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Results from ESA’s Climate Change Initiative on display at COP27

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Achieving net-zero by the second half of the century is considered vital if global temperatures are to remain well below the two degrees rise as set out by the Paris Agreement for climate. From their vantage point in space, satellites provide a unique means of tracking progress towards achieving this balance between greenhouse gas emissions from sources and removal by sinks.

How space-based approaches can support the UN Global stocktake, starting in 2023, are the focus of technical discussions at the 2022 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP27) currently taking place in Sharm El-Sheikh, and feature results from ESA’s trailblazing REgional Carbon Cycle Assessment and Processes project. These results come at a critical time ahead of next week’s ESA Council Meeting at Ministerial Level.

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    • By NASA
      Lee esta historia en español aquí.
      The International Space Station is a microgravity research lab hosting groundbreaking technology demonstrations and scientific investigations. More than 3,700 investigations conducted to date have generated roughly 500 research articles published in scientific journals. In 2023, the orbiting lab hosted more than 500 investigations.
      See more space station research achievements and findings in the Annual Highlights of Results publication, and read highlights of results published between October 2022 and October 2023 below:
      A New Spin on Pulsars
      A view of NICER, attached to the space station’s exterior multipurpose payload shelving unit.NASA Neutron stars, ultra-dense matter left behind when massive stars explode as supernovas, are also called pulsars because they spin and emit X-ray radiation in beams that sweep the sky like lighthouses. The Neutron star Interior Composition Explorer (NICER) collects this radiation to study the structure, dynamics, and energetics of pulsars. Researchers used NICER data to calculate rotations of six pulsars and update mathematical models of their spin properties. Precise measurements enhance the understanding of pulsars, including their production of gravitational waves, and help address fundamental questions about matter and gravity.
      Learning from Lightning
      The space station’s robotic arm maneuvers the Atmosphere-Space Interactions Monitor, seen at the top of the image, for light testing. NASA Atmosphere-Space Interactions Monitor (ASIM) studies how upper-atmospheric electrical discharges generated by severe thunderstorms affect Earth’s atmosphere and climate. These events occur well above the altitudes of normal lightning and storm clouds. Using ASIM data, researchers reported the first detailed observations of  development of a of negative leader, or initiation of a flash, from in-cloud lightning. Understanding how thunderstorms disturb the high-altitude atmosphere could improve atmospheric models and climate and weather predictions.
      Regenerating Tissue in Space
      Tissue Regeneration-Bone Defect (Rodent Research-4 (CASIS)), sponsored by the ISS National Lab, examined wound healing mechanisms in microgravity. Researchers found that microgravity affected the fibrous and cellular components of skin tissue. Fibrous structures in connective tissue provide structure and protection for the body’s organs. This finding is an initial step to use connective tissue regeneration to treat disease and injuries for future space explorers.
      Mighty Muscles in Microgravity
      Installation of the Mouse Habitat Unit (MHU) in the station’s Cell Biology Experiment Facility. NASA/JAXA JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) developed the Multiple Artificial-gravity Research System (MARS), which generates artificial gravity in space. Three JAXA investigations, MHU-1, MHU-4, and MHU-5, used the artificial-gravity system to examine the effect on skeletal muscles from different gravitation loads – microgravity, lunar gravity (1/6 g), and Earth gravity (1 g). Results show that lunar gravity protects against loss of some muscle fibers but not others. Different gravitational levels may be needed to support muscle adaptation on future missions.
      Better Ultrasound Images
      JAXA astronaut Akihiko Hoshide uses the station’s ultrasound device to image the femoral artery in his right leg. NASA Vascular Echo, an investigation from CSA (Canadian Space Agency), examined changes in blood vessels and the heart during and after spaceflight using ultrasound and other measures. Researchers compared 2D ultrasound technology with a motorized 3D ultrasound and found that 3D is more accurate. Better measurements could help maintain crew health in space and quality of life for people on Earth.
