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Space Team Europe for Euclid: Jean-Charles Cuillandre


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Space_Team_Europe_for_Euclid_Jean-Charle Video: 00:07:54

Focus on Euclid with Jean-Charles Cuillandre: “What we see in the first Euclid images is a promise of what will come in the future.”

Jean-Charles Cuillandre, astronomer at CEA Paris-Saclay, explains that he was “blown away” when he saw the first full-colour images captured by ESA’s recently launched Euclid space telescope

Being a specialist of wide-field imaging, Jean-Charles was not only involved in the programme committee that selected the celestial targets for the ESA Euclid’s ‘Early Release Observations’, but he was also in charge of processing the data both for their scientific and their outreach value.

Jean-Charles expected the resulting images to look extremely crispy since they are taken by instruments outside of the Earth’s disturbing atmosphere, but even he was not prepared for the astonishing results. The combination of the field-of-view (the area of sky covered with a single shot of the telescope), and the resolution (the number of pixels in the instruments) are unique for Euclid.

The first five released images therefore show the scientific potential of the Euclid space mission. The Euclid Consortium is responsible to fulfill this promise. More than 2000 scientists from 300 institutes in 13 European countries, the US, Canada and Japan, will try to decipher the dark Universe through the analysis of Euclid’s scientific data.

In this interview, Jean-Charles Cuillandre shares with us his view of Euclid and the elusive dark matter and dark energy. He specifically describes the apparent astronomical objects and reveals the hidden information behind their beautiful appearance.

Be ready to be “blown away”.

Space Team Europe is an ESA space community engagement initiative to gather European space actors under the same umbrella sharing values of leadership, autonomy, and responsibility.

 

©ESA - European Space Agency

Euclid images
©ESA/Euclid/Euclid Consortium/NASA, image processing by J.-C. Cuillandre (CEA Paris-Saclay), G. Anselmi, CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO

