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A letter from space

By Michael Banks

In a video interview with Physics World in June, Michael Schreiber, editor-in-chief of the journal EPL, marked the 25th anniversary of the publication by hoping that it would, one day, receive a submission from the International Space Station (ISS) (see video above).

We thought he was joking, but that day has now come. On 27 October Russian astronaut Sergey Aleksandrovich Volkov, who is currently aboard the ISS, submitted a paper via e-mail to EPL, which is jointly published by the Institute of Physics and the European Physical Society.

The paper was about measuring the speed of sound in a plasma under microgravity conditions. In an EPL editorial, Schreiber wrote that the journal has now left the confines of the globe “by publishing what is, I believe, the first manuscript ever submitted from beyond the globe, namely from the International Space Station”.

That all important caveat (“I believe”) proved its worth as it transpires that a paper was already submitted from the ISS in 2004 to the journal Radiology – published by the Radiological Society of North America.

Still, the EPL paper is perhaps the first physics-related article to be submitted from space. But Schreiber has even loftier ambitions: hoping for a paper from a space-trip to Mars to coincide with EPL’s golden jubilee in 2036.

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