      This is Your Brain in Space
      ESA astronaut Thomas Pesquet with a preflight scan of his brain for the Brain-DTI investigation. ESA/NASA The Brain-DTI investigation from ESA (European Space Agency) tested whether the brain adapts to weightlessness by using previously untapped connections between neurons. MRI scans of crew members before and after spaceflight demonstrate functional changes in specific brain regions, confirming the adaptability and plasticity of the brain under extreme conditions. This insight supports the development of ways to monitor brain adaptations and countermeasures to promote healthy brain function in space and for those with brain-related disorders on Earth.
      Improving Solar Materials
      The MISSE-FF platform is used to test how exposure to space affects materials, including those used for solar power in space.NASA Metal halide perovskite (MHP) materials convert sunlight into electrical energy and show promise for use in thin-film solar cells in space due to low cost, high performance, suitability for in-space manufacturing, and defect and radiation tolerance. For Materials International Space Station Experiment-13-NASA (MISSE-13-NASA), which continues a series investigating how space affects various materials, researchers exposed perovskite thin films to space for ten months. Results confirmed their durability and stability in this environment. This finding could lead to improvements in MHP materials and devices for space applications such as solar panels.
      Understanding Bubbles in Foams
      A sample cell for the FOAM investigation on the space station.NASA Wet foams are dispersions of gas bubbles in a liquid matrix. An ESA investigation, FSL Soft Matter Dynamics or FOAM, examines coarsening, a thermodynamic process where large bubbles grow at the expense of smaller ones. Researchers determined the coarsening rates for various types of foams and found close agreement with theoretical predictions. A better understanding of foam properties could help scientists improve these substances for a variety of uses, including firefighting and water treatment in space and making detergents, food, and medicine on Earth.
      Answering Burning Questions
      A sample of composite cotton and fiberglass fabric burns during Saffire-IV.NASA Fire is a constant concern in space. The Saffire series of experiments studies flame conditions in microgravity using empty Cygnus resupply spacecraft that have undocked from the space station. Saffire-IV examined fire growth with different materials and conditions and showed that a technique called color pyrometry can determine the temperature of a spreading flame. The finding helps validate numerical models of flame properties in microgravity and provides insight into fire safety on future missions.
      The Robot Hop
      An Astrobee robot performs a self-tossing maneuver on the space station.NASA Astrobatics tests robotic movement using hopping or self-toss maneuvers by the station’s Astrobee robots. In low gravity, robots could move faster, use less fuel, and cover otherwise impassable terrain with these maneuvers, expanding their orbital and planetary capabilities. Results verified the viability of the locomotion method and showed that it provides a greater range of distance. The work is a step toward autonomous robotic helpers in space and on other celestial bodies, potentially reducing the need to expose astronauts to risky environments.
      Melissa Gaskill
      International Space Station Program Research Office
      Johnson Space Center
      Search this database of scientific experiments to learn more about those mentioned above.
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    • By NASA
      After 25 years of international collaboration operating the largest and most technologically advanced laboratory in low Earth orbit, the current decade of research results has seen thousands of researchers around the world completing their investigations, analyzing their data, and publishing their findings.
      Through close examination of station client feedback obtained since 2002, station program managers, administration personnel, and technical staff have improved their processes and software tools to enhance communication with research teams for better in-flight data collection and sample return. These refinements affect experiment results and the conclusions researchers draw. The enhanced planning and coordination of investigation launch, stowage, crew time allocation, accessibility to station’s research capabilities (i.e., facilities), and data delivery are critical to the effective operation of scientific projects for accurate results to be shared with the scientific community, sponsors, legislators, and the public.
      Over 3,700 investigations have operated since Expedition 1, with more than 250 active research facilities, the participation of more than 100 countries, the work of more than 5,000 researchers, and over 4,000 publications. The growth in research (Figure 1) and international collaboration (Figure 2) has prompted the publication of over 560 research articles in top-tier scientific journals with about 75 percent of those groundbreaking studies occurring since 2018 (Figure 3).
