European Space Agency Flickr Update

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Colourful Naukluft
29-04-2016 10:12 AM CEST

europeanspaceagency posted a photo:

Colourful Naukluft

The Sentinel-2A satellite takes us over to central western Namibia, an area surrounding the Namib Naukluft Park, in this image taken on 28 January 2016.

The National Park includes part of the Namib – the world’s oldest desert – and the Naukluft Mountain range. It is the largest game park in Africa and the fourth largest in the world.

A typical west coast desert, moisture enters as fog, from the Atlantic Ocean, rather than receiving actual rainfall. A phenomenon also found along the coasts of South and North America, the surface water of Namibia’s coast is relatively cold, so that moist air moving in with westerly winds cools and falls as rain before it reaches the coast, allowing only fog to reach inland.

The fog enables life in this extremely arid region, for snakes, geckos and particular insects like the fogstand beetle, which survives by collecting water on its bumpy back from early-morning fogs, as well as hyenas, gemsboks and jackals.

The winds carrying the fog also create the imposing sand dunes, whose age is rendered by the burnt orange colour. The iron in the sand is oxidised, developing this rusty-metal colour over time. It becomes brighter as the dune ages, as is clearly visible along the middle of this natural-colour image.

Also visible along the top-left part of the image is the Kuiseb River bordered on one side by some of the tallest sand dunes in the world, and on the other by barren rock. The river blocks the movement of the dunes, which are blown northwards by the winds.

A road cuts through the top-right corner of the image. It is part of the C14 Highway, which runs for some 600 km from Walvis Bay, through Helmeringhausen and ends in Goageb.

To the right of the highway, there is a rock formation with a ridgeline, with water flowing along both sides, giving life to vegetation.

Along the bottom of the image, the Tsondab River is seen. Periodic rain falling in the Naukluft and Remhoogte Mountains causes the water to flow to the end of the ‘vlei’ – a shallow minor lake. The riverbed hits the colossal sand dunes, and appears bright white from the salt and mineral formations remaining after its water evaporates.

Despite the lack of rain, large camel-thorn and umbrella-thorn trees, and a few wild fig trees, can be detected growing along the riverbanks, benefitting from penetrating roots.

Sentinel-2A has been in orbit since June 2015, providing key information on vegetation health, among other major applications.

Credit: Contains modified Copernicus Sentinel data [2016], processed by ESA

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New landing date for ESA astronaut Tim Peake

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New landing date for ESA astronaut Tim Peake
29-04-2016 06:22 PM CEST

Tim_Peake_MARES_small.jpg

ESA astronaut Tim Peake and his crewmates Yuri Malenchenko and Tim Kopra will return to Earth on 18 June, giving them almost two more weeks more in space than their original mission.

Each International Space Station crew flies as a trio to the outpost and back to Earth in a Soyuz spacecraft. About every three months, a crew returns to Earth shortly before a new one arrives, often leaving a few days when only three astronauts look after the Station.

Tim, Tim and Yuri will stay longer in space because ground control aims to keep the Space Station operating at full capacity with six astronauts.

Tim Peake says: “Although I am looking forward to being back on Earth and seeing friends and family again, each day spent living in space is a huge privilege and there is much work to do on the Station.

“This extension will keep the Station at a full crew of six for several days longer, enabling us to accomplish more scientific research.

“And, of course, I get to enjoy the beautiful view of planet Earth for a little while longer!”

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NASA Ames Research Center News and Features Update

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You are subscribed to Ames Research Center News and Features for NASA. This information has recently been updated, and is now available.

Hiding in the Sunshine: The Search for Other Earths
04/28/2016 02:28 PM EDT

How instruments called coronagraphs might help us ultimately find Earth-like worlds

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Recently in EPA Science

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EPA Science Matters

Science Matters Articles It All Starts with Science Blog EPA Researchers@Work
April 2016
EPA’s Science Matters newsletter delivers the latest from EPA’s Office of Research and Development straight to your inbox. Keep scrolling to read recent news and upcoming events.
Recently in EPA Science
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Visualize Your Water Challenge Winners Announced

In January 2016, EPA, in collaboration with U.S. Geological Survey and several regional partners, launched Visualize Your Water. This effort challenged high school students in the Great Lakes Basin and Chesapeake Bay Watershed states to create innovative visualizations of nutrient data using open government data sources.

On April 21, 2016 the winners of this competition were announced at an event at Washington-Lee High School in Arlington, Va. Read more about it in a blog by Ryan Miller, a teacher at Washington-Lee High School.

