European Space Agency Flickr Update

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Preview of Gaia’s sky in colour
17-08-2017 09:42 AM CEST

europeanspaceagency posted a photo:

Preview of Gaia’s sky in colour

This map is a preview of Gaia’s measurements of the sky in colour.

The image includes preliminary data from 18.6 million bright stars observed by Gaia between July 2014 and May 2016, and it shows the middle value of the colours of all stars that are observed in each pixel. The colour of each star is estimated by comparing the total amount of blue and red light recorded by Gaia.

The Galactic Plane, corresponding to the most densely populated region of our Milky Way galaxy, stands out as the roughly horizontal feature across the image. The reddest regions in the map, mainly found near the Galactic Centre, correspond to dark areas in the density of stars: these are clouds of dust that obscure part of the starlight, especially at blue wavelengths, making it appear redder. It is also possible to see the two Magellanic Clouds – small satellite galaxies of our Milky Way – in the lower part of the map.

Gaia’s first full-colour all-sky map, based on data for more than 1 billion stars, will be unleashed in its highest resolution in April 2018.

Full story: Sneak peek of Gaia’s sky in colour

Credit: ESA/Gaia/DPAC/CU5/CU8/DPCI/F. De Angeli, D.W. Evans, M. Riello, M. Fouesneau, R. Andrae, C.A.L. Bailer-Jones

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European Space Agency Flickr Update

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Large Space Simulator
16-08-2017 04:55 PM CEST

europeanspaceagency posted a photo:

Large Space Simulator

An external view of Europe’s largest vacuum chamber, the Large Space Simulator, which subjects entire satellites to space-like conditions ahead of launch. This 15 m-high and 10 m-diameter chamber is cavernous enough to accommodate an upended double decker bus.

Satellites are lowered down through a top hatch. Once the top and side hatches are sealed, high-performance pumps create a vacuum a billion times lower than standard sea level atmosphere, held for weeks at a time during test runs.

A 121-segment mirror array reflects simulated sunlight into the chamber, at the same time as the internal walls are pumped full of –190°C liquid nitrogen, together recreating the extreme thermal conditions prevailing in orbit.

Embedded sensors and measurement devices check whether a mission’s thermal engineers have done their job well, and if the test satellite maintains an acceptable internal temperature range without buckling or other unwanted temperature-driven effects.

The simulator is an essential part of ESA’s Test Centre in the Netherlands, the largest facility of its kind in Europe, providing a complete suite of equipment for all aspects of satellite testing under a single roof.

Credit: ESA–G. Schoonewille, CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO

Circular formation
16-08-2017 10:18 AM CEST

europeanspaceagency posted a photo:

Circular formation

Clockwise from top: ESA astronaut Paolo Nespoli, NASA astronauts Jack Fischer and Peggy Whitson, Roscosmos cosmonaut Sergei Ryazansky, NASA astronaut Randy Bresnik and Roscosmos cosmonaut Fyodor Yurchikhin pose for a photo in the Russian section of the International Space Station. Together they are the Expedition 52/53 crew and all the humans orbiting Earth at this time.

The six are positioned around the flags of the nations that built and maintain the Station: USA, Russia, France, Canada, Germany, Switzerland, Belgium, Italy, Norway, The Netherlands, UK, Spain, Sweden, Denmark and Japan.

The orbital outpost circles Earth every 90 minutes and offers state-of-the-art facilities for research, allowing the astronauts to run experiments in weightlessness for many weeks and even years. Research opportunities are available to scientists from all over the world – there is no other laboratory like the International Space Station.

Next month Fyodor, Peggy and Jack will undock from the Station in their Soyuz MS-04 spacecraft and return to Earth, leaving Paolo, Randy and Sergei, who will become Expedition 53/54 when they are joined by a new trio: cosmonaut and Soyuz commander Alexander Misurkin, and NASA astronauts Mark VandeHei and Joseph Acaba.

Paolo is on his third visit to the Station, a five-month mission called Vita. Follow Paolo Nespoli and his mission via paolonespoli.esa.int

Credit: NASA/ESA

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