      Figure 1 . Bibliometric mapping of station research growth over time. Count of the keyword microgravity co-occurring at least five times with other research keywords at different time periods. A) 1999-2005: n=11; B) 2006-2011: n=49; C) 2012-2017 n=69; D) 2018-Sep. 2023: n=115. The node size represents the number of publications containing the research keywords (larger nodes = more publications), the distance between nodes represents relatedness between research keywords, and the colors represent different research areas.
      Figure 1-A) 1999-2005: n=11
      Figure 1-B) 2006-2011: n=49
      Figure 1-C) 2012-2017 n=69
      Figure 1-D) 2018-Sep. 2023: n=115
      Bibliometric analyses conducted through VOSviewer1 measure the impact of space station research by quantifying and visualizing networks of journals, citations, subject areas, and collaboration between authors, countries, or organizations. Using bibliometrics, a broad range of challenges in research management and research evaluation can be addressed. The network visualizations, stacked charts, and line graphs provided in this introduction demonstrate the growth and influence of station research.
      Figure 2. Bibliometric mapping of station collaboration growth over time. Measurement of co-authorship strength (i.e., total line thicknesses) between the United States and other countries in the network at different time periods. A) 1999-2005: total link strength = 19 B) 2006-2011: total link strength = 74; C) 2012-2017: total link strength = 150; D) 2018-Sep. 2023: total link strength = 442. Nodes represent the number of publications for each country. Distance and color are not relevant indicators in this chart.
      Figure 2-A) 1999-2005: total link strength = 19
      Figure 2-B) 2006-2011: total link strength = 74
      Figure 2-C) 2012-2017: total link strength = 150
      Figure 2-D) 2018-Sep. 2023
      Figure 3. Count of publications reported in journals ranked in the top 100 according to global standards of Clarivate. A total of 567 top-tier publications through the end of FY-23 are shown by year and research category.
      In this year’s edition of the Annual Highlights of Results, we report findings from a wide range of topics in biology and biotechnology, physics, human research, Earth and space science, and technology development – including investigations about plant root orientation, tissue damage and repair, bubbles, lightning, fire dynamics, neutron stars, cosmic ray nuclei, imaging technology improvements, brain and vascular health, solar panel materials, grain flow, as well as satellite and robot control.
      The findings highlighted here are only a small sample representative of the research conducted by all the participating space agencies – ASI (Agenzia Spaziale Italiana), CSA (Canadian Space Agency), ESA (European Space Agency), JAXA (Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency), Roscosmos, and NASA – on station in the past 12 months.
      Many more studies in fiscal year (FY)-23 revealed remarkable results, such as finding reduced fat accumulation in the bone marrow (MARROW), identifying gene mutations that preserve muscle (Molecular Muscle), improving optical beams…detecting bacterial antibiotic resistance during spaceflight (Plazmida), observing abnormal cell division of human neural stem cells (STaARS Bioscience-4), among others. A full list of all the publications collected in FY-23 can be found at the end of this report.
      A publicly accessible database of space station investigations and publications can be found in the Space Station Research Explorer (SSRE) website, and all editions of the Annual Highlights of Results from the International Space Station can be found through the Past Annual Highlights of Results from the Space Station Research Results Library.
      Between Oct. 1, 2022, and Sept. 30, 2023, we identified a total of 330 articles associated with station research. Of these 330 articles, 268 appeared in peer-reviewed journals, 59 in conference proceedings, and 3 in gray literature such as books, magazines, technical reports, or patents. Articles are also categorized based on how authors obtained their results. There were 204 publications that reported direct implementation of the science aboard station (i.e., Results), 37 that reported development of the payload prior to operation on station (i.e., Flight Preparation), and 89 that emerged as follow-ups to station science (i.e., Derived). Because derived articles are new scientific studies generated from shared data, derived science is an additional return on the investment trusted to station science. For FY-23, this return on investment was 27 percent. Full definitions of these publication types (i.e, Results, Flight Preparation, and Derived) categories can be found on page 10 of this report.
