown that a record-breaking neutrino seen around the same time likely was born in the same event.

NASA's Fermi Links Ghost Particle to Galaxy

Video above: NASA Goddard scientist Roopesh Ojha explains how Fermi and TANAMI uncovered the first plausible link between a blazar eruption and a neutrino from deep space. Video Credits: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center.

"Neutrinos are the fastest, lightest, most unsociable and least understood fundamental particles, and we are just now capable of detecting high-energy ones arriving from beyond our galaxy," said Roopesh Ojha, a Fermi team member at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, and a coauthor of the study. "Our work provides the first plausible association between a single extragalactic object and one of these cosmic neutrinos."

Although neutrinos far outnumber all the atoms in the universe, they rarely interact with matter, which makes detecting them quite a challenge. But this same property lets neutrinos make a fast exit from places where light cannot easily escape -- such as the core of a collapsing star -- and zip across the universe almost completely unimpeded. Neutrinos can provide information about processes and environments that simply aren't available through a study of light alone.

The IceCube Neutrino Observatory, built into a cubic kilometer of clear glacial ice at the South Pole, detects neutrinos when they interact with atoms in the ice. This triggers a cascade of fast-moving charged particles that emit a faint glow, called Cerenkov light, as they travel, which is picked up by thousands of optical sensors strung throughout IceCube. Scientists determine the energy of an incoming neutrino by the amount of light its particle cascade emits.

To date, the IceCube science team has detected about a hundred very high-energy neutrinos and nicknamed some of the most extreme events after characters on the children's TV series "Sesame Street." On Dec. 4, 2012, IceCube detected an event known as Big Bird, a neutrino with an energy exceeding 2 quadrillion electron volts (PeV). To put that in perspective, it's more than a million million times greater than the energy of a dental X-ray packed into a single particle thought to possess less than a millionth the mass of an electron. Big Bird was the highest-energy neutrino ever detected at the time and still ranks second.

Where did it come from? The best IceCube position only narrowed the source to a patch of the southern sky about 32 degrees across, equivalent to the apparent size of 64 full moons.

Enter Fermi. Starting in the summer of 2012, the satellite's Large Area Telescope (LAT) witnessed a dramatic brightening of PKS B1424-418, an active galaxy classified as a gamma-ray blazar. An active galaxy is an otherwise typical galaxy with a compact and unusually bright core. The excess luminosity of the central region is produced by matter falling toward a supermassive black hole weighing millions of times the mass of our sun. As it approaches the black hole, some of the material becomes channeled into particle jets moving outward in opposite directions at nearly the speed of light. In blazars, one of these jets happens to point almost directly toward Earth.

Images above: Fermi LAT images showing the gamma-ray sky around the blazar PKS B1424-418. Brighter colors indicate greater numbers of gamma rays. The dashed arc marks part of the source region established by IceCube for the Big Bird neutrino (50-percent confidence level). First image:  An average of LAT data centered on July 8, 2011, and covering 300 days when the blazar was inactive. Second image:  An average of 300 active days centered on Feb. 27, 2013, when PKS B1424-418 was the brightest blazar in this part of the sky. Images Credits: NASA/DOE/LAT Collaboration.

During the year-long outburst, PKS B1424-418 shone between 15 and 30 times brighter in gamma rays than its average before the eruption. The blazar is located within the Big Bird source region, but then so are many other active galaxies detected by Fermi.

The scientists searching for the neutrino source then turned to data from a long-term observing program named TANAMI. Since 2007, TANAMI has routinely monitored nearly 100 active galaxies in the southern sky, including many flaring sources detected by Fermi. The program includes regular radio observations using the Australian Long Baseline Array (LBA) and associated telescopes in Chile, South Africa, New Zealand and Antarctica. When networked together, they operate as a single radio telescope more than 6,000 miles across and provide a unique high-resolution look into the jets of active galaxies.

Animation above: Radio images from the TANAMI project reveal the 2012-2013 eruption of PKS B1424-418 at a wavelength of 8.4 GHz. The core of the blazar’s jet brightened by four times, producing the most dramatic blazar outburst TANAMI has observed to date. Animation Credit: TANAMI.

