Research

Press Releases

Below are some of the press releases relating to the research work done by the members of the PEPS group:

July 29, 2019 : The 12 Planetary Space Weather Services of the Europlanet H2020 project are operational !

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Under Horizon 2020, the Europlanet 2020 Research Infrastructure developed an entirely new Virtual Access Service led by IRAP, “Planetary Space Weather Services” (PSWS), that extends the concepts of space weather and space situational awareness to other planets in our Solar System and in particular to spacecraft that voyage through it. Read the Press Release ...

July 23, 2019 : Selection by the European Space Agency of the Comet Interceptor mission with two electron analyzers from IRAP !

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The Comet Interceptor mission has been selected by the European Space Agency as its first Fast class mission for its Cosmic Vision programme. Read the Press Release ...

July 17, 2019 : First electron spectra in the solar wind for MEA onboard BepiColombo !

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The second phase of the commissioning of the two electron analyzers MEA onboard the BepiColombo/Mio spacecraft has been successfully achieved. The two instruments have been turned on on Monday, July 1st and on Tuesday, July 2nd , respectively, under the careful operations of the IRAP scientists and engineers from the European Space Operations Center of the European Space Agency in Darmstadt, Germany. The BepiColombo spacecraft was at a distance of about 28 millions km from the Earth. Read the Press Release ...

July 5, 2019 : Mars 2020 Rover Gets a Super Instrument

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Engineers at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, have installed the SuperCam Mast Unit onto the Mars 2020 rover. The instrument's camera, laser and spectrometers can identify the chemical and mineral makeup of targets as small as a pencil point from a distance of more than 20 feet (6 meters). Read the Press Release ...

June 12, 2019 : The SuperCam instrument soon to be delivered to NASA

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The Mast Unit of the SuperCam instrument of the American Mars 2020 mission will soon be delivered to NASA's space research center, the JPL (Jet Propulsion Laboratory - Pasadena-USA), in order to be integrated at the top of the rover mast of the Mars 2020 mission. Read the Press Release ...

March 21, 2019 : Discovery of a second gas cloud around Jupiter by the Galileo probe

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The analysis of the energetic protons observed by the American probe Galileo from 1995 to 2003 had led to the detection of a relatively thin cloud of oxygen surrounding Jupiter close to the orbit of the Europa frozen moon. The existence of a second cloud of gas, larger and made up of hydrogen, has just been revealed thanks to Galileo's measurements of another energy species: sulphur ions. This discovery was made by two researchers from the Institut de Recherche en Astrophysique et Planétologie de Toulouse (IRAP-OMP, CNRS/UT3 - Paul Sabatier/CNES) and published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters. Read the Press Release ...

December 21, 2018 : First successful Sun exposure for the Parker Solar Probe mission

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Parker Solar Probe mission, launched on August 12, 2018, is the first to graze a star, our Sun. On November 6, 2018, Parker Solar Probe successfully completed its first meeting with the Sun, collecting valuable data as it passed through to answer one of the major unresolved problems of contemporary physics: why is the solar atmosphere so much warmer than its surface? Read the Press Release ...

December 6, 2018 : The surface of Titan seen in the infrared domain by the Cassini probe

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Saturn's largest satellite Titan was overflown 127 times by the Cassini probe between 2004 and 2017. An international team including an IRAP researcher compiled all the data from the VIMS imaging spectrometer in order to create a global map of the surface of Titan in the infrared domain, showing the geological diversity of the terrain. A synthetic video illustrates its main features, from the equatorial dune fields to the impact craters, to the Huygens module landing site. Read the Press Release ...

December 12, 2018 : The SLOW-SOURCE project led by an IRAP researcher receives a European funding

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The European Research Council (ERC) awarded a "Consolidator Grant" on Thursday 29 November 2018 to 291 European researchers to finance exploratory research projects lasting 5 years, with a maximum budget of €2 millions. One of the selected projects is led by an IRAP researcher (Université Paul Sabatier de Toulouse & CNRS). This is the SOLW_SOURCE Project, whose objective is to determine the origin of the slow solar wind. Read the Press Release ...

November 29, 2018 : Successful test of the MEA Electron Analyzers on the BepiColombo/Mio probe

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The first phase of the commissioning of the MEA electron analyzers on the BepiColombo/Mio probe went perfectly. The two instruments were switched on for the first time on Saturday 24 November for 3 hours under the close supervision of the IRAP researchers and engineers at the European Space Agency's operations centre in Darmstadt, Germany. The BepiColombo mission was then more than 11 million km from Earth. Read the Press Release ...

October 18, 2018 : Bepi Colombo : Europe and Japan set out to conquer Mercury

Mercury is a planet that has so far been relatively little studied. Also, the European, ESA, and Japanese space agencies, JAXA, have worked together to meet this challenge and set up the international space mission Bepi Colombo. During the night of 19-20 October, the two satellites that make up the satellite will be launched from Kourou by an Ariane 5 rocket. Read the Press Release ...