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      Algorithm Improvement for Ozone and Sulfur Dioxide Products
      Kai Yang [UMD] presented the algorithm for retrieving tropospheric O3 from EPIC by estimating the stratosphere–troposphere separation of retrieved O3 profiles. This approach contrasts with the traditional residual method, which relies on the stratospheric O3 fields from independent sources. Validated against the near-coincident O3 sonde measurements, EPIC data biased low by a few DU (up to 5 DU), consistent with EPIC’s reduced sensitivity to O3 in the troposphere. Comparisons with seasonal means of TROPOMI tropospheric O3 show consistent spatial and temporal distributions, with lows and highs from atmospheric motion, pollution, lightning, and biomass burning. Yang also showed EPIC measurements of sulfur dioxide (SO2) from recent volcanic eruptions, including Mauna Loa and Kilauea (Hawaii, U.S., 2022–2023), Sheveluch (Kamchatka, Russia, 2023), Etna (Italy, 2023), Fuego (Guatemala, 2023), Popocatépetl (Mexico, 2023), and Pavlof and Shishaldin (Aleutian Islands, U.S., 2023). Yang reported the maximum SO2 mass loadings detected by EPIC are 430 kt from the 2022 Mauna Loa and Kilauea eruptions and 351 kt from the 2023 Sheveluch eruption.
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      Aerosols
      Myungje Choi [UMD, Baltimore County (UMBC)] presented an update on the EPIC V3 Multi-Angle Implementation of Atmospheric Correction (MAIAC) algorithm to optimize smoke aerosol models and the inversion process. The retrieved smoke/dust properties showed an improved agreement with long-term, ground-based Aerosol Robotic Network (AERONET) measurements of solar spectral absorption (SSA) and with aerosol layer height (ALH) measurements from the Cloud–Aerosol Lidar with Orthogonal Projection (CALIOP) on the Cloud–Aerosol Lidar and Infrared Pathfinder Satellite Observation (CALIPSO) mission. (Update: As of the publication of this summary, both CALIPSO and CloudSat have ended operations.) Choi reported that between 60–90% of EPIC SSA retrievals are within ±0.03 of AERONET SSA measurements, and between 56–88% of EPIC ALH retrievals are within ±1km of CALIOP ALH retrievals. He explained that the improved algorithm effectively captures distinct smoke characteristics, e.g., the higher brown carbon (BrC) fraction from Canadian wildfires in 2023 and the higher black carbon (BC) fraction from agricultural fires over Mexico in June 2023.
      Sujung Go [UMBC] presented a global climatology analysis of major absorbing aerosol species, represented by BC and BrC in biomass burning smoke as well as hematite and goethite in mineral dust. The analysis is based on the V3 MAIAC EPIC dataset. Observed regional differences in BC vs. BrC concentrations have strong associations with known distributions of fuels and types of biomass burning (e.g., forest wildfire vs. agricultural burning) and with ALH retrievals linking injection heights with fire radiative power. Regional distributions of the mineral dust components have strong seasonality and agree well with known dust properties from published ground soil samples.
      Omar Torres [GSFC] reported on the upgrades of the EPIC near-UV aerosol (EPICAERUV) algorithm. The EPICAERUV algorithm’s diurnal cycle of aerosol optical depth compared to the time and space collocated AERONET observations at multiple sites around the world. The analysis shows remarkably close agreement between the two datasets. In addition, Torres presented the first results of an improved UV-VIS inversion algorithm that simultaneously retrieves aerosol layer height, optical depth, and single scattering albedo.
      Hiren Jethva [Morgan State University] discussed the unique product of absorbing aerosols above clouds (AAC) retrieved from EPIC near-UV observations between 340 and 388 nm. The validation analysis of the retrieved aerosol optical depth over clouds against airborne direct measurements from the NASA ObseRvations of Aerosols above CLouds and their intEractionS (ORACLES) campaign revealed a robust agreement. EPIC’s unique capability of providing near-hourly observations offered an insight into the diurnal variations of regional cloud fraction and AAC over “hotspot” regions. A new and simple method of estimating direct radiative effects of absorbing aerosols above clouds provided a multiyear timeseries dataset, which is consistent with similar estimations from Aura–OMI.
      Jun Wang [University of Iowa] reported on the development and status of V1 of the L2 EPIC aerosol optical centroid height (AOCH) product – which is now publicly available through ASDC – and on improvements to the AOCH algorithm – which focus on the treatment of surface reflectance and aerosols models. He presented applications of this data product for both climate studies of Sahara dust layer height and air quality studies of surface particulate matter with diameter of 2.5 µm or less (PM2.5). In addition, Wang showed the comparisons of EPIC AOCH data product with those retrieved from TROPOMI and GEMS and discussed ongoing progress to reduce the AOCH data uncertainty that is estimated to be 0.5 km (0.3 mi) over the ocean and 0.8 km (0.5 mi) over land.
      Clouds
      Yuekui Yang [GSFC] explained the physical meaning of EPIC cloud effective pressure (CEP) in an “apples-to-apples” comparison with CEP measurements from the Global Ozone Monitoring Experiment 2 (GOME-2) on the European Operational Meteorology (MetOp) satellites. The results showed that the two products agreed well.
      Yaping Zhou [UMBC] showed how current EPIC O2 A-band and B-band use Moon calibrations due to lack of in-flight calibration and other comparable in-space instruments for absolute calibration. This approach is ineffective at detecting small changes in instrument response function (IRF). This study examined the O2 band’s calibration and stability using a unique South Pole location and Radiative Transfer Model (RTM) simulations with in situ soundings and surface spectral albedo and bidirectional reflectance distribution function (BRDF) measurements as input. The results indicate EPIC simulations are within 1% of observations for non-absorption bands, but large discrepancies exist for the O2 A-band (15.63%) and O2 B-band (5.76%). Sensitivity studies show the large discrepancies are unlikely caused by uncertainties in various input, but a small shift (-0.2–0.3 nm) of IRF could account for the model observation discrepancy. On the other hand, observed multiyear trends in O2 band ratios in the South Pole can be explained with orbital shift – which means the instrument is stable.
      Alfonso Delgado Bonal [UMBC] used the EPIC L2 cloud data to characterize the diurnal cycles of cloud optical thickness. To fully exploit the uniqueness of DSCOVR data, all clouds were separated in three groups depending on their optical thickness: thin (0–3), medium (3–10), and thick (3–25). Bonal explained that there is a predictable pattern for different latitudinal zones that reaches a maximum around noon local time – see Figure 2. It was also shown that that the median is a better measure of central tendency when describing cloud optical thickness.
      Figure 2. Daytime variability of the median liquid cloud optical thickness over the ocean for different seasons of the year derived using EPIC L2 data. The various colored curves represent data collected in different seasons of the year. The black curve represents the annual average – which is most useful for calculations of cloud optical thickness. Figure credit: Alfonso Delgado Bonal Elizabeth Berry [Atmospheric and Environmental Research (AER)] reported on how coincident observations from EPIC and the Cloud Profiling Radar (CPR) on CloudSat have been used to train a machine learning model to predict cloud vertical structure. A XGBoost decision tree model used input (e.g., EPIC L1B reflectance, L2 Cloud products, and background meteorology) to predict a binary cloud mask on 25 vertical levels. Berry discussed model performance, feature importance, and future improvements.