Three radio observations of PKS B1424-418 between 2011 and 2013 cover the period of the Fermi outburst. They reveal that the core of the galaxy's jet had brightened by about four times. No other galaxy observed by TANAMI over the life of the program has exhibited such a dramatic change.

"We combed through the field where Big Bird must have originated looking for astrophysical objects capable of producing high-energy particles and light," said coauthor Felicia Krauss, a doctoral student at the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg in Germany. "There was a moment of wonder and awe when we realized that the most dramatic outburst we had ever seen in a blazar happened in just the right place at just the right time."

In a paper published Monday, April 18, in Nature Physics, the team suggests the PKS B1424-418 outburst and Big Bird are linked, calculating only a 5-percent probability the two events occurred by chance alone. Using data from Fermi, NASA’s Swift and WISE satellites, the LBA and other facilities, the researchers determined how the energy of the eruption was distributed across the electromagnetic spectrum and showed that it was sufficiently powerful to produce a neutrino at PeV energies.

"Taking into account all of the observations, the blazar seems to have had means, motive and opportunity to fire off the Big Bird neutrino, which makes it our prime suspect," said lead author Matthias Kadler, a professor of astrophysics at the University of Wuerzburg in Germany.

Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope. Image Credit: NASA

Francis Halzen, the principal investigator of IceCube at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, and not involved in this study, thinks the result is an exciting hint of things to come. "IceCube is about to send out real-time alerts when it records a neutrino that can be localized to an area a little more than half a degree across, or slightly larger than the apparent size of a full moon," he said. "We're slowly opening a neutrino window onto the cosmos."

NASA's Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope is an astrophysics and particle physics partnership, developed in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Energy and with important contributions from academic institutions and partners in France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Sweden and the United States.

Related links:

IceCube Neutrino Observatory:


Australian Long Baseline Array (LBA):

Nature Physics paper:

For more information about NASA's Fermi, visit:

Images (mentioned), Animation (mentioned), Video (mentioned), Text, Credits: NASA/Ashley Morrow/Goddard Space Flight Center/Francis Reddy.

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Sentinel-1B First Delivery

ESA - Sentinel-1 logo.

28 April 2016

Sentinel-1 satellite

Launched on 25 April from Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana, Sentinel-1B has produced its first images only two hours after the radar was switched on – a record time for a space radar.

The first observations were taken a little more than two days after launch, on 28 April at 05:37 GMT, after Sentinel-1B had followed a complicated routine to deploy its 12 m-long radar and two 10-m long solar wings, as well as passing a series of initial checks.

The first image, 250 km wide, captured Svalbard, the Norwegian archipelago in the Arctic Ocean, with the Austfonna glacier clearly visible.

Sentinel-1B’s first image

At ESA’s operations centre in Darmstadt, Germany, mission controllers thoroughly checked the satellite’s control, navigation and power systems, among others, during the intense first few orbits. The team also conducted the complex unfolding of the radar wings and solar arrays.

“It may feel a little like a routine because we launched three Sentinel satellites in less than 12 months, but of course it is not,” noted Volker Liebig, ESA’s Director of Earth Observation Programmes.

“Getting a satellite into orbit is always thrilling and every time we do this I am quite nervous. Our engineers and industry have shown what we can achieve with this fourth Sentinel delivering a first image in record time. We have another important part of the Copernicus missions in orbit. A great achievement from a great team.”

Sentinel-1A is used by Copernicus services as well as by many users worldwide, under a free and open data policy. More than 30 000 users have registered to download Sentinel data, taking some 4 million products already.

Austfonna ice cap

Sentinel-1A has already helped in coping with many natural disasters worldwide, such as floods and earthquakes.

“With another important milestone reached, we now have the fourth satellite in orbit and the Sentinel constellation as we envisaged it becomes a reality. This will enable our Copernicus services to get better and more data faster – and therefore help generate more information to a broader user community on a full, open and free of charge basis.

"This is exactly what we planned for with Copernicus,” said Philippe Brunet of the European Commission, after the Sentinel-1B launch.

