Flux RSS d'astronomie

ESA Top Multimedia

ESA Top Multimedia

A smudged fingerprint

The NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope is no stranger to spiral galaxies. The telescope has brought us some of the most beautiful images ever taken of our spiral neighbours — and this Picture of the Week, which features a galaxy known as NGC 4689, is no exception.

However, seen almost face on, NGC 4689 appears less like a majestic spiral and more like a smudged fingerprint on the sky. No matter how good the image quality, there is little contrast between the spiralling arms of stars, gas, and dust, and the less dense areas in between. This is because NGC 4689 is something known as an “anaemic galaxy”, a galaxy that contains only quite small quantities of the raw materials needed to produce stars. This means that star formation is quelled in NGC 4689, and the pinwheeling, bustling arms are less bright than those belonging to other Hubble muses. 

Despite this subtlety when compared to its brash, spotlight-stealing relatives, NGC 4689 retains an otherworldly charm, its delicately glowing material standing out subtly from the surrounding darkness of space.

Spiky walls for space testing

Spiky walls for space testing

Earth from Space: Houston, Texas

In this week's edition of the Earth from Space programme, the Copernicus Sentinel-1 mission takes us over Houston, the most populous city in Texas and the fourth largest in the US.

See also Houston, Texas to download the image.

Houston, Texas

Houston, Texas

Meet the ESA experts – Future Moon exploration

Though it has been fifty years since humans first stepped on the Moon, we haven’t forgotten about Earth’s natural satellite. Several missions since Apollo have taught us so much about the Moon and have paved the way for humankind to return. ESA Moon scientist James Carpenter gives us an overview of these missions and future exploration of the Moon.

For more information about the Moon Camp Challenge and to join, visit www.esa.int/mooncamp

Meet the ESA experts – Living on the Moon

The Apollo Mission proved humans can work on the lunar surface but the longest lunar spacewalk lasted a total of 22 hours. Could humans spend longer amounts of time on the Moon? How about live there, as they do on the International Space Station? Lunar technology expert Bérengère Houdou describes living on the Moon.

For more information about the Moon Camp Challenge and to join, visit www.esa.int/mooncamp

Meet the ESA experts – 3D Printing on the Moon

We can 3D print just about anything these days, from tools and buildings to cells and even food. But that’s on Earth, where materials are readily available. What about in space or on the Moon? Could we 3D print a lunar base? ESA engineer Advenit Makaya walks us through the process.

For more information about the Moon Camp Challenge and to join, visit www.esa.int/mooncamp

Meet the ESA experts – Resources on the Moon

It’s common knowledge that the Moon is a cratered ball of rock. Stunning as it is in the night sky or in photographs taken from orbit the landscape is barren, grey, dusty and dark. Are there other things to be found than meets the eye? Moon scientist Alexandre Meurisse explains which resources can be found on the Moon.

For more information about the Moon Camp Challenge and to join, visit www.esa.int/mooncamp

Commanding views

Commanding views

Talking human spaceflight at the Global Space Economic Forum

ESA Astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti presented for the first time at the Global Space Economic Forum held at the New Space Economy European Expoforum in Rome in December 2019 to inspire and explain the benefits of human spaceflight.

Introducing the Global Space Economic Forum

The second Global Space Economic Forum was held at the New Space Economy European Expoforum in Rome in December 2019.

Eric Morel de Westgaver, ESA Director of Industry, Procurement and Legal Services, and Gian Paolo Manzella, Undersecretary, Italian Ministry of Economic Development, welcomed the audience and presented the main theme and explained why space creates value.

Europe's Spaceport in French Guiana

Europe's Spaceport lies northeast of South America in French Guiana, an overseas department of France. This location near the equator enables the Ariane, Soyuz and Vega launch vehicles operated at the Spaceport to complete a wide range of missions to any orbit for clients from around the globe.

The Spaceport comes under the responsibility of the French space agency CNES while infrastructures are funded by the European Space Agency.

ESA owns the launcher and satellite preparation buildings, launch operation facilities and a plant for making solid propellant and integrating solid rocket motors.

ESA also finances new facilities, such as launch complexes and industrial production facilities for new launchers such as Vega-C and Ariane 6.

Open arms

The spiral galaxy NGC 2008 sits centre stage, its ghostly spiral arms spreading out towards us, in this image captured by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope. 

This galaxy is located about 425 million light-years from Earth in the constellation of Pictor (The Painter’s Easel). Discovered in 1834 by astronomer John Herschel, NGC 2008 is categorised as a type Sc galaxy in the Hubble sequence, a system used to describe and classify the various morphologies of galaxies. The “S” indicates that NGC 2008 is a spiral, while the “c” means it has a relatively small central bulge and more open spiral arms. Spiral galaxies with larger central bulges tend to have more tightly wrapped arms, and are classified as Sa galaxies, while those in between are classified as type Sb.

Spiral galaxies are ubiquitous across the cosmos, comprising over 70% of all observed galaxies — including our own, the Milky Way. However, their ubiquity does not detract from their beauty. These grand, spiralling collections of billions of stars are among the most wondrous sights that have been captured by telescopes such as Hubble, and are firmly embedded in astronomical iconography. 