      Figure 4. Count of publications by agency and station research category. A total of 330 articles were collected in FY-23.
      Figure 4 shows a stacked chart with the count of articles collected in FY-23 broken out by space agency and research category. In summary, we found three articles for CSA, 43 articles for ESA, 58 articles for JAXA, 10 articles for Roscosmos, and 216 articles for NASA.  Of the 330 articles collected in FY-23, 66 were articles published prior to Oct. 1, 2022. 
      Measuring Space Station Impacts
      The significant impact of sustained international multidisciplinary research in microgravity can be observed through the findings published in world-class scientific journals that adhere to a rigorous scientific peer-review process.
      With the assistance of Clarivate, a global database that collects publication and journal information for annual journal ranking and metrics, we identified the top findings produced by station researchers. One parameter, the journal’s Eigenfactor Score2, ranks each journal based on readership and influence, including the different citation standards of each discipline. 
      From Oct 1, 2022, to Sept 30, 2023, 78 articles appeared in top-tier journals. Of those 78 articles, 26 were reported in top 20 journals (see Table 1).  
      Table 1. A total of 78 articles were published in top-tier journals in FY-23: 21 articles in top 20 (green) and 57 articles in top 100 (yellow). Data ranked according to Clarivate Journal Citations Reports (JCR) Eigenfactor score.
      In addition to the research diversity and top-tier results obtained from station, a comparison of station science to global and US standards of category-normalized citation impact (i.e., adjusted impact of a publication based on its research area) shows greater influence of station science since 2010 compared to other research endeavors taking place domestically or internationally. The authority of station research was particularly prominent in 2019, and it continues to hold its place in the scientific community to date. Figure 5 illustrates this important comparison.
      Figure 5. Citation impact (normalized by research area) of station science publications compared to national and global standards.
      The high impact of space station is in great part attributed to the researchers who conduct transformative science in low Earth orbit. As shown in Table 2, four studies published in FY-23 have already received much acclaim from others in their field.
      Table 2. List of articles published in FY-23 that have been widely recognized in a short period of time. *NICER reported two additional FY-23 publications with over 10 citations.
      Advancements in technology and research on station have inspired students all over the world to pursue STEM careers, encouraged researchers to explore bold questions, and incentivized economies through the initiation of businesses in the space industry. While some of the most decisive steps toward space commercialization are recent, researchers from small and large companies, academic institutions, and government agencies have been conducting experiments in space since 2005 through the International Space Station National Lab. Today, the hard work is paying off. In FY-23, we collected 39 publications from investigations sponsored by National Lab with fascinating results in droplet behavior for the improvement of condensing systems (Drop Vibration), the reliable use of a genome examination and editing tool (Ax-1 CRSPR), the identification of specific gut bacteria involved in bone loss (Rodent Research-5), the use of neural networks for improved image analysis (Spaceborne Computer-2), and much more. In addition to the accomplishments of the International Partners and NASA on space station, National Lab’s alternative route to send investigations to space have demonstrated that new paths can be explored to expand research in microgravity for the advancement of science and benefit of humanity. 
      Evolution of Space Station Results
      The archive of space station investigations went online in 2004.  Since that time, changes to methods for tracking investigations and publications have been implemented, including increased differentiation between research disciplines and a re-characterization of publication fields. Currently, the following publication types are included in the Program Science Toolbox:  
      Flight Preparation Results – publications about the development work performed for an investigation, facility, or project prior to operation on space station.   Station Results – publications that provide information about the performance and results of an investigation, facility, or project as a direct implementation on station or on a vehicle to space station.  Derived Results – publications that use data from an investigation that operated on station, but the authors of the article are not members of the original investigation team. Derived Results articles have emerged as a direct outcome of the open-source data initiative, which gives access to raw data for new researchers to analyze and publish innovative results, expanding global knowledge and scientific benefits.   Patents – applications filed based on the performance and results of an investigation, facility, or project on station, or on a vehicle to space station.  Related – publications that lead to the development of an investigation, facility, or project.  Linking Space Station Benefits 
      Space station research results lead to benefits for human exploration of space, benefits to humanity, and the advancement of scientific discovery. This year’s Annual Highlights of Results from the International Space Station includes descriptions of just a few of the results that were published from across the space station partnership during the past year.  