October 12, 2018 : Saturn: Cassini discovers a new radiation belt

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About one year ago, a spectacular dive into Saturn's upper atmosphere put an end to the Cassini mission, and a unique project that studied the Saturn system for 13 years. During the last five months of the mission, the probe dived 22 times into the hitherto almost unexplored region, located between the planet and its innermost ring, ring D. Science magazine has just published a series of articles describing the first results of this last phase of the mission. In one of these articles, an international research team, involving the Institut de Recherche en Astrophysique et Planétologie (IRAP / OMP, CNRS / University of Toulouse III Paul Sabatier), shows that a radiation belt, containing protons of extreme energies, is formed between the planet and its dense rings. As with the main proton belt, the protons that populate the region near the planet are generated by the incoming cosmic radiation. Due to the presence of the particularly dense rings A, B and C, this zone is decoupled from the main radiation belt as well as from the rest of the magnetosphere. Read the Press Release ...

August 10, 2018 : Parker Solar Probe: French research takes off towards the Sun

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Parker Solar Probe will soon become the closest spacecraft to the Sun, just over 6 million kilometres from the surface of our star. This NASA probe will include an instrument developed by researchers from the CNRS, the University of Orléans and the CNES during its trip in the solar corona. In all, five French laboratories, including IRAP (Université Paul Sabatier Toulouse III and CNRS) are involved in this mission to reveal the phenomena observed in the Sun's atmosphere. The probe is scheduled to leave Earth on August 11, 2018. Read the Press Release ...

July 27, 2018 : BepiColombo : last instrument checkings and tests for MIO - the Mercury Magnetospheric Orbiter - before launch !

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On June 21-27 the IRAP BepiColombo Team has flown to Europe’s Spaceport in Kourou in order to perform the last checkings of the two Mercury Electron Analyzers (MEA) built by IRAP for the mission. Read the Press Release ...

July 2, 2018 : Delivery and testing of the first set of FM MCP detectors for the JENI instrument

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On June 7, 2018, the JUICE (Jupiter Icy moon Explorer, European Space Agency) project team at IRAP went to the Applied Physics Laboratory (APL), Johns Hopkins University in Maryland, USA to deliver and test the first 6 MCP FM set of their JENI instrument (Jupiter Energetic Neutrals and Ions, instrument dedicated to the detection of energetic neutral and ion particles in the Jovian environment and in particular around the Galilean moons) for the instrument suite PEP (Particle Environment Package) and whose C phase transition of the design was validated during the NASA CDR held on June 12th and 13th. Read the Press Release ...

June 21, 2018 : Exploring planetary plasma environments from your laptop

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A new database of plasma simulations, combined with observational data and powerful visualisation tools, is providing planetary scientists with an unprecedented way to explore some of the Solar System's most interesting plasma environments. This digital space exploration story starts with the Integrated Medium for Planetary Exploration (  IMPEx), a collaborative project to create a common data hub for space missions. Read the Press Release ...

May 17, 2018 : NASA MMS satellites discover new magnetic reconnection process associated with plasma turbulence

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In a recent article published in the journal Nature, scientists including a researcher from IRAP (Université Paul Sabatier de Toulouse & CNRS) discovered a new type of magnetic process, closely associating magnetic reconnection and turbulence, by studying data from NASA's Magnetospheric MultiScale (MMS) space mission. Read the Press Release ...

March 22, 2018 : 2,000 sols of exploration of the Gale crater by the Curiosity robot on Mars

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After nearly 6 years of exploration of the Gale Crater, NASA's Curiosity robot passes the 2000-sols mark (1 sol = 1 Martian day = 24 hr 40 min) on the surface of Mars. Such a longevity has allowed Curiosity to demonstrate that the essential conditions for the emergence of life were met in the past on Mars. The French teams of the CNRS and of the French universities, which daily operate the ChemCam (1) and SAM (2) instruments in collaboration with the CNES, have made an essential contribution to Curiosity's discoveries. A look back at some of the mission's highlights. Read the Press Release ...

October 10, 2017 : Discovery of the simultaneous emission of a gravitational wave and of gamma photons by a binary system of coalescing neutron stars

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For the first time, a gravitational wave (GW170817) was detected simultaneously (within 2 seconds) with a photon emission in the form of a short-lived gamma ray burst (GRB170817A). The gravitational wave was detected by LIGO (Advanced Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory) and Virgo, the gamma ray burst by the Gamma-ray Burst Monitor (GBM) of the FERMI satellite and by the SPI spectrometer aboard the INTEGRAL mission. These independent detections make it possible to identify this event with the coalescence (fusion) of two neutron stars. Read the Press Release ...

September 21, 2017 : CHEMCAM : 500,000th laser shot from the Curiosity rover

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The Curiosity rover, equipped with the two SAM and ChemCam instruments designed with the participation of France, went well beyond its original two-year mission, and in five years of uninterrupted operation, it discovered ancient rivers, a delta that filled a lake whose water had a neutral PH and a temperature of more than 30°C. By drilling at the bottom of this ancient lake, it has detected mineral veins showing prolonged underground water activity and catalogued sources of sediment, thus identifying all the characteristics of an habitable planet. Read the Press Release ...