Spacecraft look back on our cosmic home

A mosaic of spacecraft images of Earth from locations across the Solar System.

Interview with Eric Morel de Westgaver on Europe's space economy

Eric Morel de Westgaver, ESA Director of Industry, Procurement and Legal Services was interviewed at the New Space Economy Expoforum in Rome in December 2019. He talked about rapid growth in the space ecosystem and how investment in space brings solutions to societal challenges, stimulates growth and new jobs, and enables space exploration.

Earth from space: Bolivian highland heart

For Valentine's Day, this week's edition of the Earth from Space programme features a Copernicus Sentinel-2 image, capturing a beautiful heart-shaped geographical formation in the dramatic landscape of the southern highlands of Bolivia.

See also Bolivian highland heart to download the image.

Bolivian highland heart

Bolivian highland heart

Paxi on the ISS: Fun facts about the ISS

Our alien friend Paxi went to visit American astronaut Anne McClain on board the International Space Station. Anne shares some fun facts about the ISS with Paxi. 

Perspective view of Nilosyrtis Mensae

Perspective view of Nilosyrtis Mensae

Iceberg shattered

Iceberg shattered

Lagrange mission to provide solar warning

Earth’s magnetic field protects life on Earth from the intense radiation and titanic amounts of energetic material our Sun blasts in every direction. However, astronauts and satellites in space, future explorers travelling to the Moon and Mars, and infrastructure on Earth such as power grids and communication systems remain vulnerable to these violent outbursts.

For this reason, ESA is planning to send a satellite to monitor the ‘side’ of our Sun, from a gravitationally stable position known as the fifth Lagrange point. From here, the Lagrange satellite will detect potentially hazardous solar events before they come into view from Earth, giving us advance knowledge of their speed, direction and chance of impact.

Preparing Orion for thermal vacuum testing

A timelapse video of the Orion spacecraft with European Service Module getting ready for thermal vacuum testing at NASA’s Plum Brook Station. The first Orion will fly farther from Earth on the Artemis I mission than any human-rated vehicle has ever flown before – but first it will undergo testing to ensure the spacecraft withstands the extremes of spaceflight.

Here at NASA’s Plum Brook Station in Ohio, USA, Orion is being put into a thermal cage in preparation of getting its first feel of space in the world’s largest thermal vacuum chamber.

Orion will be subjected to temperatures at Plum Brook ranging from –115°C to 75°C in vacuum for over two months non-stop – the same temperatures it will experience in direct sunlight or in the shadow of Earth or the Moon while flying in space.

Orion is being placed in a cage, called the Thermal Enclosure Structure (TES), that will radiate infrared heat during the tests inside the vacuum chamber.

The tests that will run for two months will show that the spacecraft works as planned and adheres to the strictest safety regulations for human spaceflight. The European Service Module has 33 thrusters, 11 km of electrical wiring, four propellant and two pressurisation tanks that all work together to supply propulsion and everything needed to keep astronauts alive far from Earth – there is no room for error.

Cork vs. reentry

Cork vs. reentry

Here comes the Sun

At this very moment, a spacecraft is headed toward the brightly burning Sun, photographed here on an Antarctic summer day by ESA sponsored medical doctor Stijn Thoolen at Concordia research station.

Solar Orbiter is ESA’s latest mission to study the Sun up close. Launched in the early hours of 10 February from Cape Canaveral, Florida, the spacecraft is due to arrive at its fiery destination in approximately two years.

Solar Orbiter will face the Sun from within the orbit of Mercury, approximately 42 million kilometres from the solar surface. This is an ideal distance: from here Solar Orbiter can take remote images and measurements that will provide the first views of the Sun’s uncharted polar regions.

At the southern poles on Earth, in Antarctica, the Sun has an exceptional presence on people living at the remote Concordia research station. During the Antarctic summer, the sun shines 24 hours a day. It would be perfect for sunbathing, except for the fact that the average summer temperature is only –30°C.

Consequently, in the winter the Sun does not appear above the horizon for over three months and the crew stationed in Concordia live with outside temperatures of –80°C in complete darkness. 

In 2015 ESA-sponsored medical research doctor in Concordia Adrianos Golemis captured the Sun at 16:00 every Monday for a year and explains the technique in this blog entry.

While Solar Orbiter is en route to observing the Sun up close, the crew in Concordia are preparing for life without and enjoying the last rays of sunlight while they can. This picture shows a halo that can occur when sunlight is refracted off ice crystals in the atmosphere.

The mission will investigate how intense radiation and energetic particles being blasted out from the Sun and carried by the solar wind through the Solar System impact our home planet, to better understand and predict periods of stormy ‘space weather’.

While this results in beautiful aurora seen in the Arctic and Antarctic circles, stormy space weather can be disastrous. Solar storms have the potential to knock out power grids, disrupt air traffic and telecommunications, and endanger space-walking astronauts, for example.