      Ocean
      Robert Frouin [Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California] discussed ocean surface radiation products from EPIC data. He reported that surface radiation products were developed to address science questions pertaining to biogeochemical cycling of carbon, nutrients, and oxygen as well as mixed-layer dynamics and circulation. These products include daily averaged downward planar and scalar irradiance and average cosine for total light just below the surface in the EPIC spectral bands centered on 317.5, 325, 340, 388, 443, 551, and 680 nm and integrated values over the photosynthetically active radiation (PAR) and UV-A spectral ranges. The PAR-integrated quantities were evaluated against in situ data collected at sites in the North Atlantic Ocean and Mediterranean Sea. Frouin and his colleagues have also developed, tested, and evaluated an autonomous system for collecting and transmitting continuously spectral UV and visible downward fluxes. 
      Vegetation
      Yuri Knyazikhin [Boston University] reported on the status of the Vegetation Earth System Data Record (VESDR) and discussed science with vegetation parameters. A new version of the VESDR software was delivered to NCCS and implemented for operational generation of the VESDR product. The new version passed tests of physics (e.g., various relationships between vegetation indices and vegetation parameters derived from the VESDR) and follow regularities reported in literature. Analysis of hotspot signatures derived from EPIC and from the Multiangle Imaging Spectroradiometer (MISR) on Terra over forests in southeastern Democratic Republic of the Congo reaffirms that long-term precipitation decline has had minimal impact on leaf area and leaf optical properties.
      Jan Pisek [University of Tartu/Tartu Observatory, Estonia] reported on the verification of the previously modeled link between the directional area scattering factor (DASF) from the EPIC VESDR product and foliage clumping with empirical data. The results suggest that DASF can be accurately derived from satellite observations and provide new evidence that the photon recollision probability theory concepts can be successfully applied even at a fairly coarse spatial resolution.
      Sun Glint
      Tamás Várnai [UMBC] discussed the EPIC Glint Product as well as impacts of sun glint off ice clouds on other EPIC data products – see Figure 3. The cloud glints come mostly from horizontally oriented ice crystals and have strong impact in EPIC cloud retrievals. Glints increase retrieved cloud fraction, the retrieved cloud optical depth, and cloud height. Várnai also reported that the EPIC glint product is now available at the ASDC. It is expected that glints yield additional new insights about the microphysical and radiative properties of ice clouds.
      Figure 3. EPIC image taken over Mexico on July 4, 2018. The red, white and blue spot over central Mexico is the result of Sun glint reflecting off high clouds containing ice crystals. EPIC is particularly well suited for studies of ice clouds that cause Sun glint, because unlike most other instruments, it uses a filter wheel to take images at multiple wavelengths, which means the image for each wavelength is obtained at a slightly different time. For example, it takes four minutes to cycle from red to blue. During that time, Earth moves by ~100 km (~62 mi) meaning each image will capture a slightly different scene. Brightness contrasts between images can be used to identify glint signals. Image credit: Tamas Vanai Alexander Kostinski [Michigan Technology University] reported on long-term changes and semi-permanent features, e.g., ocean glitter. They introduced pixel-pinned temporally and conditionally averaged reflectance images, uniquely suited to the EPIC observational circumstances. The preliminary resulting images (maps), averaged over months and conditioned on cover type (land, ocean, or clouds), show seasonal dependence at a glance (e.g., by an apparent extent of polar caps).
      More EPIC Science Results
      Guoyong Wen [Morgan State University] discussed spectral properties of the EPIC observations near backscattering, including four cases when the scattering angle reaches about 178° (only 2° from perfect backscattering). The enhancement addresses changes in scattering angle observed in 2020. (Scattering angle is a function of wavelength, because according to Mie scattering theory, the cloud scattering phase function in the glory region is wavelength dependent.) Radiative transfer calculations showed that the change in scattering angles has the largest impact on reflectance in the red and NIR channels at 680 nm and 780 nm and the smallest influence on reflectance in the UV channel at 388 nm – consistent with EPIC observations. The change of global average cloud amount also plays an important role in the reflectance enhancement.
      Nick Gorkavyi [SSAI] talked about future plans to deploy a wide-angle camera and a multislit spectrometer on the Moon’s surface for whole-Earth observations to complement EPIC observations. Gorkavyi explained that the apparent vibrational movement of Earth in the Moon’s sky complicates observations of Earth. This causes the center of Earth to move in the Moon’s sky in a rectangle, measuring 13.4° × 15.8° with a period of 6 years. 
      Jay Herman [UMBC] reported on EPIC O3 and trends from combining Nimbus 7/Solar Backscatter Ultraviolet (SBUV), the SBUV-2 series, and OMPS–Nadir Mapper (NM) data. (OMPS is made up of three instruments: a Nadir Mapper (NM), Nadir Profiler, and Limb Profiler. OMPS NM is a total ozone sensor). Herman compared EPIC O3 data to OMPS NM data, which showed good agreement (especially summer values) for moderate solar zenith angle (SZA). Comparison with long-term O3 time series (1978–2021) revealed that there were trends and latitude dependent O3 turn-around dates (1994–1998). Herman emphasized that global O3 models do not show this effect but rather have only a single turn-around date around 2000.
      Alexander Radkevich [LaRC] presented a poster that showed a comparative analysis of air quality monitoring by orbital and suborbital NASA missions using the DSCOVR EPIC O3 product as well as Pandora total O3 column retrievals. Comparison of the June 2023 total column O3 from EPIC data to the same periods in previous years revealed a significant – around 50 DU – increase of total O3 column in the areas impacted by the plume from 2023 Canadian wildfires.
      Conclusion
      At the end of the meeting Alexander Marshak, Jay Herman, and Adam Szabo discussed how to make the EPIC and NISTAR instruments more visible in the community. The EPIC website now allows visitors to observe daily fluctuations of aerosol index, cloud fraction, and the ocean surface – as observed from the “L1” point,  nearly one million miles away from Earth! More daily products, (e.g., cloud and aerosol height, total leaf area index, and sunlit leaf area index) will be added soon.
      The 2023 DSCOVR EPIC and NISTAR Science Team Meeting provided an opportunity to learn the status of DSCOVR’s Earth-observing instruments, EPIC and NISTAR, the status of recently released L2 data products, and the science results being achieved from the “L1” point. As more people use DSCOVR data worldwide, the ST hopes to hear from users and team members at its next meeting. The latest updates from the mission are found on the EPIC website. (UPDATE: The next DSCOVR EPIC and NISTAR STM will be held on October 16–18, 2024. Check the website for more details as the date approaches.)
      Alexander Marshak
      NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center
      alexander.marshak@nasa.gov