June 12, 2017 : Rosetta unveils the secrets of the origin of xenon

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The existence of a link between the terrestrial xenon isotopic composition and that of comet 67P / Churyumov-Gerasimenko has just been demonstrated by an international consortium of researchers1 including those of the CNRS and of the universities of Lorraine, Orléans , Toulouse III - Paul Sabatier and Aix-Marseille thanks to the Rosina instrument of ESA's Rosetta probe. Read the Press Release ...

June 9, 2017 : Delivery of the PAS French instrument for the Solar Orbiter mission

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The PAS (Proton-Alfa Sensor) sensor, designed and developed by the IRAP teams (CNRS / CNES / Paul Sabatier University), will be delivered to ESA on 13 June 2017 to equip its Solar Orbiter probe. PAS is part of the Solar Wind Analyzer (SWA) instrument dedicated to the analysis of the solar wind particles. Read the Press Release ...

April 10, 2017 : The "Tchouri" comet took several million years to form

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The heating produced by the disintegration of isotopes of aluminum and iron potentially present in the 67P / Churyumov-Gerasimenko comet would have been too intense at the beginning of the life of the protosolar nebula to explain the presence of materials at low temperature. Indeed, the presence of carbon monoxide, nitrogen or argon, as evidenced in 67P / Churyumov-Gerasimenko by the Rosetta mission, is only possible if the comet has formed after 2 to 8 Million years of evolution of the nebula so that it cools sufficiently and allows the comet to form, while keeping its materials more volatile. The other possibility is that the comet would have formed slowly over this entire interval of time, allowing it to preserve much of the ice it has acquired from the nebula. This is the result of a study led by researchers from the Marseille Astrophysics Laboratory (CNRS / Aix-Marseille University) and including an IRAP researcher (Université Paul Sabatier in Toulouse, CNRS and CNES). The study was published on April 6, 2017 in The Astrophysical Journal Letters. Read the Press Release ...

March 30, 2017 : Solid state convection and mixing of the Martian mantle before complete solidification of its magmatic ocean

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An international team of researchers including an IRAP researcher (Paul Sabatier University of Toulouse and CNRS) publishes the results of a study devoted to the early thermo-chemical evolution of the Martian mantle. The picture resulting from the numerical simulations carried out within this study was selected for the cover page of the March 2017 edition of the Journal of Geophysical Research: Planets, an American Geophysical Union (AGU) journal. Read the Press Release ...

March 8, 2017 : According to the latest results of the radar CONCERT on Rosetta, comets are mainly composed of dust rich in carbonaceous material

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Measurements of the Rosetta mission's CONSERT experiment made it possible for the first time to observe the interior of a comet and to estimate the average composition of the nucleus. This decisive study shows that comets are mainly composed of dust rich in carbonaceous material. This work was published on March 7, 2017 in the MNRAS (Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society) Journal of the Oxford University Press1. It was conducted by a team in which French researchers from the Institut de Planétologie et d'Astrophysique de Grenoble (CNRS / Université Grenoble Alpes), the Laboratoire Atmosphères, Milieux, Observations Spatiales (CNRS / Pierre and Marie Curie University Versailles St-Quentin) and the Institut de Recherche en Astrophysique et Planétologie (CNRS / University of Toulouse Paul Sabatier) are strongly involved. Read the Press Release ...

January 3, 2017 : SuperCam : design review successful

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On December 7, 8 and 9, 2016, the SuperCam team made up of researchers from IRAP (Paul Sabatier University of Toulouse & CNRS) and engineers of the Scientific Instrumentation Group of the Midi-Pyrénées Observatory, succeeded in the latest design review prior to the production of the flight model for the NASA Mars mission MARS2020. Read the Press Release ...

December 7, 2016 : The COMETS symposium : a wonderful success

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The symposium "COMETS, a new vision after Rosetta and Philae" organized by the CNES and the IRAP (Université Paul Sabatier of Toulouse & CNRS) with financial support from ESA, was successfully held from 14 to 18 November 2016 at the Musée des Abattoirs in Toulouse. Read the Press Release ...

May 27, 2016 : Rosetta's comet contains ingredients for life

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Ingredients regarded as crucial for the origin of life on Earth have been discovered at the comet that ESA’s Rosetta spacecraft has been probing for almost two years. They include the amino acid glycine, which is commonly found in proteins, and phosphorus, a key component of DNA and cell membranes. Scientists have long debated the important possibility that water and organic molecules were brought by asteroids and comets to the young Earth after it cooled following its formation, providing some of the key building blocks for the emergence of life. While some comets and asteroids are already known to have water with a composition like that of Earth’s oceans, Rosetta found a significant difference at its comet – fuelling the debate on their role in the origin of Earth’s water. But new results reveal that comets nevertheless had the potential to deliver ingredients critical to establish life as we know it. Read the Press Release ...