When Sentinel-1B reaches its final orbit, on the other side of Earth from Sentinel-1A, the radar vision constellation will be complete, meeting the coverage and revisit needs of Copernicus.

In the coming months, the satellite will be tested and calibrated before it is declared to be operational.

Edgeøya or Edge Island

Each satellite carries an advanced radar that images Earth’s surface through cloud and rain, whether it is day or night.

It is expected that the constellation will produce more than 10 Terabytes of data per day once it is fully operating.

The European Commission leads Europe’s Copernicus environmental programme and coordinates the broad range of services to improve the management of the environment, safeguarding lives every day. ESA is responsible for developing the family of Sentinel satellites and ensuring the flow of data for these services.

Related article:

Soyuz deploys Sentinel-1B:

Related links:

Copernicus Programme:

Thales Alenia Space:

Airbus Defence & Space:


For more information about Setinel-1B:

Images, Text, Credits: ESA/P. Carril/Copernicus Sentinel data.


Operation Plan of X-ray Astronomy Satellite ASTRO-H (Hitomi)

JAXA - ASTRO-H (Hitomi) X-ray Observatory logo.

April 28, 2016

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) established the emergency headquarters led by President Okumura and has been doing its utmost to understand the anomaly of the X-ray Astronomy Satellite ASTRO-H (“Hitomi”). We have made every effort to confirm the status of ASTRO-H and to regain its functions. Unfortunately, based on our rigorous technical investigation, we had to conclude as follows.

(1)     Most of our analyses including simulations on the mechanisms of object separation, it is highly likely that both solar array paddles had broken off at their bases where they are vulnerable to rotation.

(2)     Originally, we had some hopes to restore communication with ASTRO-H since we thought we received signals from ASTRO-H three times after object separation. However, we had to conclude that the received signals were not from ASTRO-H due to the differences in frequencies as a consequence of technological study.

ASTRO-H (Hitomi) X-ray Observatory

JAXA has also received information from several overseas organizations that indicated the separation of the two solar array paddles from ASTRO-H. Considering this information, we have determined that we cannot restore the ASTRO-H’s functions.

Accordingly, JAXA will cease the efforts to restore ASTRO-H and will focus on the investigation of anomaly causes. We will carefully review all phases from design, manufacturing, verification, and operations to identify the causes that may have led to this anomaly including background factors.

JAXA expresses the deepest regret for the fact that we had to discontinue the operations of ASTRO-H and extends our most sincere apologies to everyone who has supported ASTRO-H believing in the excellent results ASTRO-H would bring, to all overseas and domestic partners including NASA, and to all foreign and Japanese astrophysicists who were planning to use the observational results from ASTRO-H for their studies.

JAXA also would like to take this opportunity to send our profound appreciation to all overseas and domestic organizations for all of their help in confirming the status of ASTRO-H through ground-based observations and other means.

Related link:

X-ray Astronomy Satellite "Hitomi" (ASTRO-H):

Images, Text, Credits: Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA)/National Research and Development Agency.


Powerful winds spotted from mysterious X-ray binaries

ESA - XMM-Newton Mission patch.

28 April 2016

ESA’s XMM-Newton has discovered gas streaming away at a quarter of the speed of light from very bright X-ray binaries in two nearby galaxies.

At X-ray wavelengths, the celestial sky is dominated by two types of astronomical objects: supermassive black holes, sitting at the centres of large galaxies and ferociously devouring the material around them, and binary systems, consisting of a stellar remnant – a white dwarf, neutron star or black hole – feeding on gas from a companion star.

High-speed winds from X-ray binary

In both cases, the gas forms a swirling disc around the compact and very dense central object: friction in the disc causes the gas to heat up and emit light at many wavelengths, with a peak in X-rays.

Not all of the gas is swallowed by the central object though, and some of it might even be pushed away by powerful winds and jets.

But an intermediate class of objects was discovered in the 1980s and is still not well understood. Ten to a hundred times brighter than ordinary X-ray binaries, these sources are nevertheless too faint to be linked to accreting supermassive black holes, and in any case, are usually found far from the centre of their host galaxy.