Family on a beach

National Coastal Condition Assessment

In January, EPA’s Office of Water released the National Coastal Condition Assessment, which is a statistical survey of the condition of our Nation’s marine and Great Lakes coasts. This month, EPA Science Matters featured an article that discussed the rigorous science and extensive sampling that went into the assessment. Read the article.

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Earth Day: Food Recovery

April 22 was Earth Day, and EPA’s theme was Food Recovery. EPA is involved in numerous efforts to reduce food waste, and one of these efforts is taking place in Columbia, South Carolina, through EPA’s Net Zero Initiative. Learn more about it in Science Matters.

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Net Zero: Leading the Conversation on Sustainability

What if you could leave behind zero waste, produce as much energy as you use, and conserve water? Under the Net Zero Initiative, EPA is pursuing these goals to help local communities become more sustainable. Over on Science Matters, we’ve started a series about Net Zero. Read the first article for an overview of Net Zero, and check back for future stories!

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Protecting Air Quality in a Changing Climate

Research has shown that climate change can affect air quality and impact public health. On April 6, EPA announced $8.5 million in research funding to 12 universities to protect air quality from the current and future challenges associated with the impacts of climate change. Read more about the funding in the press release.

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Water Security Test Bed

EPA built the Water Security Test Bed—a full-sized replica of a drinking water distribution system—to conduct real-world experiments regarding water security. Over the next few years, EPA and collaborators plan to run various experiments to ensure that if disaster strikes, we have the data and tools to protect our water infrastructure and public health. Read more about it and watch the video in the blog Water Security Test Bed: Real-World Testing of Real-World Systems Issues.

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Reducing Risk by Acting on Climate

Dr. Tom Burke, the Deputy Assistant Administrator of EPA’s Office of Research and Development as well as the Agency’s Science Advisor, and Janet McCabe, the Acting Assistant Administrator of EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation, co-authored a commentary in a special edition of the journal Health Security. Read their commentary (external link).

EPA Deputy Administrator Stan Meiburg at P3

National Sustainable Design Expo

On April 16 and 17, EPA sponsored the 12th Annual National Sustainable Design Expo in Washington, DC. The expo featured over 35 university and college teams from across the country participating in EPA’s People, Prosperity and the Planet (P3) student-design competition. If you missed it, you can check out photos from the event over on the EPA Research Facebook page.

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Public Health and Environmental Protection

The week of April 11 was Public Health Week. From ongoing efforts to address climate change to the emerging concerns of the potential spread of the Zika virus, EPA scientists and engineers are working tirelessly to protect public health. Tom Burke, the Deputy Assistant Administrator of EPA’s Office of Research and Development as well as Agency’s Science Advisor, wrote a blog about the role of EPA science in public health. Head over to the blog to read his message.

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Building Disaster Resilient Communities

Disasters can strike at any time, at any place, and can have devastating consequences for human health and the environment. While not all disasters can be prevented, the potential harms and risks they pose can be mitigated with the right tools and actions. Read about some of the tools that scientists at EPA are working on in the blog Tools for Building Disaster Resilient Communities.

Next Month at EPA

Interested in getting involved or learning more? Try to catch one of the following webinars or events going on in May.

Check out our Events page for even more!

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Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (Intel ISEF)

Friday, May 8 – Wednesday, May 13

Intel ISEF is the world’s largest international pre-college science competition. Since 2009, EPA has exhibited and shared information about environmental protection with the ISEF participants and visitors. EPA encourages the young innovators to apply science to environmental challenges and recognizes one student with the EPA Patrick H. Hurd Sustainability Award. If you’re at Intel ISEF, make sure to stop by our booth! Learn more about this event or learn more about last year’s Patrick H. Hurd Sustainability Award.

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NIEHS/EPA Children’s Centers Webinar Series: Exposome

Wednesday, May 11, 1:00-2:30PM ET

The NIEHS/EPA Children’s Centers Webinar Series feature presentations and interactive discussions about recent findings and new developments in children’s environmental health. On May 11, speakers from University of Washington, University of California-Berkeley, and University of California-San Francisco will discuss the exposome. Learn more about the webinar.

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EPA Tools and Resources Webinar Series

Wednesday, May 18, 3:00-4:00PM ET

EPA’s Office of Research and Development (ORD) hosts a Tools and Resources webinar the third Wednesday of each month to share our research, demonstrate tools, and seek input from our partners. These webinars are geared for representatives of state environment and health agencies, tribes, local governments, communities, and others interested in learning about EPA tools and resources available to help inform decision-making. Learn more.