May 18, 2016 : France Teams with NASA to Advance Solar System Exploration

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NASA and the Astrophysics and Planetology Research Institute (IRAP), located in Toulouse, France, have signed an Affiliate Member statement with NASA’s Solar System Exploration Research Virtual Institute (SSERVI). With the establishment of a NASA SSERVI French node, France’s planetary science community will participate in SSERVI programs on a no-exchange-of-funds basis. Read the Press Release ...

April 1, 2016 : The Moon would play a key role in maintaining the Earth's magnetic field

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The Earth's magnetic field protects us every day from the charged particles and radiations coming from sunlight. This shield is produced by geodynamo: rapid movements of huge amounts of liquid iron alloy in the outer core of the planet. To maintain this magnetic field until today, the classical model claimed that the Earth's core has cooled to about 3000 degrees over the last 4.3 billion years. A team of researchers belonging to the CNRS and the University Blaise Pascal1 suggests instead that its temperature has decreased to only 300 degrees. The action of the Moon, neglected until now, would then compensate for this difference in order to maintain active geodynamo. This work was published on March 30, 2016 within the journal Earth and Planetary Science Letters. Read the Press Release ...

March 31, 2016 : The MMS Mission delivers its first results

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An international team including several IRAP researchers (Paul Sabatier University of Toulouse & CNRS) delivers the first results of the NASA MMS Mission (Magnetospheric Multi Scale) dedicated to the study of the Earth's magnetosphere. This study was published on March 28, 2016 within the journal Geophysical Research Letters. Read the Press Release ...

March 14, 2016 : First dance step for CALIPSO!

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IRAP is developing since 2012 a new way to test and calibrate the plasma instruments conceived within the PEPS group (Planets, Environments and Space Plasmas), CALIPSO (CALibration of Plasma Instruments and Observing System). This ultra-modern and fully automated test as well as the expertise of the team in charge of its development will be necessary to gain future instrumental contributions with strong accountability and visibility over the next exploration missions of the Solar System ionized environments. Read the Press Release ...

March 9 2016 : Measuring the pH of hydrothermal fluids at high temperature and high pressure: a challenge in geology and many industrial applications

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Geologists, chemists and geochemists of the GeoResources laboratory (CNRS, University of Lorraine), of the IRAP (CNRS, University of Toulouse) and of the IGEM (Russian Academy of Sciences) have succeeded in measuring, in laboratory, the pH of hydrothermal fluids in water-gas-salts systems up to 280° C and 150 bar pressure. The device, miniaturized, robust and accurate, not only allow to measure the pH in extreme conditions, but also to equip industrial installations implementing hot and pressurized fluids: oil drilling platforms, geothermal power stations, cooling circuits of nuclear power stations. Read the Press Release ...

November 5, 2015 : The solar wind, the main cause of Mars' atmospheric erosion

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After several campaigns of "deep-dip", the NASA's MAVEN (Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution) probe managed to determine the reasons for the escape of the Martian atmosphere into space, and therefore one of the key factors to the transition of a potentially habitable planet to an inhospitable environment. These major results, to which the IRAP researchers (Paul Sabatier University of Toulouse & CNRS) have contributed significantly, are published on Nov. 6, 2015 in the journals Science and Geophysical Research Letters. Read the Press Release ...

October 29, 2015 : Rare materials to serve a space mission. Diamond aboard the JUICE probe.

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For the needs of the ESA JUICE (Jupiter Icy Moon Explorer) mission, several IRAP researchers (Université Paul Sabatier of Toulouse & CNRS) have just realized a campaign of unpublished tests at the ONERA (Office National d'Etudes et de Recherches Aérospatiales, Toulouse). These tests were designed to measure the effectiveness of Langmuir probes for the first time covered in gold, diamond or graphene. These rare and expensive materials have interesting properties. But are they as effective as those traditionally used to determine the characteristics of a plasma? Read the Press Release ...

October 13, 2015 : Thanks to Rosetta, comet 67P / Churyumov-Gerasimenko continues to reveal its secrets

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Several teams of French researchers of the LATMOS1, LPC2E2, CRPG3, LAM4, IRAP5 involved in the analysis of the observations made by the instruments onboard Rosetta (ESA) reveal the lack of connection, for certain chemical elements, between our Earth and cometary atmospheres. Meanwhile, researchers of the Observatoire de la Côte d'Azur showed that the early activity of the comet is due to large temperature fluctuations caused by shading process on the topographic surface. These works are published in the journals Science and The Astrophysical Journal Letters, 810: L22. Read the Press Release ...

July 30, 2015 : Tchouri proves to be … different

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Unknown organic molecules on a comet, a fairly varied surface structure but a rather homogeneous structure in depth, organic compounds gathered in clumps and not dispersed in the ice ... These are some of the results issued from the first data of Philae on the surface of comet "Tchouri". As part of the ESA Rosetta mission, this work has involved researchers from CNRS, Aix-Marseille University, Joseph Fourier University, the University of Nice Sophia Antipolis, the UPEC, the UPMC, the University of Paris-Sud, the University of Toulouse III - Paul Sabatier and the UVSQ, with the support of CNES. They are published in a set of eight articles, on July 31, 2015, within the journal Science. These results in situ, very rich in new information, show some differences with previous observations of comets and existing models. Read the Press Release ...