“We think these ‘ultra-luminous X-ray sources’ are somewhat special binary systems, sucking up gas at a much higher rate than an ordinary X-ray binary,” explains Ciro Pinto from the Institute of Astronomy in Cambridge, UK.

“Some host highly magnetised neutron stars, while others might conceal the long-sought-after intermediate-mass black holes, which have masses around 1000 times the mass of the Sun. But in the majority of cases, the reason for their extreme behaviour is still unclear.”

Host galaxy NGC 5408

Ciro is the lead author of a new study, based on observations from ESA’s XMM-Newton, revealing for the first time strong winds gusting at very high speed from two of these exotic objects. The discovery, published in this week’s issue of the journal Nature, confirms that these sources conceal a compact object accreting matter at extraordinarily high rates.

Ciro and his colleagues delved into the XMM-Newton archives and collected several days’ worth of observations of three ultra-luminous X-ray sources, all hosted in nearby galaxies located less than 22 million light-years from our Milky Way.

The data were obtained over several years with the Reflection Grating Spectrometer, a highly sensitive instrument that allowed them to spot very subtle features in the spectrum of the X-rays from the sources.

In all three sources, the scientists were able to identify X-ray emission from gas in the outer portions of the disc surrounding the central compact object, slowly flowing towards it.

But two of the three sources – known as NGC 1313 X-1 and NGC 5408 X-1 – also show clear signs of X-rays being absorbed by gas that is streaming away from the central source at an extremely rapid 70 000 km/s – almost a quarter of the speed of light.

“This is the first time we’ve seen winds streaming away from ultra-luminous X-ray sources,” says Ciro.

“And there's more, since the very high speed of these outflows is telling us something about the nature of the compact objects in these sources, which are frantically devouring matter.”

Host galaxy NGC 1313

While the hot gas is pulled inwards by the central object’s gravity, it also shines brightly, and the pressure exerted by the radiation pushes it outwards. This is a balancing act: the greater the mass, the faster it draws the surrounding gas. But this also causes the gas to heat up faster, emitting more light and increasing the pressure that blows the gas away.

There is a theoretical limit to how much matter can be accreted by an object of a given mass, called the ‘Eddington luminosity’. It was first calculated for stars by astronomer Arthur Eddington, but it can also be applied to compact objects like black holes and neutron stars.

Eddington’s calculation refers to an ideal case in which both the matter being accreted onto the central object and the radiation being emitted by it do so equally in all directions.

But the sources studied by Ciro and his collaborators are being fed through an accretion disc that is likely being puffed up by internal pressure of the gas flowing at a fast pace towards the central object.

In such a configuration, the material in the disc can shine 10 times or more above the Eddington limit and, as part of the gas eludes the gravitational grasp from the central object, very high-speed winds can arise like the ones observed by XMM-Newton.

ESA's XMM-Newton X-ray Observatory

“By observing X-ray sources that are radiating beyond the Eddington limit, it is possible to study their accretion process in great detail, investigating by how much the limit can be exceeded and what exactly triggers the outflow of such powerful winds,” says Norbert Schartel, ESA XMM-Newton Project Scientist.

The nature of the compact objects hosted at the core of the sources observed in this study is, however, still uncertain, although the scientists suspect it might be stellar-mass black holes, with masses of several to a few dozen times that of the Sun.

To investigate further, the team is still scrutinising the data archive of XMM-Newton, searching for more sources of this type, and are also planning future observations, in X-rays as well as at optical and radio wavelengths.

“With a broader sample of sources and multi-wavelength observations, we hope to finally uncover the physical nature of these powerful, peculiar objects,” concludes Ciro.

Notes for Editors:

“Resolved atomic lines reveal outflows in two ultraluminous X-ray sources,” by C. Pinto et al., is published in the journal Nature:

Related links:


XMM-Newton overview:

XMM-Newton image gallery:

XMM-Newton in-depth:

Images, Text, Credits: ESA/Markus Bauer/Norbert Schartel/C. Carreau/Institute of Astronomy, University of Cambridge/Ciro Pinto/Hubble & NASA, Acknowledgement: J. Schmidt (Geckzilla)/A. Pellerin (STScI).


