European Space Agency Flickr Update


Hadley Rille on the Moon seen by SMART-1
25-07-2016 01:42 PM CEST

europeanspaceagency posted a photo:

Hadley Rille on the Moon seen by SMART-1

Space Science image of the week is this strangely meandering channel, carved on the Moon, is one of the most famous features on our nearest celestial neighbour. It shot to fame in July 1971 when the two astronauts of Apollo 15 drove their lunar rover to its very edge.

Known as Hadley Rille, the feature is named after the 18th century British mathematician and inventor John Hadley. In 1721, Hadley presented a telescope that used a non-spherical mirror to the Royal Society in London. Shaped as a parabola, the mirror avoided the aberration caused by a spherical mirror, and set the shape for all telescope mirrors to come.

Hadley Rille is thought to have been carved by an ancient lava flow, dating back just over 3 billion years to soon after the Moon formed. It stretches more than 120 km, up to 1500 m wide and more than 300 m deep in some places.

From their close-up position, the Apollo astronauts photographed what looked like strata in the walls of the rille. This suggests that there were many volcanic eruptions, each building a new layer. Then, a channel of lava cut through these deposits. When it drained away, it left the sinuous rille we see today. However, planetary scientists are not entirely sure of the details of the process.

This image was taken by ESA’s SMART-1, which explored the Moon from 2004 to 2006. Its miniaturised camera demonstrated that smaller equipment could still provide first-class science.

This image was taken from an altitude of about 2000 km. It spans about 100 km and shows the region around Hadley Rille centred at about 25°N / 3°E.

SMART-1 was ESA’s first mission to the Moon. It tested new engine technologies, including a solar electric propulsion system that will carry ESA’s BepiColombo mission to Mercury in 2018.

At the end of its mission, SMART-1 was flown closer and closer to the lunar surface until it was intentionally crashed on 3 September 2006. During its mission, it had completed more than 2000 orbits of the Moon.

Credit: ESA/Space-X, Space Exploration Institute

Comet 67P from a distance of 9 km
25-07-2016 12:12 PM CEST

europeanspaceagency posted a photo:

Comet 67P from a distance of 9 km

Comet 67P seen from a distance of 9 km by Rosetta’s OSIRIS camera on 20 July 2016.

More info here .


A long-dead star
25-07-2016 09:54 AM CEST

europeanspaceagency posted a photo:

A long-dead star

This NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope image captures the remnants of a long-dead star. These rippling wisps of ionised gas, named DEM L316A, are located some 160 000 light-years away within one of the Milky Way’s closest galactic neighbours — the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC).

The explosion that formed DEM L316A was an example of an especially energetic and bright variety of supernova , known as a Type Ia. Such supernova events are thought to occur when a white dwarf star steals more material than it can handle from a nearby companion, and becomes unbalanced. The result is a spectacular release of energy in the form of a bright, violent explosion, which ejects the star’s outer layers into the surrounding space at immense speeds. As this expelled gas travels through the interstellar material, it heats it up and ionise it, producing the faint glow that Hubble’s Wide Field Camera 3 has captured here.

The LMC orbits the Milky Way as a satellite galaxy and is the fourth largest in our group of galaxies, the Local Group. DEM L316A is not alone in the LMC; Hubble came across another one in 2010 with SNR 0509 (heic1018), and in 2013 it snapped SNR 0519 (potw1317a).

Credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA, Y. Chu

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