July 15, 2015 : Curiosity finds traces of a primitive continental crust on Mars

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An international team involving five French laboratories, including IRAP (University Paul Sabatier of Toulouse & CNRS) identifies traces of ancient continental crust on Mars. This work was published in the journal Nature Geoscience.  Read the Press Release ...

June 11, 2015 : Philae was found!

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After several months of research, the teams of the Laboratoire d'Astrophysique de Marseille, those of the SONC and several scientists involved in the CONSERT and ROMAP instruments, believe that they have found the Philae lander jettisoned on comet 67P on 12 November 2014. Read the Press Release ...

June 8, 2015 : ChemCam and SAM Instruments on NASA’s Curiosity rover get very-long-distance fixes

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Since August 2012, for nearly 1,000 Mars days, NASA’s Curiosity rover has been pursuing a unique scientific and technological adventure on the surface of the Red Planet. During this time, its systems have been subjected to the rigours of Mars’ climate. The rover’s ChemCam and SAM instruments recently received fixes 350 million kilometres from Earth to restore them to full operational capability, working with teams in France. Read the Press Release ...

March 19, 2015 : Comet probe detects the «most wanted molecule»

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ESA’s comet probe Rosetta has for the first time ever measured nitrogen gas at a comet, providing clues to the early stages of the formation of our solar system. The findings of the study, which was led by researchers at the University of Bern, have now been published in the journal «Science». Read the Press Release ...

March 12, 2015 : Successful launch of MMS Mission

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NASA has announced the successful launch of the MMS (Magnetospheric Multi Scale) Mission on 12 March 2015. This mission is dedicated to the study of magnetic reconnection, a fundamental process for transferring magnetic energy to charged particles in the form of heating and acceleration. It consists in a set of four satellites which will make measurements of charged particles and electromagnetic fields in the environment related to the magnetosphere, the ionized environment of the Earth where the particle motion is controlled by the Earth's magnetic field. Many US, European and Japanese laboratories are involved in the NASA's MMS mission, including two French laboratories, the Laboratoire de physique des plasmas (LPP-CNRS/Ecole Polytechnique/UPMC/Université Paris-Sud/Observatoire de Paris) and the Institut de Recherche en Astrophysique et Planétologie (IRAP-CNRS/Université Toulouse III Paul Sabatier), supported by CNES. Read the Press Release ...

March 2, 2015 : The MAVEN probe successfully completed first "Dip Deep" campaign!

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Orbiting the red planet since September 22, 2014, and after several weeks of testing the embedded instruments among which SWEA (Solar Wind Electron Analyzer) designed by a team of IRAP (Paul Sabatier University in Toulouse and CNRS), the NASA MAVEN probe (Mars atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN) has just completed successfully its first "dive" into the Martian atmosphere. Objective: To collect scientific data on the whole of the upper atmosphere in order to better understand the atmospheric escape processes and thus to trace the evolution of the past Martian climate. Read the Press Release ...

February 10, 2015 : Rosetta: where is Philae and when will he wake up?

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Since its landing on Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko on November 12 (2014), Philae, which was able to perform a series of meaurements before exhausting its batteries, has not yet revealed its precise position. Where's the research? Will the probe, which will soon make a close flyby, be able to locate it? Will Philae wake up? What happens to the measurements it has undertaken before falling asleep? Where is Philae and will we able to locate it precisely? Read the Press Release ...

February 10, 2015 : How has the CONSERT instrument measured the distance of Philae and its rotation during the descent?

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During the descent of Philae on the comet, the CONSERT instrument has measured the distance between the orbiter and Philae by measuring the signal exchanged between the antennas located on both the orbiter and the lander (see the animation below). The maximum amplitude of the signal, as may be seen below, periodically varied while decreasing with time. Read the Press Release ...

January 22, 2015 : Tchouri under the eye of Rosetta

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Surprisingly shaped into two lobes and of high porosity, the nucleus of the comet 67P / Churyumov-Gerasimenko (nicknamed Tchouri) reveals a wide range of features thanks to the MIRO, OSIRIS and VIRTIS instruments of the ESA Rosetta mission, to which contribute researchers of the CNRS, of the Observatoire de Paris and of several universities, with the support of the CNES. Seven in number, their studies, published on January 23, 2015 in Science, also show that the comet is rich in organic materials and that the geological structures observed result primarily from surface erosion phenomena. The RPC-ICA instrument has meanwhile traced the evolution of the magnetosphere of the comet while the ROSINA instrument seeks the witnesses for the birth of the Solar System.  Read the Press Release ...