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Small Drinking Water Systems Webinar Series: Harmful Algal Blooms

Tuesday, May 31, 2:00-3:00PM ET

This monthly webinar series provides a forum for EPA to communicate directly with state personnel and other drinking water and wastewater small systems professionals. Through this series, EPA provides training, fosters collaboration, and helps the community share information. May’s webinar is about responding to harmful algal blooms.

Want more?

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Science Matters is produced by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Research and Development. All content is copyright free and can be reprinted without permission.

Comments, feedback, and suggestions for future Science Matters articles are welcome. Please contact Samantha Linkins (linkins.samantha).

European Space Agency Flickr Update

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Sentinel-1B’s first image
28-04-2016 06:22 PM CEST

europeanspaceagency posted a photo:

Sentinel-1B’s first image

Sentinel-1B’s first data strip stretches 600 km from 80°N degrees through the Barents Sea. The image, which shows the Norwegian Svalbard archipelago on the left, was captured on 28 April 2016 at 05:37 GMT (07:37 CEST) – just two hours after the satellite’s radar was switched on. Sentinel-1B lifted off on a Soyuz rocket from Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana on 25 April at 21:02 GMT (23:02 CEST). It joins its twin, Sentinel-1A, to provide more ‘radar vision’ for Europe’s environmental Copernicus programme.

Read article: Sentinel-1B delivers

Credit: Contains modified Copernicus Sentinel data [2016], processed by ESA

Makemake and its moon (annotated)
28-04-2016 03:01 PM CEST

europeanspaceagency posted a photo:

Makemake and its moon (annotated)

This Hubble Space Telescope image reveals the first moon ever discovered around the dwarf planet Makemake. The tiny moon, located just above Makemake in this image, is barely visible because it is almost lost in the glare of the very bright dwarf planet.

Read more here.

Credit: NASA, ESA, and A. Parker and M. Buie (Southwest Research Institute)

Station 360: Tranquility (Node 3)
28-04-2016 01:56 PM CEST

europeanspaceagency posted a photo:

Station 360: Tranquility (Node 3)

Explore the International Space Station’s Tranquility module from all angles on your mobile phone or headset

Node-3 Tranquillity provides life-support for the International Space Station. Part of Tranquility is ESA’s Cupola observation module, a seven-window dome-shaped structure from where the Space Station’s robotic arm, Canadarm 2, is operated as it offers a panoramic view of space and Earth. Launched on Space Shuttle flight STS-130 in February 2010, Node-3 was attached to the port side of Node-1 Unity. Read more on ESA’s Node-3 minisite

Explore Tranquility (Node 3) in Flickr,

format with your mobile phone and virtual-reality headset, or take the full tour including all Space Station modules with videos and extra information below. This is the final Space Station module in 360°.

Full tour:
www.esa.int/Our_Activities/Human_Spaceflight/Internationa…

T6 ion thruster firing
28-04-2016 08:59 AM CEST

europeanspaceagency posted a photo:

T6 ion thruster firing

The eerie blue exhaust trail of an ion thruster during a test firing. A quartet of these highly efficient T6 thrusters is being installed on ESA’s BepiColombo spacecraft to Mercury at ESA’s ESTEC Test Centre in Noordwijk, the Netherlands.

The Mercury Transfer Module will carry Europe’s Mercury Planetary Orbiter and Japan’s Mercury Magnetospheric Orbiter together to Sun’s innermost planet over the course of 6.5 years.

“BepiColombo would not be possible in its current form without these T6 thrusters,” explains ESA propulsion engineer Neil Wallace.

“Standard chemical thrusters face a fundamental upper limit on performance, set by the amount of energy in the chemical reaction that heats the ejected propellant producing the thrust.

“Ion thrusters can reach much higher exhaust speeds, typically an order of magnitude greater, because the propellant is first ionised and then accelerated using electrical energy generated by the solar panels. The higher velocity means less propellant is required.

“The down side is that the thrust levels are much lower and therefore the spacecraft acceleration is also low – meaning the thrusters have to be operating for long periods.

“However, in space there is nothing to slow us down, so over prolonged periods of thrusting the craft’s velocity is increased dramatically. Assuming the same mass of propellant, the T6 thrusters can accelerate BepiColombo to a speed 15 times greater than a conventional chemical thruster.”

The 22 cm-diameter T6 was designed for ESA by QinetiQ in the UK, whose expertise in electric propulsion stretches back to the 1960s.

It is an scaled-up version of the 10 cm T5 gridded ion thruster, which played a crucial role in ESA’s GOCE gravity-mapping mission by continuously compensating for vestigial atmospheric drag along its extremely-low orbit.

Credit: NASA/JPL

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