First Soyuz-2.1a successfully launched from the new Vostochny Cosmodrome


April 28, 2016

Soyuz-2.1a lifted off on time at 2:01 UTC, 05:01 MSK from Vostochny Cosmodrome

Soyuz-2.1a lifted off on time at 2:01 UTC, 05:01 MSK on a trek across the Russian territory to reach a high-inclination orbit. The 46-meter tall rocket successfully fired its three stages as part of a standard ascent profile, taking nine minutes from liftoff to the separation of the Volga upper stage, flying for the first time on a Soyuz 2-1A rocket.

Soyuz-2.1a lifted off from Vostochny Cosmodrome

A Russian government Soyuz rocket launched for the first time from the new Vostochny Cosmodrome in Russia’s Far East, carrying a satellite named Mikhailo Lomonosov with instruments to study high-energy cosmic rays, gamma rays and the Earth’s upper atmosphere and magnetosphere. Two smaller secondary payloads, named Aist 2 and SamSat 218, also launched aboard the Soyuz rocket. The rocket will fly in the Soyuz-2.1a configuration with a Volga upper stage.

Vostochny Cosmodrome

It was up to Volga to finish lifting the three satellites to their intended orbits in a mission with two upper stage burns. Riding side by side atop a payload dispenser were the Lomonosov research satellite from Moscow State University and AIST-2D technical demonstration and science spacecraft developed in Samara by TsSKB Progress and Samara State Aerospace University.

Mikhailo Lomonosov research satellite

The two satellites, along with a small CubeSat, were successfully deployed into a Sun Synchronous Orbit two hours after launch while the Volga stage was to finish its mission by making a targeted re-entry in the Pacific Ocean seven hours after liftoff.

ROSCOSMOS official website (no longer updated since the end of 2015):

Images, Video, Text, Credits: ROSCOSMOS/Günter Space Page/ Aerospace/Catherine Laplace-Builhe/Roland Berga.

Best regards,

mercredi 27 avril 2016

CERN - CMS releases new batch of LHC open data

CERN - European Organization for Nuclear Research logo.

April 27, 2016

The CMS collaboration has made 300 TB of high-quality data from the LHC available to the public through the CERN Open Data Portal.

The collision data come in two types: The so-called “primary datasets” are in the same format used by the CMS Collaboration to perform research. The “derived datasets” on the other hand require a lot less computing power and can be readily analysed by university or even high-school students.

Notably, CMS is also providing the simulated data generated with the same software version that should be used to analyse the primary datasets. Simulations play a crucial role in particle-physics research and CMS is also making available the protocols for generating the simulations that are provided. The data release is accompanied by analysis tools and code examples tailored to the datasets.

Image above: A CMS collision event as seen in the built-in event display on the CERN Open Data Portal. (Image: CERN).

These data are being made public in accordance with CMS’s commitment to long-term data preservation and as part of the collaboration’s open-data policy.

“Members of the CMS Collaboration put in lots of effort and thousands of person-hours each of service work in order to operate the CMS detector and collect these research data for our analysis,” explains Kati Lassila-Perini, a CMS physicist who leads these data-preservation efforts. “However, once we’ve exhausted our exploration of the data, we see no reason not to make them available publicly. The benefits are numerous, from inspiring high-school students to the training of the particle physicists of tomorrow. And personally, as CMS’s data-preservation co-ordinator, this is a crucial part of ensuring the long-term availability of our research data.”

The scope of open LHC data has already been demonstrated with the previous release of research data. A group of theorists at MIT wanted to study the substructure of jets — showers of hadron clusters recorded in the CMS detector. Since CMS had not performed this particular research, the theorists got in touch with the CMS scientists for advice on how to proceed. This blossomed into a fruitful collaboration between the theorists and CMS revolving around CMS open data.


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.

Read more about CMS Open Data on the CERN Open Data Portal:

A longer version of this article was originally published on the CMS website:

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

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