      Adam Szabo
      NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center
      adam.szabo@nasa.gov
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      Image: The Copernicus Sentinel-2 mission takes us over a section of Italy’s heel in the southern part of the boot-shaped peninsula. View the full article
    • By NASA
      The Space Omics and Medical Atlas (SOMA) package, the largest-ever collection of data for aerospace medicine and space biology, was publicly released on June 11, 2024! This monumental achievement was made possible through the collaborative efforts of over 100 institutions from more than 25 countries.
      Of the total 44 publications in the SOMA package, 32 of them feature at least one member of our Ames Space Biosciences Division team. This is a remarkable accomplishment and a testament to the dedication and expertise of our Open Science Data Repository (OSDR) team and other Space Biosciences researchers.
      Congratulations to our OSDR Team members, Analysis Working Group (AWG) members, and Ames scientists for their historic scientific endeavor and invaluable contribution. Their hard work has brought the Ames Space Biosciences Division to the forefront of aerospace and space biology research.
      Their efforts have made an indelible mark on the field, and we are incredibly proud of their work.
      Thank you all for your continued dedication and excellence!
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    • By NASA
      From navigating the depths of the human mind to exploring the vastness of space, Dr. Alexandra (Sandra) Whitmire helps lead research on the effects of prolonged isolation and confinement as NASA prepares to voyage to the Moon and eventually Mars. 

