Welcome on the ISS. On you left side…

17 09 2012

Follow ESA astronaut André Kuipers (who recently installed ALTEA in Columbus) in a guided tour of the International Space Station. A really exceptional guide by André himself that will introduce you to all the secrets of living in space.

“The fastest 55 minutes of my life… but almost de greatest!!!”

“When I started the video I was like ‘What 55 minutes, that’s going to be so boring.’ 55 mins later I was sad that it ended so soon 😉 That really was a great tour through the ISS!”

 

At minute eight, after entering the European module Columbus, it shows ALTEA:”here for example I recently installed ALTEA which is a radiation experiment…”. Enjoy the tour!





ALTEA goes to Columbus

18 06 2012

Four (4) hours. Do you know what does it mean to plan a four hour activity on the Space Station? The latest activity with a similar duration was in 2007 and it was the first CNSM measurement on an astronaut. At that time two astronauts were involved and the activity, planned for one hour and half, went well beyond two and a half hours. Just to try to explain what does it mean planning a four hour activity. In a space activity, unexpected issue on a 15 minute activity could cause 3 months of data loss.

Ok, let’s start from the beginning. Who is following ALTEA activities on Twitter (official ALTEA account @ISS_ALTEA) or on Facebook (ALTEA official page) already knows that after being for 6 years inside the UsLab, it was planned to move ALTEA to Columbus in a new configuration.

ALTEA has been in this position in the UsLab since the 22nd of July 2011 (link in Italian), when the Japanese astronaut Satoshi Furukawa moved it from the previous location. At that time the activity was relatively easy, because the particle detectors were already configured on the support structure. All the astronaut had to do was simply to move the whole thing into the new location inside the American module and to start a new measurements.

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Before this activity, it was Paolo Nespoli (link in Italian) who did a great job in assembling the entire detector configuration starting from a dismounted ALTEA in a bag. You can find here the images of that activity. That activity took Paolo more than four hours to complete (can’t remember how long it was planned for), and the activity was only about assembling ALTEA.

This move to Columbus, on the contrary, implied for André to disassemble ALTEA and the support structure completely, put everything in a bag, and then reassemble everything in a new configuration inside Columbus. Let’s consider that the ALTEA Shield support structure is composed by modular plates that need to be assembled just like a jigsaw-puzzle:

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This is the configuration assembled by Paolo Nespoli

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André Kuipers had to build the configuration named Shield Shield. Four plates have to be assembled in a planar configuration to hold only three SDUs (the particle detectors of ALTEA). Two SDUs are shielded by shielding tiles of different thickness placed above and beyond the particle detector. The third SDU, without shielding, acts as reference. This permits to assess the effectiveness of the shielding by comparing the type and the number of revealed particles.

So it was not an easy task for André, taking into account that he had to move to a different module, on a different pc, with an updated software. The MARS center in Naples who was supporting the operations on our behalf from ground, planned an 8 hour shift to manage possible delay of the activity.

But despite our fears, André completed his activity without any hesitation, without any error, without any issue, and in less than three and a half hours, ALTEA was in Columbus in its new configuration, sending valuable science data to ground.

Here are the pictures of the new configuration:

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And after the detectors were inserted in the Columbus racks

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Our best congratulations to André for the really good job. And good new measurements to ALTEA.

PS: The PromISSe mission ESA blog talked about ALTEA activity by André.





Here comes the CME. Solar activity update

7 03 2012

The CME that I talked about in Fireworks from the Sun, originated from the X class solar flare of the 5th of March, is hitting the Earth right now. The increasing proton flux has produced an increase of particle flux in the ISS that is being measured by ALTEA. Here is the particle flux detected by ALTEA and the proton flux as detected by GOES satellites.

SPE 7 Marzo ALTEA

I remember that you can observe the real time flux as measured by ALTEA with the Integrated Space Weather Analysis System web app.

Let me conclude this flash post with a great infographic on Solar Flares. And stay tuned because a new CME could be arriving in the next days.

See how different types of solar flares stack up in this SPACE.com infographic.
Source: SPACE.com: All about our solar system, outer space and exploration





Robonaut meets ALTEA

22 02 2012

Robonaut 2 completed its initial checkouts on board the International Space Station Wednesday, February 15, 2012 and went on to make history with the first human/robotic handshake to be performed in space. The humanoid robot then provided a message sent down in sign language. “Hello World,” the robot signed in American sign language, repeating the first tweet sent from its Twitter account, @AstroRobonaut, which also happens to be a traditional programming phrase.
R2, as the robot is nicknamed, launched to the International Space Station almost a year ago and has been put through a series of checkouts as its crewmates had time. The last of these checkouts started on Tuesday and finished today. All of the tests – which included force sensor verifications and free range movement demonstrations – were completed, wrapping up with the sign language message and a handshake between the robot and space station Commander Dan Burbank. View video of historic handshake with Robonaut 2.
“For the record, it was a firm handshake,” Burbank said. “Very nice. Nice job on the programming and all the engineering. Quite an impressive robot.”

And what about ALTEA? All these Robonaut activities were performed in the Destiny Laboratory and ALTEA was a direct witness. As you can see from following pictures, the white box that Commander Dan Burbank is about to stomp, and we hope he did not do this, is ALTEA DAU. Some of you that have particularly acute sight could also see ALTEA detectors in the top right angle at the bottom of the Lab.





