Members Can Post Anonymously On This Site
By European Space Agency
Video: 00:03:29 Mission complete. ESA’s second European Remote Sensing (ERS-2) satellite has reentered Earth’s atmosphere over the North Pacific Ocean. The satellite returned at 18:17 CET (17:17 UTC) between Alaska and Hawaii.
ERS-2 was launched almost 30 years ago, on 21 April 1995. Together with ERS-1, it provided invaluable long-term data on Earth’s land surfaces, ocean temperatures, ozone layer and polar ice extent that revolutionised our understanding of the Earth system.
ERS-2’s reentry was ‘natural’. ESA used the last of its fuel, emptied its batteries and lowered the satellite from its altitude of 785 km to 573 km. This reduced the risk of collision with other satellites and space debris. As a result, it was not possible to control ERS-2 at any point during its reentry and the only force driving its descent was unpredictable atmospheric drag.
As well as leaving a remarkable legacy of data that still continue to advance science, this outstanding mission set the stage for many of today’s satellites and ESA’s position at the forefront of Earth observation.
The ERS-2 reentry is part of ESA's wider efforts to ensure the long-term sustainability of space activities. These include ESA's Clean Space initiative which promotes the development of new technologies for more sustainable space missions in collaboration with the wider European space community, as well as the Zero Debris Approach, which will even further reduce the debris left in both Earth and lunar orbits by future missions.
View the full article
Naval helicopters fly over a test version of NASA’s Orion spacecraft and personnel involved in training activities in the Pacific Ocean in July 2023, in preparation for Artemis II. Teams from NASA, including the Artemis II crew, and the Department of Defense are training this month off the coast of San Diego to prepare to recover the astronauts and Orion when they return to Earth. Credits: NASA/Kenny Allen Media are invited to speak with the four Artemis II astronauts on Wednesday, Feb. 28, at Naval Base San Diego in California. The crew will fly around the Moon next year as part of NASA’s Artemis campaign, marking the first astronauts to make the journey in more than 50 years.
NASA and the U.S. Department of Defense are conducting training with the crew in the Pacific Ocean to demonstrate the procedures and hardware needed to retrieve NASA astronauts Reid Wiseman, Victor Glover, Christina Koch, and CSA (Canadian Space Agency) astronaut Jeremy Hansen after their approximately 10-day, 685,000-mile journey beyond the lunar far side and back.
The flight is the first crewed mission under NASA’s Artemis campaign and will test the agency’s Orion spacecraft life support systems needed for future lunar missions.
Attendees will be able to view hardware associated with the training, including a test version of Orion aboard the USS San Diego, and speak with other personnel from the agency and the Defense Department who are responsible for bringing the crew and the capsule to safety after the mission.
Media interested in attending must RSVP by 4 p.m. PST, Monday, Feb. 26, to Naval Base San Diego Public Affairs at firstname.lastname@example.org or 619-556-7359. The exact time of the planned afternoon Feb. 28 event is subject to the conclusion of testing activities.
Under Artemis, NASA will establish the foundation for long-term scientific exploration at the Moon, land the first woman, first person of color, and its first international partner astronaut on the lunar surface, and prepare for human expeditions to Mars for the benefit of all.
For more about NASA’s Artemis II mission, visit:
Kennedy Space Center, Florida
Johnson Space Center, Houston
Last Updated Feb 22, 2024 LocationNASA Headquarters Related Terms
Missions Artemis 2 Astronauts Christina H. Koch G. Reid Wiseman Humans in Space Victor J. Glover View the full article
5 Min Read NASA’s Planetary Protection Team Conducts Vital Research for Deep Space Missions
Cassilly examines fungal growth obtained from a space environmental exposure study, part of the Planetary Protection team’s work to understand the ability of microbes to survive conditions in deep space. Credits: NASA/Charles Beason By Celine Smith
As NASA continues its exploration of the solar system, including future crewed missions to Mars, experts in the agency’s Office of Planetary Protection are developing advanced tactics to prevent NASA expeditions from introducing biological contaminants to other worlds.
At NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, the Planetary Protection team is contributing to this work – pursuing new detection, cleaning, and decontamination methods that will protect alien biospheres, safeguard future planetary science missions, and prevent potentially hazardous microbes from being returned to Earth. The Planetary Protection team is a part of the Space Environmental Effects (SEE) team in Marshall’s Materials and Processes Laboratory.
Chelsi Cassilly, lead of Marshall Space Flight Center’s Planetary Protection Laboratory, researches microbes and their behaviors to preserve the environment of other planetary bodies after future missions. NASA/Charles Beason Planetary Protection microbiologist Chelsi Cassilly said much of Planetary Protection focuses on “bioburden” which is typically considered the number of bacterial endospores (commonly referred to as “spores”) found on and in materials. Such materials can range from paints and coatings on robotic landers to solid propellants in solid rocket motors. NASA currently requires robotic missions to Mars meet strict bioburden limits and is assessing how to apply similar policies to future, crewed missions to the Red Planet.
“It’s impossible to eliminate microbes completely,” Cassily said. “But it’s our job to minimize bioburden, keeping the probability of contamination sufficiently low to protect the extraterrestrial environments we explore.”
Currently, Marshall’s Planetary Protection research supports NASA’s Mars Ascent Vehicle, a key component of the planned Mars Sample Return campaign, and risk-reduction efforts for the Human Landing System program.
Critically, Planetary Protection prevents the introduction of microbes from Earth onto planetary bodies where they might proliferate and subsequently interfere with scientific study of past or current life there. If Earth’s microbes were to contaminate samples collected on Mars or Europa, the scientific findings would be an inaccurate depiction of these environments, potentially precluding the ability to determine if life ever existed there. Preserving the scientific integrity of these missions is of the utmost importance to Cassilly and her team.
Contamination mitigation tactics used in the past also may not work with modern hardware and materials. For the Viking missions to Mars, NASA employed a total spacecraft “heat microbial reduction” (HMR) process, a prolonged exposure to high temperatures to kill off or minimize microbes. As spacecrafts advance, NASA is more discerning, using HMR for components and/or subassemblies instead of the entire spacecraft.
According to Cassilly, HMR may not always be an ideal solution because, extended time at high temperatures required to kill microbes can degrade the integrity of certain materials, potentially impacting mission success. While this is not a problem for all materials, there is still a need to expand NASA’s repertoire of acceptable microbial reduction techniques to include ones that may be more efficient and sustainable.
This mold from the genus Cladosporium was collected from the surface of a cleanroom table at Marshall. This and other microbes within cleanrooms pose the biggest threat to spacecraft cleanliness and meeting Planetary Protection requirements. Jacobs Engineering/Chelsi Cassilly To contribute to NASA’s Planetary Protection efforts, Cassilly undertook a project – funded by a Jacobs Innovation Grant – to build a microbial library that could better inform and guide mitigation research. That meant visiting cleanrooms at Marshall to collect prevalent microbes, extracting DNA, amplifying specific genes, and submitting them for commercial sequencing. They identified 95% of the microbes within their library which is continually growing as more microbes are collected and identified.
The Planetary Protection team is interested in taking this work a step further by exposing their microbial library to space-like stressors—including ultraviolet light, ionizing radiation, temperature extremes, desiccation, and vacuum—to determine survivability.
Understanding the response of these microbes to space environmental conditions, like those experienced during deep space transit, helps inform our understanding of contamination risks associated with proposed planetary missions.
Planetary Protection microbiologist
“The research we’re doing probes at the possibility of using space itself to our advantage,” Cassilly said.
Cassilly and Marshall materials engineers also supported a study at Auburn University in Auburn, Alabama, to determine whether certain manufacturing processes effectively reduce bioburden. Funded by a NASA Research Opportunity in Space and Earth Sciences (ROSES) grant, the project assessed the antimicrobial activity of various additives and components used in solid rocket motor production. The team is currently revising a manuscript which should appear publicly in the coming months.
This Bacillus isolate with striking morphology was collected from a sample of insulation commonly used in solid rocket motors. Cassilly studies these and other material-associated microbes to evaluate what could hitch a ride on spacecraft. Jacobs Engineering/Chelsi Cassilly Cassilly also supported research by Marshall’s Solid Propulsion and Pyrotechnic Devices Branch to assess estimates of microbial contamination associated with a variety of commonly used nonmetallic spacecraft materials. The results showed that nearly all the materials analyzed carry a lower microbial load than previously estimated – possibly decreasing the risk associated with sending these materials to sensitive locations.