      Space station investigation results have yielded updated insights into how to live and work more effectively in space by addressing such topics as understanding radiation effects on crew health, combating bone and muscle loss, improving designs of systems that handle fluids in microgravity, and determining how to maintain environmental control efficiently. Results from the space station provide new contributions to the body of scientific knowledge in the physical sciences, life sciences, and Earth and space sciences to advance scientific discoveries in multi-disciplinary ways. Space station science results have Earth-based applications, including understanding our climate, contributing to the treatment of disease, improving existing materials, and inspiring the future generation of scientists, clinicians, technologists, engineers, mathematicians, artists, and explorers. Citations:
      1Van Eck NJ, Waltman L. Software survey: VOSviewer, a computer program for bibliometric mapping. Scientometrics. 2010; 84(2):523-538. DOI: 10.1007/s11192-009-0146-3.
      2West JD, Bergstrom TC, Bergstrom CT. The Eigenfactor Metrics™: A Network approach to assessing scholarly journals. College and Research Libraries. 2010;71(3). DOI: 10.5860/0710236.
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    • By NASA
      The 2023 Annual Highlights of Results from the International Space Station is now available. This new edition contains bibliometric analyses, a list of all the publications documented in fiscal year 2023, and synopses of the most recent and recognized scientific findings from investigations conducted on the space station. These investigations are sponsored by NASA and all international partners – CSA (Canadian Space Agency), ESA (European Space Agency), JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency), and the State Space Corporation Roscosmos (Roscosmos) – for the advancement of science, technology, and education. These new peer-reviewed publications include insights that advance the commercialization of space and benefit humankind.
      Over 4,000 scientific publications have been collected from more than 5,000 investigators during the life of the space station. Between Oct. 1, 2022, and Sept. 30, 2023, more than 300 publications were reported, most of them undergoing rigorous scientific review before release and dissemination. An in-depth bibliometric analysis of station science shows that the citation impact of these publications has been above national and global standards since 2010. This impact demonstrates that space station science continues to produce groundbreaking results for investigators around the world to further explore.
      Some of the findings presented in this edition include:
      Improved measurement of cosmic particles (Italian Space Agency) New ultrasound technologies for detection of physiological changes (CSA) Enhanced understanding of coordinated function in brain activity (ESA) Development of better semiconductor materials (NASA) Impacts of spaceflight on connective tissue for improved tissue remodeling (ROSCOSMOS) Understanding the behavior of granular materials for better spacecraft design (JAXA) The content in the Annual Highlights of Results from the International Space Station has been reviewed and approved by the Program Science Forum, a team of scientists and administrators from the international partnership of space agencies dedicated to planning, improving, and communicating the research operated on the space station.
      See the list of Station Research Results publications here and read more about the space station’s annual highlights of results and accomplishments here.  
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    • By NASA
      Studying the Health of Our Oceans and Climate on This Week @NASA – February 9, 2024
    • By NASA
      NASA’s Plankton, Aerosol, Climate, ocean Ecosystem (PACE) satellite launched aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket at 1:33 a.m. EST, Feb. 8, 2024, from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida. From its orbit hundreds of miles above Earth, PACE will study microscopic life in the oceans and microscopic particles in the atmosphere to investigate key mysteries of our planet’s interconnected systems. 
       NASA NASA’s satellite mission to study ocean health, air quality, and the effects of a changing climate for the benefit of humanity launched successfully into orbit at 1:33 a.m. EST Thursday.