December 10, 2014 : Rosetta : the first results of the ROSINA instrument

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The first measurements of the ROSINA instrument of the Rosetta mission reveal that the ratio deuterium / hydrogen (or D/H) of the comet 67P / Churyumov-Gerasimenko is highly enriched in deuterium. These results are in disagreement with the assumptions that assign a cometary origin to the water in the Earth's atmosphere and oceans. They also indicate that the comets belonging to the 67P family did not originate from a single region, the Kuiper belt: some could come from the Oort cloud. This international study involving laboratories attached to the CNRS, including the IRAP (Université Toulouse III - Paul Sabatier) with the support of the CNES, is published in Science Express of December 10, 2014. Read the Press Release ...

November 12, 2014 : Philae successful landing!

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This Wednesday, November 12, 7 hours after breaking away from the Rosetta probe, the Philae module successfully landed on the comet 67P-Churyumov-Gerasimenko located 500 million kilometers away from Earth. The landing of the robot has been "gently" according to the the European Space Agency (ESA). "This is a big step for human civilization," said Jean-Jacques Dordain, Director General of ESA". "This is an absolutely extraordinary day," said Jean-Yves Le Gall, Chairman of CNES. Read the Press Release ...

November 7, 2014 : CNRS, major actor in the Rosetta mission

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Within one week, on November 12, between 17h and 17:30, the Philae lander of the Rosetta spacecraft of the European Space Agency (ESA) will try to land on the comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko 67P. An unprecedented and dangerous mission through which scientists, belonging to the CNRS and various French universities, rely to shed light on some of the mysteries of our origins. The CNRS has participated in the development of thirteen scientific instruments of the mission, including three of which he is the principal investigator. Everywhere in France, and more particularly at the Cité de l'Espace, Toulouse, it will be possible to watch live this world premiere, which will be broadcast on video at www.insu.cnrs.fr/fr/Rosetta. CNRS researchers and engineers will be especially mobilized that day to answer, live on Twitter with #PoseToiPhilae, questions from the public about the mission and its scientific issues. Read the Press Release ...

September 24, 2014 : MAVEN in orbit around Mars

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After a journey of 10 months and some 711 million kilometers traveled, the MAVEN (Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN) probe of the NASA has been successfully put into orbit around the planet Mars, on September 22, 2014. On board, various instruments among which the SWEA (Solar Wind Electron Analyzer) instrument, designed by a team of IRAP (Paul Sabatier University in Toulouse and CNRS). Scientific objectives of the mission: to study the upper Martian atmosphere and ionosphere, and their interactions with the solar wind. Read the Press Release ...

September 16, 2014 : Rosetta: selection of the landing site of Philae

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This Monday, Sept. 15, ESA has officially announced the selection of the site where Philae will land on Comet 67P / Churyumov-Gerasimenko. The chosen site is the "J" site which was screened on August 24 from a pool of five potential sites, as the probe was still 100 kilometers away from the comet. The "J" site offers a great scientific potential while ensuring the best conditions of landing for Philae and the ability to make the most of its energy resources. Read the Press Release ...

August 6, 2014 : Rosetta has arrived! Science operations begin

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After ten years of a long journey, the ESA's probe Rosetta today became the first craft to actually have an appointment with a comet. A new chapter in the exploration and knowledge of our solar system opens. The CNRS through its 10 laboratories has made a significant contribution to the development and progress of the mission along with the CNES and will provide major contribution to the scientific exploitation of the data collected by the various instruments of the probe. Read the Press Release ...

July 31, 2014 : The SuperCAM instrument selected by NASA for the MARS 2020 mission

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NASA, the United States Space Agency, announced on July 31 the selection of SuperCam among the scientific instruments that will equip the vehicle of the Mars 2020 mission, whose design is similar to the rover Curiosity, with the ChemCam instrument currently operating at the surface of Mars. Read the Press Release ...

July 20, 2014 : The role of convection in the chemical composition of oceanic lavas

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Two Amercian and French researchers, including a researcher from the Institut de Recherche en Astrophysique et Planétologie (Paul Sabatier University of Toulouse and CNRS), recently demonstrated, by means of numerical simulations, the role of convection at small scales in the chemical composition and variability of oceanic lavas of mid-ocean ridges. This study was published on July 20, 2014 in the journal Nature Geoscience. Read the Press Release ...

January 20, 2014 : ROSETTA wakes up from deep space hibernation

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A chapter in the odyssey of the Rosetta spacecraft in deep space finds a happy ending after a grueling wait: dive into sleep for 31 months, the probe has just tonight got in touch with ESA. Rosetta will be the first space mission to make a rendezvous with a comet, trying to put a lander on its surface and then to follow it when it approaches the Sun. His target is comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. Read the Press Release ...

December 9, 2013 : Curiosity analyzes the sedimentary rocks of Mars

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Curiosity, the NASA Martian vehicle, after landing in August 2012 in the Gale crater impact, moved towards a small depression, about 500m away, called "Yellowknife Bay." This area is of high interest for the researchers, since it appears to host lake deposits. International teams, involving French researchers, in collaboration with the CNES, have studied in detail the first samples of these sedimentary rocks. Analyses of these rocks show an ancient Martian environment distinct from the current environment and maybe more similar to that of the Earth more than 3 billion years ago. These works form the basis of four publications to appear this week in the journal Science.  Read the Press Release ...

