European Space Agency Flickr Update

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Czechered landscape
09-05-2016 03:13 PM CEST

europeanspaceagency posted a photo:

Czechered landscape

Different types of crops growing east of the Czech capital, Prague (left), are distinguished in this land cover classification image.

This crop map was created by combining over 1000 scenes from the Sentinel-1, Sentinel-2 and Landsat-8 satellites taken over the course of 2015.

With its 13 spectral bands, the Sentinel-2 mission for Europe’s Copernicus programme is the first optical Earth observation mission of its kind to include three bands in the ‘red edge’, which provide key information on vegetation state.

Sentinel-2 is designed to provide images that can be used to distinguish between different crop types as well as data on numerous plant indices, such as leaf area, leaf chlorophyll and leaf water – all essential to monitor plant growth accurately.

This image was produced in collaboration with the European Commission (lead by the Joint Research Centre), the State Agricultural Intervention Fund of the Czech Republic and ESA.

Credit: DUE Sentinel-2 for Agriculture project; contains modified Copernicus Sentinel data (2015)

The eye of Saturn’s storm
09-05-2016 01:19 PM CEST

europeanspaceagency posted a photo:

The eye of Saturn's storm

Space Science Image of the Week: The eye of Saturn’s storm

Sitting at Saturn’s south pole is a vortex of monstrous proportions. The dark ‘eye’ of this feature is some 8000 km across, or about two thirds the diameter of Earth.

This image is 10 times more detailed than any previous picture of the polar vortex and shows a level of detail inside the eye that was not previously observable. Earlier images showed towering clouds around the edge of this vortex, but inside the air was thought to be mostly transparent. Here, however, a multitude of features is revealed.

Clouds are produced by convection – warm, rising gases in the atmosphere of Saturn. As they reach higher, and therefore colder, layers of the atmosphere, the gases condense and appear as clouds. At the 10 o’clock position, a stream of upwelling gas has created its own smaller vortex inside the larger one.

This view is an adjusted composite of two frames taken by the Cassini spacecraft on 14 July 2008. Cassini actually captured the scene from an oblique angle, some 56º below the plane of Saturn’s rings – a far cry from the view directly over the south pole. The orbiter was about 392 000 km from the planet at the time, yet Cassini’s camera still provided a resolution of 2 km per pixel.

Towering eye-walls of cloud are a distinguishing feature of hurricanes on Earth. Like earthly hurricanes, the eye of this storm is composed of warmer gas than the surroundings. However, whereas hurricanes are powered by warm water and move across the surface of our planet, this vortex has no liquid ocean at its base and remains fixed to Saturn’s south pole.

Round, swirling vortices are part of the general circulation in the atmospheres of all four giant, outer planets, and Cassini has spied many mobile ones rolling through Saturn’s clouds at other latitudes. While vortices are often informally referred to as storms, scientists generally reserve that term for bright, short-lived bursts of convection that punch though the clouds, often accompanied by lightning.

In addition to being a thing of beauty, the vortex provides astronomers with a way to look deep into the planet’s atmosphere.

Credit: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute

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