European Space Agency Flickr Update


Nansen fracture
14-04-2016 04:38 PM CEST

europeanspaceagency posted a photo:

Nansen fracture

Melt waterfall into Nansen ice shelf fracture.

The Nansen ice shelf, around 50 km long and 25 km wide, developed a fracture over recent years. Ice shelves are particularly sensitive to climate change because they can melt from warm air at the surface and warming ocean waters below.

“The crack was first observed during fieldwork in 1999 and was progressively growing, and then accelerating during 2014,” said Massimo Frezzotti from Italy’s ENEA research organisation.

“The events following were typical for a cycle of ice-shelf calving. Last century, a first calving event is known to have occurred between 1913 and the 1950s, with a second between 1963 and 1972.”

As winter weather began to set in during early March this year, optical images from Europe’s Sentinel-2A satellite and radar images from Sentinel-1A, together with images from the Italian Cosmo-Skymed mission, indicated that the ice front was only tenuously attached to the shelf.

By 6 April, the fracture had reached about 40 km long before it severed the portion of the ice front between Inexpressible Island to the north and the Drygalski Ice Tongue – the floating end of the David Glacier – to the south.

Verified by NASA’s Terra satellite, the calving took place on 7 April during persistent strong offshore winds. Two days later, Sentinel-1A’s radar confirmed the separation.

Read more here.

Credit: C. Yakiwchuck

Birth of two icebergs
14-04-2016 04:33 PM CEST

europeanspaceagency posted a photo:

Birth of two icebergs

Multiple satellites, including Europe’s Sentinels, have captured images of two large icebergs that broke away from Antarctica’s Nansen ice shelf on 7 April.

The icebergs are drifting to the northeast, propelled by wind, tides and currents. Experts say they do not pose any immediate threat of blocking supply routes to research stations such as the Italian Mario Zucchelli and South Korean Jang Bogo Stations in Terra Nova Bay.

The Nansen ice shelf, around 50 km long and 25 km wide, developed a fracture over recent years. Ice shelves are particularly sensitive to climate change because they can melt from warm air at the surface and warming ocean waters below.

Read more here.

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

Comet relay
14-04-2016 02:11 PM CEST

europeanspaceagency posted a photo:

Comet relay

Operations Image of the Week: Comet relay

Seventy-four weeks ago, on 12 November 2014, ESA’s Rosetta mission soft-landed its Philae probe on a comet – the first time that such an extraordinary feat had been achieved.

This image shows the 35 m-diameter deep-space tracking station at Malargüe, Argentina, during Philae’s touchdown that day. At the time of this photo, the station was receiving data from the lander, relayed via the Rosetta comet orbiter, and was in turn relaying the information to the mission control team at ESA’s control centre in Darmstadt, Germany.

Credit: ESA–D. Pazos

More info here.

Clean Space board game
14-04-2016 02:01 PM CEST

europeanspaceagency posted a photo:

Clean Space board game

Technology Image of the Week: Clean Space board game

It might not look like a training exercise: space engineers sitting around a meeting table, throwing down cards on a board game. But they are busily learning about the hidden environmental costs of space missions.

ESA’s Clean Space initiative – tasked with reducing the environmental footprints of the space industry both on Earth and in orbit – includes a dedicated ‘ecodesign’ element. As part of this effort, this new board game was created by the Quantis company.

Terrestrial industry uses the ‘life cycle assessment’ method to assess the environmental impacts across a product’s entire life. Now it is being harnessed for space projects, too.

At the start, the players are presented with a board showing a mission’s complete life,from initial planning to design and manufacture of the satellite and its launcher, the launch campaign and mission operations, concluding with its end-of-life and disposal.

The group is handed cards marked with differing sources of environmental impacts, such as air, road, rail or sea transport, office electricity use or material manufacturing, applying their knowledge to place these cards at the life cycle stages, or remove them entirely if they are judged irrelevant.

Next, they are given a set of tokens representing the impacts themselves, spanning a trio of classes: Global Warming Potential, Resource Depletion and Human Toxicity. The players have to assign these impacts around the life cycle in turn.

“At the end of the game, the board will represent the group’s combined understanding and best guesses of impacts arising along a space mission’s life,” explains Julian Austin of Clean Space.

“Then comes the moment when the group is shown the actual results – based on the detailed research we have already performed across the sector. Comparing their perceptions with the facts helps demonstrate principles in a clear and obvious way, leading in turn to brainstorming of ways to make space missions less damaging in future.”

The game is being used by ESA as part of internal ecodesign training sessions, set to be extended to industry in future.

Credit: ESA– J. Delaval

More info here.

ExoMars first light
14-04-2016 01:54 PM CEST

europeanspaceagency posted a photo:

ExoMars first light

Trace Gas Orbiter sees stars!

It’s first light for CaSSIS (Colour and Stereo Surface Imaging System) on ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter .

On 7 April, TGO’s high-resolution camera was switched on for the first time, acquiring its first images of space.

The view shows a randomly selected portion of the sky close to the southern celestial pole. This image is composed of two frames taken in slightly different directions by using the camera’s rotation mechanism. Subtracting one frame from the other reveals a number of equally offset positive and negative images of stars.

Read more about this image as well as a full update on ExoMars, TGO, and Schiaparelli.

Credit: ESA/Roscosmos/CaSSIS

Space Station 360: Columbus
14-04-2016 11:20 AM CEST

europeanspaceagency posted a photo:

Space Station 360: Columbus

Explore Europe’s Columbus space laboratory with your mobile phone or VR headset in this panorama.

This 360° panorama lets you explore the International Space Station’s sixth module, Columbus. It was launched on 7 February 2008 on Space Shuttle Atlantis. The laboratory is ESA’s largest single contribution to the Station, and Europe’s first permanent research facility in space.

The state-of-the-art facility offers 75 cubic metres of workspace and contains a suite of research equipment. External platforms support experiments and applications in space science, Earth observation and technology.

Columbus offers European scientists full access to a weightless environment that cannot be duplicated on Earth.

Explore Columbus in Flickr, Facebook or YouTube 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. We will release a new Space Station module in 360° every week on Thursday.

Full tour:…

Credit: ESA/NASA

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