      Whitmire is the lead scientist for the Human Factors and Behavioral Performance element (HFBP) within NASA’s Human Research Program, or HRP. HFBP selects, supports, and helps design studies for Johnson Space Center’s HERA (Human Exploration Research Analog), which conducts missions simulating isolation and confinement to further understand psychological effects on humans.  

      These studies evaluate how crews work as a team and overcome stressors, bringing to light the potential effects of prolonged isolation on behavioral health. They also help reveal strategies for keeping crew members cohesive and engaged on long-duration missions. With greater workloads, higher stress, and more isolation anticipated in future spaceflight missions, especially with communication delays, this research is crucial. 
      Alexandra Whitmire at a Human Resources swearing-in ceremony at NASA’s Johnson Space Center.Credit: NASA/Robert Markowitz Strategies that support astronauts’ mental health have been around since the early days of spaceflight, and a strong team at NASA is in place to support the behavioral health of crews on the International Space Station. This team facilitates services such as communication with family, regular provision of crew care packages, and guidance on the optimal use of onboard methods that seek to counter adverse effects of spaceflight. For instance, lighting systems that simulate daytime and nighttime can help maintain circadian rhythms in the dark of deep space. HFBP learns from the astronauts’ current psychological support teams, while also planning a research strategy that aims to maintain this level of care in future missions beyond low Earth orbit.  

      Initially working through KBR as a research coordinator, Whitmire played a key role in establishing NASA’s behavioral health and performance research group in 2006. Over time, this small group advocated for dedicated research facilities, leading to the creation of HERA in 2013 and a Behavioral Health and Performance Laboratory in 2016. HFBP also initiates and oversees studies in Antarctica, and also created and managed studies previously conducted through the Scientific International Research In a Unique terrestrial Station, or SIRIUS, a series of international missions that were held inside a ground-based analog facility in Moscow, Russia. 

      Whitmire’s role now involves managing projects aimed at mitigating risks for future spaceflight. She specializes in fatigue management, performance measurement, and strategies to counter behavioral changes that may result from spaceflight.  

      “My journey to NASA was quite unexpected,” she said. “With a background in psychology and writing, I never imagined I’d find an opportunity working in space exploration.” 
      Whitmire began her career supporting the state of Texas and MD Anderson Cancer Center on organizational development. She joined NASA’s HRP in 2006 as a research coordinator for the Human Health and Performance element. 

      Whitmire completed her bachelor’s degree in English and Psychology from the University of Texas at Austin. She then earned her master’s in psychology, with a focus on experimental psychology, from the University of Texas in San Antonio, and years later, while continuing her full-time work with KBR, she completed her doctorate in psychology from Capella University. 
      Katie Koube, a HERA (Human Exploration Research Analog) crew member from Campaign 6 Mission 4, prepares food inside the ground-based habitat. Through HERA missions, HRP conducts studies that seek to evaluate how crew health and performance can be affected by stressors anticipated in future exploration missions.  One example study, led by Dr. Grace Douglas, a food technology scientist at Johnson, explored a restricted food system in which meals were replaced with compact bars. Douglas found that limited food options were associated with reduced eating and caloric intake, as well as decrements in mood, highlighting the importance of an acceptable food system for mental well-being on long duration missions.  

      Another study led by Dr. Leslie DeChurch, a professor of Communication and Psychology from Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill., revealed that teams performed worse on a complex, conceptual task at the end of a mission compared to earlier on, highlighting the need to maintain team cohesion and performance over time. Still more studies seek to evaluate the effects of communications delays of up to five minutes each way between crew and HERA’s mission control, which sits just outside the HERA facility.   

      As NASA prepares to launch the first crewed Artemis missions, HRP’s behavioral health team is also incorporating studies to address Moon-specific challenges. The team is focused on the unique demands of lunar landings, such as high-tempo operations and seconds-long communication delays. The current goal is to increase the fidelity of HERA to future Artemis missions to ensure that more meaningful, operationally-relevant results emerge from future investigations.  
      The HERA Campaign 7 Mission 1 crew members inside the analog environment at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston. Through these studies, scientists learn valuable lessons about resilience and coping mechanisms that can benefit future space missions. Their findings emphasize the importance of maintaining social connections, adequate work-rest schedules, and opportunities for exercise to support mental health. Being intentional and reflective with gratitude and positive emotions has also shown significant value, Whitmire notes, adding that during her time at NASA, she has learned more about the importance of relationships, communication, and resolving problems together as a team. 

      “Overall, our goal is to ensure that astronauts are well-prepared for and supported through the psychological demands of space exploration. We seek to apply these insights to improve mental health support for everyone,” Whitmire said. “All of us can learn from these crew members in their periods of isolation to get insights on how to live happier, healthier lives here on Earth.” 
      View the full article
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