November 20, 2013 : Lighting test of an instrument onboard Solar Orbiter

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Solar Orbiter is a space mission supported by the European Space Agency (ESA), to which the NASA contributes. It aims to study the properties and dynamics of the heliosphere, this plasma generated by the Sun and that fills the entire solar system. The observation satellite will be launched in 2017 by an Atlas rocket. Onboard, various instruments among which PAS (Proton / Alfa Sensor), designed by a team of IRAP, and which has successfully passed its first lighting test. Read the Press Release ...

November 13, 2013 : "MAVEN ON THE WAY TO MARS"

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This November 18, 2013, the MAVEN Mission (Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN) will lift off from the Kennedy Space Center to Mars. Its objectives: studying the Martian upper atmosphere and ionosphere, as well as their interactions with the solar wind. The data collected by the various instruments - which include a detector designed by a team of IRAP (OMP-CNRS/Université Toulouse III - Paul Sabatier) - will lead to better understand the effects of the exhaust of the Martian atmosphere into space, to track the climate change on the Red Planet, its surface composition in liquid water and thus to study its past habitability. Read the Press Release ...

October 11, 2013 : The CHEMCAM and SAM teams awarded by NASA for their outstanding contribution to the Mars Science Laboratory Mission

Chemcam-Libs

Within the framework of the "JPL's 2013 NASA Honor Awards Ceremony", Charles Elachi, director of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), presented Thursday, October 10, on behalf of NASA, a prize to French and U.S. teams who have worked on CHEMCAM and SAM, for their outstanding contribution to the Mars Science Laboratory. The CNES finance driver and provides technical support for the French participation in the MSL project (Curiosity rover) through these two instruments developed to IRAP and LATMOS. Read the Press Release ...

September 27, 2013 : Curiosity identifies the nature of the hydration of the Martian soil

During the first 100 days spent at the surface of Mars, the ChemCam instrument onboard the Curiosity rover was able to remotely analyze a large number of samples of the Martian soil with an unprecedented accuracy. These first analyzes carried out by researchers from IRAP (OMP - University of Toulouse III - Paul Sabatier / CNRS) in collaboration with the Franco-American teams of ChemCam showed a large chemical diversity of the finest grains of the Martian soil, but also that the grains the richest in iron and magnesium are hydrated. According to the authors, this moisture could be an important part of the water tank on the surface of Mars observed during previous missions. The origin of this reservoir is one of the keys to the understanding of the evolution of the Martian climate. This work is published in the journal Science on September 27, 2013, in a series of five articles devoted to the first results of Curiosity. Read the Press Release ...

September 13, 2013 : Storms causing an exhaust of the Earth's upper atmosphere

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Researchers from the LPC2E (OSUC-CNRS/Université Orleans) and IRAP (OMP-CNRS/Université Paul Sabatier Toulouse 3) have observed for the very first time significant density perturbations of the Earth's upper atmosphere of the ionospheric plasma above very intense atmospheric storms. The researchers used the DEMETER satellite, first of the scientific micro-satellites developed by CNES. These results were recently published in the Journal of Geophysical Research.  Read the Press Release ...

July 2, 2013 : First detection of a plasmaspheric wind in the Earth's magnetosphere

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A study carried out at the Institut de Recherche en Astrophysique et Planétologie (OMP-IRAP-CNRS/Université Paul Sabatier Toulouse III) provides the first experimental confirmation of the presence of a plasmaspheric wind in the Earth's magnetosphere. The existence of this wind, which continuously carries cold plasma from the plasmasphere to the outer magnetosphere, was postulated in 1992 from theoretical calculations related to the plasma stability. However, it had not yet been detected. This study, based upon the analysis of ion measurements by the CIS experience aboard the  Cluster satellites, confirmed its presence and led to assess its role in the mass loss of the ionized upper atmosphere. It is published on July 2 in the journal Annales Geophysicae.  Read the Press Release ...

May 31, 2013 : The conglomerates of Mars

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The observations of the Curiosity rover, using the instruments MastCam and ChemCam, made in the Gale Crater reveal isolated outcrops with blunt pebbles and grains of sand consolidated in sedimentary rocks called conglomerates, characteristics of streamflows.  Read the Press Release ...

April 11, 2013 : Highlighting the rapid and consistent particle acceleration radiation belts during magnetic storms

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An international team, including researchers working at the IRAP and the LPP, has just demonstrated the frequently existence of a consistent acceleration, in a few tens of minutes, of the electrons and protons of the radiation belts of the Earth by Ultra Low Frequency Waves. These LF waves are associated with the sudden compression of the geomagnetic field during magnetic storms at the Earth orbit. Thanks to the French mission Demeter and to the particle detector onboard, which has an excellent energy resolution, complex energy structures have indeed been for the first time demonstrated and explained. This work is published this month in the Journal of Geophysical Research. Read the Press Release ...