      Known as PACE, the Plankton, Aerosol, Climate, ocean Ecosystem satellite, launched aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida. NASA confirmed signal acquisition from the satellite about five minutes after launch, and the spacecraft is performing as expected.
      “Congratulations to the PACE team on a successful launch. With this new addition to NASA’s fleet of Earth-observing satellites, PACE will help us learn, like never before, how particles in our atmosphere and our oceans can identify key factors impacting global warming,” said NASA Administrator Bill Nelson. “Missions like this are supporting the Biden-Harris Administration’s climate agenda and helping us answer urgent questions about our changing climate.”
      From hundreds of miles above Earth, the PACE mission will study the impact of tiny, often invisible things: microscopic life in water and microscopic particles in the air.
      The satellite’s hyperspectral ocean color instrument will allow researchers to measure oceans and other waterbodies across a spectrum of ultraviolet, visible, and near-infrared light. This will enable scientists to track the distribution of phytoplankton and – for the first time from space – identify which communities of these organisms are present on daily, global scales. Scientists and coastal resource managers can use the data to help forecast the health of fisheries, track harmful algal blooms, and identify changes in the marine environment.
      The spacecraft also carries two polarimeter instruments, Hyper-Angular Rainbow Polarimeter #2 and Spectro-polarimeter for Planetary Exploration. These will detect how sunlight interacts with particles in the atmosphere, giving researchers new information on atmospheric aerosols and cloud properties, as well as air quality at local, regional, and global scales.
      With the combination of the instrument and the polarimeters, PACE will provide insights into the interactions of the ocean and atmosphere, and how a changing climate affects these interactions.
      “Observations and scientific research from PACE will profoundly advance our knowledge of the ocean’s role in the climate cycle,” said Karen St. Germain, director, Earth Science Division, Science Mission Directorate, at NASA Headquarters in Washington. “The value of PACE data skyrockets when we combine it with data and science from our Surface Water and Ocean Topography mission – ushering in a new era of ocean science. As an open-source science mission with early adopters ready to use its research and data, PACE will accelerate our understanding of the Earth system and help NASA deliver actionable science, data, and practical applications to help our coastal communities and industries address rapidly evolving challenges.” 
      “It’s been an honor to work with the PACE team and witness firsthand their dedication and tenacity in overcoming challenges, including the global pandemic, to make this observatory a reality,” said Marjorie Haskell, PACE program executive at NASA Headquarters. “The passion and teamwork are matched only by the excitement of the science community for the data this new satellite will provide.”
      Earth’s oceans are responding in many ways to climate change – from sea level rise to marine heat waves to a loss of biodiversity. With PACE, researchers will be able to study climate change’s effects on phytoplankton, which play a key role in the global carbon cycle by absorbing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and converting it into their cellular material. These tiny organisms drive larger aquatic and global ecosystems that provide critical resources for food security, recreation, and the economy.
      “After 20 years of thinking about this mission, it’s exhilarating to watch it finally realized and to witness its launch. I couldn’t be prouder or more appreciative of our PACE team,” said Jeremy Werdell, PACE project scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. “The opportunities PACE will offer are so exciting, and we’re going to be able to use these incredible technologies in ways we haven’t yet anticipated. It’s truly a mission of discovery.”
      NASA’s Launch Services Program, based at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, managed the launch services for the mission. The PACE mission is managed by NASA Goddard, which also built and tested the spacecraft and the ocean color instrument. The Hyper-Angular Rainbow Polarimeter #2 was designed and built by the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, and the Spectro-polarimeter for Planetary Exploration was developed and built by a Dutch consortium led by Netherlands Institute for Space Research, Airbus Defence, and Space Netherlands.
      For more information on PACE, visit:
      Faith McKie / Karen Fox
      Headquarters, Washington
      202-358-1600 / 240-285-5155
      faith.d.mckie@nasa.gov / karen.c.fox@nasa.gov

      Jake Richmond
      Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.
      View the full article
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