A better understanding of how our parent star works is critical to our preparedness for these scenarios on Earth.

Follow more news about life and science at Concordia research station, located at Dome C in the Antarctic Peninsula, on the Chronicles from Concordia blog.

Asteroid experts catch final glimpse of Solar Orbiter

Asteroid experts catch final glimpse of Solar Orbiter

Qarman reentry CubeSat

A 3-unit CubeSat due for deployment from the International Space Station, Qarman has been designed for ESA by Belgium’s Von Karman Institute. Its name standing for QubeSat for Aerothermodynamic Research and Measurements on Ablation, the mission will use internal temperature, pressure and brightness sensors to gather precious data on the extreme conditions of reentry as its leading edges are enveloped in scorching plasma.

Qarman’s blunt-nosed front contains most of its sensors, protected by a cork-based heatshield. The CubeSat is expected to survive its reentry, although not its subsequent fall to Earth – making it imperative that its results make it back in the time in between, using the Iridium commercial satellite network.

Animation courtesy of Dr. Gilles Bailet, University of Glasgow.

Pine Island Glacier spawns piglets

As anticipated, Pine Island Glacier, known as PIG for short, in Antarctica has just spawned a huge iceberg. At over 300 sq km, about the size of Malta, this huge berg very quickly broke into many ‘piglet’ pieces the largest of which is dubbed B-49. Thanks to images from the Copernicus Sentinel satellite missions, two large rifts in the glacier were spotted last year and scientists have been keeping a close eye on how quickly these cracks were growing. This animation uses 57 radar images captured by the Copernicus Sentinel-1 mission between February 2019 and February 2020 (the last frame is from 10 February 2020) and shows just how quickly the emerging cracks grew and led to this calving event.

Pine Island Glacier, along with its neighbour Thwaites Glacier, connect the centre of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet with the ocean – together discharging significant quantities of ice into the ocean. These two glaciers have been losing ice over the last 25 years. Owing to their extremely remote location, satellites play a critical role in measuring and monitoring Antarctic glaciology – revealing the timing and pace of glacial retreat in Antarctica. Since the early 1990s, the Pine Island Glacier’s ice velocity has increased dramatically to values which exceed 10 m a day. Its floating ice front, which has an average thickness of approximately 500 metres, has experienced a series of calving events over the past 30 years, some of which have abruptly changed the shape and position of the ice front.

These changes have been mapped by ESA-built satellites since the 1990s, with calving events occurring in 1992, 1995, 2001, 2007, 2013, 2015, 2017, 2018, and now 2020.

Mark Drinkwater, senior scientist and cryosphere specialist remarked, “The Copernicus twin Sentinel-1 all-weather satellites have established a porthole through which the public can watch events like this unfold in remote regions around the world. What is unsettling is that the daily data stream reveals the dramatic pace at which climate is redefining the face of Antarctica.”

Get the animated gif here.

The Copernicus Sentinel-2 image can be found here.

Solar Orbiter launch highlights

Highlights from the preparation and liftoff of ESA’s Sun-exploring mission Solar Orbiter.

Solar Orbiter lofted to space aboard the US Atlas V 411 rocket from NASA’s spaceport in Cape Canaveral, Florida at 04:03 GMT (05:03 CET) on 10 February 2020.

An ESA-led mission with strong NASA participation, Solar Orbiter carries a set of ten instruments for imaging the surface of the Sun and studying the environment in its vicinity. The spacecraft will travel around the Sun on an elliptical orbit that will take it as close as 42 million km away from the Sun’s surface, about a quarter of the distance between the Sun and Earth. The orbit will allow Solar Orbiter to see some of the never-before-imaged regions of the Sun, including the poles, and shed new light on what gives rise to solar wind, which can affect infrastructure on Earth.

Solar Orbiter launch replay

Watch a replay of the launch of Solar Orbiter, ESA’s new Sun-exploring spacecraft, which will look at our parent star from a completely new perspective. The satellite was lofted to space by the US Atlas V 411 rocket from NASA’s Kennedy Space Centre in Cape Canaveral, Florida, on 10 February 2020.

Solar Orbiter is an ESA-led mission with strong NASA participation. The spacecraft will perform unprecedented close-up observations of the Sun from high-latitudes, providing the first images of the uncharted polar regions of the Sun.

Solar Orbiter liftoff

ESA’s new Sun-exploring mission Solar Orbiter lofted to space aboard the US Atlas V 411 rocket from NASA’s spaceport in Cape Canaveral, Florida at 04:03 GMT (05:03 CET) on 10 February 2020.

Solar Orbiter, an ESA-led mission with strong NASA participation, carries a set of ten instruments for imaging the surface of the Sun and studying the environment in its vicinity. The spacecraft will travel around the Sun on an elliptical orbit that will take it as close as 42 million km away from the Sun’s surface, about a quarter of the distance between the Sun and Earth. The orbit will allow Solar Orbiter to see some of the never-before-imaged regions of the Sun, including the poles, and shed new light on what gives rise to solar wind, which can affect infrastructure on Earth.

Revenir