April 8, 2013 : What's left of martian atmosphere remains dynamic

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Mars has lost much of its original atmosphere, but what's left stays quite active, recent findings from NASA's Mars rover Curiosity indicate. Rover team members reported diverse findings today at the European Geosciences Union 2013 General Assembly, in Vienna. Evidence has strengthened this month that Mars lost much of its original atmosphere by a process of gas escaping from the top of the atmosphere. Read the Press Release ...

March 5, 2013 : GOCE : A seismometer in orbit around the Earth

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Most people think that seismometers are ground-based instruments, but today earthquakes can also be detected by satellites. Researchers of the Institut de Recherche en Astrophysique et Planétologie (IRAP-OMP, UPS, CNRS) in collaboration with the CNES, the IPGP and the University of Delft, demonstrated it using data from the GOCE mission (Gravity and Ocean Circulation Explorer) of the European Space Agency (ESA). Read the Press Release ...

February 8, 2013 : Erosion would cause the seismicity of the western Alps and Pyrenees

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While it was commonly accepted that the seismicity of the western Alps and Pyrenees would be due to the spreading of these chains under their own weight (gravitational collapse), French researchers of the laboratories Geosciences Montpellier (CNRS-INSU, Université de Montpellier), Geosciences Rennes (CNRS-INSU, Université de Rennes) and IRAP (CNRS-INSU, Université de Toulouse) show that erosion may be the real cause of this seismicity. This study is published in the journal Geology. Read the Press Release ...

January 16, 2013 : Gypsum on Mars identified by ChemCam, an area to be drilled for the rover Curiosity

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Thanks to recent analyzes of the Franco-American ChemCam instrument, conducted by planetology laboratories located in Toulouse and Nantes in particular, the Curiosity rover surveyed now an area made of sediments and traversed by  clear veins of a few millimeters thick to carry out the first drilling. ChemCam focuses a laser onto the rock which volatilizes it and leads to analyze its elemental chemical composition. In parallel, a camera captures an image to determine the point of contact of the laser. The spectra of the veins obtained by  ChemCam are very different from the usual Martian (basaltic) compositions and show the presence of calcium sulfate, whose most typical mineral form is gypsum. On Earth gypsum is frequent in the form of veins and is formed by fluid circulation and precipitation within fractures of the basement. This discovery made by ChemCam is the first mineralogical evidence of the presence of water found by the rover in the Gale crater. In this case water in the basement results from past watery episodes. This discovery has greatly influenced the decision to proceed the first drilling in this unit traveled by veins of gypsum. Read the Press release ...

November 29, 2012 : Researchers discover water on Mercury

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American researchers, in collaboration with IRAP, discover large quantities of water ice at the poles of Mercury. Scientists of the MESSENGER mission, in orbit around Mercury since March 2011, just highlight the large amount of water ice deep inside the craters which are always in the shade. They publish this discovery in the journal Science this week. Read the Press Release ...

September 27, 2012 : NASA Rover Finds Old Streambed on Martian Surface

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NASA's Curiosity rover mission has found evidence a stream once ran vigorously across the area on Mars where the rover is driving. There is earlier evidence for the presence of water on Mars, but this evidence -- images of rocks containing ancient streambed gravels -- is the first of its kind. Scientists are studying the images of stones cemented into a layer of conglomerate rock. The sizes and shapes of stones offer clues to the speed and distance of a long-ago stream's flow. Read the Press Release ...

August 6, 2012 : The rover @MarsCuriosity landed on Mars successfully!

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On November 25, 2011, the rover Curiosity took off from Cape Canaveral aboard an Atlas rocket V541. Nine months later, on August 6, 2012, it began a very controlled descent into the Martian atmosphere then landed successfully on Mars. Read the Press Release ...

May 31, 2012 : STEREO: A solar storm observed on the far side of the Sun provides important clues on the acceleration of particles to high energies

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In a study published this week in the Astrophysical Journal, the eruption of a very energetic solar event, launched on 2011 March 21, on the far side of the Sun (west longitude 135o), could be observed in great detail by the optical instruments on STEREO-A. The shock wave launched by the expelled solar storm was tracked along the base of the corona (about 80Mm above the solar surface) from the launch site situated beyond the west limb, to the visible parts of the solar disk observed from Earth. The particles, thought to be accelerated by the shock wave, were measured in situ by the instruments on STEREO-A and could be compared with similar measurements obtained by the near-Earth orbiting probes. Read the Presse Release ...

April 18, 2012 : Uranus auroras glimpsed from Earth

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For the first time, scientists have captured images of auroras above the giant ice planet Uranus, finding further evidence of just how peculiar a world that distant planet is. Detected by means of carefully scheduled observations from the Hubble Space Telescope, the newly witnessed Uranian light show consisted of short-lived, faint, glowing dots – a world of difference from the colorful curtains of light that often ring Earth's poles. Read the Press Release ...

April 16, 2012 : X-rays create a window on glass formation

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Scientists have for the first time visualised the transformation of powder mixtures into molten glass. A better understanding of this process will make it possible to produce high quality glass at lower temperatures, leading to significant energy savings in industrial glass manufacturing. The results are published online in the Journal of the American Ceramic Society. Read the Press Release ...

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