Paolo Nespoli, six months out of this world, talks about ALTEA

25 01 2012

From the website www.giovediscienza.org I want to share a public conference during which Paolo Nespoli talks about the period of five months he spent in space onboard the International Space Station. He also describes all the scientific experiments he was involved in during his mission.

At about 12:50 Paolo talks about the ALTEA-Shield experiment he conducted (see ALTEA Shield activity with Paolo Nespoli in 3D and  Paolo Nespoli riattiva l’esperimento italiano ALTEA-Shield, Le immagini della riattivazione di ALTEA on my italian blog). He also describes in the light flash phenomenon:  “This is an experiment because we have a 3D radiation detector that identifies the heavy particles in space which are destroyed or dampened by the atmosphere on Earth, here it doesn’t exist but then here you see that suddenly you feel in space that somebody has taken a photo with a flash and you feel puff!, these are these particles, these are the flashes which take place when one of these radiations go through the eye and through the retina and trigger this reaction”

Enjoy the video!





ALTEA at YRMR 2012 (slides)

23 01 2012

On January 20th I participated to the 3rd Young Researcher Meeting in Rome (read ALTEA at YRMR 2012 (live stream)) with the talk named: "The ALTEA and ALTEA-Shield experiment onboard the International Space Station".

Abstract: Anomalous Long Term Effects in Astronaut’s Central Nervous System (ALTEA) is a helmet-shaped device holding six silicon particle detectors that has been used to measure the effect of the exposure of crewmembers to cosmic radiation on brain activity and visual perception, including astronauts’ perceptions of light flashes behind their eyelids as a result of high-energy radiation. Because of its ability to be operated without a crewmember, it is also being used as a dosimeter to provide quantitative data on high-energy radiation particles passing into the ISS. ALTEA capabilities are also used to give additional information on the exposure of crewmembers to radiation during their stays on ISS for use in health monitoring.
The ALTEA experiment was designed by the Italian Space Agency (ASI) in collaboration with a science team led by Professor L. Narici of Tor Vergata University, Rome. The experiment onboard the International Space Station since July 2006 and it has been used as operative instrument by the Space Radiation Analysis Group (SRAG) of NASA.
Since September 2010 ALTEA detectors are used on a different support for the ESA experiment ALTEA-Shield, which is designed to assess radiation flux in different positions inside the UsLab module. ALTEA-Shield will also provide data about radiation shielding effects by a variety of special materials.
A description of the experiment and a summary of the main results obtained by ALTEA and ALTEA-Shield investigation will be presented.

You can find the slides of the presentation at the following link: (Slides).

If you have any question please feel free to ask with a comment.





ALTEA at YRMR 2012 (live stream)

18 01 2012

The Young Researcher Meeting in Rome is a conference devoted to discussion and interchange of new developments and new ideas in physics. The meeting is primarily aimed at graduate students and postdocs working in physics, who are encouraged to present their work in an informal atmosphere. The main purpose is to create a network of young researchers, both experimentalists and theorists, and fruitful cooperation across the different branches of physics. The meeting is organized in sections, each of them devoted to an active research field in physics: particle and theoretical physics, soft and condensed matter, astrophysics and cosmology, geophysics, biophysics and medical physics, applied physics. Here is the conference program.

ALTEA team will participate with the following talk:“The ALTEA and ALTEA-Shield experiment onboard the International Space Station”

Abstract: Anomalous Long Term Effects in Astronaut’s Central Nervous System (ALTEA) is a helmet-shaped device holding six silicon particle detectors that has been used to measure the effect of the exposure of crewmembers to cosmic radiation on brain activity and visual perception, including astronauts’ perceptions of light flashes behind their eyelids as a result of high-energy radiation. Because of its ability to be operated without a crewmember, it is also being used as a dosimeter to provide quantitative data on high-energy radiation particles passing into the ISS. ALTEA capabilities are also used to give additional information on the exposure of crewmembers to radiation during their stays on ISS for use in health monitoring.
The ALTEA experiment was designed by the Italian Space Agency (ASI) in collaboration with a science team led by Professor L. Narici of Tor Vergata University, Rome. The experiment onboard the International Space Station since July 2006 and it has been used as operative instrument by the Space Radiation Analysis Group (SRAG) of NASA.
Since September 2010 ALTEA detectors are used on a different support for the ESA experiment ALTEA-Shield, which is designed to assess radiation flux in different positions inside the UsLab module. ALTEA-Shield will also provide data about radiation shielding effects by a variety of special materials.
A description of the experiment and a summary of the main results obtained by ALTEA and ALTEA-Shield investigation will be presented.

Follow the 3rd YRMR Meeting in Live Streaming here or on Ustream (http://www.ustream.tv/channel/yrmr-meeting-2012)

The transmission will start on 20 January 2012 at 8.45 until 7.00 pm.

ALTEA presentation will be at 12:20

Send comments and questions if you are registered: the most interesting will be asked to the speakers. For not registered users: you can send questions and comments on the facebook fan page:

http://www.facebook.com/pages/Young-Researchers-Meeting-Rome/275983770232

If you participate and enjoy the presentation, please leave a comment.