Such findings benefit researchers across NASA who are also pursuing novel bioburden reduction tactics, Cassilly said, improving agencywide standards for identifying, measuring, and studying advanced planetary protection techniques.
“Collaboration unifies our efforts and makes it so much more possible to uncover new solutions than if we were all working individually,” she said.
NASA’s Office of Planetary Protection is part of the agency’s Office of Safety and Mission Assurance at NASA Headquarters in Washington. The Office of Planetary Protection oversees bioburden reduction research and development of advanced strategies for contamination mitigation at Marshall Space Flight Center; NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California; NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland; and NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston.
For more information about NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center, visit:
Last Updated Feb 22, 2024 LocationMarshall Space Flight Center Related Terms
Marshall Space Flight Center Explore More
3 min read NASA to Continue Testing for New Artemis Moon Rocket Engines
Article 2 hours ago 30 min read The Marshall Star for February 21, 2024
Article 16 hours ago 3 min read Rocket Propellant Tanks for NASA’s Artemis III Mission Take Shape
Article 6 days ago Keep Exploring Discover More Topics From NASA
Marshall Space Flight Center
Human Landing System
Planetary Missions Program Office
Brian Muirhead: Mars Sample Return Mission Overview
View the full article
Boeing’s Starliner spacecraft approaches the International Space Station on May 20, 2022. Credit: NASA As part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program, the agency opened media accreditation for the launch of NASA’s Boeing Crew Flight Test to the International Space Station. The mission will be the company’s first Starliner spacecraft mission with crew.
NASA astronauts Butch Wilmore and Suni Williams will launch aboard Starliner on a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket and dock at the orbiting laboratory, where they will stay for up to two weeks. Liftoff is currently targeted for mid-April 2024 from Space Launch Complex-41 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida.
The mission will test the end-to-end capabilities of the Starliner system, including launch, docking, and return to Earth in the desert of the western United States.
Following a successful mission, NASA will begin the final process of certifying Starliner and systems for crewed missions to the space station.
U.S. media may apply separately for a photo opportunity during the rollout of the Starliner spacecraft from Boeing’s Commercial Cargo and Processing Facility at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The operational activity is scheduled to take place in early April.
Media accreditation deadlines are as follows:
International media without U.S. citizenship interested in covering the launch must apply by 11:59 p.m., Thursday, March 14 U.S. media interested in a photo opportunity of Starliner rollout must apply by 11:59 p.m., Thursday, March 21 U.S. media interested in covering the launch must apply for credentials by 11:59 p.m., Sunday, April 7 All accreditation requests must be submitted online at:
NASA’s media accreditation policy is online. For questions about accreditation or special logistical requests, please email: email@example.com. Requests for space for satellite trucks, tents, or electrical connections are due by Monday, April 15.
For other questions, please contact the newsroom at NASA Kennedy: 321-867-2468.
Para obtener información sobre cobertura en español en el Centro Espacial Kennedy o si desea solicitar entrevistas en español, comuníquese con Antonia Jaramillo: 321-501-8425, o Messod Bendayan: 256-930-1371.
NASA’s Commercial Crew Program is working with the American aerospace industry through a public-private partnership to launch astronauts on American rockets and spacecraft from American soil. The goal of the program is to provide safe, reliable, and cost-effective transportation on space station missions, which will allow for additional research time.
For more information about the agency’s Commercial Crew Program, visit:
Joshua Finch / Julian Coltre
firstname.lastname@example.org / email@example.com
Steve Siceloff / Danielle Sempsrott
Kennedy Space Center, Florida
firstname.lastname@example.org / email@example.com
Johnson Space Center, Houston
Last Updated Feb 21, 2024 LocationNASA Headquarters Related Terms
NASA Headquarters Astronauts Commercial Space Commercial Space Programs Humans in Space Johnson Space Center Kennedy Space Center View the full article
Check out these Videos